Lenguaje, Gramática y Filologías
Lingüística de Textos Ingleses II
TOPIC 1: “LANGUAGE”
Accents wants equal recognition
When writing about accent, it is essential to mention some aspects related to
history, politics, geography and social classes. There are different ways to conceive
this issue, depending on the focal point.
First of all, it is necessary to ask some questions like how did English begin,
who were the first people to speak it and were did they come from. The story begins
around the year 2,500 B.C., when a large group of people in central Europe started to
travel. The travellers who settled in Britain were the Celts, and their language was the
first important step in the development of English. They were the only people in Britain
for about 2,000 years, until the Roman´s invaded; they stayed 500 years, and the
language changed a lot. After that, a second invasion took place, and there were three
main groups - the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. The different languages started
mixing. One of this results was the Anglo-Saxon language, now called Old English. The
next step was in 597, when the Christianity started to spred. By the middle of the eighth
century, Old English consisted of Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Latin words. Two more
important events came from Scandinavia and France. Suddenly Britain was a trilingual
country; French was the language of the court and of cultutre. Latin was the language of
the church and of education, and Anglo-Saxon Old English was the language of the
common people. By the fouteenth century, Anglo-Saxon become Middle English.
After that historical introduction, it is easier to know that different accents
started in ancient times. Both political and geographic questions are very good
showed too. A political comunity may be viewed as a group of people living together
under a common regime, with a common set of authorities to make important decisions
for the group as a whole, with a common set of rules, applied equally to the entire
population. Where a dominant group holds the position of power, any submerged group
has the options of assimilation, non-mobility or group-resistance. Depending on this, the
mixture of languages will be in one way or another. Appart from the mixture, which
will be a new language or an old modified one, there will stand all languages,
developing to new dialects. Because of this, there is evidence that a lot of different
speeches must live together.
In Britain the question of good speech is deeply congused. There are many
regional speech-forms because of the divisions in our culture, the social classes and
geographical causes. It is a mistake to assume that there is a correct form of modern
English speech, which can serve as a standard to condemn all others. Public-school
English, American speech-forms and many goog forms of modified regional speech are
emerging and extending. The barriers imposed by dialect are reduced. However, a
normal or standard English in pronunciation is very common; that is called Received
Pronunciation, generally associated with the public schools, Oxford and the BBC. But
there are different images of a standard forms of English. Moreover, pronunciation is
infinitely variable; English, educated Scots, Irishmen, Americans, Australians and
others have their own. English also offers a wide variety of accents, styles, and cranky
hobby-horses. Like Lord Simon of Giaisdale said “The standarizatioan should be a good
manner for making it easier to learn”.
All languages are constantly growing and changing, and British English changes
at the rate of about 250 new words coming in a year. Politics, science,comerce, finance
and technology are the principal factors of these phenomenon. But the same occurs to
other countries; everywhere you listen, British and American influence seeps in through
gaping holes in the cultural roof. Few people get worked up at the English invasion, and
few are aware of the growing power of German in the east. French people who insist on
seeing films in the original English and the arrival of European Disneyland are good
examples of this influence. French is fighting to survive as a useful international
language. There is a growing feeling that German should be equal with English and
French in European Comunity affairs. German was once the common language of east
European and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Now, starten, stoppen and fighten are
normal anglicisms. But the demand for German in young people is growing up as the
gateway to western Europe. Besides, it is necessary to mention that feminists and other
minorities have a lot to do with this linguistic influences. Franglais and Spanglish are
terms that describe the influences between languages.
English may be the universal language, but it is still less universal than hands
and eyes. Every language evolves to meet the needs of its speakers. If its speakers are
all restricted to one area and all live the same type of xistence, then few varieties of that
language may be necessary. If on one hand it is widely spoken and is used by groups of
people in more complex societies, then it evolves. Not two persons have an identical
command of their common language; they have not the same vocabulary, there are at
least some differences in pronunciation. Indeed the same individual have not the same
pronunciation in all situations. No two men are identical; no two styles are the same.
Linguists divide the United States speech areas into three main groups. Generally, a
speaker from one area can undestand the speech from another one; some speech
differences are beginning to disappear because of the influence of television. Standard
English is that naturally used by most collegeeducated people. Some people learn it as
their native speech, but others acquire it in their schooling or by imitation. The network
English is an acceptable standard from everywhere, it is the English from the radio and
television. But it is not a prestige dialect. Slang and colloquial are only acceptable in
informal speech and writing. Slang is part of the current language, adding spontaneity,
directness, color and liveliness, but has serious limitations too. It is often imprecise,
People are generally aware that the phrases and expresions they use are different
from those of earlier generations. People have characteristic ways of talking.
Nevertheless, distinct contexts and different listeners demand different patterns of
speech from one and the same speaker. Not only that, but in many cases, the way
someone speaks affects the response. Standard accent in Britain has been called
received pronunciation by linguists, so this pronunciation is able to be modified.
Prestige, embarrasment, social differences, comunication of ideas and feelings are some
of the causes why we modify our speech form. Those different uses we can give to the
language could give as the key to some better jobs, and to have better appearence in
some situations. There is no hour or day when we can say that a paerson has finished
learning to speak.
Finally, it is only necessary to add that standard forms are used in school, in
church, and in all discourse that officially concerns the whole community. All our
writing is based on the standard forms. The speakers attitude toward local dialects differ
somewhat in different countries. In England the local dialects have little prestige. But
accents wants equal recognition, and in some way, they have. It is essential for people
to undestand cultural diferences. The only thing is that we need some rules, based on a
mixture of all dialects, but not according to any in particular.
-Inglehart, R. F. & M. Woodward (1967) Language Conflicts and Political Comunity.
-Williams, R. (1989) Communications. Longman.
-Quirk, R. (1989) The Use of English. Oxford: O.U.P.
-Marckwardt, A. H. (1958) American English. Oxford University Press.
-Nelson Francis, W. (1965) The English Language: An Introduction. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
-Legget, G., C. David Mead & Melinda Kramer (1985) Practice Hall Handbook for Writers. 9th Ed.
-Bloomfield, L. (1984) Language. The University of Chicago.
-Ullmann, S. (1951) Words and Their Use. Frederick Muller, London.
-Newspaper and magazine articles from The Guardian, Time Magazine and GH Education.
-Internet pages: Languageandculture.com