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WILLIAM LABOV: (THE SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF ENGLISH IN NEW YORK CITY)

- the result of a large scale of the speech of New York. Informants were random
selected, random sample, which meant that though not everybody could be
interviewed everybody had an equal chance of selection for interview. Any
individual stands a fair chance of being not too different from the group as a whole.
But it is not possible to select single speaker and to generalize from him to the rest
of the speakers in his social-class group. The speech of New Yorkers appeared to
vary in a completely random and unpredictable manner.

LANGUAGE IS A DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC OF ETHNIC GROUP MEMBERSHIP.

Walt Wolfrum:
-rule of discourse interpretation which says that a HOW COME? Question involves
assertion that there exists a non-obvious proposition which is known to B but not
known to A.
A: how old are you?
B: 33
A: How come?

Language by extension- language which trough history developed from dialects into
a language.

Political and cultural factors: autonomy and heteronomy. Autonomous languages are
those independent, standardized varieties of language e.g. German and Dutch.
Heteronomous are nonstandard dialects of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Sociopolitical nature of these two forms can be shown on the example of
Scandinavia. Norwegian, Swedish and Danish are all autonomous, standard
languages but corresponding to three distinct nation states. Educated speakers of
all three can communicate freely with each other but you cant say that those are

the same languages even though they are. Also Canadian English and American
English are the same.

Differences between American and British English: elevator-lift, I have got-I have
gotten..

Received Pronunciation: British English accent (English English), largely confined to


England but as well in Australia, New Zealand, south Africa, parts of Canada. It is
non-localized accent.

Sociolinguistics Language and society

The term DIALECT refers to differences between kinds of language which are
differences of vocabulary and grammar as well as pronunciation (Standard English
is a dialect)

The term ACCENT on the other hand, refers solely to differences of


pronunciation, and it is often important to distinguish clearly between the two

STANDARD ENGLISH is that variety of English which is usually used in print and
which is normally taught in schools and to non-native speakers learning the
language. It is also the variety which is normally spoken by educated people and
used in news broadcasts and other similar situations.

THE SAPHIR-WHORF HYPOTHESIS is concerned with the possibility that human


beings' views of their environment may be conditioned by their language.

TABOO is associated with things which are not said, and in particular with words
and expressions which are not used. Taboo words occur in most languages, and
failure to adhere to the often strict rules governing their use can lead to punishment
or public shame.

IDIOLECT the speech of one person at one time in one style

Language and Social Class

SOCIAL-CLASS DIALECT and SOCIAL-CLASS ACCENTS Different social groups use


different linguistic varieties, and as experienced members of a speech community
we have learnt to classify speakers accordingly.
SOCIAL STRATIFICATION is a term used to refer to any hierarchical ordering by
groups within a society. In the industrialized societies of the West this takes the form
of stratification into social classes and gives rise linguistically to social dialects.
SOCIAL-CLASS STRATIFICATION is not universal. In India, for example, traditional
society is stratified into different castes. As far as the linguists are concerned, caste
dialects are in some way easier to study and describe than social class dialects.
DIALECT CONTINUUM a large number of different but not usually distinct
nonstandard dialects connected by a chain of similarity, but with the dialects at
either end of the chain being very dissimilar. At the other end of the social scale,
however, the situation is very different. Speakers of the highest social class employ
the dialect we have called Standard English.
INHERENT VARIABILITY means that the variation is not due to the mixture of two
or more varieties but is an integral part of the variety itself.

Language and ethnic group

People do not talk the way they do because they are white or black; the
speakers acquire the linguistic characteristics of those they live in close contact
with

Ideas of LINGUISTIC PURITY (defending a language against contamination by


loan words from other languages) may go hand in hand with equally false ideas
about racial purity.

