Ethnicity and language Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:15
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1. Ethnicity Ethnicity is not a clear-cut term. It usually describes someones racial or cultural background but has a whole host of other connotations connected with appearance, dress, food, lifestyle etc. The ethnic majority in a particular place are, not necessarily those with the largest numbers, but those with social and political power. It is also the case that often terms describing race are fairly meaningless. People from the British race for example originate from many other cultures and countries, depending on how far back you trace their family trees.

2. Prejudiced language Language can be used to make certain ethnic groups appear to be outsiders, or different from the ethnic majority. Markedness It is often assumed that immigrants, and people from ethnic minorities, must fit in with the ways and traditions of the ethnic majority. When this happens, the ethnic identity of the majority begins to appear normal and invisible, whilst that of the minority appears, strange, worthy of mention and marked.

We often find in the media that people ethnicity is only mentioned when they are not white. So, we hear things like the murdered black teenager Steven Lawrence even in instances where the description of ethnicity is irrelevant. Negative labelling People are often labelled according to their colour, race or ethnicity. The problem with such labels is firstly that they may stop us seeing other aspects of the person as we are focussed on the attribute that the label describes. The second problem is that very often these labels are associated with negative stereotypes.

We often find that the most marginalized groups in our society have the largest numbers of offensive terms to describe them. In addition, the media runs relatively few stories about those from ethnic minorities, and those that are included tend to reinforce the negative stereotypes by being about crime or disorder. 3. Marking Ethnic Identity Language can also be used as a powerful marker of ethnic identity. The language that we speak, and how we speak it, shows the ethnic group to which we believe we belong and claim solidarity with. British Black English People of West Indian and African Caribbean origin in England use many different

varieties depending on where about they live and how long their families have been in Britain. Those born in Britain usually speak a variety of English and also a variety of Jamaican Creole, known as Patois. Linguistic features of Patois ?Lexical items (lick (hit), kenge (weak), bex (angry) ?Use of [? ] and [? ] in place of [? ] and [? ] e. g. [t? n] for [?? n] ?Plural forms without /s/ suffix (e. g. many cow) ?Verbs not marked for tense (walk in place of walked) ?Simplified pronouns ([mi] for I, me, my and [dem] for they, them and their) ?Use of fi in place of to before infinitives.

African American Vernacular English In the USA, the distinct languages of people of African American origin disappeared centuries ago. Nevertheless, a distinct variety of English, called African American Vernacular English (AAVE), has developed which acts as a symbol of ethnicity. AAVE is most often heard in cities in the North of the states. Linguistic features of AAVE ?Absence of standard copula be (e. g. she very nice, that my book) ?Use of copula be to signal recurring actions (she be at school on weekdays) ?Multiple negation (I dont want none)?

Consonant cluster simplification (aks in place of asks) ?Existential it (where standard English has there, its a boy for theres a boy) Maori English In New Zealand, it is not clear if a Maori dialect of English actually exists. What is certain is that the features listed below occur more often in the speech of Maoris than Pakeha (non-Polynesian New Zealanders, usually of European origin) Linguistic features of Maori English ?Use of [? ] and [? ] in place of [? ] and [? ] e. g. [t? n] for [?? n] ?Use of vocabulary items such as kia ora (greeting) and kuia (old woman)?

Vernacular verb forms (walk for walked) ?Present tense forms with /s/ I sees you, we gets home) 4. Social Networks Social networks can help us understand speech patterns as the language and variety we use is influenced by the people we spend time with. You can draw a simple social network by considering the four or five people you speak to most often and drawing lines from their names to yours on a map. If any of those people know each other independently of you, connect them with lines (preferably of a different colour) too.

Then add their two or three best friends, and so on.e. g. Tom Richard Bob Barbara Sandy Dave Features of social networks Density Density refers to whether members of a persons network are in touch with each other separately. In the example above, only Richard and Bob know each other independently of Tom so his network is not a dense one. Plexity Plexity refers to the type of transactions that we are involved in with other people. If, for example, Tom only ever plays squash with Barbara, the relationship would be considered a uniplex one. If however, Tom and Barbara lived, worked and socialised together it would be a multiplex one.

Language and Networks The language or variety we use is influenced by the people we talk to and what we talk to them about. We may change the language or variety we are using depending on which part of our network we are currently interacting with. For example, we may be more formal at work than at home. This type of language/variety shift is probably more likely if our social network is not very dense and our relations tend to be uniplex. If our networks are dense and multiplex, the whole network is more likely to use the use the same language or variety.

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