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Chapter 8 Sociolinguistics

I. Decide whether each of the following statements is True or False:

l.F     2.F     3.T     4.T     5.T     6.F     7.F     8.F     9.F     10.F

11. F     12. T     13. F     14. F     15.F     16. T     17. F     18. F     19. T     20. F

 

II. Fill in each of the blanks below with one word which begins with the letter given:

21. community     22. variety     23. dialectal     24.planning     25. sociolects

26. Stylistic     27. official     28. superposed     29. vernacular

30. inflectional     31. social     32. linguistic

 

III. There are four choices following each statement. Mark the choice that can best complete the statement:

33. B     34. C     35. A.     36. A.     37. C     38.D     39.A     40. C     41. A    42. D

 

IV. Define the following terms:

43. sociolinguistics: Sociolinguistics is the study of language in social contexts.

44. speech community: The social group isolated for any given study is called the speech community or a speech community is a group of people who form a community and share the same language or a particular variety of language. The important characteristic of a speech community is that the members of the group must, in some reasonable way, interact lin-guistically with other members of the community. They may share closely re-lated language varieties, as well as attitudes toward linguistic norms.

45. speech variety: Speech variety, also known as language variety, refers to any distin-guishable form of speech used by a speaker or group of speakers. The dis-tinctive characteristics of a speech variety may be lexical, phonological, morphological, syntactic, or a combination of linguistic features.

46. language planning: language standardization is known as lan-guage planning. This means that certain authorities, such as the government or government agency of a country, choose a particular speech variety and spread the use of it, including its pronunciation and spelling systems, across regional boundaries.

 

47. Idiolect: An idiolect is a personal dialect of an individual speaker that com-bines aspects of all the elements regarding regional, social, and stylistic variation, in one form or another. In a narrower sense, what makes up one’s idiolect includes also such factors as voice quality, pitch and speech rhythm, which all contribute to the identifying features in an individual' s speech.

 

48. standard language : The standard language is a superposed, socially prestigious dialect of language. It is the language employed by the government and the judiciary system, used by the mass media, and taught in educational institutions, in-cluding school settings where the language is taught as a foreign or second language.

49. nonstandard language: Language varieties other than the standard are called nonstandard languages

50. lingua franca: A lingua franca is a variety of language that serves as a medium of com-munication among groups of people for diverse linguistic backgrounds.

51. pidgin: A pidgin is a variety of language that is generally used by native speak-ers of other languages as a medium of communication.

52. Creole: A Creole language is originally a pidgin that has become established as a native language in some speech community.

53. diglossia : Diglossia usually describes a situation in which two very different vari-eties of language co-exist in a speech community, each with a distinct range of purely social function and appropriate for certain situations.

54. Bilingualism: Bilingualism refers to a linguistic situation in which two standard lan-guages are used either by an individual or by a group of speakers, such as the inhabitants of a particular region or a nation.

55. ethnic dialect: Within a society, speech variation may come about because of different ethnic backgrounds . An ethnic language variety is a so-cial dialect of a language, often cutting across regional differences. An eth-nic dialect is spoken mainly by a less privileged population that has experi-enced some form of social isolation, such as racial discrimina-tion or segregation.

56. Sociolect: Social dialects, or sociolects, are varieties of language used by people belonging to particular social classes.

57. register: Registers are language varieties which are appropriate for use in partic-ular speech situations, in contrast to language varieties that are associated with the social or regional grouping of their customary users. Format reason, registers are also known as situational dialects .

 

58. Slang: Slang is a casual use of language that consists of expressive but non-standard vocabulary, typically of arbitrary, flashy and often ephemeral coinages and figures of speech characterized by spontaneity and sometimes by raciness.

59. taboo : taboo, or rather linguistic taboo, denotes any pro-hibition by the polite society on the use of particular lexical items to refer to objects or acts.

60. euphemism: A euphemism, then, is a mild, indirect or less of-fensive word or expression substituted when the speaker or writer fears more direct wording might be harsh, unpleasantly direct, or offensive.

V. Answer the following questions as comprehensively as possible. Give examples for illustration if necessary:

61. Discuss with examples that the speech of women may differ from the speech of men.

In normal situations, female speakers tend to use more prestigious forms than their male counterparts with the same general social background. For example, standard English forms such as "I did it" and "he isn' t" can be found more often in the speech of females, while the more colloquial "I done it" and "he ain' t" occur more frequently in the speech of males.

