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THE CAMBRIDGE

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF
A

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DAVID CRYSTA
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THE CAMBRIDGE
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF
LANGUAGE
DAVID CRYSTAL
PROFESSORIAL FELLOW,
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF NORTH WALES,
BANGOR

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Cambridge
to print and trll
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CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS


CAMBRIDGE
NEW YORK PORT CHESTER MELBOURNE SYDNEY
Published by the Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge
The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RP
40 West 20th Street, New York. NY 10011, USA
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© Cambridge University Press 1987

Printed in the United States of America

British Library (dialoguing in publication data

Crystal, David
The Cambridge encyclopedia of language.
1. Language and languages
I. Title
400 P121

Library of Congress cataloging in publication data

Crystal, David 1941-


The Cambridge encyclopedia of language.
Bibliography.
Includes indexes.
1. Language and languages - Dictionaries.
2. Linguistics - Dictionaries. I. Title.
P29 064 1987 403 86-32637

ISBN 0-521-42443-7 paperback


Contents

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language is 10 Social identity 38


organized in 11 Parts, comprising 65 thematic Language and social stratification, class,

sections. Each section is a self-contained presen- status, role, solidarity, and distance; the
problem of sexism.
tation of a major theme in language study, with
cross-references included to related sections 11 Contextual identity 48
and topics. Situationally determined varieties of
speech and writing; restricted and secret
language; verbal play and art; word
Editorial advisors vi games.
Preface vii
12 Stylistic identity and literature 66
The concept of style; authorship identity
I Popular ideas about language 1 and forensic linguistics; literary language
Widely held linguistic beliefs and in poetry,drama, and prose.
attitudes, and the basic functions of
language.
Ill The structure of language 81
1 The prescriptive tradition 2
Popular notions of linguistic authority The dimensions of language analysis that

and correctness; purism and language underlie all forms of language, whether
change; the role of linguistic description. spoken, written, or signed.

2 The equality of languages 6 13 Linguistic levels 82


Myths about primitive languages and The relationship between the main
language superiority. components of language analysis; models
of linguistic structure.
3 The magic of language 8
and verbal
Linguistic superstitions
14 Typology and universals 84
taboos; the mystical power of proper Analysing the structural similarities and
names. differences among the languages of the
4 The functions of language 10 world.
The many cultural, social, and personal
roles which language performs. 15 The statistical structure of language 86
The study of the statistical regularities
5 Language and thought 14 found in language; the frequency of
The complex relationship between sounds, letters, and words.
language and thinking; the notion of
language relativity. 16 Grammar 88
Syntax and morphology; the structure of
words, phrases, clauses, and sentences.
II Language and identity 17
The many ways in which language 17 Semantics 100
expresses a person's individuality or social The study of meaning in language; the
identity. semantic analysis of words and sentences.

6 Physical identity 18 18 Dictionaries 108


The relationship between language and The use and evaluation of dictionaries;
age, sex, physical type, and physical the past, present, and future of
condition; voiceprints; male vs female lexicography.
speech.
19 Names 112
7 Psychological identity 22
Patterns and trends in the use of personal
The relationship between language and
names; place names and their history.
personality, intelligence, and other
psychological factors. 20 Discourse and text 116
8 Geographical identity 24 The study of stretches of spoken and
The regional background of a speaker; written language above the sentence; the
accents, dialects, linguistic areas, and the nature of conversation; analysing textual
study of dialectology. structure.

9 Ethnic and national identity 34 21 Pragmatics 120


Language, ethnicity, and nationalism; the The factors that govern our choice of
problem of minority languages and language in social interaction; speech acts
dialects. and their analysis.

CONTENTS -hi
IV The medium of language: VI The medium of language:
speaking and listening 123 signing and seeing 219
The study of the auditory-vocal channel The development and use of deaf sign
of communication; the production, languages.
transmission, and reception of speech.
35 Sign language 220
22 The anatomy and physiology of speech 124 Popular fallacies about sign language; the
The vocal tract and vocal organs; the development and use of signs by the deaf.
nature of articulation.
36 Sign language structure 222
23 The acoustics of speech 132 The way signs are used to convey
The nature of sound waves and the way grammatical contrasts; American Sign
they transmit speech; the sound spectro- Language.
graph and its use in speech sound analysis.
37 Types of sign language 224
24 The instrumental analysis of speech 138 The range of contrived sign languages;
Some of the techniques used in the analysis finger spelling, cued speech, and other
of speech acoustics and physiology. svstems.

25 Speech reception 142


The ear, and the process of hearing;
speech perception and its investigation. VII Child language acquisition 227
26 Speech interaction with machines 149 The study of the way children learn to
The and practice of automatic
principles understand and speak their mother
speech recognition and speech synthesis. tongue- methods, theories, and findings;
later language learning in school.
27 The sounds of speech 152
Phonetics; the description of vowels and 38 Investigating children's language 228
consonants; kinds of phonetic Techniques for finding out about child
transcription. language; speech production and
comprehension; theories of language
28 The linguistic use of sound 160
acquisition.
Phonology; phonemes, distinctive
features, and other models; comparing 39 The first year 236
the sound systems of languages. The development of infant vocalization;
early speech perception and interaction.
29 Suprasegmentals 169
The prosody of speech; the structure of 40 Phonological development 240
intonation; tone languages; the The sound system; the
acquisition of the
relationship between speech and music. learning of vowels, consonants, and
intonation.
30 Sound symbolism 174
The relationship between sounds and 41 Grammatical development 242
meaning; the role of onomatopoeia. The acquisition of grammar; growth in
sentence length and complexity.

42 Semantic development 244


The acquisition of vocabulary; first words
V The medium of language: and their content; distinguishing the
writing and reading 177 meanings of words.
The study of the development and functions 43 Pragmatic development 246
of written language, in all its forms. The acquisition of conversational skills;
the language of twins.
31 Written and spoken language 178
The relationship between speech and 44 Language development in school 248
writing; how sound is portrayed in The study of language in school; later
written language. oral development; learning to read and
write
32 Graphic expression 182
The physical substance of written
language; types of graphic expression; hand-
and electronic forms.
writing, print, typing, VIII Language, brain, and
33 Graphology 194
handicap 257
The writing system of a language; the The neurological basis of language, and
history of writing; the alphabet; spelling, the range of physical or psychological
punctuation, and other contrasts; systems problems that can give rise to disabilities
of shorthand. in spoken, written, or signed language.
34 The process of reading and writing 208 45 Language and the brain 258
Psychological accounts of the process of Brain structure and function; hemispheric
reading, writing, and spelling; spelling dominance and localization; slips of the
regularity and spelling reform. tongue and critical periods.

iv • CONTENTS
46 Language handicap 264 58 Artificial languages 352
Incidence, causation, and classification; The history of artificial languages, and
deafness, aphasia, dyslexia, dysgraphia; the present-day position; Esperanto,
disorders of voice, articulation, and Basic English, and other systems.
fluency; language delay; alternative
communication systems and
59 World languages 357
aids.
The international use of languages;
official languages; World English and its

varieties.
IX The languages of the world 283
The range of languages in past or present 60 Multilingualism 360
use- numbers, speakers, sources; Causes and extent of bilingual attitudes
and practice; language maintenance and
identifying and explaining linguistic
shift; language switching.
change.

47 How many languages? 284 61 Language planning 364


Government policies about language
Identifying, counting, and classifying the
languages of the world.
and use; bilingual educational
selection
programmes.
48 How many speakers? 286
Determining how many people speak a 62 Foreign language learning and
language; the world's most widely used teaching 368
languages and families. The role and status of foreign languages
in school and society; theories of
49 The origins of language 288 language learning, and methods of
Myths and experiments about the origins language teaching; language materials
of language; wolf children; humans and
and laboratories.
primates; the evidence of palaeontology.
63 Language for special purposes 378
50 Families of languages 292 The development of special varieties of
Discovering the history of languages; language in science, medicine, religion,
comparative philology; the language the law, the press, advertising, and
families of the world.
broadcasting; the related problems of
51 The Indo-European family 296 intelligibility and change.
The history of Indo-European languages,
where they are spoken, and how they are XI Language and
classified.
communication 395
52 Other families 304 The relationship between language and
The distribution, family grouping, and
other systems of human and non-human
use of the world's languages (other than
communication, and the scientific study of
Indo-European).
language.
53 Language isolates 326 64 Language and other communication
Languages which cannot be related to any
of the major families.
systems 396
Language defined; chimpanzee
54 Language change 328 communication; semiotics;
The identification of change in sounds, communication by non-linguistic sound,
grammar, and vocabulary; face, gesture, and touch.
glottochronology; explanations for
language change. 65 Linguistics 404
The history of ideas language study;
in
55 Pidgins and Creoles 334 domains and personalities in 20th-
The origins, distribution, and present-day century linguistics; linguisticjnethods.
use of the world's pidgins and Creoles.

Appendices
X Language in the world 341
I Glossary. 414
The problems of communication posed by
II Special symbols and abbreviations
the diversity of the world's languages and
varieties, and the search for solutions. used in the encyclopedia. 434

56 The language barrier 342 III Table of the world's languages. 436
The problems caused by foreign rV Further reading. 444
languages in the field of international
communication; language and the V References. 448
business world. VI Index of languages, families,
57 Translating and interpreting 344 dialects, and scripts. 452
The and practice of translating
principles
VII Index of authors and personalities. 456
and interpreting; the role of machine
translation. VIII Index of topics. 458

CONTENTS. v
EDITORIAL ADVISORS
Professor Charles Ferguson
Department of Linguistics, Stanford University
Professor Victoria A. Fromkin
Graduate Division, University of California
Professor Shirley Brice Heath
School of Education, Stanford University

Professor Dell Hymes


Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Dr Stephen Levinson
Department of Linguistics, University of Cambridge
Dr John Marshall
Neuropsychology Unit,The Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford
Professor Wilga Rivers
Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
Professor Sheldon Rosenberg
Department of Psychology, University of Illinois
Professor Klaus Scherer
Department of Psychology, University of Geneva
Professor Roland Sussex
Department of Russian, University of Melbourne
Professor Jan Svartvik
Department of English, Lund University
Professor Michael Twyman
Department of Typography and Graphic Communication,
University of Reading

The late Professor C. F. and Professor F. M. Voegelin


Department of Anthropology, Indiana University
Preface

My purpose in writing this book is to celebrate and it is my hope that this encyclopedia will play

the existence of human language, and to provide itspart in helping to develop a climate where people
a tribute to those who engage in its study. Its aim will sense the importance of language in the indivi-
isto illustrate the enormous diversity of the world's dual and in society, and act accordingly.
languages, and the great range, complexity, and I have used the term 'encyclopedia', but not with-

beauty of expression that can be encountered in out misgivings: if there were a term for 'embryo
any of them, whether spoken by millions or by encyclopedia', it would be better. The subject of
hundreds - from the most polished formulations language is truly vast, and it is possible only to
of respected literature to the most routine utter- make a start in 480 pages. In particular, because
ances of everyday conversation. At the same time, my background is in linguistics, I am conscious
I want to convey something of the fascination and of paying insufficient attention to other traditions
value of linguistic research, which has led to in- of thinking and research, such as in philosophy,
numerable general findings about language struc- psychology, and artificial intelligence. Also,
ture, development, and use, and which has although I write from a linguistic point of view,
prompted so many important applications in rela- this book is not an introduction to linguistics: I
tion to the problems of the individual and society. have stopped short of a discussion of the many
The book therefore operates on two levels. It approaches to the analysis of language that linguis-
reflects the kind of interest in language history and tics provides, and I give few technical details about
behaviour that we encounter daily as we argue over theoretical differences, hoping that my references
the history of a word's meaning or listen in fascina- will provide sources for those who wish to enquire
tion to a young child's early attempts to talk. At into these matters further.
the same time, it reflects a deeper level of interest, This is just one of many apologies scattered
arising out of our attempt to make sense of what throughout the book. Facts about the use of lan-
we observe, and to find patterns and principles in guage are extremely difficult to come by, and, when
it - an interest that can lead to a professional career obtained, fall quickly out of date. Language
in linguistic research or in one of the language- changes rapidly, as do the techniques and theories
related professions, such as language teaching or that scholars devise to study it. On the other hand,
therapy. few books can have been written with such an
have certain practical aims also. I hope the book
I optimistic outlook — thanks largely to the backing
will help promote an informed awareness of the and enthusiasm of the team of editorial advisors
complexity of human language, draw attention to appointed by Cambridge University Press. To
the range of human problems that have a linguistic know that one's plans and material will be scruti-
cause or solution, and emphasize the fact that nized by scholars of such eminence is immensely
people have language rights which should not be reassuring, and I have benefitted immeasurably
neglected. Earlier this year, in fact, I received a copy from their advice while the book was being written.
of a plea for a 'Declaration of Individual Linguistic I am therefore delighted to acknowledge my debt

Rights', sponsored by Francisco Gomes de Matos of gratitude to these advisors: it has been a privilege
of the Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, to have their support, and I hope the result does
Brazil. The plea points to the widespread occur- them no disservice. Needless to say, the responsi-
rence of linguistic prejudice and discrimination bility for what remains is mine alone.
around the world, and to the problems people face Finally, it is my pleasant duty to thank members
when they wish to receive special help in language of the Department of Linguistic Science, University
learning and use. All people have the right to use of Reading, and of the Centre for Information on
their mother tongue, to learn a second language, Language Teaching, London, for help in research-
to receive special treatment when suffering from ing aspects of the work; the editorial and design
a language handicap but in many parts of the
. . . staff of the Press, for their invaluable advice during
world, these rights are absent or inadequately pro- the period of this book's preparation; and, above
visioned. Only concentrated public attention on the all, the support and assistance of my wife, Hilary,
issues will promote the recognition of such rights, in helping this project come to fruition.

DAVID CRYSTAL

PREFACE • vii
PARTI
Popular ideas about language

Why does language provide such a fascinating like us; therefore they aren't like us; therefore they
object of study? Perhaps because of its unique role don't like us.' This is the kind of logic that the
in capturing the breadth of human thought and information in this book seeks to deny.
endeavour. We look around us, and are awed by But such a world is way off. The world
a long
the variety of several thousand languages and dia- we currently see displays many signs of linguistic
lects, expressing a multiplicity of world views, liter- intolerance and tension. They appear most notice-
atures, and ways of life. We look back at the ably in the language riots of India or Belgium, and
thoughts of our predecessors, and find we can see in the disfiguredroad signs of Wales or northern
only as far as language lets us see. We look forward Spain; but they are present in more subtle ways,
in time, and find we can plan only through lan- in the unmotivated preservation of traditional pur-
guage. We look outward in space, and send sym- istlinguistic practices in many schools, and in the
bols of communication along with our spacecraft, regular flow of complaints on the world's radio
who we are,
to explain in case there is anyone there channels and in the press about other people's
who wants to know. usage.
Alongside this, there is the importance we attach opening part of this book, therefore, we
In the
to language, as a means of understanding ourselves look the most important ideas that have
at
and our society, and of resolving some of the prob- influenced the nature of popular opinion about lan-
lems and tensions that arise from human inter- guage, in both 'civilized' and 'uncivilized' societies.
action. No sector of society is unaffected, and all We begin with the idea of correctness, and the his-
can benefit from the study of the linguistic factors torical development of prescriptive attitudes to lan-
that constitute a barrier, as well as a means of com- guage. We look at the desire to keep language
munication. But linguistic problems rarely admit 'pure', as encountered in the movements in support
simple solutions, and it is this elementary observa- of language academies, and the general concern
tion that has led to the present work. over linguistic change. We address the proposition
The main aim of this encyclopedia is to provide that all languages are equal, in the face of the wide-
information about all aspects of language structure spread view that some are more equal than others.
and use, so that the complex forces which act upon This is followed by a discussion of popular beliefs
language, and upon the people who use it, will be about the magical and mystical power of language,
more readily understood. The work is founded on and a general investigation of the wide range of
the belief that the systematic analysis and discus- functions that language performs in everyday life.
sion of language in an objective way is an essential Part I then concludes by considering the intriguing
step forward towards any world in which mutual but intricate question of the relationship between
respect and tolerance is a reality. 'They don't speak language and thought.

The cultural diversity of language, as reflected in a disputa-


tionbetween three medieval doctors (an engraving by
Marcantonio Raimondi), a ritual debate among Rotinese
elders, and a confrontation between human beings and their
computer database.
1 The prescriptive tradition

At the beginning of any book on language, readers


Prescriptivism
have a distinct advantage over the author. More
than in most areas of enquiry, they already 'know' In most general sense, prescriptivism is the view
its

the subject, in the sense that they already speak that one variety of language has an inherently
and read a language. Moreover, because in modern higher value than others, and that this ought to
societies linguistic skills are highly valued, many be imposed on the whole of the speech community.
readers will have definite views about the nature The view is propounded especially in relation to
of language and how it should function. This is grammar and vocabulary, and frequently with
not the usual state of mind of someone who opens reference to pronunciation. The variety which is
an encyclopedia on, say, astronomy, Roman myth- favoured, in this account, is usually a version of
ology, or physics. the 'standard' written language, especially as
We must therefore begin our investigation by encountered in literature, or in the formal spoken
looking at the main opinions and beliefs people language which most closely reflects this style. Ad- George Orwell (1903-50)
already hold about language as a result of the nor- herents to this variety are said to speak or write In Politics and the English

mal processes of education and social development. 'correctly'; deviations from it are said to be 'incor- Language (1 947), Orwell
lists six rules 'that one can
These views will provide a frame of reference fami- rect'.
rely on when instinct fails'.
liar to many readers, and they will also act as a All the main European languages have been stu- These rules were not written
point of departure for the detailed, systematic, and died prescriptively, especially in the 18th century with literary or scientific
objective study of the subject in the following approach to the writing of grammars and dictio- language in mind, but with
the everyday need to foster
pages. naries. The aims of these early grammarians were
language as an instrument
threefold: (a) they wanted to codify the principles forexpressing and not for
AN EMOTIONAL SUBJECT of their languages, to show that there was a system concealing or preventing
It isnot easy to be systematic and objective about beneath the apparent chaos of usage, (b) they thought'. In this way, Orwell
hoped, it would be possible
language study. Popular linguistic debate regularly wanted a means of settling disputes over usage,
to halt the decline in the
deteriorates into invective and polemic. Language (c) they wanted to point out what they felt to be
language, which he saw as
belongs to everyone; so most people feel they have common errors, in order to 'improve' the language. intimately connected with the
a right to hold an opinion about it. And when opi- The authoritarian nature of the approach is best political chaos' of the time.
nions differ, emotions can run high. Arguments can characterized by its reliance on 'rules' of grammar. 1 Never use a metaphor, si-
flare as easily over minor points of usage as over Some usages are 'prescribed', to be learnt and fol- mile or other figure of speech
major policies of linguistic planning and education lowed accurately; others are 'proscribed', to be which you are used to seeing
in print.
(§61). avoided. In this early period, there were no half-
2 Never use a long word
Language, moreover, is a very public behaviour, measures: usage was either right or wrong, and when a short one will do.
so that it is easy for different usages to be noted it was the task of the grammarian not simply to 3 If it is possible to cut a
and criticized. No part of society or social be- record alternatives, but to pronounce judgment word out, always cut it out.
4 Never use the passive
haviour is exempt: linguistic factors influence our upon them.
where you can use the ac-
judgments of personality, intelligence, social status, These attitudes are still with us, and they moti-
tive.
educational standards, job aptitude, and many vate a widespread concern that linguistic standards 5 Never use a foreign
other areas of identity and social survival. As a should be maintained. Nevertheless, there is an phrase, a scientific word or a
result, it is easy to hurt, and to be hurt, when lan- alternative point of view that is concerned less with jargon word if you can think

of an everyday English equi-


guage use is unfeelingly attacked. 'standards' than with the facts of linguistic usage.
valent.
The American linguist Leonard Bloomfield This approach is summarized in the statement that 6 Break any of these rules
(1887-1949) discussed this situation in terms of it is the task of the grammarian to describe, not sooner than say anything
three levels of response people give to language. prescribe — to record the facts of linguistic diversity, outright barbarous.

The 'primary response' is actual usage. 'Secondary and not to attempt the impossible tasks of evaluat- (See further, p. 378.)

responses' are the views we have about language, ing language variation or halting language change.
often expressed in some kind of terminology. 'Ter- In the second half of the 18th century, we already
tiary responses' are the feelings which flare up when find advocates of this view, such as Joseph Priestley,
anyone dares to question these views. Bloomfield whose Rudiments of English Grammar (1761)
tells the story of visiting a doctor who was quite insists that 'the custom of speaking is the original
firm in his view that the Amerindian language and only just standard of any language'. Linguistic
Chippewa had only a few hundred words (p. 6). issues, it is argued, cannot be solved by logic and
When Bloomfield attempted to dispute the point, legislation. And this view has become the tenet of
the doctor turned away and refused to listen. Irra- the modern linguistic approach to grammatical
tional responses of this kind are unfortunately all analysis.
too common; but everyone is prone to them — In our own time, the opposition between 'des-
linguist and non-linguist alike. criptivists' and 'prescriptivists' has often become

2 •
I POPULAR IDEAS ABOUT LANGUAGE
extreme, with both sides painting unreal pictures
of the other. Descriptive grammarians have been
presented as people who do not care about stan- Where traditional grammatical rules come
dards, because of the way they see all forms of
usage as equally valid. Prescriptive grammarians from
have been presented as blind adherents to a histori-
Example of a
cal tradition. The opposition has even been pre- prescriptive rule Descriptive comment
sented in quasi-political terms — of radical
Latin and Greek
liberalism vs elitist conservatism.
The unchanging form of these You should say or write The Latin rule is not universal. In
If these stereotypes abandoned, we can see
ar< languages, the high prestige they It is I and not me, It is Arabic, for example, be is

that both approaches are important, and have more held in European education, and the because the verb be is followed bv the accusative. In
undisputed brilliance of classical followed by the English, me is the educated
in common than is often realized — involving a literature led to their adoption as nominative case in informal norm; / is felt to be very
mutual interest in such matters as acceptability, models of linguistic excellence by Latin, not the formal. In French, only moi is
grammarians of other languages. accusative. possible (c'est moi, etc.)
ambiguity, and intelligibility. The descriptive
approach is essential because it is the only way The written language
Writing is more careful, prestigious You should say and Whom is common in writing, and
in which the competing claims of different stan- whom and not
and permanent than speech, write in formal styles of speech; but
dards can be reconciled: when we know the facts especially in the context of who, in such sentences who is more acceptable in

of language use, we are in a better position to avoid literature.People are therefore often as — did you speak to? informal speech. The rules which
told to speak as they would write. govern acceptable speech and
the idiosyncrasies of private opinions, and to make writing are often very different.
realisticrecommendations about teaching or style. Logic
The prescriptive approach provides a focus for the Many people feel that grammar You shouldn't say / Here, two negatives do not make
should be judged insofar as it haven't done nothing a positive, but a more emphatic
sense of linguistic values which everyone possesses,
follows the principles of logic. because two negatives negative— a construction which is
and which ultimately forms part of our view of Mathematics, from this viewpoint, make a positive. found in many languages (e.g.
social structure, and of our own place within it. is the ideal use of language. French, Russian). The example is

not acceptable in standard


After 200 years of perhaps sanguine
dispute, it is
English, but this is the result of
to expect any immediate rapport to be achieved, social factors, not the dictates of

but there are some grounds for optimism, now that logic.

sociolinguists (p. 410) are beginning to look more


seriously at prescriptivism in the context of
explaining linguistic attitudes, uses, and beliefs.

Murray's Grammar Left: Lindley Murray (1745-1826)

One of the most influential and artificial, Latinate analy-


grammars of the 1 8th cen- sis which was to fuel two
was Robert Lowth's
tury centuries of argument. In
ENGLISH GRAMMAR,
Short Introduction to English Rule 1 6, for example, we find
Grammar (1 762). This was the negation principle illus- ADAPTED TO THE
the inspiration for Lindley trated: Two negatives, in

Murray's widely used English English, destroy one


Grammar^ 794). Both gram- another, or are equivalent to DIFFERENT CLASSES OF LEARNERS.
mars went through over 20 an affirmative.'
editions in the decades fol- Murray's rules were widely
lowing publication. taught, and formed the basis
Murray's book had an for much of the linguistic pur-
enormous influence on ism still encountered today.
AN APPENDIX,
school practice and popular However, they were also fier- CONTAINING
attitudes, especially in the cely attacked. One writer in
tULt! AtB OlSMrjTIOXS,
USA. His alliterative axiom the American Journal of Edu-
contains several watchwords cation (in 1 826) compares rot ASSISTING THC MOtl ADVASCID tTVDCXr:
of prescriptivism: 'Perspi- the grammar to a foreign to iriiTE trim ntincurrr jsd jccvticr.
cuity requires the qualities of rack on which our simple lan-
purity, propriety and preci- guage has been stretched'.
sion'. Another 833) insists that
(in 1

Some of Murray's general grammarians should dis-


linguistic principles were un- cover'and not 'invent' rules. Br LINDLEY MURRAY.
exceptionable, such as Long before the advent of
Keep clear of double mean- modern linguistics, the battle THE NINTH EDITION,
ing or ambiguity' and 'Avoid lines of both descriptivism WITH COKRICTIONI AND ADDITION}.
unintelligible words or and prescriptivism had been
phrases.' But most of his clearly established.
analyses, and the detailed gojfc:
principles of his Appendix, fntwed bf T. Witea nd r. Speace, Hjr>-Ou«en«, .D©" 1 ty 5*»*ee*

'Rules and observations for *0* LONGMAN AND HIS, t ATCINOSTtft.ftO W DAtTOV ;

AMD HAIVIT, GB ACI.CHDSCH JTKIIT, LONDON


promoting perspicuity in j

AND WILSON AND 1PINCK, YORK.


speaking and writing', con- Right: Murray's English 1804.
tain the kind of arbitrary rule Grammar Priee bouod, Amy, 5*. 64. ... h> eim bout*, twfw/m r^f, 5$.

1 THE PRESCRIPTIVE TRADITION •


3
the reputation of the members of this academy
The academies
would be enough to make them the allowed judges of
Some felt that the best way to look
countries have style and language; and no author would have the
after a language is to place it in the care of an impudence to coin without their authority There . . .

academy. In Italy, the Accademia della Crusca was should be no more occasion to search for derivations
founded as early as 1582, with the object of purify- and constructions, and it would be as criminal then to
ing the Italian language. In France, in 1635, Cardi- coin words as money.

nal Richelieu established the Academie francaise, In 1712, Jonathan Swift presented his Proposal for
which set the pattern for many subsequent bodies. Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the Eng-
The statutes of the Academie define as its principal lish Tongue, in which he complains to the Lord
function: Treasurer of England, the Earl of Oxford, that
to labour with all possible care and diligence to give our language extremely imperfect; that its daily
is
our language, and to render it pure,
definite rules to improvements are by no means in proportion to its daily Daniel Defoe
eloquent, and capable of treating the arts and sciences. corruptions; that the pretenders to polish and refine it (16607-1731)
have chiefly multiplied abuses and absurdities; and that
The 40 academicians were drawn from the ranks
in many instances it offends against every part of
of the church, nobility, and military - a bias which grammar.
continues to the present day. The Academie's first
dictionary appeared in 1694. His academy would 'fix our language for ever', for,

Several other academies were founded in the I am of the opinion, it is better a language should not
1 8th and 1 9th centuries. The Spanish Academy was be wholly perfect, than it should be perpetually
founded in 1713 by Philip V, and within 200 years changing.
corresponding bodies had been set up in most
The idea received a great deal of support at the
South American Spanish countries. The Swedish was done. And in due course,
time, but nothing
Academy was founded in 1786; the Hungarian in opposition to the notion grew. It became evident
1830. There are three Arabic academies, in Syria,
that the French and Italian academies had been
Iraq, and Egypt. The Hebrew Language Academy
unsuccessful in stopping the course of language
was set up more recently, in 1953. change. Dr Johnson, in the Preface to his Diction- Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
In England, a proposal for an academy was made
ary, is under no illusion about the futility of an
in the 17th century, with the support of such men
academy, especially in England, where he finds 'the
as John Dryden and Daniel Defoe. In Defoe's view,
spirit of English liberty' contrary to the whole idea:

When we see men grow old and die at a certain time


one after another, century after century, we laugh at
the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand
years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be
derided, who being able to produce no example of a
nation that has preserved their words and phrases from
mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm
his language, and secure it from corruption, and decay,
that it is in his power to change sublunary nature, or
clear the world at once from folly, vanity, and
affectation.

From time to time, the idea of an English Academy


continues to be voiced, but the response has never

CRQ< been enthusiastic. A similar proposal in the USA


was also rejected. By contrast, since the 18th cen-
tury, there has been an increasing flow of individual
grammars, dictionaries, and manuals of style in all
parts of the English-speaking world.
Kippers sur toast? Adver- In 1977, the French went so
tisementslike this could be far as to pass a law banning
found, with the appropriate the use of English loan
language change, in almost words in official contexts, if
any European city. They an equivalent word exists in
Language change
illustrate the way English has French - but it is a law ho- The phenomenon of language change probably
permeated public life, noured more in the breach
attracts more public notice and criticism than any
despite the efforts of many than in the observance.
countries to stop it. The Ger- Whether one approves or other linguistic issue. There is a widely held belief
man post example,
office, for not, theacademies seem to that change must mean deterioration and decay.
insisted for many years that be no match for Franglais, Older people observe the casual speech of the
Fernsprecher should be Angleutsch, Swedlish,
young, and conclude that standards have fallen
used on phone booths, Spanglish, and all the other
though Telefon was far more hybrids which have become markedly. They place the blame in various quarters
common in speech; but in so noticeable in recent years - most often in the schools, where patterns of lan-
1 981 they made the change. (§§55,61). guage education have changed a great deal in recent

4 •
I POPULAR IDEAS ABOUT LANGUAGE
years (§44), but also in state public broadcasting William Caxton
institutions, where any deviations from traditional
One of the earliest English
norms provide an immediate focus of attack by voices to complain about the
conservative, linguistically sensitive listeners. The problems of linguistic change
concern can even reach national proportions, as was William Caxton (1422?-

in the widespread reaction in Europe against what


91 He was writing at a time
).

when English had under-


is thought of as the 'American' English invasion.
gone its greatest period of
change, which had resulted
UNFOUNDED PESSIMISM in a major shift in pronuncia-

tion, the almost total loss of


It isunderstandable that many people dislike
Anglo-Saxon inflections, and
change, but most of the criticism of linguistic
an enormous influx of new
change is misconceived. It is widely felt that die vocabulary, mainly from
contemporary language illustrates the problem at French:
its worst, but this belief is shared by every gener- And certaynly our language
ation. Moreover, many of the usage issues recur now used varyeth ferre from
across generations: several of the English contro- that whiche was used and
spoken whan was borne
versies which are the focus of current attention can I . .

And that comyn Englysshe


be found in the books and magazines of the 18th that is spoken in one shyre
and 19th centuries - the debate over it's me and varyeth from a nother. In so
very unique, for example. In The Queen's English moche that in my dayes hap-
pened that certayn mar-
(1863), Henry Alford, the Dean of Canterbury, lists
chauntes were in a shippe in
a large number of usage issues which worried his
Tamyse [Thames] for to
contemporaries, and gave them cause to think that have sayled over the see into
the language was rapidly decaying. Most are still Zelande, and for lacke of
with us, with the language not obviously affected. wynde thei taryed atte for-
lond, and wente
to lande for
In the mid- 19th century, it was predicted that society. This requires, among other things, that to refreshethem. And one of
British and American English would be mutually schools have the knowledge and resources to teach theym named Sheffelde, a
unintelligible within 100 years! a common standard, while recognizing the exis- mercer, cam in to an hows
There are indeed cases where linguistic change tence and value of linguistic diversity. Such policies and axed for mete, and spe-
can lead to problems of unintelligibility, ambiguity, cyally he axyd after eggys'.
provide a constructive alternative to the emotional
And good wyf answerde
the
and social division. If change is too rapid, there attacks which are so commonly made against the that she coude speke no
can be major communication problems, as in con- development of new words, meanings, pronuncia- Frenshe. And the marchaunt
temporary Papua New Guinea - a point which tions, and grammatical constructions. But before was angry, for he also coude
needs to be considered in connection with the field speke no Frenshe, but wold
these policies can be implemented, it is necessary
have hadde egges, and she
of language planning (§§55, 61). But as a rule, the to develop a proper understanding of the inevitabi-
understode hym not. And
parts of language which are changing at any given lity and consequences of linguistic change (§54). thenne at last a nother sayd
time are tiny, in comparison to the vast, unchang- Some people go a stage further, and see change that he wolde have 'eyren'.
ing areas of language. Indeed, it is because change in language as a progression from a simple to a Then the good wyf sayd that
she understod hym wel. Loo!
is so infrequent that it is so distinctive and notice- complex state — a view which was common as a
What sholde a man in thyse
able. Some degree of caution and concern is there- consequence of 19th-century evolutionary think- dayes now wryte, egges' or
fore always desirable, in the interests of ing. But there is no evidence for this view. Lan- 'eyren? Certaynly, is harde it

maintaining precise and efficient communication; guages do not develop, progress, decay, evolve, or to playse every man by

but there are no grounds for the extreme pessimism cause of dyversite &
act according to any of the metaphors which imply
chaunge of langage.
and conservatism which is so often encountered a specific endpoint and level of excellence. They
- and which in English is often summed up in such simply change, as society changes. If a language (Preface to Eneydos, 1490;
modernized punctuation)
slogans as 'Let us preserve the tongue that Shake- dies out, it does so because its status alters in
speare spoke.' Caxton's plaint echoes
socLty, as other cultures and languages take over
through the ages, though
its role: it does not die because it has 'got too old',
problems of linguistic change
THE INEVITABILITY OF CHANGE or 'become too complicated', as is sometimes main- have never been so serious
For the most part, language changes because tained. Nor, when languages change, do they move since, with the subsequent

in a predetermined direction. Some are losing standardization of English,


society changes (§10). To stop or control the one
and the spread of the written
requires that we stop or control the other - a task inflections; some are gaining them. Some are mov-
language.
which can succeed to only a very limited extent. ing to an order where the verb precedes the object;
Language change is inevitable and rarely predic- others to an order where the object precedes the
table, and those who try to plan a language's future verb. Some languages are losing vowels and gaining
waste their time if they think otherwise - time consonants; others are doing the opposite. If meta-
which would be better spent in devising fresh ways phors must be used to talk about language change,
of enabling society to cope with the new linguistic one of the best is that of a system holding itself
forms that accompany each generation. These in a state of equilibrium, while changes take place
days, there is in fact a growing recognition of the within it; another is that of the tide, which always
need to develop a greater linguistic awareness and and inevitably changes, but never progresses, while
tolerance of change, especially in a multi-ethnic it ebbs and flows.

I THE PRESCRIPTIVE TRADITION 5


2 The equality of languages

It comes near to stating the obvious that all lan- plex grammar: there may be relative simplicity in The Roman goddess
guages have developed to express the needs of their one respect (e.g. no word-endings), but there seems Fort una, holding a cornuco-

always to be relative complexify in another (e.g. piaand a rudder - an appro-


users, and that in a sense all languages are equal.
priate deity to associate with
But this tenet of modern linguistics has often been word-position). People sometimes think of lan- the uncertain destinies of
denied, and still needs to be defended. Part of the guages such as English as 'having little grammar', languages.
problem is that the word 'equal' needs to be used because there are few word-endings. But this is
very carefully. We do not know how to quantify once again (§1) the unfortunate influence of Latin,
language, so as to be able to say whether all lan- which makes us think of complexity in terms of
guages have the same 'amounts' of grammar, pho- the inflectional system of that language.
nology, or semantic structure (§§16, 17, 28). There Simplicity and regularity are usually thought to
may indeed be important differences in the struc- be desirable features of language; but no natural
tural complexity of language, and this possibility language is simple or wholly regular. All languages
needs to be investigated. But all languages are have intricate grammatical rules, and all have
arguably equal in the sense that there is nothing exceptions to those rules. The nearest we come to
intrinsically limiting, demeaning, or handicapping real simplicity with natural languages is in the case
about any of them. All languages meet the social of pidgin languages (§55); and the desire for regu-
and psychological needs of their speakers, are
equally deserving of scientific study, and can pro-
vide us with valuable information about human
nature and society'. This view is the foundation on
which the whole of the present book is based.

'Primitive' languages
There are, however, several widely held misconcep-
tions about languages which stem from a failure
to recognize this view. The most important of these
is the idea that there are such things as 'primitive'
languages - languages with a simple grammar, a
few sounds, and a vocabulary of only a few
hundred words, whose speakers have to compen-
sate for their language's deficiencies through ges-
tures. Speakers of 'primitive' languages have often Navaho Indian Chief Manulito
been thought to exist, and there has been a great
deal of speculation about where they might live,
and what their problems might be. If they relied Simple savages?
on gestures, how would they be able to communi- Edward Sapir was one of will-give to thee he-or-they- level of abstraction

cate at night? Without abstract terms, how could the first linguists to attack in-future introduced by some
the myth that primitive languages (expressed by
they possibly develop moral or religious beliefs? Southern Palute
peoples spoke primitive round thing and visible) -
In the 19th century, such questions were common, ma^a-vaania-aka-arja-'mi
languages. In one study, quite contrary to the claim
give will visible-thing visible-
and it was widely thought that it was only a matter he compared the gramma- that primitive peoples could
creature thee
of time before explorers would discover a genuinely tical equivalents of the sen- only talk about concrete
tence he will give it (a Yana objects.
primitive language.
stone) to you in six Amer- ba-ja-ma-si-wa-'numa Sapir also gave part of the
The fact of the matter is that every culture which indian languages. (Hy- round-thing away to does-or- fullTakelma verb paradigm:
has been investigated, no matter how 'primitive' phens separate the parts of will done-unto thou-in-future
'okuspi gives gave it to
it may be in cultural terms, turns out to have a the Indian sentences, and
Nootka you
in the literal translations
fully developed language, with a complexity com- o'-yi-'aqx-'at-e'ic 'bspink will give to you
that follow they join words that give will done-unto thou- v 6spi
parable to those of the so-called 'civilized' nations. can give to you
that are equivalent to a
Anthropologically speaking, the human race can art 'bspik evidently gave to
single Indian form. For pho-
Navaho you
be said to have evolved from primitive to civilized netic symbols, see p. 442.)
states, but there is no sign of language having gone n-a-yi-diho-'a'l
Wishram He points out the similarity to
thee to transitive-marker will
through the same kind of evolution (§48). There a-c-i-m-l-ud-a
the way the verb varies in
round-thing-in-future - a comparison which
Latin
are no 'bronze age' or 'stone age' languages, nor will he him thee to give will
Among many fascinating many traditional scholars
have any language types been discovered which Takelma would have considered
features of these complex to
correlate with recognized anthropological groups 'ok-t-xpi-nk grammatical forms, note the verge on blasphemy!
(pastoral, nomadic, etc.). All languages have a com-

6 •
I POPULAR IDEAS ABOUT LANGUAGE
major motivation
-

larity is a for the development Nationalism In the 1 8th and

of auxiliary languages (§58). But these are the only 19th centuries, language
evaluations were often tied
exceptions. Similarly, there is no evidence to sug-
to questions of national iden-
gest that some languages are in the long term 'easier tity (§9), especially in
for children to learn' than others - though in the

^
Germany, in a school of

short term some linguistic features may be learned thought which can be traced
at different rates by the children of speakers of dif-
back to the view of Johann
Herder: 'Has a nation any-
ferent languages (Part vm). thing more precious than the
None of this is to deny the possibility of linguistic language of its fathers?'
differences which correlate with cultural or social Johann Gottlieb Fichte
features (such as the extent of technological devel- (1762-1814) praised the
opment), but these have not been found; and there M German language, and
missed others, in his
dis-

is no evidence to suggest that primitive peoples are


Addresses to the German
in any sense 'handicapped' by their language when
they are using it within their own community. ^^A Nation (1 807), even to the
extent of claiming that the
native German speaker 'can
always be superior to the

Languages of excellence foreigner and understand

At the other end of the from so-called 'primi-


scale
tive' languages are opinions about the 'natural
r^x him fully, even
the foreigner understands
himself. But comparable
better than

claims were made for French


superiority' of certain languages. Latin and Greek
and Spanish; and English
were for centuries viewed as models of excellence was similarly lauded by
in western Europe because of the literature and Thomas Macaulay (1800-
thought which these languages expressed; and the 59): in his Minute on Educa-
tion (1 835), referring to the
study of modern languages is still influenced by
languages of India, he wrote
the practices of generations of classical linguistic Johann Herder (1744-1803) that English 'stands pre-
scholars (p. 374). eminent even among the
The idea that one's own
language is superior to attitudes in presenting the view that in Paradise languages of the West ... It
others is widespread, but the reasons given for the Adam spoke Danish, God spoke Swedish, and the may safely be said that the
literature now extant in that
superiority vary greatly. A language might be serpent spoke French. language is of greater value
viewed as the oldest, or the most logical, or the than all the literature which
language of gods, or simply the easiest to pro- A LINGUISTIC MYTH three hundred years ago was
extant in all the languages of
nounce or the best for singing. Arabic speakers, A belief that some languages are intrinsically su-
the world together.'
for example, feel that their classical language is perior to others widespread, but it has no basis
is

the most beautiful and logical, with an incompar- in linguistic fact. Some languages are of course
able grammatical symmetry and lexical richness. more useful or prestigious than others, at a given
Classical Arabic is strongly identified with religion period of history, but this is due to the preeminence
(p. 384), as the language of the Qur'an is held to of the speakers at that time, and not to any inherent
provide miraculous evidence of the truth of Islam. linguistic characteristics. The view of modern
From this viewpoint, it would be self-evident that, linguistics is that a language should not be valued
as God chose Arabic as the vehicle of his revelation on the economic influence
basis of the political or
to his Prophet, this must be the language used in of its speakers. were otherwise, we would have
If it
heaven, and thus must be superior to all others. to rate the Spanish and Portuguese spoken in the
However, a similar argument has been applied 16th century as somehow 'better' than they are
to several other languages, such as Sanskrit and today, and modern American English would be
Classical Hebrew, especially in relation to claims 'better' than British English. Yet when we make
about which language is the oldest (§49). For such comparisons, we find only a small range of
example, J. G. Becanus (1518-72) argued that Ger- linguistic differences, and nothing to warrant such
man was other languages. It was
superior to all sweeping conclusions.
the language Adam spoke in Eden, but it was not At present, it is not possible to rate the excellence
affected in the Babel event, because the early Ger- of languages in linguistic terms. And it is no less
mans (the Cimbrians) did not assist in the construc- difficult to arrive at an evaluation in aesthetic,
tion of the tower. God later caused the Old philosophical, literary, religious, or cultural terms.
Testament to be translated from the original Ger- How, ultimately, could we compare the merits of
man (no longer extant) into Hebrew. Latin and Greek with the proverbial wisdom of
There have been many other spurious linguistic Chinese, the extensive oral literature of the Polyne-
evaluations, reflecting the sociopolitical situation sian islands, or the depth of scientific knowledge
of the time. Charles V of Germany (who ruled from which has been expressed in English? Perhaps one
1519 to 1558) is said to have
spoken French to day some kind of objective linguistic evaluation
men,Italian to women, Spanish to God, and Ger- measure will be devised; but until then, the thesis
man to horses! The Swedish writer, Andreas that some languages are intrinsically better than
Kempe (1622-89), satirized contemporary clerical others has to be denied.

