Language Variations

  • Created by: mooearm19
  • Created on: 20-05-18 11:01

Language and Identity

A common area of sociolinguistics - how people use language to search for identity

Labov - Martha's Vineyard:

Original inhabitants produced the dipthongs /au/ and /ai/ more like /əu/ and /əi/

This was done to distance themsleves from the frequent tourists that visited as a need to retain  a social identity.

idiolect/sociolect/accent/dialect all linked to your identity

Common examples:

Using langauge in order to converge/diverge

Using different cultures to influence your language and identity e.g. Multicultural London English or code-switching

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Language and Identity

Common conceptions of how your language creates identity:

  • Standard English
  • Slang
  • Dialect
  • Taboo
  • Technology influenced words
  • Neologisms
  • Occupational register
  • Recieved Pronunciation
  • Regional accent
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Geographical Varieties

Accent and dialect are piviotal to your language

E.g. NE Eng - 'bread bun'  Yorksh - 'bread cake'  Scot - 'softie' 

Cockney Rhyming Slang:

First developed in the East End of London most probably

E.g. clue > 'Scooby Doo      or       years > 'Donkey's ears'

James Orr - CRS is dying out 

David Crytal - obession for celebrity culture has enabled for a larger base and ore options

Dialects are often seen to merge with new culture groups creating more new dialects e.g. Multi-Cultural London English or Bradford Asian English

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Geographical Varieties

Gary Ives - Code-switching in Bradford and South London

Found it was common within boys in Bradford to create a sense of unity and secrecy with friends, whilst one girl did not code-switch English with Punjabi as she felt it excluded her.

Grammatical variations:

Multiple negation or plural marking

RP/BBC English has a pretigious view, however some regional accents can be seen as either pos or neg:

Welsh accent - least popular

Gordie accent - nice but not trustworth

Brummie accent - unpleasant

Standard English - helpful when applying for a job

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Geographical Varieties

Howard Giles - 'match-guise' experiments in Birmingham 

Leslie Milroy - Belfast Study and the social networks that were affected by accent/dialect

Dialect Levelling - Kerswill's Causes:

  • Social mobility (of idiomatic phrases)
  • Social netoworks

Causes a standardisation of dialect levelling

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Language and Age

General assumptions that the older we get, the more standard our speech becomes

Eckert: Chronological/Biological/Social age

Language in the playground study, Ives' vocabulary of playing when you were younger

Slang as part of the teenage vernacular 

   Specific to age group, e.g. 'beef'/'bare'

Possible conclusions: 

  • Taboo is part on th teenage vernacular
  • Slang is a typical norm
  • Dialect is common in expression
  • Language is very informal
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Language and Age

Stenström developed a list of common teen habits:

  • Irregular turn taking
  • Overlaps
  • Indistinct articulation
  • Word shortening
  • Verbal duelling
  • Teasing/name calling
  • Slang
  • Taboo
  • Language mixing

Eckert - 'not all adolsecents talk alike'

The discourse marker 'like' and Odato's 3 stages of development

Overall, it linking to the Imitation theory of CLA

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Language and Age

The Teenspeak Debate:

Common focus in newspapers

For - 2005 teacher training campaign wanted to celebrate teenspeakin schools

Against - 2010 article 'Teens who can barely tall - they only have an 800 word vocabulary'

Texting and written forms creating new spoken forms e.g. 'WTF' or 'OMG' usually exclamatory. Are these used to avoid possible conflict and not get in trouble as mostly taboo?

Ives research on the increasingly younger generation growing up with technology and seeing Teenspeak as 'cool' and so imitating it e.g. 'cringy' text-talk

A need to be part of 'youth culture'/technology/imitating adults

Zimmerman added: Media/communication means/music

In order to be established as 'different' and become part of a social group.

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Language and Sexuality

Gender neutral pronouns in Sweden incorporated

The UK and the invention of 'ze' and 'thon' 

Brighton's suggested 'Mx' to stand for 'Mixter'

Marked terms e.g. 'waitress'/'mistress'

Polari - Halliday's descibed 'anti-language' of 1950/60s gay men.    E.g. 'bana' > good

Used by those in showbusiness

Exposure due to popular sitcoms meant that it became mainstream and was recognised and so could no longer be used to ridicule and secretly determine sexuality in public (homosexuality illegal/frowned upon)

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Language and Occupation

Features of occupational register:

  • Jargon e.g. medical terminology
  • Acronyms e.g. ASBO or AST (teachers)
  • Codes e.g. police/retail stores
  • Idiomatic phrases e.g. sports commontators
  • Job titles e.g. military ranks

These all specify situations/people/jobs that may not be understood outisde of that occupation and so create closed-networks

Convergence and divergence, common for doctors with patients/teachers in context bound situations - Howard Giles' Accommodation Theory

Milroy's Belfast Study

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Language and Gender

Representation of gender in media and through written/spoken language

Marked-terms and the prestige/connoatations of different words depending on gender > links to the deficit model of how the male terms are the norm.

Womens' language and the ever changing tone of speech evident through the differnt attitudes towards the emerging 'vocal fry' debate and HRT.

Images portrayed of the typical man/woman in media books and advertisements, reinforcing stereotypes and creating an image of unrelaitic representation


Lakoff/Tannen/Cameron/Cheshire/Fishman/Zimmerman and West/Hyde

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