English language theorists

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  • Created by: wilby99
  • Created on: 15-12-15 16:39

Gender: Robin Lakoff 1975

  • Even Lakoff herself admits that her observations are all simply folklinguistics
  •  developed the idea of 'womens language' which involved:
    • hedges like 'sort of' 'kind of' etc...
    • empty adjectives 'adorable' 'divine' 'gorgeous'
    • hypercorrect grammer and pronunciation
    • tag questions
  • representative of the deficit model which was first proposed by jesperson who said mens langage was normal and womens language was difficient.
  • Lakoff thought that because womens language was more polite, it was seen as weaker and so she said that was one of the reasons they wee so opressed in society.
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Gender: Pamela Fishman (1983)

  • She listened to 52 hours of pre-recorded conversations between young american couples.
  • She agreed with Lakoff that women use more tag questions than men, but she said that they were not used to express uncertainty but rather to engage the recipient in and sustain conversation.
  • Men do not respond well to declaritives, and so women have to use questions to keep conversation going, she termed this role of womens.
  • Fishman said men were reluctant to do the hard work in conversations because they percieved themselves a dominant.
  • Fishman also said that men tended to interupt conversation more.
  • this is reprisentative of the dominance model.
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Gender: Deborah Tannen

  • "There are gender differences in wys of speaking, and we need to identify and understand them."
  • Six contrasts:
    • Status v Support: men talk to establsh status and women support.
    • Conflict v Comprimise: men are more likely to argue a point, but woment will try and avoid conflict and try to find or negotiation to find a solution or comprimise
    • Orders v Proposals: men tend to give instructions in the form of orders, see the above contrast, whereas women are more likely to give instructions in the form of proposals in order to provide the recipient with a way out so they won't face a conflict.
  • In my boss doesnt understand me, Tannen says that the reason that women can't break through the glass ceiling is because they talk differently to men which causes misunderstandings.
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Language change: Labov

Marthas vineyard study:

  • Studied a small island that was a popul;ar tourist destination in the summer months.
  • found that the older native inhabitants talked with more centralized diphthongs to the younger ones
  • Labov summised that this was subconciously developed to create a special group identity that distiguished the natives from the tourists in order to preserve their way of living.

New york 1972:

  • studied the pronounciation of /r/ in different department stores in NYC
  • I the 'higher end' stores (such as Saks fifth avenue) and the middle level stores (such as Macys) tended to pronounce /r/ quite audibly.
  • The lower end stores (such as Kleins) tended not to pronounce the /r/ as much
  • This was called 'social stratification of pronounciation'
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Other language change theorists

Suzanne Romaine '98:

  • Internal: formation of new words and the influence of dictionaries etc. Looks at what happens inside the language
  • External: the changing social contexts, language as an ongoing process

Donald Mackinnon '96 - categorises the attitudes people have to language use:

  • incorrect or correct
  • pleasant or ugly
  • socially acceptable or socially unacceptable
  • morally acceptable or morally unacceptable (political correctness: conscious process, never clear cut and very context dependant, normally a negative thing)
  • appropriate in context or inappropriate
  • useful or useless
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Spoken language Maxims and stuff

Grices maxims:

  • Quantity – offering neither too much or too little
  • Relevance – a contribution that relates to the conversation
  • Manner – a clear and intelligible contribution
  • Quality – we will tend to say things that are true

Hillidays taxonomy:

  • Instrumental – to get things done
  • Regulatory – to influence or control the actions of others
  • Interactional – social language to sustain relationships
  • Personal – to express yourself or your opinion
  • Heuristic – to find out information
  • Imaginative – to exercise your imagination
  • Representational – the pass on information
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Bernstein developed a theory which argues that there are two types of language, the restricted code and the elaborated code.  He says that our social group determines which of these we use.

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Jenny cheshire

Research has shown that men and women use spoken language differently, mainly in relation to standard dialect and RP, with women using SED more often than men (similar patterns exist across the Western world in a variety of languages!).  Cheshire looked at the speech of adolescents and compared it to that of adults.  She found similar patterns in both.  Some examples of the sort of differences she found are: Men drop the ‘h’ at the beginnings of words more often (‘ouse, ‘at, etc) They also drop the g from ‘ing’ words (droppin’, helpin’, etc) Men use ‘ain’t’ more than women Women use ‘isn’t’ more often instead Men more often use ‘seen’ and ‘done’ as past tense forms where SED requires ‘saw’ and ‘did’ Men are more likely to use double/multiple negatives (‘I don’t know nothing’)

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Jenny Cheshire

Suggested reasons for this are that women are more status-conscious and that society expects women to behave better/conform more fully to society’s rules.  This suggests that women’s speech fits with their subordinate role in a male-dominated society.  Men are seen to desire covert prestige (derived from behaviour perceived as against society’s norms) while women desire overt prestige (derived from fulfilling society’s norms).  Cheshire found that boys gained respect from others by being ‘tough’ (flouting society’s rules) and saw the use of non-standard language forms as part of this.  See Trudgill for more.

