Identity Plays No Role In Dialect Formation English Language Essay

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Recent studies in New dialect formation have paid increasing attention to the role identity in this process. There are different factors contributing to new dialect formation: linguistic change, adaption, most importantly dialect contact and dialect mixture (Trudgill 2008:242). Identity, as a factor, may play ,a crucial role in this process. The correlation between identity and formation of a new dialect is a controversial issue, which has gained some prominence in recent sociolinguistic studies. The srating point of our discussion must be the understanding of the meaning of identity and new dialect formation norms. Identity can be defined, according to Jenkins as 'the systematic establishment and signification, between individuals, between collectives, and between individuals and collectives, of relationships of similarity and difference' (1996 cited in Schneider 2003:239). It can be interpreted as "the active negotiation of an individual's relationship with larger social constructs, in so far as this negotiation is signaled through language and other semiotic means. Identity, then, is neither an attribute nor a possession but an individual and collective-level process of semiosis" (Mendoza-Denton 2003:362). New dialect formation may refer to "a linguistic situation which arises when there is a mixture of dialects leading to a single new dialect which is different from all inputs" (Hickey 2003:2).

The birth of a new dialect in any community may result from either a contact between different dialects followed by accommodation and mixing process, or a transplantation of ready formed dialect in a new community. A case in point, New Zealand English may be considered as a new dialect resulting from a merging the indigenous dialect and the colonial one. It might be not surprising that identity in this process may play a role as a means to signal new nation through choosing specific linguistic varieties. Or it may be considered as merely as transplanted ready-formed colonial dialect in new land 'cockney dialect', for example. Sociolinguists who agree with the first possibility claim that dialect contact does not necessarily lead to dialect mixture and then to new dialect formation, while others, who support the transplantation method, prefer the monogenetic origins for specific varieties.

This paper attempts to find out whether identity plays a role in new dialect formation or not. It will presents the model of new dialect formation according to Trudgill's opposing view of its role and discusses the dialect issues: accommodation, as a main cause for dialect mixture and its relation with identity, uniformitarian principle, the use of present studies to interpret the past knowledge, and Trudgill's endorsement to Labov's scepticism toward identity role in his well-known study, Martha Vineyard . Furthermore, Schneider's model will be illustrated to show in which phase identity may play role.

New dialect formation model:

Hickey (2003:3) comments that:"As these divisions are central to any consideration of new dialect formation, it is worth recalling the description of the three stages offered in Trudgill et al. (2000a)".

The first stag is called rudimentary levelling in which adult speakers from different area come into contact with other s in one area. In Trudgill study, those people are the first generation of British- born emigrants to the southern hemisphere and the indigenous people in the new location. There is a rudimentary dialect levelling as a result of some sort of Accommodation in face-to-face interaction. However this accommodation seems to be limited at first glance. Localized feature may be the real motive behind this process.

motivation behind this leveling is the localized features.

In the case of New Zealand, this

stage would have lasted until approximately 1860.

The second stage (a): extreme variability

The second stage of the new-dialect formation process, of which the ONZE

(Origins of New Zealand Corpus, RH) corpus now provides direct rather than

inferred evidence, and which would have lasted until approximately 1900, is

characterized by considerable variability. (Trudgill et al. 2000a: 304)

In this stage, the speech is variable which may indicate the mixing of dialects. Trudgill admits that this considerable variability occurs in urban centers "linguistic melting pot" where the opportunity of mixing is high among speakers from different backgrounds. For example,in the late 19th century New Zealand corpus presents examples with three different backgrounds: England, Scotland and Ireland (Hickey 2003:3).

The second stage (b): further leveling

Inter-individual variability of this type, however, although striking and

considerable, is perhaps somewhat reduced compared to what was present

during the first stage. That is, in spite of all the variability witnessed in the

ONZE corpus, it is possible that some further leveling occurred. For example,

there are some features which we can be fairly sure must have been brought to

New Zealand by some immigrants and must therefore have survived

the initial contact stage and have been present in early New Zealand English, but

which are nevertheless absent, or almost so, from the ONZE recordings.

