Chapter 1 Summary of An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (Janet Holmes)

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    Summaries- Introduction to Sociolinguistics by Janet Holmes. Chapter 1   June 8, 2012   Introduction to Sociolinguistics, Janet Holmes.    A comprehensive summary of a 14-chapter book, including key examples and Glossary. I'm publishing the summary here for the benefit of linguistics students. مع   صخلا   اذ   دادعإ   تق  . زلو   تنجل   عجا   تنسلا   يف   د   بكل   صخ ١ ط   ةدف   هرشنأو   زجنا   غلا   مسقأ   يف   توغلا . Chapter One   What do Sociolinguists Study?   Summary   This chapter introduces the concept of Sociolinguistics, and defines it as:   ·It is the study of the relationship between language and society.   ·It is interested in examining the use of language in different contexts.   ·It identifies the social functions of language, and the ways it is used to convey social meaning. Linguistic variation can provide social information.   Examining the use of language in different social contexts is very important.   The choice of one linguistic form rather than the other is important,   Because:   1- It provides us with non-linguistic (social and regional) information. The two examples (example 1, and example 2) mentioned in the chapter clarify how the relationship between the two speakers governs the way of speaking and the choice of vocabulary. In the first example, the speech serves many functions:   ØIt gives information (why the boy was late)   ØTells how the boy feels (angry and frustrated)   ØTells about the relationship between the two participants (in the first example, the relationship is intimate and friendly. On the other hand, the second example shows a formal, distant and respectful relationship). In example 3, we can also see how the relationship and the feeling factors (which are social factors) are reflected in addressing people. A mother would address her daughter in a way that differs from that of a stranger. Because the relationship between the mother and the daughter is affectionate and intimate, the mother addresses her daughter with “dear”. However, if the mother was feeling angry with  her daughter she would use her name to show seriousness. Therefore, we realize how the choice of vocabulary indicates social factors such as relationships and feelings.   2-It reflects social identity. When we talk, we give clues to others about who we are and where we come from. Therefore, people can know about our social and regional background. Another social factor is “ethnicity”. In example 3, the friend uses the greeting “sut wyt ti?” which indicates her Welsh ethnicity.   3-Sociolinguistics is also interested in different types of linguistic variation used to express social factors. What is the linguistic variation? How does it happen? How are different types of linguistic variation used to express social factors?   First, the linguistic variation occurs on the level of vocabulary, sounds, grammar (syntax) and word structure (morphology).   The linguistic variation leads to style, which is a group of different ways of expression. The different styles are used in different social contexts. This may involve a use of different dialect or different language.   In example 4, each participant has their own way of speaking (their own style) which, in turn, gives information about the social background. The speaker who drops the “h” reflects his education and occupation,  which is considered as lower than the other speaker. Therefore, although they share the same region, the linguistic variation which occurred on the level of pronunciation has reflected the social background of the two speakers.   In example 5, the linguistic variation is on the level of grammar and vocabulary.   In example 6, the linguistic variation occurs on the level of dialect. It involves the use of two different dialects. This means that they differ on the level pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and style. In northern Norway, a village where people were studied by the two sociolinguists, Blom and Gompers, used two different dialects: one was for formal use, and the other was for the casual use. The formal (Bokmal) was used for education, media and press, official business transactions, and inside worship places. The casual (Ranamal) was the dialect used among family and friends. It was also used to communicate with shop keepers. It signals one’s membership to the local community (the village), unlike the Bokmal, which is used by strangers in the village. Therefore, if a local used Bokmal while talking to a shopkeeper s/he will sound too funny or snobbish.    Another social factor is the topic. The topic of discussion influences the way we speak, and reflects different choices of linguistic variation. In example 6, village people in that Norwegian village alter between two kinds of Norwegian dialects according to the topic of discussion. Talking about foreign politics or academic topics will compel the speaker to opt for the formal dialect (Bokmal), while they opt for (Ranamal) when they return home and talk about different topics related to their children or friends.   