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  • 1. Lecture Notes Based on Who is a native speaker and what is it they speak? Article http://neptune.spaceports.com/~words/native.html Language and Culture WTUC March 14, 2007
  • 2. Primary importance for sociolinguistics
    • "native speaker"
    • "mother tongue“
    • "member of a speech community"
  • 3. In the language teaching profession
    • being classed as a native speaker is the key to status,
    • expanded job opportunities and higher pay, which naturally creates a heated debate
    • important cultural and political implications, particularly for ethnic minorities, emerging nations and speakers of English as an "international language" (Pennycook, 1994).
  • 4. "native speaker"
    • What is it really?
    • The first is the question of what it is one may be a native speaker of. Words like "language" and "dialect" are themselves ill-defined.
    • Secondly, even if there is no ambiguity about the language, dialect or whatever, the word "native" is not only vague, but has non-linguistic connotations which are by no means culturally or politically neutral.
  • 5. What does a native speak?
    • As stated earlier, there is no point in describing someone as a native speaker unless we are sure what it is they are a native speaker of .
    • British, American or Singapore English, for example? In the case of Singapore English, is this Standard Singapore English, Vernacular Singapore English or both?
  • 6. 2.1. Language versus dialect
    • A language - involves sociolinguistic, and even political, considerations. It is perhaps surprising, then, that even many sociolinguists accept "language" as a given (Le Page & Tabouret-Keller, 1985:1).
    • Languages are notoriously hard to define
    • Outside linguistics departments, there is a pervasive attitude that "nation = language = territory = state" (Lunt, 1986:729, in Rudin & Eminov, 1993), and the assumptions of nationalism have profoundly influenced our thinking about what is and is not a language (Fishman, 1989, Williams, 1992).
  • 7. Language and State
    • A language becoming a national language
    • linguistic statements have political consequences, and almost all sources are biased one way or another.
  • 8. Language and State
    • For an extreme Turkish nationalist there is no Kurdish language as such, merely dialects of Turkish and/or Persian, while for a Kurdish nationalist, Kurdish is a "pure" language which was corrupted by centuries of Ottoman and Persian domination.
  • 9. Mutual intelligibility
    • While Kürtçe and Zazaca share a similar grammar, a speaker of the former would have extreme difficulty in understanding the latter.
  • 10.
    • On the other hand, Serbian and Croatian are prominent recent examples of mutually intelligible "dialects" of the same "language" emerging as separate "languages", with archaisms and provincialisms being adopted to "purify" the language (Gee, 1997; Woodard, 1996).
  • 11. Failure of the mutual intelligibility test
    • Chinese "dialects". Hokkien and Cantonese, for example, are probably regarded as dialects of Chinese not because they are mutually intelligible (which they are to only a very limited degree), but because their speakers share a similar culture, and were for most of their history part of the same state (even though they are not now; depending on how you define Hokkien, a large minority or a small majority of its speakers are found outside Mainland China, notably in Taiwan). Perhaps most importantly, educated speakers also know the same official variety (Mandarin) and write in the same ideograms (Hanzi).
  • 12. 2.2. Language loyalty and standardisation
    • A language is thus, to a large extent, whatever it is perceived to be.
    • A significant factor is "language loyalty" (Gumperz, 1972), which normally links regional dialects to a national language of which they are seen as variant forms.
    • However, sometimes a group may regard itself as speaking one language, when their dialect is linguistically closer to another, and language loyalty may also confuse the issue of mutual intelligibility (Gumperz, 1972:228-229).
  • 13. An influence on language loyalty is standardisation
    • a dialect is often perceived as a variant form of a language because that language possesses a standard form which is accepted by speakers of the dialect in question.
    • Standardisation occurs through a number of processes, such as urbanisation, increasing use of a "court language" (e.g. "the King's English"), increasing commercial, legal and literary use, and planned language reforms.
