Terminology

Purpose – why the text has been produced

Audience – who the text is aimed at

Classify – group things together due to a variety of characteristics

Register – the formality of the text

Field – the general purpose of an act of communication

Tenor – the relationship between the reader and writer

Dialect – the language variety of a geographical region or social background shown by the use of grammatical or lexical features

Idiolect – Term used to describe an individual’s language

Socialect – a defined use of language as a result of membership of a social group

Syntax – Grammatical rules in which words are arranged

Morphology – the form and structure of individual words

Morpheme – a unit of a word with semantic meaning e.g. (Jump)(ed)

Non – Standard Grammar/English – English language which doesn’t conform to Standard English.

Chaining – linking adjacency pairs to build a conversation

Micro Pause – Very short pause in a spoken text (transcript)

Utterance – Unit of spoken language

Interruption – When a speaker begins to talk whist the other participant is still speaking

Phatic Utterance – Words to establish social contact

Discourse Markers – Words to signal a relationship and a connection

Hedge – ‘Maybe’, ‘perhaps’

Face – The way we represent ourselves

Paralinguistic Features – Non-verbal aspects of spoken language

Tag Question – Phrase or question ‘tagged’ onto the end of a utterance

Repair – Self correction in spontaneous speech

Side Sequence – A series of utterances inserted into a conversation which temporarily suspends the main topic

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Do toys influence career choices?

I think that the article gives rise to some very important points relating to children’s toys and the careers they go into in the future.

 

The article states that the education minister Elizabeth Truss stated that gender-specific toys risked turning girls off science and maths and urged parents to buy their daughters Lego to get them interested in engineering.’

To some extent Truss may be correct, I have never considered the link between toys as a child and careers as an adult; however the data printed in the article does show a strong correlation between the two. Although, toys may link to career choices I believe it is quite an insignificant factor in the whole socialisation process. Although, young boys with action men may want to grow up and join the army, it must be remembered that it was the parents of the child who bought them the toys. If a mother or father buys their son an action man, then they probably reinforce the effects on their future career through other methods, such as playing imaginary shooting, or army type games with the child. If the parent does not want the child to have a specific career then they can practically control their thoughts from a young age by selecting what they play with, who they play with and what media they see. For example if a mother does not want her child to have any motives to grow into a house wife, then she can choose not to buy her a toy oven. However, it would be most likely that the mother cooks the meals and cleans anyway; therefore it is more like the child coping the mother, as opposed to getting a feel for the work with the toys.

 

Another point mentioned in the article is that Research by retail group Argos found that over 60% of adults working in design-led jobs, such as architects and designers, enjoyed playing with building blocks as children.’

I too enjoyed playing with toys such as Lego and K’NEX as a child; however I do not want to have a career in design or as an architect. I would much rather have careers in the field of science. However, I do believe that this is due to the socialisation process as I grew up watching my mum go to work every morning, into a job which is purely science based, therefore it is no suppose that I would like to pursue the career she currently has. My point is, although this article presents evidence such as facts and statistics as to whether toys shape children’s future careers, there are greater factors such as the environment the child grew up in and how they were treated by parents and guardians, not to mention the attitude taken towards education. However, I do believe that a child’s choice of career is affected significantly by the socialisation process, but also by their personality.

Section A Revision – Word classes

Word classes –

Grammar –

Simple sentence – A sentence that is made up of one subject and verb _and on occasions an object). E.g. ‘Joe walked the dog’.

Compound sentence – Two simple sentences joined together by using a coordinating connective. E.g. ‘Joe walked the dog and he fell over a log’.

Complex sentence – A structure that is made up of a main clause (makes sense of its own) and a dependant (subordinate) clause (doesn’t make sense on its own). E.g. ‘Joe walked the dog after his mum asked him’.

Declarative – A statement. E.g. ‘I like you’.

Exclamative – An exclamation. E.g. ‘Stop it !’

Imperative – A command. E.g. ‘Wash the pots’

Interrogative – A question. E.g. ‘How are you feeling today?’

Graphology –

Concerned with the visual aspects of a text.

Iconic image – Direct picture of a thing it represents. Provide a basic straightforward representation.

Symbolic image – Draws associations or connotations and usually defined by cultural conventions.

Typography – The font style and what it connotes to the audience.

Colour – The colour and what it connotes to the audience.

