CHAPTER 8- Ethnicity and Social Networks by Janet Holmes

CHAPTER 8- Ethnicity and Social Networks

* It is often possible for individuals to signal their ethnicity by the language they choose to use. Even when a complete conversation in an ethnic language is not possible, people may use short phrases, verbal filers or linguistic tags, which signal ethnicity. For Example: In New Zealand many Maori people routinely use Maori greetings such as kia and ora, while speaking in English, to signal their ethnicity.

 African American Vernacular English: a distinct variety or dialect that was developed by African Americans as a symbolic way of differentiating themselves from the majority group.

Some of AAVE linguistic features (pp186-187)

– Complete absence of the copula verb be in some social & linguistic contexts

– The use of invariant be to signal recurring or repeated actions

– Mutable negation

– Constant cluster simplifications

 British Black English

1-Patois: a Jamaican Creole in origin, which is used by Jamaican immigrants in London and by young British Blacks in group talks as a sign of ethnic identity.

Some of Patois linguistic features (p190)

– Lexical items such as lick meaning ‘hit‘ and kenge meaning ‘week, puny

– Different pronunciation like then and thin are pronounced ‘den‘ and ‘tin‘.

– Plural forms don’t have s on the end.

– Tenses aren’t marked by suffixes on verbs, so forms like walk and jump are used rather than walked, walks, jumped, and jumps.

– The form mi is used for I, me and my (mi niem / my name).

– The form dem is used for they, them and their (dem car / their car).

2- Midland Black English: a variety of Standard English with a west midland accent which is an informal variety with some Patois features.

3- Multi-cultural London English: a variety used by adolescents (teenagers) from a range of ethnic backgrounds, including Jamaican & Asian backgrounds. Its features include using monophthongs instead of diphthongs and a distinctive vocabulary, for example:  blood / mate and nang / good and yard / house.

– Social networks: who we talk and listen to regularly is an important influence on the way we speak (regular patterns of informal social relationships among people.

Density: it refers to whether members of a person’s network are in touch with each other.

– Plexity: is a measure of the range of different types of transaction people are involved in with different individuals.

– Uniplex relationship: is one where the link with the other person is in only one area.

– Multiplex relationship: it involves interactions with others along several dimensions.

– Community practice: the activities that group members share, and their shared objectives and attitudes (one belongs to many communities of practice such as family, workgroup, sports team, etc)

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