Language and Social Class

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  • Language and Social Class
    • Labov - Department Store Study
      • Studied speech of final (r) in three stores
        • Highest ranking: Saks - pronounced (r) the most
        • Middle ranking: Macy's - pronounced (r) some
        • Lowest ranking: Klein - pronounced (r) the least
        • Employees with higher socio-economoc status pronounced (r) more frequently than those with lower status
          • Depends on context e.g.NYC (r) pronounced by higher classes Reading (r) pronounced less by higher classes
    • Constraints
      • Powerful participants block or control contributions of less powerful participants
      • Phatic talk (Holmes and Stubbe 2003)
        • Allows dominant person to control conversation
    • Giles
      • Studied different accents saying same speech
      • Ranking of accents: Reciveved pronouciation, National accents e.g. Welsh, Regional rural accents, Regional urban accents
    • Socal class defined by
      • Wealth
      • Education
      • Income
      • Occupation
    • Non-standard dialect
      • Lower classes tend to use non-standard dialect more
      • Upper classes use standard dialect
      • Middle class aim to use standard dialect
    • Peter Trudgill
      • Looked at the final (ing) in Norwich
        • Four speech styles: reading aloud a list of words, reading aloud of text, formal speech, casual speech
        • Found variation across speech styles are parallel to social class
        • Found lower middle class speakers converge upwards to sound like the next higher class


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