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Inarch Center Publication


InArchCenter ID: - IACBN0034

Definitions of language: -

Edward Sapir- “ Language is purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols.”
Henry Sweet- “Language is the expression of ideas by means of speech-sounds combined into words. Words are combined into sentences, this combination answering to that of ideas into thoughts.”
Bernard Bloch and George L. Trager- “A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates.”
Ronald Wardhaugh- “Language is a system of conventional symbols used for communication by a whole community.”

Verbal and Non-verbal Communication: -

Communication in general is process of sending and receiving messages that enables humans to share knowledge, attitudes, and skills. All forms of communication can be categorized as either verbal or nonverbal. In turn, both verbal and nonverbal communication can be subdivided into either vocal or non-vocal. Much of the communication that takes place between people is verbal; that is, it is based on language.

Verbal communication of the vocal category includes spoken language.

Non-vocal verbal communication involves written communication as well as communication that is transmitted through transmitted through sign language, finger spelling, Braille, or other similar alternatives to verbal language. Some linguists identify an aspect of nonverbal communication called paralanguage. This refers to a range of nonlinguistic elements of speech, such as facial expressions, gestures, the use of time and space, and so on.

Uses of Nonverbal Communication: Nonverbal communication provides individuals and groups with many options for presenting their messages. Here are some of the uses of nonverbal communication.

  1. To create impressions beyond the verbal element of communication

  2. To repeat and reinforce what is said verbally.

  3. To manage and regulate the interaction among participants in the communication exchange.

  4. To express emotion beyond the verbal element.

  5. To convey relational messages of affection, power, dominance, respect, and so on.

  6. To promote honest communication by detecting deception or conveying suspicion.

  7. To provide group or social leadership by sending messages of power and persuasion.

Speech Community: -A speech community is a group of people who share a set of rules and norms for communication and interpretation of speech. A speech community can be a neighborhood, a city, a region, a state or a nation.


Each language may have many varieties. Language varieties not only indicate a speaker’s origin or aspects of their social identity but also certain social values related to the speakers who use them and the context in which they are habitually used.

Varieties can be classified on the basis of :

  1. Language variation based on its users, eg: dialects and accents

  2. Language variation based on its use, eg: register

  3. Variation based on social relationships among speakers.

Dialects: -

There is no sharp demarcation between language and dialect. If two varieties of speech are mutually intelligible, they are considered dialects (dia=two; lect=variety of language); if they are not they are considered languages.

Every language is a collection of many dialects. A dialect is a regional or social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar, and/or vocabulary. The term dialect is often used to characterize a way of speaking that differs from the standard variety of the language. However, every variety is a dialect. In short, “Everyone speaks a dialect"- David Crystal.

Regional dialects are language varieties based on the place, region or area where the users live. Eg: Different varieties of English spoken across the world- British English, American English, Canadian English, Australian English, Indian English etc.

In contrast to a regional dialect, a social dialect is a variety of a language spoken by a particular group based on social characteristics other than geography. Social dialects also called as sociolects are language variations based on social status, class, religion or caste of people. Eg. English spoken by upper, middle and lower class in London.

Idiolect- Each individual has his/ her own variety. This is known as idiolect ( idio= individual; lect=variety of language).

Prestige Dialect- A dialect accepted and emulated by speakers of other dialect. Eg: Standard English, Andhra Telugu etc. In due course the prestige dialect may get the status of the standard language.

Accent- variation in pronunciation between speakers of a language. Difference in accents could occur due to differences in geographic region or social class.

Register and Style: -

Register is the specialist use of language related to various occupations. It is marked by certain features that are typical of certain disciplines/ fields/topics, occupations and social roles played by a speaker.

According to Halliday (1964) three variables viz. field, tenor and mode of discourse determine registers.

  • Field- subject matter or topic of discourse. Eg. Subject- Biology

  • Tenor- relationship between the participants Eg. Teacher -student

  • Mode- channel of communication, spoken or written. Eg. lecture in class

Within a register there are different styles, depending on the speaker’s intention and individual preferences. Style is the variety based on the social relations between the hearer and the speaker, from the point of view of formality.

Five styles in spoken English: -

  • Frozen register- Handed down from one generation to the next. Used to enforce cultural identity. Identifies you as the member of a particular cultural group. Printed language which cannot be changed. Shared speech. Not for sharing information. So no need of background information. Used to enforce our cultural identity. Eg. Proverbs, fixed expressions, quotations from Bible

  • Formal register- Informative. The speaker is the expert and more knowledgeable than the listeners. One way participation without any interruption. Standard language should be used, full sentences with no contraction and no slang should be used. Purpose of formal register is to persuade and inform. Eg. President’s speech, Teacher’s lecture

  • Consultative register- allows a two-way participation. Interruption is allowed. Prior knowledge is not assumed. It is mostly like formal register except that it is a conversation than just one speaker speaking. Both the participants are treated as equals.

  • Casual register is in-group conversation among friends and acquaintances. Interruptions are common. Requires an emotional bond. Language is simpler and shorter. It is used mostly with family and friends.

  • Intimate- very close relationship, non-public.

Jargon: -

Special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand. Jargon is an in-group variety. People who work at a particular trade or occupation develop new terms for new concepts. Eg. Hacking, surfing the net; terms pertaining to games like cricket, chess etc.

