Languages and
Chapter 2
“to study the relationship between language and society”
(Ferguson 1966)
• possible interactions
between language and
– social structure influence
– language influence
– mutual influence
– no influence
how a group of people perceives, believes,
thinks, behaves (different verbal and
nonverbal communication patterns, values,
cognitive styles, expectancies, etc.)
Three main factors that distinguish one
culture from another:
1) ethnicity
2) language
3) social class
Inter-relationship between
linguistic items and social
a. butter, budder, bu’er
b. fishing, fishin’
etc… p.26 Wardhaugh
Okay, can we define “dialect”
• Nope
• But I like analogy with speciation. If it is
different but mutually intelligible, I’d call it
a dialect. If it so different that speakers can
not understand each other, a language.
• But sometimes the distinction is political.
Think of Chinese: Mandarin vs. Cantonese
and conversely Swedish vs Danish
Taking a slow walk through
villages from southern Italy to
northern France? Where does
French end and Italian begin?
Some French dialects are very
Italian and some Italian dialects
are very French. (p. 44)
American English
A Scots sampler
Below is a selection of Scots/English differences in three
parts (Scots on the left, English on the right). All listed forms
are in current use. As regards pronunciation, whatever their
typical speech (more Scots, more English, or mixed), a
majority of the Scottish people differ in speech from other
Anglophones in two ways that are shibboleths of
Scottishness: (1) a tapped or rolled alveolar r in such words as
breathe, world, and there; (2) a voiceless velar fricative as in
the ch of such words as ach, loch, Bach, Munich.
Pronunciation and typical spelling
hame, stane, sair, gae
home, stone, sore, go
hoose, oot, doon/doun, coo
house, out, down, cow
ba(w), ha(w), faut, saut
ball, hall, fault, salt
buit, guid, muin, puir
boot, good, moon, poor
licht, micht, richt, sicht
light, might, right, sight
lookit, mendit
tell/tellt, sell/sellt
he’ll no can come the day
ah micht could gae the morn
ah dinna(e) ken
we couldna(e) dae it
he’ll no be comin
that’s me awa(e) hame
ah, it’s yirsel
looked, mended
tell/told, sell/sold
He won’t be able to come today
I might be able to go tomorrow
I don’t know
We couldn’t do it
He won’t be coming
I’m going home now
Ah, it’s you
an ashet
a bairn
tae blether
a brae
tae dicht
a dwam
a serving dish
a child
to talk nonsense
a slope (of a hill)
fine, beautiful, handsome
to clean, wipe
sweet, especially in manner
a stupor, dazed state
More Scots
a howf(f)
tae ken
tae lowp
(the) noo
tae spear
tae stravaig
a sybie/syboe
tae thole
tae trauchle
a sair (=sore) trauchle
a favourite haunt/pub
to know
to jump, to leap
to ask
to wander, roam, go around/about
a spring onion
to endure, tolerate
to overburden, harass
a great burden
Some Scots Gaelic
Tha mi uamhasach sgith !
Dialect at one time indicated a
geographical as well as linguistic
Codification of language: grammars,
spelling books, dictionaries,
What is “Standard English”
• Variety which is:
– In most print sources?
– Taught in schools?
– The version ESL students study?
Madonna vs. Guy Richie
• Sometimes standard or RP accent is valued
• Sometimes dialect is valued
• Elitist impulse vs socialist impulse in
Manx and Cornish dead
Latin too is dead
Dialects also die
But other dialects (and languages) are born
and the classical languages are still vital
parts of Western culture.
• Groups link sense of identity with language.
Unifying force? Divisive as well?
• Speakers of a language of dialect may feel
different and special.
• Other linguistic groups recognize their
dialect as being substandard, though they
may love it nevertheless. In fact, the fact
that it is substandard can be thought of as a
badge of honor. Cockney is a good example
as is Glaswegian, Mancunian. Surfer dialect
too. What others?
• Feelings about the purity or lack of purity of
a dialect. People feel that their “mixed”
speech is debased, deficient, degnerate,
Good speakers Bad speakers
• Most groups recognize better and worse
dialects and pronunciations, though the
heirarchy here is relative and shifting.