In this stage, there is a reduction in the number of linguistic features heard in earlier stages due to the dialect's failure to survive with weak representation. Therefore, the fewer occurrences the variability has, the less opportunity it has to continue in this stage.

Third stage focusing

It is only subsequently, then, in the third stage, that the new dialect will appear

as a stable and crystallized variety. This crystallization is the result of a focusing

(italics mine - RH) process whose effects are very clear in modern New Zealand

English, which has a remarkably small amount of regional variation. However,

the big question , as we have already noted, is why the leveling that occurred

took the precise form that it did. (Trudgill et al. 2000a: 307)

The survival of the variants depends on the majority and the minority usage of these variants. There are some variants in ONZE which disappeared in NZE because of its minority usage, but there are some exceptions: "the use of schwa in unstressed syllables as is found in New Zealand English in words like David, naked. Trudgill et al. point out that only about 32% of their informants from the ONZE archives had schwa in this position" (Hickey 2003:4).

Trudgill suggests that new dialect formation is a mechanical process apart from an identity influence depending on the demographic variables only, in other words, 'An automatic consequence of interaction' (2004 cited in Gordon 2005:147). Therefore, it is necessary to consider linguistic information about entrant dialects as well as the number of their speakers "demographic information" in the formation of a certain new dialect. Nevertheless, there may be important information missing by excluding social factors.

Through this classification There are some controversial issues regarding this classification which may weaken Trudgill's claim about the identity role.

The accommodation issue:

The claim raised by Trudgill in his study is emphasize the importance of dialect mixture which may be a cause of dialect contact and as a leading force in new dialect formation process. Accommodation in face to face communication may also leads to dialect mixture. People may modify their speech according to their interlocutors even if they are mutually intelligible as a means of accommodation which may convey a sense of common identity. Trudgill is partly agree with this correlation , he says that "Although there clearly are sociolinguistic situations where identity plays a role, I see no role for identity factors in colonial new-dialect formation'' (Trudgill 2008: 243)

As a supporting claim to Trudgill, Bauer provides a suggestion why people, of early generation in the colonial community, do not change their dialects and slightly accommodate to other regional dialects. It is assumed that those people consider Britain, which is thousand miles away from where they live in ' New Zealand' , as their home land. Therefore, they don't have the motivation which encourages them to change their dialect to signal their new regional identity. Thus, there is no correlation between selection of new dialect varieties and symbolizing colonial identities (Gordon 2005:149).

Colonialism causes not only regional development but also changes in people's identities. Despite the fact that new emerging identities have a robust linguistic element, Trudgill suggests that a common identity cannot affect accommodation but accommodation through languages may lead to a common identity. The human value, as a social agent, may be marginalized in the accommodation process. Identity is not a driving force which accounts for accommodation which, in turn, leads to new dialect formation. In other words"identity is parasitic upon accommodation, and is chronologically subsequent to it" Trudgill (2008:251).

It is assumed that accommodation is a conscious and automatic process which results from the fact that people act according to the maxim "Talk like the others talk."(1994:100 cited in Trudgill 2008: 252). It reflects people's tendency towards "behavioural coordination," "behavioural congruence," "mutual adaptation," or "interactional synchrony,". The innate motivation to "behavioural coordination and congruence" is the real driving force behind both dialect mixture and mixed colonial varieties (Trudgill 2008). There fore it is not constrained by social influences such as identity. Cappella claims that , in human interactions, adaptation process is mutually pervasive because it automatically depends on evolutionary and biological "innate" reactions regarding less the social impact. (Trudgill 2008: 252).

Although, Trudgill refers to the importance of social component in dialect contact and language change, in which both dialect and people are in contact. Nevertheless, he empties out this value by arguing that the accommodation process is merely a mechanical and preprogrammed. This view is rejected by Meyerhoff (1998) because communication accommodation theory is used in interpreting the interactive nature of identity construction. The CAT formulation is that people will use their speech to either converge or diverge themselves from a community and to increase their social attractiveness (Coupland 2008:268). People, in communication situations, may define or redefine their social and cultural backgrounds which, in turn, will affect their language usage in order to match communication needs.