  • 14. Turkish
    • The court and literary language of the Ottoman Empire was essentially a sophisticated creole which never became fully standardised because an educated speaker of Ottoman Turkish would also be fluent in Arabic and Persian;
    • code-switching was the norm rather than the exception. With the founding of the Republic, language reforms purged Turkish of thousands of loan-words; standardisation in this case did not involve the spreading of the language of the educated elite, but rather the attempt to create a "new" language based largely on the Central Anatolian vernacular, accompanied by Europeanisation in scientific and technical fields (Fishman, 1989:314-315).
  • 15.
    • Language planning has also experienced a number of U-turns throughout the history of the Republic, leading to furious debates about what is "real Turkish", beside which the letters to the Times on "correct" English pale into insignificance, and it is only with the spread of the mass media that anything approaching a "Standard Turkish" has become a reality rather than an ideal.
  • 16. Note: In simple terms
    • Language- if two people are speaking and they cannot understand each other, they are speaking two different languages.
    • Example= Spanish vs. Russian
  • 17. Note: Total number of languages in the world
    • 5,000- 6,000 languages in the world today
    • 25% of the total number of languages have fewer than 1, 000 speakers
    • 50% of the total number have fewer than 10,000 speakers
    • It is likely that these languages (i.e. 75% of the world total will die out in the next 50-100 years
    • David Crystal suggests that 150 years from now only 1,000 languages may remain in the world
  • 18. Note: Dialect
    • If two people are speaking and there difference in the language but the speakers can still understand each other, we say they are speaking different dialects of the same language.
    • For linguists, dialects are therefore mutually intelligible
  • 19. Note: Dialect
    • Dialect differences will be in terms of
      • Accent= glass, laugh- UK vs. USA
      • Vocabulary= US vs. UK, baby carriage/pram, candy/sweets, elevator/lift, french fries/chips
      • and grammar
        • US informal -Did you eat yet?
        • UK- Have you eaten yet?
        • Singapore- Why you so like that?
  • 20. What are the equivalent of these American English lexical items in British English?
    • Apartment building
    • Baby carriage
    • Candy
    • Dish towel
    • Popsicle
    • Railroad
    • Zip code
    = Block of flats =pram =sweets =tea towel = ice lolly = railway =postal code
  • 21. What are the equivalents Std British English of these Singapore English items
    • You very the can, man
    • I don’t understand her. She is so one kind.
    • My daughter is schooling at Dunman Secondary.
    • I can shake legs now that the boss if out of town.
    = capable of = strange/difficult to deal with =studying =relax = previous
  • 22.
    • A language is therefore a collection of mutually intelligible dialects.
    • English can be divided into:
      • Scottish dialect
      • Australian dialect
      • Standard British
      • Standard American
      • Southern American dialect, etc.
  • 23. Notes
    • Everybody speaks a dialect (or VARIETY) of his/her language
    • For linguists, a dialect is not an inferior form in any way
  • 24. 2.3. Speech community
    • Saville-Troike (1989:16) states that "since the focus of the ethnography of communication is on the speech community, and on the way communication is patterned and organizes within that unit, clearly its definition is of central importance", then goes on to list no less than five different definitions[6]. This then means that, for example, "questions arise in deciding if speakers of English from Britain and the United States (or Canada and Australia, or India and Nigeria) are members of the same speech community" (Saville-Troike, 1989:17). In others words, we seem to have a similar problem with "speech community" as we did with "language" and "dialect"
  • 25. 3. Who is a native?
    • 3.1. Native and non-native
    • "native", as its etymology suggests, implies birth into a specific community, or in a particular place, the two usually being regarded as identical.
    • "Nativeness" is only a very rough and ready guide to "native speakerness".
  • 26. 3.2. "Hearth and home"; the "mother-tongue" debate
    • In bilingual or "diglossic" communities, the question of "mother-tongue" arises
  • 27.