Parisien French, Oxford English, Mull
Gaelic?, Lancastrian (vs. Palmdalic) and
Bakerfeldian (vs. Oildalese).
Language vs Dialect
• Whatever else it may or may not be, a
dialect is a subset of a language?
Vernacular and Koine
• Vernacular: the speech passed down from
parent to child as primary mode of
communication (Do parents pass down
• Koine: speech shared by people of different
• Look at all the discussion questions on pp.
40-43. I think 1, 11, and 17 are worth
talking about. Any others we might discuss?
Dialect vs patois
• Dialect: has a literature
• Patois: purely oral, rural, lower class
Dialect vs Accent
• Dialect: vocabulary, syntax, pronunciation,
• Accent: pronunciation
• Everybody speaks English with some kind
of accent. Thirdy, La’in, dune, dude?
Discussion questions
• Let’s look at 1-6 on page 46-7, in groups for
15 minutes then general discussion.
Social dialects
• Dialect associate with group identity apart
from geographical identity. Black English,
Jewish English, Surfer Dudian, Academic
Styles, Registers, Beliefs
• Formal vs informal
• Occupation lingo
• Dialect, style, register are largely
High/low vs better/worse
• We often don’t like speakers who speak
with a posh accent, even though/because we
recognize the social superiority or
“correctness” of the speech. In fact, rural
dialects though recognized as “incorrect’
tend to be preferred over city dialects. We
tend to like older, more familiar ways of
speech. Simple over complex. Bush beats
As Wardhaugh points out, depite
what we “know” people tend to
believe and to teach value
judgments about lanaguage and
People without university
educations tend to think of their
speech and grammar as inferior.
They believe pundits who tell
them about “proper” grammar
and speech.
On the other hand, humans are naturally
very smart about language. We deduce
and intuit a great deal about speakers.
How can do we make these judgments?
How can we know when we are right
and wrong? Would we be able to spot a
Martian trying to pass himself off as a
native English speaker?
My friends Alaister and Alex
“Speak English!”
Production vs. Reception: We
notice and comprehend better
than we can produce and convey.
Our “competence” outstrips our
“performance” ?
Let us attempt/let’s try disussion
questions 4-7 on pp. 54-5
• Individual bilingualism
– two native languages in the mind
– Fishman: “ a psycholinguistic phenomenon”
• Societal bilingualism
– A society in which two languages are used but where
relatively few individuals are bilingual
– Fishman: “a sociolinguistic phenomenon”
• Stable bilingualism
– persistent bilingualism in a society over several
• Language evolution:
– Language shift
– Diglossia
(California Department of Education, Language Policy and Leadership Office)
•Enhanced academic and linguistic competence in two
•Development of skills in collaboration & cooperation
•Appreciation of other cultures and languages
•Cognitive advantages
•Increased job opportunities
•Expanded travel experiences
•Lower high school drop out rates
•Higher interest in attending colleges and universities
”The more motivated you are the quicker you learn an
additional language” (evidence from a number of studies)
Gardner & Lamberts (1972):
•Integrative motivation = social motivation
(to integrate in a specific culture  to fit in to a social
•Instrumental motivation = motivation
for practical reasons (to do well at school get to university)
 Conflicting evidence in later research with regard to the
importance and distinctiveness of the two motivational
Relationships between knowing one’s ancestral
language and affective factors (an U.S. study by
Wharry, 1993)
Subjects: Native American, Vietnamese American, Hispanic
American college students
Those who were bilingual tended to:
-believe that learning their ancestral language was important
-had integrative reasons for that (e.g., heritage, family
-believe that their parents wanted them to learn the ancestral
-had clearcut ethnic identity
• Ferguson’s definition (1959): the side-by-side existence of historically &
structurally related language varieties
– the Low variety takes over the outdated High variety
• Fishman’s reformulation (1967): a diglossic situation can occur anywhere
where two language varieties (even unrelated ones) are used in functionally
distinct ways
– the Low variety loses ground to the superposed High variety
– problematic as it creates an opposite situation to widespread bilingualism
Fishman’s reformulation
+ diglossia
- diglossia
+ bilingualism Everyone in a community
knows both H and L, which are
functionally differentiated
An unstable, transitional situation in
which everyone in a community
knows both H and L, but are
shifting to H
- bilingualism
A completely egalitarian speech
community , where there is no
language variation
Speakers of H rule over
speakers of L
Diglossic situation
• Four examples:
Swiss German
'high' variety
Classic Arabic
'low' variety
Various regional
colloquial varieties
Standard German Swiss German
Standard French Haiti Creole
Diglossic situation: functions of H vs. L
Sermon in church or mosque
Instructions to servants, waiters, worksmen, clerks
Personal letter
Speeches in parliament, political speeches
University lecture
Conversations with family, friends, colleagues
News broadcasts
Radio 'soap opera'
Newspaper editorial, new story, caption on picture
Caption on political cartoon
Folk literature
Ferguson, Charles. 1972. Diglossia. In: Pier Paolo Giglioli (ed.). Language and Social Context.
