Investigating Language Attitudes: Social Meanings of Dialect, Ethnicity and Performance

Investigating Language Attitudes: Social Meanings of Dialect, Ethnicity and Performance

Investigating Language Attitudes: Social Meanings of Dialect, Ethnicity and Performance

Investigating Language Attitudes: Social Meanings of Dialect, Ethnicity and Performance

Synopsis

A comprehensive analysis of attitudes to language, in particular to the English language in Wales, of the relationship between social change and attitudes, the social meanings of dialect, ethnicity and performance, based on extensive research and data collection in secondary schools across Wales. 8 diagrams and 6 maps. First published in July 2003.

Excerpt

We begin this book with a critical review of the main methods employed in language attitudes research, in order to discuss their various strengths and weaknesses. Some of the methodological issues raised in this review we then explore and develop in a series of investigations that we have conducted into language attitudes in Wales over recent years, focusing mainly on how the main regions of Wales and their associated patterns of English speech are characterized and evaluated. Within this structure, the book has three parallel aims. The first is to provide an overview of approaches to investigating language attitudes. The second is to introduce a range of linked empirical studies, focusing on the Welsh context, demonstrating two broad methodological approaches. The third is to develop a dialogue between these first two aims, to explore how sociolinguistic interpretations are both guided and constrained by the different empirical approaches. Through this, we will address the issue of, and indeed demonstrate, how different research methods produce different insights into language attitudes and sociolinguistic structure, contributing to a multi-faceted account of the ‘subjective life’ of language varieties.

In this first chapter, we begin by considering the nature of language attitudes, since it is their complex and rather elusive nature that brings to the fore the methodological issues considered in this book. We then move on to consider why, for sociolinguistics, it is necessary to study language attitudes, and so why it is necessary to grapple with these methodological problems. We then introduce the main approaches to studying language attitudes, as they have developed mainly since the 1960s. Finally, we set out the main research questions to be addressed in this book, and provide a plan of the book as a whole.

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