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  1. 1. УДК 800.2:801.5 ENGLISH SOCIAL DIALECTS AND THEIR SIGNATURES R. Kritsberg, Ph.D. (Kriviy Rig) Language variations and actual speech forms reflect a complex combination of socioeconomic factors: education,class, ethnicity, gender, etc. Social dialects do not have tany unique features but rather differ in the inventory of thoseand quantitative data. Sociodialects have a very high mobility and tend to move towards prestigious language forms.Slang, as a case in point, reveals the trend of moving towards the standard variety – originating as low language dueto popular religious movements in the 11-13th cc., it is regarded now more favorably in social aspect. Key words: popular religious movements, slang, social dialects, socioeconomic factors, standard variety. Р.Я. Кріцберг. Соціальні діалекти англійської мови та їх відмінності. Варіативність мови та формимовлення відображають складне сполучення соціоекономічних факторів: освіта, клас, етнічність, стать тощо.Соціальні діалекти не мають властивих лише їм характеристик, відрізняючись їх набором та кількіснимипоказниками. Соціолекти є досить мобільними та виявляють тенденцію руху до літературних форм мови.Сленг, який виник як форма мови декласованих елементів в результаті релігійних рухів мас у 11-13 ст., маєтепер більш престижну оцінку в соціальному плані. Ключові слова: релігійні рухи мас, сленг, соціальні діалекти, соціоекономічні фактори, літературна формамови. Р.Я. Крицберг. Социальные диалекты английского языка и их особенности. Вариативность языка иформы речи отражают сложное сочетание социоэкономических факторов: образование, класс, этничность,пол и пр. Социальные диалекты не обладают особыми характеристиками, отличаясь своим инвентарем иколичественными показателями. Социолекты весьма мобильны и проявляют тенденцию по направлению клитературным формам языка. Сленг, возникший как форма языка деклассированных элементов в результатерелигиозных движений масс в 11-13 вв., сейчас рассматривается как более престижная форма в социальномплане. Ключевые слова: религиозные движения масс, сленг, социальные диалекты, социоэкономическиефакторы, литературная форма языка. Social dialects or sociolects in Modern English are erarchy, as in the works of R. Fasold [6], R. Lakoffconsidered in isolation, per se, as correlation and ex- [8], has been s ub je ct to close scrutiny, as W. Wol-pression of socioeconomic characteristics: class, in- fram put it [16], and revaluation in moderncome, education, gender, ethnicity, profession, etc. sociolinguistics.Meanwhile, the traditional approach to social status The o b je c t of the present paper is social varia-differences and their reflection in the language with tion of the English language viewed both in synchronythe above-mentioned socioeconomic scale and its hi- and diachrony. Its s ubject includes lexical and gram- 143
  2. 2. Вісник ХНУ № 896 2010matical markers of socially disfavored language forms. among all social groups in this area. It means that aThe aim of this paper is to highlight a topical approach local variety cuts across social positions of communityto considering social dialects of English as result of of its speakers.interaction of various socioeconomic factors. Mark- In dialects of the American South, the followingers of social dialects in lexis, morphology, and syntax, speech patterns are idiosyncratic: y’all = you all, toalong with literary specimens of G. Chaucer [3], W. be fixing to = to be going to, and so called ‘doubleLangland [9], and W. Shakespeare [12] serve as ma - modals’ – might would, might would, might can,te rial for this paper. Its s ignific ance lies in elabo- might should, may can, may will to minimize the useration on various constituents that bring about the com- of the utterance. According to The American Heri-plexity of language variation. tage Dictionary [14, p. 113], such modes of speech Indeed, social, regional and other variations of lan- “carry little if any social stigma within the Southguage are closely connected due to interaction of te- and are used by speakers of all social classes andrritorial, socioeconomic, gender, ethnicaland other etc educational levels – even in formal instances”. Theirfactors. A good case on point is Norman French that use is due probably to the fact that first settlers in thisfrom a pure territorial dialect of Old French had changed area were Scottish-Irish whose language is rich in suchinto a social dialect, Anglo-French, since the Norman double modals [ibid]. In this case, it is a clear-cut con-Conquest through the end of the 13th c., spoken by the nection among regional, social, and ethnical factors.court and nobles. Anglo-French underwent double in- As for the sociolinguistic prospect, social factors andfluence of French and English, according to M.A. sociolects as indicators of those should, as well, be con-Borodina [1, p. 82-89]. It goes without saying that there sidered in complex along with regional dialects. Ethnicalwere some changes of the word-forms in the process dialect Jewish English, e.g., is closely associated withof the transplant, mainly due to dynamic English stress the New York City English (ethnic and urban factors),[ibid], e.g. aphaeresis (deservir > servir “to serve”), AAEV is a marker of a certain, low social status of itssyncope (vesteur > vesture), assimilation (prevost > speakers (social and ethnic factors), and dialect Chicanoprovost). Or, changes conditioned by two-fold influ- English spoken by young descendents from Latinence, English and French, as diphthong ‘au’ before America is used among the urban population of thenasal consonants: acrodaunt “according”, plesaunt American Southwest (regional, urban, and ethnic fac-“pleasant”, repentaunt “repentant”, aqueentaunce tors), according to W. Wolfram [16, p. 165].“acquaintance”, etc. Still, the double nature of Anglo- There have been numerous attempts to specify theFrench along with its shift of status from regional to unique features of some dialects that were not success-social dialect cannot be denied. ful, so far. R. Fasold, for example, suggested 8 signa- Another example of that kind is social-ethnic dia- tures of AAVE, among those are: devoicing of voicedlect African American Vernacular English (AAVE). stops in stressed syllables, as /t?k/ for tag; third personDespite numerous migration of American black popu- –s absence in Present Tense; plural –s absence of nounlation, as the mass exodus to the North in the begin- plural; copula and auxiliary absence; the use of habitualning of 20th c., still, its sociolinguistic roots and “catch- be, etc. [6, p. 171]. Still, those features are current inment area” are in the South. other American and British dialects, and differences The territorial dialect of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, among those, as A.D. Shveytser put it, are rather quan-although traditionally referred to the Midland group, titative than qualitative, with dialect differences not instill has signatures of its own and retained its own their unique features but in their sets [2, p. 158].speech patterns: diphthong ‘ow’ is pronounced as ‘ah’, R. Lakoff, in her turn, singles out 10 characteris-‘l’ is dropped at the end of the word (radial sounds as tics of women speech. Among them are: ‘hedges’ thatradio, downtown as dahntahn), cot coincides with mitigate the effect of the utterance (a bit, to seem,caught, don – with down, to redd up is “to clean up”, don’t you, perhaps) and ‘boosters’ that make the state-yinz is “y’all”. Pittsburgh dialect has high prestige ment stronger (really), rising (question) intonation in144
  3. 3. ЛІНГВІСТИКА ТЕКСТУ І СОЦІОЛІНГВІСТИКАstatements, reduced or ‘weak’ directives (would you term, its attributes, relations among American, British,mind…?), etc. [8]. Still, some research, especially the Australian, etc. slang, and those between general andrecent one on the comparative material of English and special slang, etc. have been the subject of heated de-Farsi languages [10], has not supported so called ‘fe- bates in linguistics. One issue stands apart in particular:male deficit theory’, the lower social status of women the position of slang in relation to standard a society: the language signatures of gender differ- One can compare the definitions of slang diachronically.ences have not been found [ibid]. It does not mean In 1756, Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defined slangthat such differences are non-existing. D. Tannen, e.g., as “the special vocabulary used by any set of per-suggests six ‘dimensions’ where male and female sons of a low or disreputable character, languagespeeches differ: status/support, independence/intimacy, of low and vulgar type” [15, p. 1787]. In 1801, an-advice/understanding, information/emotion, orders/sug- other sense appeared with the edge blunted: “the spe-gestions, conflict/compromise [13]. However, the lan- cial vocabulary or phraseology of a particular call-guage characteristics of those ‘dimensions’ are not ing or profession; the cant or jargon of certain classelaborated on. Moreover, one can argue that those or period” to end in 1818 as “language of a highly‘dimensions’ are rather conditioned by more important colloquial type, considered as below the level of stan-social factors, such as class, education level, etc. dard educated speech” [ibid]. It is worth mentioning One more problem in sociolinguistics deals with the that modern sources often avoid reference to standardrelation of vernacular dialects, both social and regional, speech, as Oxford American Dictionary: “words,to standard or socially prestigious varieties. Often, the phrases, or particular meaning of these that are usedrating of standardness is a subjective characteristic, very informally