Layout of shapes on the page – The shapes and what they connote and the layout of pictures etc.

Phonology –

The way in which we pronounce words and certain sounds and how they change the implications of a sentence or quotation.

The fundamental unit of grammar is a morpheme. A basic unit of written language is a grapheme. And the basic unit of sound is a phoneme.

Discourse structure –

The way in which texts are organised into coherent wholes.

Discourse structure

Key features

Examples

List/instructions

Logical progression through stages, use of imperative   verbs to instruct/guide

Recipe, instructions, guides

Problem – solving

Identifies a problem

Product advertisement

Analysis

Breaks down key ideas into constituent parts,  evaluates and explores

Academic articles, newspapers

Narrative

Details a series of events, can be in chronological or   non-chronological order

Novels, witness accounts.

Spontaneous speech –

 Features of spontaneous speech – grammatically simple, informal, spontaneous, loosely structures, concerned with the present, ephemeral and interpersonal.

 Grice’s Maxims –

  • The maxim of quantity, where one tries to be as informative as one possibly can, and gives as much information as is needed, and no more.
  • The maxim of quality, where one tries to be truthful, and does not give information that is false or that is not supported by evidence.
  • The maxim of relation, where one tries to be relevant, and says things that are pertinent to the discussion.
  • The maxim of manner, when one tries to be as clear, as brief, and as orderly as one can in what one says, and where one avoids obscurity and ambiguity.

Formality –

The formality of a text is dependent on the intended audience and the implied writer.

For example, a letter to a posh party would have a formal register as the guests attending would be regal and high up in social standing. Whereas, an invitation to a children’s party would have an informal register because the information needs to be conveyed to parents quickly and precisely.

Context of production and reception –

Context of production

  • Language medium
  • Individual beliefs, knowledge and background
  • Social and historical events
  • Consideration of implied reader/audience
  • Actual writer/text producer

Context of reception

  • Consideration of implied writer
  • Social and historical events
  • Beliefs, knowledge and background
  • Language medium
  • Actual reader/audience

The Dominance and Difference approaches

The two most notable approaches in Language and Gender are the Dominance approach and the Difference approach.

The Dominance approach was created by Robin Lakoff (1975) who proposed that men are naturally more dominant than women. This could be through speech patterns or behaviour towards or around women.
However, this theory also proves that women act less dominant around men, the males are not the only ones who take part. This can be shown by another one of Lakoff’s theories of Tag questions. This proposed that women use tag questions more than men. Although, not for politeness but to make sure they are correct as a second male opinion is needed. For example:
Man – “I can’t wait to go on holiday”
Woman – “Me too the weather will be great, won’t it?”
Man – “Yeah, I checked before… it’s meant to be anyway”
This example of a conversation shows that women need a man to reassure that what their saying is viable. This is due to the fact that men naturally act dominant around the women, therefore making the women feel unconvincing without a male input in the conversation, hence the Tag question.
I believe this theory is mostly correct, as we do see it practised in day to day life, as shown by the example above. However, this theory can be challenged as sometimes men use tag questions when speaking about certain topics. For example:
Woman – “The washing will need to be done today”
Man – “Okay I’ll do it; you just press that button don’t you?”
Woman – “Yeah, make sure you add fabric softener though”
This conversation which you sometimes see practised is where the man is shown to be weaker as he is asking for reassurance, via the Tag questions. I believe this is due to the fact that stereotypically a woman would be doing the housework, therefore making them an ‘expert’. This may make the man feel insecure, that he may do it wrong as he is automatically believed to be worse at housework as he stereotypically goes out to work. Therefore asking Tag questions to make sure that he is doing the housework correct, like the woman.

