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Topic 4 – Assessment of knowledge of foreign languages as a means of communication between people and peoples. Interest in linguistic diversity through knowledge of a new language and culture.

1-INTRODUCTION

2-THE DIVERSITY OF ENGLISH

3-DIALECTS

3.1. DEFINITION OF DIALECT

3.2. DIALECTAL PRONUNCIATION

3.3. SOCIAL CLASS DIALECTS

3.4. BLACK ENGLISH

4-IDIOLECTS

4.1PRONUNCIATION; STRESS AND INTONANTION

4.2. VARIANT FIGURES OF SPEECH

5-SLANG

5.1 CHARACTERISTICS OF SLANG

5.2. WHY IS SLANG SO POPULAR

5.3. THE EFFECTS OF SLANG ON A LANGUAGE

6-REGISTER

6.1. THE CONCEPT OF REGISTER

6.2. CLOSED REGISTER

6.3. OPEN REGISTERS

7-USAGE

7.1. FACTS AND PREJUDICES ABOUT THE USAGE OF ENGLISH

7.2. THE IDEA OF GOOD ENGLISH

7.3. STANDARD ENGLISH, NON-STANDARD AND SUB-STANDARD

8-EVALUATION OF THE VARITIES OF ENGLISH AND THEIR INFLUENCE IN TEACHING.

1-INTRODUCTION

Since language plays an essential part in the development of any culture, if we want to understand the way other people live, work and understand the world they living in, we also need to know their language. Learning different languages is not an easy task, but it is the only way of acquiring a complete knowledge of the people we are interested in, since their language is one of the most important features to characterize them.

Consequently, when we teach a foreign language we must to introduce the students to the fundamental features not only of that language in it, but also of the culture it represents. Teaching a foreign language together with a foreign culture is the best way of encouraging and favouring the students’ personal knowledge and tolerance.

However, as we all know, there are also many varieties within the same language, depending on the speaker’s social and cultural status. Although we usually learn the standard variety of a language, in this case of the English language, we need to learn all the different varieties of the same, in order to get the widest knowledge of the English speakers and culture.

Besides, even when we are talking about the same language, we frequently come across the concepts of good and bad English. A very common cause of bad speaking or writing is the used of the wrong variety for a particular occasion.

If we try to find reasons for the existence of varieties of languages we have to mention that:

Since language is a form of human social behaviour, it is natural that there should be varieties of language, for different communities display differences of behaviour.

Another reason is the great variety of speakers of that language: different speakers of English vary enormously in the extent of their vocabulary and in their skill in using it.

One group of varieties of language has been known as dialects. Such varieties have sometimes been called situational dialects, but the term register has come to describe this kind of varieties. A third category it is called idiolect and slang.

2-THE DIVERSITY OF ENGLISH

It is frequently assumed that any language is a single undivided whole perhaps because a singular noun is used to refer to a language, and some language teachers are conditioned to think of any language as a single unit.

Whatever the varieties of any language may be, their number will reflect the sheer “size” of the language – that is , the number of people who use it , its geographical spread and the range of its uses.

For instance, a language used by a very small number of people in a small area for their own local needs, may show little variety while a language used by several million people over a large geographical area for a wide range of local, national and international functions on the other hand, is certain to have a large number of varieties.

3-DIALECTS

3.1. DEFINITION OF DIALECT

Whatever criterion is applied to explain the difference between a dialect and a language, one find instance where the conclusions on theoretical grounds conflict with those of common sense or with popular usage:

a)A political approach suggested that a language is officially accepted as a national form of speech, whereas a dialect is not.

b)A better approach to the distinction is a purely linguistic one : if the speakers of one community can understand the speakers of another without a previous study of the way of speaking , then the two communities may be said to speak the same language.

