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Language and social class

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Language and social class

  1. 1. LANGUAGE AND SOCIAL CLASS
  2. 2. ACCENT AND DIALECT Accent  Dialects  Non-standard  Non-standard pronunciation of a word  Pronunciation 21 accents  Grammar  Vocabulary  Black American dialect
  3. 3. WHAT IS SOCIAL CLASS? Grouping people together Giving them status in society according to the groups they belong to
  4. 4. WHAT IS SOCIAL CLASS? Accent or dialect? Where you live? Your occupation? Your income? How much money your family has?
  5. 5. WHAT DETERMINSES SOCIAL CLASS? Everyone gets four cards  Education  Income  Occupation  Wealth
  6. 6. WHAT DETERMINES SOCIAL CLASS? Some people get face cards and land in the upper middle class Others may only get low cards and be in the lowest class
  7. 7. CLASSES IN THE U.S. Two upper classes  Upper upper: Old money (George Bush)  Lower upper: New money (Bill Gates) Two middle classes  Upper middle: professional  Lower middle: White collar and entrepreneurs Two lower class  Upper lower: Blue collar (factory workers)  Lower lower: Unemployed and homeless
  8. 8. THE AMERICAN DREAM Do Americans believe that they can move from one class to another?  40% of Americans believe that the possibility to move up has increased.  35% believe that there has been no change.  23% believe that the possibility to move up has decreased.
  9. 9. THE AMERICAN DREAM - REALITY One study found that fewer families moved up the income ladder during the 1980s than during the 1970s  And even fewer moved up in the 1990s Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the ability to move up declined from the 1980s to the 1990s.
  10. 10. IDENTIFYING SOCIAL CLASS How you look How you dress What you eat What you like to do Where you live What your house looks like How you talk
  11. 11. HOW DOES SOCIAL CLASS AFFECT LANGUAGE? William Labov’s Department Store Study in New York City Saks 5th Avenue – Upper class  At 50th St. and 5th Ave., near the center of the high fashion shopping district Macy’s – Middle class  On Herald Square & at 34th St. and 6th Ave. near garment district S. Klein – Lower class  On Union Square at 14th and Broadway, not far from the Lower East Side
  12. 12. DEPARTMENT STORE STUDY Location Number of advertisements in New York newspapers Prices of women’s coats  Saks: $90  Macy’s: $80  Klein’s: $23 Size and layout of store
  13. 13. DEPARTMENT STORE STUDYInterviewer: Excuse me, where are the women’s shoes?Salesperson: Fourth floor.Interviewer: Excuse me?Salesperson: Fourth floor.
  14. 14. DEPARTMENT STORE STUDY Pronunciation of postvocalic /r/ is variable Labov’s hypothesis:  Prestigious stores will have most /r/  Middle ranked store will have an intermediate number  Lowest ranked store will have the least /r/
  15. 15. PERCENT OF /R/ IN “FOURTH FLOOR”
  16. 16. DIFFERENT SPEECH COMMUNITIES The same linguistic variable is likely to have different values in different speech communities.  New York: /r/ is pronounced more by higher social classes.  Reading, England: /r/ is pronounced less by higher social classes.
  17. 17. CONCLUSIONS Language variation, the use of standard and non-standard dialects, often reflects speakers social class. Lower classes tend to speak non-standard dialects. Upper classes tend to speak standard dialects. Middle classes sometimes speak more standard dialects because they hope to move to a higher class.
  18. 18. REFERENCE: Presentation adapted from: http://www.english.wisc.edu/rfyoung/336/clas s.pdf Accessed on April 25, 2011.

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