The Difference approach was further studied by Deborah Tannen (1990). She presented the idea that male and female individuals’ lifestyles are often presented as being different cultures. There are six main sections to her theory:
• Statuses v. Support – Men use speech to gain status within society as being more powerful and dominant, whereas women use speech to comfort and support others.
• Advices v. Understanding – Women seek comfort and sympathy for their problems, whilst men will seek a solution to the problem.
• Information v. Feelings – Tannen states that men’s conversation is message-oriented based upon communicating information. For women, conversation is much more important for building relationships and strengthening social links.
• Orders v. Proposals – Men will use direct imperatives (“close the door”, “switch on the light”) when speaking to others. Women encourage the use of super polite forms, however (“let’s”, “would you mind if …?”).
• Conflict v. Compromise – Tannen suggests that most women try and avoid conflict at all costs and try to compromise situations. Whereas, a man would rather have conflict to show his power.
• Independence v. Intimacy – Difference theory asserts that in general men favor independence, while women are more likely to seek intimacy. Tannen demonstrates this with the example of a husband making a decision without consulting his wife. She theorizes that he does so because he doesn’t want to feel a loss of independence that would come from saying, “Let me consult this with my wife first.” Women, on the other hand, like to demonstrate that they have to consult with their partner, as this is seen to be proof of the intimacy of the relationship.
This theory is shown to take place in daily life and I personally agree with most of its principals. However, I believe that some of the features such as women seeking intimacy and men preferring to be independent depend on the individual’s personality and how they were raised, as opposed to their gender. For example, if a young girl has been brought up in a family where a divorce has taken place, she makes seek intimacy, but may also seek independence as she has no experience of a committed relationship. Likewise, if she has been raised with her two parents never being wed, then she may see no need for intimacy as it was presented to her at such a young age.

Socialisation Process for Children and Babies, thoughts on the Article

I think this article (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/22/punish-kids-cross-gender-play-abuse?CMP=twt_gu) is one of the many produced on this subject about the socialisation of young children and babies. Although many of these articles are produced, we see no change to the belief that pink is for females and blue is for males and a neutral colour such as beige or yellow is chosen if the gender is unknown. However, what this article does not point out so prominently is that when the child’s gender is known the parents are then immediately expected to start buying clothing of their child’s ‘specific colour’, pink or blue. The article also explains how a male child will be ‘punished’ more fiercely if they are using products made for their female counterpart; be it by physical punishment or by mental punishment through other members of society’s opinions. I believe this is due to the stereotypical view some parents may have that if their male child is caught using ‘female’ products then they may become homosexual in later life. I believe this opinion is completely absurd; however it is unfortunately shared by many parents. We see this as a fear for our children, but because there is still homophobia in our society today this opinion or in fact to some people a realisation will continue for many generations to come. I also believe that this specific socialisation process is also due to media over the past decades; actually it has been apparent since the beginning of the twentieth century. However, during this modern day we expect girls to want ‘female’ toys and vice versa. As we are fast approaching Christmas we would expect young girls to ask for the newest addition to their Barbie collection and boys to ask for the latest car for their Hot Wheels. This is quite frankly because, that’s just the way it is. These colours have been breed into us that we assign them to a specific gender and as long as there are still believers then they will stay this way for decades. Even if we were able to remove these associations, we would just assign another colour to males and thus one to females. This is due to the human initiative to conform, we want to have rules and regulations to keep us in place, to make sure we are not doing the ‘wrong thing’ or being strange or unusual. Therefore, the colours may not stay the same but there will always be colours assigned to genders. Although, companies are already trying to make toys less gender specific, there is a new association called ‘Let Toys be Toys’. They are aiming to change society to make it acceptable for boys to play with ‘feminine’ toys and girls to play with ‘masculine’ toys. ‘Toys R Us will draw up a set of principles for in-store signage meaning that, in the long-term, explicit references to gender will be removed and images will show boys and girls enjoying the same toys. Toys R Us also promised to start by looking at the way toys are represented in its upcoming Christmas catalogue.’ – (www.toynews-online.biz) A spokesperson for the ‘Let Toys be Toys’ company also stated ‘Even in 2013, boys and girls are still growing up being told that certain toys are ‘for’ them, while others are not. This is not only confusing but extremely limiting, as it strongly shapes their ideas about who they are and who they can go on to become. We look forward to seeing Toys R Us lead the way to a more inclusive future for boys and girls.’ – (www.toynews-online.biz) Other companies such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Boots, The Entertainer and TK Maxx are also campaigning with the company to banish ‘boy’s toys’ and ‘girl’s toys’.

Would this child be male or female?Would this child be male or female?

Language and Gender, ‘Mr, ‘Mrs’, ‘Ms’ and ‘Miss’

I recently carried out a survey on what the various titles for men and women meant to individuals.

The survey questioned what they believed the titles for male and female, married and unmarried characters in the scenario should be.

