AVG 1.1: Membership in a Speech Community Segment


Think About

Conceptual Outline Meaning Making

Annela Teemant (Brigham Young University)

We feel at home in the speech communities we are familiar with. When we cross into unfamiliar ones, we may feel nervous, inadequate, or out of place.

Which speech communities do you belong to?

Montage with quotes from people from different speech communities.

Unfamiliar speech communities?

Thomas Ricento (University of Texas, San Antonio)

We belong to a number of speech communities: one associated with close family members, neighborhoods, institutions, organizations, churches, schools.

Schools (like all speech communities) have defined parameters for how people talk, how they interact, what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate.

Teachers need to be aware that students have multiple repertoires of speaking, multiple styles of speaking, and that’s a strength.

My repertoires?

My styles?

David Corson (University of Toronto)

Power plays out when standard and non-standard languages conflict. As part of our cultural capital, we have linguistic capital (language use skills of value in certain sites, according to Pierre Gaudier). When we move to a new site, our language use is valued differently.

"Every time we change rooms. Every time we move from one group of friends to another. Or go from a familiar group to an unfamiliar group. The power relationships change and the cultural capital, the linguistic capital, . . . is differentially valued. And this is power playing itself out."

My language value?

Annela Teemant (Brigham Young University)

We use our linguistic capital every day as we move through speech communities. It is valued differently based on

  • age
  • gender
  • social and educational status
  • formality or situation
  • regionalism
  • historic time

Don Norton (Brigham Young University)

Usage is linguistic etiquette—study of forces in the language that determine correctness, quality, rightness, appropriateness, and goodness. The forces that determine this are outside of language. To see a parallel, what determines the answer to "When is a person well dressed? . . . These forces dictate correctness. These are forces outside the language."

One of the concerns has to do with the need to learn standard English. Even those who do note use standard English expect others to use it. Anyone who wants to live a public life need to command standard English.

In public settings people expect Standard English (the variety of language used among educated people) even if they don’t use it.

"If a young person . . . aspires to become a public person, then they would do well to come to command a variety of standard American English" (the standard dialect used by people in that area). All people in broadcasting learn NBC English (NBC was the first to develop it)—sort of a Midwest or western general American dialect.

My linguistic ettiquite?

My language and dress?

Donna Christian (Center for Applied Linguistics)

Everyone who speaks a language speaks a dialect of that language—a variety of the language. We can talk about those varieties that are more socially noticeable.

For Example  

Don Norton (Brigham Young University)

There are three major dialects in Utah, but in the rural areas and in southeastern Idaho to an extent and even in southern Canada it’s:

"We were the Nartens. We lived in Narth Arm, Utah. The harse is barn in the born." — 'r' colored vowel.

Utahisms "ofer, oferneat, oferdum, ofergood." And the classic "oferignorant." Ignorant = rude.


Donna Christian (Center for Applied Linguistics)

Dialect features (standard or nonstandard) are regular and rule governed. It’s possible to discover the rules. For example, in Appalachian speech for collective nouns like people, the appropriate form is people is. "There’s no reason, in terms of logic or any sense of something being better, that people are or people is is better, but the way we socially evaluate it, we consider ‘people are’ to be standard, ‘people is’ to be nonstandard. But both are entirely rule governed."

Non-standard English rules?

Don Norton (Brigham Young University)

Non-standard usage was once standard.

For example: the classic double or multiple negative. In Chaucer someone says of the gentle knight, “in all his life he hadn’t never said nothing discourteous to no sort of matter.”

Shakespeare: “I cannot go no further. I will not budge for no man’s pleasure.”

“Historically, the multiple negative was standard. Somebody made a rule against it. It is so common in non-standard English because it has deep historical roots.”

Historical changes in language?

David Corson (University of Toronto)

If you think language is unchangeable then critical language awareness is hard to understand. Language change is central to understanding it.

We believe that language was formed before we arrived and we have to accept it the way it is. We take it as a given.

But language develops from moment to moment. Dictionaries go out of date before they are published.

Critical language awareness involves questioning the status and power judgments of language use.

Language change?

Language and power?

Annela Temant (Brigham Young University)

Teachers have social and educational status. In schools, they have authority. We possess linguistic capital and use it every day. But we may not fully understand how language works, how language varies, how language proficiency develops.

My educational status?

Donna Christian (Center for Applied Linguistics)

Teachers want a list of dialect features. They need tools to assess language differences in the community they teach in.

New language issues will constantly confront them. A list of features is not going to match. "What they need is a way of approaching the study of language variation . . . so that they can then do it themselves."

Language differences in my classroom?

Annela Teemant (Brigham Young University)

Teachers are responsible for classroom language policy. We should ask: Are our policies informed, enlightened, inclusive, and fair?

My language policies?

Amado Padilla (Stanford University)

Sometimes children get the message (purposefully or inadvertently) that there is something wrong about their language, or culture. They go home and see their parents and others they respect using the language and operating within their culture, and children receive messages that this is a language or culture to be avoided or lost. That creates identity conflicts for those children.

Language wrong?

Messages to my students?

Identity conflicts?

Annela Teemant (Brigham Young University)

Understanding language acquisition means understanding linguistic diversity. It begins by understanding ourselves in contrast to others.

Understanding language acquisition?


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