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Dialectal Differentiation

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Published on November 24, 2007

Author: BAWare

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Dialectal Differentiation:  Dialectal Differentiation Language change through time, space, and circumstances Credits: This presentation is created by Dr. A.P. Church. It may be used for educational purposes on condition of acknowledgment. The author acknowledges the use of maps provided by the Ancient World Mapping center, http://www.unc.edu/awmc/, which he has modified for the purpose of this presentation. Other sources used in the presentation are acknowledged upon use. Insitutional Learning Outcomes: :  Insitutional Learning Outcomes: I Critical Thinking (About where, when, why, and how language changes) II Communication and Technology (Power point, WWW, and other electronic resources) III Multicultural and Global Awareness (The study of English and your English is a study of the socio-historical contexts of many cultures that have shaped varieties of English) IV Aesthetic Appreciation (We can not appreciate literature without appreciating the language which makes literature possible, but the study of language also allows us to appreciate the various factors that shape its own form and content; the history of English is a history of extraordinary diversity, power, and beauty of language in a variety of social and historical contexts.) V Discipline Content (Understanding English literatures requires understanding English languages) These Outcomes are relevant to all of the English Program Outcomes because they develop knowledge and skills necessary for critically reading, writing, and thinking about language and literature. Language is constantly changing:  Language is constantly changing A basic precept of this course is the idea that language is constantly changing. Since this course is about the history of the English language, our ultimate goal is to apply this precept to English and study how it has been and is changing through time, space, and circumstances. But language is not just a system of vocal signs by which a group of humans communicate, it is also a system of vocal signs by which an individual communicates at different times, places, and circumstances. Before we look at the English language historically, let’s examine how your language has been constantly changing. How has your language changed?:  How has your language changed? Relevant to time? When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians) Relevant to space? I am become a name; For always roaming with a hungry heart Much have I seen and known; cities of men And manners, climates, councils, governments, Myself not least, but honour'd of them all; And drunk delight of battle with my peers, Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. I am a part of all that I have met; (Tennyson, “Ulysses”) Relevant to circumstances? I must remind you that you are not to interrupt me if I speak in my accustomed manner. . . . Men of Athens, do not interrupt, but hear me; there was an agreement between us that you should hear me out. (Socrates, in Plato’s Apology) Language is shaped by time:  Language is shaped by time The diachronic study of language is the study of how language changes through time. It is the study of historical change. Your language has changed throughout time, and so has the English language. By studying the historical evidence of written records, scholars have concluded that English, a Western Germanic language, evolved over thousands of years from a reconstructed Proto-Indo-European Language (*PIE). PIE Time?:  PIE Time? Slide7:  Scholars disagree on the number of distinct language groups evolving out of PIE; I follow Cable and Baugh, who mention eleven distinct groups: Germanic, Celtic, Balto-Slavic, Latin, Albanian, Hellenic, Hittite, Armenian, Tocharian, Iranian, and Indian. Modern English evolves out of the West Germanic branch of the Germanic group. The map approximates the location of descendents of these language speakers today, but the languages evolved at different times since the approximate date of PIE some 6000 years ago. Slide8:  Comparative study of PIE languages began with Sir William Jones, who was an official of the British empire in the late 18th century. Studying some of the oldest known texts written in Sanskrit (an early form of Indian), Jones noticed there were similarities between Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek. He theorized that they had originated from a common mother language that has been lost—the Prototypical Indo-European. Comparison of PIE Languages: “to be” :  Comparison of PIE Languages: “to be” What similarities and differences do you see in these forms?:  What similarities and differences do you see in these forms? Comparison of PIE Languages: common words :  Comparison of PIE Languages: common words What similarities and differences do you see in these forms?:  What similarities and differences do you see in these forms? Oxford English Dictionary: Etymology:  Oxford English Dictionary: Etymology Etymology is the study of word origins. Many dictionaries will include an etymological explanation of a word to place it in a historical context. The most reliable source for English language word origins is the OED. It demonstrates the history of the English word “Father” as follows: [Com. Teut. and Aryan: OE. fæder corresponds to OFris. feder, fader, OS. fadar, fader (LG., Du. vader, vaar), OHG. fater (MHG. and mod.G. vater), ON. faeðr, -ir (Sw., Da. fader, far), Goth. fadar (found only Gal. iv. 6, the ordinary word being atta):OTeut. fader:OAryan pater. whence Skr. pitr, Gr. πάτηρ , L. pater, OIr. athir. Evidence for Language Change:  Evidence for Language Change From our personal experience we can observe the differences in our language throughout time from when we were children, teenagers, and adults. Perhaps we have recordings or videos of our speech from different periods in our lives, or samples of our writing from elementary school, high school, and college. We also have the testimony of adults who knew and know us. Written Evidence:  Written Evidence Lord’s Prayer Diachronically in English:  Lord’s Prayer Diachronically in English Do you know the modern English version of this prayer? I’ll recite it as you read either the OE or ME version. What kinds of changes can you see in the four hundred years that separate the Old and Middle English English periods? Language is also shaped by space:  Language is also shaped by space Space, in a sense, is geography. OED defines geography as the “description of the earth's surface, treating of its form and physical features, its natural and political divisions, the climate, productions, population, etc., of the various countries.” Throughout the term, we will explore how these different geographical factors influence change. When speakers of a language move into a new space, they often encounter features associated with the new region which requires them to invent a new word or borrow a word from a different language. Slide18:  Although common words like father, mother, and brother may not necessarily change as a result of geography, we do know that unique features of one’s environment may result in different words being developed in different languages. For instance, there were no words for jungle, mango, and crocodile in the earliest Germanic and Slavic languages because the speakers of these language groups lived in regions where there were no such things. Yet English eventually acquired these words when it came into contact with languages that had already found a need for them. New Words for New Worlds Jungle, Desert, Forest?:  Jungle, Desert, Forest? The OED explains that the word “Jungle” was borrowed into English toward the end of the 18th century, but notice how even as it was borrowed its meaning was changed to correspond to a geographical feature of the Indian Subcontinent that the English were not familiar with. The OED etymology of “jungle” is: [a. Hindi and Marathi jangal desert, waste, forest, Skr. jangala dry, dry ground, desert. The change in Anglo-Indian use may be compared to that in the historical meaning of the word forest in its passage from a waste or unenclosed tract to one covered with wild wood. In the transferred sense of jungle there is app. a tendency to associate it with tangle.]       