…the 7 types of Question…
1. Section A – Change – Texts From Different Times
Tackle P/A/C of both texts in first para – focusing on reader, writer & subject positioning. Then introduce central debate: Prescriptivism Vs Descriptivism – this is best done through looking at any example of a word which is no longer used from the text or one which has undergone some form of semantic change and then going on to explain how this is evidence that language has always changed, as it is sure to do today, and that any idea of a golden age, a vintage year, or a perfectly constructed castle is simply an illusion
…1750 date of first dictionary is useful to mention as well – but don’t dwell on it – and standardization wasn’t invented in the mid-eighteenth century – it was a movement that had been building for some time
Then balance close textual analysis with a discussion of the theory you know and the examples you have of instances of language change
2. Section A – Change – Article on Change & Data List / Graph
Tackle P/A/C of article in first para – focusing on reader, writer & subject positioning. Then introduce central debate: Prescriptivism Vs Descriptivism – this is best done by putting article and data list / graph into theoretical context – how prescriptivist or descriptivist is the writer?
Guy Deutscher can be introduced later – but the idea of a “radical prescriptivist” will need full explanation
All the time balance close textual analysis with a discussion of the theory you know and the examples you have of instances of language change
Theorists to use…
- J Aitchison’s Potential, Diffusion, Implementation & Codification Model
- Chen (1968 &1972) – gradual then accelerating change, before levelling off – the S-curve Model cf. Handout Chen & Bailey
- Bailey C.J. (1973) – Wave Model: how changes weaken exponentially across a particular geographical region & across different social groups
- Theory of Lexical Gaps – a word will be invented, converted or borrowed in order to fill a gap in usage as well as a phonological gap in our language
- Substratum Theory: that language changes primarily through contact with other languages: consider the effect of Yiddish speakers hypercorrect pronunciation of /do-er/ and /caw-fee/ on the distinctive New York accent of today
- Functional Theory – language changes according to the needs of its users
- Jean Aitchison’s parodies of prescriptivism
- Damp Spoon parody
- Crumbling Castle Parody
- Infectious Disease Parody
- Random Fluctuation Theory – Charles Hockett 1958 – language changes owing to its instability, because of random errors and events within the language system, as a response of the ever changing context of language use and its users. E.g. Why has “book” become a synonym for “cool” (predictive texting) – a pretty random occurrence.
- Guy Deutscher – The Unfolding of Language (2005)
a) Economy – the tendency to save effort, and is behind the short-cuts speakers often take in pronunciation.
b) Expressiveness – refers to speakers’ attempts to achieve greater effect for their utterances and extend their range of meaning…. the results of this hyperbole can often be self-defeating, since the repetition of emphatic phrases can cause an inflationary process that devalues their currency.
c) Analogy – the mind’s craving for order, the instinctive need of speakers to find regularity in language.
3. Section A – Variation – Dialect Transcript & Table
Tackle P/A/C of transcript in first para – focusing on reader, writer & subject positioning – the attitude of the speaker to the way they speak and the prestige – overt or covert – should be obvious – which is a lead into the theoretical context of the transcript as well as tying to the table’s implications
The central debate that you must engage in with Variation Questions is the idea that variation is simply a matter of overt prestige, or even overt tempered by a fair dose of covert prestige – this isn’t the case because the whole matter is hugely complex and cannot be encompassed by a few general theories
Accommodation, open and closed networks, Bernstein’s elaborated and restricted codes, dialect leveling, race, gender, levels of formality, nature of geographical region, group identity, etc should all be touched on as factors – through using the relevant examples from your notes
All the time balance close textual analysis with a discussion of the theory you know and the examples you have of instances of language variation. Use spoken technical terms as well as grammatical terms in your analysis as appropriate
4. Section A – Variation – Article on Variation & Data List
As above – just make sure that you clearly draw the implications from the data list – touch on it in your introductory para and then come back to it at least two more times – this should be a good prompt for brining in theory – in the form of your own examples, and findings from research of the variation theorists:
- John Honey – Standard English
- Trudgill – Norwich Study
- Labov – New York Study & Martha Vineyard Study
- Cheshire – Reading Study
- Milroy – Belfast Study – 1985 – Strong networks promote local linguistic features & looser networks are conduits for linguistic change
- Bernstein – Restricted & Elaborated Codes
- Kerswill – Dialect Levelling
- David Rosewarne – Estuary English
- Giles & Coupland 1991 – Accommodation involves selecting linguistic alternatives to establish solidarity with or distance from the interlocutor
10. Eckert (2000) – Detroit – the primary importance of gender lies not in differences between male and female across the board, but in differences within gender groups
11. Howard Giles – 1970s –we adjust our speech to “accommodate” the person we are addressing – Convergence, & Divergence occurs when people’s speech styles move further apart which acts to emphasise the difference between people.
