Language AP Human Geography Geographer’s Perspective on Language • Language transmits culture. •Attitudes, understandings, and responses are partly determined by the words available. • Languages help define cultural diversity and distinct regions. World’s Major Languages • 50% of world population speak one of 12 major languages listed • Mandarin Chinese is largest with 885 million • English is the primary language of 350 million and is the official language of about 50 countries 3 This graphic shows the uneven numbers of speakers of languages in the world. Nearly 80% of the world's population speaks only 83 (1.1%) of the world's languages. The 3,586 (51.2%) smallest languages are spoken by only 0.2% of the world's population. Official Languages of Countries Online Population, 1996 - 2005 Fig. 5-1.1: English is still the largest language on the internet, but there has been rapid growth in many others, especially Chinese. E-Commerce Languages 2000 & 2004 Fig 5-1.2: English and English-speaking countries still dominate ecommerce, but other languages are growing rapidly. Part 1 LANGUAGE TERMS Language Language – a set of sounds, combinations of sounds, and symbols that are used for communication. Language Terms • Standard language/Official Language-an official language sustained by the state in the form of state examination for teachers, civil servants and others. • Language family-a group of languages descended from a single, earlier tongue. • Language Branch- collection of languages under a larger language family. • Standard English/Received Pronunciation: Considered to be the standard form of English spoken by educated Britons in London, the English found in English tv and radio broadcasts. • Think of the world’s language families as the branches of a tree. Isogloss -A geographic boundary within which a particular linguistic feature occurs Dialect-variants of a standard language along regional or ethnic lines- vocabulary-syntax- pronunciation- cadencepace of speech Accent: The way a language sounds or pronounced in a certain location. Vernacular: the local form of a language, words and phrases unique to a certain area. ISOGLOSS Idioms • An idiom is often used synonymously with dialect to refer to a language that is peculiar to a certain group of people or region. • Idiomatic expressions (separate from literal meaning) – Pulling my leg – Keep an eye out – Raining cats and dogs Toponymy • The study of place names • Consists of: – Natural features – Origins/values of inhabitants – Belief structures, religions – Current or past heroes 17 Changing Toponyms • When people change the toponym of a place, they have the power to “wipe out the past and call forth the new.” Yi-Fu Tuan Changing Toponyms • Major reasons people change toponyms: – After decolonization – After a political revolution – To memorialize people or events – To commodify or brand a place Martin Luther King, Jr. Streets Slang • Translate this into formal English: • “I’m down to chill. Hit me up when you guys hang out. I’ll be at the crib.” Slang • And… “This party is tight but that guy over there is shady. I’m gonna bounce.” • Definition: Untrustworthy people/interactions • Part of Speech: Adjective • Ex.: Nobody trusted the shady store owner. • Ex.: The unfair business deal was so shady! SHADY Close Reading Activity The New York Times • What exactly is slang? • Why is it difficult for “oppositional uses of language” to stay oppositional or exclusive? • Why is it difficult to compile a dictionary of slang? • Given that mainstream dictionaries now include slang terms, do we need slang dictionaries? Why or why not? • What is the history of the word “crib”? Word Cloud Homework • Pick a Slang Word! • Find out the following information: – – – – – Part(s) of speech Definition of the word all related words Connotations of the word Uses of the word in context and popular culture over time (this could include references on television, in songs or movies and in print) Websites to make your word cloud: http://tagul.com/ www.tagcrowd.com Part 2 LOOKING AT LANGUAGE GEOGRAPHICALLY Influences on the Distribution of Languages • The result of a combination of two geographic processes – Interaction – Isolation • Geographic processes develop distinct dialects and individual languages. • These processes are the interplay of – migration – geographic isolation. – explain how a single language can later become two or more or remain similar. How are Languages Formed? Language divergence – when a lack of spatial interaction among speakers of a language breaks the language into dialects and then new languages. Language convergence – when peoples with different languages have consistent spatial interaction and their languages collapse into one. Mutual Intelligibility- means two people can understand each other when speaking. Problems: • Cannot measure mutual intelligibility • Standard languages and governments impact what is a “language” and what is a “dialect” How do Languages Diffuse? • • • • • • human interaction print distribution Migration Trade Rise of nation-states Colonialism Spatial Interaction helps create: • Lingua franca – A language used among speakers of different languages for the purposes of trade and commerce. • Pidgin language – a language created when people combine parts of two or more languages into a simplified structure and vocabulary. • Creolized language – a pidgin language that has developed a more complex structure and vocabulary and has become the native language of a group of people. Monolingualism a country in which only one language is spoken Multilingualism a country in which more than one language is in use Official Language should a multilingual state adopt an official language? Examples Monolingual States • Japan • Venezuela • Denmark • Portugal • Poland Multilingual States • Belgium • India • Canada • Peru Languages of China • Chinese has the most speakers of any language. • It is one of the world’s oldest languages spoken by the greatest contiguous population on Earth. • Southern China-the most variety and dialects-most are mutually unintelligible. • Some scholars argue that for this reason-it is not one language, but several. • Mandarin-the dominate language of the North spoken by 700 million including Beijing. • Wu is next with 100 million speakers in Shanghai area. • Yue-or Cantonese is spoken by 70 million in the SE. Chinese Ideograms Fig. 5-13: Chinese language ideograms mostly represent concepts rather than sounds. The two basic characters at the top can be built into more complex words. Language and Culture “No one was allowed to speak the language – the Dena’ina language. They [the American government] didn’t allow it in the schools, and a lot of the women had married non-native men, and the men said, ‘You’re American now so you can’t speak the language.’ So, we became invisible in the community. Invisible to each other. And, then, because we couldn’t speak the language – what happens when you can’t speak your own language is you have to think with someone else’s words, and that’s a dreadful kind of isolation” Clare Swan, elder, Dena’ina Indians (Native Alaskan) • Language Isolation/Isolate: a language with nothing in common with other languages: example: Korean • Language Extinction: the point at which a language no longer has any active speakers. • Linguistic Refuge: areas providing minority linguistic groups refuge from aggressive neighbors The Environment Provides Refuge • Inhospitable environments offer protection and isolation • Provide outnumbered linguistic groups refuge from aggressive neighbors • Linguistic refuge areas – – – – Rugged mountain areas Excessively cold or dry climates Impenetrable forests and remote islands Extensive marshes and swamps • Unpleasant environments rarely attract conquerors • Mountains tend to isolate inhabitants of one valley from another Loan Words • Terms used by a particular language that have their origins in other tongues. • Spanglish for example. Language Conflict • Language can sometimes be at the heart of political conflict. What language should be used? Language pollution. • Attempts to make English the official language of the US for decades. 10-15% of Americans speak a language other than English. • Critics argue that doing so interferes with a citizens right to due process because the courts might no longer provide translators • Supporters argue it will encourage immigrants to learn English. Language Pollution • When one language is “polluted” or made worse by the influence of other languages • Loan words: terms used by a particular language that have their origins in other tongues. • Spanglish French and English in Canada • France and the Canadian province of Quebec • English has been creeping into the French language (le weekend) • 1975: French government began passing laws banning English from advertising and official government documents French-English Boundary in Canada Fig. 5-18: Although Canada is bilingual, French speakers are concentrated in the province of Québec, where 80% of the population speaks French.