2 THE EQUALITY OF LANGUAGES •


7
3 The magic of language

The magical influence of language is a theme which exist in all known cultures, referring to certain acts,
reverberates throughout the literatures and legends objects, or relationships which society wishes to
of the world. Language, especially in its written avoid — and thus to the language used to talk about
form, is thought to contain special powers, which them. Verbal taboos are generally related to sex,
only the initiated are allowed to understand or con- the supernatural, excretion, and death, but quite
trol. The beliefs are often linked to a myth about often they extend to other aspects of domestic and
the divine origins of language (§49), but they social life. For example, certain animals may be
extend beyond this, to influence religious activities considered taboo: the Zuni of New Mexico prohi-
of all kinds, and to reflect a widespread primitive bit the use of the word takka ('frogs') during cere-
superstition about objects and events which have monies; until recently, many southern Americans
a symbolic meaning and use. avoided the word bull in polite speech, replacing
The belief that words control objects, people, it by a euphemism, such as he-cow or male beast;

and spirits can be seen in the use of magical formu- in Lappish and Yakuts, the original name for bear

lae, and many other


incantations, litanies of names, is replaced by such phrases as our lord or good

rites in black and white magic and in organized father; and wolves, weasels, rats, lice, snakes, and
religion. The language is thought to be able to cure many other animals have been given name-taboos
sickness, keep evil away, bring good to oneself and by various cultures. Even people can be affected:
harm to an enemy. Such language usually has to certain members of the family are considered taboo
be used with great exactitude, if an effect is to be among Australian aborigines; either a special
obtained: meticulous attention is paid to pronun- language has to be used to them, or they are not A Jewish boy wearing
phylacteries (Hebrew
ciation, phraseology, and verbal tradition (a factor directly addressed at all (§10).
tefillin) These are a pair of
which appears, most notably, in the history of The use of a taboo word can lead to a variety small leather boxes contain-
Sanskrit and Massoretic Hebrew). There often has of sayings, practices and responses. The mention ing scriptural passages, tra-

to be a great deal of repetition, in order to intensify of a devil or unclean spirit can evoke a verbal or ditionallyworn by male Jews
over 1 3 years of age, as a re-
the power of the words. The language, however, physical reaction, such as a divine invocation, or
minder of God's Law. They
does not have to be intelligible to have its effect: the sign of the cross. An obscenity can be the cause are worn on the left arm fac-
many magical formulae are meaningless to those of shocked recrimination ('go and wash your ing the heart, and on the
who use them, but there is still great belief in their mouth out'), physical violence (especially if 'ladies' forehead during morning
efficacy (p. 11). are present), or legal action (as in the trial over weekday prayers. The bands
of the phylacteries are knot-
Cases of abound. To
linguistic superstition the publication of the unexpurgated D. H. Law-
ted so as to form the Hebrew
primitive peoples, the written language must rence novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover (p. 61)). The letters daleth, yod and shin,
appear to be omniscient, when encountered for the influence of taboo words can even extend across which form the divine name
first time. Several stories
of illiterate people
tell language boundaries. It has been noted that Creek Shaddai
stealing an object from a parcel, and being found Indians avoid their native words for 'earth' and
out when they delivered the message which accom- 'meat' {fdkki and apiswa respectively) because of
panied it. The
writing, it would seem, had a voice their phonetic resemblance to English taboo words,
of its own -
or perhaps a god lived in the letters. which is the dominant language around them. A
Such ideas are found throughout history. The similar phenomenon has been recorded with Thai
search for mystical meaning in alphabetic script learners of English, where English yet closely
can be seen in the use of runic charms, or in the resembles Thai jed (an impolite word for 'to have
systems, still in use, which relate letters to numbers, intercourse'). And Chinese people called Li (a com-
such as gematria (p. 61). mon family name) can find their name a source
At another level, the mystique of language is of embarrassment in Rangoon, in view of the Bur-
something which we encounter throughout mese word li ('phallus').
modern society, especially in the field of advertising The usual way of coping with taboo words and
(pp.386— 9). Conquerors, too, well know the notions is to develop euphemisms and circumlocu-
power that exists in words. Napoleon, it is said, tions. Hundreds of words and phrases have
preferred newspapers to battalions. And what bet- emerged to express basic biological functions, and
ter way is there to remove a nation's influence than talk about death has its own linguistic world, with
to burn its writings? Cortez did this to the Aztecs its morticians, caskets, and innumerable ways of

in 1520; and the Nazis and Allies did it to each dying. English examples include to pass on, pass
other in World War II. over, make one's bow, kick the bucket, snuff the
candle, go aloft, and cut the painter. French has
VERBAL TABOOS fermer son parapluie ('to close one's umbrella'),
The word taboo has been borrowed from Tongan. the indescribably final n 'avoir plus mal aux dents
where it means 'holv' or 'untouchable'. Taboos ('to have no more toothache'), and many more.

8 •
I POPULAR IDEAS ABOUT LANGUAGE
PROPER NAMES Death can lead to major taboo effects on the
The use of words as personal labels is a matter use of names. Often, the names of the dead are
of particular significance - a fact which is early not to be uttered - though this may well be out
learned by children, who are often anxious to con- of fear rather than respect: while a name endures,
ceal their own names, and who so easily hurt, and it is believed, the dead person does also, and those

are hurt, by name-calling. Many primitive people who utter the name bring the evil of death upon
do not like to hear their name used, especially in themselves. In some cultures (such as the Polyne-
unfavourable circumstances, for they believe that sian), therefore,when a person dies, other people The name of God
the whole of their being resides in it, and they may of the same name have to be renamed, or, if the The true name God, or of
of
thereby fall under the influence of others. The name happens to correspond to a word in the lan- individual gods, is a closely
danger is even greater in tribes (in Australia and guage, that word would have to be changed. By guarded secret in many cul-
New Zealand, for example), where people are contrast, some cultures (such as the Greenlandic) tures, if indeed it is known at
all. The real names of Allah
given two names - a 'public' name, for general place great store by the name of the dead person,
and Confucius are secret, as
use, and a 'secret' name, which is known only to who isthought to be unable to rest in peace, unless were the names of many
God, or to the closest members of their group. To a child has been named after him. In yet others, Egyptian deities.
get to know a secret name is to have total power if a child dies, the next by the same mother will Observant Jews do not
pronounce the divine name
over its owner. be called by some evil name, to show the death
as occurred in the Hebrew
it

The Todas of southern India dislike uttering their spirit that the child is not worth bothering about.
of the Old Testament. It was
own names, if they are asked
to the extent that, Sophisticated societies have had their supersti- written with four consonants,
for their ask someone else to give
name, they will tions too. In the Roman levies, the authorities took YHWH (the tetragramma-
it. The Sakalavas of Madagascar do not communi- good care to enrol those men who had auspi-
first ton), vowel points not being
written in pre-Massoretic He-
cate their own name, or the name of their village, cious names, such as Victor and Felix. The names
brew (p. 202). In reading
to strangers, in case mischievous use should be of Greek gods were carved on stone and sunk in aloud, the forms 'Adonai or
made of it. In folklore, there are many examples the sea, to guard against profanation. In Plato's 'Elohim are substituted. The
of forbidden names which, when discovered, break Cratylus, the debaters worry about using the names form Yahweh is a scholarly
attempt at reconstruction, in-
the evil power of their owners - Tom-tit-tot, Varga- of gods as etymological examples (p. 404), and in
terpreting its meaning as part
luska, Rumpelstiltskin. the Christian era there are long-standing prohibi-
of the verb to be', to give the
The process of personal naming can even affect tions over taking the name of the Lord 'in vain' the One who Is'. The
title

thewhole of a language. Stories are common of (p. 61). Older Hebrew names usually had mean- name Jehovah has been
tribal chiefs who change their name when they take ings, such as Nathaniah ('Yahweh has given') or traced back only to the 1 4th
century: it is reached by in-
office, as a resultof which any everyday words Azzan ('Strong'). When Adrian VI became pope,
serting the vowels of Adonai
which resemble that name have to be replaced, so he was advised not to retain his own name on under the tetragrammaton,
that the name will not be used in inauspicious cir- the grounds that all popes who had done so had and arose from a misreading
cumstances. It is when
reported, for example, that died in the first year of their reign. People in the by Christian scholars of the
two sources as one word. It
Queen Rasoherina of the Anemerina tribe in Mada- 20th century may find it easy to dismiss such atti-
is thus not of Scriptural ori-
gascar came to the throne, the word sopherina ('silk tudes, but things have not greatly changed. It is
gin, and the true pronuncia-
worm') was forbidden, and replaced by zana dandy unlikely that popular opinion would ever allow a tion of YHWH is now quite
('silk's child'). new ship to be named Titanic. lost.

Out with the old, in with the new


The mystique words canof (1980), with its capital city
affect place names too, as Salisbury renamed Harare
a country searches to re- (1982); Dahomey has be-
place forms which have un- come Benin (1975), French
happy associations. In Sudan has become Mali
1868, Edo was renamed (1960), and Gold Coast
Tokyo ('eastern resi- has become Ghana (1 957).
dence'), symbolizing a new
period in Japanese history.
St Petersburg became
Petrograd and then Len-
ingrad; Christiania became
Oslo. It is common practice
for new nations to change
their names, or the names
of their major cities, to sym-
bolize their independence
and freedom from imperia-
list influence. Thus in re-

cent times in Africa, for ex-


ample, we have seen
Upper Volta change its The old and new Japan:
name to Burkina Faso two contrasting towers in
was
(1985); Rhodesia re- Kyoto. In the foreground is
named as Zimbabwe the Toji temple.

3 THE MAGIC OF LANGUAGE •


9
4 The functions of language

The question 'Why do we use language?' seems many literary devices of grammar and vocabulary
hardly to require an answer. But, as is often the which convey the writer's feelings (§12). However,
way with linguistic questions, our everyday fam- in these more complex cases it becomes difficult
iliarity with speech and writing can make it difficult to distinguish the emotional function of language
to appreciate the complexity of the skills we have from the 'ideational' function described above.
learned. This is particularly so when we try to
define the range of functions to which language
Social interaction
can be put.
'To communicate our ideas' is the usual answer Mrs P sneezes violently. Mrs Q says 'Bless you!'
to the question — and, indeed, this must surely be Mrs P says 'Thank you.' Again, this hardly seems
the most widely recognized function of language. to be a case of language being used to communicate
Whenever we tell people about ourselves or our ideas, but rather tomaintain a comfortable relation-
circumstances, or ask for information about other ship between people. Its sole function is to provide
selves and circumstances, we are using language a means of avoiding a situation which both parties
in order to exchange facts and opinions. The use might otherwise find embarrassing. No factual con-
of language is often called 'referential', 'prop- tent is involved. Similarly, the use of such phrases
ositionaP, or 'ideational'. It is the kind of language as Good morning or Pleased to meet you, and ritual
which will be found throughout this encyclopedia exchanges about health or the weather, do not
— and in any spoken or written interaction where 'communicate ideas' in the usual sense.
people wish to learn from each other. But it would Sentences of this kind are usually automatically
be wrong to think of it as the only way in which produced, and stereotyped in structure. They often
we use language. Language scholars have identified state the obvious (e.g. Lovely day) or have no con-
several other functions where the communication tent at all (e.g. Hello). They certainly require a
of ideas is a marginal or irrelevant consideration. special kind of explanation, and this is found in
the idea that languageis here being used for the

purpose of maintaining rapport between people.


The anthropologist Bronistaw Malinowski
Emotional expression (1884—1942) coined the phrase 'phatic commu-
Mr X carefully leans his walking stick against a nion' to refer to this social function of language,
wall, but it falls over. He tries again, and it falls which arises out of the basic human need to signal
a second time. Mr X roundly curses the walking friendship — or, at least, lack of enmity. For
stick. How should we classify this function of lan- someone to withhold these sentences when they
guage? cannot be 'communication of ideas', for
It are expected, by staying silent, is a sure sign of
there no-one else in the room.
is distance, alienation, even danger.
Here we have one of the commonest uses of lan- These illustrations apply to English and to many
guage — a means of getting rid of our nervous European languages. But cultures vary greatly in
energy when we are under stress. It is the clearest the topics which they permit as phatic communion.
case of what is often called an 'emotive' or 'expres- The weather is not as universal a conversation-filler
sive' function of language. Emotive language can as the English might
like to think! For example,
be used whether or not we are alone. Swear words Rundi women Burundi, Central Africa), upon
(in
and obscenities are probably the commonest sig- taking leave, are quite often heard to say, routinely
nals to be used in this way, especially when we and politely, 'I must go home now, or my husband
are in an angry or frustrated state (p. 61). But there
are also many emotive utterances of a positive kind,
such as our involuntary verbal reactions to beauti-
Sneezing in Tonga
ful art or scenery, our expression of fear and affec-
When someone sneezes, is kuma (be well'); and in sneeze should be thinking
the English stock response Malagasy, velona
it is about nothing, instead of
tion, and the emotional outpourings of certain
is Bless you. But there is no ('alive'). In Tonga, a about the one who has
kinds of poetry. equivalent to such forms in sneeze is often taken to be sneezed. A major differ-
The most common linguistic expressions of emo- many languages, and any a sign that your loved one ence with English is that
tion consist of conventional words or phrases (such remarks which might be is missing you. It is quite the person who has
made can have a totally common for someone to sneezed may utter the
as Gosh, My, Darn it, and What a sight) and the different meaning and func- say jokingly, after a phrase - a kind of Bless
semi-linguistic noises often called interjections tion. In German, one says sneeze, Ikai ke nofo noa me!
(such as Tut-tut, Ugh, Wow, Ow, and Ouch). Also, Gesundheit ('health'); in mua!- literally, Not to be
an important function of the prosody of language Mende (Sierra Leone), the nothing, alas." The sense
word to use is biseh (thank intended is that the loved
(§29) is to provide an outlet for our attitudes while
you'); in Bembe (Congo), it one who has caused' the
we speak. At a more sophisticated level, there are

10 1 POPULAR IDEAS ABOUT LANGUAGE


will beat me.' Moreover, phatic communion itself are the lyrics of popular songs and the range of
is far from universal: some cultures say little, and phonetic effects which can be encountered in
prefer silence, as in the case of the Paliyans of south- poetry. Unintelligible words and phrases are com-
ern India, or the Aritama of Colombia. monplace in the oral poetry of many languages,
and can be explained only by a universal desire
to exploit the sonic potential of language.
The power of sound
In 1952, children skipping in a school playground Speaking in tongues
were heard to chant: 'Shirley Oneple, Shirley Two- paka bante rine sokuntare like ordinary language: the (or its written equivalent,
pie, Shirley Threeple .'
and so on up to 'Shirley
. .
mare paka tore moti sha- sounds are simpler and glossographia) must be
Tenple'. The instance was recorded by Iona and lara tamere pakashara more repetitive; there are classed along with other
Peter Opie in The Lore and Language of School- merime . . few predictable structural cases of functional pseudo-
units; and there is no sys- linguistic behaviour, such
children (1959), and it clearly illustrates the 'pho-
Thisis part of an utterance tematic word- or sentence- as jazz scat' singing.
netic' character of children's rhymes and games. which occurred sponta- meaning. When asked, Glossolalia needs to be
It is largely nonsense, and yet it performs an impor- neously at a religious ser- glossolalists are usually distinguished from cases
tant function: the repetitive rhythms help to control vice. It displays the repeti- unable to repeat utterances of xenoglossia, where
tive,reduced range of exactly, or give a detailed people miraculously speak
the game, and the children plainly take great delight
syllabic and rhythmic pat- account of their meaning. a language they have not
in it.
terns typical of tongue- Glossolalic speech is in- previously learned or
There are many situations where the only appar- speaking, or glossolalia-a terpreted in a general way. heard. Claims for such
ent reason for a use of language is the effect the widespread phenomenon To speak in tongues is tak- cases are rare, difficult to
sounds have on the users or listeners. We can group within the Pentecostal tra- en as a sign of the sincerity prove (e.g. to rule out the
dition of Protestantism and ofa person's belief, or as possibility that the speaker
together here such different cases as the rhythmical
charismatic Roman Catho- evidence of conversion. heard the language as a
litanies of religious groups, the persuasive cadences licism. The speakers treat it as a child), and usually turn out
of political speechmaking, the dialogue chants used Though many glossola- highly significant, emo- to involve chance effects -

by prisoners or slaves as they work, the various believe they are


lists tional event,which reflects as when a few syllables
speaking a real but un- their new-found sense of happen to resemble a se-
kinds of language games played by children and
known language, the utter- the presence of God. In this quence in some language.
adults (p. 59), and the voices of individuals singing ance patterns are quite un- respect, the phenomenon
in the kitchen or the bath. Perhaps the clearest cases

Graphic power Icelandic names


The names of dwarfs in the
La mandoline 13th-century Icelandic Edda
Vaillet et le bambou are like a painting in sound.
A few of the names resemble
words in the language, but
most have no meaning. (8
and b are the th sound in this
and thin respectively.)

Nyi ok Nidi,
NorOri, Su5ri,
Austri, Vestri,
Alpjofr, Dvalinn,
Nar ok Nainn,
Nipingr, Dainn,
Bifurr, Bofurr,
Bgmburr, N6ri,
Ori, Onarr,
Oinn, MjoSvitnir,
Viggr ok Gandalfr,
Vindaifr, porinn,
Fili, Kili,

Fundinn, Vali,
br6r, prbinn,
pekkr, Litr ok Vitr,
Nyr, Nyradr,
Rekkr, RadsiviOr.

Writing and print can exercise a purely visual effect


upon the reader, over and above the linguistic content
of the words (§32). This is best illustrated in poetry
where the shape of the poem reflects its subject matter
- asin this poem from Guillaume Apollinaire's Calli-

grammes (1918), showing a mandolin, a bamboo stick,


'I like coffee, I like tea, I like radio, and TV a typical and a flower.
ball-bouncing monologue

4 THE FUNCTIONS OF LANGUAGE •


1
The control of reality Recording the facts
In the northern borderland of Nigeria, an Igbo man A solicitorpreparing a case for a client. He pulls
is

invokes the spirit powers in his ancestral prayers, down an old book of judgments from his shelf,
using a formulaic curse: Kwo, unu, kwosi okiro! and reads a report of a case which took place 25
('Wash, all of you, wash down upon all of our years ago. What use of language is this? At first
enemies!'). In an English church, a priest holds a sight, it would appear to be 'ideational'; but the
baby over a font, and pours water on its head, situation in which the communication takes place
saying I baptize you is quite different in several respects.
When information is stored for future use, it is
impossible to predict who is likely to use it - indeed,
much of the material may never be referred to
again. There is therefore no 'dialogue' element in
the communication. The information has to be as
self-contained as possible, for it is impossible to
predict the demands which may one day be made
upon it, and in most cases there is no way in which
the user can respond so as to influence the writer.
Accordingly, when language is used for the pur-
poses of recording facts, it is very different from
that used in everyday conversation - in particular,
it displays a much greater degree of organization,

impersonality, and explicitness.


This function of language is represented by all
kinds of record-keeping, such as historical records,
geographical surveys, business accounts, scientific
reports, parliamentary acts, and public data banks.
It is an essential domain of language use, for the

availability of this material guarantees the know-


ledge-base of subsequent generations, which is a
prerequisite of social development.

Devil dancer' performing a healing ritual in Sri Lanka. The Domesday Book

All forms of supernatural belief involve the use


of language as a means of
controlling the forces
which the believers feel affect their lives. The var-
ious prayers and formulae which are directed at
God, gods, devils, spirits, objects, and other physi-
cal forces are always highly distinctive forms of
language (p. 384). In some cases, the language
might be regarded as a form of ideational commu-
nication, with a supernatural being as the recipient
— but if so, it is a somewhat abnormal type of com-
munication, for the response is usually appreciated
only in the mind or behaviour of the speaker, and
there may be no evident response at all.

In other cases, the function of the language is

to control matter, or the reality which the matter


issupposed to represent. For example, the garden-
ing ritual of the Trobriand Islanders involves a
formulae which 'charm' the axes, making
series of
them At a Roman Catholic Mass,
effective tools.
The two volumes which language
about Essex, Norfolk, and tion of this kind of
the speaking of the words This is my body is comprise Domesday Book Suffolk; the larger volume is well symbolized by the
believed to identify the moment when the commu- This was the summarizing contains the abbreviated popular label for the books,
nion bread is changed into the body of Christ. record of William I's survey account of all other coun- Domesday', which came to
of England, which was car- ties surveyed (the whole of be widely used by the 1 2th
Several other situations, apart from the magical
ried out in 1086. The England except some of century. From this record
and the religious, illustrate this 'performative' func- smaller volume contains all the most northerly areas). there would be no appeal!
tion of language — such as the words which name the information returned The once-and-for-all' func-
a ship at a launching ceremony.

12 i POPULAR IDEAS ABOUT LANGUAGE


These signals enter into the whole of our linguis-
The instrument of thought ticbehaviour, so much so that it is often a problem
A man sits alone at a workbench, staring at a piece distinguishing the identifying function of language
of equipment with a puzzled frown. He says: 'So from that used for the communication of ideas.
if I put red four there, and link it to blue three, In a public meeting, for instance, Mr A may make
that'll leave blue six free. Then
can use that for
I a speech in support of Mr B, and it may be difficult
green four. Right.' He sets to work. to decide whether the reason for his speech is to
People often feel the need to speak their thoughts make a fresh point, or simply to demonstrate to
aloud. If asked why they do it, they reply that it all concerned that A
on B's side. The arena of
is

helps their concentration. Authors often make political debate is of such manoeuvrings, as
full

similar remarks about the need to get a first draft individuals strive to express their solidarity with
down on paper, in order to see whether what they (or distance from) each other.
have written corresponds to what they had in mind.
The French thinker, Joseph Joubert (1754-1824), There are two kinds of way pronounce them, with
I

once said: 'We only know just what we meant to mental calculating prodi- the sound of my own voice,
say after we have said it.' gies: those who 'hear' and this interior audition
numbers and those who stays with me a good part
Perhaps the most common use of language as
'see' them. Both rely on of the day.' In observing
an instrument of thought is found when people some kind of 'inner' lan- him perform on stage, he
perform mathematical calculations 'in their head'. guage, especially when was usually seen to move
Very often, this supposedly 'mental' act is accom- faced with a complex prob- and he
his lips or mutter,

panied by a verbal commentary. However, it is not lem. Inaudi was one of the oftenaccompanied this by
great 'auditory' calculators. exaggerated gestures and
essential that language used in this way should
Though he did not learn to pacing.
always be spoken aloud or written down. Often, read or write he wasuntil An interesting parallel is

people can be seen to move their lips while they 20, by the age of 7 he was sometimes drawn between
are thinking, but no actual sound emerges. Lan- able to multiply two 5-digit prodigious calculating abili-

numbers in his head. ties and language. Are


guage is evidently present, but in a 'sub-vocal'
When he was studied by these mental feats very far
form. the psychologist Alfred removed from our impres-
Several theories have been proposed concerning Binetin 1894, Inaudi's sive everyday generative
the role of language as the instrument of thought Jacques Inaudi (1867- auditory techniques clearly ability (§16) to manipulate

- notably that of the Russian psychologist, Lev


1950) emerged - in his own the complex structure of a
words, 'I hear numbers . vast range of novel sen-
Semenovich Vygotsky (1896—1934), who argued
.

resound in my ear, in the tences?


for a concept of 'inner speech', a mental use of
words to evoke a sequence of thoughts. Does all
thought, then, require language? This complex
question will be reviewed in §5. Graphic identity
The characteristic typefaces
news-
of several British
The expression of identity papers provide an illustration
of identity using the graphic
The crowds attending President Reagan's pre- medium (p. 185). These ex-
election meetings in 1984 repeatedly shouted in amples are taken from the
all

Guardian's spoof edition of 1


unison 'Four more years!' What kind of language
April 1978, in which news
is this? from the fictitious island of
Such language is hardly informative to those who San Serriffe was presented
use it, but it plainly has an important role in foster- in a series of typical formats

- and language styles lam-


ing a sense of identity in this case, among those S»« SERRIFFE S BIGGEST Dlllt SUE
pooning actual British news-
who share the same political views. Many social
papers of the time. The joke
situations display language which unites rather relies totally on the reader
than informs — the chanting of a crowd at a football being able to identify these
match, the shouting of names or slogans at public formats immediately, using a
mixture of typographic and
THE SS TIMES
meetings, the stage-managed audience reactions to
linguistic cues.
television game shows, or the shouts of affirmation
at some religious meetings.
Our use of language can tell our listener or reader
a great deal about ourselves — in particular, about
our regional origins, social background, level of
education, occupation, age, sex, and personality.
The way language is used to express these variables
is so complex that it requires separate discussion

(§§6—12), but the general point can be made here,


that a major function of language is the expression
of personal identity — the signalling of who we are
SS GUARDIAN
Printed in Metro and sometimes Bodoni Saturday April 1 1978

and where we 'belong'.

4 THE FUNCTIONS OF LANGUAGE •


13
.

5 Language and thought

seems evident that there is the closest of relation- Within the first position, there are plainly two
It
Non-verbal and
ships between language and thought: even-day possibilities: language might be dependent upon
verbal thought
experience suggests that much of our thinking is thought, or thought might be dependent upon lan-
The two dimensions to
by language (p. 13). But is there identity
facilitated guage. The traditional view, which is widely held - linguistic
rational thinking
between the two? Is it possible to think without at a popular level, adopts the first of these: people and non-linguistic - can be
language? Or does our language dictate the ways have thoughts, and then they put these thoughts discovered in a simple ex-
in which we are able to think? Such matters have into words. It is summarized in such metaphorical periment, which anyone can
perform.
exercised generations of philosophers, psycholo- views of language as the 'dress' or 'tool' of thought.
gists, and linguists, who have uncovered layers of The view is well represented in the field of child 1 Think of where you work.
language acquisition (§38), where children are seen Now visualize the route you
complexity in apparently straightfonvard
these
follow,as if you were driving
questions. A simple answer is certainly not poss- to develop a range of cognitive abilities which pre- along in a car, as you pro-
ible; but at least we can be clear about the main cede the learning of language. ceed from work to your
factors which give rise to the complications. The second possibility- has also been widely held: home. The sequence of vis-
ual images which you bring
the way people use language dictates the lines along
to mind will be largely inde-
KINDS OF THINKING which they can think. An expressive summary of
pendent of language.
Many kinds of behaviour have been referred to this is Shelley's 'He gave men speech, and speech 2. Now imagine you have to
as 'thinking', but not all of them require us to posit created thought, /Which is the measure of the explain to a visitor how to
a relationship with language. Most obviously, there universe' (Prometheus Unbound). This view is also reach your house from work.
Think out the steps of your
is no suggestion that language is involved in our represented in the language acquisition field, in the
explanation, as you would
emotional response to some object or event, such argument that the child's earliest encounters with present them, without saying
as when we react to a beautiful painting or an language are the main influence on the way con- anything aloud. The se-
unpleasant incident: we may use language to cepts are learned. The most influential expression quence of ideas will be ex-
explain our reaction to others, but the emotion of this position, however, is found in the Sapir— pressed internally using lan-
guage.
itself is 'beyond words'. Nor do people engaged Whorf hypothesis (see facing page).
in the creative arts find it essential to think using A third possibility, which is also widely held
language: composers, for example, often report these days, is that language and thought are inter-
that they 'hear' the music they wish to write. Also, dependent - but this is not to say that they are
our everyday fantasies, day-dreams, and other free identical. The identity view (for example, that
associations can all proceed without language. thought is no more than an internalized vocaliza-
The thinking which seems to involve language tion) is no longer common. There are too many
is of a different kind: this is the reasoned thinking exceptions for such a strong position to be main-
which takes place as we work out problems, tell tained: we need think only of the various kinds
stories, plan strategies, and so on. It has been called of mental operations which we can perform with-
'rational', 'directed', 'logical', or 'propositional' out language, such as recalling a sequence of move-
thinking. It involves elements that are both deduc- ments in a game or sport, or visualizing the route
tive (when we solve problems by using a given set from home to work. It is also widely recognized
of rules, as in an arithmetical task] and inductive that pictorial images and physical models are help-
(when we solve problems on the basis of data ful in problem-solving, and may at times be more
placed before us, as in working out a travel route). efficient than purely verbal representations of a
Language seems to be very important for this kind problem.
of thinking. The formal properties of language, On the other hand, these cases are far outnum-
such as word order and sentence sequencing, bered by those where language does seem to be
constitute the medium in which our connected the main means whereby successful thinking can
thoughts can be presented and organized. proceed. To see language and thought as inter-
dependent, then, is to recognize that language is
INDEPENDENCE OR IDENTITY? a regular part of the process of thinking, at the
But how close is this relationship between language same time recognizing that we have to think in
and thought? It is usual to see this question in terms order to understand language. It is not a question
of two extremes. First, there is the hypothesis that of one notion taking precedence over the other,
language and thought are totally separate entities, but of both notions being essential, if we are to
with one being dependent on the other. At the explain behaviour. Once again, people have
opposite extreme, there is the hypothesis that lan- searched for metaphors to express their views. Lan-
guage and thought are identical - that it is not guage has been likened to the arch of a tunnel;
possible to engage in any rational thinking without thought, to the tunnel itself. But the complex struc-
using language. The truth seems to lie somewhere ture and function of language defies such simple
between these two positions. analogies.

14 •
I POPULAR IDEAS ABOUT LANGUAGE

.
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis Having a word for it

The romantic idealism of the late 18th century, There is nothing in every- of vehicles- car, lorry, bus, autoist autonaut
as encountered in the views of Johann Herder day English to correspond moped, truck,
tractor, taxi, roadist vehiclist
to the many Arabic words and so on - and might have chassimover murderist
(1744_1803) and Wilhelm von Humboldt
for horse or camel, the Es- just one word for all of mobilist roadent
(1762-1835), placed great value on the diversity kimo words for snow, or the these. wheelist vehicuwary
of the world's languages and cultures. The tradition Australian languages' There is in fact no single doice (Driver Of Internal
was taken up by the American linguist and anthro- words for hole or sand. word in English for the Combustion Engine)
pologist Edward Sapir (1884-1939) and his pupil Speakers of English have driver of all kinds of motor pupamotor (Person Using
to resort to circumlocutions vehicles - motorist being Power-Assisted Means
Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941), and resulted ifthey want to draw the dis- restricted to private cars, of Travel On Roads)
in a view about the relation between language and tinctions which these lan- and driver being unaccep- licentiat (Licensed Internal
thought which was widely influential in the middle guages convey by separ- table for motorcycles -a Combustion Engine
decades of this century. ate words - such as the lexical gap which greatly Navigator Trained in
size, breed, function, and worried the British Automo- Automobile Tactics)
The 'Sapir-Whorf hypothesis', as it came to be
condition of a camel. On bile in 1961 It
Association .

called, combines two principles. The first is known the other hand, several lan- was felt such a word
that
However, none of these
ingenious ideas has sur-
as linguistic determinism: it states that language guages cannot match the would be useful, and they
vived.
determines the way we think. The second follows many words English has therefore asked for sug-
available to identify differ- gestions. Among the 500
from this, and is known as linguistic relativity: it
ent sizes, types, and uses they received were:
encoded in one language
states that the distinctions
are not found in any other language. In a much-
quoted paragraph, Whorf propounds the view as
follows:
Examples such as these made the Sapir-Whorf Words for hole in
We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native hypothesis very plausible; but in its strongest form Pintupi
languages. The categories and types that we isolate from it is unlikely to have any adherents now. The fact
takes between three and
It
the world of phenomena we do not find there because that successful translations between languages can 14 English words to dis-
they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary,
be made is a major argument against it, as is the tinguish the various senses
the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of of hole in this Australian
fact that the conceptual uniqueness of a language
impressions which has to be organized by our minds aboriginal language, but the
- and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our such as Hopi can nonetheless be explained using
can nonetheless
distinctions
English. That there are some conceptual differences
minds. We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and be conveyed.
ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are between cultures due to language is undeniable,
yarla a hole in an object
parties to an agreement to organize it in this way - an but this is not to say that the differences are so
pirti a hole in the ground
agreement that holds throughout our speech community great that mutual comprehension is impossible.

and is codified in the patterns of our language. The One language may take many words to say what pirnki a hole formed by a
agreement is, of course, an implicit and unstated one, rock shelf
another language says in a single word, but in the
but its terms are absolutely obligatory; we cannot talk end the circumlocution can make the point. kartalpa a small hole in the
at all except by subscribing to the organization and ground
Similarly, it does not follow that, because a lan-
classification of data which the agreement decrees. yulpilpa a shallow hole
guage lacks a word, its speakers therefore cannot in

which ants live


Whorf view by taking examples
illustrated his grasp the concept. Several languages have few
from several languages, and in particular from words for numerals: Australian aboriginal lan- mutara a special hole in a
spear
Hopi, an Amerindian language. In Hopi, there is guages, for example, are often restricted to a few
one word (masa'ytaka) for everything that flies general words (such as 'all', 'many', 'few'), 'one' nyarrkalpa a burrow for small
animals
except birds - which would include insects, aero- and 'two'. In such cases, it is sometimes said that
planes and pilots. This seems alien to someone used the people lack the concept of number - that abori- pulpa a rabbit burrow
to thinking in English, but, Whorf argues, it is no gines 'haven't the intelligence to count', as it was makarnpa a goanna burrow
stranger than English-speakers having one word once put. But not so, as is shown when these
this is katarta the hole left by a

for many kinds of snow, in contrast to Eskimo, speakers learn English as a second language: their goanna when it has broken
where there are different words for falling snow, ability to count and calculate is quite comparable the surface after hibernation

snow on the ground, snow packed hard like ice, to that of English native speakers.
slushy snow (cf. English slush), and so on. In Aztec, However, a weaker version of the Sapir-Whorf
a single word (with different endings) covers an hypothesis is generally accepted. Language may not
even greater range of English notions - snow, cold determine the way we think, but it does influence
and ice. When more abstract notions are consi- the way we perceive and remember, and it affects
dered (such as time, duration, velocity), the differ- the ease with which we perform mental tasks.
ences become yet more complex: Hopi, for Several experiments have shown that people recall
instance, lacks a concept of time seen as a dimen- things more easily if the things correspond to
sion; there are no forms corresponding to English readily available words or phrases. And people cer-
tenses, but there are a series of forms which make tainly find it easier to make a conceptual distinction
it possible to talk about various durations, from neatly corresponds to words available in their
if it

the speaker's point of view. It would be very diffi- language. Some salvation for the Sapir-Whorf
cult, Whorf argues, for a Hopi and an English phy- hypothesis can therefore be found in these studies,
sicist to understand each other's thinking, given which are carried out within the developing field
the major differences between the languages. of psycholinguistics (p. 412).

5 LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT •


15
PART II
Language and identity

'Who are you? How old are you? Where are you that all have an influence on the way
in which lan-
from? What do you do? What are you doing now? guage is and that language, in turn, exercises
used,
. .
.'
We would only have to speak, to provide our a dominant influence on our perception of social
interrogator with innumerable clues about our per- structure, whatever our mother tongue.
sonal history and social identity. The linguistic sig- An even wider range of linguistic variation is

nalswe unwittingly transmit about ourselves every subsumed under the heading of contextual identity.
moment of our waking day are highly distinctive Here we examine how the immediate situation in
and discriminating. More than anything else, lan- which people communicate can influence the kind
4 guage shows we 'belong', providing the most
natural badge, or symbol, of public and private
of language they use. Three main features of con-
text are distinguished - the setting, the participants,
identity. The reports and discussion in this part and the type of activity in which they engage. This
of the encyclopedia plainly demonstrate this fact leads us to consider such divergent topics as greet-
and illustrate how our perception of our own and ings, news-readings, speech making, everyday con-
others' language can become, in varying degrees, versation, proverbial expressions, and slang. In
a source of pleasure, pride, anxiety, offence, anger, addition, there are separate sections devoted to
and even violence. visual varieties, restricted languages, hidden and
The various sections of Part n explore this re- secret languages, word games, humour, and the
lationship between language and the many 'faces' many forms of verbal art.
of our identity aswe interact with others. We begin These last topics lead naturally to the final sub-
with the relatively permanent features of language ject of Part II: personal linguistic identity, with its
that express aspects of a person's physical or reliance We begin by iden-
on the concept of 'style'.
psychological identity - factors such as age, sex, tifying different kinds of approach to stylistic study,
body type, personality, and intelligence. Next, we and look in detail at one of them, stylostatistics,
look at the linguistic facts and issues surrounding where we encounter linguistic detective work in
the notion of geographical background, and the areas as far apart as literary authorship and the
way this is manifested in regional accent and dia- investigation of murder. The concept of stylistic
lect. This leads, in particular, to a consideration distinctiveness then leads us to examine the re-
of the world of dialectology, with its atlases and lationship between literary and non-literary uses
questionnaires, which has attracted widespread of language, with particular reference to the tra-
interest. ditional study of rhetoric and to each of the major
The following sections review the complex set literary genres - poetry, drama, and the novel. Part
/ of factors that enter into the definition of ethnic ii then concludes with a summary of recent trends

and social identity: racism and nationalism, strati- in literary theory that have focused on the role of
fication into classes and castes, status and role, soli- language in the interpretation of texts: the ante-
darity and distance, social stereotypes - it emerges cedents and consequences of structuralism.

The linguistic reflection of cultural identity, here seen in Mon-


treal in 1980 during the campaign leading to thereferendum
for an independent Quebec.
6 Physical identity

Several factors define a person's physical identity, from 73-123 mm); Melanesians had a mean of Bodies, minds, and
the most obvious being age, sex, physical type 84 mm (variation from 70-110 mm); and the Japa- voices
and so
(height, build, facial features, type of hair, nese had a mean of 73 mm (variation from
The German psychiatrist,
on),and physical condition. These factors, supple- 55—90 mm). The relative shortness of the Japanese Ernst Kretschmer (1 888-
mented by the criteria made available through tongue is noteworthy, and people have speculated 1 964) proposed a threefold
modern genetic techniques, are also taken into ac- whether this could be a factor that would contri- classification ofbody types,
count when identifying the broad, biologically claiming that these corre-
bute to spoken language learning difficulties. But
lated with certain mental
defined groups of human beings known as 'races'. it is not possible to reach a firm conclusion — es-
conditions. The pyknic type
Such considerations naturally lead to several ques- pecially as only very small samples of speakers have (thick trunk, short limbs)
tions. Are there any correlations between language so far been used. were thought to be more
and the physical characteristics of an individual It is difficult to be sure what effect this kind of prone manic-depressive
to
psychosis; the leptosomic
or race? Can any of the differences between lan- genetically determined difference could have on a
type (thin trunk, long legs)
guages, or the variations within a language, be language. It might have no effect at all. People more prone to schizo-
explained by referring directly to the physical con- might compensate for the 'lack' of one anatomical phrenia; and the athletic type
stitution of the users? feature by making greater use of some other fea- (broad shoulders, thin hips)
prone to neither.
ture. Unfortunately, the information is not avail-
While these distinctions
able, as detailed comparative studies of racial vocal
proved in due course to be
anatomy are lacking. Certainly, everyday experi- too simplified for practical
Physical type ence suggests that the effects are minimal. One indi- application, certain general

There seems to be little clear relationship between cation of this is the language-learning ability of correlations between body
type and voice have been
speech and such physical characteristics as height, second-generation immigrants, whose accents may
observed. In one study,
weight, head size, and shape. That there is some be indistinguishable on tape from those of the indi- which matched voices with
correlation is evident from our surprise when we genous population. A commonly reported exper- photographs of these types,
hear a large, fat person come out with a thin, high- ience is for a London bus passenger to hear behind the pyknic type were

him matched most accurately,


pitched voice. There is a general expectation that a perfectly articulated Cockney Any more fares
followed by the leptosomic,
size relates to loudness and pitch depth. However, please?, only to find a conductor who is plainly with the athletic type least
there is no conclusive way of predicting from physi- West Indian or African. well predicted. Other studies
cal appearance alone whether a person's vocal Despite the superficial differences, it has gener- have also shown significant
range is going to be soprano, contralto, tenor, or ally been concluded that vocal tracts the world over correlationsbetween voices
and photographs of the
bass. are sufficiently similar that we can regard them as
speakers, doubtless be-
There is little in the anatomy of the human vocal variants of a single, universal type. Work in phone- cause of the general physical
tract to account for the linguistic differences tics (§27) proceeds on this assumption. But we still relationship between a per-
between people and groups. The proportions of know very little about the general potential for son's size and physique, and
the dimensions of the larynx
the various vocal organs (§22) seem to be very simi- sound production in human beings - a subject that
and vocal tract. There are,
lar in all human beings. Individual variations do the Polish linguist Jan Baudouin de Courtenay however, wide margins of
exist in size and shape: for example, the height (1845-1929) christened anthropophonics. error in these studies.
of the palate varies a great deal, as does the length
and flexibility of the tongue. Some people can make 1st octave
the tip of their tongue touch their uvula; others Counter Large Small above 2nd 3rd 4th
octave octave octave Middle C octave octave octave

H
can hardly make their tongue touch their hard
palate. More men than women can make the edges C, E, G, B, D F Ac e g b d
1

f
2
g
2
2
b* d> P
J 4
e
4
g
4

4
b
4

D, F, A, C E G B d I a c' c' g' b


1
d f' a c
!
c' g b' d f* a
of their tongue curl upwards. But, pathological
cases aside (§46), these differences do not seem to Bass
add up to much, as far as spoken languagecon- is Baritone
cerned. There is no evidence to suggest that ana- r H Tenor
tomical variations have any effect on the ability Contralto
of a person to learn or use speech. Mezzo-soprano
We have to reach a similar conclusion when we Soprano
consider the kinds of anatomical variation that dis- Voice types Probably the around two octaves, with shows the average ranges
tinguish the world's racial groups. Certainly several most common way of talk- good singers achieving for each type of voice (after
differences could be relevant for speech - for exam- ing about human voices is three octaves or more. Ex- M. Nadoleczny, 1923).
the classification into six ceptional cases have been Speaking level tends to be
ple, the considerable variation in the length of the
basic types: soprano, recorded, with coloratura towards the bottom of the
tongue. In one study (F. Brosnahan, 1961), the mezzo-soprano, contralto, sopranos reaching as high singing range, as shown by
tongues of Japanese, Melanesians, and blacks were tenor, baritone, and bass. as e 4 (2637 Hz), and cross bars.
measured: blacks had the longest tongues on aver- Generally, the individual basses as low as contra'
1

age (a mean of 97 mm, with individual variation range of each type is F (44 Hz). The diagram

18 • II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


Physical condition The voice 'breaks'
That there must be some kind of relationship Cutting across the distinc- the upper limit by only a tional change of the former
tions between age, sex, few tones. usually takesbetween 3
between physical condition and language is plain and 6 months, whereas the
and physical type is the As well as the pitch
from the way language can be affected in cases of phenomenon of voice change, certain other vocal latter may take much
physical handicap. Several disorders of constitu- mutation, which accom- features usually mark the longer. For this reason, it is

tional origin have a direct effect on a person's abi- panies the development of onset of puberty. The voice generally felt to be wise to
secondary sex charac- is often husky and weak, delay adult singing instruc-
lity to use language, variously affecting the ability
teristics during puberty. At with poorly controlled vocal tion until well after the
to comprehend and produce speech, read, and this time, the child voice fold vibration (§22). Subse- change in speaking voice
write. Temporary handicaps may have minor but differentiates into male and quently, males, the voice
in has taken place, to avoid
quite noticeable effects — such as the change in voice female types, due mainly to depth is the most notice- the risk of vocal strain
the rapid growth of the able feature; in females, (p. 276).
quality that accompanies a cold or a sore throat,
larynx. the voice becomes louder, There is no predictable
or the alterations in pronunciation that may follow
The development is far and it changes in timbre - rule relating adult singing
a visit to the dentist. At a much more serious level, more noticeable in boys: the thin childlike voice be- registers to child voices.
there are such cases as the child with cleft palate, male vocal folds become comes fuller and more Whether a boy is soprano
or the adult with myaesthenia gravis, where speech about 1 cm longer, where- vibrant. or alto, he will develop a
as with girls the increase is The term 'break' is not bass or baritone singing
can be fundamentally and dramatically affected.
only around 3—4 mm. As a always an accurate way of voice in about two-thirds of
Here, it is often possible to make deductions about consequence, in boys, the describing the changes cases - a phenomenon
the nature of the person's handicap solely from entire vocal range is both that take place. The that accounts for the com-
a tape recording. Voice quality, individual sounds, broadened and lowered by change from infantile to mon complaint among
grammar, vocabulary, and other features of lan- about one octave. In girls, adult voice is often a choirmasters about the
there is no such octave gradual transition, rather shortage of tenors, and the
guage can all be affected. It is thus a complex field
shift', and the increase in than a sudden shift, especi- fact that operatic tenors re-
of study, which needs a separate review to do it voice range is much less ally in females. Moreover, ceive the higher salaries!
justice (Part vin). marked: the lower limit of the speaking voice and the Similarly, sopranos are far
their range extends by only singing voice may be differ- more common than other
one-third of an octave, and ently affected. The muta- female voices.

