LANGUAGE abgdezhqi klmnxopr stufcyw Top left: Greek Bottom left: Cherokee Middle: Arabic Top right: Russian What is language? A form of communication that is a systematic set of arbitrary symbols shared among a group and passed on from generation to generation A form of Communication What is Conveyed or transmitted? System • sounds • system of sounds that when put together according to certain rules results in meanings • Systematic nature of language is usually unconscious arbitrary symbols Rabbit Conejo Usagi Kanninchen Cuniculus •associations between words/sounds and the things they represent arbitrary •not natural or selfevident meaning. •meaning provided by tradition and consensus •Because symbols are arbitrary they have to be learned. “look at this” lobster Descriptive symbols “grab hold of this” Other forms of communication: – Direct: facial expression, body stance, gesture, tone of voice – Indirect: writing, algebra, music, painting, signs Language has displacement • Talk about stimuli which are not present • “The yellow elephant eats dancing peanuts.” • past, present, future Language is productive • Produce novel utterances which can be understood (see the elephant sentence!) • creative and one can create new messages. Human language is thus an "open" system while animal language is "closed," • Call systems consist of a limited number of sounds that are produced in response to specific stimuli (e.g. food or danger) – Calls cannot be combined to produce new calls. – Calls are reflexive in that they are automatic responses to specific stimuli. Apes, such as these Congo chimpanzees, use call systems to communicate in the wild Shared • profoundly social • we use language to send social messages about • who we are, • where we come from, • who we associate with •we may judge a person's background, character, and intentions based upon the person's language, dialect, or, in some instances, even the choice of a single word. Eh! Descriptive or Formal Linguistics • Also called structural linguistics • Tries to discover the rules of phonology, morphology, and syntax of another language, especially those with no written dictionary or grammar. • Seeks to discover language rules that are not written down but are discoverable in actual speech. Phonology The study of the sound patterns of a language what sound combinations are permissible how sound systems are organized Morphology The study of meaning in individual units of language. concerned with the structure of words. The smallest unit of meaning is a morpheme. Syntax The rules by which words are put together to form sentences and phrases e.g. order of Subject, Verb, Object Semantics The meaning of symbols, words, phrases, and sentences of a language. Historical Linguistics • Focuses on how language changes over time and how languages relate to one another. • Anthropologists are interested in cultural features that correlate with language families. • Reconstruction of languages: – Proto-Indo-European – Sino-Tibetan • Linguistic divergence – Gradual or by force method of tracing the history of languages called glottochronology assumes that changes in the core vocabulary, e.g. pronouns, lower numerals, and names for parts of the body and natural objects change at a constant rate apply a formula to determine when the languages separated 1786 William Jones noted similarities between Sanskrit and classical Greek and Latin 1822 Jacob Grimm formulated rules to describe the sound shifts that had occurred when the various IE languages diverged from one another •In Germanic, d of Romance switched to t: deux to two •The p of Romance switched to f : pater to father, pied to foot •German s switched to English t: wasser to water * Some cognates in Indo-European languages G REEK phráter nuktós zugón heptá . . . * L A T IN frāter noctis iugum septem . . . E N G L ISH brother night's yoke seven . . . S A N SK R IT bhrātarnaktasya yugam sapta . . . Cognates: words that are similar in sound and meaning subgroups reflect long period of linguistic divergence from an ancient unified language 50% of the world’s population speak an Indo-European language Proto-Indo-European Linguistic Family Tree • individual languages are themselves the result of further linguistic divergence • further subdivided into dialects • speech characteristic of a particular region or social class • boundaries may be psychological, social, economic, as well as geographical • dialect continuums where the edges of languages blend • French blends into Italian • German into Dutch, • Spanish into Portuguese Dialect Continuum (The left-to-right dimension expresses range of mutual intelligibility.) Town A Town B Town C Town D Town E Town F Town G Town H 3 2 1 2 3 3 2 1 2 3 3 2 1 2 3 3 2 1 2 3 3 2 1 2 3 3 2 1 2 3 3 2 1 2 3 3 2 1 2 3 IE languages derive from a language spoken 5000 to 6000 years ago • Using controversial techniques, linguists seek the more elusive prehistoric tongues • Nostratic—ancestral speech of the Middle East 12,000 to 20,000 years ago – Ancestral to nine modern language