Most frequently cited characteristics of AAVE:

Many black speakers do not have non-prevocalic /r/ in cart or car


Many black speakers often do not have // as in thing or /??/ as in that. In initial
position they may be merged with /t/ (rarely), and /d/ respectively, so that this is
dis, for example.
In AAVE, plurals of nouns ending in Standard English in st, sp and sk are often
formed on the pattern of class: classes rather than of clasp: clasps. For example, the
plural of desk may be desses, the plural of test, tesses.
They include the nasalization of vowels before nasal consonants; vocalization and
loss of non-prevocalic /l/; and devoicing of final /b/, /d/, /g/, and possible loss of
final /d/

More central to this argument about the origin of differences between AAVE
and other forms of English are grammatical differences:

Many black speakers do not have s in third person singular present-tense forms,
so that forms such as he go, it come, she like are usual.
An important grammatical characteristic of AAVE is the absence of the copula
the verb to be in the present tense. (e.g. She real nice.)
The most important characteristic of AAVE is the so-called invariant be: the use
of the form be as a finite verb form (e.g. He usually be around.)
Three final grammatical characteristics of AAVE worthy of mention are: AAVE
question inversion, existential it, and negativized auxiliary pre-position.

Language and Sex


Sex differences in English:
Women on average use forms which more closely approach those of the standard
variety or the prestige accent than those used by men; in other words, female
speakers of English, tend to use linguistic forms which are considered to be better
than male forms.
It has been pointed out that working-class speech seems to have connotations of
or associations with masculinity, which may lead men to be more favorably
disposed to nonstandard linguistic forms than women.

It has also been pointed out that many societies seem to expect a higher level of
adherence to social norms better behavior- from woman than they do from men.
New Zealand sociolinguist Elizabeth Gordon suggests that woman may have a
tendency to speak in a more prestigious way so as not to be thought sexually
promiscuous.
Gender differentiation in language arises because language, as a social
phenomenon, is closely related to social attitudes. Men and women are socially
different in that society lays down different social roles for them and expects
different behavior patterns for them. Language simply reflects this social fact.
Linguistic differences between younger men and women are statistically smaller
than in the case of older speakers
Problem of sexual discrimination in language: mostly in vocabulary, for example,
word chairman. Non-discriminatory term should be chairperson or chairwomen for
women.
English also has a number of pairs of words for males and females which appear,
at first sight, to be equivalent:
gentleman lady
man- woman
boy girl
But are NOT equivalent, lady is a euphemism for woman, and it is, in many
aspects, equivalent to men (for example, Ladies wear and Mans wear)
A word woman has negative sexual connotation in a male dominated society (e.g.
compare these two sentences: She is only thirteen, but she is already a woman.
And: She is only thirteen but she is already a lady.)
Traditionally, man has been used more often than woman, while lady and a girl
have been employed more often than gentleman and a boy.

Language and Context

Language varies not only according to the social characteristics of speakers but
also according to the social context in which they find themselves.


The same speaker uses different linguistic varieties in different situations and
for different purpose. The totality of linguistic varieties used in this way by a
particular community of speakers can be called that linguistic communitys VERBAL
REPERTOIRE
.. Linguistic varieties that are linked to occupations, professions or topics have
been termed REGISTERS

Linguistic varieties that are linked to the formality of the situation can be
termed STYLES, and can be thought of as being sited along a scale ranging from
formal to informal.

Styles and registers are, in principle, independent

DIGLOSSIA is a particular kind of language standardization where two distinct


varieties of a varieties of a language exist side by side throughout the speech
community and where each of the two varieties is assigned a definite social
function.

LANGUAGE-SWITCHING takes place in communities where verbal repertoire


contains more than one language (for example, in Luxembourg, switching occurs
between German and French)

Language and Social Interaction

Structure of a conversation : it is based on the principle of a turn-taking, and it is


organized that to ensure that only one speaker speaks at the time
There are also points in the structure of a conversation where it is possible, and
points where it is not possible, to interrupt a speaker
There are rules about how and when one is allowed to introduce a new topic of
conversation

