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By: Muhammad Arif al Hakim
• Language is one human characteristic that sets it apart from other
creatures. in addition, the language has a social function, both as a
communications tool and as a means of identifying social groups.
• Sociolinguistics is the study of language with social dimensions. From
the perspective of language attitudes sociolinguistics phenomena
(language attitude) in a multilingual society is an interesting
phenomenon to be studied, because it is through language attitudes can
determine the survival of a language.
A language attitude can be positive or negative. In
reality, some people may also hold a neutral attitude. To
measure’s attitude toward a language and its speaker, there
are two methods to be applied.

1. Direct Method

 A direct method is a measuring language attitude by asking questions in an
interview or by giving a questionnaire to fill in by some respondent.
 In this method an interviewer asks questions to which the responses will directly
state the interviewee‟s language attitude.
 The questions asked can be in an interrogative structure such as will you study
English instead of Chinese if you have to go and live in an Asian country? Or
open-ended questions like why do you choose to study English?
2. Indirect Method

 An indirect method is a method to measure someone‟s language attitude.
 This method is applied in the way that the participants are not aware that their
attitudes are being measured.
 The most popular type is named the matched-guise. Researches that used this
method did an experiment to get their informants judge speakers‟ personalities
based on recorded speech they hear.

Sample of the study case
After listening to the records, both French-Canadian and English-Canadian students
showed positive attitudes towards the English use, by agreeing to the English speakers’
leadership, self confidence, sociability, and likeability.
Whereas English students only rated higher French use on sense of humor but rated
English higher on other aspect such as intelligence, dependability, kindness, ambition, and
character. Surprisingly, the French-students responses showed their positive attitude towards
the English use, by considering the English speakers to be better, dependable, more
ambitious, more intelligent, etc.

1. The Prestige and Power of The Language
2. Historical Background of Nations
3. The Social and Traditional Factors
4. The Language Internal System
1. The Prestige and Power of The Language
 In many countries around the world an enthusiasm to learning English is not
uncommon. Some people assume that learning a foreign language (English for
example) will correlate with declining the national loyalty of the learners.
 However scholars have learned that the enthusiasm on learning a foreign
language is not always correlated with a negative attitude toward the national
and cultural feeling of the learners.
 A research on Japanese children studying English for example, proved that
although the learners showed great attraction towards the western culture as
well as the language being studied, they kept holding a strong Japanese identify
and a language loyalty.

2. Historical Background of Nations
 Some middle east people may not want to study English because they learn
from their history that western people were colonialist. The view is possibly
strengthened with some complicated contemporary disputes between the
western and Arabic (Muslim) cultures.

3. The Social and Traditional Factors
 In the society where a diglossic situation is found the higher variety of the
language is normally considered as a better form than the lower one.

4. The Language Internal System
 People often show positive attitude towards learning a language because
the grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary are relatively easy. As the
gender-based nominal system of the languages is difficult to learn when
compared to English, students may choose to learn English, instead of
French and German.
 A negative attitude might be also found towards learning Chinese with its
complex tonal pronunciation and orthographic system.
• Learners’ attitudes towards the language being learned have
been researched many times by language teachers and
psychologists. Most of the researchers agreed that favorable
(positive) attitude towards the language will affect more positive
result in the learning.
• In contrast, negative view to the language being learned will be
more likely to cause negative result in the study.
• There are 2 types of language attitude:
1. Integrative and 2. Instrumental

1. Integrative Language Attitudes
 An integrative language attitude is an attitude which is characterized with some
desire and behaviors of the learners to „integrate‟ themselves with the language
being learned.
 Learners with this attitude not only learn a language to have a proficiency in it,
but also wish to know, imitate, or adapt themselves to the culture related to the
(native) speakers of the language

2. Instrumental Language Attitude
 An instrumental attitude is identified when the learners study a language in order
to fulfill only material needs, but has not the need of being „part‟ of the culture
related to the language.
 Students who are less motivated in practicing the language outside the
classroom are often less interested in understanding the culture of the native
speakers of the language.
• People may express their judgment towards use of particular language in a positive
attitude or a negative one; a positive language attitude is followed with followed
action, whereas a negative language attitude is followed with negatives one.
• One of the most traditional language attitudes is the reaction directed towards the
use of taboo words and swearwords.
• A better social image associated with the use of language or a variety of it may also
be influential. In Indonesia, adopting the Jakartans dialect in speaking before the
public seems to be increasing. As most TV stars and movie idols (celebrities) speak
the dialect on TV, the style is spread very fast as a norm. Words such as cewe(k)
(girl; chick) and cowo(k) (boy), babe(daddy), are becoming more popular than their
standard correspondences: gadis, anak laki(laki), bapak.

