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Varieties of English
Daniel Antón Pacheco
EXERCISE ON DEFINITIONS
1) acrolect, mesolect, basilect (n.) basilect is a term used by some SOCIOLINGUISTICS, in the study of the
development of CREOLE LANGUAGES, to refer to a linguistic VARIETY (or LECT) most remote from the
prestige language (the ‘matrilect’ or ACROLECT). Basilectal varieties are also constructed with the
intermediate varieties, known as MESOLECTS.
2) substrate, superstrate: (n.) a term used in SOCIOLINGUISTICS and HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS to refer to a LINGUISTIC VARIETY of set of FORMS which has influenced the STRUCTURE or use of a more dominant variety or LANGUAGE within a community. A substrate language (linguistic substrate or substratum) is particularly evidenced when a language is imposed on a community, as a result of political or economic superiority, as can be seen in the many varieties of English spoken throughout the world which incorporate characteristics of a mother-tongue, e.g. in India, West Africa. The opposite effect is known as a SUPERSTRATUM.
Superstratum: (n.) a term used in SOCIOLINGUISTICS and HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS to refer a LINGUISTIC VARIETY or set of FORMS which has influenced the STRUCTURE or use of a less dominant variety or LANGUAGE within a community. A linguistic superstratum is usually the result of political, economic or cultural dominance, as illustrated by the influence of English, French, Arabic, etc., on the languages of the world at various periods in history. One of the most noticeable features of superstratal influence is the increased use of LOAN words.
3) interference / transfer: (n) a term used in SOCIOLINGUISTICS and foreign-language learning to refer to the ERRORS a speaker introduces into one LANGUAGE as a result of contact with another language; also called negative transfer (see CONTRASTIVE (2)). The most common source of error is in the process of learning a foreign language, where the native tongue interferes; but interference may occur in the other CONTACT situations (as in MULTILINGUALISM).
4) sociolect: (n.) a term used by some SOCIOLINGUISTS to refer to a linguistic VARIETY (or LECT) defined on social (as opposed to regional) grounds, e.g. correlating with a particular social class or occupational group. E.g. Cockney English from working classes, RP from higher classes and Struary English somewhere in between.
5) interlanguage: (n.) the linguistic SYSTEM created by someone in the course of learning a foreign LANGUAGE, different from either the speaker’s first language or the target language being acquired. It reflects the learner’s evolving system of RULES, and results from a variety of processes, including the influence of the first language (‘transfer’), CONTRASTIVE interference from the target language, and the OVERGENERALISATION of newly encountered rules.
!1 Varieties of English Daniel Antón Pacheco ______________________________________________________________________________________________ 6) target language: the LANGUAGE (or VARIETY, etc.) which is the focus of a linguistic process of change is known as the target language, e.g. the language into which one is translating or interpreting, the language (or variety, etc.) being taught to foreign learners, and so on.
7) lexifier language: (n) a lexifier is the dominant (superstrate) language of a particular pidgin or creole language that provides the basis for the majority of vocabulary.
8) fossilisation: (n.) (1) a term used in GRAMMAR and LEXICOLOGY to refer to a type of CONSTRUCTION which is no longer PRODUCTIVE in a LANGUAGE. In English, for example, fossilised SENTENCES include So be it, Long live the Queen and Least said, soonest mended; fossilised LEXICAL items include such REDUPLICATIVE forms as goody-goody, hocus-pocus, and several types of IDIOM. (2) In the acquisition of a foreign language, the stabilisation of a level of achievement in the use of a linguistic form which falls short of the norms of the target language. No further learning takes place, and the form becomes a fossilised error in the usage of the learner, part of the learner’s INTERLANGUAGE.
9) analytic vs. synthetic structure: analytic (adj.) (1) a term which characterizes a type of language established by COMPARATIVE LINGUISTICS using STRUCTURAL (as opposed to DIACHRONIC) criteria, and focusing on the characteristics of the WORD: in analytic languages, all the words are invariable (and SYNTACTIC relationships are shown primarily by WORD ORDER). The term is seen in opposition to SYNTHETIC (and sometimes also POLYSYNTHETIC) languages (which include AGGLUTINATIVE and INFLECTING types), where words typically contain more than one MORPHEME. Several languages of South-East Asia illustrate analyticity in their word structure. As always in such classifications, the categories are not clear-cut: different languages will display the characteristic of analyticity to a greater or lesser degree. Examples related to the course could be illustrated by the example of Tok Pisin: man bilong mi > example of lexicalisation in which three words become one mamblomi.
