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Language and community - Factors affecting language
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DescriptionLanguage and community - Factors affecting language
Language registers refer to the forms of language (in this case English) appropriate to particular situations and purposes. It refers to the various levels of formality or informality as well as the tones that are correct for a specific context. Registers are either written or spoken language and can be identified and described as formal, casual, intimate, consultative or frozen. (See Martin Joo's Levels of Formality in English for Academic Purposes by Barbara Lalla)
Dialectal Variations refer to spoken and written differences in the use of language within a speech community: in the case of Jamaica English. (Various forms of English are used in the Caribbean). Speech related variation within the Caribbean may be located on the Creole continuum. This is a spectrum of language variation linking the more standard end of the linguistic range to the Creole end. This standard variety is called the acrolect, the mesolect refers to the varieties which are closer in features to the standard language and the basilect represents the variety which has mainly creole features. In commenting on dialectal variation you need to be aware of the different types of English used in the Caribbean. (Differences are made manifest in their inflection and accent).
Attitudes to Language refer to the manner in which people use and view the varieties of English spoken in the Caribbean. These attitudes result from several factors, including historical and social ones. An integral consideration adopted in looking at attitudes is the association of education, formality and good taste with Standard English. Another consideration is the question as to whether Creole English is fitting and appropriate for certain uses. There may be attitudes of celebration, pride and confidence and on the other hand shame, contempt and ridicule of the language one speaks. Code switching or adopting the variety of English spoken also indicate specific attitudes to language. (Harold McDermott, 2003 CAPE Student Workshop)
WHAT IS LANGUAGE?
Language is recognised as having two possible interpretations: language and a language. When we think of language we think of it in a general way and we define it to be the verbal form of human expression. As such, it is therefore confined to a human context and not extended to any other species (We will return to this point during the coming weeks). When we think of a language we think of it in a specific way and we define it to mean any distinct system of verbal expression, distinguished from other such systems by its peculiarities of structure and vocabulary. That is to say that every language is distinct from other languages because of these features. Therefore, Spanish, Portuguese, Jamaican Creole/Patois, English, Mayan, French and Chinese are each categorised as a language; while all who ...
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