3.2.DIALECTAL PRONUNCIATION

Differences in pronunciation among the English regional dialects are very numerous indeed. Two things need to be emphasised:

a)Boundaries between one pronunciation and another do not necessarily coincide with the country boundaries , and the areas within which we can find one fairly homogeneous dialect are often much smaller than countries.

b)The average man with few linguistic interest goes to the other extreme in his attitude to dialectal pronunciations and is content to notice a few features which we thinks of as Northern and a few which he regards as Southern , beside the distinctive varieties of English spoken In Scotland , Wales and Ireland, which he can recognise without analysing them very closely.

3.3.SOCIAL CLASS DIALECTS.

Another point to consider when talking about dialects is the study of social class dialects.

In the choice of words and phrases class dialects are not rigid. The personality of the speakers has much to do with the choice of words , particular phrases are likely to be more frequent in a given social group than others.

3.4.BLACK ENGLISH

Black English already serves as an identifying features , a focus for a demonstration of cultural unity.

As the Niger population finds a common expression of collective identity , their shared dialect becomes exceptionally important both to them and to the rest of the community. Black English has become a major cultural possession of the entire black population, an independently-generated dialect of English with its own history , and not just the short-fall of an ill-educated rural or ghetto population , the mother-tongue in its own right of millions of Americans.

4-IDIOLECTS

An idiolect is a variety of a language unique to an individual. It is manifested by patterns of word selection, vocabulary and word lexicon, grammar, or words, phrases, idioms, or pronunciations that are unique to that individual. Every individual has an idiolect; the grouping of words and phrases is unique, rather than an individual using specific words that nobody else uses. An idiolect can easily evolve into an ecolect—a dialect variant specific to a household

4.1.PRONUNCIATION ; STRESS AND INTONANTION.

Variant pronunciation which cannot be associated with any regional or social group and which do not depended upon the occasion when they are used are all matters of idiolect. The most common cause of variant pronunciations is that a sound-change has taken place , sometimes several centuries ago, which has not been accepted by all speakers of a language. It is something possible to detect a dialectal distribution of a sound –change , but there remaining a number of changes where the distribution is largely a question of idiolect , though sometimes regional or class dialect has to be taken into account as well.

4.2.VARIANT FIGURES OF SPEECH.

4.2.1 Prolixity

A public speaker who wished to make short speech began by saying that profundity and wit are given only a few but conciseness is within the reach of all.

4.2.2. Euphemism

Quickly lose their euphemistic force and son pass out of use to be replaced by others.

A water closet is known as W.C. , the loo , the lavatory, the lavatory , the toilet…

4.2.3. Metaphor

Most of the metaphors in everyday use are clichés whose meaning is understood without a very careful examination of the appropriateness.

5-SLANG

5.1 CHARACTERISTICS OF SLANG.

5.1.1. Informality

It is mainly concerned with vocabulary and it is more at home in the spoken than the written language. At least two other varieties of speech are generally considered to be outside the standard language, namely dialect and vulgarisms, and it is necessary to find a definition of slang that will distinguish it from, these.

Slang differs from a dialect in two of its characteristics:

a) It is usually novel whereas dialect is usually deep-rooted in the past

b) It is used deliberately by speakers who could express their ideas more simply , but who avoid the obvious word for the novelty of vividness.

Example, Telly for television, choc for chocolates , but telly can sound really formal , so we can change for goggle-box or the one-eye monster.

5.1.2.Highly idiomatic.

An essential characteristic of slang is its informality. A second characteristic is that it is often highly idiomatic, and it is consequently dangerous trying to use slang when speaking a foreign language. The proper use of slang calls for considerable linguistic tact.

It is often difficult to decide whether a given idiom is slang or colloquial.

5.1.3. Slang words have a short life.

Slang words are invented by a few people for the pleasure of novelty and imitated by others who like to be in the fashion, and they undergo the fate of all fashions.

5.2. WHY IS SLANG SO POPULAR

a)One reason why people use slang is that they want to add liveliness to what they are saying, they do not want to seem formal.

b)Another reason would be the desire for a greater sense on intimacy in the use of language.

c)Another motive is discontent with hackneyed words or phrases .Slang can be used to bring an air of friendly informality to a situation.

d)Young people are notoriously fond of refusing to accept the standards of their elders.

e)Slang can be used , like a dialect.

f)It is capable of becoming a secret language.

g)More sophisticated and educated people is a deliberate desire to enrich the language .

