Sociolinguistics and Language Variation

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Language is one of the most important means of communication that we use in order to exchange our feelings, sentiments through language, we use language to send fundamental social messages regarding what our identity is, the place where we come from, and who we contact with. It is frequently surprising to acknowledge how we pass judgment on an individual’s experience, character, and expectations dependent just on the individual’s culture, language, dialogue etc. Sociolinguistics has turned into an inexorably significant and important field of study, as it concerns with how language use interacts with or is affected by social milieu such as gender, age, ethnicity, social class etc. In this article sociolinguistics definition, language variation will be discuss. Also read: code switching and code mixing.

Sociolinguistics Definition and Examples

Sociolinguistics is the branch of linguistics which studies the language the society which was it. It is the study of the relationship between language and the society. It is concerned with how language functions in society. Language is a phenomenon which has a strict relationship with society. Sociolinguistics study how social factors impact people’s language use and how language use impacts and is determined by people’s positions in society. Language changes as per the need of the social groups which uses it. In short, sociolinguistics is the scientific study of language keeping in view the society that uses it.

Definition of Sociolinguistics

Language variations are the key to sociolinguistic study, and every society will have different kinds of variations. English language is the best example of this that can not be taken as a language variation in different societies as it is used worldwide. It may be seen in various ways.

British English

British English is also known as a standard variety of language in the English speaking world. It is the linguistics variety of language used in the United Kingdom. This English is also known as Queen’s English which is originated from the Germanic family of languages. British English is a dominant variety and the most wide-spread variety all over the England. It is used by majority of the part of England.

British English includes verities such as southern English variety, West Country dialects, Scottish English, welsh Irish English, all these verities of British English are native varieties of English. The speakers from east London speak non-standard variety of English and that variety is known as “cockney English”. British English which is spoken as a standard variety is known as RP. (Received Pronunciation) in India.

There are some differences and similarities of the use of English. These differences differences in the manner of uses of grammar (Syntax), Vocabulary, (lexis), pronunciation (Phonology) and cultural differences.

American English

American English is one of the major variety of English which is spoken in U.S.A. It is a special variety of language which is developed in states of America as part of national language. It is the dominant variety which has been used by the American people. American English freed itself from the tyranny of British English in regard of grammars, spellings vocabulary and language use. It is the most flexible variety of English where simplicity plays an important role.

American English is spoken in two parts. These two varieties are known as ‘southern American English’ and ‘Northern American English’. American English is the most dominant variety of English that has been used by the majority of people in the world.

Following are the differences which we find between American English and British English. These differences are bound in vocabulary, spelling grammar and pronunciation.

Difference Between British English and American English

Spelling difference:

British EnglishAmerican English

Vocabulary difference

American English has developed its different varieties of the word which indicates American.

British EnglishAmerican English
Petrol pumpFuel station
Ground floorFirst floor
Motor carautomobile
Time tableschedule

There are some words which have different meanings in different contexts in American English. These words have cultural context.  Such as,

British EnglishAmerican EnglishMeanings in context
Only primary/secondary educationAn educational instituteSchool
Grammar difference
  1. (Had) difference: Americans always us have/has instead of had’. American English in opposition British English uses different structure of grammar which makes American English a distinct variety of English. In American English have/has is more common and appropriate grammatical expression.
  2. Whereas British English uses shall construction for future conformity but the Americans do not use shall constructions. So, “shall” is neglected in American English for future aspect. They use will construction predominantly.
  3. “Have got” is replaced with have gotten in American English and also “has got” incomplete tense is replaced with gotten in American English.
  4. There is one more grammatical difference American English such as time expressions. In British English we say Monday to Sunday, whereas American English uses as Monday through Sunday.

Difference in Pronunciation

In pronunciation American English differs from British English. Most of the times some vowel sounds are deliberately pronounced in different ways to oppose the British English. There are certain outstanding features of American English which we find in the way of pronunciation that we find in American English.  Such as vowel sound used in the word Dance, grass, chance, card, half, calm, fast, path etc.

Next in the American English, The consonant sound /r/ which is pronounced in all positions in A.E.

In British English if /r/ is appears middle and final position. It is not pronounce d but in case of American /r/ is present in all positions like- Teacher, girl, creature, etc.

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