1. In India, originally, as a native word, Waste or uncultivated ground (= ‘forest’ in the original sense); then, such land overgrown with brushwood, long grass, etc.; hence, in Anglo-Indian use,    a. Land overgrown with underwood, long grass, or tangled vegetation; also, the luxuriant and often almost impenetrable growth of vegetation covering such a tract.    b. with a and pl. A particular tract or piece of land so covered; esp. as the dwelling-place of wild beasts. Languages, Dialects, and Registers:  Languages, Dialects, and Registers The variations that emerge over time among people speaking the same language but in different regions result in what we call dialects. Eventually, dialects may become recognized as new languages. Dialects and languages are typically associated with particular places. Language also changes to meet the particular needs of a given situation. When we change our language to function in different social settings, we speak in what are known as different registers; these registers represent cultural levels and functional varieties of English that we may use at work or school, when being formal or informal, or when speaking to a friend or a grandfather or a professor or policeman. What’s a Klinefelter?:  What’s a Klinefelter? Varieties of language that adapt to a contemporary time, place, and circumstance are considered synchronic rather than historical or diachronic. For instance, spatial relationships may be intimate expressions of a particular community. If you tell another Blue Hawk that you saw some dude dressed like Buster at Klinefelter, or if on the Kaibab crew-net I warn someone: “be advised; there’s a widowmaker hanging on the yellowbelly at Shoot ’em up Dick,” whether or not we are understood depends on the extent our language has been shaped mutually by the same time, space, and circumstances. (Shoot ’em up What?!?!) Go Hawks!!! Language changes in time and space:  Language changes in time and space Just as your language has been changed by the peculiarities of your experiences in time and space, English has changed as a result of its contact with other places and cultures. From its origins as an Indo-European language, through its development as a form of Germanic known as Western Germanic into its earliest historical form called Old English, English has been constantly changing. From the earliest historical evidence, we also see that there were many dialectical differences between the Anglo-Saxon tribes that arrived from different regions of the Continent to what was to become known as England. Dialects:  Dialects David Burnley says the following about Dialects (from Old English: A Multimedia History): “Dialects arise through the variation which is found in languages according to the geographical locations in which they are spoken. Variation may occur at all levels of analysis, and include variety in everything from accent to syntax and semantics. This basic conception seems simple enough, but precise definition is less easy. Variation due to social and stylistic differences may not always be easy to distinguish from purely geographical ones. And there are other uncertainties.” Dialects:  Dialects “A dialect is distinguished from the more widespread form of the language by a set of local variants, but it is often difficult to identify a geographical area for that dialect. As we travel across the country, variants tend to be replaced at different points. A Durham dialect sounds more like a North Yorkshire dialect than a South Yorkshire dialect. It is usually difficult to recognise a clear border.”—David Burnley The dialectal differences of the Angles and the Saxons that settled in Northumbria and Wessex, respectively, may be seen in the following comparison: Caedmon’s Hymn in Different Regions of Anglo-Saxon England:  Caedmon’s Hymn in Different Regions of Anglo-Saxon England What differences can you see in the Northumbrian and West Saxon dialects of Caedmon’s Hymn?:  What differences can you see in the Northumbrian and West Saxon dialects of Caedmon’s Hymn? OE version of Caedmon’s Hymn compared to a MnE Translation:  OE version of Caedmon’s Hymn compared to a MnE Translation What Have You Learned?:  What Have You Learned? I hope that this brief introduction has helped you begin to understand how time, place and circumstance have influenced language change. We call this process of change Dialectal Differentiation. Dialectal Differentiation is a term that refers to the process by which language changes over time and space and circumstance. It is also known as language variation or language diversification. Dialectal Differentiation:  Dialectal Differentiation In its broadest application, dialectal differentiation provides an explanation for how new languages or dialects emerge from a common language. As a group or groups of speakers of a common language become separated from other speakers of the same language, the process of change begins as they are exposed to different languages, dialects, and other stimuli that result in changes in phonology, morphology, lexicology, etc. that differentiate them from their original language group over time and distance. What else?:  What else? We also learned about how we can study a language diachronically or synchronically, from historical or contemporary perspectives. We learned that there are differences between languages, dialects, and registers. We will continue to study how English is a language with many historical and contemporary varieties and how it has changed in morphology, phonology, lexicology, and orthography. Critical Thinking Questions:  Critical Thinking Questions Purpose: To think critically about why and how language and languages change. Questions: What kinds of changes have taken place in English since its *PIE origins? How has western North Dakota shaped your dialect of English? How does your language change when you are writing rather than speaking? Do you have any other questions? Evidence: What evidence to we have to answer the question? Interpretations/Conclusions: How are we interpreting the evidence? What are our conclusions? Ideas, Concepts, Theories: Are there any particular theories or ideas that help us understand the issue? Assumptions: What assumptions or presuppositions do we have regarding the issue? Implications/Consequences: If our interpretations or conclusions about the evidence are correct, what are the implications and consequences of our thinking? Dialectal Differentiation:  Dialectal Differentiation Language change through time, space, and circumstances -The End-

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