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SOCIOLINGUISTICS - Essay Example

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Sociolinguistics Name Institution Sociolinguistics According to Bayley (2005), Sociolinguistics is a field in linguistics that investigates how social practices in a society impact language use and variation. Variation in English language mostly prevails in the speech of individuals learning English as a second language…
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SOCIOLINGUISTICS

Download file to see previous pages... However, quantitative study is the ideal methodology in studying variations in English language as a second language because it clearly outlines effects of language transfer. There have been a number of notable studies in the field of sociolinguistics from the view of English as a second language. However, in this case the main focus is on two studies. The first one was conducted in New York City by William Labov where he investigated the variations in pronouncing variable /r/. Labov argued that New Yorkers, especially the young people, had developed a tendency of pronouncing /r/ variable after vowels in their speech. This case would probably occur while pronouncing words like floor and fourth. Labov conducted his research in three stores in the city which included S. Klein, Saks, and Macy’s. His approach in testing these hypotheses involved face to face interviews with the store employees. He repetitively asked for directions to departments in the fourth floor and intentionally made the respondent to repeat “fourth floor” pretending not to have heard it the first time (Wardhaugh, 2006). Moreover, the research involved a number of social factors such as social-classes ranging from high, middle, to low class. Labov found out that a significant number of employees in all the three stores never used variable /r/ in the first respond. The results of those employees who never used variable /r/ reflected 79 percent in S. Klein, 38 percent in Saks and 49 percent in Macy’s. However, in the second or third response of same words, the percentage of those using variable /r/ increased. The research also showed that variable /r/ was mostly observed while pronouncing “floor” than “fourth”. These in relation to individuals using English as a second language shows that there are higher possibilities of such individuals using /r/ variable in most cases. Labov further examined the results from the three stores and discovered that young employees, in Saks, used the variable /r/ more compared to elderly employees. On the other hand, Macy’s data showed an increase in the use of /r/ variable with age while S. Klein’s data did not show much variation. These results led Labov to conclude that, there is relatively minimal or no change of pronunciation developed in adolescence regardless of the social-class of an individual (Wardhaugh, 2006). Later, Labov conducted a more compressive research to test the hypothesis on pronunciation of the /r/ variable in relation to social class. He discovered that most upper middle class people in New York value pronunciation of the /r/ variable in words such as guard and car. This is, however, contrary to the history of / r/ variable pronunciation in New York. Use of variable /r/ in New York between eighteenth century and World War II had reduced significantly. Therefore, the only explanation behind the tremendous increase in using /r/ variable in New York would be the influence of immigrants, mostly English second language speakers, moving into the city (Bayley, 2005). Therefore, using English as a second language contributes to variation in the use of language. In this case, Labov interviewed more New Yorker, although this time, they were just required to give their view about the people whose speech differs only in pronunciation of /r/ variable. People between the age group of 0-20 years approved and used more of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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