Language Variation

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Language Variation
Some examples
l
Right before starting second grade, Pauline and Lenore, moved
from the Bronx to Bayside, Queens …


l
When Pauline and Lenore were around 8, they went away to
camp and Pauline got sick….

Comparing the two examples
l
Both differences in lexicon or vocabulary
l
How are they different?
Some factors involved in studying language variation
l
How does language change?

l
Why does language change?

l
People often
– are aware of aspects of language variation.
– have strong emotional commitments to one view or another.


What’s a dialect?
l
Dialects: varieties of languages that systematically differ from
each other
– Dialects differ on many levels: phonological, syntactic, lexical, etc.
– The term dialect is sometimes used negatively. So linguists often use
the term variety.

Who speaks a dialect?
l Everyone speaks a dialect.

l Some dialects have more sociolinguistic prestige than others.

l There may be a standard dialect. Other dialects: non-standard dialects.
– All dialects (standard and non-standard) are structured and rule-governed.

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Dialect vs. language
l
No clear cut distinction between a language and a dialect.
l
One factor: mutual intelligibility
l
Choice of terminology is often influenced by socio-political
factors.
l E.g., American English vs. British English and Dutch vs. Afrikaans.

Idiolect
l
Idiolect: the form of the language spoken by one person


Dialect vs. accent
l
Accent: systematic phonological variation
l
Dialect: systematic variation on many levels
In what ways do dialects vary?
l
Lexical: vocabulary items and pronunciations
pop, soda, coke, tonic
pajamas
compass

l
Phonetic:
– different articulations of /r/ in English
– tense vs. non-tense ash



l
Phonological: different phonological contrasts
– Some American English varieties: /a/ vs. open-o
l Cot vs. caught, Don vs. Dawn


l
Phonological: different phonological contrasts
– Some varieties of British English: /U/ vs. wedge
l All have /U/ in good, put. But contrast lost in cup, but, flood.

2



l
Morphological: different morphemes or different use of
morphemes
– Appalachian English: a- prefix
l We went a-hunting.

l
Morphological: different morphemes or different use of
morphemes
– Some varieties of British English: -s not just 3rd singular present tense,
but generalized to all present tense forms: he goes, but also I goes, you
goes, we goes, they goes


l
Syntactic: whole syntactic constructions used differently
– Many American dialects (especially Southern):
l done used as AUX. She done told you.
l right as an adverb. A right good meal.

l
Syntactic: whole syntactic constructions used differently
– Many American dialects (including some Ohio dialects):
l needs selects a past participle rather than a passive infinitive
The car needs washed.
The car needs to be washed.
What differences are you aware of in your own
speech and in the speech of others?

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Document Outline

  • Language Variation
  • Some examples
    • ÿ
  • Comparing the two examples
    • Both differences in lexicon or vocabulary
    • How are they different?
  • Some factors involved in studying language variation
    • How does language change?
    • Why does language change?
    • People often
      • are aware of aspects of language variation.
      • have strong emotional commitments to one view or another.
    • Dialects: varieties of languages that systematically differ from each other
      • Dialects differ on many levels: phonological, syntactic, lexical, etc.
      • The term dialect is sometimes used negatively. So linguists often use the term variety.
  • Who speaks a dialect?
    • Everyone speaks a dialect.
    • Some dialects have more sociolinguistic prestige than others.
    • There may be a standard dialect. Other dialects: non-standard dialects.
      • All dialects (standard and non-standard) are structured and rule-governed.
  • Dialect vs. language
    • No clear cut distinction between a language and a dialect.
    • One factor: mutual intelligibility
    • Choice of terminology is often influenced by socio-political factors.
        • E.g., American English vs. British English and Dutch vs. Afrikaans.
  • Idiolect
    • Idiolect: the form of the language spoken by one person
  • Dialect vs. accent
    • Accent: systematic phonological variation
    • Dialect: systematic variation on many levels
  • In what ways do dialects vary?
    • Lexical: vocabulary items and pronunciations
      • pop, soda, coke, tonic
      • pajamas
      • compass
    • Phonetic:
      • different articulations of /r/ in English
      • tense vs. non-tense ash
    • Phonological: different phonological contrasts
      • Some American English varieties: /a/ vs. open-o
        • Cot vs. caught, Don vs. Dawn
    • Phonological: different phonological contrasts
      • Some varieties of British English: /U/ vs. wedge
        • All have /U/ in good, put. But contrast lost in cup, but, flood.
    • Morphological: different morphemes or different use of morphemes
      • Appalachian English: a- prefix
        • We went a-hunting.
    • Morphological: different morphemes or different use of morphemes
      • Some varieties of British English: -s not just 3rd singular present tense, but generalized to all present tense forms: he goes, but also I goes, you goes, we goes, they goes
    • Syntactic: whole syntactic constructions used differently
      • Many American dialects (especially Southern):
        • done used as AUX. She done told you.
        • right as an adverb. A right good meal.
    • Syntactic: whole syntactic constructions used differently
      • Many American dialects (including some Ohio dialects):
        • needs selects a past participle rather than a passive infinitive
          • The car needs washed.
          • The car needs to be washed.
  • What differences are you aware of in your own speech and in the speech of others?