One of my findings was that older people, male and female find the term ‘Ms’ to be used for an older, single female. The term ‘Ms’ would be used by this generation if it is their professional name or if the term ‘Miss’ seems too young for them, thus making it incorrect.

I believe that this is due to the fact that when these participants grew up young women were called ‘Miss’ more often. This is due to the fact that when these participants attended school, there was higher formality and the teacher would often address the children as ‘Miss’. This would therefore make the term seem as though it is associated with a young girl, rather than an older, unmarried female.

Another one of my findings was that the oldest age range I studied found the term ‘Ms’ to represent a woman who is married, but chooses to use her maiden name. I believe this is because when these participants grew up men and women were expected to be married and stay married. It was also expected that a woman would ‘take the man’s name’ after the wedding ceremony, therefore a new title would be needed to show that the participant is ‘unordinary’.

However, in younger generations I found that the term ‘Mr’ was equivalent to all female titles. I believe this is due to the fact that women conform less to their stereotype of being homely and domestic, they now have jobs that a man would’ve only once been able to receive. This therefore means that the generations who were raised in these times of equality do see the titles as equal like the sexes.  

Jenny Cheshire and Peter Trudgill

Jenny Cheshire

Cheshire was interested in finding out how frequent nine non-standard features were used by youths, particularly teenagers.

Her findings of this study revealed the extent that youths follow the standard English language, but also illustrates how linguistic features are sometimes used to fulfil social and semantic functions.

Recorded natural speech in Reading over a period of 8 months.
She conducted observations of the youths to collect the data, there were thirteen teenage boys and thirteen teenage girls. However, the participants that were chosen were notorious for non-attendance at school therefore representing a ‘delinquent subculture’.
 
Cheshire concluded from her research that the group of youths who committed the most significant crimes strayed away from the features of Standard English. Whereas groups who committed minor crimes had much ‘better’ grammar and vocabulary. She also conluded that it was more likely for boys to use these terms as boys were more likely to be rebelious, due to the sterotype they feel they need to ‘live up to’ of being troublesome.
 
Peter Trudgill
 
‘Norwich speech’ was studied by Peter Trudgill in the 1970s to find out how and why people’s ways of speaking varied.
One of the variables Trudgill studied was the final consonant in words like walking and running. In standard English, the sound spelled -ng is a velar nasal. In Norwich, however, the pronunciation waikin’, talkin’ is frequently heard, as if there was simply ‘n’ on the end.
 
Trudgill studied how both men and women speak and if they pronounce the velar nasel sound. He studied various social classes. 
 
Trudgill found that the variant is used more frequently by those of a lower social class. However, lower class men used the variant more than women of the same social standing. I believe this is due to the stereotypical view of women being ‘lady like’ and needing to speak properly in order to be respected. However, women of a middle class used the variant more than men, however they probably have a job and have no need to be more cautious of how they are presented as they do not rely on men to earn the money.
 

Sexism in the English Language

I believe that the English language is not purposely sexist.

I believe that the language was created at a time when it was acceptable to be ‘sexist’. Men were allowed the words first and women came second, however women didn’t know any different. They didn’t have jobs or any highly respected responsibilities, but this was perfectly normal. I believe that it has only been over the past few decades where we are seeing more and more accusations of sexism as people are becoming more aware of the issue.

The people who made the gender specific rules of English language did not have sexism in mind when it was being created as this was not a current issue at the time. However, I do not believe that now the language has been flagged as being sexist our society will become more sexist because of certain terms. For example the terms ‘bachelor’ and ‘spinster’ have been around for generations and the female term is much more derogatory with connotations of ‘old’, ‘lonely’ and ‘desperate’. This term is not being used as much as it used to, instead the term ‘bachelorette’ is used and although a suffix has been added to the word which some could argue is also sexist, it’s a step in the right direction.

In fact, I believe that our society can become less sexist because of these terms. This is because if these terms are still openly used for the time being, then this allows us to analyse these terms and therefore class them as being ‘sexist’ and try and eliminate them from society. This is only possible now because more people are aware of the issues connected with sexism, as the male and female genders are becoming more equal, the language will too. However, I do believe that the language doesn’t need to be prompted to change and will change as time goes on. This is shown by terms such as ‘scold’ which is a female term for bully, as it is no longer used today, ‘bully’ is used for both the male and female words.