and changes in the facial skeleton, especially


Age around the mouth and jaw.
What can be said of the normal process of aging, There are other, more general signs of age.
from a linguistic point of view? In general terms, Speech rate slows, and fluency may be more erratic.
there is a clear and unmistakeable relationship: no- Hearing deteriorates, especially after the early fif-
one would have much difficulty identifying a baby, ties. Weakening faculties of memory and attention
a young child, a teenager, a middle-aged person, may affect the ability to comprehend complex
or a very old person from a tape recording. With speech patterns. But it is not all bad news: vocabu-
children,it is possible for specialists in language lary awareness may continue to grow, as may stylis-
development, and people experienced in child care, tic ability - skills in narration, for example. And
to make very detailed predictions about how lan- grammatical ability seems to be little affected.
guage correlates with age in the early years - a
research field treated separately in Part vn.
Little is known about the patterns of linguistic
change that affect older people.
It is plain that our

voice quality, vocabulary, and style alter as we


grow older, but research into the nature of these
changes is in its earliest stages. However, a certain
amount of information is available about the pro-
duction and comprehension of spoken language by
very old people, especially regarding the phonetic
changes that take place.
Speech is likely to be affected by reductions in
the efficiency of the vocal organs (§22). The mus-
cles of the chest weaken, the lungs become less elas- 30 50
tic, the ribs less mobile: as a result, respiratory Age (years)

75 is only about half that at age


efficiency at age
The aging voice The fundamental frequency of the
30, and this has consequences for the ability to
voice (§23) changes quite markedly with age. The
speak loudly, rhythmically, and with good tone. graph shows the change that takes place in males: the
The cartilages, joints, muscles, and tissues of the level drops sharply at adolescence, continues to
larynx also deteriorate, especially in men; and this decrease until middle age, and then increases into
affects the range and quality of voice produced by senescence. The data points are a composite of
averages taken from various published studies. For
the vocal folds, which is often rougher, breathier
females, the level is stable during middle age,
and characterized by tremor. In addition, speech decreasing later. (After R. D. Kent & R. Burkard, 1981 .)
is affected by poorer movement of the soft palate

6 PHYSICAL IDENTITY •
19
VOICEPRINTS at the fingerprint analogy. Fingerprint patterns are A contour representation
The traditional method of identifying a person is established in the foetus; they change in size, as of bar voiceprint (a)
(below).
through fingerprint patterns, which seem to be people grow, but not in form. Voices, however,
unique to each person. In recent years, several are partly the result of learning, and they vary:
attempts have been made to provide an analogous speakers can utter sounds in different ways on dif-
technique using the voice. One approach, which ferent occasions. Also, speakers might produce
received widespread publicity in the 1960s, was voiceprints that would not be distinguishable (at
developed by an American acoustic scientist, Law- the level of detail shown on a spectrogram).
rence Kersta (1907 -). Professional impersonators were invoked. In Bri-
'Voiceprints' are made from an acoustic analysis programme showed a spectro-
tain, a television
of speech by a sound spectrograph (p. 136). It is gram of John Bird impersonating the Prime
assumed that no two people will have identical Minister, Harold Wilson, and compared it with
vocal tracts, and therefore the patterns of sound one of Wilson's own voice. The similarities were
vibration they produce when they speak will be thought to be much greater than those seen on
different. Kersta claimed it was possible to tell spectrograms both of Bird's impersonation com-
people apart by analysing the visual patterns shown pared with his normal voice, and of Wilson's voice
on the spectrograms of ten common words (cf. the on that occasion compared with other occasions.
ten fingerprints). The patterns were displayed both On the other hand, in the US, people who could
as bar voiceprints and as contours. not hear the difference between President Kennedy
The approach attracted considerable interest and Elliot Reid's impersonation were able to see
among law enforcement agencies, who saw its from the voiceprints that the two voices were not
potential value in crime detection, and voiceprints the same.
were soon used as evidence in US courts. In 1965, The technique remains controversial. On the
for example, a youth boasted on a television pro- positive side, it is accepted that some features of
gramme of having set fire to several shops in Los the voice are indicative of speakers rather than of
Angeles. His face was concealed, and the television languages (e.g. the higher formants, §23). Also,
company exercised its legal right not to say who more refined techniques in spectrography and more
he was. Using other clues in the broadcast, detec- sophisticated methods of pattern recognition using
tives were able to trace a youth, who was brought computers could circumvent some of the first criti-
to trial. Voiceprint evidence established that the cisms. Interest in the possibilities remains high,
voice of the youth in court and that of the youth because the potential value of the approach is very
in the programme were the same. Despite an attack great - not only in forensic science, but in such
by defence lawyers on the voiceprint evidence, the fields as commerce (identifying people over the
youth was found guilty. phone), medicine (distinguishing abnormal body-
noises), and engineering (identifying abnormal
moving parts in machinery). On the negative side,
Critical reactions the error rate among analysts is still unacceptably
Voiceprints. The bar voice-
prints of four male speakers
After several cases, criticism of the technique began high (as much as 1 in 20, according to some critics), uttering you, taken from Ker-
to grow. In 1976, a special committee of the Acous- and many people doubt whether the properties of sta's paper in Nature, 1 962.
tical Society of America expressed its concern that the vocal tract are in principle capable of making One speaker has uttered the
voiceprints were being admitted as legal evidence the discriminations required by the theory. As a word a second time. Can you
tell which two voiceprints are
when there had been insufficient scientific evalua- result, speech scientists have been extremely cau-
from the same person?
tion of the technique. tious about making claims for voiceprinting proce- ('See foot of facing page for
The main thrust of the criticism was directed dures. answer.)
ic>

•*-

\
20 • I LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY
Sex and the honorific (p. 99) varieties of speech, but Some markers of
females use them much more commonly and in Japanese female
Phonetic differences (p. 19) are the most obvious a wider range of situations. For example, a man style
measures of sexual identity; but languages provide might use a certain honorific form only in talking
• Use of atashi (
instead
many instances of males and females learning dif- to a superior, whereas a woman might use it for
'I'),

of watakushi.
ferent styles of speech — as in Japanese, Thai, Carib, a social equal as well. The polite forms of nouns, • Sentence particle wa
Chukchi, and Yana. Pronunciation, grammar, verbs, and adjectives are also used more frequently used at the end of sentences
vocabulary, and context of use can all be affected. by women. with rising intonation, instead
of with falling intonation.
In Koasati, certain verb forms differ according to There have been fewer studies of male speech • Interjections of surprise,
the sex of the speaker. If the form ends in a vowel style, reflecting a tradition that sees female speech such as ara, ma, uwa.
or /tf/, there is no difference; but in cases where as the 'special' variety; and a separate label for • Less frequent use of such
the woman's form ends in a nasalized vowel, or the male style not often used. But the style can
is
interjections as a or e.

in certain consonants, the man's form substitutes • Use of sentence particle


be clearly defined, and is heard in contexts where
yo following a noun, instead
/s/. This can be seen in the following examples traditional notions of masculinity are to be found of da (male) or desu yo (sex-
(after M. R.Haas, 1944): (assertiveness, toughness, etc.). By no means all neutral).
male language is distinctive, however: as in the case • Use of no ('matter') at the

Female Male of women, sex-neutral speech will often be used, end of statements, instead of
n da (male) or n desu (sex-
isko isko he drank and on occasion there may be the use of feminine neutral), e.g. Dekinaino (It's
lakdwc lakdwc you are lifting it features, as signals of gentleness or consideration. [a matter of being] impos-
kq kd's he saying
is sible') vs Dekinai n da.
molhil molhis we are peeling it ENGLISH MALE AND FEMALE SPEECH • Use of polite forms of
nouns, such as osakana
tacwan tacilwas don't sing! In English, the situation is less clear. There are no
('fish') for sakana (sex-
grammatical forms, lexical items, or patterns of neutral).
When Haas carried out her study, only middle- pronunciation that are used exclusively by one sex, • More frequent use of
aged and elderly women used the female forms; but there are several differences in frequency. For particle ne ('right?', 'okay') at
younger women were beginning to use the forms example, among the words and phrases that the end of sentences.
• Less frequent use of the
typical of male speech. But members of each sex women are supposed to use more often are such assertive particles ze and
were quite familiar with both speech styles, and emotive adjectives as super and lovely, exclama- zo at the end of statements.
could use either upon occasion. If a man were tell- tions such as Goodness me and Oh dear, and
ing a story involving a female character, he would intensifies such as so or such (e.g. It was so busy).
use women's forms when quoting her speech. This use of intensifies has been noted in several
languages, including German, French, and Rus-
JAPANESE MALE AND FEMALE sian.
SPEECH More important are the strategies adopted by
A clear case of linguistic sex-differentiation is Japa- the two sexes in cross-sex conversation. Women
nese, where well-defined styles of speech have been have been found to ask more questions, make more
known since the early 11th century. Females have use of positive and encouraging 'noises' (such as
used a style known as joseigo or onnakotoba, mhm), use a wider intonational range and a more
which evolved among upper-class women as a sign marked rhythmical stress, and make greater use
of their special position in society. Books on femi- of the pronouns you and we. By contrast, men are
nine etiquette fostered the use of special vocabulary much more likely to interrupt (more than three
and grammar, alongside norms of gentle and times as much, in some studies), to dispute what
submissive behaviour. This traditional view is has been said, to ignore or respond poorly to what
undergoing considerable change today; but clearly has been said, to introduce more new topics into
defined sexual roles still predominate, and distinct the conversation, and to make more declarations
linguistic forms are widely encountered. of fact or opinion.
Japanese female speech is a style over which Most interpretations of these differences refer to
women have conscious control. It is used when the contrasting social roles of the sexes in modern
women wish to emphasize their femininity; on society. Men are seen to reflect in their conversa-
other occasions, they adopt a sexually neutral style. tional dominance the power they have traditionally
Thus a woman mayuse feminine style in talking received from society; women, likewise, exercise
to her friends about her children but use neutral the supporting role that they have been taught to
style when talking to business colleagues. It is also adopt — in this case, helping the conversation along
possible for women to use the masculine speech and providing men with opportunities to express
style if they wish to express themselves in an asser- this dominance. The situation is undoubtedly more
way - and this is often done these days by
tive complex than this, as neither sex is linguistically
many who are concerned to promote notions of homogeneous, and considerable variation exists
sexual equality. A particular example is the increas- when real contexts of use are studied. The danger,
ing use of boku (T) among schoolgirls - tradition- as some commentators have pointed out, is that
allyused only by males. in the process of criticizing old sexual stereotypes,
There are also frequency differences in the use researchers are in danger of creating new ones (p.
of forms. Both males and females use the formal 46). (a) and (e)

6 PHYSICAL IDENTITY 21
7 Psychological identity

It is common practice to identify individuals, or LANGUAGE AND INTELLIGENCE


groups of people, in terms of their psychological Decades of controversy over the nature and assess-
attributes - whether they have high intelligence, ment of intelligence preclude any straightforward
good concentration, an aggressive personality, a statement about its relationship to language. It is
Verbal vs non-
poor memory, and so on. We generally make these evident that people are judged as more or less intel-
judgments on the basis of the non-linguistic way ligent, based on how they behave in certain situ- verbal IQ
in which people behave when they carry out tasks ations, and in response to certain tasks. There is Some intelligence tests do
not contain any tasks that re-
and interact in specific situations. For example, we a long tradition of intelligence testing, in which
quire a knowledge of lan-
do not need to refer to language in order to see sets of tasks are presented in order to ascertain
guage in order to solve them.
whether someone can pay attention, remember levels of achievement, and to demonstrate indi- A person is asked to carry

which route to take, fix a piece of equipment, or vidual differences; the scores that result are widely out such activities as building
behave in a friendly manner. But very often we used in educational, clinical, and other contexts. an object, matching shapes,
Most research has been carried out in relation finding a way through a
do rely on language in order to evaluate such mat-
maze, detecting picture simi-
ters, and this forms an important part of the study to the development of children's intellectual pro- larities and differences, or
of identity. cesses, as they learn about the world, react to situ- deciding which entities go
Any of the fields of academic psychology can ations, solve problems, and carry out all kinds of together'. These 'non-verbal'

prompt a linguistic enquiry of this kind. We might tasks. Several theoretical positions exist, which tests contrast with 'verbal'
tests, which rely on a prior
investigate whether there is a relationship between are reviewed in Part vn. Studies with mentally awareness of language com-
language structures or skills and such notions as handicapped children have shown that a certain prehension or production -
memory, attention, perception, personality, intelli- minimum level of intelligence, as measured on for example, tests of general
gence, learning, or any other recognised psycho- conventional tests, is a prerequisite for language knowledge, memory for di-
gits, arithmetic, vocabulary
logical domain. These studies have both theoretical development. However, this need not be very high,
comprehension, and similari-
and practical implications. They suggest ways of and there is no clear relationship between intelli- ties between words. Several
constructing models of our mental processes - a gence and the ability to use particular language kinds of material have been
major preoccupation of the field of psycho- structures. Attempts have been made to relate intel- devised to help promote non-

linguistics (p. 412). And they relate to several issues ligence to quantity of infant babbling, amount of verbal skills. The picture be-
low shows preschool chil-
of language learning - both normal (in such con- vocabulary, grammatical complexity, the prosodic
dren using equipment which
texts as mother-tongue education and foreign lan- features of speech, the use of figurative expressions, helps to train movement, ma-
guage learning) and pathological (in such contexts and other variables. In no case is there a neat corre- nipulation, and perception.
as speech and hearing disorders). The main findings lation, though stereotypes of performance The children thread wooden
blocks along an increasingly
are thus more appropriately reviewed in other sec- undoubtedly exist, and here the psycholinguistic
difficult series of wires, from
tions (§§25, 34, 38, 45). Furthermore, any linguis- study of intelligence overlaps with that of person- a very basic loop to a multi-
tic medium (speech, writing, signing) can be the ality. dimensional maze.
focus of enquiry, though only spoken language
characteristics are considered here (for hand-
writing and signing, see §§32, 35).
This cluster of cross-references shows how the
topic of psycholinguistic identity extends well
beyond the subject matter of the present section.
It is also somewhat arbitrary dealing with it next

to the section on physical identity instead of later,


as part of the section that deals with the distinctive
features of 'style' (§12). However, this decision
should not be construed as taking sides in the con-
troversies that have raged over the role of 'nature'
and 'nurture' in the formation of such attributes
as personality and intelligence. From a linguistic
point of view, it is simply to recognize the fact
that, once adulthood is achieved, any features of
language that can be related to psychological attri-
butes seem to be relatively permanent, and thus
have more in common with the long-term charac-
teristics of physical constitution, than with the tem-
porary and consciously controllable features that
form the basis of stylistic study.

22 • II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


PERSONALITY Vocal stereotypes
Psychopathology
This complex field deals with the characteristics Listeners are very ready to make stereotyped judg- Voice characteristics are
that enable us to distinguish between people, and to ments about personality: comments such as You also an important diagnostic
make predictions about their behaviour - charac- can tell he's anxious fromhis voice or She sounds feature of abnormal person-

teristics generally classified as personality traits and very strong minded are often to be heard. System- alities. Patients suffering
from schizophrenia, depres-
types. Traits are styles of behaviour that an indivi- atic information has been obtained in social psy-
sion, and other such condi-
dual displays, whatever the stimulus, in many chology experiments since the 1930s, when tions often speak with voices
different circumstances. Types involve the identifi- researchers began to use the new broadcasting that are monotonous, weak,
cation of a salient feature that is then used as a medium to get large-scale listener judgments of hesitant, slow,and deviant in
one study (T. H. Pear, 1931), timbre.Abnormal intonation,
label for the whole personality. In one study (G. different voices. In
loudness, rhythm, and timbre
W. Allport &H. S. Odbert, 1936), nearly 18,000 4,000 listener judgments were obtained about nine can also be heard in the
trait labels were found to be available in English speakers played over the air. Age and sex proved voices of many autistic child-
to distinguish one person's behaviour from another easiest to identify, and among the vocations repre- ren. Some clinicians have
(honest, tidy, shy, thoughtful, stupid but of sented, actors and clergymen were most frequently maintained that psychopath-
...),
ological syndromes can be
course many of these overlap in meaning, and most recognized. But even when the listeners made the
detected on the basis of the
studies classify traits into much smaller sets of basic wrong decisions about vocation, they were extre- voice alone; but this seems
dimensions, such as dominance, extraversion, or mely consistent in their errors. People who sound exaggerated. Even exper-
likeability. like clergymen, it appears, will be rated as if they ienced clinicians find it diffi-
Several interesting inferences have been drawn are clergymen, whether they are or not. cult to make predictions
about some types of mental
about the relationship between personality traits Stereotypes of this kind markedly colour inter-
state solely from audio re-
or types and aspects of speech, especially in personal and intergroup relationships. They are cordings.
'matched-guise' experiments. The first of these widespread, with similar results being found in
studies (W. E. Lambert et al., 1960) aimed to show several other areas where accent, dialect, or lan-
how English- and French-speaking Canadians guage conflicts exist, such as between speakers of
viewed each other. English-speaking college stu- white and black American English, Canadian and
dents in Montreal were asked to listen to recordings European French, Hebrew and Arabic in Israel, and
of a passage being read aloud in English and in urban and rural accents of British English. They
French, and to mark on a checklist what the person- are also seen in social and occupational contexts
ality traits of the speakers were. They were told (e.g. affecting the way in which a jury judges the

to disregard language, and concentrate solely on credibility of witnesses in court, p. 387), and in
voice and personality. However, the students were education (where teachers' evaluations of a pupil's
not told that the voices were in fact those of per- capabilities can be more influenced by speech style
fectly bilingual speakers, each of whom read the than by written composition, artistic work, or per-
passage both in an English and a French 'guise'. sonal appearance). Our impressions of a person's
The results were illuminating. The English guises guilt, innocence, intelligence, or stupidity are, it
of the speakers were evaluated much more favour- seems, much affected by phonetic and linguistic fac-
ably than were the French guises: for example, they tors.A more informed popular awareness of the
were thought to be better looking, more intelligent, dangers of vocal stereotyping is thus an important
kinder, and more ambitious. But in a second part aim of this branch of sociopsychological research.
to the study, there was an even more interesting
finding. When French-speaking Canadians were
given the same test, they too rated the English
guises as higher, in almost all respects, indicating
Personality traits and voice stereotypes
the low esteem in which the French language was This graphic presentation
of personality traits was de-
held at that time.
vised by the British psycho-
There is of course no correlation between such Hans Eysenck
logist
attributes as intelligence or attractiveness and the (1916- ). The inner ring

speaking of English or French. But it is a fact that shows the four ancient
Greek temperaments,
people do form such stereotyped impressions on
based on the predomi-
the basis of linguistic features (especially prosody, nance of one of the four
§29). Moreover, all accents, dialects, and lan- 'body fluids'. The outer ring
guages are affected by evaluations of this kind. If represents the location of
speakers use a standard accent, speak quickly and different traits, grouped on
a statistical basis, and re-
fluently, and use few hesitations, they are likely
lated to two principal di-
to be rated as more competent, dominant, and mensions: instability/
dynamic. The use of regional, ethnic, or lower-class stability and extraversion/

varieties, on the other hand, is associated with introversion. But would it al-

greater speaker integrity and attractiveness. Even ways follow that someone
if

sounds reliable (sober, etc.)


national personalities can be perceived: British
then he/she is reliable
speakers rate French as a more romantic language, (sober, etc.)?
it seems, and German as a more businesslike one.

7 PSYCHOLOGICAL IDENTITY 23
8 Geographical identity

The most widely recognized features of linguistic a dialect — whether urban or rural, standard or
identity are those that point to the geographical non-standard, upper class or lower class. And no
origins of the speakers - features of regional dia- dialect is thought of as 'superior' to any other, in
lect, which prompt us to ask the question 'Where terms of linguistic structure — though several are
are they from?' But there are several levels of res- considered prestigious from a social point of view.
ponse to this question. We might have a single per-
son in mind, yet all of the following answers would
be correct: 'America', 'The United States', 'East
Coast', 'New York', 'Brooklyn'. People belong to
regional communities of varying extent, and the
Where are you from?
dialect they speak changes its name as we 'place'
How easy is it to tell where Shaw's Henry Higgins: '/ merge, with a consequent
someone from? A few
is can place any man within blurring of speech patterns.
them in relation to these communities. years ago, it would have six miles. can place him
I And nowadays, through
Languages, as well as dialects, can convey geo- been relatively straight- within two miles in London. radio and television, there
graphical information about their speakers, but forward for a specialist to Sometimes within two is much more exposure to
this information varies greatly, depending on the work out from a sample of streets' (Pygmalion, Act 1 ). a wide range of dialects,
speech the features that These days, dialect iden- which can influence the
language of which we are thinking. The variation
identified someone's tification has become much speech of listeners or
can be seen if we complete a test sentence using regional background. more difficult, mainly be- viewers even within their
different language names: 'If they speak they — , Some dialect experts have cause of increased social own homes. A radio dialect
must be from .'—If the first blank is filled by been known to run radio mobility. In many countries, show would be much less
'Swedish', the second blank will almost certainly shows in which they were it is becoming less com- impressive today. On the
able to identify the general mon for people to live their other hand, meticulous
be filled by 'Sweden'. But 'Portuguese' would not regional background of analysis can bring results,
whole lives in one place,
inevitably lead to 'Portugal': the second blank members of their audience and mixed' dialects are and there have been
could be filled by 'Brazil', 'Angola', 'Mozambique', with considerable success. more the norm. Also, as several notable successes
and several other countries. 'French' would give But it is doubtful whether towns and cities grow, in the field of forensic
anyone has ever de- once-distinct communities linguistics (p. 69).
us the choice of about 40 countries, and 'English'
veloped the abilities of
well over 50. 'Dialect', by contrast with 'language',
is a much more specific geographical term.
Dialect or accent?
POPULAR NOTIONS OF DIALECT Itis important to keep these cause a grammatical differ- §28).
It sometimes thought that only a few people
is terms apart, when discuss- ence is involved. Similarly, Usually, speakers of dif-
ing someone's linguistic the choice between wee ferent dialects have differ-
speak regional dialects. Many restrict the term to
origins. Accent refers only bairn and small child is dia- ent accents; but speakers
rural forms of speech - as when they say that 'dia- to distinctive pronunciation, lectal, because this is a of the same dialect may
lects are dying out these days'. They have noticed whereas dialect refers to contrast in vocabulary. But have different accents too.
that country dialects are not as widespread as they grammar and vocabulary the difference between The dialect known as stan-

once were, but they have failed to notice that urban as well. If we heard one bath with a short a' [a] and dard English' is used
person say He done it and bath with a long a' [a:] is throughout the world, but it
dialects are now on the increase (p. 32). Another
another say He did it, we a matter of accent, as this is spoken in a vast range of
view is to see dialects as sub-standard varieties of would refer to them as is solely a matter of pro- regional accents.
a language, spoken only by low-status groups — using different dialects, be- nunciation (or phonology,
implicit in such comments as 'He speaks correct
English, without a trace of dialect.' Comments of
this kind fail to recognize that standard English
Dialect, idiolect, and lect
is as much a dialect as any other variety - though
Probably no two people are vestigate a language, we a term for any variety of a
a dialect of a rather special kind (p. 39). Or again, identical in the way they have no alternative but to language which can be
languages in isolated parts of the world, which may use language or react to begin with the speech identified in a speech com-
not have been written down, are sometimes the usage of others. Minor habits of individual munity - whether this be on
differences in phonology, speakers: idiolects are the
referred to pejoratively as dialects, as when personal, regional, social,
grammar, and vocabulary first objects of study. Dia- occupational, or other
someone talks of a tribe speaking 'a primitive kind
are normal, so that every- lects can thus be seen as grounds. The term variety
of dialect'. But this fails to recognize the true com- one has, to a limited extent, an abstraction, deriving is itself often used for this
plexity and range of all the world's languages a personal dialect'. It is from an analysis of a purpose; but in recent
(§47). often useful to talk about number of idiolects; and years, many sociolinguists
the linguistic system as languages, in turn, are an (p. 41 2) have begun to use
In this encyclopedia, as is standard practice in
found in a single speaker, abstraction deriving from a lect as a general term in
linguistics, dialects are seen as applicable to all lan- and known as an
this is number of dialects. this way.
guages and all speakers. In this view, all languages idiolect. In fact, when we in- It is also useful to have
are analysed into a range of dialects, which reflect
the regional and social background of their
speakers. The view maintains that everyone speaks

24 LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


point in the chain can we say that one language A schematic dialect conti-
Language vs dialect
ends and the next begins? On what basis can we nuum between dialects A
and G. The possible degrees
One of the most difficult theoretical issues in draw boundary lines between Portuguese, Spanish, of mutual intelligibility are re-
linguistics is how to draw a satisfactory distinction French, and so on? We are used to thinking of presented by different shad-
between language and dialect. The importance of these languages as quite different from each other, ing,from maximum (red) to
this matter will be repeatedly referred to in Part but this is only because we are usually exposed zero (white).

ix, where we have to make judgments about the to their standard varieties, which are not mutually
number of languages in the world and how they intelligible. At the local level, it is not possible to
are best classified. make a clear decision on linguistic grounds.
At first sight, there may appear to be no problem. But decisions are of course made on other
If two people speak differently, then, it might be grounds. As one crosses a well-established national
thought, there are really only two possibilities. boundary, the variety of speech will change its
Either they are not able to understand each other, name: 'Dutch' will become 'German', 'Spanish'
in which case they can be said to speak different will become 'Portuguese', 'Swedish' will become
languages; or they do understand each other, in 'Norwegian'. It is important to appreciate that the
which case they must be speaking different dialects reasons are political and historical, not linguistic
of the same language. This criterion of mutual intel- (§47). Arguments over language names often
ligibility works much of the time; but, unfortu- reduce to arguments of a political nature, especially
nately, matters are not always so simple. when there is a dispute over national boundaries.
For example, in the South Slavic continuum, var-
MUTUAL INTELLIGIBILITY ieties spoken on the Yugoslavian side of the border
One common problem with this criterion is that between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria are called dia-
dialects belonging to the same language are not lects of Macedonian by the former country, but
always mutually intelligible in their spoken form. dialects of Bulgarian by the latter - as part of a
It can be very difficult for someone from the south claim to the territory. However, because there is
of England to understand some of the regional dia- a dialect chain in the area, linguistic criteria will
lects of Scotland or Northern Ireland, for instance; never be able to solve conflicts of this kind.
and the degree of intelligibility can be even worse
when people attempt to communicate with English
speakers from other countries. However, at least Dialect continua in Europe
all of these speakers have one thing in common:

they share a common written language. On this


count, the varieties they speak could justly be called
dialects of the same language.
A rather more serious problem arises in cases
where there is a geographical dialect continuum.
There is often a 'chain' of dialects spoken through-
out an area. At any point in the chain, speakers
of a dialect can understand the speakers of other
dialects who live in adjacent areas to them; but
they find it difficult to understand people who live
further along the chain; and they may find the peo-
I pie who live furthest away completely unintelli-
i gible. The speakers of the dialects at the two ends
of the chain will not understand each other; but
they are nonetheless linked by a chain of mutual
intelligibility.
This kind of situation is very common. An exten-
sive continuum links all the dialects of the lan-
guages known as German, Dutch, and Flemish.
Speakers in eastern Switzerland cannot understand
speakers in eastern Belgium; but they are linked
by a chain of mutually intelligible dialects through-
out the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria. Other
chains in Europe include the Scandinavian conti-
nuum, which links dialects of Norwegian, Swedish,
and Danish; the West Romance continuum, which
links rural dialects of Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan,
French, and Italian; and the North Slavic conti-
nuum, which links Slovak, Czech, Ukrainian,
Polish, and Russian.
The theoretical problem should be clear. At what

8 GEOGRAPHICAL IDENTITY -25


naires to all the school districts in the German The earliest use of
Dialectology Empire. took him ten years to contact nearly
It
dialectology?
The systematic study of regional dialects is known 50,000 local teachers, who were asked to provide
40 sentences Then Gilead cut Ephraim
variously as dialectology, dialect geography, or equivalents for in the local dialect. off
from the fords of the Jordan,
linguistic geography; but these terms are not exact An enormous amount of data was received, and and whenever an Ephraimite
equivalents. In particular, the latter terms suggest this led to the publication in 1881 of the first fugitive said 'Let me cross',
a much wider regional scope for the subject. A dia- Deutschen Reichs.
linguistic atlas, Sprachatlas des the men of Gilead
asked him,
lect specialist who spends his life researching the A larger series of works, based on Wenker's files, Are you an Ephraimite?'. If
he answered 'No', they said,
local usage of a single Yorkshire village can hardly appeared between 1926 and 1956; but even today,
Then say "Shibboleth".' He
be called a 'linguistic geographer', though he is cer- much of the original material has not been pub- would say 'Sibboleth', since
tainly a By contrast, the 'geo-
'dialectologist'. lished. he could not pronounce the
grapher' designation would be quite appropriate The postal questionnaire method enables a large word correctly. Thereupon
amount of data to be accumulated in a relatively they seized and slaughtered
foranyone involved in plotting the distribution of
him by the fords of the Jor-
forms over a large area, such as Scotland, or the short time, but it has several limitations - chiefly
dan.
eastern United States. that dialect pronunciations cannot be accurately (Judges XII, 4-6)
There is another difference between these terms. recorded. The alternative, to send out trained field
Traditionally, dialectology has been the study of workers to observe and record the dialect forms, The Ephraimites were be-
trayed by their regional pro-
regional dialects, and for many people that is still was used in the linguistic survey of France,
first
nunciation. As a result of this
its main focus. But in recent years, dialectologists which began in 1896. The director, Jules Gillieron story, shibboleth, which then
have been paying more attention to social as well (1854-1926), appointed Edmond Edmont (1849- meant 'ear ofcom' or 'flow-
as geographical space, in order to explain the extent 1926) — a grocer with a very sharp ear for phonetic ing stream', has in modern

of language variation (§§9-10). Factors such as differences — to do the field work. For four years, use come to mean 'dis-
tinguishing mark' or
age, sex, social class, and ethnic group are now Edmont went around France on a bicycle, conduct- criterion'.
seen as critical, alongside factors of a purely re- ing interviews with 700 informants using a
gional kind. specially devised questionnaire of nearly 2,000
But whatever the approach, the contemporary items. The Atlas linguistique de la France was sub-
fascination with dialects seems no less than that sequently published in 13 volumes between 1902
shown by previous generations. Radio pro- and 1910. It stands as the most influential work
grammes on dialect variations are popular in in the history of dialectology.
several countries, and compilations of dialect data In the first half of this century, major projects
continue to be produced in the form of grammars, were initiated in many parts of Europe, such as
dictionaries, folk-lore collections, and guides to Romania, Italy, Holland, Spain, and Denmark, and
usage. Local dialect societies thrive in many parts there have been several impressive publications. In
of the world. Dialects continue to be seen as a major due course the large-scale dialect surveys of the
source of information about contemporary popu- United States and England began (p. 30). A great
lar culture and its historical background; and dia- deal of dialect work has also been undertaken in
lect variation forms part of the study of change Japan and China, as well as in parts of Africa, Aus-
(§54). tralia, and South America. In some countries, even,
Probably the most important application of dia- surveys leading to a 'second generation' of linguis-
lectology these days education, where the de-
is in tic atlases have begun. Direct interviewing and pos-
velopment of dialect 'awareness' in children is talquestionnaires continue to be used today, as
widely recognized as a way of getting them to see does the tradition of presenting the linguistic
the heterogeneity of contemporary society, and material in the form of maps; and in recent years,
their place within (§§44, 61). Teachers are often
it dialectology has benefited enormously from the
faced with a conflict between the child's spontan- development of techniques using tape recorders.
eous use of dialect forms and the need to instil The field is also now being influenced by the elec-
a command of the standard language, especially tronic revolution, with computers helping to
in writing. The conflict can be resolved only by 'crunch' the data provided by questionnaires, and
developing in children a sense of the relationships making more
large data-bases of regional variants
between the two kinds of language, so that the available, accessible, and analysable - and even
value of both can be better appreciated. There more visible, using computer graphic techniques.
needs to be an awareness of the history, structure, However, nowadays there are fewer big regional
and function of present-day dialects - and this is dialect projects, and some of those that have begun
what dialectology can provide. may never be completed. This is mainly because
of the large costs involved in collecting, analysing,
THE HISTORY OF REGIONAL and publishing dialect data; but it is also partly
DIALECTOLOGY because of the new direction dialect studies have
While there has been sporadic interest in regional taken. Younger scholars are
these days more likely
dialects for centuries, the first large-scale systematic to be attracted by the sociolinguistically inspired
Germany and France, did not take place
studies, in approaches that developed in the 1970s, with their
end of the 19th century. In 1876, Georg
until the focus on social factors, and on urban rather than
Wenker (1852-1911) began sending out question- on rural dialects (p. 32).

26 •
II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY
Questionnaires
THE FARM COW-HOUSE In
there
a large dialect survey,
will be many infor-
THE FARMSTEAD mants and several investiga-
Q. What do you call the place where you keep tors. One way of ensuring
Show an
surrounding
aerial photograph of a farmstead and
fields . —
your cows? April 1953, the animals that that the results of all the in-

give you milk replaced your cows. terviews will be comparable,


while also saving a great
1 ... these? Fields.
Rr. BEEF-HOUSE (COW-)BYRE, COW- deal of time, is through the
2 ... this? Farmstead. use of questionnaires. On
HOLE/HOUSE/HULL/SHADE/SHED,
3 ...this? Farmyard. LATHE, MISTALL, SHIPPON the other hand, unless the
4 ... this? Stackyard. questions are particularly in-
the various buildings? genious, the responses will
. . .

1 Nb 1 baio" 2 baio" [barman 1 byre-man lack the spontaneity of infor-


If necessary, ask the relevant question below. (= cowman) 1.2.3] 3 ku:baio B mal speech. Results thus
4-5 baio" 6 baia" 7 baio", have to be interpreted with
5 ... where you keep pigs? Pigsty.
the place
^bao'z 1
8 baio" 9 bats caution.
April 1953, the animals that go {i. grunting) Opposite is an extract from
replaced pigs. Cu the questionnaire used in the
2 1 baiar 2 baiar 3 baia, ku:as
... the place where you keep hens? Hen-
6
4 bats, OQ bai.az 5 ku:bauaj
1
6 baia,
English Dialect Survey (p.
house. —
April 1953, the birds that lay eggs
k 3 u:as ["old name"] 30).The dots at the begin-
for you replaced hens. ning of each line stand for
7 ...the place where you keep pigeons? Dove- What do you call . .
.'; /' =
3Du ku:bat.3
K
°ku: Jujcj 3 2 beta" 3
cote. —April 1953, the birds that go (i.
1

batar 4-5 baia


,

6bai3°D bat,3z 1
The second
imitate.
illustrates the depth of
extract

cooing) replaced pigeons.


phonetic detail recorded by
8 ... the place where you keep your cows? We baiaj, Obaia
4 1
2-3 4 JOpm the field workers. Abbrevia-

Cow-house. April 1953, the animals that
1 bai.3
tions after each number
give you milk replaced your cows.
5 La 1-3 j"Qpm 4 Jipn, ^Opn 1 stand for the different nor-
9 ... the yard in which cattle are kept, thern counties of England.
5 Jipn 6 Jipm, JOpm ["older"], ^ipan 1

especially during the winter, for fattening,


III.11.3,
oa j\pmz 7 Jipn, 1

and for producing dung? Straw-yard.


^Jipanz 1
8-9 Jipn 10 Jipan
(Verify the kind of cattle and the purpose). 1 1 JippOn 12JipOn, C'jQpQn 1

10 ... the small enclosed piece of pasture near 1 3 Jipan, °Jipm


2
1 4 JipQn
the farmhouse, the place where you might
put a cow or a pony that's none too well?
Paddock.
1 What's the barn for and where is it?

PAUSY, adj. n.Lin.' [po/zi.] Slightly intoxicated.


From Strine to Scouse
Slightly the worse for drink; said of persons who combine an
amiable desire to impart information with an incapacity to call to The contrast between re- used by engineers for dis- parentheses):
mind all the necessary words. Drunk naw he was n't whit '
!

you'd call drunk, nobbud he was pausy like.' and standard


gional dialect covering Kew brutes and
PAUT, v. and sb. Sc. Nhb. Dur. Lakel. Yks. Lan. Chi English usage has been a for making other calcula- Ullo dur\ ('Greetings; I am
Der. Not. Lin. Wor. Suf. Also written pawt Sc. Lakef' source of humour the world tions. pleased to make your ac-
Cum.' 4 n.Yks.* e.Yks. 1 m.Yks. 1 w.Yks. ne.Lan. 1 Der.' over. In Let Stalk Strine Tiger: Imperative mood of quaintance.)
Not. * n.Lin. 1 sw.Lin. 1
1
pawte w.Yks. port w.Yks. ; ;
(1965), Afferbeck Lauder the verb to take. As in: Gisalite ('Could you oblige
Not.*; and in forms paat Cai. 1 Nhb.' Cum. 14 paoot
se.Wor. 1 ; pout Sc. Ham.) N.Cy. 1 s.Wor. ;
;

powt Sc
(said to be Professor of 'Tiger look at this, Reg . me with a match, please?')
(Jam.) Bnff. 1 n.Cy. Suf. r [p§t, poat, pat.] 1. v. To poke Strine Studies at the Uni- X: The twenty-fourth letter Ay-ay ('I say!')
or push with the hand or a stick; to stir up; to paw versity of Sinny) uses stan- of the Strine alphabet; also La ('I say, young man.)
handle, or finger things. Cf. pote. dard spellings to represent plural of egg; also a tool for Ere, tatty-head\ (I say.
Sc. To search with a rod or stick in water, or in a dark
confined place. To make a noise when searching or poking
or the popular impression of chopping wood. young woman!)
in
water (Jam). n.Cy. Grose (1790). Whb. 1 Divent paat on wi'd, an Australian accent, with
or ye'll spoil'd. Com. Children pawt when they make repeated' bizarre results: Some of the colloquial In the Appendix to this
attempts to get things with their hands (E.W.P.) Cum. 4 A dog ;
Egg Nishner. A mechanical pronunciations here are work, selected verses from
pawls at the door when it wants to get in, and children pawt when
they make repeated attempts to get hold of things with their hands, device for cooling and puri- found in many dialects. For The RubAiyat of Oma'r
n Yks. n.Yka. 2 Kneading with the fingers into a soft mass.
1
; fying the air of a room. example, Gissa (Please Khayyim are translated
n.Lin. Sutton Wds. (1881); n.Lin. 1 I wish we hed n't noi cats give me
Jezz: Articles of furniture. .') is a feature of
. . into Scouse by Stan Kelly:
really, thaay're alus paw tin' atone, when one's gettin' one's melt
aw.Lin. 1 Some lasses are always pawting things about they've no
Asin:'Setthetible, love, Strine, but it is also well
business with. a. Wor. To beat down apples, Porson Quaint Wds and get a coupler jezz.' known in Liverpool, as can Gerrup dere La! De
(1875) '5- Money: The day following be seen from the section knocker-up sleeps light;
Hence Pouting, vbl. sb. the practice of spearing
(1) Sunny. (Sunny, Money, on 'Forms of Address' in Dawn taps yer winder,
salmon ; also used attrib. (a) Pout-net, sb. a net fastened
; Chewsdy, Wensdy, Lem Yerself Scouse ends anudder night;
An extract from the English Dialect Dictionary Thursdy, Fridy, Sairdy.) (1966), by Frank Shaw, And Lo! de dog-eared mog-
Joseph Wright (1855-1930), published this dictionary Scone: A metereological Fritz Spiegl, and Stan Kelly gies from next-door
in sixvolumes between 1 898 and 1 905; contained term. As in: 'Scona rine.' (whose standard English Tear up de jigger fer an
it

1 00,000 entries. Wright was largely self-taught,


Sly Drool: An instrument translations are given in early fight.
and did
not learn to read until he was a teenager - a fact that
may have been an advantage to him in his later
studies, as his early awareness of dialect differences
would not have been influenced by the forms of the
standard written language.

8 GEOGRAPHICAL IDENTITY • 27
Isoglosses The map illustrates
Lines on maps isoglosses marking the parts of
England and Wales that pro-
Once the speech of dialect informants has been col- nounce the fxj in such words as
lected, it is analysed, and the important features car- the rhotic areas. The main
are marked on a map of the area in which the infor- boundary line runs southwards
from the west of Birmingham to
mants live. When several points on the map have
the east of Oxford, skirts the west
been located, it is then possible to see whether there of London, and ends on the Kent
is way these features are used. The
a pattern in the coast. Some relic areas in the
usual way
of identifying dialect patterns is to draw north of England are also to be
lines around the places where the people use a seen. The information is based on
the relatively conservative speech
linguistic feature in thesame way. These boundary
of rural people, as collected by the
lines are known one
as isoglosses. For example, English Dialect Survey (p. 30).
famous isogloss runs across England, from the
Severn to the Wash: it distinguishes northern
speakers who pronounce a rounded w/u/in words
like cup from southern speakers who keep the
vowel open and unrounded, /a/. A series of lexical
isoglosses, identifying various words for snack, is
illustrated on p. 30.
When isoglosses were first introduced (in 1892),
it was expected that they would provide a clear

method for identifying dialect areas. Because peo-


ple from a particular part of a country 'speak in
the same way', it was assumed that the isoglosses
for many linguistic features would coincide, and
form a neat 'bundle', demarcating one dialect from
another. However, early dialectology studies soon
discovered that the reality was very different. Iso-
glosses criss-crossed maps in all directions, and
very few actually coincided. There seemed to be
no clear dialect boundaries at all — a finding which
made some scholars go so far as to argue that the
whole idea of a dialect was meaningless.
In due course, however, supplementary' notions
were developed to make sense of the data. It was rhotic areas

noted that, while isoglosses rarely coincided, they


did often run in the same general direction. Some
areas, called focal areas, were seen to be relatively The main kinds of isogloss
homogeneous, containing few isoglosses. Where Term Separates Examples
focal areas merged, there was a great deal of isolex lexical items nuncb vs nuncheon (p. 30)
linguistic variation, with many isoglosses present: isomorph morphological features dived vs dove
these became known as transition areas. Often, a isophone phonological features put/put/ vs pAt/
isoseme semantic features dinner (mid-day meal) vs (evening meal)
feature might be left isolated, as a result of linguistic
change affecting the areas around it: these 'islands'
of more conservative usage were called relic areas.
Dialectologists have mixed feelings about iso-
glosses. There is often too much variability in the
way a linguistic feature is used for the data to be
easily summarized in a single isogloss. Also, the
relative significance of different isoglosses remains
to be interpreted. Some isoglosses mark distinc-
tions that are considered to be more important than
others (such as the contrast between short and long
a in words like bath in British English, which has
long been the focus of special comment). Isoglosses
(a)
are an important visual guide, but they need to
be supplemented by other criteria if they are to Focal and transitional On
The expectation Isoglosses The reality Isoglosses criss- a
display, and not to obscure, the true complexity willform neat bundles, demar- cross an area, with no clear larger scale, the isoglosses
of regional variation. cating dialect A from dialect B. boundary between A and B, are seen to constitute a transit-
ional area between the focal
areas A and B.

28 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


THE RHENISH FAN
One of the best examples of the way isoglosses
fail group themselves into bundles is in northern
to
Europe. A set of isoglosses runs east-west across
Germany and Holland, separating Low German,
in the north, from High German, in the south. They
reflect the different ways in which these dialects
have developed the voiceless plosive consonants of
Indo-European (p. 328). In Low German, the
sounds have remained plosives (/p, t, k/); but in
High German, these have generally become frica-
tives. For example, 'village' is [dorp] in the north,
[dorf] in the south; 'that' is [dat], as opposed to
[das]; 'make' and Tare [makan] and [ik] respec-
tively, rather than [maxan] and [icj.
The map shows the location of the isoglosses
Through most of Ger-
that distinguish these words.
many, they are close together, displaying only
minor variations; but where they meet the River
Rhine, the isoglosses move in quite different direc-
tions, in a pattern that resembles the folds in a
fan. It thus becomes impossible to make simple
generalizations about dialect differences in this
area.A speaker in a village near Cologne, for exam-
ple,would say [icj and [maxan], as in High Ger-
man, but say [dorp] and [dat], as in Low German.
What accounts for the Rhenish fan? It has been
suggested that several of the linguistic features
could be explained with reference to certain facts
of social history. For example, the area between
the [dorp/dorf] and [dat/das] isoglosses was co-
extensive with the old diocese of Trier; the area
immediately north was coextensive with the old
diocese of Cologne. The linguistic innovations
seem to have spread along the Rhine from southern
Germany to the cities, and then 'fanned out'
throughout the administrative areas these cities
controlled. Rural speakers were naturally
influenced most by the speech of their own capital
cities, and political and linguistic boundaries gra-
dually came to coincide. (After L. Bloomfield,
1933.)