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Howard Giles

Among others, developed accommodation theory.  Suggests we alter our speech to fit in with the person we’re talking to.  Results in either convergence (most common) or divergence Convergence:  decreases social difference between the two speakers (e.g. RP speakers may tone down accent when talking to working class speakers or a person with a regional accent on interview might try to speak with a more RP accent to gain status) Divergence:emphasizes the differences between two people (e.g. two people from different regions might emphasize their accents to assert their regional identity).

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Irving Goffman

Developed face theory in the fifties.  Said we present a particular image or face to other people, depending on the context and to whom we’re speaking (e.g. friendly to a mate, knowledgeable to a younger person, etc.).  Generally, we try to accept the face we’re being offered as a part of the politeness principle.  Not to do so can result in the other person being hurt or offended or embarrassed (e.g. saying ‘You’re talking rubbish’ or ignoring someone).  Maintaining face is all about maintaining status. 

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Michael Halliday

Halliday looked at registers (varieties of language influenced by the situation they’re used in).  He identified  three main influences on the variety of language we use in a given situation: Field:  the topic or subject being written/talked about; has a strong influence on the vocabulary used Manner:  the relationship between the participants in the speech/writing; language is adjusted according to the person/people we are addressing; level of formality is significantly affected by this Mode:  written?  spoken?  letter?  article? report?  etc……. Registers differ according to lexis (vocab), grammar and phonology (sounds and their patterns), all modified according to the three influences mentioned above.

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John Honey

John Honey is a contentious figure (Trudgill doesn’t like him at all).  He works in Botswana but has written at length about language and the importance of SED.  He asserts that SED is superior to all other dialects, and that children should be taught that this is true if they are not to be prevented from succeeding in life.  He suggests we should discourage people from using their regional dialects as a result.  Most linguists disagree.

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Kerswell and Williams

These researchers studied speech in Milton Keynes (near London) and found that children’s speech differed from their parents’ and was getting closer to London’s accent.  This is said to be because of the migration of people from London, spreading a watered down version of cockney, as well as the accent being perceived as ‘cool’, perhaps through popular television programmes that use the accent (Eastenders, Only Fools & Horses, etc.)

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Lesley Milroy

Milroy did some research on social networks based on research in Belfast.  A social network is a group of people who regularly interact with each other.  An individual can belong to many social groups (this differs from the view of Trudgill etc who talked about social groups as being distinct and fixed).  The significance of the study is that it shows that people from all sorts of backgrounds often mix together and can become friends.  This has an important influence on the language use of these groups.

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Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf argued that the way we learn to use language affects the way we perceive the world and the way we think.  They looked at the language of the Hopi Indians in America and pointed out that they had no tenses and so must view time very differently from us (we have three basic tenses – past, present and future).  Many criticise this research though.  Certain Australian Aboriginal languages have no numbers, but they can still count and calculate.  People also say that, if language controls our thoughts, it would never change and we would soon run out of new ideas.  Present linguists accept that language at least influences our thoughts.

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Zimmerman and West

These researchers analysed single and mixed sex conversations.  They looked at interruptions and overlaps (signs of a breakdown in the rules of conversation turn-taking).  They found that, in single sex conversations, both sexes rarely interrupted or overlapped (0.35 interruptions per conversation).  However, in mixed sex conversations, there were many more (4.36 per conversation).  Of these, 98% of the interruptions and 100% of the overlaps were by men.  The women seemed complicit in this, not seeing it as wrong but simply accepting it.  They rarely interrupted the men and stopped talking once interrupted.