There are even rules about the silence (in a conversation between two English
speakers who are not close friends, a silence longer than about four seconds is not
allowed)
Conversations are structured, rule-governed, non-random sequences of
utterances.
ETHNOGRAPHY OF SPEAKING studies rules about the way in which language
should be used in social interaction in all societies all over the world. It also studies
cross-cultural differences in communicative norms.
The American sociolinguist Deborah Tanner has suggested that in many respects
communication between man and women can be regarded as cross-cultural
communication; Man and women often fail to understand one another properly, and
that such misunderstandings can lead to friction and tension in relationships. (one
aspect of communication that may cause problems of this type is the relationship
between directness and indirectness)

Language and Nation

The vast majority of the nation-states of the world have more than one language
spoken indigenously within their frontiers.
Multilingual nations exist in all parts of the world, and very many examples could
be cited. Difficulties only arise when one attempts to locate a country that is
genuinely monolingual. There appear to be very few.
Nearly all European countries contain LINGUISTIC MINORITIES groups of
speakers who have as their native variety a language other than that which is the
official, dominant or major language in the country where they live.
The rapid increase in the number of the independent European nation-states in
the past hundred years or so has been paralleled by a rapid growth in the number of
autonomous, national and official languages.
The activities of governments having to do with language can be described as
instances of language planning.
A LINGUA FRANCA is a language which is used as a means of communication
among people who have no native language in common.
Problem of multilingualism - suggestions that an artificial language such as
Esperanto should be adopted as a lingua franca

Role of a national government: to select language, establish it, develop and


standardize it.

Language and Geography


When a linguistic innovation a new word, a new pronunciation, a new usage
occurs at a particular place, it may take subsequently spread to other areas,
particularly those nearest to it, so long as no serious barriers to communication
intervene

There is a difference between urban and rural accents; Reasons for that is that
linguistic innovations, like other innovations, often spread from one urban center to
another, and only later spread out into the surrounding countryside

The term LINGUISTIC AREA is used to refer to areas where several languages
are spoken which, although they are not necessarily very closely related, have a
number of features in common, as a result of the diffusion of innovations across
language boundaries.

Lexical items appear to be able to spread across great distances. Words can be
borrowed from one language to another regardless of proximity. At present, English
is source of loan words for many languages, particularly in Europe.

An important method by means of which linguistic forms may spread is for the
speakers themselves to travel. When, as the result of travel, speakers of different
languages come into contact with each other, they may have to communicate by
means of a lingua franca (Usually English)

When a language is used as a lingua franca it undergoes a certain amount of


simplification and reduction as well as being subject to the introduction of errors
through interference from the native language of the speaker.

The technical term for the process by which languages may be subject, in the
usage of non-native speakers, to simplification, reduction and interference is
PIDGINIZATION

A PIDGIN LANGUAGE is a lingua franca which has no native speakers.


Chronologically speaking, it is derived from a normal language through
simplification, reduction and interference or admixture, often considerable, from the
native language or languages of those who use it, especially so far as pronunciation
is concerned.

Most of the better known pidgin languages in the world are the result of travel
on the part of European traders and colonizers. They are based on languages like
English, French and Portuguese.

CREOLE languages are pidgins that have acquired native speakers

Language and humanity

There are about 5,000 languages in the world today


This number is smaller than it is use to be and it is getting smaller all the time
Communities go through a process of LANGUAGE SHIFT. This means that a
particular community gradually abandons its original native language and goes over
to speaking another one instead. (e.g. 200 years ago, most of the population of
Ireland were native speakers of IrisH Gaelic. Now the vast majority are the native
speakers of English.
REVERSING LANGUAGE SHIFT the aim of it is to help small culturally threatened
communities to transmit their language to the next generation.

