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Safest Small Talk Topics

Traveling
Weather
Accommodation
Hobbies
Television
Food and drinks
Education
Shopping
Topical events (in newspapers:
earthquakes, plane crashes, museum
robberies, [sports?,] but not politics)
Gorodetskaya, 1996.

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Unsafe Small Talk Topics


Americans:
Religion
Politics
(Salary/income)

Gorodetskaya, 1996.

British:
Royal family
Race relations
Salary/income
Health
Pets
Northern Ireland
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Reasons to say Taiwanese and


Mandarin are TWO different
languages
They are NOT mutually intelligible:
(If you speak ONLY ONE of them you
CANNOT understand the other)

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Dialect Differences
1. Pronunciation
2. Vocabulary
3. Grammar / Syntax
AND
4. Sociolinguistic Rules
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Reasons to say Taiwanese and


Mandarin are TWO dialects of
the same language
They come from the same parent language
They are spoken in the same country
They have similar vocabulary,
pronunciation, and syntax
They use the same writing system
Speakers share basically the same culture
Speakers share basically the same history
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Standard English
One of the Varieties of English
What is printed in books and newspapers
Taught in school to English-speaking children
Taught to foreigners
Educated variety
Used on TV and for Newscasts
Trudgill, Peter. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society,
4th edition. London: Penguin Books, pp. 5-6.

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AmE and BritE Dialects


differ in
1. Pronunciation:
r-less; syncopate different syllables (military);
a-vowel (bath)

2. Vocabulary:
lift (elevator); braces (suspenders); bonnet
(hood); pavement (sidewalk); SPELLING

3. Grammar / Syntax:
got/gotten; have
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Beijing and Taiwan


Mandarin Dialects differ in
1. Pronunciation:
2. Vocabulary:
3. Grammar / Syntax:

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British English RP Accent


NON-LOCALIZED
Learned in public schools
Used on BBC
Taught to foreigners
Trudgill, Peter. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society,
4th edition. London: Penguin Books, pp. 5-6.

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Prevocalic and Non-Prevocalic /r/


1. rat

rich

/r/

2. carry

sorry

/r/

3. cart

car

/r/ vs. NO /r/

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


4th edition. London: Penguin Books, p. 9.

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Social Significance of / r /
after a Vowel
US: / r / high status

no / r /: low status

UK: / r / low status

no / r /: high status

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Attitudes towards and use of


non-prevocalic /r/ : Upper
middle class in New York City
age

% r-positive
informants

% /r/
used

8-19
20-39

100
100

48
34

40 +

62

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


4th edition. London: Penguin Books, p. 11.

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Martha's Vineyard Pronunciation

loud
house
about

Marthas
Vineyard

General
American

/ lud /
/ hus /
/ but /

/ laud /
/ haus /
/ baut /

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


4th edition. London: Penguin Books, p. 12.

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The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis


(Simplified)
Language shapes how we perceive the
world.
The world / society shapes our
language.

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Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
and Influences on Language
Physical Environment
Social Environment or Structure
Values of Society

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


4th edition. London: Penguin Books, pp. 15-20.

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Kinship Terms
older/younger brothers older/younger brothers
older/younger sisters older/younger sisters
Father

Mother
YOU

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Taboo Subjects or Words


Sex
Excretion
Christian Religion
Race
Dying
Trudgill, Peter. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society,
4th edition. London: Penguin Books, pp. 18-20.
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