Research Essay On Language And Society English Language Essay

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Basically, in any scientific study there are some views and ideas which possess different or similar forms about a particular phenomenon. Linguistics which is known as the scientific study of language is not exception. First of all, if we start with the phrase (the study of language) we will find that it is very important in this discussion to analyze what this phrase mean. Particularly, by dividing it into two words the study and the language. We will find that language according to Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary (2008) means a system of communication consisting of sounds, words and grammar, or the system of communication used by a particular country or profession. While the study means the examination of subject in detail in order to discover new information. Subsequently, it could be said that the study of language is considered as a wide subject related to different aspects amongst is the social context which also can be divided into two words social which means activities in which you meet and spend time with other people and context which is defined as the text or speech that comes immediately before and after a particular phrase or piece of text and helps to explain its meaning. Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary (2008). Hence, there seems a relationship between the study of language and the social context according to the view of some writers in linguistics domain. This view is that the study of language can not be divorced or separated from its social context. On the other side, some writers tend to be against this view. It seems, therefore, that the argument about the study of language can not be divorced from its social context tends to be a controversial issue. This essay will shed light on this argument by discussing this view on one hand and the other view on the other hand.

Language and Society:

To study the language, it is very important to have the attempt to discover the relationship between the language and society and the secret which stands between them. "Society is any group of people who are drawn together for a certain purpose or purposes and language is what the members of a particular society speak" Wardhaugh (2010:1).it is noted from these definition that language and society is very close and can not be separated because language in this definition is related to society. The secret between language and society is what wardhaugh called 'the code', because people use this system which is the code to communicate through it.

knowledge of language :

knowledge of language is related to people who live in society.

TODAY MOST LINGUISTS AGREE THAT THE KNOWLEDGE SPEAKERS HAVE OF THE LANGUAGEOR LANGUAGE THEY SPEAK IS KNOWLEDGE OF SOME THING QUITE ABSTRACT.IT IS AKNOWLEDGE OF RULES AND PRINCIPLES AND OF THE WAY OF SAYING AND DOING THINGS WITH SOUND SWORDS AND SENTENCES RATHER THAN JUST KNOWLEGDE OF SPECIFIC SONDS WORDS AND SENTENCES. IT IS KNOWING WHAT IS IN THE LG, AND WHAT IS NOT. IT IS KNOWING BOTH WHAT IS POSSIBLE TO SAY AND WHAT IS NOT POSSIBLE. THIS KNOWLEDGE EXPLAINS HOW IT IS WE CAN UNDERSTAND SENTENCES WE HAVE NOT HEARD BEFORE AND REJECT OTHERS AS BEING UNGRAMMATICAL.COMMUNICATION AMONG PEOPLE WHO SPEAK THE SAME LG, IS POSSIBLE BECAUSE THEY SHARE SUCH KNOWLEDGE (ibid).Pinker(2007) agreed with wardhaugh in this point. He states that " the linguistics behaviour of undividuals cannot be understood without knowledge of the communicaties that they belong to".Moreover, there are several possible relationships between language and society. One is the social structure may either influence or determine linguistic structure and behaviour.certain evidence may adduced to support this view:the agegrading phenomenon whereby young children speak differently from older children and in turn children speak differently from mature adults. Asecond possible relationship is directly opposed to the first:linguistic structure and /or behaviour may either influence or determine social structure this is the view that is behind the Whorfian hypothesis the claims of Bernstein and many of those who argue that languages rather than speakers of these languages can be sexist. Athird possible relationship is that the influence is bi-directional:lg, and society may influence each other.this view based on dittmar's view. He argued that ' speech behaviour and social behaviour are in astate of constant interaction'. It is notably, indeed from the the views have discussed above that knowledge of language desperately needs the knowledge of social context.

Language and Dialects:

Since society which people live in consists of different areas based on the geographical division, those people then who live in these areas could have somewhat a variety in their language. Hudson (1996:22) defined this variety as 'a set of linguistics items with similar distribution'. This definition gives us the opportunity to consider: Canadian English, London English, the English of football commentaries and so on come under the term varieties which means dialect Wardhaugh (2010). A good example for dialect and its relationship to the social context is Gumperz's example (1971). He points out that everyday living in parts of india , particularly in the large cities and among educated segments of those communities, requires some complex choices involving the distinction between hindi and urdu: the conversational level the use of hindi and urdu forms is not simply amatter of birth and education but just as it is customary for individuals to alternate between dialect and standard depending on social occasion. On the other hand, the term dialect also be used to describe differences in speech associated with various social group or classes. To define social group or social class giving proper weight to the various factors that can be used to determine social position e.g occupation, place of residence,education, income racial or ethnic origin cultural background,cast, religion and so on.such factors as these do appear to be related fairly directly to how people speak Wardhaugh (2010).he adds that there are some points which underlying the term dialect :