The two halves of France shows six items that are used. A different legal
sys-
One of the main findings of used differently on either tem existed the early
until
the Atlas linguistique de la side of an isogloss (J. K. 1 9th century, using a writ-

France (p. 26) was the bun- Chambers & P. Trudgill, ten code inspired by Ro-
dle of isoglosses that runs 1980, p. 111). man traditions. And there is

across France from east to The distinction corres- a major difference in archi-
west, dividing the country ponds to several important tectural style, the roofs be-
into two major dialect social and cultural differ- ing generally flat, and not
areas. The areas are tradi- ences, some of which can steeply pitched (as they are
tionally known as langue stillbe observed today. For to the north of the bundle).
d'oil (inthe north) and example, to the south of Such clear correlations be-
langue d'oc (in the south) - the isogloss bundle tween language and cultur-
names based on the words (roughly where the Proven- al identity illustrate the way
for yes' current in these gal region begins), a bien- inwhich dialect studies
areas during the 1 3th cen- nial (as opposed to a trien- form an important part of
tury, when the division was nial) method of crop the study of social history.
first recognized. The map rotation is traditionally

8 GEOGRAPHICAL IDENTITY •
29
THE LINGUISTIC ATLAS OF as farming, animals, housekeeping, weather, and
ENGLAND social activities; and over 404,000 items of infor-
Three of the maps from the English Dialect Survey, mation were recorded.
carried out by Harold Orton (1898-1975) and Between 1962 and 1971 the basic material of
Eugene Dieth (1893-1956), are illustrated here. the survey was published in an introduction and
The field survey was undertaken between 1950 and four separate volumes; in 1977 the Linguistic Atlas
1961 in 313 localities throughout England. The of England was published, containing an interpre-
localities were usually not more than 15 miles tation of a selection of the data. The maps below
apart, and generally consisted of villages with a provide an example of the Survey's basic material
fairly stable population. The informants were for the item snack and two interpretive maps, based
natives of the locality, mainly male agricultural on this material. The first map is a display of all
workers, with good mouths, teeth, and hearing, the responses obtained, which are listed in the top
and over 60 years of age. right-hand corner. The other maps pick out various
The principal method was a questionnaire that trends in usage, and are a considerable simplifica-
elicited information about phonological, lexical, tion. (After H. Orton, S. Sanderson 8c J. Widdow-
morphological, and syntactic features. Tape son, 1978.)
recordings of informal conversation were also
made. Questionnaire responses were transcribed
using the International Phonetic Alphabet (p. 158).
Over 1,300 questions were used, on such themes

FORENOON -
DRINKING
FORENOONS
JOWER
LOWANCE
LUNCH
M MINNING-ON
X NAMMET(S)
X NAMMICK
. NINESES
X NUMMET
X NUMMICK
N NUNCH
NUNCHEON
PROGGER
PUTTING-ON
SANDWICH l£S)
_ SNACK
A SNACK -BIT
S SNAP
SNAPPING
SUP t A BITE
TEN-0-CLOCK(S)
> TENNER
< TENSES
W TOMMY

30 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


THE LINGUISTIC GEOGRAPHY OF
WALES
One of the most recent dialect surveys was carried
out in Wales in the 1960s under the direction of
Alan R. Thomas (1935 -) and published in 1973.
It was based on 1 80 points of enquiry in the Welsh-

speaking areas, the localities being selected on the


basis of their position relative to the physical geo-
graphy of the country and to the main communi-
cation routes.
The survey was based on a postal questionnaire,
with questions using both Welsh and English.
There were over 500 questions, which dealt largely
with domestic, rural, and farming vocabulary;
about 130,000 responses were received. The ques-
tionnaire was sent to a person of educated back-
ground, who supervised its completion by local
informants, using spelling that reflected regional
pronunciation. Informants were of the older gener-
ation, with little formal education, and had spent
no prolonged periods away from their native area.
The main part of the atlas discusses the distribu-
tion of regional words for around 400 items, on
the basis of which the main Welsh speech areas
are drawn up.The illustration (right) shows the
distribution of Welsh words for pane of glass, an
item in which two distinct patterns of use can be
clearly seen: paen and its variants in the north-east
and the midlands, cwalar and its variants in most
other places. (After A. R. Thomas, 1973.)

THE LINGUISTIC ATLAS OF THE


UNITED STATES
This survey began in 1931, under the direction of
Hans Kurath (1891 -), as part of an ambitious pro-
gramme to establish a linguistic atlas of the United
States and Canada. The region was divided into
survey areas, and the first atlas to appear, dealing
with New England, was published in 1939—43. The
project is ongoing, with informant interviews com-
plete in many areas, but the amount of work
involved means that publication is a slow and
irregular process.
The illustration (right) is taken from Kurath's
Word Geography of the Eastern United States
(1949) — a survey area that included the coastal
Atlantic states from Maine to Georgia, Penn-
sylvania, West Virginia, and eastern Ohio. Dialec-
tologists went to nearly every county in these states
and interviewed two people in each — one older-
generation and unschooled, the other a member
of the middle class with some degree of education.
In the larger cities, people with a more cultured
background were also interviewed. All were natives
of their area, and had not moved much outside
DARNING NEEDLE
it. Interviewers spent from 10 to 15 hours with
MOSQUITO HAWK
each informant, dealing with over 1,000 points of
SPINDLE
usage. More than 1,200 people were interviewed,
SNAKE FEEDER
and information was obtained about the diffusion
SNAKE DOCTOR
of around 400 regional expressions for domestic
SNAKE WAITER
and agricultural items.
The map records the distribution of words for
dragonfly.

8 GEOGRAPHICAL IDENTITY- 31
Modern dialect studies
ation. A linguistic variable is a unit with at least
two variant forms, the choice of which depends
Traditional dialectology studied geographical var- on other factors, such as sex, age, social status,
iation, generally using elderly, untravelled, and and situation. For example, in New York, speakers
uneducated speakers from rural areas. Modern dia- sometimes pronounce /r/ in words like car and
lectology has moved in other directions. sometimes they do not. This unit can thus be seen
Social factors now provide the focus of investiga- as a variable, (r), with two variant forms, /r/ and
tion. Speech variation can be partly understood zero. usual to transcribe linguistic variables
(It is

with reference to regional location and movement, in parentheses.) It is then possible to calculate the

but social background is felt to be an equally if extent to which individual speakers, or groups of
not more important factor in explaining linguistic speakers, use /r/, and to determine whether there
diversity and change. Modern dialectologists there- is a correlation between their preferences and their

fore take account of socioeconomic status, using backgrounds. Several interesting correlations have
such indicators as occupation, income, or educa- in fact been found (see also p. 332).
tion, alongside age and sex. Ideally informants are
found in all social groups, and the traditional focus
on the language of older people of working-class
backgrounds has been replaced by the study of
speakers of all ages and from all walks of life (§10). Dropping the h
Brad- Nor-
Dialect studies have moved from the country to In British English, the accent which carries Class ford wich
the city. The description of rural dialects led to most prestige (p. 39) pronounces /h/ at

fascinating results, but only a small proportion of the beginnings of words such as head. But Middle middle (MMC) 12% 6%
a country's population was represented in such in most other accents of England and Lower middle (LMC) 28% 14%
Wales, it is common to omit /h/ in this Upper working (UMC) 67% 40%
studies. In many countries, over 80% of the popu- position. Regions do not pronounce or omit Middle working (MWC) 89% 60%
lation live in towns and cities, and their speech /h/ with total consistency, however, as Lower working (LWC) 93% 60%
patterns need to be described too — especially as can be seen from the results of two studies
linguistic change so often begins when people from of this variable carried out in Norwich and The correlation is clear. In both areas,
Bradford. there is more /h/-dropping as one moves
the country imitate those from urban areas. This
The speakers were grouped into five down the social scale. Moreover, the pro-
approach, accordingly, is known as urban dialec- social classes,based on such factors as portion is always greater in Bradford, sug-
tology. their occupation, income, and education. gesting that the phenomenon has been
Informants are now randomly selected. In the The proportion of /h/-dropping was calcu- longer established in that area. (After J. K.

older studies, small numbers of speakers were care- lated, with the following results: Chambers & P. Trudgill, 1980.)

fully chosen to represent what were thought of as


'pure' forms of dialect. Today, larger numbers of
people are chosen from the whole population of Reading aloud in Norwich
a city - perhaps using the electoral register or a People of different social levels were Class
telephone directory. Also, the earlier approach asked to read aloud a list of isolated words
generally asked for one-word responses to a range (A) and a piece of continuous text (B), and MMC 3 28
their pronunciations when reading were LMC 10 15 42
of carefully chosen questions. This produced useful
compared with their formal (C) and casual UWC 5 15 74 87
data, but these speech patterns were unlikely to
(D) speech. MWC 23 44 88 95
have been typical. When people have their atten- The shows whether the variable
table LWC 29 66 98 100
tion drawn to the way they speak, they usually such words as walking was pro-
(ng) in The consistency with which speakers
adopt a more careful and unnatural style. Attempts nounced /rj/ or /n/. (0 = no use of /n/; increase their use of n/ as their language
100= 100% use of /n/.) becomes more spontaneous and casual is
are therefore now made to elicit speech that is more
reflected at every social level. (After P.
spontaneous in character by engaging informants Trudgill, 1974.)
in topics of conversation that they find interesting
or emotionally involving (p. 332). The question-
naire has been largely replaced by the tape recorder. /l/-dropping in Montreal
The consonant I is often dropped in the il (personal) 94 84
LINGUISTIC VARIABLES pronunciation of //('he, it'), e//e('she, it), elle 67 59
Traditional dialectology studied the fact that differ- ils ('they'), la (her, it, the), and les (the, les (pronoun) 53 41
ent people do not speak in the same way. Contem- them). The prestige forms retain the /I/. la (article) 34 25
When usage is analysed by sex of la (pronoun) 31 23
porary dialectology adds to this study the fact that
speaker, a clear pattern emerges. (The les (article) 25 15
the same person does not speak in the same way numbers represent the percentage of /l/- Women are much more likely to use the
all the time. Individuals vary in their pronuncia- dropping.) higher-prestige variant than men - a
tion, grammar, and vocabulary. Is there a reason Male Female pattern of differentiation that has often
for this variation, or is it random - 'free' variation, been found in studies of urban dialecto-

as it is often called? The current belief is that most /'/(impersonal) 99 97 logy. (After G. Sankoff & H. Cedergren,
is 94 90 1971.)
of the variation is systematic, the result of the inter-
play between linguistic and social factors.
In the 1970s, the notion of the linguistic variable
was developed, as a means of describing this vari-

32 -II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


Linguistic areas Front-rounded vowels
These vowels, such as in
Geographical identity can sometimes be estab- German mude ('tired') or
lished within a broader context than that provided French soeur ('sister'), are
by rural or urban dialectology. Certain features of found along an axis which
runs diagonally across
speech can identify someone as coming from a par-
northern Europe. They are
ticular part of the world, but the area involved may heard in French, Dutch,
extend over several countries, languages, or even German, Danish, Norwe-
language families (§50). The study of 'areal fea- gian, Swedish, and Fin-
nish. The feature cannot be
tures' of this kind is sometimes referred to as areal
explained on historical
linguistics.
grounds: German and Eng-
Features of pronunciation are often shared by lish are closely related, but
adjacent, but historically-unrelated languages. In the latter does not have
the indigenous languages of southern Africa (p. front-rounded vowels; nor
does Spanish, which is clo-
315), the use of click sounds in speech identifies
sely related to French. The
speakers of the Khoisan languages as well as of main factor seems to be
local Bantu languages, such as Zulu and Xhosa. geographical proximity - as
In the Indian sub-continent (p. 308), languages that further illustrated by the

belong to different families (such as Indo-European way in which many south


German dialects lack these
and Dravidian) have several important phonologi-
vowels, whereas they are
cal features in common — the use of retroflex con- found in north-east Italy. (J.
sonants (p. 155) is particularly widespread, for K. Chambers & P. Trudgill,
example. In Europe the distribution of the affricate 1980, p. 185.)

[tf] is interesting: it is found in many of the lan-

guages on the periphery of the area, such as Lapp,


Romanian, Hungarian, Spanish, Basque, Italian, A genetic explanation?
The distinctive European
Gaelic, English, and the Slavic languages. The lan-
distribution of such sounds
guages within this periphery, such as Danish, Ger- as front-rounded vowels,
man, and French, do not use it. affricates, and dental frica-

Grammatical features can also cross linguistic tives has been studied from
a genetic point of view. The
and national boundaries. The use of particles to
geneticist C. D. Darlington
mark different semantic classes of nouns (§16) can (1 903- proposed in the
)

be found throughout South-east Asia. In Europe, 1 940s that the genetic


the Balkans constitutes a particularly well-defined composition of a commu-
linguistic area. For example, Albanian, Romanian, nity would determine
partly
its preferences for types of
Bulgarian, and Macedonian all place the definite
sound. The maps show the
article after the noun, as in Romanian lup ('wolf') distribution of dental frica-
and lupul ('the wolf), whereas historically-related tives in western Europe
languages outside of the Balkans area (such as (above, left), and the fre-

do not.
Italian)
quency with which the O
blood-group gene is distri-
How do areal features develop? In some areas, buted in the population
Dental fricative as Dental fricative
have probably helped to dif-
dialect chains (p. 25) I 1

(below, left). There is an in-


phoneme today in the past
throughout an area. Con-
fuse a linguistic feature triguing correlation in : popu-
centrations of bilingual speakers along lines of I Dental fricative .is i i No dental lations where fewer than
^BBI phoneme variant today
1

fricative recorded 60% have the gene, there


communication would also play a part, and politi-
is no history of these
cal factors will have exercised their influence. sounds; and in those where
Sometimes, the progress of an areal feature can more than 65% have the
be traced - an example being the uvular pronuncia- gene, the sounds are well
represented. Unfortuna-
tion of /r/. Originally, speakers of European lan-
tely, proposals of this kind
guages pronounced /r/ with the front of their have not been followed up,
tongue; but, in the 17th century, Parisians began and remain only sugges-
to use a uvular variant. The variant caught on, tive. Social explanations of

spreading first throughout most of France, then to such distributions are cur-
rently felt to be far more like-
parts of Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium,
ly. (After L. F. Brosnahan,
Holland, Germany, Denmark, and (by the end of 1961.)
the 19th century) to southern Norway and Sweden.
Spain, Austria, England, and other countries were
not affected. The historical reasons for this com-
plex state of affairs are little understood, and require
investigation on several fronts. In such cases, the
facts of dialectology, social history, and political
history merge.

8 GEOGRAPHICAL IDENTITY •
33
9 Ethnic and national identity

Nowhere does the issue of personal linguistic iden- reaction is a desperate attempt to keep it, and the Religious identity Perhaps
the clearest case of a lan-
tity emerge more strongly than in relation to ques- community it represents, alive; in others, a minor-
guage fulfilling the need to
tions of ethnicity and nationhood. Ethnic identity- ity group may be rapidly growing in numbers, so define a national identity in
is allegiance to a group with which one has ances- that its language begins to compete with the estab- modern times is Hebrew.
tral links. It is a general notion, which applies to lished languages of the country for educational, When the state of Israel was
everyone, and not just to those who practise a tradi- established in 1948, there
media, and other resources; in still others, the
was an urgent need to unify
tional rural culture (a current usage of the term number of speakers may be stable, but there has its heteroge-
linguistically
'ethnic'). However, questions of ethnolinguistic been an awakening (or reawakening) of cultural neous population. Classical
identity in fact arise most often in relation to the identity, with a subsequent demand for recognition Hebrew was the obvious
demands and needs of those who are in an ethnic and (usually) territorial independence. These situ- candidate, in view of its an-
cient history and continued
minority within a community-, such as the many ations are discussed further in §61.
use as the religious lan-
groups of immigrants, exiles, and foreign workers Why should language be such a significant index guage of Judaism (and even
in Europe and the USA, or the tribal divisions that of ethnic or nationalistic movements? One reason as a secular language for
characterize several African countries. is undoubtedly that such a widespread and
it is some purposes among eas-
life. To choose one
ternEuropean Jews). The
Questions of ethnicity are closely related to those evident feature of community
complex stages that led to
of national identity. Once a group becomes aware language over another provides an immediate and the successful revival of He-
of its ethnic identity, it will wish to preserve and universally recognized badge of identity. Another brew provide a particularly
strengthen its status, and this often takes the form reason is that language provides a particularly clear clear example of the nature
of a desire for political recognition, usually self- link with the past - often the only detailed link, and procedures of language
planning (§61).
government. Political commentators have stressed in the form of literature. This link exists even after
The picture shows frag-
the subjective element in the idea of a 'nation' — ability in the language has been lost; for example, ments of one Dead
of the
the difficulty of defining the psychological bond many present-day Italian-Americans and -Austra- Sea Scrolls.
that motivates a nationalistic movement, or pre- lians know very little Italian, but they still see
dicting which elements will contribute most to a Italian as a symbol of their ethnic identity. There
group's sense of identity. Religious practices, long- is also a tendency for language to act as a natural
standing institutions, and traditional customs are barrier between cultural groups, promoting con-
all important in this respect; but perhaps the most flict rather than cooperation- as has often been
widely encountered symbol of emerging nation- seen in political meetings between opposed groups,
hood is language. In the 18th and 19th centuries, when the question of which language to use in the
in particular, linguistic nationalism was a domi- discussion has become a major procedural de-
nant European movement, with language seen as cision. In bilingual communities, or areas where
the primary outward sign of a group's identity there is a recognized lingua franca, this factor is

(§§10, 61). Today, a comparable concern can be less important; but even here, language can focus
observed in many areas of the world, as part of the sense of political grievance in a clearer way
separatist political demands. than any other factor. There is no more awesome
important to recognize the extent to which
It is testimonial to the power of language than the fact
national diversity can give rise to linguistic issues. that there have been so many people ready to die,
Political entities that comprise a homogeneous if their demands for linguistic recognition were not

national group are quite rare. A study of the 132 met (p. 308).
states existing in 1971 found that only 12 were
true nation-states; 50 contained a major ethnic Basque
group comprising more than three-quarters of the The way language can be- and all names in the lan- accepted responsibility for
population; and in 39 states, the largest ethnic come a symbol of national guage on official docu- Basque teaching pro-
group comprised less than half the population (W. identity is very clearly ments were translated into grammes at all levels of

Connor, 1978). National and state loyalties thus seen inthe history of Spanish. Inscriptions on education. In March 1980,
Basque (Euskera), and the public buildings and tomb- the first Basque Parliament
rarely coincide, and when different languages are
attitude towards it of the stones were removed. was elected, with Euskera
formally associated with these concepts, the prob- Spanish government under By the early 1 960s, offi- recognized as an official
ability of conflict is real. Franco, from 1 937 until the cial policyhad changed. language along with
Linguistic conflicts due to divided ethnic and mid-1 950s. The teaching of Basque came to be permit- Spanish in the Basque pro-
the language in schools ted in church services, and vinces. Current discontent,
national loyalties are often bitter and violent. In
was forbidden, as was its then in church schools and as a consequence, is
recent years, there have been major incidents in use the media, church broadcasts. 1968, a gov-
in In focussed more on the
several countries, such as India (p. 308), Spain, ceremonies, and all public ernment decree authorized region's future socio-
Canada (p. 367), Belgium, Corsica, the USA, places.Books in the lan- the teaching of regional economic development,
South Africa, and the Celtic-speaking areas (p. guage were publicly burnt. languages at the primary associated with persistent
Basque names were no level in Spain. By 1979, the demands for political auto-
303). The reasons for conflict vary greatly: in some longer allowed in baptism, Ministry of Education had nomy.
cases, the use of a language is declining, and the

34 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


fierce arguments surrounding two viewpoints. The Ann Arbor trial
Ethnic varieties BEV was nothing more than a
Some argued that In 1 977, an important case
Varieties of language can also signal ethnic identity. restricted code 40), the result of verbal depriva-
(p. was brought by the children
In fact, probably themost distinctive feature of tion. Others, that the whole thing was a myth of the Martin Luther King

immigrant groups is not their mother


ethnicity in devised by white liberals, or an attempt to further Elementary School in Ann
Arbor, Michigan, against the
tongue (which may rarely be heard outside the But
discredit blacks. in the late 1970s, these argu-
Ann Arbor School District
home), but the foreign accent and dialect that ments were largely resolved — at an academic level, Board. The racial balance of
characterizes their use of the majority language. at least. Most contemporary linguists who have children attending the school
In the course of time, many
of these features have studied this topic accept a version of the creole at the timewas 80% white,
become established, resulting in new varieties of hypothesis, because of the striking phonological
13% black, and 7% Asian
and Latino. Some of the
the majority language. Well-known cases include and grammatical similarities between BEV and black children, who came
the range of English accents and dialects associated other Creoles, such as those of the West Indies; but from a local low-income
with speakers from the Indian sub-continent, from they allow for the probability that some features housing area, were found to
the West Indies, or from Puerto Rico. A non-regio- of BEV may have arisen partly or wholly as the be doing extremely badly in
the school.
nal example would be people with a Jewish back- result of white dialects.
The mothers of these
ground, whose speech has had a distinctive There is a continuing need to disseminate the children believed that this
influence on many European languages. facts about the relationship between standard Eng- situation was due to the
lish and non-standard varieties, such as BEV, school's failure to take into
account the children's racial
BLACK ENGLISH VERNACULAR because the principle of mutual recognition and
and sociocultural back-
One of the clearest examples of ethnic linguistic respect is constantly being challenged. In particular ground. It was argued that

variety is provided by the contrast between the


one has to anticipate the severe linguistic disadvan- there was a 'linguistic bar-

tage that affects children from these dialect back- rier', in the form of BEV,
speech of black and white Americans. There is no
which impeded their aca-
simple correlation between colour and language, grounds when they go to school, where the medium
demic performance, and that
because there is considerable linguistic variation of instruction and criterion of successful perfor-
this barrier prevented the

within both racial groups, and it is perfectly pos- mance is standard English. These days there is an children from having the

sible for black speakers to 'sound' white, and vice increasing understanding of the educational issues equal educational opportu-
(§44); but an enlightened approach to the problem nity that was their rightunder
versa, depending on educational, social, and re- 20
Title of the U.S. Code. Al-
is by no means universal.
gional factors (p. 18). The term 'Black English' has ternative educational pro-
been criticized, therefore, because of its suggestion grammes should have been
that all blacks use the same variety, and has been
Some grammatical features of BEV provided to cater for their

replaced in academic study by 'Black English Ver-


• No third-person singular present
final 5 in the unique linguistic needs.
tense, e.g. he walk, she come.
The case thus depended
nacular' (BEV), referring to the speech of the on whether BEV was so dif-
group most often studied in this context - the non- • No use of forms of the verb be in the present ferent from standard English
standard English spoken by lower-class blacks in tense, when it is used as a copula, or 'linking' as to constitute a barrier.
urban communities. verb, within a sentence, e.g.They real fine, If Other considerations, of a
you interested. and economic kind,
cultural
Some features of BEV are given below. It is not were judged irrelevant. Re-
• The use of the verb be to mark habitual meaning,
clear just how widespread these features are cordings were played in
amongst the black community; nor is it obvious but without changing its grammatical form court of the children's spon-

where they come from. In one view, all BEV fea- ('invariant be''), e.g. Sometime they be walking taneous speech, which was
round here. shown to be similar to the
tures can be found in white English dialects (espe-
• Use of been to express a meaning of past activity
BEV used by black children
cially those of the southern USA), suggesting that elsewhere; and a team of
black English historically derived from white. The with current relevance, e.g. / been know your linguistics experts testified to

association with blacks is then explained as a result name. the extent of the language

of their emigration to the northern cities, where


• Use of be done in the sense of 'will have', e.g. differences, and to the creole

these features were perceived as a distinctive We be done washed all those cars soon. history of BEV, which indi-
cated that these differences
marker of ethnic, as opposed to regional, identity. • Use of it to express 'existential' meaning (cf.
were the result of racial
With the development of urban ghettos, the con- standard English there), e.g. It's a boy in my segregation.
class name Mike. The won
trast became more marked over time. The alter- plaintiffs their
• Use of double negatives involving the auxiliary case, and the School Board
native view argues that the origins of BEV lie in
verb at the beginning of a sentence, Won't was directed to take steps to
e.g.
the use of a creole English (p. 336) by the first help the teachers identify
blacks in America. This language, originally very nobody do nothing about that. children speaking BEV, and
different from English as a result of its African to use that knowledge in

teaching the children to read


linguistic background, has been progressively
standard English. Since
influenced by white English so that it now retains then, several other school
only a few creole features. districtshave developed pro-
It is often difficult to obtain an objective discus- grammes, influenced by this
sion and evaluation of the linguistic evidence decision. The Ann Arbor
judgment can therefore be
because of the existence of strong emotions around
seen as a landmark in the
the subject, and the colour prejudice which has pro- slow process towards the
moted the view that black English is necessarily public recognition of ethnic
inferior to white — a view that has no linguistic linguistic identity. (After W.
Labov, 1982.)
validity ($2). During the early 1970s, there were

9 ETHNIC AND NATIONAL IDENTITY .


35
.

GASTARBEITER THE ETHNICITY BOOM


There are now
over 24 million migrant workers Between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s, west-
(often called Gastarbeiter 'guest workers') and ern Europe and North America experienced an
their dependants in north-west Europe. They come 'ethnicity boom'. Considerable progress was made
from several countries, such as Turkey, Yugoslavia, in integrating minority indigenous or immigrant
Greece, Italy, Japan, and the Arabic-speaking groups within their host communities, and there
countries. The demands of their new life require was a widespread raising of consciousness about
a level of adaptation that transcends language fron- ethnicity issues. This was especially noticeable in
tiers, and these workers often do not make an issue the USA, where 1970 census data showed that
of their linguistic identity. On the other hand, their 17% of the American population (over 33 million)
communication skills are usually limited, and the claimed a mother tongue other than English — the
social and educational problems of the receiving largest claims relating to Spanish, German, Italian,
country are considerable. French, Polish, and Yiddish. This was a dramatic
In the early 1980s, for example, there were over increase of 71% compared with 1960 (though the
700,000 foreign pupils in German schools, and total population increased by only 13% during that
over 900,000 in French schools. In 1981, minority decade) and a marked reversal of the decline seen
languages being taught in French schools included in the period 1940-60.
German, English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, However, during the 1970s a further change
Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Japanese, Dutch, Serbo- took place. There was still an overall increase in
Croat, Chinese, and Turkish. Even in a small the number of people claiming a mother tongue
country, significant minority language problems other than English, but this increase was largely
exist: in Denmark, for example, migrants from due to Spanish. For many other languages, es-
Yugoslavia, Turkey, and the Nordic countries have pecially German, Yiddish, and the Scandinavian
to be catered for; in Luxemburg, there are many languages, there was a notable decline. Evidently,
Italians and Portuguese. In Britain, there are large numbers of the younger generation, from
around 100 minority languages, about a quarter mainly North European backgrounds, were ceas-
of which are taught in schools to over 400,000 ing to claim these languages as their mother tongue.
pupils. On the other hand, the claims increased for some
The situation is likely to become yet more com- South European languages (e.g. Greek and Portu-
plex in Europe with increasing international mo- guese, as well as Spanish) and for most Asian lan-
bility within the European Economic Community, guages. (After J. A. Fishman, 1984.)
where member-states are still investigating solu- It is perhaps too early for these changes to be
tions to the problem of language teaching and given a social interpretation. One analysis has
learning (§62). But at least the problem is now for- drawn attention to the contrast between the (de-
mally recognized. In 1977, the Council of the Euro- creasing) languages of white North and Central
pean Economic Community issued a directive on European Christendom, which were among the
the education of children of migrant workers in earliest settlers, and the (increasing) non-European
Europe. The directive applied only to member- languages associated with largely eastern religious
states, but the Council resolved to extend the groups, whose arrival in the USA is more recent.
measures to include all immigrant children within The former have now become a part of the Ameri-
the Community (over li million). The aim of the can mainstream, it is argued, whereas the latter
exercise was to adapt school structures and curri- have still to find their identity within that culture.
cula to the specific educational needs of these Because they are less accepted, they are more aware
children without losing sight of their cultural and of the importance of maintaining traditional
linguistic identity. linguistic ties.

Article 2 Member States shall, in accordance with


their national circumstances and legal systems, take
Mother-tongue claim ng
appropriate measures to ensure that free tuition to
Mother tong ues claimed by ove •100,000 Czech 452,812 + 15%
facilitate initial reception is offered in their territory to
people in the U.S. in 1 970, with an esti- Hungarian 447,497 + 17%
the children .including, in particular, the teaching -
. .
mate of the percentage increase (+) or Dutch 412,627 -6%
adapted to the specific needs of such children - of the decrease (- ) in 1979 (after J. A Fishman, Japanese 408,504 +30%
official language or one of the official languages of the 1984). Portuguese 365,300 +30%
host State. Chinese 345,431 +87%
English 160.717,113 +6% Russian 334,615 + 17%
Article 3 Member States shall, in accordance with Spanish 7,823,583 +46% Lithuanian 292,820 +6%
their national circumstances and legal systems, and in German 6,093,054 -10% Ukrainian 249,351 +6%
cooperation with States of origin, take appropriate Italian 4,144,315 + 5% Serbo-Croatian 239,455 + 17%
measures to promote, in coordination with normal French 2,598,408 +7% Tagalog 217,907 + 75%
education, teaching of the mother tongue and culture Polish 2,437,938 +5% Finnish 214,168 -10%
of the country of origin for the children . .
Yiddish 1 ,593,993 -24% Danish 194,462 -10%
Swedish 626,102 -11% Arabic 193,520 + 17%
Norwegian 612,862 -2% Hebrew 101,686 +500%
Slovak 510,366 + 17% Armenian 100,495 + 17%
Greek 458,699 +25%

36 • II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


Minority languages in Europe
1 . Britain The dramatic in- the island's television chan-
crease in immigrant numbers nel broadcasts in Maltese. Its
in 960s has resulted in
the 1 status as a symbol of Maltese
over 100 languages being identity is widespread. (See
used in Britain by ethnic further, p. 316.)
minority communities. The 7. Belgium A linguistic and
most widely spoken immi- cultural boundary runs
grant languages appear to across Belgium. In the north
be Panjabi, Bengali, Urdu, and west are the Flemings,
Gujarati, German, Polish, descendants of the Franks,
Italian, Greek, Spanish, and who speak dialects of Dutch
Cantonese. For the situation (known as Flemish, or
of the Celtic languages, see Vlaams). In the south and
p. 303. east are the Walloons, de-
2. France There are several scendants of the Romano-
minority languages indige- Celts, who speak dialects of
nous to France- Basque, French. There is also a small
Breton (p. 302), Catalan, German-speaking area in
Corsican, Alsatian, Flemish, the east. The capital, Brus-
and Occitan. In a 1 978 sur- sels, is officially bilingual,
vey, three-quarters of the though predominantly
population wished to retain French.
this diversity, but only 35% Early Belgian history saw
actually understood or French as the dominant lan-
spoke one of these lan- guage, and this situation
guages. continued until the 1930s,
3. Luxembourg Letzebuer- when official status was
gesch, related to German, is given to Flemish. Since then,
spoken as a mother tongue, linguistic issues have come
and it is taught in schools, to dominate Belgian politics,
along with French and Stan- as efforts were made to es-
dard German. It retains a tablish language frontiers,
strong popular appeal as a and to provide satisfactory
symbol of national identity. representation and
political
4. Spain The history of Cata- educational resources. In
lan, centred on the Barce- 1 968 serious rioting over

lona area, is similar to Bas- plans to expand the French-


que (p. 34), with an early speaking section of the Uni-
history of repression, and the versity of Louvain (Leuven)
recent acquisition of a de- brought down the govern-
gree of autonomy. In the ment. The four linguistic
north-west corner of the areas have now been offi-
country, the Galician dialect, cially recognized, with each
closely related to Portu- responsible for its own
guese, provides a link with affairs; but the complex
the old Kingdom of Galicia. social situation by no
is

5. Switzerland German is means and several


resolved,
spoken by nearly 70% of the further governments have with the result that there is in their mother tongue, if their languages. However, a Lan-
Swiss population, French by fallen as a result of linguistic local German concern about parents request it; and these guage Board was set up in
around 1 9%, and Italian by policies. future separatist develop- classes are growing. By 1971.
10% (most of the latter living 8.Netherlands Frisian is ments. There is also a large 1 980, in comprehensive 13. Yugoslavia Serbo-
in the canton of Ticino). This accepted as an official lan- Gastarbeiter population. schools, about 50,000 stu- Croat, Slovenian, and Mace-
leaves Romansch, spoken guage in the Netherlands, 10. Sweden Until the 1930s, dents were being taught in donian have official status,
by fewer than 50,000 in the and has its own academy.
it Sweden was ethnically 60 different languages. but others (Albanian, Hun-
canton of the Grisons (Grau- It is used in schools and homogeneous; but following 1 .Finland There were garian) have been given
bunden). The language is courts, especially in the theSecond World War, there around 300,000 Swedish some degree of autonomy in
rapidly declining, under the Friesland area; but generally was a large influx of refu- speakers in Finland in 1970- their own provinces. It is
influence of German, though its use is diminishing, under gees, mainly from Finland, about 7% of the population. government policy to separ-
it continues to be the early the influence of Dutch. The but also from Italy, Hungary, Swedish is an official lan- ate linguistic from nationality
medium of education in the minority population consists Austria, West Germany, guage, alongside Finnish, rights, with only the former
region, and there has been a mainly of over a million Suri- Greece, and Yugoslavia. Im- and education is available in being supported.
recent attempt at cultural namese, Indonesians, Mo- migration has been con- Swedish at all levels; but 14. Romania The many min-
revival. The Romansch luccans, and Frisians- with trolled since 1 967, but there most Swedish speakers are ority languages of this
League looks after all a sizeable gastarbeiter are still around a million bilingual, and the language country include Hungarian
conservation measures group. people from non-Swedish generally seems to be in (15 million), German, Ukrain-
relating to the language. 9.Germany In North Frisia, backgrounds- about 10% of decline. ian, Romany, Russian, Serbo-
6. Malta Maltese is the Low and High German are the population. In 1975, Par- 12. Lapland Around 35,000 Croat, Yiddish, Tatar,
national language of Malta. used, alongside Danish, Ju- liament recognized that Lapps live in Norway, Swe- Slovak, Turkish, Bulgar-
English also has official tish, and Frisian -the latter in these groups should have den, Finland, and the USSR. ian,and Czech. The larger
status,and Arabic and Italian several divergent dialects freedom of choice to retain The Lappish language has languages have media
are widely known. Since (p. 365). There are both Ger- their identity. There is an no official status in any of coverage; but all have some
receiving official status man and Danish Frisians, active bilingualism policy. these countries, and educa- official status.
(1934), its role in written but the most active group is Foreign children may have tional practice is primarily
contexts has increased, and oriented towards Denmark, some educational instruction concerned with the majority

9 ETHNIC AND NATIONAL IDENTITY • 37


10 Social identity

In addition to the questions 'Who are you?' and


Castes
'Where are you from?', which have been addressed
Probably the clearest examples of social distinctionsbetween the phonology, vo-
from a linguistic viewpoint in §§6—9, there is also cabulary, and grammar of Brahmin and
dialects are those associated with a caste
'What are you, in the eyes of the society to which system. Castes are social divisions based non-Brahmin speech. The former also
you belong?' It is a complex and multi-faceted solely on birth, which totally restrict a per- tends to use more loan words, and to pre-
question, to which there is no easy answer. People son's way of life- for example, allowing serve non-native patterns of pronunciation.
only certain kinds of job, or certain mar-
acquire varying status as they participate in social
riage partners (p. 401 ). The best-known Non-
structure; they belong to many social groups; and
system is that of Hindu society in India, Brahmin Brahmin
they perform a large variety of social roles. As a which has four main divisions, and many Vocabulary
consequence, no single system of classification is sub-divisions -though in recent years, the tungu sheep' orangu
likely to do justice to the task of defining a person's caste barriers have been less rigidly alambu 'wash' kaluyu
enforced. The Brahmins (priests) consti- jalo 'water' tanni
social identity in linguistic terms, especially when Phonology
tute the highest class; below them, in des-
the vast range of the world's cultural patterns is
cending order, are the Kshatriyas krafu 'haircut' krappu
taken into account. This section, therefore, has to (warriors), Vaisyas (farmers and mer- jini sugar' cini

be extremely selective, in order to represent the chants), and Sudras (servants). The so- varepparo 'banana' vareppolo
range of sociolinguistic and ethnolinguistic vari- called 'untouchables', whose contact with valeppolo
the other castes is highly restricted, are the Grammar
ables involved.
lowest level of the Sudra caste. -du 'if -ecu
Linguistic correlates of caste can be vandudu came'
'it vanduccu
found at all levels of structure. For exam- panra he does' pannuha
ple, in Tamil, there are several clear-cut (After W. Bright & A. K. Ramanujan, 1 964.)
Social stratification
One of the chief forms of sociolinguistic identity
Speech and silence in Kirundi
derives from the way in which people are organized
In the Central African kingdom of Burundi, further proceedings are effectively
into hierarchically ordered groups, or
social
age and sex combine with caste to con- negated.
classes. Classes are aggregates of people with simi- strain the nature of linguistic interaction in To speak well is considered a mark of
lar social or economic characteristics. Within several ways. Seniority (ubukuru) governs good breeding in men. From their tenth
all behaviour. There are clear caste divi- year, boys in the upper castes are given
sociology, the theoretical basis of social class has
sions; older people precede younger; and formal speech training- how to use social
been a controversial subject, and it has not always
men precede women. The order in which formulae, talk to superiors and inferiors,
proved easy to work consistently with the notion, people speak in a group is strictly gov- and make speeches for special occasions.
especially when cross-cultural comparisons are erned by the seniority principle. Males of Upper-caste girls do not take part in public
involved. Factors such as family lineage, rank, highest rank must speak first, regardless speaking, but they do develop effective
of age. Females do not speak at all, in the bargaining skills, for use behind the
occupation, and material possessions often conflict
presence of outsiders, unless spoken to. scenes. They are also trained to listen with
or are defined with reference to different criteria. Upper-caste speakers seem never to great care, so that they can accurately
But for most sociolinguistic purposes to date, it raise their voices, or allow emotion to recount to the men of the family what has
has been possible to make progress by recognizing show. In group discussion, for the senior been said by visitors. (After E. M. Albert,
only the broadest distinctions (such as high vs low, person to be silent implies disapproval. As 1964.)
others must then also stay silent, any
or upper vs middle vs lower) in order to determine
the significant correlations between social class
background and language. Examples of some of The John Betjeman poem, How to get on in society',
these correlations are given (below) and also on originally setas a competition in Time and Tide, was
p. 32. included in the book Noblesse Oblige as part of the
One does not need to be a sociolinguist to sense U/non-U debate (see facing page).
way people talk has something to do with
that the
their social position or level of education. Everyone
has developed a sense of values that make some
How to get on in society
accents seem 'posh' and others 'low', some features
Phone for the fish-knives, Norman, And Howard is out riding on horseback
of vocabulary and grammar 'refined' and others
As Cook is a little unnerved; So do come and take some with me.
'uneducated'. We have a large critical vocabulary You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
for judging other people's language in this way.
Now here is a fork for your pastries
And must have things daintily served.
I

And do use the couch for your feet;


But one does need to be a sociolinguist to define Are the requisites all in the toilet? Iknow what wanted to ask you -
I

precisely the nature of the linguistic features that The frills round the cutlets can wait Is trifle sufficient for sweet?
are the basis of these judgments of social identity. Till the girl has replenished the cruets
Milk and then just as it comes, dear?
And it is only as a result of sociolinguistic research And switched on the logs in the grate.
I'm afraid the preserve's full of stones;
that the pervasive and intricate nature of these cor- It's ever so close in the lounge, dear, Beg pardon, I'm soiling the doilies

relations has begun to be appreciated. But the vestibule's comfy for tea, With afternoon tea-cakes and scones.

38 •
II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY
SOME ENGLISH MARKERS OF SOCIAL today (p. 32), but a century ago this pronunciation Social identity and
CLASS was a desirable feature of speech in the upper mid- other factors
Long before the days of 20th-century linguistics dle class and above — and may still occasionally It is never possible to make

and phonetics, English novelists and dramatists, be heard. The change to [rj] came about under the a simple statement about lan-
especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, were influence of the written form: there was a g in the guage variation and social
class because other influen-
observing the relationship between language and spelling, and it was felt (in the late 19th century)
factors are involved, such
tial
social class in Britain and using it as a basis for that it was more 'correct' to pronounce it. As a
as the sex of the speaker,
characterization and social comment. result, 'dropping the g' in due course became stig- and the formality of the situa-
matized. There is also an
tion (p. 42).
• George Gissing, about Mrs Yule, in his New important interaction be-
Grub Street (1891, Chapter 7). U AND NON-U tween social and regional
factors (§8), as illustrated
Mrs Yule's speech was seldom ungrammatical, and her In 1954, A. S. C. Ross (1907-) published an article below for British English.
intonation was not flagrantly vulgar, but the accent of entitled 'Linguistic class-indicators in present-day The two pyramids deal with
the London poor, which brands as with hereditary English' in a Finnish philological journal. It was differences of accent and
baseness, still clung to her words, rendering futile such read by Nancy Mitford, who wrote an Encounter dialect, and represent the re-
propriety of phrase as she owed to years of association
article based upon it. The result was an enormous
lationship between where' a
with educated people. speaker is, both socially (the
public reaction, with immediate recognition for the vertical dimension) and geo-
terms U and non-U. Two years later, Ross's essay graphically (the horizontal
• Mrs Waddy, about Harry Richmond's father, dimension). At the top are
was reprinted, with some modifications and a new
in George Meredith's The Adventures of Harry the speakers of the highest
title ('U and Non-U: an essay in sociological
Richmond (1871, Chapter 3). social class: they speak the
linguistics'), in Noblesse Oblige, which included
standard dialect with very
'More than his eating and his drinking, that child's contributions on the same subject by Nancy Mit- little regional variation. Also

father worrits about his learning to speak the language ford, Evelyn Waugh, and John Betjeman. at the top are those who
of a British gentleman Before that child your "h's" The aim was speak Received Pronuncia-
. . .
essay's to investigate the linguistic
must be panting of an engine - to please his
like the tion (RP), the educated ac-
demarcation of the British upper class. U stood cent which signals no regional
father and I'm to repeat what I said, to make sure
for 'upper class' usage; non- U stood for other kinds
. . .

.' information at all (within


the child haven't heard anything ungrammatical . .

of usage. It looked at distinctive pronunciation and Britain). The further we move


vocabulary, as well as written language conven- down the class scale, the
• Pip to Biddy, in Charles Dickens' Great Expec- more we encounter regional
tions, such as how to open and close letters. It was
tations (1861,Chapter 35). accent and dialect variation.
a personal account containing many subjective And when we reach the low-
'Biddy,' said I, in a virtuously self-asserting manner, 'I judgments and disregarding the subtle gradations est social class, we en-
must request to know what you mean by this?' in usage intermediate between the two extremes; counter the widest range of
'By this?' said Biddy. local accents and dialects.
but it was also highly perceptive, drawing attention
'No, don't echo,' I retorted. 'You used not to echo,
to a largenumber of distinctive features. The nature Dialects
Biddy.'
of upper-class language has changed over 30 years Highest class:
'Used not!' said Biddy. 'O Mr Pip! Used!' o
later, but the terms U and non-U are still well standard
known. English
• Elfride Swancourt to Mrs Swancourt, in Thomas
Hardy's A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873, Chapter 14).
Some of the lexical oppositions proposed by Lowest
Ross: class:
i have noticed several ladies and gentlemen looking at most
me.' u non-U Regional non-
'My you mustn't say "gentlemen" nowadays
dear, . .
have a bath take a bath variation standard
varieties
We have handed "gentlemen" to the lower classes, bike, bicycle cycle
where the word is still to be heard at tradesmen's balls luncheon dinner
Accents
and provincial tea-parties, I believe. It is done with riding horse riding
here.' sick ill Highest class:
'What must I say then?' Received
knave jack
Pronunciation
'
"Ladies and men" always.'
mad mental
looking-glass mirror Lowest
Dropping the g
writing-paper note-paper class:
'Where on earth did Aunt Em learn to drop her g's?' most
'Father told me once that she was at a school where
jam preserve
Regional localized
an undropped "g" was worse than a dropped "h". They wireless radio variation accents
were bringin' in a country fashion then, huntin' people, table-napkin serviette
Thus, for example, speakers
you know.' lavatory-paper toilet-paper
from the top social class will
rich wealthy all use the same word head-
This conversation between Clare and Dinny Cher-
vegetables greens ache, and give it the same
rel, in John Galsworthy's Maid in Waiting (1931, (RP) pronunciation, but
pudding sweet
Chapter 31), famous linguistic signal
illustrates a speakers from the lowest
telegram wire
of social class in Britain - the two pronunciations class will use skullache,
England Britain head-wark, head-warch, sore
of final g in such words as running, [n] and [rj].
Scotch Scottish head, and other forms, in a
But it also brings home way very well the arbitrary variety of pronunciations, de-
in which linguistic class markers work. The [n] pending on where they are
variant is typical of much working-class speech from. (After P. Trudgill, 1 983.)