12. Deborah Cameron & Jennifer Coates (1988) –women assigned to a social class on the basis of their husbands’ jobs, income etc, men always being taken as the norm & women’s variations seen as divergent, women treated as a homogeneous group & gender raised as a factor influencing variation above all others.
5. Section A – Change – Gender & Interaction – Script & Table/Graph
You have so much theory to use and apply here don’t get bogged down in it.
Ensure that you tackle P/A/C for the script in your first para – focusing on speaker, listener & subject positioning. Also remember the central debating point – women or men don’t speak a certain way – it’s far more complex than that and this is not a subject, like any other, that can brook such gross generalizations
Must address topic changes, turn taking, discourse markers, anything phatic – basically getting across – throughout your answer – how each speaker is controlling or being controlled throughout the conversation – then tying it to the generalizing things that theorist say before arguing against all such generalizations.
Theorists to pepper your debate with:
1. Robin Lakoff – Predictions in Language and Woman’s place (1975) – The Deference or Deficit Model
2. Zimmerman & West – Sex Roles, Interruptions and Silences (1975) – The Dominance Model
3. Dubois & Crouch – 1976 – men using more tag questions in their research.
4. Pamela Fishman – Conversational Insecurity (1980) –Women’s use of repeated tag questions are an effective way to gain conversational power as opposed to a marker of any lack of power.
5. Helena Leet-Pellegrini – Conversational Dominance (1980) – Looking at both gender and expertise as variables in conversations
6. Janet Holmes – (1984) – Tag Questions can be either Modal or Affective
7. Cameron, McAlinden & O’Leary 1989 – men and women using the same number of tag questions in their research
8. O’Barr & Atkins – Women’s Language or Powerless Language (1980) – “Women’s Language” is Powerless Language
9. Dale Spender – 1980 – Man Made Language – the assumptions behind the research into “female language” biases the results, that there is such a thing as “women’s language” and the research was set up in order to delineate its aspects.
10. Deborah Tannen – You Just Don’t Understand (1990) –Rapport Talk & Report Talk, Cooperative Overlaps Vs Uncooperative Overlaps & The Androcentric Principle: women are seen as “lames”.
11. Victoria DeFrancisco – How Men Silence Women (1991) – Topic Acceptance – “Conversational Shitwork”.
12. John Gray – Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (1992) –Gray writes almost exclusively about differences.
13. Deborah Cameron – The Myth of Mars & Venus (2007) – Differences between men’s and women’s speech style are actively sought, promoted by academia and the popular press, frame our perceptions, bias our understanding of the issue, reinforce the purported styles, and render a scientific exploration of the issue very difficult indeed.
6. Section A – Change – Political Correctness Article & Data List
This topic is very likely – in either section A or section B, as it has not come up before (Ohh- United have just scored a third against blackpool – how. About. That.)
Same applies as in all other sections – in the first para comment on the positioning of writer, reader and subject, before thinking how to put it into theoretical context.
There really is only one idea in PC – hoe PC is linked to SW – the idea that the likelihood that the words we use have some influence over how we think / see the world – should caution us to watch how we speak. This is not about “causing offence” as the media usually claim – remember where the PC movement started off – with pronouns – hardly an offensive topic
Calling someone a “ho” might be offensive – but that is irrelevant to the debate – the point is that using such language might well change how we see women, leading to a rise in sexual crime, lower self-esteem in women, lower aspitrations, lower expectations… etc etc
Make this central point clear in your essay
Thereafter introduce and explain your theorists as you analyse will your prepositional phrases, conditional clauses, front focused non-finite clauses, adverbs of modality, etc
And the PC theorists are…
- Edward Sapir’s Principle of Linguistic Relativity – 1924
- Strong Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis – Determinism
- Weak Sapir Whorf Hypothesis – Reflectionism
- Sexist Language Debate – The Origins of Political Correctness
- George Orwell – The Principals of Newspeak
- George Orwell – Politics & The English Language
- Dr. David Bourland – E-Prime
- Guy Deutscher – Through The Language Glass – 2010
– The “Boas-Jakobson Principle”
– The non-egocentric coordinates of the Guugu Yimithirr tribe of North Eastern Australia
– Sex & Syntax in French, German & Spanish
– Russian Blue
– The Matses tribe of the Amazon
- Dwight Bolinger – Language The Loaded Weapon by (1980)
10. Deborah Cameron – Language & Political Correctness in Verbal Hygiene (1995)
11. Dale Spender – Man Made Language – (1980)
12. Kate Burridge – Political correctness: euphemism with attitude
7. Section B
Whatever the area, this should be far easier to both analyse the author’s positioning, bias, strategy, approach, tactics, etc – he or she is trying to argue a point you should find as much fault with as you find examples to support – thus getting your personal debate going
Whatever the debate, ensure that you pepper it with lots of your own examples and references to theorists as and when they fit – either supporting your point, or in order to challenge what they in turn say