families – A 500-word dictionary has been compiled • Contemporary with Nostratic were other ancient tongues including Dene-Caucasian • Dene-Caucasian reputedly gave rise to SinoTibetan, Basque, and one form of early Native-American called Na-Dene - an educated guess as to the original home of a language can be also be made based on the number of different geographical dialects - the more there are the closer to the homeland. - Thus there are far more dialects of English in England than in New Zealand, or the Canada. - same sort of logic can be applied at higher levels - There are far more languages and Language families in Africa than anywhere else suggesting that Africa is the homeland of human beings and language - attempts have been made to find the original language of humanity - mitochondrial DNA suggests that modern humans migrated out of Africa about 100,000 years ago - maybe earlier - original language about 100,000 years old Language Change geographical distance or barriers borrowing from another language • usually results in greater resemblance due to borrowing e.g. about 50% of the English vocabulary has been borrowed from the French • different social classes contact may borrow differentially Pig Cow Sheep pork beef lamb spread of linguistic features may be halted by racial, religious or social class differences that inhibit communication - eg. there are substantial differences in speech between the untouchable groups and other groups - members of the untouchable groups have work contracts with others but no friendships - without friendships and the easy communication between friends, dialect differentiation developed. Child labour, Untouchables in quarry, Tamil Nadu, India Sociolingusitics the study of language(s) in relation to society. The Social Uses of Language - Language expresses, symbolizes and maintains the social order Social variables influence a person's use of language • Class • Gender • Status • Age • National/ethnic/regional identity • education A child learning a language also acquires social competence i.e. the ability to recognize and interpret the social activity taking place. e.g. opening or closing a conversation Telling a joke or story taking conversational turns Social Identity language use is fundamental to the creation and expression of social identity and difference. the social prestige or stigma attached to linguistic varieties often supports and expresses the value attached to social identities. Eg. the Queen’s English vs Cockney English distinctive aspects of language from pronunciation to syntax, to slang, i.e. any aspect of linguistic code • Glottal stop City = Ci’y water= wa'er • Dropped ‘h’ house = ‘ouse, hammer = ‘ammer • TH fronting three = free bath = barf • Vowel lowering dinner = dinna, marrow= marra Most prestigious form will be that of the most powerful group in society because this group controls education and the media. perkins2.ram queen1a.ram Prestige form often forms the standard language a national language permits internal cohesion and fosters external distinction forms a powerful base for national identity minority languages serve to mark off ethnic difference within multiethnic societies. 90% of Paraguans speak Guarani, yet until 1992 Spanish was the official language, the language of prestige and is used in government, schools, and commerce. Guarani is used in informal settings with friends and relatives, in talking with status inferiors. Guaraní raises feelings of pride and linguistic loyalty in the people nineteenth century China united by a standard written language but 8 mutually unintelligible dialects each dialect had its reading pronunciation for the same character thus a shared literacy did not confer a shared spoken language 1932 pronunciation forms were normalized to reflect that spoken in Beijing communists actively promoted use of Mandarin Restoration of languages in decline may be taken as an aspect of ethnic revival eg. Irish English was the language of social prestige in the mid 16th century when the English colonized Ireland and Irish went into decline Irish was the language of the poor In the mid 19th century Irish nationalist movement emerged and sought to encourage and revive the original language part of a national movement which led to the Irish Free State Irish was made the official language support for it in the form of compulsory education, bilingual publications etc. EBONICS A “slang” dialect used by certain groups of the African-American community. Yo, Big Daddy upstairs, You be chillin So be yo hood You be sayin' it, I be doin' it In this here hood and yo's Gimme some eats And cut me some slack, Blood Sos I be doin' it to dem dat diss me Don't be pushing me into no jive Ang keep dem crips away Cause you always be da man, G Straight up. Aa-men. English First English First is a national, non-profit grassroots lobbying organization founded in 1986. The goal is to Make English America's official language Indexicals items that mark features of the speakers and for the hearers identity include