Harmondsworth: Penguin, 232-251. In: Ralph Fasold. 1985. The Sociolinguistics of Society. Oxford:
Blackwell, 35.
Example of L moving towards H & becoming national language:
LANGUAGES IN INDONESIA: 300 languages and dialects are
spoken in Indonesia, but Bahasa Indonesia is the official and most
widely spoken tongue. Its common use has helped unify the 200 million
citizens since Indonesia’s independence in 1949. Bahasa Indonesia is
based on Malay, long the market language of coastal towns, and it
contains elements of Chinese, Indian, Dutch, and English. Today,
television programs, major newspapers, schools, and universities all use
Bahasa Indonesia.
Do you speak English?
Bisa bicara Bahasa
Language choice
• code switching
– changing from one language to an other
• situational switching
• metaphorical switching
• code-mixing
– speaking in one language but using pieces from another
• style shifting
– standard English vs. afro-american vernacular
• language borrowing
Example of code-switching in the Amazon
Tariana is spoken by about 100 people in
the northwest Amazonia (Brazil). Other
languages in the area is e.g. Tucano (almost
a lingua franca), Baniwa and Arawak (the
two latter related to Tariana). The area is
known for its language group exogamy and
institutionlized multilingualism. Language
choice is motivated by power relationship
and by status, and there are strict rules for
code- switching. Code-mixing with Tucano
is considered a “language violation”; using
elements of Baniwa is funny while mixing
different Tariana dialects implies that one
“cannot speak Tariana properly. Overusing
Portuguese is associated with an Indian
who is trying to be better than his peers.
Aikhenvald (2003) Language in Society 32:1-21
Pidgin and Creole
• Ferguson (1966) distinguished between five language types
based on prestige (p) and vitality (v):
– Vernacular
• unstandardized native language of speech community (-p, +v)
– Standard
• native language of a speech community codified in dictionaries and
grammars (+p, +v)
– Classical
• language codified in dictionaries and grammars which is no longer spoken
(+p, -v)
– Pidgin
• hybrid language with lexicon from one language and grammar from another
language (-p, -v)
– Creole
• language acquired by children of speakers of pidgin, or subsequently by
speaker or Creole (-p, ±v)
Pidgin and Creole
1.Pidgin language is nobody's native language; may arise when two
speakers of different languages with no common language try to have a
makeshift conversation. Lexicon usually comes from one language,
structure often from the other. Because of colonialism, slavery etc. the
prestige of Pidgin languages is very low.
2. Creole is a language that was
originally a pidgin but has
become nativized, i.e. a
community of speakers claims it
as their first language. Next used
to designate the language(s) of
people of Caribbean and African
descent in colonial and excolonial countries (Jamaica,
Haiti, Mauritius, Réunion,
Hawaii, Pitcairn, etc.)
Language shift
in different communities
Migrant minorities
• Typically, migrants are virtually monolingual in their mother tongue,
their children become bilingual, but the grandchildren turn
monolingual in the language of the host country.
• At first, migrants use the host’s language in limited domains and
reserve the home domain for their mother tongue, but soon the host
language gradually infiltrates their homes through their children.
• Children encounter the host languages first on TV but are compelled
to using it for survival at school. Then this language turns to be the
code for communicating with their siblings and friends. Most
families eventually shift from using their mother tongue at home to
using the host country’s language.
