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Canadian English. LING 202, Fall 2007 Dr. Tony Pi Week 4 - Techniques. What is Sociolinguistics?. Sociolinguistics: the study of language in society; languages and the people who use them.

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Canadian english l.jpg

Canadian English

LING 202, Fall 2007

Dr. Tony Pi

Week 4 - Techniques

What is sociolinguistics l.jpg
What is Sociolinguistics?

  • Sociolinguistics: the study of language in society; languages and the people who use them.

    • "pragmatic [=sociolinguistic] competence is knowledge of conditions and manner of appropriateuse, in conformity with various purposes.... We might say that pragmatic competence places language in the institutional setting of its use, relating intentions and purposes to the linguisticmeans at hand." (Chomsky 1980)

    • "Somehow, young children have a theory of society and a theory of language, and they are ableto link them up in some fashion to indicate that you speak this language in this situation." (Chomsky 1988)

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Observer’s Paradox

  • Our goal is to observe the way people use language when they are not being observed. How do we do this?

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Accommodation Theory

  • Speech Convergence: polite speech strategy

    • speech accommodation occurs when speaker intent on putting another at ease

    • implies addressee's speech is acceptable and worth imitating

    • can converge in content, linguistic proficiency, pronunciation, level of jargon

    • can converge speech upwards (in social standing) or downwards

      • example: Montreal: Francophones speaking English in stores to make sales

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Collecting Data

  • public speech, including mass media

  • rapid anonymous interviews

  • unsystematic observations

  • Contextual style

    • CS casual style

    • IS interview style

    • RP reading passage style

    • WL word list style

    • MP minimal pairs

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Critical Age Hypothesis

  • The language faculty of children is fluid until the onset of adolescence

    • roughly between ages of 2-13

    • where a person grows up is likely to determine his dialect

    • vocabulary and pronunciation less likely to change after the critical age

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Apparent Time vs. Real Time

  • Real time: comparisons of different time periods to see if any changes have occurred

  • Apparent-time: comparing different generations; comparisons at same time period (using critical age hypothesis)

    • Apparent Time Hypothesis: because language is more or less fixed after a certain age, you can estimate the state of a dialect form by looking at the speech patterns of people of different ages

    • S-curve indicate change in progress.

    • Bell-curve typical of stable variation.

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Age-Grading vs. Actual Change

  • Age-grading: not an actual change. This is a pronunciation or word that you grow out of using. If you compare how people use this variant in ten, twenty, fifty years, the graph will look the same.

  • Change in progress: an actual change in how people speak is occurring. More and more peoplelearn the word or pronunciation (or fewer and fewer use it), and the percentage of people usingthe word in that generation remains practically the same. That means that the graph will not look the same ten, twenty, fifty years in the future. We will discuss how these graphs differ in more detail, and see the graphs online (q62).

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Zee and Zed Revisited

  • In the online article, Zee and Zed, the phenomenon of age-grading is discussed. We will discuss the difference between age-grading and an actual change in progress.

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Canadian-American Shibboleths

  • anti

  • asphalt

  • avenue

  • facecloth

  • lever

  • mum

  • pop

  • semi

  • shone

  • tap

  • vase

  • zed

  • couch/sofa/chesterfield

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  • tap > OF taper to cork, bung, plug > Frankish *tappon. (Same stem was nasalized in MF as tampon, from which MnF tamponner to stop up, bung, plug, and MnE tampon.)

  • faucet > MF fausset n > OProv falsar v to falsify, create a fault in, bore through > LL falsare to falsify

    tapfaucet both

    • Avis (1954) 89.5% 5.5% 5.0%


    • S&W (1972) adults 91 8 1

    • Ont. teens 91 7 2

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  • Anti

    (S&W 1972) ant[i] ant[ai] both

    adults 78% 18% 4%

    students 75% 17% 8%

    (GH 1992)

    Canadians 87.9% 12.0%

    Americans 21.2% 78.7%

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  • In the online article, Yod-Dropping, the phenomenon of yod-dropping is discussed for one region of the Dialect Topography survey.

  • yod-dropping: the (ju) variable

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  • Hypercorrection: In northern Ontario, there is a dialectal variant which inserts the yod where it shouldn't belong (moon as myoon, noon as nyoon).

  • This is due to the fact that the yod-pronunciation is viewed as the prestige pronunciation. We will look at examples from the DT database (q36 avenue, q42 news, q52 student)

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  • "Dialectologists stipulated nonmobility because they assumed that mobility is a great leveler of accent and dialect. When people from different regions come together, they bring with them numerous differences, great and small, some in their speech. This mixing has long been recognized as a force in language change but so far only impressionistically. To explore it empirically, we need to treat region as an independent variable and try to discover how the speech features imported by outsiders figure in linguistic variation and change."

    • Chambers, Region and Language Variation

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Regionality Index

• Calculating RI:

  • the place where the subject was raised from 8 to 18: base score 1

  • the place where the subject was born: + 0-2

    (0 if same place, 1 if same province, 2 if elsewhere)

  • the place where the subject lives now: + 0-2

  • the place where subject’s parents were born: + 0-2

    scale from 1 to 7:

  • indigenes = 1 (best representatives of the region);

  • interlopers = 7 (poorest representatives)

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Regionality Index (Adjusted)

• To calculate RI across all DT databases, where the subject lives has to be the constant factor.

  • Changes

    • the place where the subject lives now: base score 1

    • the place where the subject was born: + 0-2

      (0 if same place, 1 if same province, 2 if elsewhere)

    • the place where the subject was raised from 8 to 18: +0-2 the place where subject’s parents were born: + 0-2