Language and Ethnicity

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  • Ethnicity = cultural identity, based on factors such as family heritage, language variations, cultural beliefs. (So you can be English but part of an Afro-Caribbean ethnic group.)
    • MLE
      • Kerswill suggests this dialect, which rose from areas in East London suffering social deprivation, is to distinguish its users from those with better chances in life.
        • Kerswill believes Cockney is being taken over by the multilingual, multi-ethnic inner city (largely due to immigration). MLE is used by teenagers of lots of ethnic backgrounds, who see it as theirs, use it (for example, Londoners talk about their "endz" which derived from the Caribbean) but can't in itself erase ethnic differences as a factor. It is a genuine influence on our language.
      • It is given a negative reputation, especially from the media, such as Sacha Cohen's character "Ali G" who is portrayed as idiotic, rude and try-hard, as suppose to dialects like Cockney Rhyming Slang which are positively represented by Only Fools and Horses character Del-boy.
      • Features - "dem" to mark plurality (e.g. man dem means men), innit, you get me,  bare (meaning very), sick (meaning good), nuff (meaning really).
    • Black English
      • In the 1940s, people began to immigrate from the Caribbean to places like London. English had already been an influence on the creole there due to slavery. In the 1960s and 70s Jamaican-English children began to mix with white working class children in school.
      • Features of Jamaican creole include the pronouns "mi" and "dem", "naa" instead of "no", adjectives used as verbs, the continuative particle "a" to form the present continous tense ("I'm a go"), double negatives, "th" pronounced as "d" and unmarked plurality.
      • It has had a lot of publicity in the media, like Benjamin Zephaniah, The Times' top 50 post-war writers after 2008, who writes black English semi phonetically ("yuhself" for "yourself")
    • Bradford Asian English
      • Gary Ives conducted a study of a group of teenagers from a Bradford school, 95% of whom came from a Mirupuri Pakistani background.
        • He found they referred to themselves as Bradford Asians and mixed English and Punjabi. Their language excluded others like their parents (whom to which they code-switched) and  depended on their postcode, so even other Pakistani teenagers couldn't understand them. It was influenced by their Mirupuri heritage but also media. They created a social identity.


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