The study of dialects is further complicated by the fact that speakers can adopt different style of speaking. You can speak very formally or very informally, your choice being governed by circumstances. Ceremonial occasions almost invariably require very formal speech, public lectures somewhat less formal, casual conversation quite informal.we may try to relate the level of formalitychosen to avariety of factors: the kind of occasion, the various social, age and the other differences that exist between the participants.


Register is another complicating factor in any study of language varieties.registers are sets of language items associated with discrete occupation or social group.Hudson( 1996:46) indicates the difference between dialect and register " your dialect shows who or what you are whilst your register shows what you are doing". Forexample , the kind of language of surgeons, airline pilots and so on. Wardhaugh (2010 ). Hence, it is important to note that wardhaugh and hudsons' view agree that language and dialect closely related to the social context and can not be separated.

Speech communities:

Language is both an individual possession and social possession. therefore the certain individuals would behave linguistically like other individuals they might to speak the same language or the same dialect or the same variety i.e to employ the same code and in the respect to be members of the same speech community aterm probably derived from the German sprachgemeinschaft Wardhaugh (2010 ).Furthermore, if we focus on Bloomfield's definition(1933:42)which is " a speech community is agroup of people who interact by means of speech". We will find that Hymes (1974 in wardhaugh 2010) disagree with him in this point. He points out that is impossible to equate language and speech community when we lack aclear understanding of the nature of language. Moreover,he insists that speech communities cannot be defined soley through the use of linguistic criteria. It is agreed with Hymes ,because speech communities is not surrounded only by the linguistic perspective but the way speakers use language is very significant.

Some thoughts against the relationship between the social context and the study of language:

The view that the study of language can not be divorced from its social context is different from the perceptive of some writers who stand on the other side of this argument. According to Bernstein(1961) there are two distinct varieties of language in use in society.he calls one variety elaborated code ( formal code) and the other variety restricted code(public code). According to him these codes have very different characteristics. Forexample elaborated code makes use of accurate in the sense of standard grammatical order and syntax to regulate what is said that employ arrange of devices for conjuction and subordination and shows frequent use of the pronoun I.In contrast, restricted code employs short grammatically simple and often unfinished sentences of poor in the sense of nonstandard. Is rigid and limited in the use of adjectives and adverbs, makes infrequent use of impersonal pronoun subjects. He states that every speaker of the language has access to the restricted code because all employ this code on certain occasions e.g it the language of intimacy between familiars.however, not all social classes have equal access to the elaborated code particularly lower working-class people and their children who are likely to have little experience with it.according to him, the consequences of this unequal distribution are considerable. In particular children from the lower working class are likely to find themselves at adisadvantage when they attend school in which extesive use is made of the elaborated code.therefore, there are serious consequences for children of the lowerworking class when they come to school beause elaborated code is the mediumof instruction in schooling. When schools attempt to develop in children the ability to manipulate this code they are really to involved in trying to change cultural patterns and such involvement may have profound social and psychological consequences for all engaged in the task. Educational failure is likely to result. This view might be true, but still has some limitation as Rosen( 1972 in Wardhaugh (2010 ) criticized Bernstein on the ground that he has not looked closely enough at working- class life and language and that many of the key terms in his work are quite inadequately defined e.g code, class, elaborated and so on. Many of the arguments also appear to be circular in nature and the hypotheses weak. On the other hand, another view against that the study of language and the social context cannot be divorced is what well known in the psycholinguistics domain by nativist theory. This is associated with Noam Chomsky who developed the theory that all humans are born with an innate capcity and knowledge system specifically desgined for language and language acquisition.under linguistic nativism anormally functioning human being is said to be born with universal grammar which aset of innate constrains on language that every unimpaired human brings to the task of language aquistion included principles that are invariate and apply to all natural human example of aprinciple is that all languages have abasic structural feature called aphrase (Vanpatten & Benati 2010).this theory ignored that the interaction amongst individuals is positive in language learning.SLA theory needs to develop aconception of the language learner as having acomplex social identity that must be understood with reference to large and frequently inequitable social structures which are produce in day-to-day social interaction.

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