Showing Page:
1/5
Assignment topic:
Summary of Language and Social Class
Book Name:
Sociolinguistics-An introduction to
Language and society
Written By:
Peter Trudgill
Submitted To
Study Pool
Submitted By
coachingcenter
Course Title
Sociolinguistics
Date of
Submission
April 13, 2021
Class
PGD - ELT
Sem 1
Department of English Language and
Literature, University of the Punjab, Lahore.
Showing Page:
2/5
Summary of Language and Social Class
The internal differentiation of human societies is reflected in their languages. Different
social groups use different linguistic varieties, and as experienced members of a speech
community. The question which arises is that why does social differentiation have this
effect on language?
We may note parallels between the developments of these social varieties and the
development of regional varieties: in both cases,s barriers and distance appear to be
relevant. Dialectologists have found that regional-dialect boundaries often coincide with
geographical barriers, such as mountains, swamps, or rivers: for example, all traditional
dialect speakers in the areas of Britain north of the River Humber (between Lincolnshire
and Yorkshire) still have a monophthong in words like a house ('hoose' [hu:s]), whereas
speakers south of the river have had some kind of [haus] -type diphthong for several
hundred years; and in the USA the border between Northern and Midland dialects at some
points runs along the Ohio River. It also seems to be the case that the greater the
geographical distance between two dialects the more dissimilar they are linguistical: for
instance, those regional varieties of British English which are most unlike the speech of
London are undoubtedly those of the north-east of Scotland - Buchan, for example; while
in North America the biggest linguistic differences between regional varieties of English
would be found by comparing the speech of Newfoundland with that of, say, Mississippi.
The development of social varieties can perhaps be explained in the same sort of way - in
terms of social barriers and social distance. The diffusion of a linguistic feature through a
society may be halted by barriers of social class, age, race, religion, ion, or other factors.
And social distance may have the same sort of effect as geographical distance: for example,
a linguistic innovation that begins amongst the highest social group will affect the lowest
social group last, if at all. Of the many forms of social differentiation, for example by class,
age, sex, race, or religion, Social stratification is a term used to refer to any hierarchical
ordering of groups within society especially in terms of power, wealth, and status. In the
industrialized societies of the West, this takes the form of stratification into social classes
and gives rise linguistically to social-class dialects. (The whole question of social class is
somewhat controversial, especially since sociologists are not agreed as to the exact nature,
definition of orexis, tense of social classes. However, there is little point in attempting to
list or evaluate here the different approaches adopted by sociological theorists to this topic.
Suffice it to say that social classes are generally taken to be aggregates of individuals with
similar social and economic characteristics. Social-class stratification is not universal,
Showing Page:
3/5
however. In India, for example, traditional society is stratified into different castes. As far
as the linguist is concerned, caste dialects are in some ways easier to study and describe
than social-class dialects. This is because castes are relatively stable, clearly named groups,
rigidly separated from each other, with hereditary membership, and with little possibility
of movement from one caste to another. (This is a considerable simplification of the actual
situation, but my main point is to emphasize the difference between caste and class
societies.) Because of this rigid separation into distinct groups, caste-dialect differences
have tended to be relatively clear-cut, and social differences in language are sometimes
greater than regional differences In the class societies of the English-speaking world the
social situation is much more fluid, and the linguistic situation is therefore rather more
complex, at least in certain respects. Social classes are not clearly defined or Labeled
entities but simply aggregate of people with similar social and economic characteristics;
and social mobility - movement up or down the social hierarchy - is perfectly possible.
This makes things much more difficult for any linguist who wishes to describe a particular
variety - the more heterogeneous society is, the more heterogeneous is its language. For
many years the linguist's reaction to this complexity was generally to ignore it - in two
rather different ways. Many linguists concentrated their studies on the Idiolect - the speech
of one person at one time in one style - which was thought (largely erroneously, as it
happens - to be more regular than the speech of the community as a whole. Dialectologists,
on the other hand, concentrated on the speech of rural informants, and in particular on that
of people of little education in small isolated villages, most especially those whom the
Canadian linguist Jack Chambers has referred to as 'NORMS' - non-mobile older rural
males.
Even small villages are socially heterogeneous, of course, but it is easier to ignore this fact
in villages than in large towns. It is only fair to say, however, that there are two additional
explanations for why dialectologists concentrated on rural areas in this way; first, they were
concerned to record many dialect features which were dying out before they were lost
forever. Secondly, there was a feeling that hidden somewhere in the speech of ·older,
uneducated people were the 'real' _or pure' dialects which were steadily being corrupted by
the standard variety, but which the dialectologists could discover and describe if they were
clever enough. Gradually, however, dialectologists realized that by investigating only the
speech of older, uneducated speakers they were obtaining an imperfect and inaccurate
picture of the speech of different areas.