pronouns, kinship terms, forms of address, and speech levels they create and sustain a relational social identity Terms of address Is the formality of the setting relevant? Do you use kin titles to indicate a person's kinship relation to you? Is age or generation relevant in selecting them? Is relative status or rank relevant in selecting an appropriate term in your community? What, if any, is the age difference between people which is considered relevant in determining address usage? Naming in English Who am I? • Professor Holdsworth • Christopher John Holdsworth • Dr C. J Holdsworth • Christopher Holdsworth • Holdsworth • Holdsworth, Christopher • Chris • Dad The grammar of English names Three word-classes: • Title (Mr, Prof, …) • Given name (John, Mary, …) • Family name (Holdsworth, Smith, …) Normal order: Title Given Family Mr John Smith Possible combinations: • • • • • • • TGF TF GF G T F Not:T F Professor Christopher Holdsworth Professor Holdsworth Christopher /Chris Holdsworth Christopher / Chris Doctor ok for some titles Holdsworth NB: old-fashioned! Professor Chris ungrammatical!! The sociolinguistics of English names • Classification: Sex (Mr/Mrs; John/Mary) • The Solidarity hierarchy • The Power hierarchy Solidarity relations to a: Stranger Acquaintance Friend/relative Power relations to a: Superior Equal Subordinate To a close equal: a young friend To a close equal: an old friend To an even closer equal To a close subordinate: a child Even more subordinate: a pet To equal acquaintances To a superior stranger What name do you use? • • • • • To superior stranger: TF (Mr Smith) To subordinate relative: G (John) To superior relative:T (Dad) To equal acquaintance: G To superior acquaintance:? Inequality reigns • • • • salesman is subordinate to customer dentist is superior to patient teacher is superior to student What if student = customer??? Power Semantic • Determines which pronoun will be used on the basis of the difference in social status (or power) between the speaker and addressee. – wealth, age, sex, institutionalised role in the church, the state, the army, the family ... • The T of "intimacy" versus the V of "formality" (French tu or vous) • Based on an asymmetrical relation and is non-reciprocal. Does naming matter? • • • • • To the hearer: Yes. To the speaker: Yes. A wrong choice can offend or hurt. Decisions are difficult. The better you speak English, the more a wrong choice will offend. Forms of address terms of address vary with the nature of the relationship between speakers the reciprocal use of first names generally signifies an informal intimate relationship between two persons a title and a last name used reciprocally indicates a more formal or businesslike relationship between individuals of roughly equal status nonreciprocal use of first names and titles is reserved for speakers who recognize a marked difference in status between themselves this status can be a function of age (as when a child refers to her mother's friend as Mrs Miller and is in returned referred to as Sally) or it can be along occupational lines as when as person refers to his boss by title and last name and is in return addressed as John Politeness Use of polite language was one aspect of the enactment of social hierarchy in the Thai court politeness entailed the correct use of formal modes of addressing royalty with linguistic terms that exalted royalty and humbled those of lower status. The first person pronoun used when addressing the king meant `I the slave of the Lord Buddha' second person meant `the dust beneath the sole of your august feet' meaning that the speaker did not dare address the king directly but to the dirt on the floor. The Thai person who addresses his comments to the dirt beneath the king's shoe is invoking a cultural image of `low status' but he is also indexing relative identity in the social interaction of discourse. Language and gender Three issues: Do women and men speak a different language / genderlect? Do women and men behave differently in conversations? How sexist is the English language? Do Men and Women Use Language Differently? Men and women in conversation • • • • • Who talks more? Who interrupts more? Who introduces topics? Who asks questions? Who is more supportive? Men and women in conversation Who talks more? • • Stereotype says that women talk more than men Proverbs: – – – • A woman's tongue wags like a lamb's tail. Foxes are all tail and women are all tongue. The North Sea will sooner be found wanting in water than a woman be at a loss for a word. But – In numerous studies it has been shown that it is the men who do most of the talking. Who Interrupts and overlaps more? InterOverSurvey of faculty X interrupts ruptions laps meeting Y % of utterances MM that FF involved interruptions and MF overlaps FF Zimmerman and West (1975) 43% 35% 57% 45% 96% 100% 4% 0% Turn taking behaviour in mixed sex conversations • Turn-length: men take more and longer turns • interruptions: mainly by men • Silence (after speaker’s turn before addressee continues): women's