Main theories for English Language

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Accommodation Theory
Howard Giles in the 1970's.
Suggest we adjust our speech to accommodate others (resulting in convergence or divergence)
Convergence ­ decreases social distance. E.g a RP speaker talking to employees may tone
down his accent, this is called downward convergence. Someone going for a job may tone
down his regional accent to his employer, this is called upward convergence. If both converge
towards each other mutual convergence.
Divergence ­ Emphasizing the differences between people e.g two rival football teams having
an arguement may unconsciously exaggerate their regional accents.
An example ­ Coupland (1984) researched a woman working in Cardiff. He found the
pronunciation of her words depended on the social background of her clients.
The cooperative principle
Conversation works because participants abide by rules and conventions.
HP. Grice (1975) Believed that conversation proceed on the assumptions that the participants
have common goals and agreed ways of achieving these goals.
Four Maxims:
Quantity- neither say more nor less than required
Relevance ­ should be relevant to overall conversation
Manner ­ avoid vagueness and obscurity
Quality ­ always tell the truth
Flouting the Maxims:
Conversational difficulty and breakdown. We do it "ill try not to speak for too long" "I know
this may not seem relevant" Speakers may sometimes appear to be flouting the maxims but
infact you just need to read between the lines e.g a man asked a stranger if the post office is
open and the stranger replies "its Sunday" although not actually responding to the question
directly he's telling the man its Sunday so its closed. We often need to read between the lines.
Grice calls this Implicature.
Face Theory
With any interaction we present a image of ourselves to others. Irving Goffman (1955) called
this "face"
We must accept the face offered to us by others. If something is said or done that rejects
another's face e.g turning our backs this is known as a face-threatening act.

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Physiologists argue we do this because we respect them in the hope that they respect us back.
Face work maintains the status of participants. People in a lower status position are more
attentive to people with a higher status.
Using appropriate forms of address
Speaking to others in appropriate way to the social status you have with them
A degree of formality
Turn taking
Positive Politeness (Brown and Levinson 1987)
Show people they are liked, e.…read more

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Gender and Conversation
Who talks more?
Fisherman (1990) found in mixed sexed conversation men talk more. Men is twice the amount.
Conversational Support
Women are more supportative than men. Women are co-operative and men are compeitiive.…read more

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Explanation of differences ­ Dominance and Differance.
Domincance ­ Women occupy less powerful position in society than men.
Difference ­ When children boys games are more on competition and confrontation whereas
girls games are about co-operation such as playing with a baby doll.…read more


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