10 SOCIAL IDENTITY -39


RESTRICTED AND ELABORATED or registers. Certainly, it is possible to show that Wolof greetings
CODES a lower-class speaker can handle abstract concepts Greeting behaviour has a
Do people from different social classes display dif- in restricted code. For example, in one of the special place among the
ferent abilities in their use of language? This was recordings made by William Labov (1927-), a Wolof of Senegal, and well
illustrates the link between
one of the questions widely discussed in the 1970s, black 15-year-old was asked why he thought a God
language and social identity.
as a result of a distinction proposed by the sociolo- would be white. He replied: 'Why? I'll tell you why! Every interaction must begin
gist Basil Bernstein (1924-).The concepts of 'ela- Cause the average whitey out here got everything, with a greeting.
borated code' and 'restricted code' attempt to you dig? And the nigger ain't got shit, y'know? In the country, a greeting

explain how a society's distribution of power and Y'understan'? So - um — for in order for that to occurs between any two per-
sons who are visible to each
its principles of control shape and enter different happen, you know it ain't no black God that's doin'
other- even if one person
modes of communication which carry the cultures that bullshit.' There is plainly abstract reasoning has to make a detour to ac-
of different social classes and that of the school, here, despite the non-standard language, and the complish it. In crowded
and so reproduce unequal educational advantages. restricted code. areas, everyone close to the

The theory proposes speaker must be greeted. In


that the sets of social relation- Studies of this kind show that the correlation
a conversational gathering,
ships in which people are embedded act selectively between the use of language and social class is evi- everyone must be greeted at
on the production of meanings, and so upon dently not simple: other factors intervene, such as the outset; and if, in the
choices within common linguistic resources. the context in which learning takes place, and the course of the conversation,
Codes are said to have their origins in different way family life is structured. These factors always someone leaves and then re-
turns, itoften necessary to
is
family structures, associated (but not inevitably) need to be borne in mind when debating levels of
pause while all are greeted
with social classes, and are relayed through crucial linguistic 'deficiency' or 'difference' between individually again.
socializing contexts, instructional and regulative, people of different social classes. Wolof society is divided
which differently orient children to the roles, mean- into several castes, and a
ings, and values of the school. Restricted codes THE LANGUAGE OF RESPECT person's social identity is in-
volved in every greeting. The
arise where meanings are particular to and embed- Many communities make use of a complex system most senior people present
ded in a local context, and the need to make mean- of linguistic levels in order to show respect to each are greeted before those of
ings specific and explicit is reduced by the other. The levels will partly reflect a system of social lower rank; and in any meet-
ing, those of lower rank must
foregrounding of shared understandings, values, classes or castes, but the choice of forms may be
speak first. When two people
and identifications. By contrast, the forms of ela- influenced by several other factors, such as age,
meet, they must reach a tacit
borated codes arise out of social relations where sex, kinship relationships, occupation, religious agreement about their rela-
less is taken for granted, where shared understand- affiliation, or number of possessions. In Javanese, one who talks
tive status: the

ings, values, and identifications are less fore- for example, choice of level can in addition be first accepts the lower role.
Variations in status also
grounded, and so where explicitness and specificity affected by the social setting of a conversation, its
occur. For example, an
are more demanded. Middle-class chil-
likely to be subject matter, or the history of contact between upper-caste person may not
dren are said to have access to both codes, whereas the participants. Other things being equal, people wish to adopt the higher-
lower-working-class children are more likely to be would use a higher level at a council meeting than ranking position, because
initially limited to a restricted code, and to experi- about religious matters than
in the street; in talking that would oblige him to sup-
port the lower-ranking per-
ence difficulty in acquiring the form of the elabor- about buying and selling; and when addressing
son with a gift at some future
ated code required by the school, and thus the someone with whom they had recently quarrelled. point. He would therefore
meanings and pedagogical practices regulated by Similar constraints have been noted for several lan- attempt to lower himself by
that code. guages, such as Japanese (p. 99), Korean, Tibetan, speaking first in a conversa-
tion.
The complexities of this theory were sometimes Samoan, and Sundanese.
A Wolof proverb sums up
reduced to the proposition that middle-class Devices for conveying relative respect and social this principle of social in-
children are able to abstract, but working-class distance can be found in all languages. What is equality: sawaa dyi, sawaa
children are not; this difference was then attributed distinctive about 'respect' languages is the way dif- dyi,gatyangga tya,
to differences in the children's linguistic resources. ferences of social level have been so extensively ndamangga ca When two
persons greet each other,
Bernstein argues strongly that there is no basis for coded in the grammar and vocabulary. In Javanese,
one has shame, the other
either of these propositions in his theory. Misread- the differences between levels are so great that has glory.' (After J. T. Irvine,
ings of the theory can also occur through a too- equivalent sentences may seem to have very little 1974.)
ready association of codes with language varieties in common.

Level are you going to eat rice and cassava now Complete Five status levels, in one
Javanese dialect (after C.
dabar Menapa pandjenengan bade dabar Geertz, 1 968), using the sen-
krama inggil pandjenengan
sekul kalijan kaspe samenika? tence Are you going to eat
menapa bade kalijan samenika
and cassava now? The
rice
Menapa sampejan bade neda sekul
krama bias J
sekul
kalijan kaspe samenika?
names krama, madya, and
ngoko refer to high', mid-
napa sampejan adjeng neda kaspe saniki Napa sampejan adjeng neda sekul dle',and 'low' respectively. In
madya Ian kaspe saniki? addition, the high and low
levels each have two divi-
Apa sampejan arep neda sega Ian sions, depending on whether
ngoko madya Ian
kaspe saiki? honorific words are used, to
apa arep sega saiki
produce krama inggil vs kra-
kowe mangan Apa kowe' arep mangan sega Ian
gnoko biasa
kaspe saiki?
ma biasa, and ngoko madya
vs ngoko biasa.

40 • II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


Social status and role Ceremonial language
Probably all communities there are grammatical and many stylistic devices,
'Status' is the position a person holds in the social
have developed special lexicalchanges. They use such as metaphors, pro-
structure of a community — such as a priest, an uses of language for ritual many more Spanish loan verbs, and comparisons.
official, a wife, or a husband. 'Roles' are the con- purposes. Distinctive forms words than in everyday The genre uses traditional
ventional modes of behaviour that society expects are employed by those who speech (60%, compared ways of speech, handed
when holding have official status in the with 20%), and there is a down from ancestors. To
a person to adopt a particular status.
ceremony, as well as by marked increase in the speak Malagasy well
Public roles often have formal markers associated those who participate. This number of affixes in a word means to be in command
with them, such as uniforms; but among the chief may extend to the use of (as many as 1 1 attached to of this style; and it is com-
markers of social position undoubtedly language.
is totally different languages a root, compared to the six mon to hear speakers'
People exercise several roles: they have a particular (without regard for listener or fewer heard in ordinary abilities discussed and
intelligibility), or be no more use). evaluated.
status in their family (head of family, first-born,
than selective modifica- Often, ceremonial In a marriage request
etc.), and another in their place of work (super- tions of everyday speech - genres are marked by con- ceremony, for example, the
visor, apprentice, etc.); they may have a third in such as prayers and siderable verbal ingenuity. girl's family gather in her
their church, a fourth in a local sports centre, and speeches that are dis- For example, among the village, and await the arri-
tinguished only by a more llongot of the northern val of the boy's family.
so on. Each position will carry with it certain
careful articulation, abnor- Philippines there is a Each is represented by a
linguistic conventions, such as a distinctive mode speech-maker. As the
mal prosody, and the occa- speech style known as
of address, an 'official' manner of speech, or a sional use of exceptional 'crooked language' (qam- boy's family approaches,
specialized vocabulary. During the average life- vocabulary and grammati- baqan), used in oratory, no official notice is taken of
time, people learn many such linguistic behaviours. cal forms. play, song, riddles, and them until their speech-
Among the Zuni, for ex- public situations, such as maker makes a series of
It only occasionally that the adoption of a
is
ample, 'sacred words' (t6w- debates. It is a style rich in requests to enter the vil-
social role requires the learning of a completely usup£na' we), usually witty repartee, puns, meta- lage. Unless the girl's
different language. For instance, a knowledge of prayers, are pronounced in phor, elaborate rhythms, speech-maker judges that
Latin is required in traditional Roman Catholic rhythmical units, resem- and changes in words. In these speeches are per-
bling the lines of written Malagasy, there is a con- formed adequately, ac-
practice; a restricted Latin vocabulary was once
poetry, with a reversal of trast between everyday talk cording to the traditional
prerequisite for doctors in the writing out of pre-
the expected patterns of (resaka) and oratorial per- standards of the kabary,
scriptions; students in some schools and colleges stress and intonation: formance (kabary), which they will not be allowed to
still have to speak a Latin grace at meal-times; and strongly stressed syllables is used in ceremonial situa- proceed to the formal mar-
Latin may still be heard in some degree ceremonies. become weak, and the tions such as marriages, riage request, and the
weakest syllable in the unit deaths, and bone-turnings, speech-maker must re-
More usually, a person learns a new variety of lan- and also in formal settings, double his efforts. Sub-
is pronounced most
guage when taking up a social role — for example, strongly. Ceremonial such as visits. An obliga- sequent steps in the
performing an activity of special significance in a speech among the Kamsa tory feature of kabary is ceremony are evaluated in

culture (such as at a marriage ceremony or council Indians of Colombia also 'winding' speech, in which the same way. (After
involves distinctive intona- male speakers perform a E.Keenan, 1974.)
meeting), or presenting a professional image (as
tion and timing, reminiscent dialogue a roundabout,
in
in the case of barristers, the police, and drill
of chant, but in addition allusive manner, using
sergeants). The use of new kinds of suprasegmental
feature (§29) is particularly important in this
One of the most distinctive indications of Kabary in progress An orator at a Malagasy marriage ceremony.
respect.
professional role is the intonation, loudness,
tempo, rhythm, and tone of voice in which things
are said.
In many cases, the linguistic characteristics of
social roles are fairly easy to identify; but often they
are not, especially when the roles themselves are
not clearly identifiable With un-
in social terms.
familiar culturesand languages, too, there is a pro-
blem in recognizing what is really taking place in
social interaction or realizing how one should
behave when participating in an event. How to
behave linguistically as a guest varies greatly from
culture to culture. In some countries, it is polite
to comment on the excellence of a meal, as one
eats it; in others, it is impolite to do so. In
some countries, a guest is expected to make an
impromptu speech of thanks after a formal meal;
in others there is no such expectation. Silence, at
times, may be as significant as speech (p. 38).

10 SOCIAL IDENTITY -41


sharply maintained — for instance, several places Avoidance
Social solidarity and distance have separate names in all the languages, and the languages
One of the most important functions of language Indians themselves emphasize their mutual unintel- Among Australian abori-
variation is to enable individuals to identify with ligibility. In such circumstances, the languages act gines, it is common for a man
a socialgroup or to separate themselves from it. as badges of membership of the tribal units. An to 'avoid' certain relatives -

The markers of solidarity and distance may relate Indian will often speak initially in his own father often his wife's mother and
maternal uncles, sometimes
to family, sex 46), ethnicity, social class (p. 38),
(p. language to acknowledge publicly his tribal affilia-
her father and sisters as well.
or to any of the groups and institutions that define tion. And language acts as a criterion for all kinds Brothers and sisters, too,
the structure of society. They may involve tiny sec- of social behaviour. For example, when the investi- may not be allowed to con-
tions of the population, such as scout groups and gator asked a Bara Indian about marriage sanc- verse freely, once they grow
street gangs, or complete cross-sections, such as tions, she was told: 'My brothers are those who
up. In some tribes, avoid-
ance of taboo relatives
religious bodies and political parties. The signals share a language with me. Those who speak other means total lack of contact;
can be as small as a single word, phrase, or pronun- languages are not my brothers, and I can marry in others, a degree of normal
ciation, or as large as a whole language their sisters.' On another occasion, when she asked speech is tolerated; but the
an Indian why they spoke so many languages most interesting cases are
those where special lan-
DIFFERENT LANGUAGES instead of using the lingua franca, she received the
guages have developed to
Probably the clearest way people have of signalling reply: 'If we were allTukano speakers, where enable communication to
their desire to be close to or different from those would we get our women?' (After J. Jackson, take place. These are
1974.) usually referred to as
around them is through their choice of languages.
'mother-in-law' languages,
Few societies are wholly monolingual, and it is thus but all taboo relatives are in-
possible for different languages to act as symbols DIFFERENT VARIETIES cluded under this heading.
of the social structure to which their speakers In monolingual communities, a major way of In Dyirbal (now almost ex-

belong. The test sentence 'If they speak language marking factors such as solidarity, distance, inti- tinct), the everyday language

name, they must be —


can be completed using
'
macy, and formality is to switch from one language is known as Guwal, andthe
mother-in-law language is
geographical terms (p. 24), but social answers are variety to another. A Berlin businessman may use
called Dyalnguy. The latter
available as well: the blank can be filled by such standard German at the office and lapse into local would be used whenever a
phrases as 'my tribe', 'my religion', 'immigrants', dialect when he returns home. A conference lec- taboo relative was within ear-
turer in Paris may give a talk in formal French, shot. The two languages
'well educated', 'rich', 'servants', and 'the enemy'.
have virtually the same
The use of a different language is often a sign and then discuss the same points with colleagues
grammar, but no vocabulary
of a distinct religious or political group - as in in an informal variety. A London priest may give in common. Dyalnguy also

the cases of Basque, Latin, Welsh, the many official a sermonin an archaic, poetic style, and talk collo- has a much smaller vocabu-
languages of the Indian sub-continent, and the quially to his parishioners as they leave. During lary than Guwal.

the service, he might have used a modern English Guugu-Yimidhirr, there


In
pseudolinguistic speech known as glossolalia (p.
is no contact
at all with the
11). Switching from one language to another may translation of the Bible, or one which derives from
mother-in-law, and a strong
also be a signal of distance or solidarity in everyday the English of the 16th century. taboo also affects speech to
circumstances, as can be seen in strongly bilingual Languages have developed a wide range of var- brothers- and fathers-in-law.
ieties for handling the different kinds and levels There are important differ-
areas, such as Paraguay. Here, the choice of Span-
ences in vocabulary, style,
ish or Guarani is governed by a range of geographi- of relationship which identify the social structure
and prosody. Sexual topics
cal and social factors, among which intimacy and of a community. These varieties are discussed in are proscribed. One must
formality are particularly important. In one study other sections (§§11, 63), because they partly ref- speak to these relatives
lect such factors as occupation, subject matter, slowly, in a subdued tone,
(J. Rubin, 1968), bilingual people from Itapuami
social status, and setting; but it is important to without approaching closely
and Luque were asked which language they would
The style is
or facing them.
use in a variety of circumstances (e.g. with their note that they may also be used as symbols of social
sometimes described as
spouse, sweetheart, children, boss, doctor, priest, identity. In English, for example, forms such as dani-manaamaya, being
etc.) For most, Guarani was the language of inti- liveth and reigneth, givest, vouchsafe, and thine soft/ slow', or diili yirrgaalga,
have long been distinctive in one variety of religious speaking 'sideways'. (After J.
macy, indicating solidarity with the addressee. The
B. Haviland, 1979.)
use of Spanish would indicate that the speaker was language; but in the 1960s, as proposals for the
The avoidance languages
addressing a mere acquaintance or a stranger. modernization of Christian liturgical language of Australia illustrate yet
Spanish was also the language to use in more for- were debated, this variety came to be seen as a another means of marking
mal situations, such as patient—doctor, or student- symbol of traditional practice with which people social distance. The people
chose to identify or from which they dissociated turn away, linguistically and
teacher. Jokes would tend to be in Guarani. Court-
physically, from their taboo
ship often began in Spanish, and ended in Guarani. themselves. The case is worth citing because the
relatives. Similar taboos
The adoption of a local language as an emblem world-wide status of Christianity meant that many have also been observed in

of group identity is well illustrated by the Vaupes speech communities were involved, and over a many other parts of the
Indians of Colombia, who live in more than 20 quarter of the world's population was affected. No world, such as among the
Plains Indians of North
tribal units, each of which is identified by a separate other linguistic change can ever have raised such
America. These languages
language. Despite the existence of a lingua franca personal questions of linguistic identity on such can therefore be contrasted
(Tukano), a homogeneous culture throughout the a global scale. with those (in South-east

region, and the small numbers of speakers (around Asia, for example) where
social relations are expres-
5,000 in total, in the early 1960s), the Indians all
sed by adding complexity to
learn at least three languages - some, as many as ordinary speech (p. 40).
ten. The identity of the different languages is

42 • II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


Diglossia H form is often believed to be the more beautiful
Perhaps the clearest use of varieties as markers of and logical, and thus the more appropriate for reli-
in the case of diglossia — a lan-
gious expression — even if it is less intelligible. In
social structure is
Greece, there were serious riots in 1903, when the
guage situation in which two markedly divergent
varieties, each with its own set of social functions,
New Testament was translated into Dhimotiki.
coexist as standards throughout a community. One
And strong views are always expressed by Arabic
of these varieties is used (in many localized variant
speakers about Classical Arabic, which, as the lan-
forms) in ordinary conversation; the other variety guage of the Qur'an, belongs to God and heaven
is used for special purposes, primarily in formal
(p. 384).
speech and writing. It has become conventional in
Diglossic situationsbecome unstable in the face
linguistics to refer to the former variety as 'low'
of large-scale movements for a single standard —
such as might be found in programmes of political
(L), and the latter as 'high' (H).
unification, national identity, or literary reform. In
Diglossic situations are widespread, some of the
such circumstances, there are arguments in favour
better-known ones including Arabic, Modern
of either H or L varieties becoming the standard.
Greek, and Swiss German. These speech communi-
Supporters of H stress its link with the past, its
ties recognize the H/L distinction and have separ-
claimed excellence, and they contrast its unifying
ate names for the two varieties:
function with the diversity of local dialects. Sup-
High Low porters of L stress the need to have a standard
Greek Katharevousa Dhimotiki which is close to the everyday thoughts and feelings
(Demotic) of the people, and which is a more effective tool

Arabic
D
al-fusha
3
al-
c
ammiyyah of communication at 'Mixed' positions,
all levels.

(Classical) (Colloquial) setting up a modified H or L, are also supported;

Swiss German Hochdeutsch Schweitzer- and the steady emergence of L-based standards has
(High deutsch (Swiss been noted in Greece, China, Haiti, and several
German) German) other areas.

A personal column from


The functional distinction between H and L is the Basle daily newspaper
Perseenlig
generally clear-cut. H
is used in such contexts as Basler Ze/fung This item
sermons, lectures, speeches, news broadcasts, pro- shows an interesting con-
Herzlichen Dank
trast between High German
verbs, newspaper editorials, and traditional poetry. and Swiss German. The rest fur die vielen lieben
Aufmerksamkeiten zur
It is a language that has to be learned in school. of the newspaper is written in
L used in everyday conversation and discussion,
is High German, but in the Per- goldenen Hochzeit von
seenlig column (High Ger- Theres und Beat Wager-Biehler
radio 'soap operas', cartoon captions, folk litera-
man personlich), the last two Gross war die Freude uber die sehr
ture, and other informal contexts. einfallsreichen Uberraschungen!
items are entirely in Swiss
H and L varieties can display differences in pho- German (apart from the
Speziellen Dank den lieben Nachbarn
und <Ex-Nachbarn»!
nology, grammar, and vocabulary. For example, words in English). One is a Familie Wager
the sound systems of the two Swiss German var- humorous announcement of 65247 44-414946

the opening of a medical


ieties are strikingly different. Classical Arabic has
practice; the other is a birth-
three noun cases, whereas Colloquial Arabic has
day greeting. Besammlung
none. And in Greek there are many word pairs, Why are the remaining ads
Miinsterplatz
such as inos (H) and krasi (L) ('wine'): the word H not in Swiss German? This is

would be written on Greek menus, but diners probably because of their 17.00
content and level: the first
would ask for their wine using the L word. All beim Brunnen
item expresses the thanks of
three kinds of distinctiveness are illustrated in the an old married couple to their
following sentence given first in Hochdeutsch (H) neighbours for all they did at
and then in Schweitzerdeutsch (L): Nicht nur die their golden wedding celeb- Juhuill!
ration; the second an-
Sprache hat den Auslander verraten, sondern auch Kinder. d'Jugend derfe freue sich
alii
nounces the assembly point trotz Pflaschter. Impfig. Noodlestich
seine Gewohnheiten; and Niid nu s Muul had de dr Unggla Doggter
and time for a meeting of the
Usslander verraate, au syni Moodeli. 'It was not fire service association. Peter Gordon und sy Babbe
only his language that showed he was a foreigner, Even so, the second item harm ghisst d'PraxisEroffnigs-Flagge
zem grosse Anlass wmsche - mer nur's
his way of life showed it too.' (After P. Trudgill, has one distinctive feature: Bescht
Besammlung ('meeting') is - vill gsundi Kinder - und iedes Johr e
1983.) Fescht
an example of 'Swiss High
In diglossic situations, the choice of H vs L can German', midway between
Marguerite.
Primo und Jan
Shan

easilybecome an index of social solidarity. A Swiss High German (Versamm- 651908 03 383351

German speaker who used Hochdeutsch in every- lung) and Swiss German
(Besammlig).
day conversation would be considered snobbish or Happy birthday
artificial — and if the context were a political discus-
sion, could even raise questions of national
it dear Katrin!
loyalty, as Hochdeutsch is used as the everyday Alles Gueti wunscht Dir
language by people outside the country. Religious Dini liebi Familie

as well as political attitudes may be involved. The 651916 03-351574

10 SOCIAL IDENTITY 43

DIFFERENT WORDS AND PHRASES In addressing people whose names are known,
We recognize varieties of language as a result of kinship is a major criterion. If the speaker is related
perceiving several distinctive linguistic features to the addressee ('alter'), two factors are relevant:
being used together in a social situation. But often 'ascending generation' (e.g. aunt as opposed to cou-
a single linguistic feature is enough to indicate sin) and age. If the speaker is not related to alter,
social distance — such as the particular words or the factor of familiarity is relevant: whether or not
phrases used when people meet, address each other alter is a friend or colleague. If familiarity applies,
by name, or select pronouns for talking to or about the next factor is social rank, here defined with
each other. reference to a professional hierarchy. A senior alter
has the option of offering or accepting FN, instead
Modes of address of TLN ('dispensation' - Call me Mike), though
One of the most significant ways of signalling social this situation is often ambiguous. Age difference

intimacy and distance is through the use of a per- is not significant until there is a gap of nearly a
son's name in direct address. In English, the basic generation.
choice between first name (FN) or title with last
is

name (TLN), but several other conventions are


American address system (after S. Ervin-Tripp, 972)
possible in certain settings, such as the use of LN 1

only in business or academic settings {Now look


here, Smith .), or the use of abbreviations (Is JM
. .

in?). The range of possible forms is easy to state;


but the factors that govern the choice of forms are
often complex and difficult to summarize. When
would two people use FNs or TLNs reciprocally
to each other? When would one speaker use FN
and the other TLN?

Charting address relationships Several studies


have attempted to explicate these factors. The flow-
chart (right) was devised by Susan Ervin-Tripp
(1927-) as a means of specifying the factors that
condition a speaker's choice of address in American
English. The chart is simply a logical statement of
the various possibilities, given a context such as
'Look, — it's time to leave'; it is not an account
,

of what goes on in the speaker's mind. The know-


ledge structure represented is that of an American
academic; but dialect differences, idiosyncratic pre-
ferences, and other variants are not taken into ac-
count.
The entrance point to the diagram is at the bot-
tom left. Each path through the diagram leads to Nuer modes of address
one of the possible modes of address, listed verti- Address systems vary 'theone who goes ahead' their part. A man would
cally at the right. Alternative realizations of these greatly from culture to cul- and Duoth 'the one who normally be addressed us-
ture.Among the Nuer (Su- follows'. ing the name of his father
address modes are not given (e.g. a first name may man
dan), a system of multiple The social setting is an (his patronymic). But a
alternate with a nickname). For example, as one names and titles marks a important factor in the visiting maternal relatives
enters the diagram, the first choice which has to person's place in social selection of a mode of ad- will be greeted primarily by
be made is whether the addressee is a child structure. Every Nuer is dress. Every child inherits his mother's name (his
given a personal name, an honorific, or clan name, matronymic). The naming
(- Adult) or an adult (+ Adult). If the former,
shortly after birth, which he which tends to be used of people after their eldest
one follows the line downwards, where the only retains through life; but as only in ceremonies or on child (teknonymy) is also
distinction drawn is that between name known + ( ) an adult, it is used only by special occasions (such as heard, especially when
or not — ). If the child's name is known, one uses
( close relatives and friends. a return after a long ab- talking to in-laws. For ex-

the first name; if not, one does not use a name These names usually refer sence). When a boy is ample, a woman's status in
to the place of birth, or to initiated to manhood, he is her husband's home is
at all (0). The diagram does not give criteria for
given an ox, and from the based on her having borne
events that took place at
deciding when a child becomes an adult.
the time, such as Nhial distinctive features of this him a child, and this is the
Along the adult path, several decisions have to 'rain', Duob 'path'. Maternal animal he takes his 'ox- link that binds her to her

be made. 'Status-marked setting' refers to special grandparents often give the name', which is used only husband's social group. It
child a second personal by people of the same or is therefore natural for that
occasions (such as a courtroom) where forms of
name, which is used by similar ages. There are group to address her using
address are rigidly prescribed (e.g. your honour, kinsfolk on the maternal also dance-names' - more the child's name. (After
Mr Chairman). The 'identity set' refers to the list side. Twins are given elaborate versions of ox- E. E. Evans-Pritchard,
of occupational or courtesy titles that may be used special personal names, names that are used only 1948).
alone to mark social identity (e.g. Father, Doctor, which immediately identify at dances.
their status, such as Both Kinship roles also play
Mr, Miss).

44 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


TorV? more likely to use T to fellow female students than
A well-studied example of address is the use of either French or Germans. There were psychologi-
the familiar and polite pronouns found in many cal as well as geographical differences. Radical stu-
languages, as in French tu/vous, German du/Sie, dents used more T forms than did conservatives.
Welsh ti/chwi, and so on. These forms (generally One of the conclusions of the study was that 'a
referred to as T forms and V forms, respectively, Frenchman could, with some confidence, infer that
from Latin tu and vos) follow a complex set of a male university student who regularly said T to
rules that foreigners never find easy to master. female fellow students would favour the national-
Terms such as 'familiar' and 'polite' capture aspects ization of industry, free love, trial marriage, the
of their use, but are inadequate summaries of all abolition of capital punishment, and the weakening
their social functions,and ignore important differ- of nationalistic and religious loyalties'. Inferences
ences between languages. of this kind are difficult to confirm on a larger scale,
In Latin, the T forms were used for addressing partly because of the speed of linguistic change
one person, and the V forms for more than one; (since the early 1960s, when this study was done,
but from around the 4th century bc, the convention student use of T has become much more wide-
developed of referring to the Roman Emperor using spread). But hypotheses of this kind are well worth
the plural form vos. Gradually, this 'royal you' following up, as they bear directly on the task of
extended to others who exercised power, so that establishing the basis of sociolinguistic identity.
by medieval times, the upper classes were showing (After R. Brown &
A. Gilman, 1968.)
mutual respect through the use of V forms only.
The historical picture is complicated and not en-
tirely understood, but medieval nobles would
generally address each other as V, whether talking
Flow-charts These charts provide an opportunity to make hypotheses about naming
to one person or more than one, and would address
and help to clarify interlanguage differences. For example, this kind
practice precise,
the lower classes as T. By contrast, the lower classes of diagram has been used to identify the factors governing the use of T or V forms
would use T to each other, and V to their superiors. in Yiddish (S. Ervin-Tripp, 1972).
Later the V forms began to be used in other cir-
cumstances, not simply as a mark of respect due
to those with power but as a sign of any kind of
social distance. T forms, correspondingly, began
to be used as markers of social closeness and inti-
macy. Thus, between equals, it became possible
to use either T or V, depending on the degree of
solidarity one wished to convey. Lower-class
friends would address each other as T, and use
V to strangers or acquaintances. Upper-class
people would do likewise.
In these circumstances, where there is a power
relationship motivating one usage (T = lack of res-
pect), and a solidarity relationship motivating
another (T = social closeness), situations of uncer-
tainty would often arise. For example, during a
meal, should diners address servants as T or V?
The diners are more 'powerful' (and so should use
T), but they are also socially distant from the ser-
vants (and so should use V). Similarly, should chil-
dren address their parents as T (because they are
intimates) or V (because there is a power differ-
ence)? By the 20th century, such conflicts had in
most cases been resolved by following the dictates Farr's Law of Mean Familiarity
of the solidarity dimension: these days, diners ad-
... asdiscovered by Lumer Farr, one of the senior
dress waiters as V, and children address parents
lifemen in Stephen Potter's One-upmanship
asT. naming
(1952), identifies a well-known inverse
But some fascinating differences remain. In the
relationship in the following way:
first systematic T/V study, male students from dif-

ferent linguistic backgrounds were asked about The Guv'nor addresses:

their pronoun preferences. The sample was rela-


Co-director Michael Yates as Mike
Assistant director Michael Yates as Michael
tively small, but it clearly emerged that Italians used
Sectional manager Michael Yates as Mr Yates
T more than the French, and the French more than Sectional assistant Michael Yates as Yates
the Germans. There were several interesting points
Indispensable secretary Michael Yates as Mr Yates
of detail: for example, Germans used T more to Apprentice Michael Yates as Michael
distant relations than did the French; Italians were Night-watchman Michael Yates as Mike

10 SOCIAL IDENTITY .
45
.

Sexist language
Sexism
Maintaining sexual stereotypes in People would bring their
The relationship between language and sex has language wives, mothers, and chil-
dren.
attracted considerable attention in recent years,
This is the list of lecturers from the University of Rise Up, O Men of God . .

largely as a consequence of public concern over Reading's Department of Linguistic Science in 1983, Man, being a mammal,
male and female equality. In many countries, there as printed in the University calendar. Although gender breastfeeds his young.
is irrelevant to the job, the women in the Department
is now an awareness, which was lacking a gener- Mind that child - he may be
are clearly identified by the use of a full first name,
ation ago, of the way in which language can reflect deaf!
and/or by the use of Mrs. It is not possible to tell if Man overboard!
and help to maintain social attitudes towards men the male members of staff are married.
and women. The criticisms have been directed These randomly selected
almost exclusively at the linguistic biases that con- Lecturers: cases of sexibt language
stitute a male-orientated view of the world, foster- C. Biggs, MA, Oxford; PhD, Cambridge; may provoke ridicule, anger,
or indifference, but they
ing unfair sexual discrimination, and, it is argued, Diploma Cambridge
in Linguistics,
would be unlikely to warrant
leading to a denigration of the role of women in R. W. P. Brasington, MA, Oxford
a legal action to determine
society. English has received more discussion than A. R. Butcher, MA, Edinburgh; MPhil, their meaning. However,
any other language, largely because of the impact London; Dr phil, Kiel there are other examples
of early American feminism. F. Margaret Davison, BA, Sussex; MA, where a legal decision could
hang on the sex-specific vs
Several areas of grammar and vocabulary have Reading; Cert T Deaf, Manchester sex-neutral senses of man.
been cited. In grammar, the issue that has attracted P. J. Fletcher, BA, Oxford; MPhil, Read- In the U.S., for example,
most attention is the lack of a sex-neutral, third- ing;PhD, Alberta there has been legal contro-
person singular pronoun in English, especially in M. A. G. Garman, BA, Oxford; PhD, versy over the application of
its use after indefinite pronouns, e.g. If anyone Edinburgh; Diploma in General the generic male pronoun in
cases where it was disputed
wants a copy, he can have one. (In the plural, there Linguistics, Edinburgh
whether such phrases as 'a
is no problem, for they is available.) No natural- G. A. Hughes, BA, Montreal; Diploma in reasonable man' could legiti-
sounding option exists: one is considered very for- English as Second Language, Wales mately be applied to women.
mal, and forms such as he or she are stylistically K. Johnson, BA, Oxford; MA, Essex And in a case heard in 1977,
an appeal was made against
awkward. As a result, there have been many propo- Carolyn A. Letts (Mrs Letts), BA, Wales;
a woman's murder convic-
sals for the introduction of a new English sex-neu- MCST tion on the grounds that in-
tral pronoun — including tey, co, E, ne, thon, mon, K. M. Petyt, MA, Cambridge; MA, PhD, structions to the jury were
heesh, ho, hesh, et, hir, jhe, na, per, xe, po, and Reading; Diploma in Public and Social phrased using the generic
person. None of these proposals has attracted Administration, Oxford (Director of male form; this, it was
argued, could have biased
widespread support, but co, for example, has been Extramural and Continuing Education)
the jury's response, giving
used in some American communes, and na and per Marion E. Trim (Mrs Trim), MSc, Lon- them the impression that the
have been used by some novelists. Less radical don; LCST objective standard to be ap-
alternatives include advice to restructure sentences Irene P. Warburton (Mrs Warburton), BA, plied was that applicable to
Athens; PhD, Indiana an altercation between two
to avoid the use of he-torms.
men. Traditional safeguard
Many other examples of linguistic bias have been phrases such as 'the mascu-
given. In the lexicon, particular attention has been line pronoun shall import the

paid to the use of 'male' items in sex-neutral con- feminine' have turned out to

texts, such as man in generic phrases {the man in


be less than satisfactory in
resolving such issues.
the street, stone-age man, etc.), and the potential
for replacing it by genuinely neutral terms [chair-
man —» chairperson, salesman —* sales assistant, Sexual stereotyping has
etc.). Another lexical field that is considered proble- Sex-role stereotyping in schoolbooks
been especially noted in
matic is marital status, where bias is seen in such traditional children's read-

phrases as X's widow (but not usually Y's ing books and textbooks.
There were always more
widower), the practice of changing the woman's
male characters than fe-
surname at marriage, and the use of Mrs and Miss male, and they took part in
(hence the introduction of Ms as a neutral alterna- a greater variety of roles
tive). The extent of the bias is often remarked upon. and activities. In early read-
ing books, it was always
In one computer analysis of child school books,
the boys who were daring,
male pronouns were four times as common as the girls who were caring.
female pronouns. In another study, 220 terms were Pictures in science books
found in English for sexually promiscuous women, would show experiments
and only 22 for sexually promiscuous men. It is being conducted by boys,
while girls looked on. There
easy to see how sexual stereotypes would be rein-
is now a widespread trend
forced by differences of this kind. to avoid sex-role stereo-
types in children's books,
and to prepare children for
a more egalitarian society.

46-H LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


THE PROPER STUDY OF MANKIND IS by science magazines. By contrast, results for con-
MAN? gressmen showed no decline at all, and results for
What has happened to sexist language, as a result congresswomen were mixed. There was no clear
of feminist criticism? So far, the effect has been decline in the British publication, but rates were
far more noticeable in writing than in speech. very low, and little can be deduced from such a
Several publishing companies have issued guide- small sample. (After R. L. Cooper, 1984.)
lines about ways of avoiding its use, and several What took the place of these forms? There was
writers and editors, in many important areas, now no evidence that a straightforward replacement by
make a conscious effort to avoid unintentional such forms as he or she was taking place. Rather,
biases— including such well-known bodies as the it seems likely that people were using alternative

American Library Association, and writers such as linguistic devices to get round the problem, such
Dr Benjamin Spock and (for the record) the present as they along with a plural noun. (This is the solu-
author. Legal changes, such as the Sex Discrimina- tion I have found most congenial in the present
tion Act in Britain (1975), have caused job titles work, in fact.) Skar God
and much of the associated language to be altered. There is thus clear evidence that the feminist
But is there any evidence of a significant change movement had an observable impact in the 1970s
in practice throughout the language as a whole? on several important genres of written language
In 1984, an American study investigated the use — publications aimed at general audiences, not
/\f~G- boys
of man and its compounds to refer to all humans,
and the use of he and its inflected forms to refer
solely at women. Plainly, there has been a general
raising of consciousness about the issue of linguistic
he Her H Qt]
to females as well as males, in a selection of publica-
tions taken at intervals between 1971 and 1979.
sexism, at least as regards the written language.
Whether this same consciousness would be found
qirh,£ ftnou,
The texts were samples of 75,000 running words in everyday speech is unclear, as is the question yoq are one
from American women's magazines, science maga- of how long-term these linguistic effects will be.
A
zines, several newspapers, and both prepared and
spontaneous remarks from the Congressional
great deal of social change has taken place in
a decade, and could be enough to make the
this
i«f +17+0
Record; a sample from The Times Literary Sup- associated linguistic changes permanent; but a
plement was used, as a British comparison. The decade is as nothing within the large time-scale of
total sample was over half a million words. language change, and it remains to be seen whether
The results were dramatic. In the American cor- the new trends in usage will continue, or whether
pus, the use of these forms fell from 12.3 per 5,000 there will be a reversal, with public opinion react-
words in 1971 to 4.3 per 5,000 in 1979. Women's ing against the extreme positions taken by some
Child's letter from Children's
magazines showed the steepest decline, followed militant feminists.
Letters to God.

A WERO 15 A MALE, ANP / UJHEN 1 CATCH THE BALL, 100 DON'T KNOW
A HEROINE IS A FEMALE,.' iTLL BE THE HEROINE.' ANHTHING, PO HOO,
y
I I }< siBH^
CHARLIE BROWN?

J^V*^

10 SOCIAL IDENTITY 47 •
. .

11 Contextual identity

The question 'Where are you from?', which signals


Setting
geographical identity (§8), can be balanced by
another locational question, 'Where are you now?' The particular time and place in which people inter-
Many features of language correlate directly with act will exercise its influence on the kind of com-
the characteristics of the context, or situation, in munication may occur - or whether
that
which a communicative event takes place. Classifi- communication permitted at all. In institution-
is

cations vary, but most approaches recognize the alized settings, such as a church or a court of law,
central role played by the following factors: the effect on language use is clear enough. But in

• Setting. The time and place in which a


many everyday situations, and especially in cul-
communicative act occurs, e.g. in church, during a
tures we find alien, the relationship between setting
meeting, at a distance, and upon leave-taking. and language can be very difficult to discover. At
• Participants. The number of people who take part dinner parties, funerals, interviews, council meet-
in an interaction, and the relationships between them, ings, weddings, and on other occasions, linguistic
e.g. addressee(s), bystander(s). norms of behaviour need to be intuitively recog-
• Activity. The type of activity in which a participant nized if people are to act appropriately, but they
is engaged, e.g. cross-examining, debating, having a are not always easy to define. For example, how
conversation. would one begin to define the optimum length of
The interaction between these factors produces a an after-dinner speech, or the proportion of
set of constraints on several features of language humour its subject matter should contain? In differ-
(discussed in Parts iii-vi, and x), notably:
ent times and places we may be obliged, permitted,
encouraged, or even forbidden to communicate;
• Channel. The medium chosen for the
and the quality or quantity of the language we use
communication (e.g. speaking, writing, drumming) and
will be subject to social evaluation and sanction.
the way it is used.
• Code. The formal systems of communication
The extent to which people recognize, submit to,
shared by the participants (e.g. spoken English, Russian, or defy these sanctions is an important factor in
etc., deaf sign languages). any study of contextual identity.
• Message form. The structural patterns that identify
the communication, both small scale (the choice of
specific sounds, words, or grammatical constructions)
and large scale (the choice of specific genres).
• Subject matter. The content of the communication, How to answer the telephone
both explicit and implicit.
Telephone conversations following practice seems to irritated when a French
provide one of the clearest be more usual (after D. checks their number,
Each of these plays a crucial part in the identifica- caller
examples of the influence Godard, 1977): when they themselves
tion of a communicative event. For example, a ser-
of setting upon language, 1 Telephone rings. have just said it. Or again,
mon is normally given in a church
(activity) because of the lack of 2. Answerer: Alio.' in trying to reach a third
(setting),by a preacher addressing a congregation visual feedback, and the 3. Caller verifies number. party, a French caller
(participants), primarily using speech (medium), in constraints of time and 4. Answerer: Oui.' would expect French
money. The opening and 5. Caller identifies self, answerers to reciprocate
a monologue in a single language (code), involving
closing phases of such apologizes, and asks for in- with a self-identification or
religious forms and genres (message form), and conversations are particu- tended addressee. some degree of small talk,
about a spiritual topic (subject matter). This kind larly distinctive, with rules The different conventions before going to get the third
of characterization needs immediate refinement, of governing sequences of can have several con- party, whereas an English
course. Some sermons permit dialogue as well as acceptable and unaccept- sequences - not least, the answerer would have no
able utterances. Certain has been
possibility (which such expectation. The
monologue; some use chant and song alongside features of the language seriously mooted) that sequence:
speech; some introduce different languages. But an are universal, but there are French people have 1 Telephone rings.
initial simplified analysis is useful, because it also interesting cultural dif- greater difficulty remem- 2. Answerer gives number.
enables a comparison to be made between different ferences, which often make bering their own telephone 3. Caller asks for third party.
themselves felt whenever number, because they do 4. Answerer: get her.'
kinds of communicative event, which points the I'll

one attempts telephone


to not have to verify it them- (Leaves phone.)
way towards a typology of communication. Several someone abroad. selves when they pick up is normal in England, but
contextually distinctive uses of language are illus- In British English, for ex- their phone! An English abnormal in France, where
trated in §63. ample, the normal se- caller in France could un- there would be a further
quence for a call to a pri- intentionally offend, by us- interaction before the
vate residence is as follows: ing the British pattern, answerer left the phone.
1. Telephone rings. which lacks the caller's Several such differences
2. Answerer gives number. self-identification and apo- exist,which, if not correctly
3. Caller asks for intended logy for troubling the understood, can easily lead
addressee. answerer. And, conversely, to unfortunate stereotypes
By contrast, in French, the English answerers can be about foreign attitudes.

48 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


Maori greetings chant of welcome, using A Maori karanga exchange
In some cultures, rituals of
rhythmical actions and loud LOCAL: Haere mai ra e te mana ariki e, mauria mai o taatou tini aituaa!

greeting or leave-taking are


shouts. Welcome, prestige of chiefs, bring our many dead!
• The tangi is a high wail- Haere mai, haere mai!
marked by elaborate and
highly conventionalized
ing and sobbing, on a sin- Welcome, welcome!
forms of expression, often
gle vowel, uttered for the VISITOR: Karanga ra te tupuna whare ki te kaahuipani!
reflecting the social stand-
dead. Call, ancestral house, to those who mourn!
• The whaikoorero is the Ki ngaa iwi e, karanga ra!
ing of the speakers (§10).
oratory that is the main part Call to the tribes!
Among the Maori, for ex-
ample, distinctive beha-
of the ritual. The locals and LOCAL: Nau mai ngaa karanga maha o te motu!
viour and language identify
each group of visitors have Draw near from all corners of the island!
the ritual encounter at the
a 'team' of orators. Mauria mai ngaa mate kua ngaro ki te poo!
Speeches alternate, each Bring the dead who have gone into the night!
beginning of the ceremo-
nial gathering (or hui)
speech beginning with a VISITOR: Hoki wairua mai raa e koro e!
warning shout, and being Return in spirit, old man!
which takes place on such
followed by an archaic Ki te karanga ki te poowhiri i taa koutou kaahui pani!
occasions as weddings,
funerals, and visitations by
chant, greetings for the To the call and welcome of those who mourn you!
dignitaries.
dead and perhaps a
living, Hoki wairua mai e Paa e!
There may be as many topic for discussion,and Return in spirit, father!
concluding with a traditio-
as seven stages in the en-
nal song by the group as a
counter ritual, all but two in-
whole.
volving language. In each
• The hongi, or pressing of
case, accuracy of expres-
noses, concludes the ritual.
sion is essential, otherwise
evil will result. (After A. Sal-
mond, 1974): When high-ranking for-
• The waerea is a protec- eigners make an official
visit to New Zealand, they
tive incantation chanted
are usually greeted by the
upon entry to a gathering.
elaborate leaping and gri-
Its words are archaic, and

are often not understood.


macing of a Maori ceremo-
nial challenge {wero). Such
• The wero is a ritual chal-
ritual displays of strength
lenge, involving noise and
actions, but no language.
were always customary on
thefirst encounter with
• The karanga is an ex-
strangers- though early
change of high, chanted
calls of greeting, and invo-
settlers often took them for
displays of real belliger-
cations to the dead, be-
ence, with deadly results!
tween the old women of the
and visiting parties.
local Maori dancers in ceremo-
• The poowhiri is an action nial costume, 1972.

