General Linguistics

Language, Society And Culture

Factors Involved in the investigation of Social Dialect

Social Class And Education:
Leaving Educational system at early age
e.g. ( Them boys throwed somethin)
Spending long time in educational system
e.g. (Talks like a book)

Labov’s Theory:
Study of Labov (1972), looking sales people pronunciation differences in New York city at Saks, Macy’s and Klein’s departmental stores.
Use of more  /r/ Sound by higher and socio-economic status. (higher)
Fewer /r/ sounds produced by lower socio-economic status. (lowah)

Dialect Survey in a particular region shows that grandparents may use those terms which grand children do not.
e.g icebox, wireless (doesn’t use like to introduce reported speech)
e.g we’re getting ready, and he’s like

Female speaker tend to use Prestigious form than male
e.g I done it—I did
e.g Women discuss personal feelings, experience, seeking connections while Male Non-personal topics and give advice on solutions, more competitive and concerned with power via language

Ethnic background:
An ethnic group (or ethnicity) is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and an ideology

Within any society differences in speech may come about because of Ethnic background
e.g African Americans known as BEV, Use frequent absence of copula, Double negative constructions, illogical structure
(He don’t know nothing, I ain’t afraid of no ghosts)

In linguistics, an idiolect is a variety of a language unique to an individual. It is manifested by patterns of vocabulary or idiom selection (the individual’s lexicon), grammar, or pronunciations that are unique to the individual.
The term idiolect is used for the personal dialect of each individual speaker of a language.

Use in specific situations
Religious Register (Ye Shall be blessed by him)
Legal Register (The Plaintiff is ready to take the witness stand)

Technical Vocabulary associated with the special activity or group
“Don’t bother me know I’m juggling eggs”
A major skill like pronunciation and grammar, to different varieties of language co-exist in a speech community (Arabic Language)

Language and Culture:
Linguistic variations are some times discussed as terms of cultural differences
Culture variation means “socially acquired knowledge” or cultural transmission by which languages are acquired

Worlds culture study become clear that different groups not only have different languages, they have different world’s views reflected in their languages
In very simple term, the Aztecs not only didn’t have a figure in their culture like “ Santa Claus”, they did not have a word for this figure either

Linguistic Determinism:
If two languages appear to have very different ways of describing the way of world is called linguistic determinism
Language determines thoughts (You can only think in the categories which your language allows you to think in)
Eskimos in English

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis:
Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf produced arguments in 1930s that language of American Indians is different from other Europeans languages
Hopi Indians Tribes perceived differently from other English speaking tribes, distinction b/w animate and inanimate (Cloud, Stone)
Confusion b/w (animate, feminine, living, female—door, stone)

Language Universals:
All languages of the world have certain common properties, those common properties called linguistics universals and can be described with definitive feature of languages
Arbitrary symbol systems, noun like and verb components, set of sound patterns, Grammar, prepositions

Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society.

Sociology of Language:
Sociology of language focuses on the language’s effect on the society. It is closely related to the field of sociolinguistics, which focuses on the effect of the society on the language.
A sociology of language would seek to understand the way that social dynamics are affected by individual and group language use

Social Dialects:
Social Dialects are varieties of language used by groups defined according to class, education, age, sex, and a number of other social parameters.

Concept of Prestige:
In sociolinguistics, prestige describes the level of respect accorded to a language or dialect as compared to that of other languages or dialects in a speech community. The concept of prestige in sociolinguistics is closely related to that of prestige or class within a society. Generally, there is positive prestige associated with the language or dialect of the upper classes, and negative prestige with the language or dialect of the lower classes.

Language, Society and Culture
By: Muhammad Afzal & Zammad Aslam

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Linguistic relativity

The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects the ways in which its speakers are able to conceptualize their world, i.e. their world view. Popularly known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, the principle is generally understood as having two different versions: (i) the strong version that language determines thought and that linguistic categories limit and determine cognitive categories and (ii) the weak version that linguistic categories and usage influence thought and certain kinds of non-linguistic behavior.

The idea was first clearly expressed by 19th century thinkers, such as Wilhelm von Humboldt who saw language as the expression of the spirit of a nation. The early 20th century school of American Anthropology headed by Franz Boas and Edward Sapir also embraced the idea. Sapir’s student Benjamin Lee Whorf came to be seen as the primary proponent as a result of his published observations of how he perceived linguistic differences to have consequences in human cognition and behavior. Harry Hoijer, one of Sapir’s students, introduced the term “Sapir–Whorf hypothesis”, albeit infelicitous due to Sapir’s non-involvement with the idea and the term’s misleading use of hypothesis in a colloquial (i.e. non-scientific) sense. Whorf’s ideas were widely criticized, and Roger Brown and Eric Lenneberg decided to put them to the test. They reformulated Whorf’s principle of linguistic relativity as a testable hypothesis and conducted experiments designed to find out whether color perception varies between speakers of languages that classified colors differently. As the study of the universal nature of human language and cognition came in to focus in the 1960s the idea of linguistic relativity fell out of favor. A 1969 study by Brent Berlin and Paul Kay showed that color terminology is subject to universal semantic constraints, and the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis was seen as completely discredited.

From the late 1980s a new school of linguistic relativity scholars have examined the effects of differences in linguistic categorization on cognition, finding broad support for weak versions of the hypothesis in experimental contexts. Effects of linguistic relativity have been shown particularly in the domain of spatial cognition and in the social use of language, but also in the field of color perception. Recent studies have shown that color perception is particularly prone to linguistic relativity effects when processed in the left brain hemisphere, suggesting that this brain half relies more on language than the right one. Currently a balanced view of linguistic relativity is espoused by most linguists holding that language influences certain kinds of cognitive processes in non-trivial ways but that other processes are better seen as subject to universal factors. Current research is focused on exploring the ways in which language influences thought and determining to what extent. The principle of linguistic relativity and the relation between language and thought has also received attention in varying academic fields from philosophy to psychology and anthropology, and it has also inspired and colored works of fiction and the invention of constructed languages.


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