• There is also pressure from the hosts on migrants to conform, which
results in language shift from their mother tongue to the host
• Language shift may take three to four generations to occur.
Language shift
in different communities
Non-migrant communities
• Language shift does not always result from
migration; it may result from political, economic,
or social changes within the community of
Example of language shift in non-immigrant communities:
Burgenland shifted from Hungarian to German when it became part of
Austria rather than Hungary.
After disintegration of the Habsburg Empire, he
peace treaty of Saint-Germain (1919) provided that
the predominantly German-speaking parts of western
Hungary were ceded to Austria.
Burgenland: A bilingual community for 400 years.
Hungarian was originally associated with farming and
peasants and German with industry. Then a diglossic situation
resulted in Hungarian as the L-variety and German as the Hvariety. Eventually, German became the language for social
and economic progress and the domains for Hungarian
retracted; German is now spoken even at home.
Language shift
in different communities
Non-migrant communities
• It is almost a rule that the more domains in which a
minority language is used, the more likely it will be
• Where minority languages have resisted language
shift the longest, there has been at least one exclusive
domain for the minority language.
• Generally, the religious domain is the most resistant
to language shift. Until now, for example, Latin,
Hungarian, and Arabic are used in Latin Roman
Church, Oberwart prayers, and Islamic rites.
Language Death & Shift
• When all the people who speak a language die, the
language dies with them.
• Immigrants shift to the language of the majority in two to
three generations, but that does not constitute the death of
their ethnic language because it continues to be spoken
by the majority in their old country of origin.
• Language death is similar to language shift in being a
gradual process, in which the functions of one language
are taken over in one domain after another by another
• Language death is manifested in a gradual loss of fluency
and competence by its speakers; competence gradually
erodes over time.
(i) extinct languages other than ancient ones (e.g. Kemi Sámi,
(ii) nearly extinct languages with maximally tens of speakers, all
elderly (e.g., Ume Sámi, Livonian)
(iii) seriously endangered languages with a more substantial number
of speakers but practically without children among them (e.g.,
Ingrian, Breton)
(iv) endangered languages with some children speakers at least in
part of their range but decreasingly so (e.g., Irish Gaelic, Friulian)
(v) potentially endangered languages with a large number of children
speakers but without an official or prestigious status (low Saxon,
Language Death & Shift
Differences between language shift and language death:
• Language Shift: This is a process in which one
language displaces another in the linguistic repertoire
of a community.
• Language Death: This is a process that occurs when a
language is no longer spoken naturally anywhere in the
Factors affecting language shift
Patterns of language use: Socio-economic factors
- determine in which domains the minority language
may be used the more domains a minority language
is used in, the more chances there is to maintain it
2. Demographic factors:
(a) large enough community of speakers
(b) the community is able to isolate itself from the
influences of the majority
(c) there is a high frequency of contact with the
3. Attitudes to the minority language:
(a) pride and respect of the language
(b) symbol of the ethnic identity
(c) the language has international status
Factors affecting language shift
Economic, Social, and Political Factors
• A community sees an important reason for learning the second
1. Economic: Obtaining well-paying jobs
2. Political: Allegiance to the government
3. Social: Fitting in
• Bilingualism is usually an indicator, a forerunner, of language shift;
although stable diglossic communities demonstrate that bilingualism
does not always result in language shift.
• Language shift is inevitable without active language maintenance.
Thinking that a language is no longer needed or that it is in any
danger of disappearing may result in language loss.
• Rapid shift occurs when speakers are eager to ‘fit in’ or ‘get on’ in
society; young people and job seekers are the fastest to shift
Factors affecting language shift
Demographic Factors
1. Social integration leads to language shift; social isolation, on the
other hand, may result in resistance to language shift.
– Isolated rural communities of minorities tend to resist
language shift. E.g., Ukrainians in the Canadian farmlands.
– Improved roads, buses, TV, telephone, internet are agents of
language shift.
2. Size of community of speakers tends to influence language
shift. Where there is a large number of speakers of the minority
language, language shift is slowest.
– To maintain a language, there must be people who can use it
with one another; the larger the group, the more social
pressure to speak the ethnic language.