Speech-making in Samoan
A study of formal speech-making in the village of
Falefa, in Western Samoa, provides a good illustration
of the effect of setting on language. The village council
(fono) consists of around 100 adults (matai), who are
chiefs and orators, all with special titles. Meetings of
the fono are called to discuss crises in village life; but
before the main issue is discussed, orators make one
or more formal speeches (lauga). The lauga seems to
function as an affirmation of the need for a stable
society, at a time when conflict and dissent are
present. It contains seven distinct parts (though these As an example of the speech style, part of the Mornings section of one lauga is given below
may be reduced in number, and their performance (from A. Duranti, 1983):
varies from one type of social event to another).
• Kava: an acknowledgement of the person who has . . . O iku
kaeao i . . Moving on to the mornings, . .

called out the titles of those who were served kava kaeao masagi lava
la 'o well (they) are very well-known mornings
roots in the opening ceremony. oleaukugu'u of our country
• Thanksgiving to God: for allowing the people to kaeao (o) le Loku the morning of the Church
gather in this way. ma kaeao- Kusi Pa'iale and the morning (of) the Bible
• Mornings: a metaphor for important events, which la ... o kaeao lava . . Yes . real mornings
. . . .

symbolizes the performing of good deeds, and Ua kuaga'i ia kaeao Those mornings have gone
focusses attention on the present meeting. ma kaeao- fo'i sa fa' asilisiliga and the mornings that have been indicated
• Dignity of the sacred names: an acknowledgement io(u)kou figagalo by the wish of you (chiefs)
of the dignity of the matai and their titles. ma o kakou fa'amoemoe . . and the hope of us (orators) . .

• Formal greeting: praise and greeting for all the matai la 'ae o le kaeao sili a legei well this is the most important morning
titles. ua kakou aulia maguia when we meet in good spirit
• Agenda of the fono: the official reason for the legei kaeao fou (on) this new morning
meeting, stated in very general terms. ma legei aso fou . . and this new day . .

• Clearing of the sky: the speaker wishes a good and fa'akaugu'uiga ai to accomplish
long life to all present, using this metaphor, which le- le kofa ma le fa' aukaga. the decision of the chiefs and of the orators.
represents a life with no problems.

1 1 CONTEXTUAL IDENTITY 49
.

Participants Cuna curing ritual


The simple opposition of message 'sender' and mes- Some cultures introduce to carry out the curing, and or plants - or even western
unusual participants into someone who knows the medicines- can be ad-
sage 'receiver' needs considerable refinement if we
the speech event, especi- appropriate ikar is used to dressed in this way, as can
are to classify communicative events satisfactorily. ally where special powers instruct them. The sick are be seen in the following ex-
Normally a single person acts as sender, or addres- need to be invoked. For ex- not themselves active parti- tract (from J. Sherzer,
sor; but we have to allow for unison speech, as ample, in Cuna (Panama), cipants in the event: they 1974), in which the ikar
church or other
in the case of liturgical responses in language combines with may be asleep, or unaware calls on certain trees to use
medicine to help cure dis- of what is taking place their strength to help some-
group teaching (where the whole class may
rituals,
ease. There are many around them, or even ab- one suffering from severe
respond together), popular acclamations (such as speech forms (ikai) that are sent.Nor would they (or headaches. The italicized
during a political address, or in a sports arena), thought to effect cures. other onlookers) usually words are used only in this
and speeches by the players in a theatrical presen- These vary according to understand the special lan- particular type of ikar,
the nature of the ailment, guage of the ikar. In sev- whose fixed pattern must
tation. The linguistic characteristics of such speech
but all have the same basic eral ways, this ritual is simi- be accurately repeated in
(especially the prosody (§29)) will obviously be structure. lar to the western religious order to be effective. As
very different from those found when a person The sick person lies on a tradition of praying over or curing /Tcargenerally last for
speaks alone. hammock, under which is a for the sick. about 1| hours, those who
Similarly, a single person is the usual receiver, box of wooden dolls; is it Other objects of medici- speak them need to have
the dolls which are thought nal value,such as tree bark great powers of memory.
or addressee, of a message; but here too we must
allow for variations. We may address someone di-
rectly, or through an intermediary, such as a secre- kurkin /pekantiye olopillise pupawalakan akkuek"iciye,
tary, interpreter, or spokesman. A third party may kurkin /pekantiye olopillise pe maliwaskakan upoek"iciye,
overhear what we are saying, or see what we have kurkin /pekantinaye olopillise pe maliwaskakana pioklekeklciye,
kurkin /pekantinaye olopillipiye apikaek w iciye
written, and we may consider this desirable or
. .

'trees, your roots reach the level of gold,


undesirable. And speech addressed to a group of trees, your small roots are placed into the level of gold,
people is common enough in everyday conversa- trees, your small roots are nailed into the level of gold,
.'

tion, as well as in more formal contexts, such as trees, within the very level of gold you are resisting . .

sermons, toasts, and lectures, and the whole range


of circumstances that define the world of spoken
and written mass communication (§63).
All of these contexts can influence the language READING THE NEWS
used by the speaker. For example, to know that The effects of a mass audience on speaker style
one is being overheard by one's superior can lead can be illustrated from studies of variation in the
to marked alterations in speech, even to the extent speech of radio newscasters. In New Zealand, for
of adopting a completely different stylistic level (as example, the same group of newscasters read the
has been observed in Persian). One may need to news on a number of different radio stations that
defer to the broader audience by altering pronoun share the same suite of studios. In one study, indivi-
forms and using various politeness strategies, as dual newscasters were monitored when they read
well as by modifying non-linguistic behaviour the news on a higher-status station (YA) and on
(such as body movements and eye contact). In some a lower-status station (ZB). In every case their pro-
circumstances, the knowledge that one is being (or nunciation changed in the same direction. For
even, is likely to be) overheard may lead to non- example, /t/ between vowels (as in butter) was pro-
fluency or a breakdown in communication, as in duced with voicing far more on ZB than on YA,
patient—doctor conversation, or the well-known as shown in the diagram (after A. Bell, 1984):
effects that take place when people are asked to
speak into a microphone.
In multilingual environments, there will usually 50% -
be language switching (p. 363) when a conversa-
tion is joined by a third party who is not at ease
in the language being used. However, language
switching may not take place if the participants
wish to exclude the third party - a common reac-
tion to tourists visiting rural communities abroad.
Nevertheless, circumstances vary greatly, and reac-
tions are difficult to predict. One empirical study YA ZB YA ZB YA ZB YA ZB
encountered a group of bilinguals at an inn in Aus-
tria switched from Hungarian to German
who
when asked to do so by people at a nearby table; Because the voiced variant is normal in New Zea-
but the study of a similar situation in Scotland land, the announcers' use of the alternative must
found that a request to switch from Gaelic to Eng- be demonstrating the external influence of a model
lish was refused. of acceptable public speech (in this case, Received
Pronunciation) — an instance of positive accommo-
dation to an audience (p. 51).

50 •
II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY
NEW LANGUAGE FOR OLD God is for real, man
Varieties of language can alter completely if there
is a change in one's view of audience needs. In
This is the title of a book by Carl Burke, an American
prison chaplain, who hoped to make the biblical
recent years, for example, there has been a radical
message meaningful to people from New York's
shift in the way theologians have begun to talk toughest areas, by 'translating' passages into their
about God, in the light of their perception that everyday style of speech. The first three
people have become dissatisfied with traditional commandments read:
You shall have no other gods before me... Means
images and are searching for new ones. Such images 1

God's the leader- nobody, but nobody, man, gets in


covered a wide area of language, including terms the way. This is the top. He is Mr. Big, real big.
that were highly abstract and mystical (supreme 2. You shall not make for yourself a graven image . .

being, infinite one, the unknowable, essence), meta- This means no making things that look like God in the
phorical and personal (father, lord, judge, saviour), craftshop at the settlement house. No worshipping
things like rabbits' foots and lucky dice and, damn it,
psychological and ethical (forgiveness, love, com-
dolls.
passion). 3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God
The dissatisfaction is well illustrated by the suc- in vain ... It means knock off the swearing or you better
cess of Bishop John Robinson's Honest to God watch out.

(1963), which sold over a million copies. This book


questioned the tradition of talking about God in
crude spatial metaphors, as if he were 'up there',
or 'out there'. It argued that, to modern audiences,
such language was outmoded and acted as a barrier
to understanding, whereas images such as 'ground parison with the group to which the listener
of our being' could more easily be related to current belongs (the 'out group'). But on the whole, the
ways of thinking. Several experiments in religious benefits of convergence seem to outweigh these
communication followed, in the spirit of this risks, with several social psychological studies

approach, and a new academic discipline has even showing that people react more favourably to those
been proposed to study this area - theography, a who move linguistically closer to them.
term coined on analogy with 'geography', which
aims to 'draw the map' of language that people
use to talk about God. Divergence
Speech divergence also takes place when people
LINGUISTIC ACCOMMODATION wish to emphasize their personal, social, religious,
When two people with different social back- or other identity. There may be quite elementary
grounds meet, there is a tendency for their speech reasons for the divergence, such as a dislike of the
to alter, so that they become more alike - a process listener's appearance or behaviour; or there may
known as accommodation, or convergence. Modi- be more deep-rooted reasons, such as the deliberate
fications have been observed in several areas use of a minority language or ethnically distinctive
of language, including grammar, vocabulary, pro- accent or dialect (§9). Threatening contexts readily
nunciation, speech rate, use of pause, and utterance result in divergence, as has been demonstrated
length. Everyday examples are the slower and experimentally. In one study, a group of people
simpler speech used in talking to foreigners or in Wales were learning Welsh in a language labora-
young children; the way technical information is tory. During one of the sessions, they were asked
presented in a less complex manner to those who to answer some questions about language learning.
lack the appropriate background; the rapid de- The questions were presented to them in their indi-
velopment of catch phrases within a social group; vidual booths by an English speaker with an RP
and the way many people cannot stop themselves accent (p. 39), who at one point arrogantly chal-
unconsciously picking up the accent of the person lenged their reasons for learning what he called
they are talking to. The process has even been 'a dying language with a dismal future'. The accents
observed with babies 'talking' to adults: at 12 used in their replies were then compared with those
months, they were babbling at a lower pitch in used in responding to a previous question that
the presence of their fathers, and at a higher pitch was emotionally neutral. The test sentence replies
with their mothers. showed immediate divergence (as well as an aggres-
These shifts take place in order to reduce the sive tone of voice): speakers used a broader Welsh
differences between participants, thus facilitating accent, and some introduced Welsh words into
interaction, and obtaining the listener's social their speech. In a similar study, in Belgium (p. 37),
approval (p. 23). It should be noted that linguistic the divergence took the form of a complete lan-
accommodation also has its risks, such as the loss guage shift. Here, the aggressive question was
of personal (and sometimes group) identity, or the spoken by an unsympathetic Walloon (French)
perceived loss of integrity, such that the listener speaker to Flemish learners of English. Although
may react against the speaker's new style. Much replies to other questions were in English, half the
depends on how speakers view themselves and the learners switched into Flemish in their replies to
group to which they belong (the 'in group') in com- the question which threatened their ethnic identity.

11 CONTEXTUAL IDENTITY • 51
Activity
quently requiring the application of different Some English
grammatical rules from those found in good
politeness formulae
The kind of activity in which we engage will di- writing or recommended by traditional gram-
Greetings Good morning,
rectly influence the way we communicate. At one mars (§1).
Hello, Hi
level, our activities reflect the social status we have
• The vocabulary of everyday speech tends to be Farewells Good night, Bye,
and the roles we perform
(§10). But status and informal and domestic, limited and inexplicit, See you, Cheers
as speakers cope with difficulties of memory, Introductions How do you
role are very general notions, within which it is
do?, How's things? Hi
possible to recognize a much more specific notion attention, and perception. In extreme (though
Thanks Thank you, Ta,
of 'activity type'. For example, priests have a well- not uncommon) cases, empty nonsense words Thanks a lot
defined status and role within a community; but may be used, e.g. tbingummajig, whatcha- Toasts Good health,
while exercising their role as priests, they engage macallit, doo-da. Cheers, Here's to...
• There is a great deal of usage variation on the Seasonal greetings Merry
in a wide range of activities, such as leading a ser-
Christmas, Happy Birthday
vice, giving a sermon, exorcizing spirits, hearing part of individual speakers, often involving the
Apologies Sorry, beg your I

confession, baptizing, and visiting the sick. Many unconscious use of non-standard or deviant pardon, My mistake
other occupations involve a similar variety; and forms. Responses to apologies
That's OK, Don't mention it,
in all cases there are linguistic consequences of the Certain other features of this activity are Never mind
shift from one activity to another. Linguistically- included in §31. The subject of 'conversation Congratulations Well done,
distinct activities are often referred to as genres Right on, Congratulations
analysis', which deals with the rules governing
or registers, though these terms are sometimes used turn-taking between speakers, is introduced in §20.
Public noises Encore, Hear
to refer to all the contextually influenced varieties hear, Goal
Body noises Excuse me,
presented in this section. Courtesy expressions Bless you, Pardon me
Activity influence is not restricted to occu- Ritual expressions of politeness are a common fea-
pational environments. We also engage in many ture of social interaction in all forms of spoken
kinds of activity in everyday speech and writing, and written dialogue, but especially in conversa- An Arabic farewell
such as gossiping, discussing, quarrelling, petition- tion. They are of considerable importance in The normal exchange of fare-
ing, visiting, telephoning, and writing out lists. accounting for the way people judge each other, wells in Syrian Arabic is a
Here too there are linguistic norms and conven- three-part sequence. If A is
and in explaining the success or failure of an inter-
said first, the addressee
tions, although they are usually more flexible, and action. The omission of a politeness formula, when must reply with B, and the
the genres are not always as easy to define as those one is expected, or the failure to acknowledge one speaker may then use C;
first
associated with more formal activities. appropriately, can lead to a tense atmosphere, or but if B is said first, C is obli-
even social sanctions — as children who fail to say gatory.

please sometimes find to their cost. In some lan-


SPOKEN VARIETIES guages, complex formulaic politeness sequences
A. (b)xatrak by your leave'
B. mafssa/ame 'with peace'
reflect levels of social structure and long-standing C. c
alla ysallmak God keep
Conversation
social traditions, as in the case of Wolof or Maori you'
Everyday conversation is so habitual that it is easy
greetings (pp. 40, 49). English has only a small
to forget its status as a genre, with its own norms This language also illustrates
number of expressions, by comparison. the principle of replying to
and conventions, often very different from those
Languages display many differences in politeness greetings by adding' to the
used in written language (§31).
expression. For example, phrases such as good original, as in

• The language is often inexplicit, because the par- morning and good evening are by no means univer-
A. marflaba 'hello'
ticipants can rely on context to clarify their sal: salutations related to time of day are normal
B. marttabten 'two hellos'
meaning, e.g. A: That's a nice one. B: It sure in many languages, but not, say, in Bengali or or mit marfiaba "1 00 hellos'.
is. Wolof; and the distinctions found in English are
• There is no careful thematic planning governing lacking in French (which uses one expression, bon- The Qur'an in fact says at
one point (Surah IV, verse
the way a conversation proceeds; there are often jour, more widely). Foreigners do not always find
86): someone greets you,
If
changes of subject matter, and alterations in it easy to work out the pragmatic rules that govern either return the greeting or
level (even, in multicultural contexts, switching the use of these expressions, for arbitrary conven- greet him better, for God
between dialects or languages, p. 363). tions are often involved. For example, the 'morn- takes everything into ac-
• A degree of non-fluency is normal, while partici- ing' in good morning does not coincide with the count.' (After C. A. Ferguson,
1976.)
pants spontaneously construct their sentences; chronological period from midnight to noon: in
one expects to hear false starts, hesitation noises normal use, it does not extend from midnight, but
{er, um), pauses, repetitions, and other 'errors' only from waking up; and it may extend beyond
of performance. midday, until the midday meal. Outside of this
• Speech is usually quite rapid, with many of the period, its use is ironic, as when it is said late at
sounds of careful pronunciation being omitted night to someone who was expected earlier, or said
or altered in the interests of preserving natural- mid-afternoon to someone who has overslept.
ness and fluency; a wide range of prosodic effects Moreover, it may be used only once to a person
(§29) is heard, signalling the diverse emotions during the day (unlike Hello), and an echo of the
which are encountered in conversations. greeting is expected (unlike Thank you). But good
• The clear-cut sentence patterns known from the morning is simple compared with good evening,
written language are often missing; in their place where use is affected by variations in social back-
are more loosely-connected constructions, fre- ground, habits of work, and the onset of darkness.

52 •
II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY
PROVERBIAL EXPRESSIONS to induce intimacy Slang samples
In every culture there are nuggets of popular wis- to show that one belongs Cockney rhyming slang
dom, expressed in the form of succinct sayings. to exclude others Cain and Abel table
to be secret cows and kisses the missus
These are usually referred to as proverbs, though
Gawd forbids kids
several other terms are also used (e.g. adage, Hampstead Heath teeth
maxim, precept). Proverbs are not commonly But one theme recurs among all these reasons: the lean and lurch church
encountered in everyday speech in English, but in use of slang as a means of marking social or linguis-
many cultures (e.g. in most parts of Africa), they tic identity. In Partridge's book Slang: Today and U.S. hospital slang
crispy critter severe burn
are an important and frequent element in ordinary Yesterday (1933), the group-identifying function
patient
conversation. in fact provides the basis for most of the detailed pre-stiff close to death
Several extensive collections of proverbs have illustrations, which come from a wide range of geo- prune old, dehydrated
been made, which provide evidence for consider- graphical areas and occupational activities. Slang patient

— Zorro belly someone with


able similarities across cultures similarities that is, by definition, a colloquial departure from stan-
surgical scars on abdomen
are largely due to the universality of human experi- dard usage; it is often imaginative, vivid, and (From D. P. Gordon, 1983.)
ence (though there are often signs of linguistic bor- ingenious in its construction — so much so that it
rowing). For example, many languages have has been called the 'plain man's poetry'. It thus British prison slang
parallels for such proverbs as the Somali Kaadsade especially attracts those who, for reasons of person- filth detectives
LTI long-term inmate
ma kufo 'He who takes his time does not fall.' ality or social identity, wish to be linguistically dif-
nick prison
Structurally, also, proverbs display interlanguage ferent — to be 'one of the gang', whether the 'gang' screw prison warder
similarities with their reliance on vivid images, in question be soldiers, nurses, actors, footballers, snout tobacco
domestic allusions, and word play. One of the most prisoners, warders, linguists, gays, or pop singers
But remember
interesting features is the way many can be divided (see also pp. 56, 59).
. .

The slang of one generation


into two parts that balance each other, often dis- can be the standard English
playing parallel syntax and rhythm, and links of of the next:
rhyme and alliteration. bus from omnibus
zoo from zoological garden
• English: Least said, soonest mended. piano from pianoforte
• Maori: Ka whakaiti koe i te manuhiri, ka whak-
aiti koe i a koe. 'In demeaning the visitor, you
From speech to poetry
lower yourself.'
In many speech situations. mulae is clear. per second) only occasion-
• Latin: Praemonitus, praemunitus. 'Forewarned contextual factors combine Keep your hand in God's allyexceeds that found in
forearmed.'
is with the skill of the speaker hand. a normal conversation on a
• Somali: Beeni marka bore waa malab, marka to produce genres that dis- And your eyes on the star- familiar topic. The special

dambe na waa malmal. 'Lies are honey at first, play many of the character- posts in glory. prosody has been studied,
istics of poetry. The main Lord said he would fight for example, in the mono-
later they are myrrh.' logues of New Zealand
comparison is with the your battles,
• Chinese: di wu ji wu.
'if you love a house, you techniques used in the oral If you'd only be still. livestock auctioneers. Dur-
love its 'Love me, love my dog.')
crows.' (cf. formulaic poetry of early You may not be a florist. ing the opening phase of

• Samoan: E mafuli le ului, ae tupu le suli. 'The European culture (in the Am 1 right about it? the auction, the stock is
Homeric epics, in particu- But you must tell them, that described using a loud,
parent tree has fallen over, but one of its saplings
lar), and still found earlier He's the Rose of Sharon. high-pitched drone. When
is growing.'
this century in the singing 1 know that's right. the bids begin, many of the
• Welsh: Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon. 'A of oral epics by the Serbo- You may not be a geologist. speaker's rhythm units
nation without a language is a nation without Croatian guslars. The But you must tell them, that start with a stylized shout.
a heart.' rhythm and intonation He's the Rock of Ages. The last bid generally has
changes from that of nor- 1 know that's right. its own tune- a prosodic

mal speech, so that proso- You may not be a physician. warning that the auction is
THE CHIEF USE OF SLANG . . dic lines' can be heard. But you must tell them, that about to end. Then the
Is to show one of the gang! In fact,
that you're The speech contains many He's the Great Physician. gavel falls, and the auction-
slang has so many uses that it is difficult to choose memorized formulae, Am 1 right about it? eer's speech returns to a
which can be embellished You may not be a baker. normal mode. Extracts
one as central. Eric Partridge (1894-1979) was
or modified as occasion But you must tell them, that from one auction illustrate
able to distinguish as many as 15 different reasons arises. He 's the Bread of Life. its formulaic character
for the use of slang: Am 1 right about it?... (from K. Kuiper & D. Hag-
Sermons go, 1984):
An example of this inter- Auctioneer speech What do you think, Sir?
for the fun of it mediate stage between Auctioneers all over the Sell 'em Sir?

as an exercise in wit or ingenuity speech and oral poetry is in world impress lay audi- Are they on the market, Sir? . .

the spontaneous sermons ences with their fluent ver- I'll sell 'em.
to be different
of black preachers in the bal skills; but much of their Right, I'll sell 'em.
to be picturesque southern United States. performance is based on Right, I'll sell.
to be arresting The text below has been the use of linguistic formu- We'll sell 'em.
to escape from cliches transcribed in lines (from lae, uttered in a distinctive Right, we'll sell 'em.
B.A.Rosenberg, 1970), prosodicform. Repeated I'm gonna sell 'em
to enrich the language . .

identified by the preacher's phrases and an absence of 1 got twenty dollar twenty
to add concreteness to speech own rhythms and the oral pauses contribute to an im- bid twenty bid twenty got
to reduce seriousness response of the congrega- pression of rapid speech - twenty bid forty twenty
to be colloquial tion (Amen, Hallelujah, though in fact their speed dollar forty twenty forty I'm

for ease of social interaction etc.). The heavy use of for- (as measured in syllables bid...

11 CONTEXTUAL IDENTITY • 53
VISUAL VARIETIES
Ethnographers of communication have largely of stylistically distinct varieties available in a liter-
focused on the study of speech events in a wide ate culture, there space here to select only a tiny
is

range of cultural contexts, because of a previous fraction, in order to illustrate the range of vari-
lack of research in these domains. But it must not ability and some of the linguistic features involved.
be forgotten that the various activities of the writ- Further illustration of contextually influenced
ten language also display the influence of context visual language activities will be found in §63, in
— often in a highly distinctive manner, because relation to advertising, law, science, the press, and
of the visual contrasts available in the written other specialized fields, and in §32, in relation to
medium, especially in print (§31). With thousands the field of typography.

Information materials example, constitute a clearly identifiable linguistic


This is an enormous field, including works of refer- variety but one that is made up of a large number
ence (dictionaries, catalogues, almanacs, govern- of 'sub-varieties' such as news reports, letters, edi-
ment leaflets, etc.), instructional material (phrase torials, and crosswords (p. 388). But at the opposite
books, recipe books, do-it-yourself manuals, etc.), extreme, there are many informational linguistic
newspapers, documents, reports, teletext, and all activities that are limited in scope and fairly homo-
kinds of academic publication. Some of these geneous in content and structure - some so severely
materials are so wide ranging and diverse that it constrained that they fall within the category of
is impossible to make simple generalizations about 'restricted language' (p. 56) - as with cooking
their linguistic distinctiveness. Newspapers, for recipes, phrase books, and commercial advertising.

CREOLE OYSTER Cl'StBO


i 4 pound toting chicken i small can tomatoes ;
my medi- Prosze. mi (lac mo] proshen mi dahch
: of ham i teaspoon cum powder lekarstvxu moie lehkahrstvcj ~
6 tablespoons butter Salt and ground pepper
freshly Wh»t is the matter Co panu brakoje 1 co pahnoo brahko*.- Revcf-
5 tabtopoons Sour W teaspoon, red pepper with you ? ieh 'tn iiKii ti:ni
; cups chopped onions 2 teaspoons each tin me and basil Is your digestion Czy trawUz pan chi frahvish pahn
i Urge green pepper, sliced i pound fresh shrimp all right dobrze ''

dobzheh
2 clones garlic, crushed i poond ofal Are you cold ?
t cup sliced celery and leaves
Czy panu zimno ? chi pahnoo zimno
Are you warm ? Czy panu goraco ? chi pahnoo goronco
2 quarts chicken stock i tablespoon gumbo file
Cover yourself well Prosze. si^ przvkryc proshen sien pzhi-
Be to get a young chicken. Quarter the chicken and cot the ham into dobrze krich dobzheh
Vi-inch cubes Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a heaw pan and heat Where do you feel Gdzie pan czujesz gdzieh pahn chuu-
the flour in it brown without burning it Put the browned flour
to a dark pain now > bol teraz ? iesh br561 tehrahz
tn a large pot.nnsing out the browning pan with a little stock. Put m the How long hare you yahk dwoogo biw
Jak dlugo byt pan
chicken arid ham. Saute the onions and pepper in the other 3 tablespoons been ill
>
chorv
pahn horif

of butter for 5 minutes, and add them to the pot with the garlic, celery You ha»e Masz pan
a, slight mahsh pahn lehkki
Ickki atak
and leaves, sliced very thin, the chicken stock, tomatoes, curry powder. attack of ferer goraczki ahtahk goronchki
salt, pepper, thyme, and basil Simmer iVi hours. Meanwhile wash the
Can you account Czy mow mi pan chi mozheh mi pahn
shnmp and cook 4 minutes in 1 cup of water. Let cool. peel, and set aside.
for it dac preyzcyne ? dahch pzhichin.n
Return the shells to the shnmp broth and simmer 1 ; minutes, then strain
the broth into the stewing kettle. When the chicken is tender, remove it,
He is not going on Jego zdrouit &ie, nie yehgo zdrovieh >ien
PUIGMAPTl 44
cut all the meat from the bones, and return the meat to the pot Clean *ery well polepsza nieh polepshah TEL 213 68 94
okra, removing the ends, add it to the pot. and simmer another half-hour. Call the nurse Prosze, zawoiac pie- proshen zahvowahch RICO— -»— = '«
When ready to serve, reheat, and when hot add the shnmp and o-. iters legniarke piehlengniahrkcn
and stir in the file powder. Do not cook further but senc immediately. Lie down Prosze sie. poiozyc proshen sien powo-
The file ts crushed dried sassafras, a thickening agent, and 1$ not to be zhirh
cooked Serve with bowls of steaming nee Serves 10. or 12, Are you comfor- Czy pana wvgodnie chi pahnoo vigtttl-
tA ESTAS HORAS
table ? nieh ^QUIEN NOS
1 do not feel well Nie czuje si< dobrze nieh chooien sien
bzheh
rt.i-
**SOWCIONA
I am hot Goraco mi goronco mi 'ken UNAAVERIA? '
I have got a hic- Ja mam czkawke. van mahm chkahv-
cough

Ceremonial materials
Some most ornate forms of visual language
of the inscriptions. Formal and often archaic language is

will be found in materials intended for use on reli- usual, reflecting the special significance society
gious and ceremonial occasions, such as in books attributes to these activities. A birth certificate, a
of religious significance, memorial plaques, certifi- tombstone inscription, and part of a religious ser-
cates (examination, birth, marriage, etc.), and vice leaflet illustrate this.
1 ms.", j »j lb* SaprrtoMaAcftl

» Vol'-'
S*»enib Sunday of Eaater (€}

CERTIFICATE OF BIRTH
BH7W A.XB DlATXS RXGUTUTIQX Ad» (NO*TDU« l*ML*XT>)-

MICHAE,
mm, Jd*M.«L JltyibU.
WHO FIRS':
\ MINOA:
i^ hf y. SCRIPT AS GREEK.
1922^,1956
Place of Birth Reflatrmr'i Dlstrtet of &<W**r*

I Bnm Conn that the foregoing parUcolan


ban been couME0ta<&!?i'^: of Birth* to my

<4yy ^-t* now.

N« 87697 S

54 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


Grune Feig«r nut worn Fioanzamt •uSiufuHcn
Dialogue materials
There are many linguistic activities where the iden-
1985
71 10 02 85
tity of the visual variety is partly dependent on the
An das Finjnzjmt
active participation of the user. Either space is left

for the users to or opportunity is given for


fill in,
Antrag
.
auf Lohnsteuer- EinkommensteuererkJarung
them to reply in their own
terms. Included in the Jahresausgleich
first category are questionnaires, official forms, i iSuA-6mca«*j m«
diaries, and various kinds of stationery; in the
MMM M3Sk,De* e'-e<rrw L^nfe* N*

second are postcards, circulars, letters, and graffiti. i StauarpnicMigar


Stauarpnichllgar (Stpfl
iStpfl ),
). b« Ehagatten Ehamann
tw« E

FamMMRMM
In the illustration (right), typographical design,
Vamame
technical vocabulary,and reduced syntax provide
an unmistakeable linguistic identity for a German Tag atonal Janr Ration AuageuMar Ban*

income tax form, which is little different from its SuaAe una Hmanjmmm
counterparts in other languages, and which would PoatleftzaN derzettioef Wohnort

doubtless provide its taxpayers with a commensur-


Anaor«l»«aU»4? VooZ«a»nSung6aB»acliandarWonnaCam31 12 19SS
ate degree of difficulty. In recent years, government
departments in several countries have tried to make
such forms easier to use, with some success (§63). Ehafrau IVomame)

It is possible to make progress in clarifying layout

and question structure, but there is a limit to the Tag Monat Janr Ration AtaafaflMai BvU
degree of simplification one can introduce when GatxtaOatt^n

Strate woo Hauanummer. Poaitartzahl. o»7»itigai Wotvxyl


one is dealing with such a complex area of human
v<yiZe«aiJab**cnana»Wohniieani3l 12 198S
activity.

"""iot sas

Identifying materials Some linguistically distinctive graffiti


Probably the most widely encountered variety of Scots rule, och aye!

visual language is that used for identifying persons, French diplomats rule, au quai.
places, and objects. This includes street names, Oedipus was a nervous rex.

public signs, name tags, compliment slips, publica- Mod au Shah - et aux souris (Paris).
tion titles, identity cards, product labels, house Town criers rule, okez, okez, okez.
numbers, registration plates, letter headings, tick- Ave Maria - 1 don't mind if I do.
ets,shop facias, and much more. Typographical Synonyms govern, all right.
clarity and distinctiveness are the main characteris-
Roget's Thesaurus dominates, regulates,
tics,along with considerable grammatical abbre- rules,OK, all right, agreed.
viation and the use of specialized vocabulary. There
are marked linguistic similarities between lan-
guages. used symbols, such as
Internationally
numerals and trade marks, are routinely involved. "/ suppose it makes a

A bilingual (Welsh/English) membership card, change to see all that


foreign graffiti.
road signs, and car registration plates illustrate >" r^ -*\ T',
several of these features.

CYNGOR BWRDEISTREF CERD YN


AELODAETH

YMYSMOIV £>
ISLEOfdNGIiSet'
Canolfannau

MEMBERSHIP
CARD
Hamdden

BOROUGH COUNCIL Leisure Centres

TEULU - FAMILIES, 1986-87


F(6n/Phone :

LLANGEFNI 722966
ZONE
K- 1743 CAERGYBI/HOLYHEAD 4111 Mon Fn
AMLWCH 830060 8 30 am 6 30 pm
Saturday
8 30 am 1 30 pm C944 RFL
1 1 CONTEXTUAL IDENTITY •
55
.

Restricted languages Heraldry a few of these are in fre- shieldis known as a

The British linguist J. R. Firth (1890-1960) intro-


The description of the sym- quent use. charge, traditionally an ani-
bols used on shields, flags, The distinctive termin- mal or geometric shape,
duced the phrase 'restricted language' to refer to seals,and other objects in- ology can be illustrated but these days an increas-
a severely reduced linguistic system used for a spe- volves an archaic grammar from some of the main ing set of modern objects is

cial activity. The language is so tightly constrained and vocabulary, much in- features of a shield. The used, as new coats of arms
by context that only a small degree of linguistic
its fluenced by French, to pro- ground of the shield can be come to be devised. The
duce phrases such as a colour, metal, or fur, in- main shield positions have
variationis permitted. These 'languages' are both
'three bars gemel sable volving contrasts such as own terms (such as
their
spoken and written, and can be found in everyday surmounted of a lion ram- argent (silver), or (gold), chief = top third; dexter =
as well as specialized contexts. They usually consist pant gules, armed and gules (red), azure (blue), as seen by the
right side,

of routinely used formulaic constructions, with a langued azure'. Heraldic sable (black), verf (green), bearer; pale = vertical

conventionalized prosody or typographical layout, glossaries often contain purpure (purple), and vair centre),and some of the
around 800 terms, but only (squirrel). The device on a patterns are drawn below.
and a limited vocabularv.

Broadcasting scores
The reporting of sports scores and stages of play is
always a highly stereotyped activity. For example, in
American baseball, there is the 'count' routine, which
specifies first

following sequence:
One and one.
the
number of strikes (0-3)

Count of one and one to M.


number of
of
balls (0-^4)
a player at bat,
and then the
as in the
^^^ Indexing
Trucker talk
The jargon American truck
of
One and oh.
Alphabetical organization a crucial feature of index-
is band
drivers using citizen
Two and oh. (CB) radio has been widely
ing style, but there are two competing principles in
Oh and one.
regular use - letter-by-letter and word-by-word. The publicized since themedium
It's one and one.
difference can be seen by comparing two small sec- became available in 1958.
Nothing and one count . .

tions of an index: The language contains a


This can be compared with the equivalent reporting in
large number of stereotyped
Japanese sportscasts, where the English vocabulary for communicating
dialect 16,42,70-90 phrases
continues to be used, although in Japanese
accent vs 3 routine messages, using a
pronunciation (e.g. three is surii, strike is sutoraiku).
dialectic 40 special numerical code (the
The conventions are different (the order is strikes
dialect mixture 80-1 CB-1 system). More com-
before balls, and there are no plural endings or
dialectology 36 plex messages use everyday
connecting words), but the stereotyped nature of the
dialect standards 65, 84-5 English, peppered with CB
language is maintained:
research into 77 slang, which makes it attrac-
Two strike two ball. tive to initiates and largely
No strike two ball. dialect16,42,70-90 unintelligible to outsiders. In
Two strike nothing. accent vs 3
this special lexiconare such
Two nothing. dialect mixture 81
items as: affirmative (yes),
Two two. dialect standards 65,84-5 bears (police), anklebiters
(After C. A. Ferguson, 1983.) research into 77
(children), doughnuts (tyres),
In reporting final scores, the convention in America, dialectic 40 eyeballs (headlights), five-
Japan, and many other countries is to read the higher dialectology 36 finger discount (stolen
score first; whereas in such countries as Britain and
goods), grandma lane (slow
Germany, the home team is read first, with intonation These samples show some of the idiosyncratic fea-
lane), handle (CBer nick-
being the signal of which team has won. Another tures ofgrammar that characterize this style, especially name), mobile mattress (car-
common convention is for the two team names to be the inverted and telegraphic syntax.
avan), motion lotion (fuel),
read together, followed by the two scores.
rubber duck (the first vehicle
in a convoy), smokey (police-
man), and super cola (beer).
Some of the main CB-1
codes are given below.
1 0-1 Poor reception
Lagg upp 90 (98) 106 m pa st 31 Byt 0-2 Good reception
Language boundaries 1st row— (K.l, P.l) twice, * K.l, 1

1 0-3 End transmission


w.f., K.3, w.f., sl.l, K.l, p.s.s.o., K.l, till st 2 och sticka 8 cm resar 2 am,
Two knitting pattern extracts, 10-4 Message under-
one English, one Swedish, K.2 tog., w.f., K.3, w.f., (K.l, P.l) 4 2 rm. Forsta v ar avigsida. Byt till st
stood
illustrate the way in which the times, rep. from * to last St., K.l. 3r, sticka ratst (= alia v stickas rata) 10-5 Relay message
features of restricted lan- 2nd row— K.l, P.l, * (K.l, P.l) 3 och oka jamnt over forsta v till 99 10-6 Standby
guage cut across linguistic times, P. 16, rep. from * to last 3 sts., (107) 115 m. Nar arb mater 46 (47) 10-7 Leaving air
boundaries. K 1 PI K 1 48 cm avmaskas den mittersta m for 10-8 In service
3rd row— (K.l, P.l) twice, * K.l, v-ringn och var sida stickas for sig. 10-9 Repeat
w.f., sl.l, K.l, p.s.s.o., K.l, K.2 tog., Minska 1 m for v-ringn = pa hoger 1 0-1 Monitoring without
sida stickas 2 rm tills, och pa vanster transmitting
w.f., sl.l, K.2 tog., p.s.s.o., w.f., sl.l,
10-20 My position is
K.1, p.s.s.o., K.l, K.2 tog., w.f., (K.l, rm tills, bakifran.
sida stickas 2
10-100 Stop at lavatory
P.l) 4 times, rep. from * to last St., Denna hoptagn gors vartannat v 21 10-200 Police needed
K.l. ggr = 28 (32) 36 m kvar for axel.

56 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


SEASPEAK A Alpha AL-FAH N November NO-VEM-BER
Some rules of
B Bravo BRAH-VOH O Oscar OSS-CAH
There have been major changes in modern sea C Charlie CHAR-LEE P Papa PAH-PAH Seaspeak
transport in recent years. Larger and faster ships D Delta DELL-TAH Q Quebec KEY-BECK
E Echo ECK-OH R Romeo ROW-ME-OH • A set of standard phrases
pose greater navigational hazards. Shipping routes F Foxtrot FOKS-TROT Sierra SEE-A/R-RAH
S is recommended, to avoid
alter and present fresh problems of traffic flow. G Golf GOLF T Tango TANG-GO the many alternative ways
VHF radio permits direct communication between H
1
Hotel
India
HOH-TELL
/N-DEE-AH
U
V
Uniform
Victor
YO U-NEE-FOR.M
V/K-TAH
there are in everyday lan-
ship, shore, and aircraft, and satellite systems J Juliet 7EW-LEE-ETT w Whiskey W7S5-KEY guage of expressing the
extend a ship's communicative range indefinitely. K Kilo KEY-LOH X Xray ECKS-RAY same meaning. For exam-
L Lima LEE-MAH Y Yankee YANG-KEY ple, Say again means What
In such circumstances, mariners need to make their
M Mike MIKE z Zulu ZOO-LOO did you say?', can't hear
'I

speech as clear and unambiguous as possible. you', 'Would you repeat


Bridge officers, however, come from a variety of that?' These phrases are ita-
language backgrounds. Similarly,some numbers change their pronunci- licized in the transcribed con-
versation below.
Although English is already recognized as the ation, so that they will bemore clearly received.
• There are fixed syntactic
international language of the sea, it is essential that Large numbers have their own grammar.
and lexical routines for giving
the language should follow clear rules, so as to information. For example,
reduce the possibilities of ambiguity and confusion zero ZERO 8 eight AIT bearings and courses using
in the sending and receiving of messages. In 1980, 1 one WVN 9 nine N/NER the 360-degree figure no-
2 two TOO IS one-five WUN-FIFE tation must give three-figure
a project wasup to produce Essential English
set 3 three TREE 215 two-one-five TOO-WUN-F1FE
values: 009 degrees, not 9
for InternationalMaritime Use (referred to as Sea- 4 four FOWER 1,000 thousand TO US AND degrees, etc. Dates are sig-
s FIFE 24,000 two-four-
speak) in Britain. The recommendations relate five
nalled using prefixes, e.g.
6 six SIX thousand TOO-FOWER-
mainly to communication by VHF radio, and 7 seven SEVEN TOUSAND 'day one-three, month zero-
five, year one-nine-eight-
include procedures for initiating, maintaining, and
five'. Days of the week are
terminating conversations, as well as a recom- never used. When giving
mended grammar, vocabulary, and structure for A conversation in Seaspeak reasons, sentence construc-
messages on a wide range of maritime subjects. Western Sky (WS) is approaching Singapore tion is simplified. Everyday
The language thus has considerable expressive (SPO). English has such connec-
tives as since, because, so
power, though it is far more restricted than every-
ws: Singapore Port Operations. This Western Sky.
is that, in order to, and as, but
day language. Information: My ETA* position: East Johore pilot in Seaspeak, only reason is
station is Over.
time: one-three-four-five UTC.f used, e.g. Iintend to enter
Call-signs stern reason: my port
spo: Western Sky. This is Singapore Port Operations. first,

When sending call-signs in Seaspeak, as in air-traf- Mistake. Time is: one-four-three-zero UTC now. Stay thruster is damaged'.
• Everyone knows Mayday
fic control, police communication, and other radio on. Over.
is the marker word for Dis-
contexts, the nato phonetic alphabet is used to ws: Singapore Port Operations. This is Western Sky.
tress; but there are also
spell a word or speak out individual letters. Each Correction. My ETA is one-five-four-five UTC. Over. marker words for Urgency
letter has its own name and pronunciation (italics spo: Western Sky. This is Singapore Port Operations. (pan-pan) and Safety (Se-
Information-received: Your ETA position: East curity, say-cure-e-tay), the
mark the stress), which is given as follows in the
Johore pilot station is time: one-five-four-five UTC. latter being used when send-
Seaspeak manual. ing a message containing an
Instruction: anchor in the General Purpose
In addition to the equipment Anchorage, reason: your berth is occupied. Over. important navigational or
meteorological warning. In-
required for routine radio WS: Singapore Port Operations. This is Western Sky.
itial distress messages are
communications, several Instruction-received: anchor in the General Purpose
special-function aerials can repeated three times, and
Anchorage. Nothing more. Over.
be seen on this Batch 2 type take priority over all other
spo: Western Sky. This is Singapore Port Operations. communications.
42 destroyer. They are used
Out. • Special markers indicate
for short- and long-range
surveillance, target identifi- message type. The opening
cation, helicopter navigation,
* ETA = estimated time of arrival, word is spoken aloud, e.g.

and missile control. t UTC = coordinated universal time. Question, Instruction, Advice,
Warning, Intention, and each
has its own reply marker,
e.g. Answer, Instruction-
received, Advice-requested.
Each form has its own rules.
For example, only certain
question-forms are allowed:
rising intonations and
tag questions (e.g. isn't
it?) are not permitted. Use is

also made of turn-taking de-


check or correct
vices, to
messages, mark speaker-
change, and so on, e.g.
Understood, Mistake, Over,
Out.

