Varieties and variable in the English language
USA, Australia and UK are the countries where English is the first and often only spoken language. English is one of the most varied languages in the world and these varieties are determined by:
- Identity of speakers
- Where they live
- Social class
As regards gender we define genderlect the difference in the use of the language between women and men, as regards personality we define idiolect the typical language use by a person.
Varieties of English differ in:
- lexical choices
The branch of linguistics that studies the varieties is called sociolinguistics and describes how social identities are established and maintained in the language use. In sociolinguistics really important is the notion of “variable”, divided in 2 concepts:
- Linguistics variable (accent, register, style, dialect, syntactic pattern, words or phrases).
Each of these characteristics creates a variety.
Another important concept is the concept of linguistic code. The choice of a linguistic code is determined by the domain, that’s the situation or emotion in which speakers perceive themselves to be. Sometimes in these situations we find the phenomenon of code-switching: a bilingual or mon0olingual speaker can shift from a language to another during a conversation.
There are different kinds of bilingual speakers:
-compound bilingual: people who learn and become fluent in a language later in life
-coordinate bilingual: people born in bilingual families
These people associate each language with different domains or contexts and associate each code choice with specific situations or emotions. Also in bilingual/ multilingual communities languages are associated with different values, so they shift from the technically specific minority language, the “we code”, to the “they code”, associated with more formal and less personal out-group relations.