Language in Context
"The 'language as sexist' prong of language and gender studies has faded in the last
two decades . . .. It was soon realised that a word could not unproblematically be

derided as sexist since it could in principle be 'reclaimed' by a given speech


community (queer probably being the most famous actual example). Similarly, a
superficially gender-neutral word such as people could be used in a sexist way: in an
article in The Independent (5/1/90), for example, Richard Adams wrote:
Additionally, identification of 'sexist' words did not allow for the fact that these could
be used ironically or in other non-literal ways, or that both sexist and non-sexist
words could be interpreted in a whole range of ways. Perhaps most importantly, the
role of context or 'situatedness' as key to both the production of a given utterance
and its interpretation was underestimated."
(Lia Litosseliti and Jane Sunderland, Gender Identity and Discourse Analysis. John
Benjamins, 2002)

Diglossia
In sociolinguistics, a situation in which two distinct varieties of a language are
spoken within the same speech community. Adjective: diglossic or diglossial.
Bilingual diglossia is a type of diglossia in which one language is used for writing
and another for speech.
Examples and Observations:

"In the classic diglossic situation, two varieties of a language, such as standard
French and Haitian creole French, exist alongside each other in a single society. Each
variety has its own fixed functions--one a 'high,' prestigious variety, and one a 'low,'
or colloquial, one. Using the wrong variety in the wrong situation would be socially
inappropriate, almost on the level of delivering the BBC's nightly news in broad
Scots.

"Children learn the low variety as a native language; in diglossic cultures, it is the
language of home, the family, the streets and marketplaces, friendship, and
solidarity. By contrast, the high variety is spoken by few or none as a first language.
It must be taught in school. The high variety is used for public speaking, formal
lectures and higher education, television broadcasts, sermons, liturgies, and writing.
(Often the low variety has no written form.)"
(Robert Lane Greene, You Are What You Speak. Delacorte, 2011)

"Diglossia reinforces social distinctions. It is used to assert social position and to


keep people in their place, particularly those at the lower end of the social
hierarchy. Any move to extend the L variety . . . is likely to be perceived to be a
direct threat to those who want to maintain traditional relationships and the existing
power structure."
(Ronald Wardhaugh, An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, 5th ed. Blackwell, 2006)

Diglossia in the U.S.


"Ethnicity typically includes a heritage language, particularly among groups
whose members include recent arrivals. A heritage language can play a significant
role in a community despite the fact that not all members actually speak it.
Relatively balanced, native bilinguals, though being designated native speakers of
English, may have younger siblings or other family members who speak little or no
English. Consequently, they may not use English all the time, particularly in
situations of diglossia in which language varieties are compartmentalized according
to situations of usage.

"The home is also one likely place for a social dialect (or vernacular) to develop
that can, consequently, spread throughout the community. Children will
undoubtedly bring that language variety with them into the classroom.
Consequently, educators need to consider the relationship of SAE and nonstandard
varieties of English such as Ebonics (African American Vernacular English--AAVE),
Chicano English (ChE), and Vietnamese English (VE), all recognized social dialects.
Children speaking these varieties may be counted as native speakers of English,
despite the fact that they may also be considered LM [language minority] students
entitled to certain rights as a result."
(Fredric Field, Bilingualism in the USA: The Case of the Chicano-Latino
Community. John Benjamins, 2011)

Gender
Examples and Observations:

"[T]here is now a greater awareness in some parts of the community that subtle,
and sometimes not so subtle, distinctions are made in the vocabulary choice used
to describe men and women. Consequently, we can understand why there is a
frequent insistence that neutral words be used as much as possible, as in describing
occupations e.g., chairperson, letter carrier, salesclerk, and actor (as in 'She's an
actor'). If language tends to reflect social structure and social structure is changing,
so that judgeships, surgical appointments, nursing positions, and primary school
teaching assignments are just as likely to be held by women as men (or by men as
women), such changes might be expected to follow inevitably. . . . However, there is
still considerable doubt that changing waitress to either waiter or waitperson or
describing Nicole Kidman as an actor rather than as an actress indicates a real shift
in sexist attitudes. Reviewing the evidence, Romaine (1999, pp. 312-13) concludes
that 'attitudes toward gender equality did not match language usage. Those who
had adopted gender-inclusive language did not necessarily have a more liberal view
of gender inequalities in language.'"
(Ronald Wardhaugh, An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, 6th ed. Wiley, 2010)

