research studies- social groups

  • Created by: evicb
  • Created on: 14-12-18 14:25

Accommodation Theory- Howard Giles

The idea that we vary our language to accommodate others.

Convergence- speakers move closer to each other

  • upward convergence- the speaker of lower prestige changing their language to sound more prestigous to match the speaker of higher prestige e.g. at a job interview
  • downward convergence- the speaker of higher prestige changing their language to match the speaker of lower prestige e.g. a manager at a work social event
  • muual convergence- both speakers converging to match each others prestige e.g. flat mates at university

Divergence- speakers moving away from each other

  • upward divergence- the speaker of more prestige changing their language to sound more prestigous to distance themselves from the other speaker e.g. to show authority
  • downward divergence- the speaker with less prestige changing their language to sound less prestigous to distance themselves from the other speaker
  • mutual divergence- both speakers changing their language to distance themselves as much as possible in terms of prestige
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William Labrov accent research

Labrov asked workers a question in which the reply was "fourth floor", he then asked them to repeat the answer as though he was slightly deaf and listened for the use fo the post vocalic R.

Saks- a high end department store, similar to British Harrods

  • 62% of employees used PVR
  • Evidence of upward convergence, as workers are trying to match the high prestige of high end shoppers.

Macys- a quality department store but with wider market, similar to British John Lewis

  • 51% used PVR
  • Evidence of upward convergence however less than Saks as it has a more affordable market so less prestigous 

Kleins- a more affordable department store, similar to the British Primark

  • 17% used PVR
  • Evidence of downward convergence, customers mainly working class so PVR was not typical of the area
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Milroys Belfast study- Social networks

  • closed network- everyone in the network knows each other and is connected, mainly working class communities that grew up and work with each other
  • open network- range of separate social groups with few to none connections, mainly modern middle class.

Milroys studied the link between the use of standard english and the type of network in areas of Belfast. The mord closed a network, he more non-standard forms used


  • male- all worked at the shipyards, very closed network, high use of non-standard English
  • female- manhy worked in town centre, more open networks, more use of Standard English9

The Hammer

  • female- again, used more standard and prestigous forms due to work

The Clonard

  • female- high levels of unemployment, closed network due to only interacting with locals, lots of non-standard English
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Restricted and Elaborated codes- Basil Bernstein

Two groups of boys were shown a comic ***** and asked to explain it

Working class 'post boys' (left school to work)

  • features of their language- simple lexical choices, lack of modiification, monosyllabic, high use of pronouns, deitic expression 
  • They spoke in a restricted code due to working class famillies often live governed by routine, which leads to less variation in language.

Middle class boys from a private school

  • features of their language- sophisticated lexical choices, descriptive modification, polysyllabic, low use of pronouns and high use of proper nouns, lots of specific detail
  • They spoke in an elaborated code as middle class famillies live more varied lives which  leads to more language variation
  • Elaborate code is also associated with education, writing and academic success.
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Eckerts- The jocks and the burnouts

Eckerts studied different cliques within the same high school and how the different social groups language varied

The jocks

  • more Standard English

The burnouts

  • more non-Standard English
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Norwich study- Peter Trudgill

He looked at the pronunciation of -ing words ie walking, talking etc

  • RP- fully pronounce the -ing, sounding like walking 
  • Regional- not pronouncing the final g, like walkin'

He found also that

  • the more careful the speech, the higher use of the RP pronunciation
  • Men were more likely to say walkin, than women
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