Sociolinguistics (Language Variation) Ling 400 Sociolinguistics Goals: identify aspects of socioeconomic factors in language variation identify aspects of gender and ethnicity as factors in language variation describe how shifts in speech contexts cause changes in speaking styles
list the reasons why standard national dialects are problematic propositions What is sociolinguistics? Sociolinguistics: The study of the interrelationships between language and social structure; centrally concerned with how language varies (at a single point in time) and changes (over time) according to how people in society use it.
Overview Language vs. dialect Language variation variation in different subareas (phonology, syntax, etc.) variation conditioned by different factors(region, socioeconomics, gender, age, etc.) Language and cultural identity, attitudes about language
Linguistic community Language Dialect 1 Dialect 2 Idiolect 1 Idiolect 2 Idiolect 3, etc. Dialect 3
Dialects (linguists definition) Mutually intelligible varieties; e.g. English spoken in Seattle, English spoken in London, UK Not dialects of same language: W. Germanic (English) spoken in Seattle and W. Germanic (Dutch) spoken in Amsterdam Sources of confusion re dialect Politically distinct linguistically distinct. 200+ countries vs. 6000+ languages
Chinese: languages spoken in same country, mislabeled dialects Spoken in different countries, mislabeled languages: (Czech, Slovak), (Serbian, Croatian), (Norwegian, Swedish, Danish) Difficulties with mutual intelligibility definition 1. There are degrees of mutual intelligibility: what is criterion: 100%? 90%? 50%
Birmingham, UK vs. Seattle, WA 2. Asymmetries in intelligibility: Danish speakers find it easier to understand Swedish than vice versa. Different types of dialects "Standard" dialect: usually that used by political leaders, media, higher socioeconomic classes Standard vs. prescriptively correct Some standard dialects of English
Standard American English (SAE) Received Pronunciation (RP) (UK) Standard vs. non-standard varieties of American English Deletion of voiced stops after nasals standard non-standard comb [kom] [kom]
sing [s] [s] land [lnd] [ln] Language variation Factors contributing to variation Geography Socioeconomics
Gender Age Labovs study (1972) Post-vocalic  (e.g. floor) in NYC File 10.4 casual speech careful speech Saks 63% 64% Macys
44% 61% S. Klein 8% 18% Case study (Japanese) There are some interesting socio-semantic facts that should be of interest to you. I will discuss some of them.
Sociolinguistics and Semantics Pronouns and address terms Japanese has many first and second pronouns, but when they are used (esp. 2nd person pronouns), you have to be very careful. You usually avoid them. (It is hard not to be rude.) 1st: gender neutral: watakushi, watashi male: boku, ore, oira, washi (obsolete) female: atashi, uchi (Kyoto dialect?) 2nd: an(a)ta, omae, kimi, kisama, NAME-san, NAMEkun, NAME-tyan, kisama (archaic and rude) kisama honorable person can only be used when you
are ready to fight. Sociolinguistics and Semantics Pronouns and address terms 3rd: kare he, kanozyo she, ano-hito that person, ano-ko that child that girl kare he and kanozyo she were introduced only recently Name-san can be used in sentences (e.g. questions) addressed to this person. So it is indeed like a second person pronoun.
E.g. Does Mr. Tanaka like sushi? This can mean Mr. Tanaka, do you like sushi? in Japanese. Kinship Terms Insider forms vs. outsider forms In-Group Forms (-san can be replaced by -tyan) too-san dad, okaa-san mom, onii-san elder brother, onee-san elder sister, ozii-san grandfather, ozi-san uncle, etc. Used within the family members like pronouns. They can also be address terms.
Out-Group Forms titi father, haha mother, ani elder brother, ane elder sister, otooto younger brother, imooto younger sister Used outside the family circle. They cannot be address terms. Male vs. Female Language Males and females speak in different ways in Japanese. This is deemphasized recently, but the difference still exists. 1st person pronouns: ore, boku (male) atashi (female), Sentenceending particles: -ze (male) wa (female) -naa (neutral) Kirei-na kesiki-da ze. It is a nice view.
pretty scenery-be ending (male) Kirei-na kesiki-da wa. It is a nice view. pretty scenery-be ending (female) This rule is being broken nowadays. Yabai, yabai!. (young female college students) Be-in-trouble Its great. (can suggest Its a nice view.) (yabai used to be a word reserved for males and indicate a negative situation.) Names vs. pronouns Names are used more often in Japanese sentences
than in English sentences. You can even use names in place of 2nd person pronouns. (In fact, using names is usually more appropriate/polite.) This is not possible in English. Mary is talking to John. Mary: John-san wa nani-o bennkyo-si te imasu ka? John-HON TOP what-ACC study-PROG-PRES-Q What are you studying? Literally: What is John studying? Kinship Terms used for Strangers
Kinship terms are used as address terms/pronouns when dealing with strangers (getting obsolete and can be rude, but still used by older people) 15~30ish male: onii-san elder brother female: onee-san elder sister 30~60ish male: ozi-san uncle, female oba-san aunt 40~70ish male: otoo-san father, female okaa-san mother 65~ male: ozii-san grandfather, female obaa-san grandmother Honorifics and Humble Forms
Japanese distinguishes between honorific forms of verbs and humble forms of verbs in some cases. Honorifics (raise the status of the subject) Humble Forms (lower the status of the subject) syokuzi-o mesiagat-ta. mesiagat-ta (honorable person) ate. meal-ACC eat (honorific)-PAST Syokuzi-o itadai-ta. itadai-ta (humble person) ate. meal-ACC eat (humble)-PAST Syokuzi-o tabe-ta.
tabe-ta (no honorific) ate. Honorifics and Humble Forms These different verbs with the same meaning give the listener some clue as to who the subject is. In this sense, honorifics are somewhat like agreement in European languages. Itadaku eat receive (humble) can be used as an auxiliary verb too. syatyoo-ni tegami-o kaite itadai-ta.
president-DAT letter-ACC write receive-PAST (I) had the P. write a letter for me. Itadai-ta received the favor of
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