10) reduplication: (n.) a term in MORPHOLOGY for a process of repetitions whereby the form of a PREFIX/ SUFIX reflects certain PHONOLOGICAL characteristics of the ROOT. This process may be found in Greek, where the initial CONSONANT of the root is reduplicated in certain GRAMMATICAL CONTEXTS (PERFECTIVE forms). In English the nearest one gets to this is in reduplicative compound words, such as helter-skelter, shilly-shally. The phonological processes involved in reduplication have been a particular focus of PROSODIC morphology, which distinguishes the base form (B) of the reduplication from the repeating element (the reduplicant, R), as well as PREFIXING and SUFFIXING types. Intensification is the most common use, e.g. hot hot potatoes, so so cold, etc.; in Tok Pisin toktok, sipsip > this last example implies word formation process instead of intensification as in the previous case. Additionally, there is inflexional functions.
!2 Varieties of English Daniel Antón Pacheco ______________________________________________________________________________________________ 11) compound: (n) a term used widely in DESCRIPTIVE LINGUISTIC studies to refer to a linguistic UNIT which is composed of ELEMENTS that function independently in other circumstances. Of particular currency are the notions of compounding found in ‘compound NOUNS’ as bedrooms, rainfall and washing machine) and ‘compound SENTENCES’ (consisting of two or more main CLAUSES); but other applications of the term exist, as in ‘compound verbs’ (e.g. come in), ‘compound TENSES’ (those consisting of an AUXILIARY + LEXICAL verb), ‘compound SUBJECTS/OBJECTS,’ etc. (where the clause element consists of more than one noun PHRASE or PRONOUN, as in the boys and the girls shouted) and ‘compound PREPOSITIONS’ (e.g. in accordance with).
12) dative of advantage (ethical dative): an ethical dative (also ethic dative or dative of advantage) expresses the person with a particular interest in an action, as in the use of me in the Shakespearian ‘he plucked me ope his doublet’ (Julius Caesar I. ii. 263). The term is given special status in CASE grammar, where it refers to the case of the ANIMATE being affected by the VERB’S state or action (later, EXPERIENCER). A frequently used alternative is RECIPIENT.
13) deadjectival: (adj.) a term used in GRAMMAR to describe an ELEMENT which originates as an ADJECTIVE but is used in some other way in SENTENCE structure. Deadjectival verbs in English (using different formation processes) include wise up, darken and enlarge; deadjectival nouns include the rich, the old and the French. Related to word-formation. E.g. suffix -im in Tok Pisin > bigim.
14) modal(ity): (n.) a term used in GRAMMATICAL and SEMANTIC analysis to refer to contrasts in MOOD signalled by the VERB and associated categories. In English, modal contrasts are primarily expressed by a subclass of AUXILIARY verbs, e.g. may, will, can. This subclass is symbolised as M in the PHRASESTRUCTURE RULES of a GENERATIVE grammar. Modal verbs share a set of morphological and syntactic properties which distinguish them from the other auxiliaries, e.g. no -s, -ing or -en forms. In CASE grammar, modality refers to one of the two major CONSTITUENTS of a sentences’s DEEP STRUCTURE, the other being PROPOSTION.
15) redundancy: (n.) a term derived from INFORMATION theory and applied to the analysis of the range of features used in making LINGUISTIC contrasts. A FEATURE (or sound, GRAMMAR, etc.) is redundant if its presence is unnecessary in order to identify a linguistic unit. For example, the contrast between the /p/ and /b/ PHONEMES of English, as in pin v. bin, may be defined in terms of VOICING, muscular TENSION and ASPIRATION; but only one of these features is necessary to specify the contrast involved, and, once this decision has been made (e.g. voicing), the other features would be seen as redundant, in respect of this contrast. Features of sound (grammar, MEANING) which are not considered redundant are DISTINCTIVE.
