Describing Spoken English: An Introduction (Routledge Grammar)

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Bangkok store. Prices and stock availability may vary between Webstore and our Retail Stores. Fulfilment Centre Email: siamparagon kinokuniya. Check Retail Stores' phone number. Wish List Welcome! Sign in New customer? Start here. View Cart 0 Your Shopping Cart is empty. If you already have an account, sign in. Usually dispatches around 3 to 5 working days. Retail store and online prices may vary. Viewing language from such a broad perspective reveals that speaking American means different things to different people and that, because of political and social issues surrounding language, there is no consensus on what speaking American is or should be.

Language standards vary according to the groups that speakers identify with. Do You Speak American? The series offers a rare opportunity for viewers to hear and discuss how language shapes us as individuals, as communities, and as a nation. This program will be of interest to all language users, especially to those who have a special stake in language—whether personal or professional—including teachers, policy makers, politicians, community groups, and families.

It provides a rare view into the social motivations behind language use, with thought-provoking commentary on why we talk the way we do and how we build our identities through language. The program offers a good basis for discussion in social groups, special interest groups, and book clubs.

Ideas for discussion are presented in this guide. These are some of the topics that are taken up in the series:. The following questions identify issues to keep in mind as you watch the program. They can also guide group discussion. Who speaks American? Do you? Have your opinions about language in the United States changed as you watched the series? Back to Top. Curricular materials for using Do You Speak American?

Accent A common way of referring to the sounds of speech. Accent can refer to distinctive characteristics of the way a group of people speak their native language or the way people speak a second language shaded with characteristics of their first. In popular usage, this term often has a negative connotation. Back to list. This variety is often a target for prejudice and ignorance, but it has also been one of the most extensively studied and discussed varieties of American English.

Many linguists studying the origins of AAE consider that the differences between this and other varieties of American English are due to its origins as a creole language formed during the time of slavery. Most of the people in the world speak more than one language; the United States is somewhat rare in that many citizens speak only English.

Bidialectalism can be promoted by helping students learn the contrasts between vernacular language varieties and standard varieties of a language. Originally of French descent, these people spoke a variety of French that was different from the French spoken in France. Because Cajuns tended to live in isolation, their language variety survives today. Cajun English is the variety of English spoken by Cajuns. It is heavily influenced by French vocabulary and pronunciation. It differs in systematic ways from Standard American English.

Chicano English is not just English spoken by people who speak Spanish as a native language and who are still acquiring English. Not all speakers of Chicano English speak Spanish. Codeswitching Changing from one language to another when speaking.

Standard English Definitions and Controversies

Codeswitching takes place all over the world in language contact situations, occurring whenever there are groups of people who speak the same two or more languages for example, French and English in Canada or French and German in Switzerland. Codeswitching requires a high level of proficiency in the grammar and vocabulary of both languages.


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Copula absence bsence of particular forms of the verb to be. In AAE, as well as in varieties of English spoken in the South, it is common to delete the copula, resulting in sentences like She nice and You the boss. Pidgins arise from sustained communication in situations of contact between speakers of different languages.

Creoles tend to have more complex grammars and vocabularies than pidgins. Such features are usually easily recognizable as belonging to the other group and have particular social meaning; for example, White male adolescent boys may use features of AAE to signal participation in hip-hop culture. Most sociolinguists tend to be descriptivists in that they wish to understand how people actually use language in everyday interaction. Contrast with prescriptivism. As used by linguists, the term dialect involves no judgment of the value of a particular language variety.

No variety is superior to any other. When used by the general public, this term often refers to a language variety that is considered inferior to the standard or mainstream variety. The term was not commonly used by the public until , when the school board in Oakland, California, recognized Ebonicsas the primary language of its African American students, inciting a very public controversy.

See African American English. Eye dialect The practice of spelling words to resemble the way they are pronounced, often to represent nonstandard dialects e. Grammar How a language is structured. Although grammar is popularly used to refer to the language forms and constructions that are considered to be correct, linguists use this term to refer to the knowledge that native speakers implicitly have about the structure of their own language, for example how to arrange words into sentences. Because these speakers have been isolated from the rest of the United States, many of the distinctive features of the language have been preserved.

Although closely related to other creole languages spoken in the Caribbean, Gullah is the only English-based creole spoken in the United States. Some linguists believe that Gullah is a remnant of a creole that was once widely used by African Americans in the United States, which eventually became African American English. Habitual be Use of the verb be without inflection to refer to an ongoing state or repeated activity. The distinction between habitual and nonhabitual activities is captured in the verb system of African American English and other language varieties, but Standard American English expresses habitual meanings by adding an adverb.

The coffee be cold does not mean that the coffee is cold right now. Jargon The specialized words or vocabulary used by people within a particular group.

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Doctors and engineers are known for having specialized vocabularies particular to their professions, but groups such as teenagers also have their own jargon that identifies them and helps to reinforce boundaries between them and other groups. See slang. Language change Alteration over time in any component of a language, such as pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary.

Standard English Definitions and Controversies

Although often perceived by the general population as inherently bad, language changeoccurs in any language that is in use by a speech community; a language that does not exhibit change is a dead language for example, Latin. Language death The disappearance of a language or language variety. A language dies when children no longer acquire it as a first language and the last speakers of the language die.

Many American Indian languages are dead or dying because few native speakers remain. Language prejudice Negative value judgments made about a person based on the way he or she speaks, usually directed toward a speaker of a vernacular dialect. At the most general level, a language or language variety may be considered prestigious because it is spoken by those who are in power and because it is considered to be correct by prescriptivists.

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Depending on the social situation, however, it may be more prestigious to use features that are not prescriptively correct but that have prestige for a certain group, such as popular vocabulary terms used by a given group of teenagers. See language prejudice. Language profiling Making decisions about people based on the variety of language they speak.

Language profiling is most prevalent in people in gatekeeping positions: that is, people in positions of power who make decisions about employment, immigration, living arrangements, and so forth. This process is very closely related to racial and economic profiling. In the United States, the Midland i. Mainstream or Standard English is the language variety that is taught in school. It is considered necessary for participation and success in American society. People who live in these areas and who participate in this shift might pronounce the word bag in a way that sounds like the word beg.

Pidgin language language that arises when speakers of different languages come into contact typically in trade situations , have no language in common, and have an immediate need to communicate. Features of pidgin languages include a simplified grammar and a relatively small vocabulary. An important and defining characteristic is that pidgin languages have no native speakers.

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Tok Pisin, spoken in Papua New Guinea, is an example of a pidgin language. In some areas of the country, Tok Pisin has been creolized. See creole language. Prescriptivism The view that there is a right and a wrong way to speak a language and that there are certain correct forms that should be used.

Contrast with descriptivism. The rapid spread of this form has been noted by many linguists, although it is popularly classified as a feature of California speech. Regional speech varieties Varieties of a language that exist in different geographical areas, often referred to by the general population as an accent. Features that distinguish a regional variety can include pronunciation, grammatical structures, vocabulary, and pitch. Register Specialized use of a language for a defined situation or occasion.

A common example is the baby talk register. This is a very specialized style that involves high pitch and particular vocabulary items.