 In general people who learn English formally are more likely to show
positive attitude towards using the standard English. Negatives attitude on
the other hand ere often demonstrated towards the use of the non-
standard and ethnical varieties, such as African-American vernacular
English (AAVE), Australian English, Chinglish (English used by Chinese
native speakers), etc. However it is also reported that most students with
AAVE background often show resistance

 Negatives responses can also be expressed towards the use of foreign
items (borrowings) in language. In Indonesia official rejection was once
shown towards the overuse of words such as fast food, software, hand
phone, laundry, which could be replace with the Indonesian masakan
cepatsaji, perangkat lunak, telepon genggam, dan pinatu.

• Attitudes towards language users may be also related political or social sentiment.
Some Indonesian people said to show negative attitude towards those who imitated
(the second president) Soeharto's idiolect.
• Thus, people who copied Soeharto’s use of daripada, (in standard Indonesian this
is used to equal ‘than’ but used by the president to mean ‘from’ or ‘of’ in his
• or his typical pronunciation of-kan with the schwa(in which words such as
membangunkan (to develop), memberikan (to give) would sound /membaᶇunkən/
and /membərikən/, which is different from / membaᶇunkan/ and / membərikan/,
as spoken by Indonesian in general) would be judged to be ”Soeharto’s people‟,
which was negative label in that time.

 The attitudes towards names can be actually seen in
children’s everyday behaviors of ‘calling names’ in the
playground, in which some are called or given ‘bad names’
that are hurting.
 This could be a reason why people decide to change their
names when they are rocketing to be stars; the Hollywood
actor “Thomas Mapother” changed into Tom Cruise, the
Indian “Amit Srivatav” become Amitabh Bachan, in
Hongkong“Chan Kwong-Sung” turned into Jacky Chan, in
Indonesia “Ainur Rokhimah” turned into Inul Daratista, etc.

 Code-crossing is a term applied by scholars in studying people’s attitudes towards language uses. The
term is used to describe the attitude towards uses of language or a variety of it by speaker who is
supposed to not use it.
 Thus, a code-crosser is someone who is not regarded as a member of a group of a speech community
but trying to speak in the code use among the members.
 When student learning to speak English is using English swearwords (god damn it, piss off, shit) during
conversations with (or just a presence of) native speakers of English, he (she) can be perceived to be
claiming memberships of the English speaking group.

• The communication accommodation theory (CAT) is a theory that
describes a positive or negative language attitude found between
communicants in their communication. In theory is used to explain
especially the attitude shown by individual speakers towards the
listener(s) in a conversation.

• There are two important sociolinguistic concepts in the theory, namely
convergence and divergence. As convergence and divergence are
individual's language attitudes found in a conversation, the concepts are
the best classified as individual phenomena.


 Convergence refers to the positive attitude shown by a speaker towards the
listener by adjusting the features of his(her) language (the pronunciation, accent,
vocabulary, structure) so that he(she) is understood and accepted.
 A mother adjusting her voice during talking with a baby (or child), which is often
named as baby talk or “motherese”, is a form of convergence. In such talking, a
mother usually thinks that she needs to use shorter and simpler expressions, higher
pitch, slower speed, and does repetition so that she says is understood


 In CAT divergence is a concept reflecting a language attitude that takes
an opposite direction from the convergence. It refers to separation shown
by a speaker from the listener(s)‟s language.
 A separation from a group of people who speak the same language is
more likely to be found when the separator holds an „outsiders‟ attitudes
towards the group. The separation is demonstrated through the language
and often takes place for some different social, political, or cultural
backgrounds. Thus, in the class of learning standard English for example,
when an Afro-American boy keeps using AAVE for his strong loyalty to his
ethnics, in addition to some belief that his variety of a language reflects his
ethnic and cultural identity, the boy is diverging.

 Thus, in an interaction with people of different ethnics who speak the same
language, the use of AAVE to the speakers is a maker of ethnic identity; it
emphasizes an attitude of being „in-group‟ and excludes the interlocutors; places
them as „out-group‟.

 Language attitudes (towards use of a language, a variety of it, towards language
users, etc) are a social and linguistic phenomenon. An attitude shown by users of a
language in one time may change in other time for several reasons; a negative
attitude becoming more positive attitude, or a positive attitude turning to be a
negative one. Sociolinguists learn that the change of the attitude is as normal as
the change of language itself.