Schneider (2008:264) regards Trudgill argument: "identity is parasitic upon accommodation, and is chronologically subsequent to it" as rationally not accepted. According to him , "Accommodation is one of the mechanisms of expressing one's identity choices. Both are closely related, but not quite the same; the two notions emphasize different aspects of similar constellations and processes, different sides of the same coin". Accommodation concerns with groups in which individual identities are the prime structure of their cohesiveness. Therefore, accommodation and identity role complement each other in formatting new dialect formation.

Trudgill 's reliance on Keller's maxim "Talk like the others talk," in his interpretation emphasizes the importance of identity as a driving force in linguistic evolution. Both language choice and identity may control social bonds; they /share the influence/ NOT clear on the new dialect formation. Therefore, it is difficult to agree with Trudgill's assumption regarding identity as a consequence of accommodation. It might be true that identity is not a driving force but it is one of the major forces in this process Schneider (2008:264-5).

Commenting on Trudgill argument, Bauer(2008:272) suggests that accommodation cannot be the direct cause to dialect mixture because people are not equal in their accommodation to each other or even as individuals in different situations. This seems logical because identities are different as well as changeable in nature.

Regarding the correlation between identity and accommodation, People, in any social situation express their sociolinguistic knowledgeNOT CLEAR. This may be the reason for Trudgill's dependence on biological and demographical factors in order to identify accommodation in face to face communication as the main cause of dialect mixture. However, social factors may affect both the frequency of interaction and the dialect of accommodation which, in turn, influences the linguistic change (Holmes & Kerswill 2008:275).

The "Uniformitarian principle" issue:

Trudgill based his claim that identity plays no role in new dialect formation on Labov's interpretation of the "uniformitarian principle": /through observing the present study, it is possible to infer the knowledge of past study, the idea of bringing things to their origins./ Not Clear T?rudgill uses the knowledge of early 16th century to deduce the linguistic situation of the later 16th century./ Not clear He implies that dialect mixture in the early stage plays a crucial role in the development of the new colonial varieties of European languages in colonial expansion period. Therefore, he suggests that new mixed colonial dialect come into being without the identity influence (Trudgill 2008:244,251).

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Contradictory views about the "Uniformitarian principle" issue:

Historical case studies used by Trudgill to indicate new dialect formation do not provide clear evidence that negates the role of identity in new dialect formation. Schneider (2008:263) comments on Trudgill' s inference that: "here, however, we are expected to assess the well-documented and brightly lit present day by using the dim torch of medieval studies" which is not expected from the "Uniformitarian principle" to provide. . Moreover, these studies are too old, and the historical setting and sociolinguistic circumstances are different.

In citing Moor (1999), Trudgill reveals the importance of identity in colonial dialect development in colonial societies. However, Moor, in his study, refers to societies in different period of time (Bauer 2008:271).

/The point in this issue may be that using present studies, where data is available, in order to interpret the past linguistic situations./ Not clear These studies should be well -formulated. Moreover, it is important to understand the main theme of these studies and measure their relevance to the situations that are supposed to be interpreted.

The skepticism about the "identity role" issue:

Trudgill agrees with Labov in his skepticism regarding the role of identity in language change. The Martha Vineyard Study may be considered as an example which shows identity impact on language change. Labov comments that "The Martha' Vineyard study is frequently cited as a demonstration of the importance of the concept of local identity in the motivation of linguistic change. However, we do not often find correlations between degrees of local identification and the progress of sound change" (2001:191cited in Trudgill 2008:244). Despite his comments, labov does not seem fully convinced with this finding.

Contradictory views about the skepticism of the 'identity role" issue:

The Martha Vineyard study may be used to refer to the importance of identity in linguistic change. Labov, however, rejects its general findings but not as strongly as Trudgill implies in his argument: "However, we do not often find correlations" (2001:191cited in Trudgill 2008:244). He comments that the correlation between identity and linguistic change "may not be as frequent as has been assumed" (2001:191 cited in Holmes & Kerswill 2008:274). Also, it seems that labov argues for the necessity of paying attention to local identity and the "changes in social preference and attitudes" in order to understand the linguistic change. Furthermore, the most important of these criticisms is that Trudgill failed to note that Labov's study implies sub-arguments, /and he might be enthusiast about his doubt. / Not clear

Schneider dynamic model of new dialect formation:

Through this model, Schneider explains the changing role of identity in different stages of new colonial dialect formation. The emergence of redirected identities is in the later stages while the original dialects' influence appears in the earlier stages.