"It is apparent that when friends talk to each other in single-sex groups, one of
the things that is being 'done' is gender. In other words, the fact that female
speakers mirror each other's contributions to talk, collaborate in the co-narration of
stories and in general use language for mutual support needs to be considered in
terms of the construction of femininity. For many men, by contrast, connection with
others is accomplished in part through playful antagonisms, and this ties in with
men's need to position themselves in relation to dominant models of masculinity."
(Jennifer Coates, "Gender." The Routledge Companion to Sociolinguistics, ed. by
Carmen Llamas, Louise Mullany, and Peter Stockwell. Routledge, 2007)

"Like language, gender as a social category has come to be seen as highly fluid,
or less well defined than it once appeared. In line with gender theory more
generally, researchers interested in language and gender have focused increasingly
on plurality and diversity amongst female and male language users, and on gender
as performative--something that is 'done' in context, rather than a fixed attribute.
The whole notion of gender, and identity in general, is challenged when this is seen,
rather like language itself, as fluid, contingent and context-dependent. This is
mainly an alternative theoretical conception of gender, though there are also

suggestions that identities are loosening, so that in many contexts people now have
a wider range of identity options."
(Joan Swann, "Yes, But Is it Gender?" Gender Identity and Discourse Analysis, ed.
by Lia Litosseliti and Jane Sunderland. John Benjamins, 2002)
Language change
Definition:
The phenomenon by which permanent alterations are made in the features and the
use of a language over time.
All natural languages change, and language change affects all areas of language
use. Types of language change include sound changes, lexical changes, semantic
changes, and syntactic changes.
The branch of linguistics that is expressly concerned with changes in a language (or
in languages) over time is historical linguistics (also known as diachronic linguistics).
Examples and Observations:
"For centuries people have speculated about the causes of language change. The
problem is not one of thinking up possible causes, but of deciding which to take
seriously. . .
"We can begin by dividing proposed causes of change into two broad categories.
On the one hand, there are external sociolinguistic factors--that is, social factors
outside the language system. On the other hand, there are internal psycholinguistic
ones--that is, linguistic and psychological factors which reside in the structure of the
language and the minds of the speakers."
(Jean Aitchison, Language Change: Progress or Decay? 3rd ed. Cambridge Univ.
Press, 2001)

The Wave Model of Language Change


"[T]he distribution of regional language features may be viewed as the result of
language change through geographical space over time. A change is initiated at one
locale at a given point in time and spreads outward from that point in progressive
stages so that earlier changes reach the outlying areas later. This model of
language change is referred to as the wave model . . .."
(Walt Wolfram and Natalie Schilling-Estes, American English: Dialects and
Variation. Blackwell, 1998)

Post-creole continuum
In sociolinguistics, the range of dialectal variations found in many creole-speaking
communities.

On this continuum, the acrolect is closest to the standard form of a language, the
basilect is the most distant from the standard form, and the mesolect is
intermediate between the two.

The term post-creole continuum was coined by linguist David DeCamp ("Toward a
Generative Analysis of a Post-Creole Speech Continuum" in Pidginization and
Creolization of Languages, 1971)
"Originally described (but not named) by [Hugo] Schuchardt (1883) . . ., a postcreole continuum is characterized by a cline of lexical, phonological, and
grammatical features ranging from those closest to a standard form of the creole's
lexifier [dominant] language (the acrolect) to those furthest from the lexifier
language, and therefore most 'creole-like' (the basilect). Thus, there is a great deal
of variation in the speech community and the point at which a form of speech is
located along the continuum depends on the context as well as the social
characteristics of the speaker. For example, the speech of the urban professional
elite would be towards the acrolectal end whereas the speech of a poor rural
villager would be towards the basilectal end. Intermediate or mesolectal varieties
are also found in between."
(Jeff Siegel, The Emergence of Pidgin and Creole Languages. Oxford Univ. Press,
2008)