for vividness, or novelty, or to avoid be-dependent on regional, areal, and social backgrounds. ing conventional” [11, p. 639]. Despite all surroundingThus, for British English (BE) speakers American Stan- controversy, it is clear that general slang is on its waydard English (AE) with its signatures in phonology, towards Informal Standard English, especially in thelexis, spelling, and grammar will definitely appear as USA, positioning itself on the frontier between standard‘non-standard’, and vice versa. E.g., bomb in BE and non-standard vocabulary.means “success” while in AE it is “failure”. Even within From this standpoint, it is important to shed light onthe same regional variety, frames of reference may historical development of slang. Religious beliefs in thediffer. Boston English, for example, is a non-main- medieval Europe from 11th to the 13th centuries werestream dialect in AE (‘pahk the cah in Hahvard yahd’ going through the big changes. The spirit of Christian= ‘park the car in Harvard yard’), while in Massa- cut across people’s social rank, degree and position inchusetts, it enjoys high social prestige. Speakers of society: town-people and villagers, nobility and peas-American South are regarded as non-standard in ants, intellectuals and common priests. The idea thatAmerican North, etc. true faith’s vestiges were not pompous monastic ritu- Social dialects are extremely mobile, both in respect als but humble and virtuous life in poverty took rootof each other and their standard variety. Thus, Estu- among believers: “seized by the spirit, laymen andary English, regional dialect of south-eastern England monks turned itinerant preachers proclaiming a(Kent, Essex, Sussex, Surrey), has recently made tre- Christ who came not with a sword and power butmendous impact on BBC English. As D. Crystal put it in poverty” [7, p. 198]. The Mendicant Orders and“Estuary English may therefore be the result of a small groups of “poor men of Christ” spread like aconfluence of two tends: an up-market movement wildfire. Popular religious movements ranged from leftof originally Cockney speakers, and a down-mar- to right, from orthodox to heretical reflected disenchant-ket trend towards ‘ordinary’ (as opposed to ‘posh’) ment with the hypocrisy of the Roman church, on thespeech by the middle class” [4, p. 327]. one hand, on the other, expressed the nascent Renais- Slang in the English language is a good case in point. sance awareness of one’s inward freedom, liberationIts problems, especially the vagueness of this umbrella and human values. 145
  4. 4. Вісник ХНУ № 896 2010 Europe in that time abounded with itinerant preach- life in imitation of the poverty and humility ofers, wandering monks, self-proclaimed prophets and Christ” [ibid, p. 203]. The idea for people who hit thehermits, foot-loose and fancy-free vagabonds of all road was to earn their daily bread by preaching, beg-kinds who took a leap on earning their living: “the driv- ging or laboring. W. Langland in his ‘The Vision ofing force behind all these manifestations of reli- Piers Plowman” [9] gave a visible picture of that “beg-gious fervour was the urge to lead the apostolic ging” time: “Bidderes and beggeres faste aboute yede [Til] hire bely and hire bagge [were] bredful ycrammed; Faiteden for hire foode, foughten at the ale. In glotonye, God woot, go thei to bedde, And risen with ribaudie, tho Roberdes knaves; Sleep and sory sleuthe seweth hem evere. Pilgrymes and palmers plighten hem togidere To seken Seint Jame and seintes in Rome; Wenten forth in hire wey with many wise tales, And hadden leve to lyen al hire lif after. I seigh somme that seiden thei hadde ysought seintes: To ech a tale that thei tolde hire tonge was tempred to lye…” (Prologue. 40-51). “Beggars both professional and amateur went around fast Till their bellies and bags were filled; Begged falsely for their food and fought at the ale-house. God knows that they go to bed in gluttony, And rise with obscenities, those vagabonds; Sleep and wretched sloth follow them everywhere. Pilgrims and palmers pledged together To visit St James and saints in Rome; And they went forth their way with many wise speeches, And had permission to tell lies for the rest of their live. I saw some who said they had visited saints: But each tale they told with their tongue was tuned to lie…” As it is seen, this preaching and migration had de- to seek the protection of Dominicans. The obscuregenerated quickly into free lifestyle and promoted com- original senses in the words bribe, bribery reflect theing into life new vernacular forms of speech that might begging practice of that and other vagabond order.have laid foundation for slang. According to the OED, the semantic development in The very words beggar, to beg presumably have the word bribe presumably would appear in the fol-their source in popular religious movement of Beguines. lowing way: from the Old French sense “a piece ofThe first Beguinage, a feminine community was bread given to a beggar” to English “alms”, “living uponfounded at Liege about 1170-1180 dedicated to spiri- alms”, “professional begging”, “theft, plunder’, “black-tual life along weaving, spinning and similar crafts [15, mail, baksheesh exacted by authorities who abused theirp. 234]. Then, the movements spread to Germany, positions” and finally “gift itself” [ibid, p. 173]. BribeFrance, and other countries, and a male branch was and derivative words often appear in G. Chaucer’sformed. Beguines were persecuted as heretics and had works in the last sense:146