1 1 CONTEXTUAL IDENTITY 57
To associate (in argot): Marti jabrl ho. Khalag thilav. A ciphering machine (the
Hidden and secret language ('The client is rich. Make him sit separate.') Typex Mark III) used in Bri-

To client (in Hindi): Han, hath joriye. ('Yes, fold your tainaround 1 945. The lid of
Why should people deliberately use language that
hands.')
the machine is raised, show-
is unintelligible to all but a few initiates? There (Sanskrit verses are then said, while the client takes
ing the rotors that control the
permutations.
are three general reasons: to mark a person's mem- his bath.)
letter

bership of a group, to provide a pastime, and to


The argot words are sometimes of unknown origin
ensure secrecy when performing a particular ac-
(e.g.ragul 'thief, khotar 'policeman'), but often
tivity. When viewed as linguistic games, they are
they are distortions of everyday words (e.g. mandir
often seen as a creative form of play (e.g. by the
'temple' —» jhandir, ghar 'house' —» ragha) or com-
Cuna of Panama), or even as a means of improving
mon words that have been given a special meaning
competence in speaking and language learning (as
(e.g. baja 'musical instrument' is used for 'gun').
in Thai). Genres of secret language can thus be
Secret names for numbers are especially common
found in many cultures and in a wide range of
because of their role in financial transactions.
&&£\?\Am>
human contexts, especially those where there is a /
Within a radius of one kilometre around the Vish-
concern to avoid detection (as in criminal argot,
wanath temple in Vanarasi, one investigator found *""muii«fl"tftfBr
or cant), or to keep something hidden from lay
several distinct sets of secret number-names, used
people (as in magical formulae). Apart from the
by such people as diamond dealers (A), silk mer-
cases presented below, therefore, reference should
chants (B), fruit and vegetable merchants (C), and
also be made to several other instances of hidden
Pandas (D). Numbers 1-5 are given here, with
language described in this book: glossolalia (p. 11),
Hindi numbers for comparison (after R. R. Mehro-
in-law taboos (p. 42), trucker talk (p. 56), whistle
tra, 1977):
speech (p. 400), and various forms of slang (p. 53).
No. A B C D Hindi
CRIMINAL CODES
There have been few studies of the secret languages 1 airan pa sang nima sang ek
used by underworld groups - for obvious reasons: 2 thaipa swan jor javar do
it is not difficult to imagine the problems faced by 3 babarpa ikwai rag singhara tin
academic researchers who have entered dens, par- 4 airvan fok fok fok car
lours, and red-light areas, armed only with a tape 5 sutpa bud bud panro pane
recorder and an innocent smile! And even if they
can extricate themselves safely, the risk continues. The most noticeable kinds of criminal argot, or
One scholar, who studied an underworld language 'speech disguise' as it is sometimes called, are those
in a city in India, was severely beaten at a later where utterances are totally or partially unintel-
date for publishing something its speakers did not ligible to the outsider because of the distinctive
like. sounds, grammar, or vocabulary. But a great deal
In a study of the Vanarasi Pandas (those who of argot occurs that appears to be in ordinary lan-
look after Hindu pilgrims to the city), it was found guage, though in fact the utterances have a special
that they use an argot alongside Sanskrit and Hindi meaning. An example of the latter was recorded
during transactions with the pilgrims. A great deal in another study in India when the sentence Jao
of code-switching (p. 363) takes place, as can be katori manj lo 'Go, clean the bowl' was used by
seen in this sequence where a Panda talks to both a murderer to an associate in front of his victim.
an associate and a pilgrim about to bathe: The intended sense was: 'Prepare a grave'!

Cryptology
It is a short step from the have been intercepted. various ways, by substitu- genious methods that have transformations. It is also

secret languages of children The two branches are tion or transposition; it may been devised to maintain possible to use codes and
and the underworld to the often referred to as code- be 'deciphered' using a secrecy. Cipher alphabets, ciphers simultaneously. The
world of secret intelligence, making' and code-break- 'key'. For example, the mes- for example, can be made result of all this ingenuity is
with its dual concern to pre- ing'; but these popular sage Crystal escape more complex by using the secret message, or cryp-
serve the military, commer- names are inadequate, be- planned Friday could be en- several equivalents for a let- togram.
cial,and scientific security cause they fail to distinguish coded as follows: ter ('homophones'), as These days, there are
of one side, and to pene- the special sense of 'code' 182 636 24 812 when c is replaced by dx, re, several other aspects to sig-
trate the corresponding se- in this field. In cryptology, where each code number or pj. Several such alpha- nal security and intelli-
curity systems of the other. code has to be dis- would correspond to the bets can be used at once: a gence, such as altering ra-
Cryptology is essentially a tinguished from cipher. A words as listed in a code message can be enci- dio and radar frequencies,
two-part science. One code a system of
is book. It could also be enci- phered using alphabet A, radio silence, and stegano-
branch of the subject, cryp- phrases, words, syllables, phered as follows: and the result further graphy- the use of techni-
tography, deals with the or letters, each of which has NLGHCZM YHNZPY changed using alphabet B, ques that conceal the exis-
task of making messages an associated code word' PMZEEYV SLAVZG and so on; or certain letters tence of a message, such
secure, so that they cannot or 'code number'; it may be using a simple 'cipher al- of the message can be enci- as invisible inks, microdots,
be understood by an 'decoded' using a 'code phabet' in which each letter phered using A, others or the use of electronic de-
enemy. The other branch, book'. A cipher, by contrast, has been substituted (a = z, using B. Modem cipher vices which hide a message
cryptanalysis, is concerned is a system in which a mes- o = d, etc.). machines can produce in a signal. But these are of
with extracting the meaning sage is 'enciphered' by The history of cryptology these 'polyalphabetic' ci- more interest to spies than
from enemy messages that transforming its letters in illustrates the many in- phers using millions of such linguists!

58 •
II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY
PLAYING WITH SOUNDS AND LETTERS • is a switch of initial and
In another form, there

There are several 'languages' in which words are finalconsonants, and of initial consonants and con-
systematically altered, through the addition, sub- sonant clusters of successive syllables, e.g. in a
traction, substitution, or transposition of sounds. French version, parler 'speak' —* larper, boire
Some are purely phonetic changes; others require 'drink'—* roib. Not all classes of words are affected,
a knowledge of spelling and alphabet order. Even however, e.g. Je bouffe pas 'I'm not eating' —» Je
in the more complex cases, practitioners can teach foub pas. A similar game has been found in Java-
themselves to talk at great speed. nese, e.g. rupiab 'rupees' —» puriah, nduwe 'have'
Records of some of the languages go back over — » wunde.
100 years in many parts of Europe. They have • Some secret languages involve sound substitu-

mainly been found among children, but there are tions that resemble written language codes. One
also reports of their use among adults, especially Javanese game is based on the order of the 20 con-
in contexts where secrecy is required (e.g. in front sonant letters of the alphabet. The first ten letters
of customers or small children). (h, d, p, m, n, t, d, g, c, s) are matched against the
• In back slang, words are spelled backwards, second ten (/', b, r, w, y, t, k, I, n, rj), in reverse

and then the new arrangement of letters is given order; and the members of each pair are made to

a plausible pronunciation. has been observed in


It
substitute for each other (h for T)and vice versa,
the UK among soldiers, barrow-boys, shopkeepers, d for n and vice versa, and so on). Thus the sentence
thieves, and public school pupils. First World War {h)aku gawe layag 'I'm writing a letter' emerges

examples include kew 'week', neetrith 'thirteen', as rjamu rade patarj. It is reported that some
tekram 'market', and tenip 'pint'. In French, parler speakers develop great skill in producing such
a I'envers ('speaking backwards') is found in forms at speed.
several variants, e.g. copains 'friends' —* painsco, • 'T-ing in i' (talking in initials) has been
mari 'husband' —» rima, I'envers 'backwards' —* reported, in which certain words are replaced by
verlen. The same game also appears in Javanese, their first letters. A case from a school in Texas
e.g. Bocah iku dolanan asu 'The boy is playing showed examples such as Some p l-ed the m 'Some
with a dog' —> hacob uki nanalod usa. In Thai, people liked the movie', She's a v p g 'She's a very
there are several variants involving consonants, pretty girl'. Parents also sometimes use this form
vowels, and even tones, e.g. krab bdan 'return of abbreviation in front of their young children,
home' —» kdan bdb, ydak kin khaw 'I'd like to eat' along with the other spelling conventions, such as
—* yaw kin khaak. It's time for b, e, d.

• In what
is sometimes called centre slang, the

centralvowel of a word, along with its following Mystical letters


consonant, is placed at the beginning, and a non-
Inthe Middle Ages, there back to the early Christian Jesus, Messiah, son, God,
sense syllable added, e.g. eekcher 'cheek', hoolerfer arose a Jewish (later a era, was known as gema- cross, and gospel all = 74.
'fool', ightri 'right'. Christian) system of mysti- tria. Here, numbers were Gematria is also occasion-
• In eggy-peggy oraygo-paygo speech, an extra cal practices based on an substituted for letters, and ally practised outside of the
syllable added,Pugut thagat begook dow- esoteric interpretation of values compared in order religious context. For ex-
is e.g.
Old Testament texts, to provide fresh insights ample, in deciding whether
gun. Similar are cases where an extra vowel or con- known as the Kabbala into themeaning of texts. In one should carry out a cer-
sonant is inserted between each syllable: using f, (from Hebrew qabbalah the most commonly used tain activity at a certain
for example, Where are you going becomes Wheref something received'). It system, the first ten letters time, believers may look to
aref youf gofing. In Cuna (Panama), there is a form was thought that language Hebrew alphabet are
of the see whether the numerical
in general, and biblical lan- numbered from 1 to 1 0; the value of their name and
in which pp or r is inserted, along with the vowel
guage in particular, con- next eight are given the that of the day or date cor-
of the preceding syllable, e.g. ua 'fish' —» uppuappa, tained coded secrets about values 20, 30, etc.; and the respond in any way.
tanikki 'he's coming' —» taranirikkiri. In another God and the world, based last four letters have the
Cuna game, ci is prefixed to every syllable, e.g. on the way the letters of the values 100, 200, 300, and Mystical sums
maceret 'man' —* cimaciceciret. In Javanese, games text were arranged, and the 400. In English, the 26 let-
Part of the arithmetic used by
numerical values which ters are valued 1 to 26, in
using an inserted for p plus vowel repetition have those who argue for the vali-
could be assigned to them. order. On this basis, all
been recorded, e.g. Aku arep tuku klambi 'I want Some books, such as the kinds of curious and (some
dity of gematria.

to buy a dress' —> afakufu afarefep tufukufu 1 3th-century Sefer ha-zo- still believe) significant cor- Bad Hide
klafambifi (after J. Sherzer, 1974). har (Book of Splendour), relations can be obtained. + Language + Listen

• In Pig Latin, the first consonants are put at viewed by many as a Linguists take note: Profane Eavesdrop
sacred book, went into the tongue and lexicon = 82.
the end of the word, and ay or e added, e.g. Utpay Torah texts in minute de- sibilantand hissing are ad- Arm All

atthay ookbay ownday 'Put that book down'. In tail, in a search for mystical jacent numbers. + Bend + Vote
a variant of this, last consonants are put at the values. Every word, letter, etymology, Indo-European Elbow Democracy
beginning of the word, with extra sounds to aid vowel point, and accent and West Germanic all = 1 37.
mark was evaluated, to Those interested in deeper
the pronunciation, e.g. Tepu tatha keboo nadaw. Not King
determine its hidden mean- matters will note that:
+ Same
A similar phenomenon has been studied in Cuna, + Chair
ing. The method lost its reli- man and Eden = 28.
where it is known as arepecunmakke (from Spanish Different Throne
gious popularity by the 18th Bible and Holy Writ are
al reves 'backwards' and Cuna sunmakke 'to century. separated by 100. Good Keep
speak'). Here, the first syllable placed at the end,
is
One exegetical techni- Mount Sinai and the laws of + Deeds + Off

—» que, which can be traced God = 135. Grass


e.g. takke 'to come' ketak, ipya 'eye' —» yaip. Scout

11 CONTEXTUAL IDENTITY •
59
.

Verbal art Flyting


laic phrases, which may be in sequence or separated Among the Germanic peo-
SPEAKING IN PAIRS by several other 'lines'. The genre includes pro- ples, ritual cursing and
The use of parallelism to mark certain kinds of verbs, songs, and chants and is used in relation boasting, known as flyting,

speech activity is widely known. Semantic couplets to many formal activities, such as greetings, fare- often took place between
are found extensively in the Indian languages of poets or chiefs. One of the
wells, petitions, courtship, funerals, negotiations,
earliest exchanges of this
Middle America, such as Nahuatl and Yucatec, as and ceremonies of all kinds. Bini varies in length kind is recorded between the
part of formal speech genres. In Rotinese (eastern from two to several hundred 'lines'. The example English and Viking leaders in
Indonesia), for example, parallel speech (or bint) below is of a 'succession' bini, in which imagery the Anglo-Saxon poem The
is used as a form of ritual language, in which past
Battle ofMaldon (ad 991 ).
of renewal is used to express the continuation of
The form is also found in
events are recounted following a fixed ancestral lineage. The numbers refer to the lines that are in
Gaelic tradition, being best
pattern. Bini involves speaking in pairs of formu- parallel. (After J. J. Fox, 1974.) developed among the Scot-
tishpoets (makaris) of the
15th and 16th centuries.
Their ferocious exchanges of
extravagant invective are
well illustrated in The Flyting
Oe No Dain biin The goat of Oe No from Dai 1 of Dunbar and Kennedie by
Na biima-pau henuk The goat has a yellow-necklaced beard 2 William Dunbar (1460-
Ma Kedi Poi Selan manun And the cock of Kedi Poi from Sela 1
1 521 ?). The exact meaning
of some of the words un-
Na manun ma-kao lilok. The cock has gold-stranded tailfeathers 2 certain, but there is
is

no doubt-
De ke heni pau biin Cut away the goat's beard 3 ing their malicious intent!
Te hu ela lesu biin Leaving but the goat's throat 4 Mauch muttoun, byt buttoun,
De se lesun na pau seluk That throat will beard again 5 peilit gluttoun, air to Hil-
Fo na pau henu seluk; And the beard will be a yellow necklace again; 6 hous;
Ma fed heni koa manun And pluck out the cock's tailfeathers 3 Rank beggar, ostir, dregar,
Te sadi ela nggoti manun Leaving only the cock's rear 4 foule fleggarin the flet;

Fo nggotin na koa seluk That rear will feather again 5 Chittirlilling, ruch lilting, lik
Fo na koa lilo seluk. And the tailfeathers will be gold strands again. 6 schilling in the milhous;
Fo bei teman leo makahulun Still perfect as before 7 Baird rehator, theif of natur,
Ma tetu leo sososan. And ordered as at first. 7 fals tratour, feyindis gett . .

(II. 145-8)

VERBAL DUELLING recorded in early Chinese and Germanic languages.


Informal linguistic contests, in which people attack Among the Eskimo there are song duels, in which
each other through their forceful or ingenious use all forms of insults are exchanged. The West Indian

of language, can be found in all pans of the world, calypso was originally a type of verbal insult di-
and in all kinds of social settings. In everyday con- rected at political figures. Among black American
versation there are numerous occasions where peo- youths in ghetto areas, various kinds of exchange
ple have to fight to speak first, avoid interruption, are known as 'sounding', 'signifying', 'woofing',
and have the last word. The subject matter ranges or 'playing the dozens' — a sequence of ritual insults
from subtle forms of intellectual sarcasm and (or 'raps') followed by replies ('caps'). Among Tur-
humour to the crudest possible attacks on a per- kish boys, from around ages 8 to 14, the exchanges
son's courage, sexual prowess, or relatives. At one are phonologically linked: the retort must rhyme
level, attacks may be subtle and indirect, involving with the insult, and each new insult must be linked
allusion and figurative speech; at another, there in some way with a previous part of the sequence.
may be explicit taunts, boasts, name calling, and The exchanges are all to do with virility and homo-
jokes at the other's expense. sexuality. They are delivered with great fluency and
Often these duels take the form of set sequences speed, and may continue for some time. A fragment
of challenges and replies according to certain rules. from one exchange illustrates the rhyming pattern:
They involve a great deal of skill, as participants
A: Ustiine binek Let me
ride you
have to master special techniques of sentence con-
B: Halebe gidek go to Aleppo
Let's
struction, remember a large number of fixed
A-.Halep yikildi Aleppo was flattened
phrases, and be able to modify them in ingenious
B: Iqine tikildi It was crammed inside (you)
ways as they come under verbal attack. These duels
have been studied in places as far afield as Africa, In such sequences, A can win only if B fails to reply
the Near East, Greenland, and the Americas. They with an appropriate retort. If B succeeds, A must
Exchanging angry words in
seem to function as a means of discovering the rules continue with more taunts. The more rhymes B
the playground.
governing the social structure of the peer group. has memorized, the more he is safe from sudden
One can discover and test the dominance of others, verbal attacks. He loses the contest if he answers
without recourse to fighting and bloodshed. without rhyme, or fails to answer at all. (See
Politeness duels and boasting contests have been further, riddles, p. 63.)

60-11 LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


CURSING AND SWEARING Four letters and
A remarkable variety of linguistic forms can be con- the law
sidered as cursing and swearing. At one extreme In 1 936, Eric Partridge
there are the complex and sophisticated expres- (1894-1979) included fuckin
sions that may be found in religious, legal, and his Dictionary of Slang and
Unconventional English.
other formal contexts. At the other, there are the
Despite his use of an aster-
many daily examples of taboo speech, usually pro- isk for the vowel, the result
fanities or obscenities, that express such emotions was a storm of complaints to
as hatred, antagonism, frustration, and surprise. schools, libraries, and the
police. Even today, the book
The most common utterances consist of single
is not always available on the
words or short phrases (though lengthy sequences
open shelves of public librar-
may occur in 'accomplished' swearers), conveying ies.
different levels of intensity and attracting different An even greater furore
degrees of social sanction. English examples range took place in 1959, when
from 'mild' expletives, such as heck and dash, to Grove Press of New York
published the unexpurgated
the two maximally taboo words, fuck and cunt. edition of D. H. Lawrence's
The functions of swearing are complex. Most Lady Chatterley's Lover,
obviously, it is an outlet for frustration or pent-up which contained several in-
emotion and a means of releasing nervous energy stances of the word. The edi-
tion was banned on grounds
after a sudden shock (§4). It has also been credited
(IKfC* of obscenity, and court cases
with various social functions as a marker of group followed, first in the U.S.,
identity and solidarity (§10), and as a way of Punch cartoon of 2 April 1 91 3 Old Lady: I shouldn't cry if then in Britain. The trial of the

expressing aggression without resort to violence. Iwere you, little man. British publishers, Penguin
Little Boy: Must do sumping; bean't I old enough to swear. Books, at the Old Bailey,
In these social contexts swearing can become a
took place in October 1 960,
dominant linguistic trait, with sentences often con- other class deals with the names of gods, devils, and a verdict of not guilty
taining many taboo words. sacred places, the future life, and anyone or any- was returned. As a result, the
Sex, excretion, and the supernatural are the main thing that holds a sacred place in the belief systems word quickly appeared in the
sources of swear-words. One important class of daily press, and it has since
of the community: God, Dear Lord, By the beard
become widespread in liter-
items deals with words to do with body parts and
of the prophet, By the holy sacrament, Heavens, ary work. In the context of
functions that society considers taboo, such as Hell Sometimes expressions from other belief
. . . public speech, however, a
tnerde, balls, and other 'four-letter' words. The systems are used (e.g. by Jove). In the course of strong prohibition remains.
Despite the development
time, euphemistic forms of words can obscure their
of liberal attitudes, there is
original meaning [hell —* heck, bloody —> bloom- still a strong antagonism to
ing, and such ingenious distortions as Geraniums the use of four-letter words in
and Gee Whiskers from Jesus). In fact, it can be public speech; and they are
still not always to be found in
argued that the real meaning of the expressions
dictionaries.There was
used swearing is rarely a factor governing their
in
nothing between fuchsite
use (thus allowing a contrast to be drawn with blas- and fucoid in Webster's Third
phemy, where the speaker has a definite intention New International Dictionary
to vilify religious matters). (1 96 1 for example but the
) , ;

never possible to predict the range of experi-


It is
gap was filled in the 1 983
addendum.
ence a culture will use to curse or swear by. It may
Roman tablet of 50 bc Cursing tablets were be the name of a dead relative, a ruler or famous Rabelaisian curses
commonplace among the ancient Greeks and
person, symbols of power, natural forces (Donner- Gargantua and Pantagruel
Romans. A curse would be inscribed on a tablet, which
would then be buried or thrown into deep water. The wetter), a part of the body (Stap me vitals), an (both 1532), by Francois Ra-
belais (c. 1495-1553), con-
lengthy inscription on one such tablet begins (after W. animal (Rats), or even a plant. One of the most
tainswearing performances
Sherwood Fox, 1919): famous oaths of ancient Ionia was ma tin krambin that have never been sur-
Good and beautiful Proserpina (or Salvia, shouldst 'By the cabbage!' - an expression that seems to passed. In the 1694 English
thou prefer), mayest thou wrest away the health, body, have originated in the special status of this vege- translation by Peter Motteux
complexion, strength and faculties of Plotius and table as an antidote to hangovers! Baudelaire swore (1660-1718), Book IV be-
consign him to thy husband, Pluto. Grant that by his gins:
own devices he may not escape this penalty. Mayest by Sacre-Saint-Ciboire 'Sacred Saint Onion'; Soc-
Ods-bodikins. What a devil.
thou consign him to the quartan, tertian and daily rates swore ni ton kuna 'By the dog'; and Pytha- Codzooks. By the mass.
fevers to war and wrestle with him until they snatch goras is said to have sworn ma tin tetrakton 'By With a pox to them. vow I

away his soul ... give thee his ears, nose, nostrils,
I
the number four'. Even nonsense words can be and swear by the handle of
tongue, lips, and teeth, so he may not speak his pain;
invoked: Robert Southey (1774—1843) swore by my paper lantern. Ad-
his neck, shoulders, arms, and fingers, so that he may zookers. Zwoons. A pox on
not aid himself. .
the great decasyllabon Aballiboozobanganovribo. it. A murrain seize thee for a

Some languages, such as Arabic and Turkish, are blockheaded booby ... By
and the curse continues through the whole anatomy
famous for the range and imagination of their the worthy vow of Charroux.
of poor Plotius, in a most comprehensive way.
swearing expressions ('You father of 60 dogs', By St Winifred's pocket. By
A similar curse was levelled against a Parisian
St Anthony's hog. By St Fer-
woman, and published in a Nancy newspaper, as 'You ride a female camel', etc.). By contrast, several
reol of Abbeville. By St
recently as 1910! peoples, such as the Amerindians, Polynesians, and Patrick's slipper. By our Lady
Japanese, swear very little, or not at all. of Riviere . .

11 CONTEXTUAL IDENTITY •
61
.

with their fixed sentence sequence and


Language and humour word play:
final-line
Universal jokes?
Many cultural differences ex-
The story is told of a man who was
carrying out joke and subject
A: Knock, knock! ist in telling
research into the language of jokes in the Reading matter. is a fairly common
B: Who's there? It

Room of the British Library but who had to be A: name. (Fred)


experience not to see why a
expelled for laughing too loud. The story is improb- foreign language joke is
B: name who? (Fred who?)
funny. On the other hand,
able. Nothing is more likely to kill a good joke A: name + extension. (Fred (= afraid) I can't tell
certain themes are found in
than a linguistic analysis. The examples in this sec- you!) many languages. An exam-
tion, therefore, are not offered by way of enter- ple is the way certain social
tainment but solely to illustrate some of the
A classification of the types of linguistic devia-
or regional groups are
tion and incongruity would be hard to achieve, for stereotyped as stupid, so
conventions that make the expression of humour
probably all aspects of language structure have that merely by saying There
one of the most distinctive of all linguistic contexts. was this man from X', the lis-
been used as the basis of an effect at one time or
The choice of funny or silly words, grammatical tener knows that a foolish ac-
other. Further examples would include effects
patterns, pronunciations, and tones of voice is a tion is to follow. 'Irish jokes'
based on word-structure and word-class (e.g. 'Can the tradition Eng-
normal part of informal conversation. In one study illustrate in
the match box? No, but the tin can.'), idiomatic land, but the Irish should not
of an evening's conversation, the participants 'tam-
shifts (e.g. 'A: Who's that at the door? B: The in- take this personally, for they
pered with' several linguistic features, for humor- too have Irish jokes. In Dub-
visible man. A: Tell him I can't see him.'), incon-
ous effect: one person talked of climbing 'an Ande'; lin, such jokes are often
gruous themes (such as the 'elephant' jokes, which made about people from
another coined a false gender, saying 'a customs
must now number thousands), as well as the many Cork; and in Cork, the jokes
officer-ess'; and a third speaker, talking about foot-
puns and riddles, which are discussed on the facing are often made about people
ball, adopted a mock-American accent, comment-
page. For the cognoscenti, there are even jokes that from Galway. (I have no data
ing 'We wuz robbed.' In a recent conversation on who Galway people joke
cross the boundary between languages, such as 'Pas
between several teenage boys, this kind of word- about!)
de deux. Father of twins', and 'Coq au vin. Chicken Similarly, in Tonga, such
and pronunciation-play proved to be a dominant
motif, acting more as a marker of solidarity than
on lorry.' A good
joke classification would also jokes are made about people
have to deal with the contexts in which jokes are from Ena, an island off the
of humour — for the linguistic changes per se pro- coast of Tongatapu. In Jor-
used (or not used), the attitudes and expectations
voked little laughter. dan, there are jokes about
of the people who use them, and the conventions
people from the village of Al-
that listeners have to follow while a joke is being Sareeh. Several Central Afri-
JOKES told — such as not interrupting, not anticipating can tribes refer to pygmy
Modifications of these kinds happen so often that groups in this way. What is
the punch-line, and (if the joke is truly 'awful')
we hardly notice them; but they use the same prin- interesting is the way in
making a disparaging remark when it is all over.
ciple, of deviating from language norms, as is found which the same joke turns up
in more structured forms of humour, such as jokes invery different cultures. For
example, there's the one
and riddles, where the 'punch-line' frequently relies Comic alphabets
about the Sareehi boy who
on breaking the linguistic expectations of the lis- There are hundreds of poems and puns based on chased a bus all the way
tener. This can be observed even in jokes that are reciting the letters of the alphabet. Widely known home, then boasted to his
(fortunately) quite short, especially those with in the 19th century, they seem to have originated mother that he had saved 20
pence. But his mother called
highly stereotyped openings: as an adult reflex of the rhyming alphabets that
him foolish, saying that if he
came to be used in schools ('A for an Apple, an had followed a taxi, he would
What do you get if you cross . .
Archer, and Arrow; B for a Bull, a Bear, and a have saved over a pound! Of
an elephant with a mouse? Barrow', etc.). One of the alphabets reproduced course, the joke was origi-
nally told in Arabic, and the
Large holes in the skirting board. in Eric Partridge's Comic alphabets (1961) runs
monetary units were in local
as follows:
Where is Felixstowe? currency, but the same joke
is familiar in English, and is
On the end of Felix' foot.
for 'orses. N for mation. heard, with minor variants, in

for mutton. O for the rainbow. several other languages.


important that jokes have some degree of
It is
for yourself. P for soup.
stereotyping, in everyday contexts, for other-
initial
for dumb. (i.e. 'deaf Q for the bus.
wise it would not be clear what the speaker's or dumb') R for mo', (i.e. 'half
intentions were. Common markers in English are for brick, (i.e. 'heave a ['arf] a mo[ment]')
.'
such phrases as 'Did you hear the one about . .
brick') for you. (i.e. 'as for
and 'There was this man .'
Often, a sub-genre . . for vescence. you')
of joke is established through the use of a specific for police, (i.e. 'chief T for two.

opening, such as 'There was an Englishman, an of police') U for me.

Irishman, and a Scotsman .', or 'Waiter, there's for beauty, (i.e. 'age V for la compagnie.
w
. .

before .') for a quid. (i.e.


a fly in my soup.' Children's jokes in particular
. .

for Novello. 'double you' in


rely on a small number of set openings, or fixed
for oranges, (i.e. 'Jaffa betting)
internal structures, which permit a large number oranges') for breakfast.
of follow-up sequences — witness the traditional for teria. (i.e. for mistress, (i.e. 'wife
success of such patterns as 'What's the difference 'cafeteria') or mistress')
between a noun and a noun?', 'What did the L for leather. for the doctor, (i.e.

noun say to the noun?', 'Why did the noun M for sis. (i.e. 'send for.. .')

verb?', and, above all, the 'Knock knock' jokes 'emphasis')

62 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


RIDDLES pierre is used for both), or the puns used by the
Riddling is a kind of intellectual linguistic game oracle at Delphi (such as the ambiguous reply to
or contest, which in some ways is similar to verbal the general who wished to know whether he should
duelling (p. 60). It is found in many cultures, in go on a journey: Domine, stes vs Domi ne stes
all continents, and throughout history, but it is not 'Master, stay' vs 'At home do not stay'). Shake-
universal (observers have reported no riddles in speare was one of the greatest users of puns. In
Manus, Miao, and Pukapuka, for example). A France, one of the most famous punsters was the
satisfactory definition encompassing the whole of Marquis de Bievre, in whose never-acted play Ver-
the genre is difficult to achieve because riddles come cingetorix (1770) there is an italicized pun in every
in several linguistic forms and are used for a variety line.
of purposes. It is also not easy to draw a clear Puns are a feature of many linguistic contexts,
distinction between riddles and other kinds of such as black comedy, sick humour, T-shirts, lapel
linguistic game, such as puns, and 'catch' questions. badges, car stickers, trade names, book titles, and
But essentially, riddles are traditional utterances graffiti (p. 55). The world of advertising (p. 390)
intended to mystify or mislead: objects, animals, makes great use of the economical impact and
people, and events are deliberately described in freshness of a pun (e.g. the slogan for a new kind
such a way that their description suggests some- of adhesive, 'Our word is your bond'). But the best
thing quite different. The task of the listener is to and worst of them are found in everyday conversa-
resolve the ambiguity and arrive at an appropriate tion. Puns that have been justly lauded include the
interpretation. response of the disappointed recipient of a gift of
In Europe, riddles usually take the form of short poor quality flowers ('With fronds like these, who
questions, generally with humorous Eng-
intent. In needs anemones?'), the comment made by the cir-
lish, the genrefound largely in children's games
is cus manager to the human cannonball who wanted The oldest
and conversation, from around 7 to 10 years of to leave ('Where will I find another man of your English riddles
age, and there are few things that make more calibre?'), and the comment about the Spanish girls In the oldest collection of
demands on parental patience than learning to cope in a certain town, that they are 'senoreaters'. Anglo-Saxon poetry, the
Exeter Book, there are 95
with the persistent riddle. In Africa, by contrast, Puns have been called verbal practical jokes, and riddles, which probably date
riddles are widely used by adults: they are often are either loved or hated according to tempera- from the 8th century. The rid-
cryptic statements, of a poetic or philosophical ment. Their popularity varies greatly between lan- dles are generally in the first

character, which do not contain any question ele- guages and cultures, though the reasons for this person, as illustrated by the
opening lines of the Book'
ment. In the ancient world, riddles had a serious are unclear; it has been said, for example, that they
riddle (translation R. K. Gor-
purpose, being used by kings, judges, oracles, and are far more popular in Britain than in the USA, don):
others to test a person's wisdom or worthiness. and in France than in Germany. But punning is
A foe deprived me of life,
Riddles vary greatly in grammatical and phono- not without its dangers. The Gnat, in Lewis Car- took away my bodily
logical form. They may be single phrases, or have roll's The Hunting of the Snark, dies of a pun. strength; afterwards wet me,
several short lines. They may be introduced by spe- And punsters should beware the phenomenon of dipped me in water, took me
cial formulae, such as What is it?, A noun, A four- compulsive punning, first recorded by a German out again, set me in the sun
where quickly lost the hairs
letter word. They may display rhymes, parallel surgeon in 1939, and now known as 'Forster's syn-
I

had. Afterwards the hard


I

rhythms, and other special effects, often (as during drome'. edge of the knife cut me . .

the Renaissance) involving intricate and sophisti-


The riddle ends:
cated forms of expression. This three-line Persian
Ask what is my name, useful
riddle from Teheran has an equivalent number of
to men; my name is famous,
syllables in each 'line' (after C. T. Scott, 1965): of service to men, sacred in
A page from the Exeter Book myself.
jdota baeradaeraend/haerce bedaevaend/ behaem
nemiraesaend/ 'They are two brothers. However much
they run, they do not reach each other.' WcZ~£T
''

/caerxdye docaerxej 'Wheels of a bicycle.'

Examples such as this also illustrate the way in


which riddles can cut across linguistic boundaries,
for the same subject matter will be found in the
riddle collections of many languages.

IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE PUN


— „ „,
|v , ^ ....
^ £k *

.
T"*™ T*»l* *,„,„„„ _
This heading is a quotation from Murphy (Samuel I *""»!*.
-

Beckett) and represents one view about the impor- *pir pi- ,

tance of puns; John Dryden's comment, that they I i*'H>i»l,


are 'the lowest and most grovelling kind of wit'
represents the other. There is truth in both. Puns
have always been known, and some have achieved
great fame — notably the Peter/ rock play on words
in the New Testament (clearer in French, where

1 1 CONTEXTUAL IDENTITY • 63
. -

Word games Grid games Word-squares


A square of letters is con-
Playing with words is a universal human activity, There are now innumerable games that all operate on
structed, using words of
the principle of building up words on a predetermined
but it is particularly noticeable in the way literate equal length, which read in
grid. Some are intended for individual use, such as
societies have devised word games, based largely Word Search (a large letter-grid in which words have
horizontal, vertical, and oc-
casionally diagonal direc-
on the written language. People delight in pulling to be found by moving from one square to the next,
tions. Usually the words are
words apart and reconstituting them in a novel in any direction). Others are for several players, such
the same in each direction,
guise, arranging them into clever patterns, finding as Lexicon, Kan-U-Go, and Boggle. In Scrabble -the
but double word-squares',
in
most famous game of this type- points are assigned
hidden meanings inside them, and trying to use they read differently, as in:
based upon how many letters are used, with higher
them according to specially invented rules. Word points for the rarer letters, and with certain squares ORAL
puzzles and competitions are to be found in news- in the grid more valuable than others. This game now MARE
papers, at parties, in schools, on radio and tele- has its own national championships, in which expert EVEN
vision, and in all kinds of individual contexts -
players display rare feats of lexical awareness to NEAT
achieve high scores. Clement Wood's Deaf/7 of a
aswhen an adult completes a crossword, or a child A famous Roman word-
Scrabble Master cleverly portrays some of the special
game of Hangman. Something of the enor- square was part acrostic,
plays a knowledge required to keep on winning:
part palindrome. It may be
mous diversity of the 'ludic' function of language Thiswas the greatest of the game 's great players: read in four directions.
is illustrated in this section (see also pp. 59, 62-3). you played BRAS, he d make it HUDIBRASTIC.
If

He ruled a world 15 by 15 squares, S A T O R


Peopled by 1 00 letters, wood or plastic. A R E PO
TENET
He unearthed XEBEC, HAJI, useful OAID, OPERA
Acrostics Found OUOS (see pi.
QUOTHA,
of QUID PRO QUO) and ROTAS
These are compositions, usually in verse, in which Its literal translation is 'The
certain letters within the text form
Discovered AU, DE, DA all unitalicized
a word, phrase, or sower, Arepo, guides wheels
special pattern. Some are written as puzzles; in others,
(AU JUS, DA CAPO, ALMANACH DE GOTHA).
with care', but it may well
there is no attempt to conceal the answer'. Generally Two-letter words went marching through his brain, have had special signifi-
the initial letter of each line provides the clue, but Spondaic-footed, singing their slow litany: cance to Christians of the
sometimes it is based on the last letter of the line (a AL (Indian Mulberry), Al (a sloth), EM, EN, time: the middle lines form a
telestich'), combinations of and last letters (a
first BY, MY, AX, EX, OX, LO, IT, AN, HE... cross, and the letters can be
double acrostic), or more complex sequences. rearranged to form several
The day his adversary put down GNASHED,
He laid - avirtuoso feat- beneath it GOUTIER,
significant messages, like
A 'triple acrostic' The solution is based on initial,

medial, and final letters in each clue word. So placed, that six more tiny words were hatched: A
Left, middle, and right GO, NU, AT, SI, then (as you've seen, no doubt) HE, P
Give us a choice of a light.
ER. A
1 The kind of glance which he who's lost his heart
T
E
Bestows on her who wears the latter part.
2. Here is one
R
A PATERNOSTER O
With a gun. Decoding crossword clues O
3. This is bound
The crossword is undoubtedly the most popular of all S
To go round.
word games. Its origins are unclear, but became it T
4. Simplify taste
widely known in 1 91 3, when a U.S. journalist, Arthur E
And eliminate waste.
5. My meaning is made plain
Wynne, devised a newspaper puzzle, called a 'word R
By my saying again. it
cross', which quickly became a craze. But for anyone O
who has tried writing a good puzzle turns out to be
it,

far more difficult than solving The construction of the


(where A and stand for AL-
Ado Rin G it.
PHA and OMEGA).
Musk Etee R interlockingwords within the puzzle is not the issue:
Other intriguing word-
Ban Dag E the main problem is devising clues which are
shapes have been invented,
Econ Omiz E ingeniously ambiguous, but do not unintentionally
such as diamonds, pyra-
Reite Ratio N mislead.
mids, and half-squares. Also
The more difficult puzzles make use of cryptic clues,
which require the solver to understand several special
of interest is the maximum
size of such shapes. In
conventions. An anagram might be signalled by a
English, nine-word squares
figure of speech expressing disorder, such as A youth
have been completed, con-
is all mixed up 'Used in' may mean that the required
.'

Chronograms . .

word is hidden within a phrase forming part of the clue.


taining several rarewords
A date is hidden in a series of words, by using the and places, but so far no ten-
If the clue contains a parenthetic phrase such as we

letters for Roman numerals, C, D, L, M, V (used for


word squares using ten
I, hear', two similar-sounding words are involved.
different words have been
U), and X. The significant letters are usually written Punning clues often end with an exclamation or
producing an odd graphic appearance to completed - even with the
in capitals, question mark. And a large number of conventional
help of a computer.
the Chronograms were often used on medals,
line. expressions are used to symbolize certain letters, such
tombstones, foundation stones, bells, and title pages as 'left' (=/), 'north' (=n), a sailor' (=ab), or a
A nine-word square:
of books, to mark the date of an event. thousand' (=m). Q U A R
In the chronogram used in the tower vaulting of In the specialized world of the serious' crossword U P P E
Winchester Cathedral, the verse of scripture reads: compilers, the rules governing the construction of clues PO
slnt DoMVs hVIVs pll reges nVtrltll, reglnae nVtrlCes are strictly adhered to, and much pleasure is obtained OM
plae' (Isaiah 49:23, 'Kings shall be the nursing fathers by making them really difficult and ingenious. In Britain, I E
and queens the nursing mothers of thy house'). the symbol of this state of mind has been the choice N T
MDCWVWIIIIIIIIII = 1 635, the date of completion of ofpseudonyms of some of the great compilers: T E
the roof. Torquemada, Ximenes, and Azed (Deza in reverse) E R
all names of leaders of the Spanish Inquisition! R S

64 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


Anagrams Rebuses
The letters of words and the other hand, was one of be analysed into the follow-
A rebus mixes letters, pictures and logograms (p. 200)
phrases are rearranged to many who ridiculed the ing words, 'Resist- a plot
make words and sentences. Often, the sentences
to
make new words - a proce- pomposity and superstition is brought home - the tour'.
make sense only when read aloud in a certain way,
dure which at one time was of those who dealt in ana-
As a game, however, ana- as in this famous rebus:
thought to disclose signifi- grams. In Gulliver's grams can provide a great
cant information about a Travels, natives of Tribnia
deal of fun, especially
YY U R Too wise you are.
person's character or (= Britain) discover plots when an anagram relates
YY U B Too wise you be.
future,and even to carry using the 'anagrammatic to the meaning of the origi-
C U R
I see you are,
/

mystical meaning or magi- method': nal in some way: YY 4 ME Too wise forme.
cal power (p. 59). People By transposing the letters astronomers —> moon-starers Other conventions are shown in H& (=hand), XQQ
would sometimes live ac- of the alphabet in any sus- conversation—> voices rant on (= excuse), and in such ingenious forms as timing
cording to the 'real' mean- pected paper, they can lay Margaret Thatcher-* Meg, timing {= split-second timing) and FECpoxTION
ing of their names, and in open the deepest designs the arch-tartar
(=smallpox infection).
post-Renaissance Europe, of a discontented party. So, mother-in-law -* woman
it was commonplace to for example, if should say,
I
Hitler
work out laudatory ana- in a letter to a friend, 'Our parishioners -* I hire par- A typical rebus game from a children's annual
grams from the names of brother Tom has just got sons
the famous. Louis XIII of the piles', a skilful deci- —
France even had an official
anagrammatist within his
pherer would discover that
the same letters that com-
revolution > to love ruin
sweetheart —> there we sat
total abstainers -» sit not at
FIND THE ANIMAIS
can vou orseo rne am/ma ls vefz
court. Jonathan Swift, on pose that sentence, may
FR.O/V\ THE PICTUR.6 CCU6S P
ale bars

Lipograms Palindromes Tongue twisters


These are compositions There are words or One of the few word games
which contain no instances phrases - and sometimes that relate purely to the spo-
of a particular letter of the al- much larger units of ken medium. Words that
phabet. An early master of language - that read the contain the same or similar
the genre was the 5th-cen- same in both directions. Sim- sounds are juxtaposed, and
tury bc Greek poet Tryphio- pleexamples are found in the exercise is to say them
dorus, who wrote an epic of such everyday examples as as rapidly as possible, as in:

24 books, each omitting a madam and Eve; but the real The Leith police dismisseth
different letter of the Greek challenge is to construct long
us.
alphabet. One of the most sequences that make sense,
The sixth sheikh's sixth
famous lipograms of recent such as:
sheep's sick.
times is Gadsby (1 939), a
She sells sea-shells on the
50,000-word novel by Ernest Draw, o coward!
sea-shore.
Wright, that makes no use of Sex noon taxes.
at
the most frequent letter of Eh, cava, lavache? This fine Italian specimen is

the English alphabet, e. A worth recording:


from this remark-
tiny extract or the palindrome attributed
Se I'Arcivescovo di
able work illustrates how it to Napoleon:
Costantinopoli si voiesse
can be done:
disarcivescoviscostantino
Univocalics sible. The game was in-
Able was ere I I saw Elba.
politannizzare, vi disarcives- vented by Lewis Carroll, who
Upon this basis am going to I
By contrast with lipograms,
coviscostantino politanniz- gave as one of his first exam-
show you how a bunch of Longer sequences tend to univocalics are compositions
zereste voipernon fare dis- ples, Drive pig into sry.' His
bright young folks did find a deteriorate into nonsense, thatuse only one vowel. The
arcivescoviscostantino answer involved five steps:
champion; a man with boys though there are exceptions:
politannizzare lui?
possibilities for expression pig-wig-wag-way-say-sty.
and own; a man
girls of his are much more limited, but
of so dominating and happy Doc, note, dissent. A fast
I (If the Archbishop of Con- several clever poems have
individuality that Youth is never prevents a fatness. I stantinople wished to give up been constructed in this way,
drawn to him as is a fly to a diet on cod. his archbishopric, would you as is illustrated by this coup-
sugar bowl. It is a story about do the same order that he
in let from a 1 6-line work by
Pangrams
a small town . . The longest palindrome is re- may not give up his arch- C.C. Bombaugh(1890): These are sentences that
putedly over 65,000 words. bishopric?) No cool monsoons blow soft contain every letter of the al-

on Oxford dons, phabet - ideally, a single in-


Orthodox, jog-trot, book- stance of each. The typist's
Sign outside The Plough at worm Solomons! sentence The quick brown
East Hendred, Oxfordshire. fox jumps over the lazy dog
Hiding words within other HERESTO PANlts PEN D ASOCl satisfies the first criterion, but

words, or spreading them has several duplications. A


Doublets 26-letter pangram devised in
across the words in a sen-
tence (e.g. maniac within
AL HOU R 1NHAR M(LES SMIRT) One word is changed into 1984 is Veldt jynx grimps
the man I accuse) is a well- another in a series of steps, Waqfzho buck (all words to
known feature of cross-
word puzzle clues, and it
HA ND FUNLET FRIENDS <*> each intervening word
ing from its neighbours
differ-
in
be found
ary). In
in a large diction-
French, the shortest
can become a game in its only one letter. The chal- pangram is listed as Whisky
own right. Altering word HI PRE IGN BE cJUSTAN DK lenge is both to form the vert.jugez cinq fox d'aplomb,
boundaries can also lead to chain of linked words, and to but there are three duplica-
initially confusing results, IN DAN DEVIL SPEAKOF NO NE do so in as few steps as pos- tions.

as is shown by this sign.

