Language Diversity

  • Created by: laurenm
  • Created on: 01-01-17 21:09

Language & Occupation - Keywords

Discourse Community - A group that shares lexis (vocabulary) and semantic fields (meanings of words).

Inference - Using assumed knowledge to determine meaning.

Inferential Frameworks - Knowledge built up over time is used to understand implicit meanings.

Occupational Language - Specialist lexical items that are part of an occupational semantic field, e.g. the medicine or legal profession.

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Language & Occupation - Theories

John Swales (2011)

The idea that discourse communities...

  • Share common goals
  • Communicate internally
  • Have specialist lexis
  • Posess a required level of skill and knowledge to be eligible

Almut Koester

Personal chat is an important aspect of effective working - employees can then support eachother.

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Language & Occupation - Theories

Drew & Heritage (1993)

  • There are strong hierarchies of power within organisations.
  • Inferential Frameworks (see keywords page)

Michael Nelson (2000)

  • Researched the semantic field of business language and compared it to the BNC (British National Corpus).

Kim & Elder

  • Communication difficulties between Korean and American colleagues - they were abbrevating unhelpfully, using idiomatic expressions, elaborating, etc.
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Language & Social Groups - Keywords

Sociolinguistics - The study of language and society.

Macro Level - Study of large categories, such as age and gender.

Micro Level - Studying language variation in small-scale interactions.

Convergence - Matching the language style of others,

Divergence - Exaggerating the difference between styles of language.

Post-vocalic /r/ - The 'R' is prounounced / enunciated following a vowel, e.g. in 'fourth floor'.

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Language & Social Groups - Theories

William Labov (1966)

  • Pronunciation difference is an attribute to social class - the more prestigious used the post-vocalic /r/. 

Howard Giles - Communication Accommodation Theory

  • Individuals adapt their language to signal feelings.

Basil Bernstein

  • Working class speakers have restricted lexis (there is a defecit model), middle class are more elaborate.

Harriet Powney - The Familect

  • Families have their own private lexis to refer to shared meanings.
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Language & Gender - Keywords

Heteronormativity - Connects sexuality and gender.

Marking - A language item stands out and is distinctive or unusual in some way.

Connotations - Associations we have for linked attributes.

British National Corpus - A database of 100 million words recording semantic fields.

Patronym - Male originating names, e.g. Johnson or Stevens.

Benign - Part of the semantic field of endearments.

Speech Event - A spoken interaction of a recongisable type.

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Language & Gender - Theories

Dale Spender

  • Women are "trapped in a language that they didn't create."

Robin Lakoff (1975)

  • Women were disadvantaged by having to adopt 'unconfident' forms of language, such as hesitation, approval seeking tag questions, etc.

Deborah Cameron

  • Men and women both have single-sex shared meanings. When together, there are misunderstandings.
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Accent & Dialect - Keywords

Upwards Convergence - Trying to sound more prestigious in order to match another speaker.

Downwards Convergence - Trying to sound less prestigious (than you usually would) to match other speakers.

Accent - Relates to phonology.

Dialect - Relates to lexis.

Lexical Variable - Having more than one way to say something.

Code Switching - Multi-lingual people switching between their accents and dialects.

Elision - The omission of sounds in a word.

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Accent & Dialect - Keywords

Diphthong - Two letters together produce a sound, e.g. 'ph'

Prosodics - The phonology of words, e.g. pitch, rhythm, intonation.

Phonological Variable - Several ways of pronouncing something.

Idiomatic Phrases - Has an accepted meaning that differs from the dictionary definition.

Assimilation - Conforming to / acquiring the characteristics of a group.

Paralanguage - Vocal effect and non-verbal effects.

Clipping - a word is reduced to one of its parts to form a new word, e.g. demo, gym, flu, phone, etc.

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Accent & Dialect - Theories

Fasold & Wolfram - The Black Vernacular

  • Young black working class men omit the post-vocalic /r/, e.g. fou'een instead of fourteen.
  • The better the socio-economic area, the more similarities with white communities.

John Honey - Sociolinguistics

  • Standards of English are falling, and grammar should be taught as Standard English.

Panini (600BC) & Edward Sapir

  • "Everyone knows that language is variable."
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Accent & Dialect - Theories

H.C. Wilde

  • "The great majority of English dialects are of little importance, and we can afford to let them go."

Peter Trudgill

  • Women tend to over-report, and men under-report.
  • Lower status = more non-Standard English linguistic variables.
  • Standard variants used in formal settings, non-standard used in informal settings.
  • Women are more likely to use standard variants than men.
  • Standard English and Recieved Pronunciation are the most prestigious forms of English.
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Accent & Dialect - Theories

Malcolm Petyt

  • The lower your class, the more likely you are to 'h-drop'.
  • Moving up in social class means conforming to RP, leading to hyper-correction.

Faulkes and Docherty

  • Speakers tend to seek out neutral forms to avoid signalling local and old fashioned identities.


  • Speakers use vowel centralisation to signal local or rural status.
  • Variation is the 'orderly heterogenity of language.'
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