It should be noted that circumstances may arise which will affect the GENERALITY of an analysis; for instance, in other positions in the word, other features would be seen as redundant (e.g.
muscular tension in final position, as in such contrasts as rip v. rib) and in some varieties of speech (such !3 Varieties of English Daniel Antón Pacheco ______________________________________________________________________________________________ as public speaking, or in very noisy situations) the speaker may need to use all the available features in order to be ACCEPTABLE or intelligible.
Similar principles apply to the analysis of grammar and SEMANTICS in terms of redundancy. In grammar, for example, SENTENCES such as the bird flies display redundancy, in that both the SUBJECT and the VERB are MARKED for singularity: in theory, it would be possible for English to use, for example, the bird fly v. the birds fly to keep a singular/plural distinction clear. In semantics, the issue is more complex: what to one person might appear a totally unnecessary (and hence redundant) use of a word or phrase may to someone else provide and additional nuance, and thus be distinctive.
In GENERATIVE linguistics, the notion of redundancy has been formalised in terms of RULES (redundancy rules) which simplify the form of descriptions. Any features which can be predicted on the basis of other features is said to be redundant. For example, in generative PHONOLOGY, when certain features of a SEGMENT are predictable (because of the occurrence of other features in some COOCCURRING segment), the specification of these features is unnecessary: such redundant feature specifications would be left blank in the UNDERLYING representation of MORPHEMES (the rules subsequently involved in inserting the redundant features being referred to as ‘LEXICAL-redundancy rules’ or MORPHEME-STRUCTURE RULES). Redundancy rules are also important in UNDERSPECIFICATION theories of phonology. In generative SYNTAX, the lexical-redundancy rules apply to such processes as SUB-CATEGORISATION (thus simplifying the feature specification of a syntactic CATEGORY) and WORD- FORMATION (enabling one WORD-CLASS to be DERIVED from another). E.g. double negation in Spanish no vi a nadie, or in English the two news newspapers (Cameroon English) > double plural and addition of -s in the adjective.
16) focus: (n.) a term used by some LINGUISTS in a two-part analysis of SENTENCES which distinguishes between the INFORMATION assumed by speakers, and that which is at the centre (or ‘focus’) of their communicative interest; ‘focus’ in this sense is opposed to PRESUPPOSITION. (The CONTRAST between GIVEN and NEW information makes an analogous distinction.) For example, in the sentence It was Mary who came to tea, Mary is the focus (as the INTONATION contour helps to signal). Taking such factors into account is an important aspect of inter-sentence relationships: it would not be possible to have the above sentence as the answer to the question What did Mary do? but only to Who came to tea? We distinguish the new relevant information and the previous given one which seems not to be clear enough. When referring to focus, we typically talk about cleft sentences, intonation, etc. (prosodic means). Other methods (not prosodic) like the use of “only” in Indian English is used to emphasise (a) certain element(s) of a sentence, e.g., Mondays and Tuesdays only.
17) topic(alisation): (n.) a term used in SEMANTICS and GRAMMAR as part of an alternative binary characterisation of SENTENCE STRUCTURE to that traditionally found in the SUBJECT/PREDICATE distinction; the opposite term is COMENT. The topic of a sentence is the entity (person, thing, etc.) about which something is said, whereas the further statement made about this entity is the comment. The !4 Varieties of English Daniel Antón Pacheco ______________________________________________________________________________________________ usefulness of the distinction is that it enables general statements to be made about the relationships between sentences which the subject/predicate distinction (along with other contrasts of this type) obscures. The topic often coincides with the subject of a sentence (e.g. A visitor/ is coming to the door), but it is need not (e.g. There’s the driver/ who gave you a lift), and, even when it is a subject, it need not come first in a sentence (e.g. John Smith my name is). It is sometimes referred to as the ‘psychological subject.’ Some languages mark the topic of a sentence using PARTICLES (e.g. Japanese, Samoan). The topic/comment contrast is, however, sometimes difficult to establish, owing to the effects of INTONATION (which has a ‘competing’ INFORMATION-signalling function), and in many types of sentence the analysis is more problematic, such as in COMMANDS and QUESTIONS. Topicalisation takes place when a CONSTITUENT is moved to the front of a sentence, so that it functions as topic, e.g. The answer I’ll give you in a minute.
18) resumptive pronoun: (n.) a term used in GRAMMATICAL analysis to refer to an element or structure which repeats or in some way recapitulates the meaning of a prior element. The chief examples are presumptive pronouns (e.g. Mary, I know her) and resumptive relative clauses (e.g. The chairman announced the result, an announcement which had been long awaited).