    • "mother tongue" is used as a convenient reference for determining who is a native speaker of a particular language or dialect; it is usually taken to be the language a speaker heard as a child, normally uses at home, or both. However, problems arise here as elsewhere.
  • 28.
    • Language loyalty is again a factor in perception of "mother-tongue",
    • What "language" is actually spoken at home is by no means obvious, since code-switching applies at home as much as anywhere else; language domains are not rigid.
  • 29.
    • The mother-tongue debate also raises questions about the status of standardised languages. If the standard language (or dialect, if you prefer) is rarely spoken at home, can anyone really be said to be a native speaker of it?
  • 30.
    • In short, the "hearth and home" attitude exalts one domain at the expense of others, ignores code-switching, and confuses the issue of standard languages.
  • 31. 3.2. The question of competence
    • One way to avoid the "native speaker" trap is to speak of "native speaker competence". Natives of a community have native speaker competence, more or less by definition (Hymes, 1972c; Fishman, 1972a:49).
    • On the other hand, non-natives may also acquire native, or near-native competence.
  • 32.
    • Native speaker competence can be broadly defined as the ability to conform to the set of linguistic and sociolinguistic expectations of a particular speech community.
  • 33.
    • communicative competence is not an all or nothing affair, and in some areas of competence "non-natives", such as immigrants, may actually be more competent. If we are talking about competence in the standard language, what would we make of the sentence "Someone should learn them Pakis to speak proper" (Leeds taxi driver, personal communication)? The speaker here is demonstrating both linguistic and sociolinguistic competence for a working class Leeds speech community, but not with regard to the standard language, where, say, an Eton and Oxford-educated Pakistani would be regarded as more competent.
  • 34. The status of "second languages"
    • he terms "first" and "second" languages are misleading to the extent that they imply that a bilingual speaker has a first and a second language, that they are acquired in that order, and used in that order of ease and frequency. In fact it is perfectly possible to use the language acquired later with greater frequency and fluency than the "first" language, and a speaker may even forget much of their "first" language if they stop speaking it after early childhood.
  • 35.
    • . As Kachru (1986:12, in Saville-Troike, 1989:105) says of Indian English literature, "The medium is non-native, but the message is not."
  • 36.
    • "Mutual intelligibility" - two humans understand (or claim to understand) each other to a certain degree, and in a particular sociolinguistic context.
  • 37. "language" as a prototypical category
    • It is spoken by the vast majority of the population of at least one country;
    • If spoken in more than one country, there are no major linguistic variations between them;
    • It is not spoken by people outside those countries, except as a "foreign language";
    • It has a standard spoken form, which is grammatically, lexically and phonologically similar to the versions spoken by virtually all the population, and is accepted by them as "correct".
    • It has a standard written form, which is grammatically and lexically similar to the standard spoken form.
  • 38. ‘dialect’ prototype
    • It is restricted to a particular region of a country;
    • It is phonologically, lexically or grammatically different to the standard spoken language of that country (usually in that order), but is nevertheless closer to that language than to any other;
    • It does not have a standard written form.
  • 39. prototypical native speaker of language
    • He/she was born in a country C where L is the dominant language;
    • He/she acquired L as a child (preferably in C );
    • The inhabitants of C are regarded as speaking the standard form of L ;
    • He/she has both grammatical, lexical, phonological and sociolinguistic competence in the standard spoken form of L ;
    • He/she mainly speaks L at home;
    • He/she is not bilingual, or, if bilingual, does not regularly code-switch between the standard form of L and a dialect of L , or between L and another language.
  • 40. Turner’s Conclusion
    • What we can do is define terms more precisely for the field of discourse in which we are working. There is nothing wrong in saying "For the purposes of this study I shall take the term 'native speaker' to mean X."
    • This could lead in each case to various prototypical criteria being elevated to the status of "essential properties", in order to create a clearly-bounded and uniform set.
  • 41. Dialogue
    • Hand-outs