  5. 5. ЛІНГВІСТИКА ТЕКСТУ І СОЦІОЛІНГВІСТИКА “This somnour… Feynynge a cause, for he wolde brybe”. (The Friar’s Tale. 1376. 1378). “This summoner… Inventing a charge, because he wanted to rob her”. “Certeyn he knew of briberyes mo Than possible is to telle in yeres two”. (ibid. 1367-1368). “Certainly he knew more methods of stealing money Than it is possible to tell in two years”. Slang and colloquialisms are abundantly used in the from the original sense “drinking bowl, cup”; pate “theworks of G. Chaucer and W. Shakespeare. G. Chaucer head, the skull” (from possible association with plateuses a lot of low expletives, as: by my croun (The or shining, bald head) (ibid. 114); sconce (jocular,Reeve’s Tale. 4041) “by my crown”, “By armes, slang, arch.) “the head” (possible derivation from hom-and by blood and bones” (The Miller’s Prologue. onym “a kind of candle with a screen to protect the3125) “By Christ’s arms”(ibid), etc. light from the wind”) (ibid. 108); The G. Chaucer’s works are full of colloquial words A lot of lexical items of that kind describe negativeand phrases, e.g. Stynt thy clappe (ibid. 3144) “stop characteristics of human beings, as it is proper to slangyour brawl”, popelote (The Miller’s Tale, 3254) and colloquial vocabulary: sheep and calves “fools,“young girl”, blowe the bukkes horn (ibid. 3387) “to gullible people” (ibid 124), knave, as a general termblow the buck’s horn=to work without reward”, clom! of opprobrium, is very current in the material (ibid(ibid. 3639) “mum, be quiet!”, he hadde moore tow 147), along with rogue (ibid. 196), one of the canton his distaf (ibid. 3774) “he had other business on words introduced in the 16th c., according to OED [15,hand”, jape (ibid. 3841) “joke”, swyve (ibid. 3850) p. 1606] that originally referred to a beggar or vaga-“to copulate”, daf “sissy”, cokenay “fool” (The bondReeve’s Tale. 4208), etc. There are numerous set phrases, as not a jot “not A considerable number of items that refer to parts in the least” (ibid. 121), to gall one’s kibe “to irritate,of human body are found in W. Shakespeare works, vex, annoys” (from the original sense of to gall “chaf-as mazard (jocular, arch.) “the head” (Hamlet. V.i.94) ing of a yoke”), as in the following: “…the age is grown so picked that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he galls his kibe”. (ibid 150-2). Intimate sphere of human relationship in G. Chaucer the writers’ ingenuity when it comes to one of the mostand W. Shakespeare’s works is reflected quite signifi- powerful human drives. Thus, Hamlet while observingcantly. The examples below show the whole gamut of the play speaks to Ophelia: “Ham. I could interpret between you and your love, if I could see the puppets [=genitals] dallying. Oph. You are keen [= insolent], my lord, you are keen. Ham. It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge. Oph. Still better, and worse”. (ibid. III. ii. 260-265). The “underground bawdy” [5, p. 106] or double Puritans and Quakers. In the following dialog betweenentendre was conspicuous for the Renaissance period, Hamlet and Ophelia (Hamlet. II. ii. 120-129), theat a time when a liberated language was challenging prince’s pun has an improper sense:old taboos although facing new repressions from the 147
  6. 6. Вісник ХНУ № 896 2010 “Ham. Lady shall I lie in your lap? Oph. No, my lord. Ham. I mean, my head upon your lap? Oph. Ay, my lord. Ham. Do you think I meant country matters? Oph. I think nothing, my lord. Ham. Tha’s a fair thought to lie between maids’ legs. Oph. What is, my lord? Ham. Nothing”. In another scene (IV. v.) mad Ophelia peppers her speech with rather indecent oaths: “By Gis [Jesus] and by Saint Charity, Alack, and fie for shame! Young men will do’t, if they come to ‘t; By Cock they are to blame. Quoth she, before you tumbled [have sex] me…” (59-63). Nonny was another word, which had indecent al- Another reference to licentiousness is made bylusion (presumably to women’s genitals), as in Hamlet Queen in IV. vii. 169-172:(IV. v. 164.). “Of crow flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples, That liberal shepherds give a grosser name, But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them”. One more lexical layer that is associaled with pro- [15, p. 1398], the origin of this item came from the oldfessional spheres is prolific in the works of two writers. directions on letters “Haste, post, haste!, where postE.g.: come in, tailor; here you may roast your goose stands for “courier”; Hamlet calls the Ghost of his fa-=”a tailor’s smoothing iron” from the resemblance of ther “A worthy pioner!” (ibid v. 163) comparing hisits handle to the goose neck (Macbeth. II. iii. 17); moving beneath the earth to the work of a miner, digger.