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Study on American Variety of English in Its Social Context

Author: LiZuo
Tutor: PanZuo
School: Jilin University
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: American English British English variation variable variant variety synchronic study diachronic study
CLC: H310.1
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2004
Downloads: 849
Quote: 1
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Language change is the result of social change.........A.MeilletSociolinguistic theory of language variation is to describe the covariance of language and social structure. Language and society are two variables influencing each other to cause mutual change. Therefore, the motivity of language development should be sought in social change, besides, the speed, direction and results of language variation are influenced by social factors in the process. In a word, these factors provide vehicles for language development, and language will change according to its own internal structure toward the direction influenced by social context.American English has already varied to a great extent in phonological, morphological, lexical and syntactical fields. Its variation is definitely not random and accidental but systematical and inevitable, with many retrievable evidences which can be found in its existing social environment to show the influence of new things, new life and new experience.Chapter I IntroductionAmerican English is a popular international language; however, most of the researches in China are influenced deeply by traditional English researching habits to describe American English and its differences from British Erglish irrelevant with their indispensable social context and historical background. Therefore, a research on the formation of the features of American English and the differences associated with social context will be of certain significance. <WP=85>Following is the chart (Hou Weirei’s British English and American English,1992) to describe the assimilation and dissimilation of the two varieties."S" represents-their "starting point". Then the main tendency was the dissimilation of American English from British English by absorbing various languages brought by immigrants and actively changing their language to pursue further cultural independence. The tendency of dissimilation lasted till the period around the First World War which was the turning point, represented by "T". Since then, BE has started to accept American words into their word stock with the declining of Britain and rising of the United States. The letter "D" stands for the destination. Will the two varieties be the same language or different languages in the future? Chapter II Variety of Language and SocietyVariable, the smallest unit of sociolinguistic theory of language variation, refers to the performance of a certain linguistic item in its practical use while variant refers to the practical patterns of the existence of each linguistic variable. Variety, defined by British sociolinguist R.A.Hudson, is "a group of linguistic items with similar distribution." The relationship between them involves three levels,The variable of a language consists of one or more variants, and variety is composed of variables.J.Schmidt is the first scholar who notices that there are considerable <WP=86>varieties existing in language. His wave model describes varieties of the same language as the waves of a pond caused by a stone separating to different directions from the same core with constant interaction. How the waves separated is affected by their original waves. Similarly, the differences existing in one language are caused by its original core, or in another word, how this language develops. From this point of view, linguists come to realize that the diachronic variation of language may be the cause or determinative factors of synchronic variation.In 20th century, the founder of London School, J.R.Firth, insisted on the importance of language social function when making researches and emphasized that language had not only its form meaning but also situational meaning. A study should be conducted in its social environment. His student, M.A.K.Halliday, further developed the theory, while creating his own theory "functional linguistics." Halliday initiated three aspects of linguistic functions, that is, conceptual function, communicating function, and lingual function. The structure and the performance of these functions were a

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CLC: > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Non-standard English
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