Another feature often associated with so-called women' s language is politeness. Usually, tough and rough speeches have connotations of mas-culinity and are not considered to be desirable feminine qualities. In gener-al, men's language is more straightforward, less polite, and more direct, and women's language is more indirect, less blunt, and more circumlocuto-ry.

This phenomenon of sex-preferential differentiation is also reflected in the relative frequency with which males and females use the same lexical items. For example, certain words that are closely associated with women may sound typically feminine as a result of that association. For example, some English adjectives like "lovely", "nice", "darling" and "cute" occur more often in female speeches and therefore cause feminine association. Fe-males have also been shown to possess a greater variety of specific color terms than males, in spite of the fact that men do not necessarily possess less acute color perception than women. On the other hand, males have the reputation of possessing a larger vocabulary in traditionally male-dominated domains such as sports, hunting and the military.

A request in English such as " Close the door when you leave" can be phrased in a number of ways ranging from a harsh command to a very polite request:

a. Close the door when you leave.

b. Please close the door when you leave.

c. Would you please close the door when you leave

d. Could you close the door when you leave

Although the above options are all available to both men and women, it is usually the more polite forms that are selected by female speakers. In general, females are found to use more questions than declarative statements in comparison with males.

62. Discuss with examples some of the linguistic differences between Standard English and Black English.

One of the most prominent phonological characteristics of Black English is the frequent simplification of consonant clusters at the end of words when one of the two consonants is an alveolar /t/, /d/, /s/, or /z/. The application of this simplification rule may delete the past - tense morpheme, so "past "and "passed "are both pronounced like "pass."

Another salient characteristic of Black English phonological system con-cerns the deletion of some word-final stop consonants in words like "side" and "borrowed." Speakers of Black English frequently delete these word-fi-nal stops, pronouncing “side” like “sigh” and “borrowed” like “borrow.”

One prominent syntactic feature is the frequent absence of various forms of the copula "be" in Black English, which are required of Standard Eng-lish. Compare the following expressions in Black English and Standard Eng-lish:

(1) Black English Standard English

They mine. They' re mine.

You crazy. You re crazy.

Another distinctive syntactic feature of Black English is the systematic use of die expression "it is" where Standard English uses "there is " in the sense of “there exists” :

Is it a Mr. Johnson in this office

Another aspect of Black English is the use of double negation constructions. Whenever the verb is negated, the indefinite pronouns "something", "some-body", and "some" become the negative indefinites "nothing", "nobody", and "none", for example:

He don't know nothing. (He doesn't know anything.)

63. What is a linguistic taboo What effect does it have on our use of language

A linguistic taboo refers to a word or expression that is prohibited by the "polite" society from general use. Obscene, profane, and swear words are all taboo words that are to be avoided entirely, or at least avoided in mixed company.

In sociolinguistics, a linguistic taboo, denotes any pro-hibition on the use of particular lexical items to refer to objects or acts. As language use is contextualized in particular social settings, linguistic taboo originates from social taboo. When an act is taboo, reference to this act may also become taboo. Taboo words and expressions reflect the particular social customs and views of a particular culture.

As linguistic taboo reflects social taboo, certain words are more likely to be avoided, for examples, the words related to sex, sex organs and ex-crement in many cultures. The avoidance of using taboo language mirrors social attitudes, emo-tions and value judgments, and has no linguistic basis.

The avoidance of using taboo language has led to the creation of euphemisms. A euphemism is a mild, indirect or less of-fensive word or expression substituted when the speaker or writer fears more direct wording might be harsh, unpleasantly direct, or offensive. For exam-ple, we say "portly" instead of "fat".

In many cultures, people avoid using direct words that pertain to death or dying because it is the subject that everyone fears and is unpleasant to talk about. In the English-speaking world, for example, people do not “die” , but “pass away”.

Euphemisms involve a wide range of fields. Although the use of euphemisms has the effect of removing derogatory overtones, the disassociative effect is never long-lasting . Often when the negative connotation of a word is recognized in its euphemistic form, a new euphemism will have to be sought for. However, an excessive use of euphemism may have negative effects. As a matter of fact, many euphemisms have become cliches that are to be avoided in formal speech and writing. They also tend to be wordy and to give writing a timid quality. In addition, euphemism can be evasive or even deceitful. Because they are often improperly used to obscure the intended meaning, many people find them offensive and prefer plain language.