"In much writing about the creole continuum it is assumed that the mesolect is a
product of decreolisation: i.e. mesolectal varieties arise as intermediaries when the
prior-existing basilect and acrolect come into contact. On the basis of 19th-century
Guyanese Creole texts [M.C.] Alleyne (1980), however, suggests that in the case of
Atlantic creoles the full range may have existed from the beginnings of AfricanEuropean contact. In this view decreolisation would involve the increase in use
(rather than the creation) of already-existing mesolectal forms."
(Rajend Mesthrie, English in Language Shift: The History, Structure and
Sociolinguistics of South African Indian English. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992)
Pidgin

A simplified form of speech formed out of one or more existing languages and used
by people who have no other language in common.
"At first a pidgin language has no native speakers, and is used just for doing
business with others with whom one shares the pidgin language and no other. In
time, most pidgin languages disappear, as the pidgin-speaking community
develops, and one of its established languages becomes widely known and takes
over the role of the pidgin as the lingua franca, or language of choice of those who
do not share a native language."
(Grover Hudson, Essential Introductory Linguistics. Blackwell, 2000)

"Many . . . pidgin languages survive today in territories which formerly belonged to


the European colonial nations, and act as lingua francas; for example, West African
Pidgin English is used extensively between several ethnic groups along the West
African coast."
(David Crystal, English As a Global Language. Cambridge University Press, 2003)
"A creole comes into being when children are born into a pidgin-speaking
environment and acquire the pidgin as a first language. What we know about the
history and origins of existing creoles suggests that this may happen at any stage in
the development of a pidgin."
(Mark Sebba, Contact Languages: Pidgins and Creoles. Palgrave Macmillan, 1997)
Creole
A language that developed historically from a pidgin and came into existence at a
fairly precise point in time.
Decreolization is the process through which a creole language gradually becomes
more like the standard language of a region.
"A creole has a jargon or a pidgin in its ancestry; it is spoken natively by an entire
speech community, often one whose ancestors were displaced geographically so
that their ties with their original language and sociocultural identity were partly
broken. Such social conditions were often the result of slavery."
(John A. Holm, An Introduction to Pidgins and Creoles. Cambridge University Press,
2000)

"The English variety spoken by descendants of Africans on the coast of South


Carolina is known as Gullah and has been identified as a creole. Of all the

vernaculars associated with African Americans, it is the one that diverges the most
from (White) middle-class varieties in North America."
(S.S. Mufwene, "North American Varieties of English as Byproducts of Population
Contacts," in The Workings of Language, ed. by R. S. Wheeler. Greenwood, 1999)
Lingua franca
A language or mixture of languages used as a medium of communication by people
whose native languages are different.
Where a language is widely used over a relatively large geographical area as a
language of wider communication, it is known as a lingua franca--a common
language but one which is native only to some of its speakers. The term 'lingua
franca' itself is an extension of the use of the name of the original 'Lingua Franca,' a
Medieval trading pidgin used in the Mediterranean region."
(M. Sebba, Contact Languages: Pidgins and Creoles. Palgrave, 1997)
English as a Lingua Franca
"The status of English is such that it has been adopted as the world's lingua franca
for communication in Olympic sport, international trade, and air-traffic control.
Unlike any other language, past or present, English has spread to all five continents
and has become a truly global language."
(G. Nelson and B. Aarts, "Investigating English Around the World," The Workings of
Language, ed. by R. S. Wheeler. Greenwood, 1999)
Social dialect
A variety of speech associated with a particular social class or occupational group
within a society. Also known as sociolect.
Language variety
In sociolinguistics, a general term for any distinctive form of a language or linguistic
expression.
Linguists commonly use language variety (or simply variety) as a cover term for any
of the overlapping subcategories of a language, including dialect, idiolect, register,
and social dialect.

