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Language as a Weapon

Language as a Weapon

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Language as a Weapon

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  1. Language as a Weapon People use language as a cultural conflict and political strife Spanish speakers and their advocates are demanding the use of Spanish in public affairs On the other hand, the United States is promoting “Official English” policies, with English as official language of government

  2. Bilingualism • Over 30 different states in the United States considered passing laws declaring English the official language in the 80’s • Some 30 states today have declared English as their official language • A few states have passed English-plus laws (bilingualism)

  3. Bilingualism • Canada is officially bilingual • Government documents and scholarly journals are printed in both French and English

  4. Quebec’s Language • Most of Canada’s French speakers live in Quebec • The majority of people in Quebec speak French at home • Quebec has passed several laws requiring the use of French in the province

  5. Quebec’s Language • In 1993, the Quebec government passed a law requiring the use of French in advertising • Quebec law allows inclusion of both French and English translations on signage • Not all Quebec residents identify with French. Some speak indigenous languages, some English, etc.

  6. Quebec’s Language • All new immigrants of Quebec must learn French • The people of Quebec try their hardest to remain loyal to the French language as the province continues to experience change

  7. Mutual Intelligibility • Two people understand each other when speaking • If speaking two dialects of one language, you will achieve mutual understanding • Has been strongly rejected by linguists

  8. Mutual Intelligibility • Almost impossible to measure • For example, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese. Both can read standard form of Chinese, but dialects are so different they can’t understand each other • So many different dialects in the world that the actual amount of languages is still in debate

  9. Standardized Language • Published, widely distributed, and purposefully taught • Ireland promotes Irish (Celtic) language by requiring all government employees to pass Irish-language examination before being hired • Ones with influence and power decide the standard language

  10. Standardized Language • Government in China chose the Northern Mandarin Chinese as official standard language • Linguistic term Chinese actually incorporates many different variants

  11. Dialects • Variants of a standard language along regional or ethnic lines • Pronunciation, cadence, syntax, and pace of speech mark a speaker’s dialect • Accent can reveal the regional home of a person

  12. Dialects • Linguists think about dialects in terms of dialect chains distributed across space • Language is an umbrella for a collection of dialects • Tend to see one dialect as the “true” language only because the government claims it as standard

  13. Dialects • Dialects are frequently marked by actual differences in vocabulary • A single word or group of words can reveal the source area of a dialect • Dialects nearest to each other will be the most similar

  14. Isogloss • A geographic boundary within which a particular linguistic occurs • Such boundaries are rarely just a line • Fuzzy isoglosses signifies that the dialect has been expanded or contracted • Pronunciation, vocabulary, use of colloquial phrases, and syntax determine isoglosses

  15. Isogloss • Linguistic geographer, Hans Kurath, published atlases of dialects in the U.S. defining Northern, Southern, and Midland dialect in eastern part of country • In mid 1900’s Kurath drew distinct isoglosses among the three dialects, based on pronunciation of certain sounds

  16. Bert Vaux • Recently used a 122- question online survey to map dialects of the United States • Words like pop, soda, and coke can distinguish dialects in the United States

  17. Why are languages distributed the way they are? • First step in mapping distribution of world is to classify languages • Linguistic geographers use biology terms to classify languages: like species

  18. Why are languages distributed the way they are? • Languages are classified as language families at the global scale • Languages have a shared but fairly distant origin within a single language family

  19. Why are languages distributed the way they are? • Language families are broken down into subfamilies • Subfamilies- commonalities are more definite and origin is more recent • Completing the categorization are individual languages, covering a smaller extent of territory, and dialects, covering the smallest extent of territory

  20. Why are languages distributed the way they are? • The world map of languages actually maps 20 major language families • Indo-European language family stretches across the greatest extent of territory and also claims the largest number of speakers • Of all languages in the world Chinese actually claims more speakers than English