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APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY PowerPoint Presentation
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APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY

APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY

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APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY

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  1. APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY LECTURE 3

  2. What is sociolinguistics? • The study of the social aspects of language use is called ‘sociolinguistics’. • Sociolinguistics is the study of • how speakers use language • people’s attitudes to language use • the motivations for language change • why there is variation in language LECTURE 3

  3. Different approaches to the Study of Language in Society • Social structure may either influence or determine linguistic structure and/or behavior • Linguistic structure and/or behavior may either influence or determine social structure • The influence between language and society is bi-directional: language and society may influence each other • There may be no relationship between linguistic structure and social structure and each is independent of each other LECTURE 3

  4. Language and society LECTURE 3

  5. Sociolinguistic research Who’s done what? • During this course we’ll be looking at ground-breaking research which has been carried out by people whose names are now synonymous with sociolinguistics. • William Labov, an American linguist currently Professor of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His early interest was language change and its interaction with the social dimensions of class and age, and Ebonics. LECTURE 3

  6. Sociolinguistic research: Who’s done what? • Lesley Milroy: detailed account of inner city Belfast middle and working class language use. From this work she developed social network theory. Now University of Michigan Professor and Chair of Linguistics. • Peter Trudgill a British sociolinguist from Norwich. Specialist in dialect. Trudgill undertook a detailed investigation of Norwich dialect usage, confirming the close linguistic relationship between class and language use. • Jenny Cheshire, now at Queen Mary, used participant observation to gain data about the relationship between use of linguistic variables and peer group culture by adolescents in England. LECTURE 3

  7. How is language use studied? • We can distinguish several different types of ‘language’ going on around us spoken language written language public (billboards) social (internet, books, leaflets) Braille intimate private (letters, diaries) LECTURE 3

  8. How do researchers study spoken language use? • select some aspect or feature of language; • examine who is using this feature, or where it is being used; • collect examples (the data); • analyse the data LECTURE 3

  9. What are data (which is a plural noun) and where can they be found? • Data are samples of natural language that show usage of the feature being studied, to provide evidence to prove or disprove a hypothesis. Spontaneous spoken language is always the preferred variety for sociolinguistic study. Some data sources: • casual conversation between friends • spontaneous speech broadcast on television or radio • formal interaction between strangers • workplace interaction • discussion groups • published verbatim transcripts of interactive speech LECTURE 3

  10. What are data (which is a plural noun) and where can they be found? Published sources • newspapers • advertisements • leaflets • books • magazines • internet sites LECTURE 3

  11. Data collection methods • Recordings: using a tape recorder to record speech. Tapes need to be transcribed. • Transcripts: e.g. published transcripts of parliamentary debates are sometimes available in certain countries. • Using a corpus: collections of types of natural speech or writing, collected according to a given set of principles, often available on-line, which can be analyzed quantitatively. E.g: London-Lund Corpus and British National Corpus. • Interviews, questionnaires / self-reporting: Some researchers ask people, by interview or questionnaire, what their usual spoken form is, for a particular feature. • Introspection, anecdotal: these methods have been used by researchers in the past, but today more empirical data is preferred. • Published sources and public records: several sources provide statistical data about language use: the census LECTURE 3

  12. Sample size and relevance • How much data is needed? What is an appropriate sample size? Need to ensure that the sample is properly balanced, that it contains reasonably equal numbers of all types of informants. LECTURE 3

  13. Observer’s Paradox, ethical considerations, other problems e.g. technical, logistical. • Researchers need to take account of factors which may compromise the data in some way, e.g. the Observer’s Paradox (what is being observed changes because it is being observed); ethical considerations; technical and logistical limitations. LECTURE 3

  14. Observer’s Paradox, ethical considerations, other problems e.g. technical, logistical Overcoming the Observer’s Paradox • to become an accepted member of the target group • to become an ‘insider’ • surreptitious recording LECTURE 3

  15. Observer’s Paradox, ethical considerations, other problems e.g. technical, logistical Ethical constraints • Ethics committees • permission to use recorded material • rights of informants to edit material LECTURE 3

  16. Observer’s Paradox, ethical considerations, other problems e.g. technical, logistical Technical and logistical problems • recordings need to be transcribed – time-consuming process • recordings need to be clear and uncompromised by background noise • logistical constraints – travel, distance, time, money LECTURE 3