Language Chapter 6
Key Question 1: What are Languages, and what Role do Languages Play in Cultures?
Why geographers study language Zorionak! ¿Cómo estás? • the single most common variable by which cultural groups are identified • the main means by which culture passes from one generation to the next • they reinforce the sense of region and place • Some 6,000 languages and many more dialects are spoken today Hello Danke Schön
Language Language – a set of sounds, combinations of sounds, and symbols that are used for communication.
Languages — tongues that cannot be mutually understood • Dialects — variantforms of a language have some mutual comprehension • A dialect is distinctive enough in vocabulary and pronunciation to label its speaker • Pidgin language — results when different linguistic groups come into contact • Serves the purposes of commerce • Has a small vocabulary derived from the various contact groups • Creole language- when a pidgin becomes the native tongue of a group and develops in complexity • Lingua franca — (Frankish Tongue) a language that spreads over a wide area where it is not the mother tongue • A language of communication and commerce
Language and Culture “No one was allowed to speak the language – the Dena’ina language. They [the American government] didn’t allow it in the schools, and a lot of the women had married non-native men, and the men said, ‘You’re American now so you can’t speak the language.’ So, we became invisible in the community. Invisible to each other. And, then, because we couldn’t speak the language – what happens when you can’t speak your own language is you have to think with someone else’s words, and that’s a dreadful kind of isolation [emphasis added].” - Clare Swan, elder, Kenaitze band, Dena’ina Indians
Kenya • Kenya has two official languages: • Swahili and English. • Swahili (Creole language) developed along the coast of East Africa. • English came during the British colonial period.
Language and National Identity Standard Language a language that is published, widely distributed, and purposefully taught. Government usually plays a big role in standardizing a language.
Language and Political Conflict Belgium: Flanders (Flemish language) Wallonia (French language)
Percent of People 5 Years and Older Who Speak a Language other than English at Home
Dialectvariants of a standard language along regional or ethnic lines- vocabulary-syntax- pronunciation- cadence- pace of speech Isogloss A geographic boundary within which a particular linguistic feature occurs
isoglosses — bordersof individual word usages or pronunciations • Typically cluster together in “bundles” • Bundles serve as dividing lines among dialects and languages
English dialects in the United States • Many African-Americans speak their own form of English — Black English (Ebonics) • From a pidgin that developed on early slave plantations • Many features separate it from standard speech, for example: • Lack of pronoun differentiation between genders • Use of undifferentiated pronouns • Often not recognized as a separate linguistic group (seen as speaking standard English poorly)
Mutual Intelligibility • Means two people can understand each other when speaking. • Problems: • Cannot measure mutual intelligibility • Many “languages” fail the test of mutual intelligibility • Standard languages and governments impact what is a “language” and what is a “dialect”
London, England • Not all English words are not mutually intelligible. • London tube sign • Means? • Tubes, subway, and busking = dialect words
Americans say: Canadians say: first grade (100%) grade one (88%) candy bar (80%) chocolate bar (88%) faucet (91%) tap (74%) zee (99%) zed (74%) studio apartment (71%) bachelor apartment (61%) ATM (89%) bank machine (57%) gutters (91%) eavestroughs (58%) soda (57%) pop (70%) silverware (83%) cutlery (51%) restroom (55%) washroom (52%) Top ten variables differentiating Canadian and American English (national averages). http://www.arts.mcgill.ca/programs/linguistics/faculty/boberg/Articles/n_american_survey/N_American_Survey.htm
World Language Families The Linguists