Tendencies in particular words

Apart from the aforementioned tendencies in British pronunciation, there are changes in the pronunciation of some particular words. Such words acquire an additional variant of pronunciation which may subse­quently become the first one. Probably the best known examples are poor and sure. The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English by A. S. Hornby and A. P. Cowie, published in 1982, gives their pronun­ciation as [ргю(г)] and [ [t>e(r)] respectively. Ensure and insure, the de­rivatives of sure, are both recommended to pronounce [in' fuo(r)]. How­ever, dictionaries published twenty years later, such as the Modern Eng­lish-Russian Dictionary by V. K. Mtiller and the Macmillan English Dic­tionary, both published in 2004, give different pronunciations, not the same one, for these words, viz. [pn] for poor and [ [ >•] for sure (the Macmillan English Dictionary also gives [ f гю] as the second variant of pronunciation). In one of English textbooks, shore and sure were given as homophones. As for the words ensure and insure, these dictionaries give different pronunciations for them - [тл for ensure and [m [иэ] for insure. Another example of the change of pronunciation is the word seamstress. The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current Eng­lish of 1982 gives the pronunciation f si:mstns], while the two aforemen­tioned dictionaries of 2004 give the pronunciation f semstns]. The 7th edi-

tion of the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of 2005 shows both pronunciations for each of these words, the traditional variant and the new one.

Such quick changes in pronunciation are possible in English due to the fact that the pronunciation of words is not directly connected with the spelling (i.e. each letter in a particular position does not always represent the same sound), and the way English words are read is ambiguous in many cases. For example, poor might have begun to be pronounced as [p»i] by analogy with door, and seamstress probably got another variant of pronunciation due to the ambiguity of the letter combination ea, which can be read both as [i:] and as [e] in the same position (cf. read [ri:d] -read [red]).

The recent modifications of the Received Pronunciation are ac­cepted and have become well-established nowadays, but they are not equally widespread among all the RP speakers. On this account A. Gim-son distinguishes three varieties of RP today:

1) the conservative RP used mainly by the older RP speakers;

2) the general RP heard on radio and TV, that is less conservative
and has received all the changes mentioned above;

3) the advanced RP mainly used by the younger RP speakers,
which as often as not has received many more changes, even the
use of the glottal stop, which is characteristic of dialects such as
Cockney (e.g. / hope so [ai "heu? 'set>], back door f bae? M«],
thirty ГЭз:р1]).

RP has accepted so many features of the Southern English regional accents that many linguists use the term "Southern English" of "Southern English type of pronunciation" for RP. However, we should understand that the changes we are currently witnessing in the sphere of Received Pronunciation are quite a normal process. The pronunciations of words which are now generally accepted were once new and radical, but later superseded the ones which had previously been prevalent. For example, clothes fkleudz] was formerly pronounced [xklouz], which now sounds old-fashioned and is no more current among educated speakers. Also, in the early twentieth century chemist ['kemist] and chemistry f kemistri] were pronounced f kimist] and fkimistn], but by now these variants of pronunciation have fallen out of use. This is one of the ways the constant, slow but sure change of the language manifests itself.



Functional Stylistics and Dialectology

Dialectologyis a sub-field of linguistics. It studies variations in language based primarily on geographic distribution and the features associated with it. Dialectology treats such topics as divergence of two local dialects from a common ancestor and synchronic variation. William Labov is one of the most prominent researchers in this field.

Dialectologists are ultimately concerned with grammatical and syntactical features which correspond to regional areas. Thus they are usually dealing with populations living in their areas for generations without moving, but also with immigrant groups bringing their languages to new settlements.

Dialect studies began in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The idea of dialect studies began in 1876, by Geor^Wenker, who sent postal questionnaires out over Northern Germany. These postal questionnaires contained a list of sentences written in Standard German. These sentences were then transcribed into the local dialect, reflecting dialectal differences. Many studies proceeded from this, and over the next century dialect studies were carried out all over the world.

Traditional studies in Dialectology were generally aimed at producing dialect maps, whereby imaginary lines were drawn over a map to indicate different dialect areas. The move away from traditional methods of language study however caused linguists to become more concerned with social factors. Dialectologists therefore began to study social, as well as regional variation. The Linguistic Atlas of the United States (1930s) was amongst the first dialect studies to take social factors into account.

This shift in interest consequently saw the birth of Sociolinguistics, which is a mixture of Dialectology and Social Sciences.

Like all languages, English is very varied. It comes in many different regional and social varieties. All these varieties are linguistically equivalent. No variety of the language is linguistically superior to any other.

Anyone can tell that the English of the British Isles is different from the English of the United States or Australia. The English of England is clearly different from the English of Scotland or Wales. The English of Lancashire is noticeably different from the English of Northumberland

or Kent. And the English of Liverpool is not the same as the English of Manchester. There is very considerable regional variation within the English language as it is spoken in different parts of the British Isles and different parts of the world. The fact is that the way you speak English has a lot to do with where you are from — where you grew up and first learnt your language. If you grew up in Liverpool, your English will be different from the English of Manchester, which will in turn be different from the English of London, and so on. Social and geographical kinds of language are known as DIALECTS. Dialects are not peculiar or old-fashioned or rustic ways of speaking. They are not something which only other people have. Just as everybody comes from somewhere and has a particular kind of social background, so everybody — including you ~ speaks a dialect. Your dialect is the particular combination of English words, pronunciations and grammatical forms that you share with other people from your area and your social background, and that differs in certain ways from the combination used by people from other areas and backgrounds.

It is also important to point out that none of these combinations ~ none of these dialects ~ is linguistically superior in any way to any other. We may as individuals be rather fond of our own dialect. This should not make us think, though, that it is actually any better than any other dialect. Dialects are not good or bad, nice or nasty, right or wrong ~ they are just different from one another, and it is the mark of a civilised society that it tolerates different dialects just as it tolerates different races, religions and sexes. American English is not better ~ or worse — than British English. The dialect of BBC news-readers is not linguistically superior to the dialect of Bristol dockers or Suffolk farmworkers. There is nothing you can do or say in one dialect that you cannot do or say in another dialect. Dialect are both regional and social, The dialect with the greatest prestige is Standard English, which has slightly different forms in different parts of the English-speaking world. It can be spoken with any kind of accent or pronunciation.

Dialects involve differences within the English language which have to do with where speakers grow up, and what sort of social background they come from. But there are also other sorts of difference within the English language, and in this unit we look at these differences and show that it is important to be able to distinguish between them and dialect differences.

For example, regardless what dialect people speak, they will use different sorts of language depending on what sort of social situation they find themselves in. No one uses exactly the same kind of English when they are talking to their friends in a cafe or pub as when they are talking to strangers in a more formal situation.

Dialects of English can be divided into two types: Traditional Dialects, which are most often spoken by older people in geographically peripheral, more rural parts of the country, and Mainstream Dialects, which are more like Standard English, and are more associated with younger, urban speakers.

In addition to regional and social dialects and accents, English also has different styles, which are used in different social situations, and different registers, which are used for different topics. Situational varieties of English of this type are known as styles, and stylistic variation can be thought of as taking place along a kind of sliding scale of formality. Styles of English range from very formal to very informal, with a whole continuum of varieties in between. Functional stylistics is a subfield of linguistics which studies functional and stylistic division of the language or functional styles. It investigates various specific features of functional styles.

Most often, differences between styles have to do with words, with very informal or colloquial vocabulary often being referred to as SLANG. For example, fatigued is a very formal word, while tired is an intermediate or neutral word, while knackered is a very informal or slang word. They all mean the same thing, but they are stylistically very different.

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