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    Describe and discuss the geographical, social and contextual factors Essay

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    Language does not only depend on ‘where you are from’ (Trugill 1994,p2) but also your social class. Trudgill states that ‘People speak different kinds of English depending on what kind of social background they come from. ‘ (1994,p2) If we look at Stockwell’s summary of Bernstein’s Theory of Codes in Sociolinguistics: A resource book for students 2002, it tells us that working class children only have access to a restricted code but middle class children have access to both restricted code and elaborate code.

    Bernstein suggests that having access to elaborated code allows children to thrive in the educational environment as education is ‘predicated upon elaborate code'(Stockwell,2002 p57). Looking at my own class background I would consider myself to be working class and therefore, according to Bernstein should only have access to restricted code. However, if we take into account Bernstein’s idea that success in education requires access to elaborated code this would suggest that I have access to both restricted code and elaborated code.

    I would suggest that, when relating Bernstein’s Theory of Codes to speech, I use restricted code in casual speech situations such as talking to friends or family, and that I am able to code switch and use elaborate code in more formal situations like speaking to lectures or giving an oral presentation. In relation to this, in situations that are of a more academic nature I may find myself attempting to use a dialect that is more akin to Standard English than Black Country English and a more formal style. For example, though I may use bin /b? n/ and ay /e?

    / in my every day speech and also ‘me’ instead of ‘my’, I would not use this in a more formal speech situation or when talking to strangers. This may be because rural accents, like Black Country, were found by Giles and Powesland (1975) to be ‘subordinate to RP on the dimensions of social status and intelligibility. ‘ (Stockwell, 2002 p27) Hughes and Trudgill (1996) found that there was not much evidence of the use of glottal stops within the West Midlands. (Hughes and Trudgill, 1996,p85). If we look at Dr Esther Aspery’s work on Black Country dialect (2008) we can see that this is also the conclusion of Painter (1963).

    He found, when studying the speech of darts players in Rowley Regis that ‘[? ] does not occur’. Aspery also reports that Manley (1971) found no evidence of ? in Cradley Heath. However, Aspery states that Mathisen (1999) found that the glottalisation of [t] is very frequent in teenagers and young adults and that ‘age is the main social factor, but female and MC speakers, in that order, are at the front of this ongoing change. ‘(Aspery 2008). Mathisen’s idea may explain use of the glottal stop in my own speech in, for example, bottle /b??? l.

    / So even though the glottal stop is said not to occur in West Midland dialect, the social factors of age and gender could account for its use in the way I personally speak English. In this essay I have shown that speech is influenced by many factors. Although most assume that peoples speech is a product of the place they live this essay shows that this is merely one of the contributors. I would suggest that context is one of the most influential factors when assessing speech, as interactions with different people will create different speech situations.

    However, it is not enough to assess language using only one factor as a persons speech is most definitely a product of the combination of social, geographical and contextual factors.

    Word Count 1,629 Bibliography  Stockwell, Peter. Sociolinguistics: A Resource Book for Students. Routledge 2002. Conduit, Ed. The Black Country Dialect: a modern linguistic analysis. Laghamon Publishing 2007.  Dyer, Judy in The Routledge Companion to Sociolinguistics. Routledge 2007. (from WOLF further reading notes)  Eckert ,Penelope and McConnell-Ginet, Sally.

    Think Practically and Look Locally: Language and Gender as Community-Based Practice. Annual Reviews 1992. http://people. pwf. cam. ac. uk/bv230/lang-var/eckert%20and%20mcconnell- ginet%201992%20language%20and%20gender%20as%20community%20bas ed%20practice. pdf  Asprey, Esther. Black Country dialect (2) phonology Unpublished PhD thesis 2008. (from WOLF further reading notes) Trudgill, Peter. Dialects Routledge 1994  Graddol, David, Cheshire, Jenny and Swann, Joan. Describing Language Open University Press 1994/

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