silence far longer • back-channels: (e.g. um hmm, oh really?) women use more (supportive behaviour) • questions: 70 per cent by women, e.g. as a means for topic introduction ("D’ya know what?") • topics: men tried 29 times and succeed 28 times; women tried 47 times and succeeded 17 times • women talk to other women about family and interpersonal matters; while men talk to male friends about cars, sports, work, motorcycles, carpentry, and politics • women are more sensitive to social connotations of speech (Tannen 1992: 75) Intimacy versus independence Many misunderstandings in communications between men and women can be explained by men’s strive for independence and women’s strive for intimacy. –In other words, men concentrate on status, women on connections. “Have you found a job?” Genderlects What a terrific idea! What a divine idea! Shit! You’ve put the peanut butter in the fridge again! Genderlects Oh dear! You’ve put the peanut butter in the fridge again! Male speakers often use socially disfavored variants of sociolinguistic variables while women tend to avoid these in favor of socially more favored variants.” women's language which consists of polite deferential ways of speaking which ultimately subordinate women in society Some explanations for differences (1) (2) (3) (4) Subordinate groups must be polite Woman’s role as guardian of society’s values Vernacular forms express machismo Women have less access to power and status: they‘make up’ for this by their preferences for the prestige (standard) linguistic forms. This is thought to give them respect and some status. (5) Women and men are socialised in different ways which is reflected in their language use patterns. (6) women may be more status conscious than men because: – society sets more standards for women and – Women’s typical activities do not confer status itself. – this insecurity offers a parallel with the insecurity of the lower middle class (7) Women and men have different networks which lead to women and men using different ways of speaking. Crossing the Sex barrier: Asymmetries • What happens when women adopt a masculine form • What happens when men adopt a feminine form? • Why is it more of a stigma for men to use female speech than the other way around? – downward mobility? Crossing the race barrier • What happens when blacks talk like whites • What happens when whites talk like blacks Gender-exclusive differences • Tayana is a young Amazonian Indian woman from the north-west Amazon Basin. She lives with her husband and children and a number of other families in a longhouse beside the river. The language of her longhouse is Tuyuka, which is the language of all the men in this tribe, and the language she uses to talk to her children. She comes from a different tribe and her first language is Desano. She uses Desano to her husband, and he replies in Tuyuka. Japanese differences Women’s form Men’s form otoosan oyaji ‘father’ onaka hara ‘stomach’ oishii umai ‘delicious’ taberu kuu ‘eat’ Sexism in the English language • The feminine as a marked category – dog - bitch (masc. = neutral term) – lion - lioness (masc. = neutral term) – actor - actress (fem. nowadays often avoided) – manager - manageress (fem. suggests lower status, e.g. of laundrette but not of bank) – King –queen (fem. derogartory • Generally, masculine terms often unmarked in the sense that – it is the feminine term that takes an ending – only the masculine term can be used both for males and females. Semantic derogation • Semantic derogation: words referring to women tend to decline through time • Hussy, wench and girl • But girl may also be used to indicate intimacy among women if used by a woman to women ("Come on girls, let's go!”) Generic use of man and he • The term “generic” means referring generally (e.g. The tiger is a friendly beast to refer to tigers in general) • The words he and man are sometimes used to refer to humans in general • -man used as a kind of suffix (Bolinger 1980, quoted by Graddol and Swann 1989: 103) Man in contrast with dog • The dog is a lot younger than the bitch. • The man is a lot younger than the woman • One of the dogs on the farm is a beautiful Golden Retriever bitch. • *One of the men on the farm is a beautiful French woman. • The dog next door has just given birth to a puppy. • *The man next door has just given birth to a baby. • The dog is a mammal. • Man is a mammal. • The dog is a mammal, i.e. it gives birth to live young which it suckles. • *Man is a mammal, i.e. he gives birth to live young which he suckles. Lexicon: lexical Asymetries • • • • • • • • • • • Mistress v master postman v lettercarrier (postperson) Spinster v bachelor chairman v chairperson, dept head, chair Witch v warlock stewardess v flight attendant governess v governor Lady v lord Cow v bull Secretary v secret-ary s/he v cameroon pidgin ithe lexical bias reflects a social bias in the culture What happens when you try to correct lexical bias? Once alternatives have been offered, each speaker is faced with a choice of which form to