English Language Theorists

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  • Created by: thepin123
  • Created on: 06-06-16 11:55

Gender: Robin Lakoff (1975)

Claimed that women's language lacked authority compared to men's. Lakoff's features of women's language (politeness principles)

  • Precise colour terms, e.g 'magenta'
  • 'Empty' adjectives, e.g 'charming', 'sweet'
  • Tag questions to show uncertainty, e.g 'isn't it?'
  • Hedging, e.g 'sort of', 'maybe'
  • Intensifiers, e.g 'so', 'extremely'
  • Over-apologetic 
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Gender: William O'Barr and Bowman Atkins

Looked at courtroom cases and witnesses' speech. Their findings challenge Lakoff's view of women's language.

They conclude that language differences are based on the situation or power and not gender.

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Gender: Jennifer Coates (1989)

She showed that in many cases women use features such as hedging, 'perhaps', 'sort of', to avoid face-threatening acts when talking to other females. This was seen as a sign of female cooporation and support.

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Gender: Cheshire (1982)

Cheshire analysed the talk of teenagers in Reading and found that in nearlly all cases, boys used non-standard forms more than girls did. Boys were found to be part of much denser networks where their language converged towards the norm.

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Accent & Dialect: Labov

He studied language on Martha's Vineyard, a popular tourist island in the USA.

The results showed how some younger residents were unconsciously adopting older rural forms of the local accent in order to show resistance to the commercialization by tourism

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Accent & Dialect: Howard Giles

Developed an accommodation theory, suggesting we alter our speech to fit in with the people we are talking to:

  • Converge - move towards the way a person speaks (C for closer)
  • Divergence - move away from the way a person speaks (D for different)

Also he looked at...

  • Status (how powerful and important the speaker appears to be)
  • Personality (testing what traits of character came across)
  • Persuasiveness (testing how believable the person seemed)

His findings for status (which accent displayed the most):

  • (1) Recieved Pronounciation
  • (2) National Accents (e.g Welsh, Scottish etc.)
  • (3) Regional rural accents
  • (4) Regional urban accents
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Accent & Dialect: Eckert

"Jocks" and "Burnouts", social catagories and language in High School.

Jocks: spoke in a socially prestigious way reflecting their middle class background and values. Their life is very much based around school.

Burnouts: used the "urban" accent of the Detroit neighbourhood in which they lived. Are part of a rebellious crowd.

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Occupation: Coulthard and Sinclair

IRF Model: Initiation, Response, Feedback

A set discourse structure that is common in classroom interaction.

Initiation: The initial question (usually the teacher) e.g 'can anyone summarise what we discovered'

Reponse: The answer (usually student) e.g 'that Richard doesn't like peace'

Feedback: (usually teacher) e.g 'good and what does that suggest'

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Occupation: Wareing (1999)

Classified types of power:

  • Political power - that held by politicians, the police and those working in the law
  • Personal power - that held as a result of occupation or role, such as teachers, managers and parents
  • Social group power - that held as a result of social variables (demographics) such as class, gender and age
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Social Group: H.P Grice

Grice developed the theory of cooperation in conversation: Grice's Maxims

  • Quantity
  • Relevance
  • Manner
  • Quality
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Social Group: Malcom Petyt

Studied the dropping of 'h' (known as h-dropping) and it's links to social class e.g 'hat' becomes 'at'

He found that the lower your social class, the more likely you were to 'h-drop'

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