5.3. THE EFFECTS OF SLANG ON A LANGUAGE

The effects of slang on a language are neither wholly good nor bad. It introduces new meanings but it also tends to remove delicate shades of meaning in existing words. It is the fate of most well-known slang expressions to strike the popular fancy and to be over –used until they become more threadbare than the words that they were intented to replace.

6-REGISTER.

6.1. THE CONCEPT OF REGISTER.

Some varieties of language can be associated neither with groups nor individuals but with the occasions when they are used ; these varieties are called registers. Their study may be regarded as the examination of language in the context within which it is used.

A register is a semantic concept .It can be defined as the configuration of meanings that are typically associated with a particular situational configuration of field , mode and tenor. But since it is a configuration of meanings , a register must also , of course , include the expressions , the lexicon-grammatical and phonological features , indices in the form of particular words , particular grammatical signals , or even sometimes phonological signals that have the function of indicating to the participants that is the register in question.

6.2. CLOSED REGISTER.

-Official language.

-Language of games

6.3 . OPEN REGISTERS

-Language of minor documents

-Headlines and journalism

-Scientific register

-Conversational register

7. USAGE.

7.1. FACTS AND PREJUDICES ABOUT THE USAGE OF ENGLISH.

Many people think that there are only two varieties of English: good and bad English. In particular, most people have an irrational but in a way understandable feeling that what they do is “right” or “good”, and that therefore anything different is “inferior”. It is our purpose to suggest that this view is mistaken, but any account of the varieties of English would be incomplete if it failed to consider how far “correct English” can be accepted as one of the many varieties that exist. To discuss questions of language seriously we need to set aside myths and prejudices, and to sort out opinion from fact, real questions from false one.

7.2. THE IDEA OF GOOD ENGLISH.

Usually when people refer to good English they are referring to written usage and are influenced by ideas of good literary style. Everyone agrees that the highest peak of artistic achievement in language is seen in great works of literature.

-We are using our experience of the whole subtlety and complexity of the language, not simply identifying one single “good” English

-That an exactly similar range of better and less-good possibilities exist in British and in American English. Neither American nor British has the monopoly of good English.

7.3. STANDARD ENGLISH , NON-STANDARD AND SUB-STANDARD.

Ideas of “standard or non-standard are not simple matter of retaining a foreign accent. The popular ideas of standard embraces a whole set of grammatical rules which are always followed in the written language and generally in speech also , except for some situation of informality or intimacy. The person who keeps to the grammatical rules of Standard English may speak with any accent, non-standard usage necessarily means deviant grammar and is certain to be spoken in an accent belonging to a particular locality and probably also social and education class.

The term “sub-standard”, on the other hand, carries a clear implication of “inferior”; this label should be strictly avoided. The notion of Standard English embodies an agreement between more or less educated speakers of English all over the world on a suitable usage for intelligibility, often a suitable target for language education, and always an appropriate model for teaching English to foreigners.

8-EVALUATION OF THE VARITIES OF ENGLISH AND THEIR INFLUENCE IN TEACHING.

-Competition between languages and dialects

-Varieties exist in all languages.

-Culture must be taught together with the variety chosen

Idiolecto es la forma de hablar característica de cada persona (cuando la expresión es por escrito se denomina estilo). Se manifiesta en una selección particular del léxico, y de la gramática, y también en palabras, frases y giros peculiares, y en variantes de la entonación y la pronunciación. Cada uno de estos rasgos es denominado idiotismo. Los idiolectos cumplen la función de hacer compatible la necesidad de comunicarse con los demás, con la necesidad de que cada persona pueda expresar su forma particular de ser y de pensar, sus gustos y sus necesidades. Cada ser humano posee un idiolecto, o varios (si es bilingüe, trilingüe, etc.). Un idiolecto siempre tiene, como mínimo, zonas de contacto con un colecto, un sociolecto, y un dialecto o un idioma.



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