According to Dell Hymes, the sociology of language X-rays the relationship between language and the society. This connotes a thorough analysis of the various social factors and variables that could play roles in determining such status.
Such variables vary in culture, social class and interactions. His principle, ethnography of SPEAKING, has been a common model for studying and analyzing. SPEAKING stands for unique factors such as Settings, Participants, Ends, Act sequence, Key, Instrument, Norms and Genre that should be carefully observed before reaching scientific conclusion about the status of languages in a Speech community.
Speech community, according to Olaoye (2007), is made up of a group of people sharing the same values, attitude and behavior on the language in use. Simply put; speech community is a society described by people of similar behavior towards a language. It is also determined by the frequency of social interaction patterns and set from the surrounding areas by inhibitions in communication lines.
This communities can be further defined by:
- Geographical location: E.g British English speech community in Britain, Nigerian English speaking community, Yoruba speech community in Nigeria. Etc.
- Social settings. : E.g Educated/standard versus non standard English.
- Sociological setting: English as mother tongue monolingual/bilingual speech community.
It is however important to note:
–that speech community may share a single language (for instance, although speakers of Nigerian English form a speech community, members of this speech community speak several language).
–that people speaking the same language may nevertheless not form a speech community (for instance, Hausa speakers in Plateau state do not form a speech community with Hausa speakers in Sokoto)
–that a speech community may not be defined in geographical terms alone (e.g there are speaker of Yoruba in Benin Republic).
–that members of a speech community may belong to several speech communities (for instance, there are Igbo who speak Yoruba fluently in addition to Igbo).
–that speech communities can also be abstract like the internet for as long as the online communities meet other necessary factors as mentioned above.
From the above, we can thus observed that a speech community can be monolingual, bilingual or even multilingual as the case may be. Of course, the online community is a multilingual setting.
For the purpose of this work, other factors that need to be considered include:
- Language and Culture.
This is question of how much influence our traditional way of life has on our use of language within a speech community and vice versa. Apparently, sociolinguistics seems to have scientific answers to this already. Language as an instrument of thought is not only part of culture itself, it is also the engine at which cultural heritage is transmitted chronologically and synchronically.
Thus, our societal belief, norms and values are encoded inside language. The relationship between language and culture, thus, is a broad one. Language shapes our thoughts and realities. It then explains why cultural values and heritage are unconditionally learnt when acquiring a new language. Therefore learning a new language is learning a new culture.
- Language and Social class
Researches into language and social stratification (class) has shown that there are observable characteristics related to the speech codes on each social class. The people on the lower class are less educated so are adjudged to exhibit the Restricted code while the middle class (educated) use a more Elaborate code.
The elaborate codes are in accurate language grammatical order with proper use of conjunction and punctuation. The ‘middle classerians’ also have the ability to sustain speech with the frequent use of prepositions and discriminative selection of adverbs and adjectives.
On the other end, the restricted codes by the lower class is structured by short, grammatically simple and often unfinished sentence. Moreover, the online community finds a balance with the two style of codes due to some certain sociological and linguistic factors.
According to Brann (1985), nine points are highlighted to be reasons: oicoglossia, ethnoglossia, acadamoglossia, synergoglossia, hicroglossia, agoraglossia, paidaglossia, synodoglossia and angeloglossia. Don’t be scared by the ‘big big –glossias’, they can be simply explained with Hymes’ Ethography of SPEAKING.
- The Ethnography of SPEAKING.
- Setting/scene: the connotes the space and place this communications take place. The environment is a big determinant on language learning and adaptation.
- Participants: the kind of people one interacts and have frequent conversations with. The class, age, and situation of the people vis a vis there expected role in the conversations.
- Ends: the expected outcome of the conversation can drive speakers to go (language) borrowing to communicate better.
- Act sequence: the form and content of the speech. The message could be interrogative, declarative, analytical, sermonising etc. In fact, in some special instance, only some specific languages will work.
- Key: the tone and manner of presentation. Serious, casual, jocular, terse, satirical, non-committal etc.
- Instrument: the channel of communication, oral or written, as well as the degree of formality justifies language shift/use.
- Norms: the sociological values attached to speeches in various speech communities. The Yoruba for instance place more emphasis on politeness, greetings, respect in conversations. Thus, assimilating this language connotes assimilating this norms unconsciously.
- Genre: relating to the type of conversation and how useful it is.
Now let’s look into this factors in relation to the topic. In the next publication, we shall understand How Yoruba has Grown to Become the Most Preferred Language of Socialisation in Nigeria through SPEAKING. Cheers.
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