Intercultural communication
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Intercultural Communication. Issues at Home Last Updated: May 14, 2012. Home Grown Issues. Linguistic tensions in the US are primarily home grown. Not uniquely to our culture, there are more conflicts with our neighbors than people far away.

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Intercultural Communication

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Intercultural Communication

Issues at Home

Last Updated: May 14, 2012


Home Grown Issues

  • Linguistic tensions in the US are primarily home grown.

  • Not uniquely to our culture, there are more conflicts with our neighbors than people far away.

  • Our tendencies (and we will test this hypothesis) are to have more prejudice for high-contact ethnic dialects than for more distant ones.


Myth 1

  • Myth: The word dialect refers to incorrect speech.


Myth 1

  • Myth: The word dialect refers to incorrect speech.

  • Fact: All forms of a language are ‘dialects’ but some are labeled “standard” because of social prestige.


Myth 2

  • Myth: Standard dialects are the most conservative form of the language (least changed).


Myth 2

  • Fact: The standard dialects are influenced by media and academic standardization, which changes constantly. The language forms of non-mobile, older, rural, males (NORMs) like those in the video (slave language, Appalachian and other rural types) are in fact the most conservative.


Myth 3

  • Myth: If I follow a style guide and the dictionary I can be sure to keep a “standard” language style.


Myth 3

  • Fact: The written and spoken standards are different from one another. Speaking like a book is socially stilting. Dictionaries codify new words with no prejudice. A word’s existence in a dictionary does not justify it as “Standard English.” It does, however, mean it’s in popular use and shows up in print. (Video: Up North, NY)


Myth 4

  • Myth: There is one “correct” pronunciation and language standard for the country. Accents can be (and maybe “should” be) unlearned.


Myth 4

  • Fact: Local standards exist in every region of the country. In English, no organization controls a national standard, though regions are prejudiced against one another. Organizations like “MLA” demonstrate a preference toward language change as it is “useful.” They incorporate meaningful and clarifying changes into the rulebooks by popular (albeit academic) vote.


Myth 4 Cont…

  • Diversity in spoken English (native speakers) occurs correlating with social and geographical boundaries like: gender, education, religion, geographical barriers (lakes, rivers, mountains, etc.), neighborhoods, social groups, etc.


Myth 5

  • Myth: Differences in pronunciation, structure of sentences and word uses are evidence of a person’s citizenship or nationality.


Myth 5

  • Fact: Further diversity in English is influenced by ethnic groups and contact with other language groups. Some regions of the U.S. are non-English speaking. Many naturalized citizens speak English differently as well. Citizens living in culturally diverse regions don’t have the same standards of English as non-diverse communities.


Myth 5

  • Example-Pidgin: When language features (syntax, borrowed words, morphological structures) are borrowed based on a mutual need for communication and include mutual language compromises by two or more languages this “trade language” is called a “pidgin.” Trade languages are often used by first generation immigrants.


Myth 5

  • Example-Creole: Once a generation of children is born into families that speak a pidgin in their daily lives, if they acquire the pidgin as their native language, it is called a “creole.” It becomes linguistically structured and rule-based. Some of those speakers have no other variation of English and speak none of their parents’ native language(s) either.


Myth 6

  • Myth: American dialectal speakers (AAVE, Southern English, Utahns, etc.) are just too lazy to “follow the rules” or they are ignorant.


Myth 6

  • Facts: study of these dialects finds that all dialects (creoles or otherwise) are altered systematically by the speakers in ways that are entirely rule-based.


Myth 6

  • The human brain organizes the rules of multiple language influences into a new system. It is just a different system. These diversities make their way into Standard English as they become “popular.”


Myth 6

  • Non-native adult language learners will never be technically “native” speakers and will not likely speak a perfect standard of English, though some may be very fluent.


Myth 6

  • Creole and other non-standard speakers may suffer social or economic consequences if they do not build “registers” of English to adapt to different circumstances of language use. They do not, however, suffer from learning disabilities or language pathologies.


Ethnic Dialects of English

  • -AAVE : African American Vernacular English, some know it as “Ebonics,” (Videos: Down South)

  • -Chicano English: Spoken by Americans with heavy influence of Spanish language in their environment but who possibly don’t consider themselves Spanish speakers at all. (Videos: Out West)

  • -Spanglish: Spanish speakers who are bi-lingual and speak to one another in a mixed language (creole) or switch back and forth at will. (Videos: Out West, Texas)

  • Creole: spoken by Louisiana natives. (Video: Down South)


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