In The Oxford Companion to the English Language (1992), Tom McArthur identifies
two broad types of variety: "(1) user-related varieties, associated with particular
people and often places, . . . [and] (2) use-related varieties, associated with

function, such as legal English (the language of courts, contracts, etc.) and literary
English (the typical usage of literary texts, conversations, etc.)."
Dialect
A regional or social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar,
or vocabulary, especially a way of speaking that differs from the standard variety of
the language. Adjective: dialectal.
"It is sometimes thought that only a few people speak regional dialects. Many
restrict the term to rural forms of speech--as when they say that 'dialects are dying
out these days.' But dialects are not dying out. Country dialects are not as
widespread as they once were, indeed, but urban dialects are now on the increase,
as cities grow and large numbers of immigrants take up residence. . . .

"Some people think of dialects as sub-standard varieties of a language. spoken only


by low-status groups--illustrated by such comments as 'He speaks correct English,
without a trace of dialect.' Comments of this kind fail to recognize that standard
English is as much a dialect as any other variety--though a dialect of a rather
special kind, because it is one to which society has given extra prestige. Everyone
speaks a dialect--whether urban or rural, standard or non-standard, upper class or
lower class."
(D. Crystal, How Language Works. Overlook, 2006)
Idiolect
The distinctive speech of an individual, considered as a linguistic pattern unique
among speakers of his or her language or dialect.
Sexist language
Words and phrases that demean, ignore, or stereotype members of either sex or
that needlessly call attention to gender.
"Questions and criticisms of sexist language have emerged because of a concern
that language is a powerful medium through which the world is both reflected and
constructed. . . . Some have claimed that the use of generics (such as 'mankind' to
refer to both men and women) reinforces a binary that sees the male and masculine
as the norm and the female and feminine as the 'not norm.' . . .

"Sexist language also presents stereotypes of both females and males,


sometimes to the disadvantage of males, but more often to the disadvantage of
females. This sexism is seen universally in all languages. In English, Robin Lakoff

(1975) uses the example of 'master' vs 'mistress' to make the point: there are
unequal connotations that surround these two matching terms--and to the
detriment of those born female--'Master' has strong and powerful connotations,
while 'mistress' does not not. . . .

"Sexist language also includes the depiction of women in the position of passive
object rather than active subject, such as on the basis of their appearance ('a
blonde') or domestic roles ('a mother of two') when similar depictions in similar
contexts would not be made of men. These representations of women trivialize their
lives and place an extra level of personal judgment on them."
(Allyson Jule, A Beginner's Guide to Language and Gender. Multilingual Matters,
2008)

"The following practices, while they may not result from conscious sexism, reflect
stereotypical thinking: referring to nurses as women and doctors as men, using
different conventions when naming or identifying women and men, or assuming
that all of one's readers are men.

Stereotypical Language
After the nursing student graduates, she must face a difficult state board
examination. [Not all nursing students are women.]

Running for city council are Jake Stein, an attorney, and Mrs. Cynthia Jones, a
professor of English and mother of three. [The title Mrs. and the phrase mother of
three are irrelevant.]

Wives of senior government officials are required to report any gifts they
receive that are valued at more than $100. [Not all senior government officials are
men.]

(Diana Hacker, The Bedford Handbook, 6th ed. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002)

Language in Context
"The 'language as sexist' prong of language and gender studies has faded in the
last two decades . . .. It was soon realised that a word could not unproblematically
be derided as sexist since it could in principle be 'reclaimed' by a given speech
community (queer probably being the most famous actual example).

Jokes and words that show hatred, discrimination, objectification or dehumanization


