North South University
Md. Aftab uddin chowdhury
English 570: History of the English language.
Id No: 0920726055
Ms. Maleka Sarwar
Date: 17th August, 2010
Standard and Non-standard variants of the English language
Language is the most important medium of exchange our thoughts, emotions, desires, and feelings to express. Basically language is the vocal representations of an arrangement of sounds. The sounds formulated from the mouth with the help of numerous organic articulators to convey the meaningful messages. It is scientifically proved that primarily language was spoken. Anthropologists watch language as a form of cultural conduct, and sociologists think language is a social interaction between the people of the society. On the other hand philosophers watch language as a clarification of human knowledge. But the linguists regard language as an intricate circumstance which is scientifically studied.
According to Sapir “Language is a primarily human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions, and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols.’’
sapir, language, 1921.
Now today there are 7358 languages exist in the world. Respectively they have distinct structure. Scholars are still seeking to discover the origin and development of these languages. Some linguists believe that about all languages have one origin, have come from one singular language. Actually they do work to prove the hypothetical genetic relationship between the existence languages. And on the other side some linguists have confidence to say that all languages did not originate from one language but have originated from one more languages and finally developed these languages from different places in the world. So this is a controversial documentation and still unsolved. Throughout the middle ages many people thought all languages came from Biblical Hebrew.
No one knows all the reasons why languages change, but they continue to do so as long as people speak them. In a few cases, the changes can be explained. For example, words are added to a vocabulary to refer to new ideas or objects between speakers of different languages may cause words from one language to enter another language. Another significant is language has a propensity to transform from complication to easiness and extent to accuracy.
Since my topic is Standard and non-standard variants of the language, so I can start by differentiating a dialect from a language. Standard language is accepted by its speaker as a symbol of nationhood (of political and cultural identity) or is designated by government for official use. Non-standard language or dialect is a variation of a language used by a particular group of speakers. It differs in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary from the standard language. Some times it is difficult to establish the relationship between the two different linguistic communities whether they speak the different languages or the dialect of the same language. There is a test which the linguists use to define the standard and non-standard languages. It is mutual intelligibility, if two speakers can not understand one another then the linguists easily identify that they are speaking two different languages. Mutual intelligibility helps the speaker to understand to each other of the same language. On the other hand, the English of London, the English of Cape Town, the English of Sydney and the English of Miami certify the dialect of same language. Another most important feature is idiolect; the specific linguistic system of a particular speaker of a language speaks his or her own idiolect.
Language variation is the study of those features of a language that differ systematically as we compare different groups of speakers or the same speaker in different situations rather than comparing features of two different languages. Language variation studies regional varieties of the same language, like the natives English speaker of Mississippi and natives of Massachusetts. Social varieties of the same language, like the upper middle class New Yorker’s English and the lower working class New Yorker’s English. And stylistic varieties of the same language, like how a speaker uses language during a job interview and during a casual conversation with a close friend.
Standard English emerged as such over the centuries by virtue of the political and cultural importance of London. Basically the Standard language is based upon what was in earlier times the speech of the upper classes at court or living in the capital. In America and Australian English, for example, ‘sunk’ and ‘shrunk’ as past tense forms of ‘sink’ and ‘shrink’ are beginning to become acceptable as standard forms, where as standard insists on ‘sank’ and ‘shrank’. This kind of construction is non-standard in most other forms of Standard English.
Let’s now look at three types of variation with in a language: Regional varieties of a language result from a number of political, cultural, geographical factors. Now take a look at a representative sampling of some of the lexical and phonological dialect characteristics,
Regional Lexical Variation
Following are the two main regional dialects in the United States. This example resulted because the region was colonized by settlers from different parts of England, who then migrated west, rather than north and south. Political and ecclesiastical divisions also contribute to regional dialect differences.
Northern U. S Southern U. S
Lexical differences also exist between British and American English are so numerous that here are some examples given below.
American English British English
Pedestrian underpass subway
Exit way out
Regional phonological variation
A phrase like, that idea is crazy. Note that idea ends with a vowel and the word is begins with a vowel. For a speaker whose dialect contains the ‘linking[r]’ feature, this phrase would be pronounced as if idea ended in an [r] idear. The speaker of this dialect has a rule in their phonological systems which insert an [r] between a word ending in a vowel and another word beginning with a vowel. That idea sounds crazy, since there are no vowel sequences between words and the sounds begins with a consonant; the rule would not insert the ‘linking [r]’in the phrase.
This field is concerned with the interrelationship between the language of a group and its social characteristics, for example, working class New Yorkers ‘drop their post-vocalic [r],’in words like forty-four more often than middle class New Yorkers do. Another important judgment is that listeners judge a speaker according to characteristics of the speaker’s dialect. For example, some one says I ain’t working this afternoon, may be judged as socially inferior to another person who says I ‘m not working this afternoon. So the question rises to interest in Standard and Nonstandard dialects. It is not simple matter to define the difference between a standard and non-standard variety of language. It is important to understand that identifying a dialect as standard or nonstandard is a sociological judgment, not a linguistic one. All dialects of all natural languages are rule governed and systematic.
Stylistic variation is most essential part of linguistic feature that can vary from one person to another. We can look at stylistic variation that is systematic variations in the language of any one speaker, depending upon the occasion and the participants in the interchange. Linguistic style is a matter of what is appropriate. For example, a speaker can use ‘thank you for your consideration’ in the formal situation, on the other side in more informal correspondence, the same speaker may use ‘thanks for your time’.
In the above discussion I have wanted to show the standard and non-standard variants of the language very clearly. It can help us to know about the signification of variants of the English language.
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