1 1 CONTEXTUAL IDENTITY 65
12 Stylistic identity and literature

The way people use language gives us information periods, or places. In this sense, we talk of 'Shakes- Who's who?
about their physical type, their geographical, eth- pearean style', the 'house style' of an institution,
The importance of personal
nic, and social background, and the type of context and all the variations in expression that relate to linguistic identity is often re-
in which they are communicating (§§6—11). In each psychological or social states ('informal style', cognized in the study of liter-

case, the distinctive features mark someone as 'legal style', etc.). ature, where an author's ex-
belonging to a group, or performing a particular Both these general senses are widely used in lan- pression may be analysed in
detail by literary critics to de-
type of activity along with others — 'female', 'upper guage study. Evaluative notions are an essential termine its specific effect,
class', 'from Glasgow', 'black', 'praying', and so part of aesthetic approaches to language, and are meaning, and significance.
on. But in addition, a person's language use con- implicit in such areas as elocution, oratory, and But critics are not the only
veys information of a purely idiosyncratic kind. literary criticism. Descriptive approaches are found professionals involved in the
study of language individua-
We observe the language and conclude that it is more in scientific studies, such as the various
lity.
'William Brown' communicating — or, of course, branches of linguistics, where there is a concern • Lawyers have a particular
William Wordsworth, or William Shakespeare. for objective identification without evaluation. But language of
interest in the
In everyday life, unless cognitive faculties are there is a common strand running through these their clients, especially when
impaired, people have an ability to recognize indi- various traditions: style always involves an appre- questions of libel, slander,
perjury, and mistaken iden-
vidual voices and handwriting style, and this faci- ciation of contrast between alternative locations,
are raised. In recent
tity
lity has prompted a great deal of research into periods, appearances, or behaviour. As language years there have been
voiceprints (p. 20) and graphology {$33). But adult observers, we distinguish 'Shakespearean' from several stylistic analyses of
voice quality and handwriting are relatively perma- 'not Shakespearean', 'formal' from 'informal', speech samples, where the
nent, background features of communication — 'scientific' from 'religious', and so on. And as pro-
aim has been to establish the
similarities between an ac-
general physiological and psychological reflexes ducers of language ourselves, we can to a large cused person's language
over which there is little conscious control. They extent choose the linguistic 'guise' in which we wish and that heard in a tape re-
therefore contrast with those personal linguistic to appear. cording (p. 69). However,
characteristics that are relatively temporary, in the such forensic linguistic' en-
This concept of choice is central to stylistic study,
quiries are persuasive only
foreground, changing and changeable as people whatever our approach. Style is seen as the (con- when the stylistic features
make conscious choices about what they want to scious or unconscious) selection of a set of linguistic are particularly clear-cut.
express and the way they want to express it. It features from all the possibilities in a language. The • Psychiatrists, especially
is these characteristics that provide the subject effects these features convey can be understood those practising psycho-
therapy, spend a great deal
matter of this section, often referred to cumulat- only by intuitively sensing the choices that have
of their professional lives at-
ively under the heading of style. been made (as when we react to the linguistic tempting to understand the
impact of a religious archaism, a poetic rhyme idiosyncratic linguistic beha-
scheme, or a joke), and it is usually enough simply viour of their patients - an
approach that stems from
to respond to the effect in this way. But there are
Style the detailed analyses of Sig-
often occasions when we have to develop a more mund Freud (1856-1939).
Style one of the thorniest concepts to be dealt
is analytical approach, as when we are asked our opi- By studying patients' favour-
with in this encyclopedia. To Samuel Wesley, it nion about a particular use of language. Here, itewords and sense associa-
was 'the dress of thought'; to Jonathan Swift, it when we need to explain our responses to others, tions, their errors, and the

was 'proper words in proper places'; to W. B. words they avoid, analysts


or even advise others how to respond (as in the
may draw up a linguistic pic-
Yeats, it was 'high breeding in words and in argu- teaching of literature), our intuition needs to be ture of the disorder and use
ment'. And so we could continue, through several supplemented by a more objective account of style. as a basis for treatment.
it

hundred definitions and characterizations. It is a It is this approach which is known as stylistics. Psychotherapy, indeed, has
remarkable career for a word that originally meant The notion of stylistic choice could be used to been called the 'talking cure'.

no more than a 'writing-implement' — a pointed explain many of the effects used in the expression
object, or stilus, for inscribing wax. of social and contextual identity (§§10, 11); and
The many senses of style can be classified into indeed, several stylisticians do adopt this wider
two broad types: the evaluative, and the descrip- approach. For them, 'style' is any situationally dis-
tive. Under the first heading, style is thought of tinctive use oflanguage — a characteristic of groups
in a critical way: the features that make someone as well as individuals. In the present volume, how-
or something stand out from an 'undistinguished' ever, a narrower definition is used: 'style' is viewed
background. In this sense, it implies a degree of as the set of language features that make people
excellence in performance or a desired standard distinctive - the basis of their personal linguistic
of production, as when someone is complimented identity.
for 'having style', or condemned for writing 'with-
out style'. The second sense lacks these value judg-
ments and simply describes the set of distinctive
characteristics that identify objects, persons,

66 •
II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY
STATISTICS AND STYLE Yule's
The recognition and analysis of all forms of linguis- Characteristic
tic on the making of compari-
variation depends George Udny Yule (1871-
sons. We intuitively sense that individuals and 1 951 was a Cambridge
)

statistician who pioneered


groups differ and develop, and we seek to explain
several important stylostatis-
our intuition by systematically comparing the way tical measures. His main
in which they make use of specific linguistic fea- concern was to devise a
we wish to make our account objective,
tures. If criterion which would apply
largely independently of
sooner or later we need to count the frequency of .'
nlniiir sample size. 'Yule's
these features, plot their distribution in controlled Characteristic' (K) is a mea-
samples, and quantify the extent of the difference Hfralb sure of the chance that any
e rib ii nc
— at which point, we would be engaging in stylo- two nouns selected at ran-
statistics, or stylometrics. Such studies comprise a
dom from a text will be identi-
cal. It is thus a means of
major part of the field of statistical linguistics (§15) measuring the repetitiveness
— a field which investigates not only the differences ofa work's vocabulary, ex-
between samples or texts, but also the properties pressed as a single value.
that samples (and, ultimately, whole languages,
and all languages) have in common, as part of the
search for linguistic universals (§14).
~^r?tfTnnrr

>runf, llrl(
— George Udny Yule

Nobody can count everything; and even if .

rA|(!lnn(i

modern computers printed out comprehensive ac-


counts of the linguistic structure of texts, there
would not be enough time available to analyse
them. On the other hand, the larger the sample
of data analysed, the more confident our conclu- Institutions, as well as people, need to be considered
sions will be. Stylostatistical studies thus tend to in relation to the definition of style as individual
identity'. There are certain distinctive linguistic
use a small number of carefully chosen textual fea-
characteristics of newspaper language,for example,
tures and to search for these in as large a body
which be found in all instances of the genre
will
of text as is practicable. Where possible, compari- (p. 388); but each paper has its own linguistic identity
sons are made with statistical data available for too, which makes different from the others. The same
it

the whole language (such as large-scale counts of principle applies to the study of banks, commercial
products, broadcasting channels, and any organization
word frequency). In this way the language acts as
which requires an identity and public image. House
a 'norm' against which the idiosyncratic features styles, letter-heads, newspaper titles, advertising
are made to stand out. slogans, and many kinds of trade mark illustrate some
Typically, stylostatistics investigates matters of of the ways in which institutions rely on stylistic
features as a means of promoting corporate identity.
frequency and distribution in three main areas:

• formal characteristics that do not relate directly


to the meaning of a text, such as parts of speech,
source of vocabulary (e.g. Romance vs Germanic),
and the length of words, sentences, or lines;
• characteristics that relate directly to meaning,
such as the size and diversity of an author's voca- Groucho Marx The success of a public entertainer
bulary; and
may depend on linguistic idiosyncrasy. Public
recognition can come from the clever use of a single
• the detailed study of single words, or small sets catch phrase. In many cases, the image involves an
of words, such as and, or the use of on vs upon; entire way of speaking, a well-known example being
particular attention is paid to words that occur only the professional tone of voice of Groucho Marx.
once in a text, in the works of an individual author,
or in the language as a whole {hapax legomena).

Quantitative studies using these variables date


from the 19th century. Much effort was devoted
to devising measures that were statistically satisfac-
tory as well as stylistically interesting.
Stylostatistics would not normally analyse those
features over which individuals have little or no
control because they are part of the obligatory
structure of a language - such as the letter sequence
q + u in English, or the use of the article before
the noun. Where there is no choice, there is no
basis for making a stylistic contrast. Style is thus
seen as an author's regular selections from the op-
tional features of language structure.

12 STYLISTIC IDENTITY AND LITERATURE •


67
puter programs are becoming available for the
Authorship identification study of stylistic differentiation.
One of the most important applications of stylo-
has been in relation to cases of
statistical studies
WHO WAS JUNIUS?
disputed or unknown authorship. The frequency
If we see them obedient to the laws,
[the people]
prosperous in their industry, united at home, and
and distribution of a small number of linguistic
respected abroad, we may reasonably presume that their
features in aproblem text is compared with the affairs are conducted by men of experience, abilities and
corresponding features in texts where the author- virtue. If, on the contrary, we see an universal spirit of
ship is known. Given a judicious selection of fea- distrust and dissatisfaction, a rapid decay of trade,
tures for comparison, it is often possible to make dissensions in all parts of the empire, and a total loss
an identification, though with varying levels of con- of respect in the eyes of foreign powers, we may Augustus de Morgan
fidence. In this way, several important authorship pronounce, without hesitation, that the government of
questions have been illuminated or solved. that country is weak, distracted and corrupt.
Mind, I told you so!
Sometimes a conclusion can be reached using This is an extract from a series of political letters Augustus de Morgan (1 806-
a very small number of variables. For example, in 71), British mathematician
written under the pseudonym Junius, which
one study (E. L. Moerk, 1970), as few as 20 gram- appeared in the London
daily newspaper, The Pub-
and logician, who first saw
matical features proved enough to distinguish the possibility of stylostatistic
lic 1769 and 1772. The letters
Advertiser, between authorship identification,
between 1,000-word samples of six Greek and were much appreciated and were reprinted in wrote in a letter in 1 851 : 'I

Roman writers (Herodotus, Thucydides, Xeno- pamphlet form several times. During the years that should expect to find that
phon, Tacitus, Caesar, Livy). The measures followed, and throughout the 19th century, hunt- one man writing on two dif-
included counts of main and subordinate clauses, ferent subjects agrees more
ing for the identity of Junius became a popular
nearly than two different men
certain types of connecting word, nouns in various
sport, with several well-known names being pro- writing on the same subject.
cases, and several other parts of speech. However, posed. Some of these days spurious
it is often necessary to use much larger textual sam-
An investigation in 1962 by the Swedish linguist, writings will be detected by
ples (samples of over 10,000 words are common), Alvar Ellegard (1919—) counted the words in the
this test. Mind, Itold you so.'

where special attention has to be paid to their The letter was not pub-
letters (over 80,000) and compared them with a lished until 1 882, when it was
homogeneity; sophisticated statistical measures million-word norm of political literature from the read by the American geo-
may have to be used; and a wider range of linguistic same period. Some words were found to be more physicist, T. C. Mendenhall
criteria may need to be involved, and given a precise (1841-1924). He likened the
common in the letters than in the norms, and some
definition. frequency distribution of
were found to be less common. Altogether, 458 words of different lengths to
There are several technical problems. If we are lexical features were used, along with 51 synonym the spectrum of light, and be-
counting parts of speech, then it is important to choices (such as whether Junius used on or upon, gan to search for word-
use clear criteria of identification (are London, boy, commonly or usually, till or until, know not how length profiles in several
and the rich called nouns?' (p. 91). If a word English authors - 'word
all or do not know how). For example, Junius pre-
spectra', which he thought
count is being made, a precise definition of 'word' ferred until to till in 78% of possible instances — could be as specific as me-
isof paramount importance (how are hyphenated a feature shared by only one in seven contemporary tallurgical spectrograms. He
forms to be handled? are bear 'carry' and bear 'ani- writers in Ellegard's sample. These features were made several pioneering
mal' counted as one word or two? is The Hague then compared with a sample of over 230,000 contributions to authorship
one word or two?) (p. 104). Certain kinds of data studies, including the Bacon/
words taken from the known works of the most Shakespeare controversy.
may need to be excluded from the sample (e.g. quo- likely contender for authorship, Sir Philip Francis.
tations, translated forms, proper names). And a The similarities were so significant that Ellegard
decision must be made about the range of stylistic was able to conclude with confidence (p. 15), 'We
variation to be permitted within the supposedly have identified Junius with Francis.'
'homogeneous' sample (e.g. how to take account
Junius
of different levels of intimacy and formality, or dia-
lect mixing?). Above all, the basic question must
be addressed: is the text too small to warrant any
kind of stylostatistical study — as is often the case
with poems, letters, or police statements?
It is difficult to take account of all these technical
factors, and even more difficult to anticipate the
range of external factors that interfere with linguis-
tic judgments. A text might have been written by
more than one person. It might be a deliberate imi-
tation or forgery. And there may be a large number
of potential candidates for authorship, all of whom
need to be systematically compared. But with meti-
culous care and a great deal of motivation, it is
possible to reach reliable conclusions, and several
fascinating and successful studies have been carried
out. Moreover, there is well-founded optimism for
the future, now that several specially designed com-

68 •
II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY
FORENSIC LINGUISTICS features were examined, all to do with the way
Most stylostatistical studies are of literaryworks; Evans connected his clauses: [a) clauses lacking any
but the same techniques can be applied to any formal linkage; and clauses linked by (b) words
spoken or written sample, regardless of the 'stand- like and, (c) words like then, (d) ellipsis, (e) words
ing' of the user. In everyday life, of course, there like if, and (/) words like which. The results were
is usually no reason to carry out a stylistic analysis as follows (after J. Svartvik, 1968):
of someone's usage. But when someone is alleged
to have broken the law, stylisticians might well be Type 1 Type 2
involved, in an application of their subject some-
times referred to as 'forensic' linguistics.
Typical situations involve the prosecution argu-
ing that incriminating utterances heard on a tape
recording have the same stylistic features as those
used by the defendant — or, conversely, the defence
arguing that the differences are too great to support
this contention. A common defence strategy is to
maintain that the official statement to the police,
'written down and used in evidence', is a misrepre-
sentation, containing language that would not be
Histographic presentation of
part of the defendant's normal usage. Type 1 and Type 2 sen-

Arguments based on stylistic evidence are usually tences in the Evans state-
very weak, because the sample size is small, and A E D C B F ments.

the linguistic features examined are often not very


discriminating. But in several cases they have cer-
Typel Type 2
tainly influenced the verdict; and in one well- No. % No. %
known case subsequent analysis definitely sup- (a) 92 (37.1) 10 (20.0)
ported the contention that there had been a mis- (b) 17 (6.9) 15 (30.0)
carriage of justice. (c) 30 (12.1) 1 (2.0)

10 Rillington Place
(d) 50 (20.2) 17 (34.0)
Shakespeare -
(e) 45 (18.1) 5 (10.0)
In 1950, Timothy Evans was hanged for the murder 14
or Bacon?
(£) (5.6) 2 (4.0)
of his wife and child at this address in London. The question of whether the
Three years later, following the discovery of several works of Shakespeare could
Total 248 50
be attributed to Bacon at-
bodies at the house, John Christie was also hanged.
tracted particular interest
After considerable discussion of the case, a public The differences turn out to be highly significant. towards the end of the 1 9th
enquiry was held, which led to Evans being granted With so few criteria, and a small sample, conclu- century. T. C. Mendenhall
a posthumous pardon in 1966. sions must be tentative; but the analysis undoub- (p. 68) counted the lengths of

A central piece of evidence against Evans was about 400,000 words from
tedly corroborates Evans's denial: from a linguistic
Shakespeare's plays, and an
the statement he made to the police in London on point of view, the paragraphs that he later claimed unspecified but large sample
2 December 1949, in which he confessed to the were untrue are very different indeed from the rest from the writings of Bacon.
murders. Evans was largely illiterate, so the state- of his statement, which to the end he continued These large totals were
ment was made orally, and written down by the made up of a number of sep-
to assert was the truth.
arate counts, based on
police. At the trial, he denied having anything to
single works. He found that
do with the murders, claiming that he was so upset in each single count from
that he did not know what he was saying, and Shakespeare there were
that he feared the police would beat him up if he more four-letter than three-
letter words, whereas the
did not confess.
O O Shakespeare reverse was the case with
In an analysis of the Evans statements, amount- Bacon Bacon also had a
ing to nearly 5,000 words, it proved possible to •— — —• Bacon
much higher proportion of
show that the language contained many conflicting longer words than Shake-
stylistic features, such as those italicized below: speare. The graph (left)
shows the frequency distri-
Type 1: 1 done my day's work and then had an butions, using data derived
argument with the Guvnor then I left the job. He give from Mendenhall's original
me my wages before I went home. graphs (after C. B. Williams,
Type 2: She was incurring one debt after another and 1970).
However, statistical evi-
I could not stand it any longer so I strangled her with
dence convinces only those
a piece of rope and took her down to the flat below
who wish to be convinced.
the same night whilst the old man was in hospital.
As one sceptic remarked, in
1 901 following the publica-
The incriminating statement was analysed in five
,

tion of Mendenhall's findings:


sections, which contained background
three of if Bacon could not have writ-

information (Type 1), two of which contained the 4 6 8


ten the plays, the question
Letters per word
details of the murders (Type 2). Six grammatical still remains, who did?'!

12 STYLISTIC IDENTITY AND LITERATURE • 69


.

categories are illustrated here, along with a selec-


Stylistic distinctiveness Classical rhetoric
tion of other kinds of figurative expression.
Rhetorical ability was prized
How do we set about the task of isolating and
• metaphor Two unlike notions are implicitly
in classical times, when
identifying the linguistic features that constitute a several major works were
related, to suggest an identity between them: written on the art of public
person's style? Traditionally, this activity was car-
speaking, including Aristo-
ried out as pan of the field of rhetoric, the study When have seen the hungry ocean gain
I
tle's Rhetorica, Quintilian's
of persuasive speech or writing (especially as prac- Advantage on the kingdom of the shore Institutio Oratoria, and
(William Shakespeare, Sonnet 64)
tised in public oratory). Several hundred 'rhetorical Cicero's De Oratore. Five
steps were thought to be
figures' were introduced by classical rhetoricians, • simile Two unlike things are explicitly com-
involved in successful rhetor-
classifying the way words could be arranged in pared, to point a similarity, using a marker such ical composition, identified
order to achieve special stylistic effects. Many were as like or as: here with their Latin and (in
restricted to the patterns found in Latin or Greek, parenthesis) Greek labels.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
but some achieved a broader currency, especially • inventio (heuresis)
That floats on high o'er vales and hills
Relevant subject matter is
after the Renaissance, in studies of poetry. (William Wordsworth, Daffodils)
brought together (a process
The traditional classification of rhetorical fig- of 'invention').
• personification A type of metaphor in which
ures distinguished between schemes and tropes. • dispositio (taxis) The
an object or idea is represented in human terms: material is organized into a
Schemes (such as alliteration) were considered to
structural form appropriate
alter theformal structure of language to create sty- And all the little roofs of the village bow low, pitiful,
for oratory ('disposition').
without altering the meaning. Tropes
listic effects, beseeching, resigned . .

• elocutio {lexis) Lan-


(such as metaphor) were thought to alter the mean-
(D. H. Lawrence, End of Another Home Holiday)
guage is chosen to suit the
ing of the language in some way. However, the • paradox A statement that is contradictory or subject matter, speaker, and
theoretical principleon which this distinction relies occasion ('style' or 'elocu-
absurd on the surface, which forces the search for
tion').
(the relationship between form and meaning, §13) a deeper level of meaning: • memoria (mneme) The
is not straightforward, and its application to the various elements of the dis-
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance strength.
is
vast range of literary effects led to controversy, course have to be retained in
(George Orwell, 1 984)
especially over the extent to which changes of form memory.
• metonymy The use of an attribute in place of • actio {hypocrisis) The
inevitably result in changes of meaning.
speech is delivered using the
In present-day stylistic analysis (e.g. in schools), the whole, e.g. the stage (the theatrical profession),
most effective techniques
the distinction is usually not made; inventories or
the bench (the judiciary). ('delivery' or 'pronunciation').
In the middle ages, the
simple classifications of 'figures of speech' are used • oxymoron Two semantically incompatible
study of rhetoric became part
instead. Also, only a tiny number of the traditional expressions are brought together, thus forcing a
of the scholastic trivium,
labels (alliteration, simile, hendiadys, homo- non-literal interpretation, e.g. Emerson's delicious along with grammar and log-
ioteleuton, epanalepsis, etc.) continue to be taught. torment, Milton's living death. ic (§65). Post-Renaissance

It is recognized that the task of mastering long lists theorists reduced the five
• apostrophe Objects, ideas, places, dead or ab- parts to two, 'style' and deli-
of labels can alienate readers and encourage them
sent people are directly addressed: very', and the subject, as a
to go in for mechanical 'figure spotting' ('Ah, I can
result, became particularly
see three similes in that poem'), without pausing Milton! Thou should'st be living at this hour associated with techniques
to reflect on the role the figures play in the meaning (William Wordsworth, London, 1802) of verbal expression, espe-

of a text. But a selective and sensitive introduction • chiasmus A balanced structure, in which the
cially in relation to reading
aloud (the concern of 'elocu-
to figures of speech retains its value, in helping stu- main elements are reversed: tion'). Because of this in-
dents of style to see the many ways in which a
fluential tradition, many peo-
text is linguistically distinctive. Love's fire heats water, water cools not love
ple think of rhetoric as
(William Shakespeare, Sonnet 154)
essentially a matter of 'verbal
ornament'.
FIGURES OF SPEECH • Combinations of figurative effects are also com-
The modern academic
Metaphor and simile are the most widely recog- mon, especially in literary writing.
view of the subject, however,
nized figures of speech, being commonly used in The silted flow involves far more than the
many everyday varieties of language as well as in Of years on years special effects of language
production. deals with the
rhetorical and literary contexts. Some analysts con- Is marked by dawns
It

whole study of creative dis-


sider metaphor, in particular, to be the core of As faint as cracks on mud-flats of despair
course, in both speech and
linguistic (and especially poetic) creativity. Both (Stephen Spender, The Prisoners)
writing, including the use of
language in the mass media,
• anacoenosis asking the denouncing future events; speech or gestures; and the way in which audi-
Emotional ences react to and interpret
opinion of listener or reader; • diasyrmus disparaging • mempsis complaining
appeals • asphalia offering one- the arguments of one's op- against one's injuries; communications directed at
The complex universe of selfas surety for a bond; ponent; • ominatio prophesying them (p. 393). In effect, it is
traditional rhetoric is clearly • bdelygma expressing • ecphonesis using an evil; the analysis of the theory
illustrated from this small abhorrence; emotional exclamation; • paramythia consoling and practice of techniques of

selection of classical terms • cataplexis threatening • eucharistia giving those who grieve; argumentation, involving list-
which described the types punishment or disaster; thanks; • peroration summarizing eners as well as speakers,
of emotional appeal. • comprobatio com- • eulogia commending or in an impassioned manner; readers as well as writers. In
its broadest sense, there-
• amphidiorthosis plimenting one's listeners or blessing a person or thing; • thaumasmus exclaim-
modifying a charge made in judges; • hypocrisis mocking an ing in wonder. fore, modern rhetoric studies

anger; • diabole predicting or opponent by exaggerating the basis of forms of effec-


all

tive communication.

70 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


LITERARY VS NON-LITERARY signal the author's intentions, and again make com-
LANGUAGE parisons with other works.
In principle, a detailed stylistic study could be made The two approaches - sometimes referred to as
of a press report, a television commercial, or any the 'bottom up'and 'top down' (or 'micro' and
other 'everyday' use of language, and examples of 'macro') approaches - can both be illuminating,
this 'general' approach to stylistics can be found and neither excludes the other. Quite often, micro-
in §§11 and 63. In practice, most stylistic analyses and macro-stylistic procedures are simultaneously
have attempted to deal with the more complex and used in investigating the same work. To some
'valued' forms of language found in works of litera- extent, the approaches are complementary, and it
ture ('literary stylistics'). Moreover, it is possible might be thought that they would meet 'in the mid-
to see in several of these studies a further narrowing dle'. In practice, because of the multifaceted nature
of scope, with analysts concentrating on the more of stylistic analyses, and the different theories used
striking areas of literary language. Poetic language by stylisticians, this hardly ever happens.
has attracted most attention, and within this there
has been a marked predilection to investigate auth-
T.S.Eliot (1888-1965)
ors who make use of highly abnormal or 'deviant' A linguistic perspective
features of language (such as Dylan Thomas or Linguistic approaches to the study of literary style
cummings). The bias is less obvious in contem-
e. e.
importance of seeing an individual auth-
stress the
porary stylistic work, but it is still present. or's use oflanguage in the context of the language
This concentration on the more distinctive forms as a whole. It is pointed out that this language
of literary expression is not difficult to explain. It cannot be studied in isolation from other varieties.
reflects the fact that linguistic analytic techniques, Literature reflects the whole of human experience,
as developed during this century, are more geared and authors thus drawing on all
find themselves
to the analysis of the detailed features of sentence varieties of language (or even on different lan-
structure than of the broader structures found in guages) as part of their expression. In a single work,
whole texts or discourses (Part in). The more com- they might make considerable use of a non-literary
pact and constrained language of poetry is far more variety, or allude to several such varieties. This hap-
likely to disclose the secrets of its construction to pens most markedly in drama and the novel, as
the stylistician than is the language of plays and can be readily observed from the vast linguistic
novels,where the structuring process is less evident, range of Shakespeare or Moliere, or the regional
and where dialogue and narrative is often indis- and class varieties found throughout the writing
tinguishable from the norms of everyday speech. of Dickens or Hardy. But the tapping of language
Most work, accordingly, has been in the area of varieties can be found in poetry too, as in The
poetic language. Waste Land, where T. S. Eliot draws on linguistic
features belonging to conversational, religious,
medieval, and musical varieties, as well as a wide
Bottom up vs top down range of literary forms. Indeed, this work clearly
A more balanced account of the language of litera- illustrates the way literature knows no linguistic
ture gradually emerging in contemporary stylis-
is bounds, for it also includes lines in French, Ger-
tics, with two main approaches to the subject man, Italian, and Sanskrit (p. 73).
plainly in evidence. The first approach begins by Nor can language be isolated from the
literary
identifying the smallest features felt to be distinc- least situationally specific language variety of all
tively used in a work - minimal contrasts of sound, — conversation (p. 52). When an author uses lan-
grammar, or vocabulary - and proceeds to build guage ingeniously, we instinctively relate the spe-
up more complex patterns of use. The second cial features to our own spoken norms, and any
moves in the opposite direction, beginning with explanation of the effect ultimately depends on our
the broadest possible statements about an author's awareness of these norms, and of how the features
style, then studying particular aspects of the lan- relate to them. To use modern stylistic terms, we
guage in detail. see how the features have been 'foregrounded' —
In the first approach,we might start by consider- made to stand out from the background of normal,
ing the distinctive way in which a novelist, for unremarkable usage. Robert Graves recognized the
example, favours certain adjectives, varies tenses, importance of this principle when he said that a
or coins idiosyncratic words. We might count the poet should 'master the rules of grammar before
frequency with which these features are used in he attempts to bend or break them'. So too critics
a particular novel, and contrast them with the — and indeed all who enjoy literature - need to
frequencies found in other works, by the same or be aware of the normal constraints on language
different authors. In the second approach, we might use before they can explain the effects authors
start by discussing the structure of the novel as achieve when rules are bent or broken.
a whole, with reference to plots and sub-plots,
favourite themes, and the way characters inter-
relate. In due course, we might proceed to look
more closely at how particular linguistic features

12 STYLISTIC IDENTITY AND LITERATURE •


71
THE EDGES OF LANGUAGE We might dispute the particular ordering of items
Authors take when
they push language to its
risks on this scale,but the general move away from
limits. If they break too many rules, they can fall literal meaning is clear enough, as is the growing

over the edge of language into unintelligibility. difficulty we encounter as we attempt to provide
Even well-known authors, such as James Joyce and a plausible context for each use. It would also be
Dylan Thomas, have been criticized for verbal possible to construct even more bizarre examples
excesses - for sacrificing meaning to the seductive {an incompleteness ago), and thus to suggest how,
patterns of sound or graphic form. Is it possible with the more deviant kinds of poetic language,
to arrive at a satisfactory explanation of all the a reader might simply give up the struggle to decode
distinctive graphic features in e.e. cummings's Four its meaning. There is nothing more likely to crush

III, for instance? the desire to read poetry than having to resort to
The move from centre to edge of language is cryptanalysis.
a gradual one. We
can take an everyday construc- Poets are not the only ones who push language
tion, and manipulate its use to show increasing beyond its normal limits. All who engage in literary
levels of inventiveness — and thus increasing diffi- or quasi-literary activity, from novelists and
culties of interpretation. One construction that has dramatists to journalists and commentators, face
been well studied from this point of view is the similar problems. Nor is the wrestle with words
use of ago with a noun phrase to express various restricted to literature. Humourists, both amateur
temporal meanings. It is possible to construct a and professional, are another group who con-
continuum that has mundane uses at one end and stantly tease new effects out of old words, in their
bizarre uses at the other, as in this example (from search for good punch-lines. And a further example
G.N. Leech, 1969): is provided by the heading of the present section,

which is the title of a book by the German theo-


several hours ago MUNDANE logian, Paul van Buren, about how people use the
many moons ago word 'God' as part of religious discourse (p. 384).
ten games ago In his view, theistic language is 'a case of walking

several performances ago language's borders' - an attempt to express insight


a few cigarettes ago at the very edge of the 'platform of language',

three overcoats ago where, if we try to go further, 'we fall off into a
two wives ago misuse of words, into nonsensical jabbering, into
a grief ago (Dylan Thomas) the void where the rules give out'. Theologians,
a humanity ago ABNORMAL like poets, it seems, are continually striving to say
what cannot be said.

Bending the rules e. e. cummings


Dylan Thomas's poetry re- Four III
peatedly illustrates the way
in which some poets bend
grammatical rules as they
strive to express their in-
here's a little mouse) and
sights. A feature of his sty- what does he think about, i

technique is the use of


listic
wonder as over this
unexpected associations
floor (quietly with
between words (p. 105) -
as well as a grief ago, ex- bright eyes) drifts (nobody
amples (from Fern Hilt) in- can tell because
clude happy as the heart Nobody knows, or why
was long, all the sun long, jerks Here &, here,
and once below a time. gr(oo)ving the room's Silence) this like
Such effects can be for- a littlest

mally identified only by poem a


drawing attention to the (with wee ears and see?
everyday meaning of the
tail frisks)
underlying phrase. In such
(gonE)
cases, usage norms pro-
'mouse',
vide a relevant perspective
for the discussion of stylis-
We are not the same you and
tic effects, and often act as i,since here's a little he
a stimulus to critical think- oris
ing. it It

? (or was something we saw in the mirror)?


Dylan Thomas
therefore we'll kiss; for maybe
what was Disappeared
into ourselves
who (look), .startled.

72 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY


Literary genres GRAMMAR AND VOCABULARY Multilingual poetry
• archaisms The use of grammar and vocabulary may even
Lexical effects
Genres of literature are established categories of no longer current is a well-established feature of cross language boundaries.
In Verlaine's Sonnet boiteux,
composition, characterized by distinctive language poetry (though not so common today). Examples
English words heard in a
or subject matter. The most widely recognized are include the use of grammatical forms such as 'twas
London fog are interspersed
poetry, drama, and the novel, but several other and quoth, words such as e'en, fain, and wight, within the French text:
categories exist, such as the short story, auto- and spellings such as daunsynge and olde. Tout I'affreux pass6 saute,
biography, and essays. Each major category can • neologisms The invention of new words is per- piaule, miaule etglapit
be further classified — for example, epic, lyrical, haps the most obvious way to go beyond the nor- Dans le brouillard rose et
jaune et sale des sohos
and narrative genres within poetry; comedy, mal resources of a language: completely fresh
Avec des indeed et des all
tragedy, and farce within drama; and romance, creations, such as Shakespeare's incarnadine: new rights et des haos.
crime, and science fiction within the novel. constructions, such as Hopkins's 'widow-making (The whole hideous past
unchilding unfathering deeps' {The Wreck of the jumps, whines, mews and
Deutschland) and new parts of speech, as in Othel-
;
yelps in the pink and yellow
and
Poetry lo's verb lip (= kiss), To
lip a wanton in a secure
with indeeds
dirty fog of the sohos,
and all rights
couch.' and hey-o's.)
There has always been controversy over the nature • poetic diction In a narrow sense, this term But one of the best-known
of poetic language. To some, poetic language refers to vocabulary that is typically poetic, and examples is the cluster of
foreign language elements in
should be special, removed from the language of that would rarely be used in other contexts; more
the closing lines of T. S.
everyday (thus, Thomas Gray's dictum, 'The lan- broadly, it can mean any use of words thought
Eliot's The Waste Land:
guage of the age is never the language of poetry'). to be effective by the poet, whether or not it occurs
I sat upon the shore
To others, it should be closely in touch with every- elsewhere. The traditional sense can be illustrated Fishing, with the arid plain
day, or, perhaps, be 'current language heightened' by nymph, slumber, woe, and billows, or many behind me
(Gerard Manley Hopkins). To Ralph Waldo Emer- lines from 18th-century poetry, such as the opening Shall I at least set my lands
order?
in
son, the whole of language is in any case 'fossil of Thomas Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard:
London Bridge is falling
poetry'.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, down falling down falling
Statements of this kind to some extent miss the down
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea
point, which is to stress the enormous range of Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli

linguistic expression that is found under the head- For the broader sense, there is the beginning of affina
Quando fiam chelidon -
ing of poetry. At one extreme, there are poems that Stephen Spender's The Exiles: uti

O swallow swallow
are as far removed from everyday speech as it is History has tongues Le Prince d'Aquitaine a la
possible to imagine; at the other, there are poems Has angels has guns - has saved has praised - tour abolie
that, if it were not for the division into lines, would Today proclaims These fragments I have
closely resemble prose. Poetic movements often Achievements of her exiles long returned. shored against my ruins
Why then lie fit you.
swing between these poles, as people respond to Hieronymo's mad againe.
• word order Abnormal word order is common,
the competing linguistic influences of old traditions Datta. Dayadhvam. Dam-
as when nouns (e.g. Mil-
adjectives are placed after
and contemporary realities. It is not possible to yata.
ton's 'Anon out of the earth a fabric huge /Rose Shantih shantih shantih
make simple general statements about the form of
like an exhalation' {Paradise Lost)), or the normal
poetic language, therefore; all one can do is identify
order of elements in a clause is reversed (e.g. Ham-
a number of recurrent notions that are part of the
let's 'I might not this believe . .
.').
traditional image of poetic language, and that enter
into what is often called 'poetic licence'.
The creativity poets seek takes many forms. It
The very language
may involve the invention of totally new linguistic
of men
William Wordsworth, who
features, as in the neologistic vocabulary of James
made a strong statement
Joyce, or the typographical design of a poem by about the relationship of
e.e. cummings. But it more often takes the form poetry to prose. In the
of a fresh use of familiar language, as when John Preface to the Lyrical Ballads
Donne compares himself and his mistress to the (1800), he wrote:

legson a pair of compasses, or T. S. Eliot's Prufrock


My purpose was to imitate,
compares the evening laid out against the sky to and, as far as is possible, to
a 'patient etherised upon a table'. Above all else, adopt the very language of
poets fear banality. Whatever the literary era or men There will be found
. . .

in these volumes little of


tradition in which they find themselves, they are
what is usually called poetic
concerned to avoid what is linguistically boring or diction;as much pains has
predictable, and to discover ways in which words been taken to avoid it as is
can come alive, to convey fresh worlds of meaning. ordinarily taken to produce it

T. phrase vividly captures the essence of


S. Eliot's
... It may be safely affirmed
that there neither is, nor can
their predicament: 'the intolerable wrestle with
be, any essential difference
words and meanings'. between the language of
prose and metrical
composition.

12 STYLISTIC IDENTITY AND LITERATURE .


73
.

SOUNDS AND RHYTHMS is classified on the basis of the number of stressed The sound of
For many people, it is the sound or 'music' of poetry syllables it contains, such as the monometer (1), silence
that chiefly identifies the genre - the distinctive use dimeter (2), trimeter (3), tetrameter (4), pentameter Lateral consonants (p. 157)
of vowels, consonants, cadences, and rhythms. (5), and hexameter (6). Combinations of foot-type are used by poets in several
Several different phonetic and phonological stylis- and line-length produce such designations as 'iam- languages to suggest soft-

bic pentameter' - the so-called 'backbone' of Eng- ness and silence:


tic which is
features contribute to the total effect,
often studied under the separate heading of phono- lish metre.
Wi/d thyme and va//ey- /i/ies
stylistics. I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts whiter sti//

(William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar) Than Leda's love, and


• Individual sounds can be used in an onomato-
cresses from the rill
poeic or symbolic way (§30) for expressive pur- The rising world of waters dark and deep (Keats, Endymion)
poses. Poetry sometimes uses vowels and (Milton, Paradise Lost)
Les souff/es de /a nuit f/ot-
consonants to reflect the noises of real life, or to
Many famous studies (such as G. Saintsbury's taient sur Ga/ga/a.
symbolize other sensory or abstract notions, such (Victor Hugo, Booz Endormi)
three-volume A History of English Prosody,
as colour, texture, character, or mood (e.g. The breezes of the night
1906-10) have been devoted to plotting the metri- floated over Galgala.'
Milton's 'The serpent subtlest beast of all the
cal norms in a language's poetry, and evaluating
field'). Poetic rhythms, too, can directly evoke real Dir in Liedern, /eichten,
the kinds of deviations from these norms that poets
world sounds and events, as in schne//en,
use. As systems of description, they work quite well Wa//et kiih/e F/uth.
I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he; in analysing the regular lines of traditional poetry. (Goethe, West-ostlicher
I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three.
But they have been criticized on several points. Divan)
(Robert Browning, How They Brought the Good News from
Ghent to Aix) They tend to be applied in too mechanical a way; 'For you the cool waves lap
it is often difficult to decide which analysis to assign in songs light and nimble.'
• A network of associations can be built up
to a line containing an abnormal rhythm; and they Ah! Lagyan ke/az eji sze/
between sounds. By repeating vowels or conso- break down completely when they encounter the Mi/ford bbo/fe/e.'
nants at different points, words and phrases can markedly irregular lines of modern 'free verse': (Janos Arany, A Walesi ba
be formally linked, sometimes to achieve a purely rdok)
What is the use of talking, and there is no end of talking,
aesthetic effect, sometimes to force the listener to Oh! The night breeze rises
There is no end of things in the heart.
consider their possible relationships of meaning. towards Milford
softly
I call in the boy,
Three cases are usually recognized, involving the Haven.'
Have him sit on his knees here
(After S. Ullmann, 1964.)
repetition of initial consonants {alliteration, as in To seal this,
fine friend), vowels (assonance, as in roll/moan), And send it a thousand miles, thinking.
and final syllables {rhyme, e.g. gladness /madness). (Ezra Pound, Exile's Letter)
The poet's struggle
But other effects are possible, such as the repetition In such cases, necessary to devise alternative
it is T. S. Eliot's lines, in Easf
of initial syllables, as in state/stayed {reverse metrical models, using different analyses of stress, Coker, sum up what for
rhyme), or the simultaneous repetition of initial and introducing other prosodic notions, such as many is the essence of the
and final consonants, as in bend/bound {para-
tempo, pause, and intonation (§29), to identify the linguistic task facing the
poet.
rhyme). The opening lines of Coleridge's Kubla patterns that emerge when readers utter the lines.
Khan illustrate the overlapping use of several of So here am,
I in the middle
these effects. way, having had twenty
• The language is organized into rhythmical years . .

units, which appear in print as lines. In European In Xanadu did Kubla Khan Trying to learn to use words,

poetry, the traditional study of versification, or J and every attempt


Is a wholly new start, and a
prosody, was based on the rules of Latin scansion, different kind of failure
and many generations of schoolchildren have had Because one has only learnt
to learn to scan verse on the assumption that poetry A stately p leasure -dome decree to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer
in their language used similar rhythms to those of
has to say, or the way in
Latin. But the quantitative metrical system of Latin,
which
based on a classification of syllables into long and One is no longer disposed to
short durations, is by no means universal. English Where Alph, the sacred river, ran say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on
and German use an accentual system, in which
the inarticulate
heavy and light syllables alternate. Classical Chin-
With shabby equipment al-
ese used a tonal system, which alternated classes ways deteriorating
of even and changing tones. Sometimes only the Through caverns measureless to man In the general mess of impre-
number of syllables in a unit is critical, regardless cision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of
of their pitch, loudness, or duration, as in Mord-
emotion.
vinian. And several 'mixed' metrical systems have
been found, such as French, where syllable number
and accentuation combine.
Down
T ^
to a sunless sea,
T "c -
Traditional analyses of English metre divide poe-
tic lines into combinations of stressed (') and
Sound-patterns in the opening lines of Coleridge's
unstressed (w) syllables known as 'feet'. Four types Kubla Khan
are prominent in English verse: the iamb {»'), tro-
chee ('u ), anapaest w
'), and dactyl
(
(' ). A line w
74 II LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY
Concrete poetry
Drama
This 1950s movement produced a form of poetry, There has been remarkably little study of the genre
variously known as 'shaped', pattern', concrete', or of drama from a linguistic point of view. This is
'Cubist' poetry, which blurred the boundary between
partly because so much of the language it contains
literature visual arts. In concrete poems, the
and the
is traditionally analysed under other headings —
primary consideration is the way in which letters and
words are arranged on the page, so that they visually reference is often made to the 'poetry' of Shake-
reinforce, or act as a counterpoint to, the verbal speare's plays, for instance, which is then investi-
meaning. gated using metrical and rhetorical techniques. And
Shaped poems can in fact be traced to classical
if the language of drama is not poetry (it might
Greek times, and they emerge over the centuries in
the work of several western writers, such as Apollinaire be argued), then it is prose, and thus analysable
(p. 1 1 ), Mallarme, Mayakovsky, Dylan Thomas, and using the techniques of other prose genres, such
cummings (p. 72), as well as being very popular in as the novel or short story.
eastern literature, where they may have originated.
But drama is neither poetry nor novel. It is first
One of the best-known examples is The Altar, by the
1 7th-century poet George Herbert. Representative of
and foremost dialogue in action. With few excep-
the more recent movement is Au Pair Girl by Ian tions, there is no narrative framework other than
Hamilton Finlay. that provided by the language of the characters
and by the visual setting in which they act. The
f-»wn Qi
Ian Hamilton Finlay's nfllT
Au Pair Girl y» author cannot step back and provide an opinion
or manipulate our point of view, as happens rou-
rlau pair tinely in novels. The dialogue must do everything.

;airgirl au Dramatic dialogue also has to be convincing, as


a representation of conversation. But to be convinc-
au pair girl ing is not to be real. No dramatist presents us with
the equivalent of a tape recording of everyday
ju pair girl a speech, with all its hesitations, broken syntax, and
inexplicit vocabulary (p. 52). Even the most collo-
au pairgirlo
,rl quial of dramatic conversations, whether it is
written by Harold Pinter, Arthur Miller, or Shakes-
jairgirl au pairgin peare, presents us with an exercise in linguistic arti-

jirlau pair girl au pair fice, the extent of which is only beginning to be

appreciated, as techniques become available that


jair girl au pair girl au pa allow us to make comparisons with real conversa-
tion.
air girl au pairgirl au pair
pair girl au pair girl au pa
>u pairgirl au pair girl at
r^au pairgirl au pai r
i I

- Significant silence
~*irlau pairgirl Even pauses can be mani- be well out of the draught ASTON: Are you?
pulated for special drama- there. DAVIES: Always have
tic effect, as is well illus- ASTON: You don't get been.
trated by this extract from much wind. (Pause.)
Harold Pinter's The Care- DAVIES: You'd be well out You got more rooms then,
George Herbert's The Altar taker (1959), where three of it. It's different when have you?
A broken Altar, Lord, thy servant rears, degrees of pause are writ- you're kipping out. ASTON: Where?
Made of a heart, and cemented with tears; ten into the dialogue. Apart ASTON: Would be. DAVIES: mean, along the
I

Whose parts are as thy hand did frame; from controlling the pace of DAVIES: Nothing but wind landing here ...up the
No workman's tool hath touch'd the same. the drama, the pauses also then. landing there.