use. Linguistic reflexes of social stereotypes • female doctor vs. male nurse • woman executive but not man executive. • governor and governess more or less equivalent • master and mistress too used to be more or less equivalent but now the latter has the additional meaning Suggestions for non-sexist terms • • • • • • • man-hour manpower man-made man-to-man prehistoric man man a post statesman • • • • • • • • • • • foreman watchman fireman milkman • milk deliverer work-hour workforce artificial, synthetic person-to-person prehistoric people fill a post statesperson, politician, leader, diplomat • supervisor • guard • firefighter Does Language determine how we Perceive the world? Is Our thinking and Our Behavoiur determined by our language? Sapir-Whorf hypothesis 'Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication and reflection. The fact of the matter is that the "real world" is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group.' 1929 Sapir-Whorf hypothesis two basic principles: 1. linguistic determinism the language we use to some extent determines the way in which we view and think about the world Strong determinism language actually determines thought, that language and thought are identical. Weak determinism thought is merely affected by or influenced by our language, 2. linguistic relativity distinctions encoded in one language are unique to that language alone. Eg. The Colour spectrum, is a continuum, each colour gradually blending into the next; there are no sharp boundaries. But we impose boundaries; we talk of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. these discriminations are arbitrary and indeed in other languages the boundaries are different Colour Terms •Dani (New Guinea) have only two colour categories •mili which means dark, cold colours such as black •mola which means warm, bright colours such as white •languages with three colour terms add Red •those with four add yellow •English has 11 (red, yellow, black, white, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, orange, grey) Sapir-Whorf hypothesis Sapir Whorf says habitual thought might be influenced, if not determined, by linguistic structures. We perceive the world through language - the colors we see is predetermined by what our culture prepares us to see do we see blue and green colours because our language has two different names for these two neighbouring parts of the colour spectrum? Can the Tiv perceive or distinguish between Red and yellow? Sapir-Whorf hypothesis The physiology of our eyes is essentially the same. All normal humans share similar sense perceptions of color despite differences in color terminology from one language to another. People can see subtle gradations of color and can comprehend other ways of dividing up the spectrum of visible light. However, as a society's economy and technology increase in complexity, the number of color terms usually also increases. i.e. the spectrum of visible light gets subdivided into more categories. As the environment changes, culture and language typically respond by creating new terminology to describe it. Which belong together? The red things and the blue things Or the strings and the sticks? Carroll and Casagrande looked Navaho Indians •they place great stress on form and shape, rigidity and material from which an object is constructed •they gave three groups of children •one Navaho speaking •one English speaking •one bilingual •showed them a green stick, a green rope and a blue rope •asked them which objects went together •Navaho speakers said objects with the same form i.e. ropes went together •English speakers categorize by colour rather than form put green stick and green rope together •confirms the relativity of language hypothesis Language and Gender Concept do children learn to recognize themselves as boys or girls when their language emphasizes gender? Alexander Guiora looked at children in Hebrew speaking homes, Finnish, speaking homes and English speaking homes Hebrew has the most gender emphasis of the three languages nouns are either masculine or feminine and even second person and plurals are differentiated by gender English emphasizes gender less, only in third person singular his and hers Finish emphasizes gender least, only man and woman convey gender Consistent with the idea that language may influence thought Hebrew speaking children acquired the concept of gender identity the earliest on the average and Finnish speaking children the latest Criticisms of Sapir Whorf If language determines thought then language must precede thought - but even pre-linguistic babies can think - not all activities involve language but do involve thought Differences are not in thought but in ways of expressing the same thoughts -if this were not so then it would be impossible to translate Sapir-Whorf hypothesis not generally accepted that language channels thought general view now is that language sets up a filter between the human being and the world he or she perceives that heightens certain perceptions and dims others.