They also measured the silences in conversations, with the average in a single sex conversation being 1.35 seconds and 3.21 in a mixed conversation.  The women were the ones being interrupted and, therefore, falling silent.  They end up speaking less than the men

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Sinclair and coultard

Three main functions of teacher talk:
- informative
- directive
- elicitation
Directives can be delivered as imperatives, interrogatives or declaratives. Three part structure of classroom talk:
- elicitation
- response
- feedback 

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Jennifer Coates

“Linguistic change can be said to have taken place when a new linguistic form, used by some sub-group within a speech community, is adopted by other members of that community and accepted as the norm.” With slang, sub-cultures often use forms that are outside the mainstream in order to remain subversive and separate. It can help with group affiliation – recognising others who use the same language forms you do. Social media helps to spread new language varieties (e.g. ‘fleek’) as people are exposed to new or unusual terms. Ultimately, for slang to be successful it needs to have a specific function – it could describe a term that doesn’t exist simply in mainstream language, it could be funny, it could replace an older term that has died out of usage… It also needs to be prestigious – often covertly. People need to want to use the variety for it to be used.

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Holmes and Stubbe

Call the act of using power as part of a role ‘doing power’. Power is used by superiors as a way to carry out their occupational role. E.G. “The very last twenty-five cases that you take off that line I want them put aside the very last twenty-five cases put them on a pallet get them stretch wrapped they’re going to be a memento for everybody so make sure you er remember that”

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Define social groups and power:  Political - Power in the Law e.g. Police, Judge, Barrister  Personal - Occupation / Power within a Job e.g. Doctor, Teacher and so on. Social Group - Friends and Family, Class in society.   Types of Power:-  Instrumental (Written and Spoken) Influential (Written and Spoken)  Instrumental Power - Enforces Authority and is imposed by the laws, state, conventions and organisations. for e,g "SHUT UP NOW!"  Influential Power - Persuasive and Inclines or makes us want to behave in a certain way. for e.g. "Please do not touch the wet paint." 

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Eakins and Eakins

Studied seven university meetings. They found that the men spoke for longer. The men's turns ranged from 10.66 seconds to 17.07 seconds, whereas the women's was from 3 seconds to 10 seconds. This suggests that the men were in power.

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In a series of meetings of a university department's faculty committee, men took more and longer turns and did more joking, arguing, directing, and soliciting of responses during the structured segments of meetings. During the free for all parts of the meetings, women and men talk equally, and women joked, argued, directed, and solicited responses more than men.

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In an email discussion which took place on a linguistics 'distribution list'. Five women and 30 men took part, even though women make up nearly half of the members of the linguistic society of America and 36% of subscribers to the list. Men's messages were twice as long, on average, as women's. women tended to use a personal voice, e.g. 'I am intrigued by your comment...'. The tone adopted by men who dominated the discussion was 'it is obvious that...'.

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The shift from work talk to personal talk is always initiated by the highest ranked person in the room.

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Fairclough 2001

Power behind discourse - Context. (Who, What, Where, When, Why etc.)  Power in discourse - Features and methods used to show power, for e.g. Material Verbs.  Ideology - Meaning/Attitudes and world views displayed in language. e.g Terrorist over Freedom Fighters. (We call them terrorists, they call themselves Freedom Fighters.)  Modal Verb (Auxiliary Verb)
Cannot be on its own:- Should, Can, Will, Shall, Could, Must, May, Would, Might, Ought.
Epistemic and Deontic Modality. Epistemic = Suggests possibilities that are most likely to be true. e.g "You could do that."   Deontic    = Displays certainty (how something ought to be.) e.g
"You must do that."

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Homes and Stubbe (small talk)

Hana controls the amount of small talk and directs the conversation towards a work concern (time off in the future) Repressive discourse strategy! Avoids FTAs, strengthens social ties but still shows some power. Opposite = oppressive discourse strategy which is more open Beth = PA to Hana and has just returned from holiday Beth: so no it was good I didn’t have to worry about bills or kids or um work or anything just me Hana: it was a holiday for you Beth: yeah [tut] it was unreal [laughs] Hana: now listen are you going to be wanting to take time off in the school holidays

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John Swales

Discourse communities: "groups that have goals or purposes, and use communication to achieve these goals.“ A discourse community: has a broadly agreed set of common public goals. has mechanisms of intercommunication among its members. uses its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback. utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims. in addition to owning genres, it has acquired some specific lexis. has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise.

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Discourse communities: "groups that have goals or purposes, and use communication to achieve these goals.“ A discourse community: has a broadly agreed set of common public goals. has mechanisms of intercommunication among its members. uses its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback. utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims. in addition to owning genres, it has acquired some specific lexis. has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise.

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