AQA A-Level English Language (Language Diversity)


Language Diversity


  •          Identity
  •          Sexuality
  •          Social group
  •          Occupation
  •          Gender


Linked to social group or individual characteristics

Les Parrot:

o   Seattle Pacific Uni prof

o   Clothes, behaviours, rebellion, idols and cliques from teen identity

Joanna Thornborrow 2004:

o   “one of the most fundamental ways we have of establishing our identity and of shaping other people’s views of who we are is through our use of language”


o   Studied diphthongs of Martha’s Vineyard islanders

o   The up islanders, or those from an unpopular part of the island, aged 31- 45 and up would pronouns the au, ai vowels differently to differentiate themselves as the true islanders

o   It was done subconsciously


o   2000 people studied in the UK

o   Geordie accent was the friendliest and most likely to put you in a good mood


o   Odato 2013 researched “like” in children’s language and the 4-year-old’s use it at the beginning of sentences. Girls progress their use of it more

o   Teenspeak relies on taboo more


Ze as gender-neutral pronoun

Acronym of LGBT

In 50’s and 60’s gay me spoke Polari

o   Researched by linguist Paul Baker

o   Words were butch or camp

Social Group-

Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT)

The social psychologist Howard Giles developed Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT), which showed how individuals adapt aspects of their own language to signal their feelings about the person they are talking to

A person changing their accent (1/5 in the UK according to the Daily Mail in 2013) fits in with CAT

Sometimes we choose divergence, exaggerating the differences between our speech style and that of others in order to distance ourselves, or as a sign of disapproval

Other times we use convergence when trying to match the style of other speakers

Labov's Social Stratification of English in New York City (1966)

He conducted an experiment in New York department stores and his results showed that speakers in the more prestigious stores who were aspiring to use a prestige accent used a particular feature, the post-vocalic /r/.

This refers to pronouncing an /r/ sound where it follows a vowel in a word – for example, in the words ‘cart’ or ‘park’.

In repeating his request for the whereabouts of an item he knew to be on the fourth floor of each shop, Labov made speakers carefully demonstrate their usage of the /r/.

It was striking that those he identified as middle class strove most to use the prestige form.

Trudgill's Norwich Study (1974)

Studies final consonants /n/ (non-standard) and /g/ (standard) in words like 'walking' and 'talking'.

Working-class said ‘runnin’. Middle class said ‘running’

Women were more likely to use the prestigious form than men no matter what class.

In reported speech, men exaggerated their use of the non-standard form (covert).

"Nearly everywhere…


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