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ENG368 Sociolinguistics Lesson 1 Course Introduction PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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ENG368 Sociolinguistics Lesson 1 Course Introduction. Instructor. Cecilia Li [email protected] Appointment by email. Schedule. Course introduction Questionnaire Quiz Mini-lecture on sociolinguistics. Questionnaire.

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ENG368 Sociolinguistics Lesson 1 Course Introduction

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Lesson 1

Course Introduction


  • Cecilia Li

  • [email protected]

  • Appointment by email


  • Course introduction

  • Questionnaire

  • Quiz

  • Mini-lecture on sociolinguistics


Complete the questionnaire and let us know your expectation of the course.


Do the quiz and see how much you already know!

Statement 1

There are five vowel sounds in English.

Statement 1

English is written with five vowel LETTERS. However, those letters serve to represent as many as 12 to 15 SOUNDS, depending on your variety of English. For example, the letter "u" represents 3 different sounds in the words 'but', 'put', 'butte'.

Useful websites on IPA




Statement 2

Educated people speak more grammatically than do uneducated people.

Statement 2

Educated people tend to conform more closely to the norms of a "standard" variety of a language (English in English-speaking countries, French in French-speaking countries, etc.) than do people without formal education.

Statement 3

All linguists speak several languages.

Statement 3

Depending on what you mean by "linguist". One dictionary definition of "linguist" is "someone who speaks two or more languages". By this definition, the statement is obviously true.

Statement 4

The languages of primitive peoples have simpler grammars than languages such as English or French.

Statement 4

All languages are complex. Some of the languages which have the greatest complexity in details of how words are put together, etc. are, in fact, spoken by people in some of the least technologically advanced cultures.

Statement 5

Parrots and people can both use language.

Statement 5

Parrots have the ability to mimic sounds of various types, including words and phrases of human languages. However, a parrot could not learn to combine the word-like sounds that it can mimic into new combinations to create sentences which it had not heard before.

Statement 6

Intelligence is a major factor in a child's ability to learn a first language rapidly and well.

Statement 6

All children in all cultures acquire the languages of their cultures at about the same rate and following similar paths, starting with one-word utterances, then combinations of two words, then more complex utterances with the cute "mistakes" we recognize as baby talk, and so on.

Statement 7

More than two-thirds of the English vocabulary consists of "borrowed" words.

Statement 7

If one goes through an unabridged dictionary of English, one finds that as many as 2/3 of the words listed there have come into English from other languages. That is, these words were not part of the vocabulary of English as it was spoken, say, 1000 years ago.

Statement 8

We should say, "It's I," rather than, "It's me."

Statement 8

The answer here is similar to that for Statement 2 above. If "should say" means that this is what we were taught in school and it is therefore the norm which we should follow, then this statement is true. If "should say" means that we are not speaking "real English" if we do otherwise, then it is false.

Statement 9

A language which has never been written is more properly called a "dialect" than a "language".

Statement 9

If by "dialect" you mean "a non-written variety of speech", this statement is, by definition, true, but this is an incoherent and unacceptable use of the word "dialect". Properly used, the word "dialect" refers to "a variety of language showing systematic differences from other varieties of THE SAME LANGUAGE".

Statement 10

As a language is passed on from one generation to the next, it tends to get corrupted.

Statement 10

If "corrupted" means "changed", then this would be true, but normally persons who make such statements as this mean "degenerated".

Statement 11

Hawaiian Pidgin should not be taught in schools because it prevents children from learning proper English.

Statement 11

Hawaii Pidgin English, Hawaii Creole English, HCE, or simply Pidgin, is a creole language based in part on English used by most “local” residents of Hawaii. Pidgin is used by many Hawaii residents in everyday conversation and is often used in advertising toward Hawaii residents.

Statement 12

There are 3 to 5 distinct sounds in the word thorough.

Statement 12

The sounds are:

th = a single "fricative" sound made by passing air between tongue and teeth

or = for some speakers, a single sound like the "rr" sound in 'bird'; for other speakers, two sounds, i.e. a vowel like the vowel in 'but' and an 'r'

ough = for some speakers a single sound, 'o'; for other speakers, two sounds, 'o' followed by 'w'

Statement 13

There are 4 units of meaning in the word disrespectfully.

Statement 13

The 4 units of meaning are:

dis- means "not, negative“

-respect- means "deference“

-ful- added to the noun respect to make an adjective ("full of respect")

-ly added to an adjective to make an adverb ("in a manner of respecting")

Statement 14

How many languages are there in the world?

Statement 14

Several thousand.

Statement 15

Which two languages in the following pairs are the most closely related to each other?

  • English and Yiddish

  • Yiddish and Hebrew

  • English and French

  • Chinese and Japanese

  • Hawaiian and Tagalog

Statement 15

English and Yiddish

These are both "Germanic" languages.

Statement 16

Which is the oldest language in the world?

  • Sumerian

  • Egyptian

  • Sanskrit

  • Greek

  • Chinese

  • Hebrew

Statement 16

  • Sumerian: records dating from about 3100 BC (5100 years)

  • Egyptian: 3000 BC

  • Sanskrit: 1500 BC

  • Greek: 1400 BC (oldest records in the Greek alphabet, ca. 1000 BC)

  • Chinese: 1300 BC

  • Hebrew: 1100 BC


Aims of Sociolinguistic Study:

1. Describe how we speak differently in different social contexts.

2. Explain why we speak differently in different social contexts.

We speak differently in different social contexts

1.1 Different styles

e.g. Address forms

Sir Robert Jones, Mr. Jones, Robert, Bob

e.g. Greetings

How are you?

Hi, what a nice day.

We speak differently in different social contexts

1.2 Different pronunciation

Sam: “ You seen our ‘enry’s new ‘ouse yet? It’s in ‘alton you know.

(dropping of “h”)

Jim: Your Henry owns the biggest house in Halton.

(Holmes 2008:4)

We speak differently in different social contexts

1.3 Different Vocabulary

Tender exact fare

Give the right money

State destination

Tell me where you’re going

(Holmes 2008:5)

We speak differently in different social contexts

1.4 Different Grammar

Refuseshould be deposited in the receptacle provided. (passive voice)

Put your rubbish in the bin, Jilly.

(Holmes 2008:5)

We speak differently in different social contexts

1.5 Different Dialects

Putonghua vs. Cantonese in HK

Bokmal (book language) vs. Ranamal in northern Norway

1.6 Different Languages

English and Chinese in HK

French and English in Quebec

Why we speak differently in different social contexts?

2.1 Participants

Who is speaking?

Who are they speaking to?

Why we speak differently in different social contexts?

Participant relationships

a. The solidarity – social distance scale

Intimate ------------------------ Distant

High solidarity Low solidarity

b. The status scale

Superior -------------------- Subordinate

High status Low status

Why we speak differently in different social contexts?

2.2Setting or social context of the interaction: where are they speaking?

The formality scale

Formal ---------------------- Informal

High formality Low formality

Why we speak differently in different social contexts?

2.3 Topic: what are they speaking?

2.4 Function: why are they speaking (purposes)?

Two functional scales relating to the topic or purpose of interaction

The referential function scale:

Referential (give information)

High information < ---------- > Low information contentcontent

The affective function scale:

Affective (express feeling)

Low affective < ------------ > High affective contentcontent

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