Jargon serves to establish bonds between members of the in group and enforce boundaries for the outsiders. If you do not understand my jargon, you do not belong to my group.

Slang: -

Unconventional words or phrases that expresses either something new or something old in a new way. It is flippant, irreverent, and indecorous; it may be indecent or obscene. It is marked by its rejection of formal rules, its comparative freshness and its common ephemerality, and its marked use to claim solidarity.

Vernacular: -

A vernacular language is the native or indigenous variety of language of a specific population, distinguished from a literary or standard language used in the region.

Standard and Non-standard varieties: -

A standard variety of language is the language which is given either legal or quasi-legal status. Eg. used in media, for education, for official purposes etc. For a standard variety a recognized dictionary, a grammar, a system of pronunciation will be available.

A non-standard variety is not given the legal status and generally no references are available.

Native and non-native varieties: -

The variety which is acquired by a speaker from childhood in natural settings and in which his/her first socialization takes place is the native variety of language.

The variety which is learned by a speaker in a formal setting like school or is learned after the child has acquired its first language is the non-native variety.

Formal and Informal varieties: -

Formal language are used in situations that are serious or that involve strangers.

Informal language is more commonly used in situations that are more relaxed and involve people we know well.

Formal language is less personal than informal language.

Formal language is more common when we write; informal language is more common when we speak. However, there are times where writing can be very informal, for example, when writing postcards or letters to friends, emails or text messages. There are also examples where spoken language can be very formal, for example, in a speech or a lecture.

Formal language and informal language are associated with particular choices of grammar and vocabulary. Contractions, relative clauses without a relative pronoun and ellipsis are more common in informal language.

Lingua Franca: -

Language used as a means of communication between populations speaking vernaculars that are not mutually intelligible.

Diglossia: -

Diglossia is a situation in which two varieties of the same language coexist throughout a speech community. Often, one form is the literary or prestige dialect, and the other is a common dialect spoken by most of the population. Such a situation exists in many speech communities throughout the world—e.g., in the Arab world, classical Arabic (as used in the Qurān) exists alongside the colloquial Arabic of Egypt, Morocco, and other countries.

The two varieties are used for different purposes in the same community. The varieties are called H and L, the first being generally a standard variety used for ‘high’ purposes and the second often a ‘low’ spoken vernacular. The most important hallmark of diglossia is specialization, H being appropriate in one set of situations, L in another: reading a newspaper aloud in H, but discussing its contents in L. Functions generally reserved for H include sermons, political speeches, university lectures, and news broadcasts, while those reserved for L include everyday conversations, instructions to servants, and folk literature.

The varieties differ not only in grammar, phonology, and vocabulary, but also with respect to function, prestige, literary heritage, acquisition, standardization, and stability. L is typically acquired at home as a mother tongue and continues to be so used throughout life. Its main uses are familial and familiar. H, on the other hand, is learned through schooling and never at home, and is related to institutions outside the home.

Speech and writing: -

The American Linguist, William Bright identifies difference between speech and writing in the following areas:

  1. Age. Speech goes back to human beginnings while writing is relatively recent.

  2. Universality. Humans everywhere can speak. But there are languages which does not have a writing system. Also only literate people can communicate through writing.

  3. Acquisition. Children acquire speech during the early years of their life. But writing has to be learned later mostly from schools.

  4. Levels of Structure. Speech consists of two types of basic units: 'Phonemes' or units of sound, which are themselves meaningless, are combined into 'morphemes', which are meaningful units; so the phonemes /b/, /i/, /t/ form the word 'bit'. Alphabetic scripts work the same way. In a different type of script, the syllabary, the basic unit, corresponds to a spoken syllable; Japanese and Cherokee use this system. In logographic script, e.g. Chinese, each character corresponds to an entire morpheme (usually a word).

  5. Interdependence. Most literate people can convey the same messages in either speech or writing, but speech typically conveys more explicit information than writing. Hebrew and Arabic scripts indicate consonants but often omit symbols for vowels. In Chinese, the symbols that correspond to words may give no indication of pronunciation, or only partial cues. Some formal literary styles, like Classical Chinese, acquire a life of their own in written form and have little direct relationship to speech. In short, speech and writing are interdependent.

  6. Retrievability. Until the invention of recorders, speech could not be captured or preserved. But writing can be preserved for millennia.

  7. Literary Use. Nonliterate societies have traditions of oral literature. However literate societies have bodies of text which are much larger and more codified than memory permits.

  8. Prestige. Written language is associated with political and economic power, admired literature, and educational institutions, all of which lend it high prestige. In literate societies, people often come to think of their written language as basic; they may regard speech as inferior.

  9. Standardization. Spoken languages have dialects—forms varying across geographical areas and social groups. But in complex societies that use writing, the needs of communication encourage moves toward a single written norm, codified by governmental, educational, and literary institutions.

  10. Formality. Communication may be formal or casual. In literate societies, writing may be associated with formal style and speech, with casual style. Speech can also be formal as in orations or sermons. Similarly writing can be informal as in letters to friends or family or text messages.

  11. Change. Spoken language, everywhere and always, undergoes continual change of which speakers may be relatively unaware. Written language, because of its permanence and standardization, shows slower and less sweeping changes.

To Be Continued >>>>>


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