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Chapter 11

Student resources for Chapter 11: Language and the Social World

Study guide for Chapter 11: Language and the Social World

You should be able to simply define or explain the following terms and concepts.

African American English (AAE) accent alternation
code-switching bidialectal community of practice
dialect diglossia identity
indexicality interactional roles interlanguage
insertion language ideology lexical borrowing
linguistic feature linguistic repertoire linguistic variety
loanword monolingual multilingual
persona register relational roles
slang sociocultural linguistics stance
standard style style shifting
tag switching variable variant
vernacular "women's language"  

Important Points

  • Through the linguistic choices we make, we are constantly positioning ourselves and others as particular kinds of people who are members of particular social groups, and who have particular beliefs and attitudes; this is how language constructs identity.

  • We hold beliefs about language and its users that can profoundly shape how we treat them.

  • All varieties of a language are equally “good”; there is no sense in which a dialect is a “corrupt” version of a standard.

  • All varieties are regular and systematic.

  • Everyone speaks a dialect; everyone has an accent; everyone has a vernacular.

  • There are social ramifications of speaking different varieties. Certain varieties that are institutionally less powerful may carry social stigmas in some situations.

  • Social meanings of variants are not inherent; they may be different across groups and contexts, and may change over time.

  • “Women’s language” is not a description of the speech of most women but rather a language ideology about how women are expected to speak.

  • Code-switching requires two (or more) speakers fluent in BOTH languages; code-switching is not a sign of disfluency in either language.

  • Membership in different communities of practice may override shared demographic membership in accounting for language use.

On completion of this chapter, you should be able to perform the following tasks:

  • You should be able to distinguish style shifting, code-switching, diglossia, and interlanguage

  • You should be able to distinguish dialect, register, style, accent, and slang

  • You should be able to identify linguistic features that differentiate language varieties

  • You should be able to speak knowledgably about language ideologies

  • Provide examples of how language is used to create different forms of identity

  • You should be able to identify different features of African American English

  • You should be able to identify different types of code-switching

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