COMMON SOURCES OF MISUNDERSTANDING IN SOCIOLINGUISTICS

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1- DIALECT is NOT a negative term for linguists. Very often, for example, we hear people refer to non-standard varieties of English as “dialects”, usually to say something bad about the non-standard variety (and thus about the people who speak it).  But, the term dialect refers to ANY variety of a language. Thus, by definition, we all speak a dialect of our native language.

 2- DIALECT is NOT synonymous with accent. Accent is only a part of dialectal variation.

Non-linguists often think accents define a dialect (or that accents alone identify people as non-native or foreign language speakers). Also, non-linguists tend to think that it’s always the “other” people that have “an accent”. So, what is “accent”?

3- ACCENT: This term refers to phonological variation, i.e. variation in pronunciation Thus, if we talk about a Southern Accent, we’re talking about a generalized property of English pronunciation in the Southern part of the US. But, Southern dialects have more than particular phonological properties .A person is said  to have an Oxford accent when we find in his speech certain phonological characteristics related to English spoken in that town. The term accent is also used to refer to some ,foreign, non –native features in the speech of a person- usually a foreigner speaking a second language. Accent is thus about pronunciation, while dialect is a broader term encompassing syntactic, morphological, and semantic properties as well.

A final note on accent. WE ALL HAVE ONE! There is no such thing as a person who speaks without an accent.

In sum, a dialect is a particular variety of a language, and we all have a dialect. Accent refers to the phonology of a given dialect. Since we all have a dialect, we all have an accent.

-A language, say English, is really a collection of dialects.

-A dialect is a particular variety of a language that differs noticeably from the variety or varieties of the same language spoken by another group or groups of people.

-Dialects themselves are collections of idiolects (and thus so are languages).

 Standard and Non-Standard Dialects

A standard dialect (also known as a standardized dialect or “standard language”) is a dialect that is supported by institutions. Such institutional support may include government recognition or designation; presentation as being the “correct” form of a language in schools; published grammars, dictionaries, and textbooks that set forth a “correct” spoken and written form; and an extensive formal literature that employs that dialect (prose, poetry, non-fiction, etc.). There may be multiple standard dialects associated with a language. For example,  Standard British EnglishBritish English (BrE, BE, en-GB) is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere in the Anglophone world. British English encompasses the varieties of English used within the UK, including those in England; Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Some may also use the term more widely, to include other forms such as Hiberno-English (spoken in Ireland.

In daily circumstances, most Britons — the majority of whom speak English as either a first or a second language — consider that they just speak “English”, rather than “British English” specifically; the term “British English” is used only when necessary to distinguish it from other forms of English

Standard British English and Standard Indian English may all be said to be standard dialects of the English language.

A nonstandard dialect, like a standard dialect, has a complete vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, but is not the beneficiary of institutional support.

Regional Dialect

A regional dialect is not a distinct language but a variety of a language spoken in a particular area of a country. Some regional dialects have been given traditional names which mark them out as being significantly different from standard varieties spoken in the same place. Some examples are ‘Hillbilly English’ (from the Appalachians in the USA) and ‘Geordie’ (from Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK). For example the differences between American and British English are on many levels: Pronunciation –e.g. Am E / Kar/ and Br E / ka/  for car ; Lexis-e.g.AmE gas and BRE petrol; morphology – AmE dove and BrE dived as the past form of dive ; and syntax – e.g. AmE I don’t have a car and BrE I have not a car.

Minority Dialect

Sometimes members of a particular minority ethnic group have their own variety which they use as a marker of identity, usually alongside a standard variety. This is called a minority dialect. Examples are African American Vernacular English in the USA, London Jamaican in Britain, and Aboriginal English in Australia.

Indigenized variety

Indigenized varieties are spoken mainly as second languages in ex-colonies with multilingual populations. The differences from the standard variety may be linked to English proficiency, or may be part of a range of varieties used to express identity. For example, ‘Singlish’ (spoken in Singapore) is a variety very different from standard English, and there are many other varieties of English used in India.

Social Varieties

Another kind of language variation is linked to the different social classes in the society( speech community). Members within the same speech community have differences in their linguistic behaviour  determined by the social group or social class they belong to. Factors such religion ,cultural background education, profession place of residence , financial wealth  and others

determine  people’s social position and differentiation end thus the way they speak.

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