19) RP: (n.) or received pronunciation is the name give to the regionally neutral ACCENT in British English, historically deriving from the prestige speech of the Court and the public schools. The term indicates that its prestige is the result of social factors, not linguistic one. RP is in no sense linguistically superior or inferior to other accents: but it is the accent (more accurately: a set of accents) which tends to be associated with the better-educated parts of society, and is the one most often cited as a norm for the description of British English, or in teaching that DIALECT to foreigners. The BBC originally adopted RP for its announcers because it was the form of pronunciation most likely to be nationally understood, and to attract least regional criticism—hence the association of RP with the phrase ‘BBC English-‘ These days, the BBC, as indeed educated speech at large, displays considerable regional variation, and may modified forms of RP exist (modified RP). RP no longer has the prestigious social position it once held.
In the eyes of many (especially of the younger generations), regionally marked forms of accent are more desirable. The present-day situation is plainly one of rapid change.
20) voiced vs. voiceless: voice is a fundamental term used in the PHONETIC classification of speech sounds, referring to the auditory result of the vibration of the vocal folds; also called voicing. Sounds produced while the vocal folds are vibrating are voiced sounds, e.g. [b, z, a, i]; those produced with no such vibration are voiceless or unvoiced, e.g. [p, s, h]. A sound which is normally voiced, but which in a particular phonetic ENVIRONMENT is produced with less voice than elsewhere, or with no voice, at all, is said to be devoiced (symbolised by a small circle beneath the symbol) — examples are the reduced voicing on voiced PLOSIVES in a word-final position as in bib, bed.
This contrast is considered to be of primary significance in phonological analysis, and is used as a main parameter of classification both in PHONEMIC and DISTINCTIVE FEATURE theories theories !5 Varieties of English Daniel Antón Pacheco ______________________________________________________________________________________________ PHONOLOGY.
Voiced, for example, is one of the SOURCE features of sound set up by Chomsky, and Halle in their phonological theory. Voiced sounds are defined ARTICULATORILY, as those where the vocal folds are in a position which will enable them to vibrate in an airflow. Its opposite is non-voiced (or voiceless), referring to sounds where vocal-fold vibration is impossible, because of the wide gap between them.
21) aspiration: a term in PHONETICS for the audible breath which may accompany a sound’s ARTICULATION, as when certain types of PLOSIVE CONSONANT are released. It is usually symbolized by a small raised [h] following the main symbol. In examples such as English pin [phin], the aspiration may be felt by holding the back of the hand close to the mouth while saying the word; the contrast with bin, where there is no aspiration, is noticeable. Some languages, such as Hindi, have contrasts of aspiration applying to both voiceless and VOICED STOPS, viz. a four-way contrast of [p-], [ph-], [b-], and [bh-]. In some phonetic environments the aspiration effect varies, as when in English the PLOSIVES are followed by /l, r, w, j/: here the aspiration devoiced these consonants, as in please, twice, queue. Following initial /s/, the aspiration contrast is lost altogether, as in [spɪn]. Sounds other than plosives may be aspirated, but they are less commonly encountered. In a more detailed analysis, pre-aspiration can be distinguished from post-aspiration; both features occur, for example, in Scottish Gaelic. In nineteenth-century comparative PHILOLOGY, the term aspirate (or aspirata) was applied to any sound involving audible breath in the articulation, including voiceless plosives and FRICATIVES. For example, in New Englishes like Malaysian, Indian English have no aspiration in words which typically require voiceless stops.
22) rhotic(ity): a term used in English PHONOLOGY referring to DIALECTS or ACCENTS where /r/ is pronounced following a VOWEL, as in car and cart. VARIETIES which do not have this feature are nonrhotic (such as RECEIVED PRONUNCIATION). Vowels which occur after RETROFLEX consonants are sometimes called rhotacized (they display rhotacization).
23) conflation: (n.) The merging of two or more sounds. E.g. from the distinction /θ/ and /ð/ is simplified into one only sound. It’s a more technical term when referring to there merging of sounds.
________________________ References: Crystal, David (2008) A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics 6th Edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
References and extra notes taken from lectures.