Definition     Any set of linguistic forms (a group of linguistic variations on the level of voc, grammar, pronunciation) that patterns according to, or that is influenced by social factors is called a code or variety. A variety is a set of linguistic forms used under specific social circumstances. It is a broad term that includes different accents, styles, dialects and even languages which contrast with each other for social reasons (the social factors). The concept “variety” is a very useful sociolinguistic term because:   ØIt is neutral.   ØIt covers all the different realizations of the abstract conc ept “language” in different social contexts. In example no. 7, the linguistic variation occurs on the level of languages. This means that each language has its own pronunciation, morphology, syntax, and lexis.  A speaker of one language cannot understand the speaker of another. (Remember: this is opposite to dialects, where speakers used to understand each other).   In the example, a village called “Sauris” experienced three stages:   1.It was a part of the Austrian empire. The people spoke German.   2.Later, they used German for casual use (with friends and relatives) and Friulian with people outside the village. It has become a language of solidarity used by young men among each other.   3.Italian was used for reading and writing, church and school as well as communicating with people from outside the region. By 1971, adults were all trilingual (speaking three languages). In that village, the social distribution is also different. And the social distribution is accompanied by linguistic distribution as well. The Linguistic Repertoire is the distinguishable varieties or codes which are available for use in different social contexts.   In every community there is a range of varieties from which the speakers select according to the context in which they are communicating. People may use different pronunciations, styles, dialects or even languages for different purposes. In monolingual communities, people select different styles or dialects for different purposes. For example, in a small village like Lancashire, a wo man’s repertoire would include the styles of English she needs in speaking to shop keepers, bank employees, or her children and relatives.   In Malaysia, a woman’s repertoire would include two varieties of English with different styles, and two different varieties of Chinese with different styles. Social factors account for the use of linguistic variation. This depends on   Users: the participants Use: setting, topic and function.   Participants: The speakers in a speech event   Setting: the social context of the interaction (speech event)   The topic: the topic of discussion   The function: the purpose of this topic (why)     Also, there are four dimensions which are related to social factors: 1.Social distance   2.Status scale   3.Formality scale   4.functional scales    As for the social distance scale, it is concerned with the relationship of participants. It emphasizes solidarity. How well we know someone influences our linguistic choice. The relationship, whether intimate or distant, affects the linguistic choice during speaking. We can therefore use nick names in calling our siblings or friends, but can not do so in addressing our teachers. The more formal the relation is, the more careful we are in choosing the appropriate linguistic form in addressing the speaker.    As for the Status Scale, it has two ends: superior (high status) and subordinate (low status). The social status is relevant to the choice of linguistic forms. For example, dropping the (h) while speaking reflects a social group that is lower than that of someone who keeps the (h) in their pronunciation. Also, if a person is addressed by Mr. While he addresses others with their first names, it means that the person enjoys a higher or superior status.   The Formality Scale is concerned with high formality and low formality. Speakers evaluate the formality of the topic, and they use the linguistic form accordingly. For example, in the village called “Sauris”,  Italian was used for formal purposes (reading, writing, religious sermons), while German was used for communication with family members. Similarly, Bokmal was used for formal purposes like education, newspapers, radio and TV, while Ranamal was used for casual purposes like communicating with the locals.  As for the functional scales, they embrace two functions: referential and affective functions. Each speech event has its own function. The referential function provides information. For example, the weather bulletin provides information about what the expected temperatures will be like. However, if two people are talking to each other, and one of them says“it is too humid today,” this sentence conveys her feelings. The function here is affective. In Example 1, the boy speech serves referential and affective functions: he is giving information to explain why he was late, and is expressing his frustration and fury towards the teacher. In speech, sometimes one function dominates the other: The more referential is the topic, the less feelings it conveys, and vice versa.   So, these dimensions, along with the previously mentioned factors provide a useful framework for discussing language in its social context.   Conclusion:   The chapter defined the study of linguistics which is done by two tasks performed by sociolinguists: 1-Identifying the linguistic variation involved (whether on the level of pronunciation, syntax, lexis, morphology, dialects, or languages).   2-Identifying the non linguistic (social) factors and dimensions that led to the linguistic variation.  
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