The methods developed by Labov have proved to be very significant for the study of social-
class dialects and accents. The methods of traditional dialectology may be adequate for the
description of caste dialects (though even this is doubtful) since any individual, how ,ever
selected, stands a fair chance of being not too different from the caste group as a whole.
Showing Page:
4/5
But it is not possible to select individual speakers and to generalize from them to the rest
of the speakers in their social-class group. This was an important point that was
demonstrated by Labov. As far as English is concerned, linguists have known for a long
time that different dialects and accents are related to differences of social-class background.
In Britain, we can describe the situation today in the following, somewhat simplified way.
Conservative, and, in particular, rural dialects - old-fashioned varieties associated with
groups lowest in the social hierarchy - change gradually as one move across the
countryside.
In Britain, at the other end of the social scale, however, the situation is very different.
Speakers of the highest social class employ the dialect we have called Standard English.
To take a lexical example, there is a single word scarecrow in the Standard English dialect
ignifying the humanoid object farmers place in fields to scare off birds. At the other end of
the pyramid, on the other hand, we find a far greater degree of regional variation in the
most localized regional English dialects. Corresponding to scarecrow we have bogle, flay-
crow, Maupin mawkin, bird-scarer, moggy, shay, guy, bogeyman, shift rook-scarer, and
several others. The same sort of pattern is also found with grammatical differences. In
Standard English, for example, we find both:
We find both:
He's a man who likes his beer
and
He's a man that likes his beer.
But regional variation in nonstandard British English varieties
Is much greater. The entire following is possible:
He's a man who likes his beer.
He's a man that likes his beer.
He's a man at likes his beer.
He's a man as likes his beer.
He's a man who likes his beer.
As far as accent is concerned, the situation in Britain is slightly different because of the
unique position of RP. (This is not to say that there is no variation within RP, but what
there is not regionally determined.) This means that at any given point in England, and at
least in parts of the rest of the United Kingdom, there is a continuum of accents ranging
from RP, through various local accents, to the most localized accent associated with the
lowest social class.
Finally, and most importantly, it gives us a great deal of information about, and insights
into, the processes involved in linguistic change - one of the biggest mysteries there is
Showing Page:
5/5
involving human languages and one which sociolinguistics has done much to help us to
understand better in the last forty years. As we shall see in the next chapter, the correlation
of linguistic variables with sociolinguistic variables is not the goal of this type of research;
in the study of linguistic change, this type of correlation is not where we finish but where
we start.

Unformatted Attachment Preview

Submitted To Study Pool Submitted By Assignment topic: coachingcenter Summary of Language and Social Class Book Name: Sociolinguistics-An introduction to Language and society Class PGD - ELT Sem 1 Written By: Peter Trudgill Course Title Sociolinguistics Date of Submission April 13, 2021 Department of English Language and Literature, University of the Punjab, Lahore. Summary of Language and Social Class The internal differentiation of human societies is reflected in their languages. Different social groups use different linguistic varieties, and as experienced members of a speech community. The question which arises is that why does social differentiation have this effect on language? We may note parallels between the developments of these social varieties and the development of regional varieties: in both cases,s barriers and distance appear to be relevant. Dialectologists have found that regional-dialect boundaries often coincide with geographical barriers, such as mountains, swamps, or rivers: for example, all traditional dialect speakers in the areas of Britain north of the River Humber (between Lincolnshire and Yorkshire) still have a monophthong in words like a house ('hoose' [hu:s]), whereas speakers south of the river have had some kind of [haus] -type diphthong for several hundred years; and in the USA the border between Northern and Midland dialects at some points runs along the Ohio River. It also seems to be the case that the greater the geographical distance between two dialects the more dissimilar they are linguistical: for instance, those regional varieties of British English which are most unlike the speech of London are undoubtedly those of the north-east of Scotland - Buchan, for example; while in North America the biggest linguistic differences between regional varieties of English would be found by comparing the speech of Newfoundland with that of, say, Mississippi. The development of social varieties can perhaps be explained in the same sort of way - in terms of social barriers and social distance. The diffusion of a linguistic feature through a society may be halted by barriers of social class, age, race, religion, ion, or other factors. And social distance may have the same sort of effect as geographical distance: for example, a linguistic innovation that begins amongst the highest social group will affect the lowest social group last, if at all. Of the many forms of social differentiation, for example by class, age, sex, race, or religion, Social stratification is a term used to refer to any hierarchical ordering of groups within society especially in terms of power, wealth, and status. In the industrialized societies of the West, this takes the form of stratification into social classes and gives rise linguistically to social-class dialects. (The whole question of social class is somewhat controversial, especially since sociologists are not agreed as to the exact nature, definition of orexis, tense of social classes. However, there is little point in attempting to list or evaluate here the different approaches adopted by sociological theorists to this topic. Suffice it to say that