By Graeme Trousdale
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Extra resources for An introduction to English sociolinguistics
Indd 25 22/2/10 16:21:18 26 AN INTRODUCTION TO ENGLISH SOCIOLINGUISTICS behaviour of the group shows how regular patterns of linguistic variation and change are (Gumperz 1982). For example, outliers by their very nature do not correspond to group norms, and so, because they don’t fit the generalisation, we need to recognise them as special and discount them. Only group patterns reflect the orderly heterogeneity of linguistic variation (and the patterned way in which language changes). An argument in favour of basing generalisations on individuals is that each individual constitutes a well-defined variety, if we follow Hudson’s definition of a variety as a “set of linguistic items with similar social distribution” (Hudson 1996: 22, emphasis original).
In some ways, the spread of English is to be welcomed, but in others, there is a real danger that the domination of a few languages will lead to the demise of many others. In this section, we explore some of the ways in which global English is beneficial for communities, and some of the ways in which it is detrimental. What might be some of the disadvantages of using English as an official language? One issue concerns the perceived status of English in the community, or, more accurately, the perceived status of users of English.
Labour). As Patrick (2002: 576) observes, the notion of the speech community “is evidently fraught with difficulties”. In this section, we try to unpack such difficulties in relation to the English speech community, to establish whether and how we might use the concept. As part of a discussion of an ongoing linguistic change in Philadelphia, Labov (1989: 2, 52) wrote: (1) The English language is a property of the English speech community, which is in turn composed of many nested subcommunities.