Unit 10 the Variety of English (I)

Unit 10 the Variety of English (I)

Unit 10 The Varieties of English (I)

[Check your understanding]

State whether each of the following statements is True or False.

1.A language often has some dialects. T

2. London Cockney is very prestigious in Britain. F

Note: RP (Received Pronunciation) is very prestigious.

3. Different social classes often have their own dialects. T

Note: They have what we call social dialects or sociolects.

4. Spoken English is informal in style. F

Note: Spoken English can be very formal on some occasions involving prepared speech.

■ In-Class Activities

1. ASK:

(1) Do you speak any local dialect(s)? Demonstrate a little bit.


(2) How did dialects come into existence?

People speaking the same language are long separated and then variations occur.

(3) What do you think about the future of dialects? Should we take measures to protect our dialects?


2. ASK:

(1) Can you identify anylinguistic difference between Elizabethan and current Modern English? (e.g., in line 3, thou is now you.)

The differences are underlined below:

HAMLET: A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.

KING: What dostthou mean by this?

HAMLET: Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.

KING: Where is Polonius?

HAMLET: In heaven. Send thither to see. If your messenger find him not there, seek him inthe other place yourself. But indeed, if you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.

(2) Since Shakespeare (1564-1616), do you think the English grammar has changed profoundly? Justify your judgment with evidence from the above excerpt.

Not much. The basic patterns are the same. A noticeable difference lies in the position of “not” as in “If your messenger find him not there”.

(3) How does modern English differ from Old English and Middle English?

You may refer to George Yule, The Study of English, pp. 218-223

3. ASK:

(1) What style or idiolect do you think characterizes Mark Twain? Justify yourself with evidence from the text.

a. use of vernacular b. humor c. intimacy with the readers d. colloquialism

(2) What style do you think characterizes Henry James? Justify yourself with evidence from the text.

a. high formality b. use of long and involved sentences

c. serious d. use of pompous language

4. ASK:

(1) How would you express each of the conversational fragments in formal English? Do these informal sentences express any feeling or idea that is not expressed in the formal style?

a. What did you say? You said I worry?

b. What did you say? You said John got a job?

c. Did you say my boss gave me a raise?

d. Did you say he wore a tuxedo?

(2) How is the language of administrative regulations different from the conversational fragments?

The informal style can be characterized as having a great amount of abbreviation, shortening, contraction, and deletion.By contrast, the regulations use long, complete, and complex sentences. Big words are frequently used.

(3) Look at the following picture. Which style does the language used belong to, formal or informal? Why?

It is informal as signaled by the mixed use of regular language and an email symbol.

5. ASK:

(1) How does Mrs. Bennet’s speech reflect the general characteristics of women’s language? Illustrate with examples.

a. Use intensifiers and exaggerations

b. Use emphatic tones like stressing “me”, “that”, and “his”

c. Use formal language

(2) What other features may characterize feminine discourse?

Women love to use exaggerations as shown by wide distribution of intensifiers, like “awfully” and “terribly”. Women love to use endearment language. They love to express strong wishes. They love to use emphasis of various kinds.

7. ASK:

(1) How would you describe public signs as a unique genre?

Highly elliptical; mostly representatives, directives and commissives (like informing, commanding, warning, prohibiting, etc.)

(2) Are there features of signs that are not captured by these pictures?


8. ASK:

(1) What stylistic features can you associate with the cyber language as shown here?

a. Use initials; b. Blend numericals with letters; c. Use capitals.

(2) Can you give a few samples of Chinese cyber language?


9. ASK:

(1) How would you characterize the genre of fables as a sub-genre of narrative?

a. Narrate things; b. Tell stories about animals, birds, etc. c. Carry a message.

(2) How is this genre different from a children’s story?

The latter is entertaining but may not convey an explicit message.

10. ASK:

(1) How is register different from genre?

Within Halliday’s framework, register is defined in terms of functional categories. Traditionally, genre is defined in terms of formal categories. Within Halliday’s framework, genre is defined in terms of textual properties.

(2) How would you define the register of a job interview or a court interrogation?

For a job interview:

Field of discourse: job application

Tenor of discourse: applicant-employer (formal, polite)

Mode of discourse: oral (partly prepared and partly spontaneous)

For a court interrogation:

Field of discourse: a law suit

Tenor of discourse: judge (plus a jury)-suspect(s) (formal, antagonistic)

Mode of discourse: oral (partly prepared and partly spontaneous)

11. ASK:

(1) Why do language users inventeuphemisms?

To Sound more pleasant or more polite. Sometimes for fun.

(2) What other common euphemisms can you come up with?


(3) During the Vietnam War occasionally the phrase “surgical strike” was employed in place of “bombing.” What are other euphemisms associated with war?

“military intervention” for “invasion”

(4) Instead of “first class,”“second class”, and “third class” accommodations, airlines now have “first class,”“tourist (coach),” and “economy.” What are the reasons for these changes in labels?

To sound respectful for non-first-class passengers.

Task 3: Study Questions

1. How will you distinguish between language and dialect?

A language usu. has its writing system; it may include several dialects; it is often politically defined.

2-6. Omit.

7. What linguistic features characterize this fragment of football commentary?

a. use of short sentences;

b. use of elliptical sentences;

c. dominant use of the simple present tense.

8. Study the following pictures. Discuss their differences in terms of genre features.

a. special layout; neutral and formal.

b. conventional layout; more subjective.

9. Omit.