social classes are generally taken to be aggregates of individuals with similar social and economic characteristics. Social-class stratification is not universal, however. In India, for example, traditional society is stratified into different castes. As far as the linguist is concerned, caste dialects are in some ways easier to study and describe than social-class dialects. This is because castes are relatively stable, clearly named groups, rigidly separated from each other, with hereditary membership, and with little possibility of movement from one caste to another. (This is a considerable simplification of the actual situation, but my main point is to emphasize the difference between caste and class societies.) Because of this rigid separation into distinct groups, caste-dialect differences have tended to be relatively clear-cut, and social differences in language are sometimes greater than regional differences In the class societies of the English-speaking world the social situation is much more fluid, and the linguistic situation is therefore rather more complex, at least in certain respects. Social classes are not clearly defined or Labeled entities but simply aggregate of people with similar social and economic characteristics; and social mobility - movement up or down the social hierarchy - is perfectly possible. This makes things much more difficult for any linguist who wishes to describe a particular variety - the more heterogeneous society is, the more heterogeneous is its language. For many years the linguist's reaction to this complexity was generally to ignore it - in two rather different ways. Many linguists concentrated their studies on the Idiolect - the speech of one person at one time in one style - which was thought (largely erroneously, as it happens - to be more regular than the speech of the community as a whole. Dialectologists, on the other hand, concentrated on the speech of rural informants, and in particular on that of people of little education in small isolated villages, most especially those whom the Canadian linguist Jack Chambers has referred to as 'NORMS' - non-mobile older rural males. Even small villages are socially heterogeneous, of course, but it is easier to ignore this fact in villages than in large towns. It is only fair to say, however, that there are two additional explanations for why dialectologists concentrated on rural areas in this way; first, they were concerned to record many dialect features which were dying out before they were lost forever. Secondly, there was a feeling that hidden somewhere in the speech of ·older, uneducated people were the 'real' _or pure' dialects which were steadily being corrupted by the standard variety, but which the dialectologists could discover and describe if they were clever enough. Gradually, however, dialectologists realized that by investigating only the speech of older, uneducated speakers they were obtaining an imperfect and inaccurate picture of the speech of different areas. The methods developed by Labov have proved to be very significant for the study of socialclass dialects and accents. The methods of traditional dialectology may be adequate for the description of caste dialects (though even this is doubtful) since any individual, how ,ever selected, stands a fair chance of being not too different from the caste group as a whole. But it is not possible to select individual speakers and to generalize from them to the rest of the speakers in their social-class group. This was an important point that was demonstrated by Labov. As far as English is concerned, linguists have known for a long time that different dialects and accents are related to differences of social-class background. In Britain, we can describe the situation today in the following, somewhat simplified way. Conservative, and, in particular, rural dialects - old-fashioned varieties associated with groups lowest in the social hierarchy - change gradually as one move across the countryside. In Britain, at the other end of the social scale, however, the situation is very different. Speakers of the highest social class employ the dialect we have called Standard English. To take a lexical example, there is a single word scarecrow in the Standard English dialect ignifying the humanoid object farmers place in fields to scare off birds. At the other end of the pyramid, on the other hand, we find a far greater degree of regional variation in the most localized regional English dialects. Corresponding to scarecrow we have bogle, flaycrow, Maupin mawkin, bird-scarer, moggy, shay, guy, bogeyman, shift rook-scarer, and several others. The same sort of pattern is also found with grammatical differences. In Standard English, for example, we find both: We find both: He's a man who likes his beer and He's a man that likes his beer. But regional variation in nonstandard British English varieties Is much greater. The entire following is possible: He's a man who likes his beer. He's a man that likes his beer. He's a man at likes his beer. He's a man as likes his beer. He's a man who likes his beer. As far as accent is concerned, the situation in Britain is slightly different because of the unique position of RP. (This is not to say that there is no variation within RP, but what there is not regionally determined.) This means that at any given point in England, and at least in parts of the rest of the United Kingdom, there is a continuum of accents ranging from RP, through various local accents, to the most localized accent associated with the lowest social class. Finally, and most importantly, it gives us a great deal of information about, and insights into, the processes involved in linguistic change - one of the biggest mysteries there is involving human languages and one which sociolinguistics has done much to help us to understand better in the last forty years. As we shall see in the next chapter, the correlation of linguistic variables with sociolinguistic variables is not the goal of this type of research; in the study of linguistic change, this type of correlation is not where we finish but where we start. Name: Description: ...
User generated content is uploaded by users for the purposes of learning and should be used following Studypool's honor code & terms of service.
Studypool
4.7
Trustpilot
4.5
Sitejabber
4.4