English Language Unit 3 SAC 1 Example Many language varieties exist. We encounter obvious varieties as we cross national boundaries. Even within nations, we see different speech communities coexisting and enjoying similar status. Yet it is within single speech communities that perhaps the most interesting varieties exist. Within English for example, we see varieties based on age, gender, family, social status, region, profession and economic status. In addition we see individual language users employing different varieties according to the context, the audience and the function of their discourse. Most language users have access to a repertoire of language varieties. Often the choice of variety is subconscious and happens automatically as competent users of language. On occasions, however, the variety is chosen consciously and purposely. As users of language, we are aware of the attitudes that exist in our society towards certain varieties of the language that we speak. Although often based on stereotypes, these attitudes exist and often inform our response to the language variety user. The text used for analysis here, demonstrates a variety of English and its characteristics. The text is a monologue spoken by a comedian in the character of a girl around the age of fourteen, named Kylie Mole. The overall function of the text is to entertain and amuse listeners, therefore the characteristics of this variety are exaggerated for comic effect. The participant is supposedly telling the story of how her boyfriend broke up with her. She begins by introducing herself, therefore it would seem she is not supposed to be telling a friend the story, but someone she has only just met. The monologue depicts the characteristics of a specific variety of English and prompts a range of attitudes towards it. Kylie Mole’s language has been carefully chosen to reflect that of a stereotypical Australian teenage girl. The variety of language associated with this stereotype is often called ‘teenspeak’ and is reflected in Kylie’s lexical choices. Items such as ‘spac’, ‘bull’, ‘guess what’, ‘cos’ ‘spewing’ are all word choices typical of a teenage language user. Slang terms such as these are used by many young speakers as a way of separating themselves from other groups such as adults. Teenagers will often develop their own vocabulary and pride themselves in using words incomprehensible to their parents and other adults. A further example of this is Kylie’s use of the word ‘spac’. It can be assumed that the word is derived from spastic and is used by Kylie to mean something is unfavourable and looked down upon, as in “Amanda wears her school uniform on the weekends, awww so spac”. This word is given further status when Kylie applies grammatical rules and adds the derivational morpheme ly to form an adverb from the adjective, creating ‘spacly’; “Davo kisses so spacly.” This novel usage is seen in her use of the word ‘spewing’ also. Kylie uses this word in a non-standard context, as an expression of regret; “and what I’m doubly spewing about is apparently she’s really nice.” Other language users, perhaps adults, would consider this a vulgar word and would avoid using it in conversation and would most likely never use it in this way. This is a further example of how Kylie’s language choices reflect the variety she represents. The phonology of this text reveals many things. The prosodic features often associated with teenaged girls are evident. The most apparent of these is Kylie’s use of high rising tone (HRT). Typically in general speech, HRT is used to signal a question at the end of an utterance. Studies have revealed however, that the speech of teenage girls often demonstrates this characteristic, not only to signal a question but at the end of many statements. An example of this is the use of HRT, shown with the symbol / in the end of the following statement: “I know cos guess what he can’t write.. an even if he could it wouldn’t matter cos he guess what he can’t read.” This use of HRT at the end of statements is used many times throughout the text, further characterising Kylie’s language use as that typically associated with a teenage girl. Other prosodic features such as the rapidity of Kylie’s speech are also typical of her variety and of spontaneous speech. So to is the presence of non-fluency features such as “yeah”, “um”, “but um”, “like no” etc. The speed and casual register of Kylie’s speech also produces the weak form of words such as ‘and’ through the process of elision. “an he goes”, “do ya know” are two examples. The weak forms of the words and and you are used; a common feature of rapid speech. Kylie also uses the nonstandard pronunciation of asked / akst /. This could also be said to be typical of the variety she represents. The syntactic structure of the monologue is predominantly built upon compound sentences. The conjunctions and and but are suggest the narrative content of Kylie’s speech. She is telling a story and uses this syntax to link units of information. She is not expecting or inviting audience participation and therefore her syntax does not involve questions. Although she does use the following utterances to engage her listener: “ Guess what?” “Do you know what I found out?” The semantics of this piece reveals to us some of Kylie’s approach to the Principle of Appropriateness. The topics she covers such as picking on other students, her boyfriend, kissing and so on suggests that she believes her content and language used, to be appropriate for her audience. We would therefore assume that her audience is most likely to be a user of the same variety of language. Phrase such as “he tries to stick his tongue down your throat” and “she spat blood badly” could cause great offence to some audiences. However, in this instance, Kylie has deemed it appropriate to use such language and this is therefore revealing of her audience. This text includes many of the characteristics typically associated with teenage girls. Of course ‘typical characteristics’ are often based on stereotypes and generalisations and are therefore not apparent in all speakers of a specified category. The text analysed utilised many of the characteristics associated with young teenage girls. Features such as HRT, compound sentences, non-standard pronunciations and notable lexical choices contributed to the identification of the speaker’s characteristics. Exposure to language of this variety would also inform our response and attitude towards the speaker. We shape this attitude according to the society and the environment we are brought up in and it is largely a subconscious reaction. The monologue is of course an extreme example, as it is meant to be a send up of this particular variety. It has therefore served well to illustrate the features common to the variety of spoken language associated with teenage girls.