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Safest Small Talk Topics

Traveling Weather
Accommodation Hobbies
Television Food and drinks
Education Shopping
Topical events (in newspapers:
earthquakes, plane crashes, museum
robberies, [sports?,] but not politics)
Gorodetskaya, 1996.
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Unsafe Small Talk Topics
 Americans:  British:
Religion Royal family
Politics Race relations
(Salary/income) Salary/income
Health
Pets
Northern Ireland
Gorodetskaya, 1996.
2/17
Reasons to say Taiwanese and
Mandarin are TWO different
languages

 They are NOT mutually intelligible:


(If you speak ONLY ONE of them you
CANNOT understand the other)

3/17
Dialect Differences
1. Pronunciation
2. Vocabulary
3. Grammar / Syntax
AND
4. Sociolinguistic Rules
4/17
Reasons to say Taiwanese and
Mandarin are TWO dialects of
the same language
 They come from the same parent language
 They are spoken in the same country
 They have similar vocabulary,
pronunciation, and syntax
 They use the same writing system
 Speakers share basically the same culture
 Speakers share basically the same history
5/17
Standard English—
One of the Varieties of English
 What is printed in books and newspapers
 Taught in school to English-speaking children
 Taught to foreigners
 ‘Educated’ variety
 Used on TV and for Newscasts

Trudgill, Peter. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society,


4th edition. London: Penguin Books, pp. 5-6. 6/17
AmE and BritE Dialects
differ in
1. Pronunciation:
r-less; syncopate different syllables
(military); a-vowel (bath)
2. Vocabulary:
lift (elevator); braces (suspenders); bonnet
(hood); pavement (sidewalk); SPELLING
3. Grammar / Syntax:
got/gotten; have
7/17
Beijing and Taiwan
Mandarin Dialects differ in
1. Pronunciation:

2. Vocabulary:

3. Grammar / Syntax:

8/17
British English RP Accent

 NON-LOCALIZED
 Learned in “public schools”
 Used on BBC
 Taught to foreigners

Trudgill, Peter. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society,


4th edition. London: Penguin Books, pp. 5-6. 9/17
Prevocalic and Non-Prevocalic /r/

1. rat rich /r/


2. carry sorry /r/
3. cart car /r/ vs. NO /r/

Trudgill, Peter. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society,


4th edition. London: Penguin Books, p. 9. 10/17
Social Significance of / r /
after a Vowel

US: / r / high status no / r /: low status


UK: / r / low status no / r /: high status

12/17
Attitudes towards and use of
non-prevocalic /r/ : Upper
middle class in New York City
% r-positive % /r/
age informants used
8-19 100 48
20-39 100 34
40 + 62 9
Trudgill, Peter. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society,
4th edition. London: Penguin Books, p. 11. 12/17
Martha's Vineyard Pronunciation

Martha’s General
Vineyard American
loud / lud / / laud /
house / hus / / haus /
about / but / / baut /

Trudgill, Peter. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society,


4th edition. London: Penguin Books, p. 12. 13/17
The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
(Simplified)

 Language shapes how we perceive the


world.
 The world / society shapes our language.

14/17
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
and Influences on Language

 Physical Environment
 Social Environment or Structure
 Values of Society

Trudgill, Peter. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society,


4th edition. London: Penguin Books, pp. 15-20.
15/17
Kinship Terms

older/younger brothers older/younger brothers


older/younger sisters older/younger sisters
Father Mother
YOU

16/17
Taboo Subjects or Words

 Sex
 Excretion
 Christian Religion
 Race
 Dying

Trudgill, Peter. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society,


4th edition. London: Penguin Books, pp. 18-20. 17/17