of women need to be considered against the history of laws that deemed women to
be property that men had a lawful right to beat and rape, all in the name of men's
"interest" or ownership of our bodies and control over what rights we have in
society. The laws have changed over the years but the sexist messages are
generally the same.
Laws dehumanized women into property owned by men.
Historically, men gave themselves a privilege of ownership and entitlement over
women by enacting laws declaring women as property and chattel, similar to cattle
or furniture. In 1984, a court recognized how this historical objectification
"demeaned" women by the "denial of a separate legal identity and the dignity
associated with recognition as a whole human being." When women have the legal
status of
less than a whole human being, the consequences flow like a stream with branches
and the branches have branches, flowing through all the institutions of society.
In the marital stream, husbands made unilateral decisions because married women
did not have the right to vote, execute wills or contracts, own or inherit property
and husbands controlled their wages based on sexist stereotypes that women can't
think and need a man to govern them.
Code switching
The practice of moving back and forth between two languages or between two
dialects or registers of the same language.
Code switching (CS) occurs far more often in conversation than in writing.
"Code-switching performs several functions (Zentella, 1985). First, people may use
code-switching to hide fluency or memory problems in the second language (but
this accounts for about only 10 percent of code switches). Second, code-switching is
used to mark switching from informal situations (using native languages) to formal
situations (using second language). Third, code-switching is used to exert control,
especially between parents and children. Fourth, code-switching is used to align
speakers with others in specific situations (e.g., defining oneself as a member of an

ethnic group). Code-switching also 'functions to announce specific identities, create


certain meanings, and facilitate particular interpersonal relationships' (Johnson,
2000, p. 184)."
(William B. Gudykunst, Bridging Differences: Effective Intergroup Communication,
4th ed. Sage, 2004)
Code switching is a linguistics term that basically means switching back and forth
between two or more languages in the course of a conversation. It can also refer to
the ability to switch languages or dialects quickly from one conversation to the next
depending on the situation or conversation partner. For example, a child who has an
English-speaking mother and a Japanese-speaking father may speak only English
with the mother and only Japanese with the father even though they all speak both
languages and are all participating in the same conversation.

There are a few different ways that code switching can occur in a conversation. It
can happen from one sentence to the next, within a sentence from phrase to
phrase, or one word at a time. Intersentential switching is switching from one
language to another for whole sentences at a time. For example, if youre telling a
story in language A about something that was said in language B, you might quote
someone in language B because they were speaking in that language.

My mother hugged me and whispered, Cudate, mi hija. (Take care of yourself,


my daughter.)

Intersentential code switching might also be used to emphasize a particular


sentence, or to more accurately convey meaning when sufficient words or idioms do
not exist in the other language. Intrasentential switching is switching languages in
the middle of a sentence. This can mean changing languages for a phrase or for just
one word (which is also called tag-switching).
Who Code Switches?

Although the term originally referred only to a linguistic phenomenon among


multilingual conversationalists, the reality is that almost everyone engages in code
switching every day. Because we all deal with different kinds of people with whom
we have different levels of relationships in contexts of all sorts all the time, we are
all constantly switching from one register (level of formality) to another. With your
boss, you use one kind of English, with your friends, another, and with your children,

another still. Although they are all the same language, higher and lower registers
employ different idioms, a greater or lesser amount of slang, varied spelling and
pronunciation, and even different syntax. Thus, an email to your best friend would
look very different from a cover letter to a potential employer.
Code Switching with Formality

When young children learn multiple languages simultaneously, they also learn to
compartmentalize them so that they use the appropriate language with everyone
they talk to. Thats why a bilingual child like the one discussed earlier would speak
his mothers native language to her and his fathers native language to him. Well, as
native speakers of a language, we do the same thing with different levels of
formality. We know what is appropriate to write in a personal e-mail versus what is
appropriate in a doctoral dissertation. You probably learned these things in school
through basic reinforcement and punishment. When you used the correct tone on a
paper, you got a good grade. When you used the kind of grammar in writing that
you used in everyday speaking, your paper was returned to you with all kinds of
corrections. In this way, you learned a type of code switching.

Other types of writing and speaking have always been taught more directly as
things like business letters, poetry and research papers each have their own correct
format that must be followed. However, some schools are now beginning to teach
different registers and appropriate times to use them more directly as well through
comparative analysis. Students practice translating from informal to formal
speech from slang to academic English and vice versa.

Teachers make poster charts comparing how to say various phrases formally and
informally. And test scores are improving as students learn not what is right and
wrong, but what is appropriate in a given situation. It may not be what linguists
had in mind when they coined the term, but as weve learned more about dialects
and thought more about register, its become apparent that switching between
them is very similar to switching between languages.