“What should be spoken Here where our fate is fate, Another old saying of that kind is cut and long tailhid in the auger-hole” (a carpenter’s tool) (ibid. II. “all sorts of people (from the literal sense “horses andiii. 128-129); “…The source of this our watch and dogs with long and cut tails”)” is used by W.the chief head Of this post-haste and romage in the Shakespeare in the modern meaning come rain orland”. (Hamlet. I. i. 106-107). According to OED sunshine, come hell or high water, etc. E.g.: “Shal. He will maintain you like a gentlewoman. Slen. Ay, that I will, come cut or long-tail, under the degree of a squire”. (ibid. III. iv. 45-48). The obsolete proverb still swine eats all the analog to the modern one: actions speak louderdraff, very popular in the 16-17th centuries, is an than words, e.g.: “Wives may be merry, and yet honest too: We do not act often jest and laugh; ‘Tis old but true, ‘Still swine eats all the draff’”. (ibid. IV. ii. 110-112).148
  7. 7. ЛІНГВІСТИКА ТЕКСТУ І СОЦІОЛІНГВІСТИКА Now dialectal saying to make a shift “to do one’s М.: Наука, 1983. – 206 с. 3. Chaucer G. The Canterburybest” sounds very much alike as modern to pull out all Tales / G. Chaucer. – NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. – 607 p. 4. Crystal D. The Cambridge Encyclopedia ofthe stops, as “…he took up my legs sometime, yet I the English Language / D. Crystal. – Cambridge Univ.made a shift to cast him”. (Macbeth. II.iii. 47). Press, 1995. – 482 p. 5. Drake N. Shakespeare and his Summing up, it is worth stressing that the speech times / N. Drake. – NY: Burt Franklin, 1969. – 659 p.form people use is a combination of different language 6. Fasold R. The relation between black and white speechvariations: regional, social, gender, ethnic, etc. Those, in the South / R. Fasold // American Speech, 56,in their turn, reflect corresponding socioeconomic fac- 1981. – P. 163-89. 7. Heer F. The Medieval World / F. Heer. – NY: New American Library, 1962. – 431 p.tors. Social dialects, as a rule, do not possess unique 8. Lakoff R. Language and women’s place / R. Lakoff. –features of their own, but rather differ in inventory of New York: Harper and Row, 1975. – 328 p. 9. Langlandthose along with quantitative data. Sociolects are ex- W. The Vision of Piers Plowman / W. Langland. –tremely mobile on a scale facing standard variety, due London: Orion House, 1995. – 644 p. 10. Nemati down-market trend towards ‘ordinary’ speech. So- Gender differences in the use of linguistic forms in thecial evaluation of slang that presumably originated in speech of men and women: comparative study of Persianthe time of popular religious movements in the 11-13th and English / A. Nemati // Glossa. Volume 3, Number 1, Dec. 2007. – Publicada por la Escuela de Scienciascc., changed from language of low and vulgar type of Sociales y Humanas por la Universidad de Turbado,disreputable characters to that of highly colloquial which 2007. – pp. 185-201. 11. Oxford American Dictionary /nowadays may position itself as a borderline case be- E. Ehrlich, S. Flexner, G. Carruth, J. Hawkins. –tween standard and non-standard varieties. NY-Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1980. – 816 p. The prospects of this study lie in further evaluation 12. Shakespeare W. The Complete Works of Williamof hierarchy of socioeconomic factors and the ways Shakespeare / W. Shakespeare. – London: Henry Pordes,they are reflected in language variations. Complex 1993. – 1264 p. 13. Tannen D. You just don’t understand: women and men in conversation / D. Tannen. –analysis of various discourses in respect to different HarperCollins, 2001. – 230 p. 14. The American Heritageregional varieties is to be carried out on comparative Dictionary of the English Language / J. Pickett (ed.). –material. Boston-NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. – 2068 p. 15. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary /REFERENCES J. Simpson, T. Weiner (eds.). – Oxford: Clarendon Press,1. Бородина М.А. Еще раз об англо-нормандском / 1994. – 2371 p. 16. Wolfram W., Schilling-Estes N.М.А. Бородина // Philologica. – М.: Наука, 1973. – American English: Dialects and Variation W. Wolfram,С. 82-89. 2. Швейцер А.Д. Социальная дифферен- N. Schilling-Estes. – Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.циация английского языка в США / А.Д. Швейцер. – – 397 p. © R. Kritsberg, 2010 149