– Shift tends to occur faster in some groups than in others.
Factors affecting language shift
Demographic Factors
3. Intermarriage can accelerate language shift towards the
language of the partner who speaks the language of the
majority, unless multilingualism is the norm in society.
– Mothers tend to influence language change either by
accelerating it towards the language of the majority or
by slowing it down if her native language is that of the
Factors affecting language shift
Attitudes and Values
1. Language shift tends to be faster among communities where
the ethnic language is not highly valued.
2. It also occurs where the ethnic language is not seen as a
symbol of identity.
– Language is an important component of identity and culture;
maintaining a group’s identity and culture is usually important to it, so
they maintain their ethnic language to maintain their identity.
– Positive attitudes of speakers support efforts to use the ethnic language
in a variety of domains, these attitudes help people resist the pressure
from the majority group to shift to their language.
3. The international status of the ethnic language either
accelerates or slows down language shift e.g. French in
Maine (U.S.A.) and Quebec (Canada).
How Can a Minority Language be Maintained?
There are certain social factors which help resist
wholesale language shift:
The language is a symbol of identity; e.g., the languages of the
Polish and Greeks in Anglo-Saxon countries.
Speakers live near each other and socialize and worship with each
other frequently; e.g., Indians & Pakistanis in Birmingham and the
Chinese in Chinatowns.
There is frequent contact with the homeland through regular visits
and frequent new immigrants.
Discouraging inter-marriages helps maintain the language of the
Using the minority language in the extended family helps maintain
this ethnic language.
Institutional support through education, law and administration,
religion, and the media is crucial to language maintenance.
Language Revival
• When some communities realize that their ethnic language is in
danger of disappearing, they consciously work to revitalize or bring
to life the language; Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and Maori are cases in
• The success of language revival efforts depends on (a) how far the
language loss has occurred, (b) how determined its speakers are in
reviving it, and (c) whether the economic factor is conducive or not
(encouraging or discouraging).
• Hebrew was effectively dead for 1700 years but got revived and is
now spoken as an everyday native language of communication.
• There is no magic formula for guaranteeing language maintenance;
similar factors apparently result in a stable bilingual situation in some
communities but language shift in others.
• Pressures towards language shift occur more in monolingual
communities than multilingual communities that consider the
existence of more than one language as normal.
The Swedish Language in Finland
-minority language: about 6% of population
-language laws: Swedish has an equal status with Finnish
as an official language. The Language Act of 1922 states
that a Finnish citizen is entitled to use either Finnish or
Swedish in courts of law and in dealings with other
national authorities.
-bilingual municipalities (= at least 8% / 3000 minority
language speakers) are required to provide schools for
both language groups.
-Swedish is a compulsory subject at Finnish
comprehensive school and vice versa.
-The number of daily newspapers for the Swedish
minority (15) is probably higher than for any other
corresponding language minority in the world.
-attitudes among majority: according to a research report
published in 1997, 70% of Finland's Finnish-speaking
population feel that Swedish is an essential part of
Finnish society, and 73% believe it would be a pity if the
Swedish language and culture were to die out completely
in Finland.
The Swedish Language in Finland: mono- and
About one third of all Swedish-speaking Finns are monolingual
in Swedish, the rest know Finnish fairly well and use it to a
varying extent both in everyday life and at work. The need for
bilingualism in Swedish-speaking Finland varies geographically,
and so do attitudes towards bilingualism. In the urban
conglomerations in southern Finland, most working-age people
have to be bilingual with a good knowledge of Finnish. The south
is also where intermarriage between the language groups is quite
common. On Åland and in Ostrobothnia, on the other hand, the
situation is different. There, it is possible to be monolingually
Swedish both in private and professionally. Those who are
bilingual consider this to be a necessity and a credit; those who
are not, consider bilingualism to be a problem that will eventually
harm the Swedish-speaking minority.
Thought Question:
Finnish-Swedish is a minority
language in Finland with
about 300 000 speakers. It is
secured by legislation but
bilingualism is becoming
more and more common and
there are concerns about
’degradation’ of the language.
Should something be done to
ensure its future in Finland?
If yes, what? What is your