The foundation phase shows the initial conservative relationship between the settlers and indigenous people. This creates difficulty and limitation in communication. As a solution to this

problem, a tendency towards leveling, focusing and simplification of the English language appears to surface. In this phase the identities of the settlers and the indigenous people are conservative.

The exonormative stabilization of a colony makes English a dominant language among the residents. English begins to adopt several local norms which, in turn, /creates positive converge the two identities./ not clear There is an association between English and high status, therefore people express positive attitudes toward English which leads to an increase in the number of bilinguals. The identities are considered as 'local-plus-English' ones.

In the "nativization," phase, traditional identity is shaken and begins to be modified slowly. ?They/ not clear are characterized instead as permanent resident of both nations. In terms of lexical borrowing, this stage represents the heaviest borrowing/ motion./ ?

The "endonormative stabilization" phase appears as a result of nation building. In this phase, there is socio-political and cultural independence which increases the acceptance of local forms of English as adequate for formal use. It is the birth of new nation phase . Schneider claims that "at this stage a national identity may play a strong role in strengthening symbolic linguistic forms, but … the process of linguistic evolution is no longer 'new'."(2008:265) .Moreover, new dictionaries and new English books are produced in this phase.

The final phase: "Differentiation" includes a completion of social and linguistic independence. Therefore, this stage represents the birth of new dialect. Within a community, people start to signal their subgroup identity by using certain new linguistic varieties. /Identities groups determine dialect features./ Not clear

It can be seen through these phases that depending on the history of varieties emerged with their varying influences and extents, identity illustrates social attitudes, in contrary to what Trudgill assumes, as merely directed support of new national linguistic forms. Moreover, identity choice effect is indirect on the use of social features (Schneider2008:265).

Schneider comments on Trudgill's case studies that "they represent situations comparable to phases 1 or 2 in the Dynamic Model at best, and so they cannot test a process that is strongest at phase 4". He, also, suggests that it is true that some postcolonial linguistics varieties are difficult to examine by using a deterministic basis without referring to national identity (2008:266).

This dynamic model seems to be very clear, very abstract and simplified. Sociolinguistic and sociocultural perspectives may be adopted to express their valuable contribution to new dialect formation


The question of the relationship between identity and new dialect formation is difficult to answer. Recent studies in this field suggest that identity is one of the main factors contributing to the construction of new linguist varieties, however, some sociolinguists refute this claim.

Those, including Trudgill, who deny identity role in the formation of new dialects, claim that the accommodation process is considered to be automatic, mechanical and preprogrammed away from any social influence, while other scholars argue that it is unconvincing to accept accommodation as automatic because it relies on face to face communication where people bring with them their social background.

By applying Labov's "Uniformitarian principle", Trudgill refers to very old studies to supports his view about identity role. These studies may be invalid because they may be exposed to different circumstances besides the probable differences in time and place. Trudgill, also, shares with Labov his skepticism regarding identity role. However, Labov does not reject identity role as strongly as Trudgill does and his argument may indicate the importance of considering the effect of local identity on language change.

Trudgill ,in his model, suggests that their are stages of dialect formation that are dependent on on biological and demographic factors only. On the contrary, Schneider presents his dynamic model to suggest that identity is reflected in the use of language varieties and indicates dialect birth.

Because identity role may be ambiguous, it is important to understand what identity means in sociolinguistic terms before judging its relevant role in new dialect formation. Considerably more work will need to be done to determine the value of identity in each stage of new dialect formation. /Also, researchers should take into consideration the validity and reliability principles in research methodologies which, in turn, will affect positively the analysis of the findings./ I suggest that you remove this sentence.


1, Conclusion is adequate

2.You have a number of very short paragraphs. Consider joining them.

2 More paraphrasing is needed.

See attachment concerning paraphrasing