Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE credits
The present work is a sample study in which the investigator asks a number of randomly selected informantsto evaluate a number of items and to answer questions on their take on and understanding of, unconventional language. The focus of the investigation is on the relationship between the interviewees’ understanding and recognition of unconventional language and their particular attitudes towards the same as their ability to recognise slang is compared with their respective attitudes. To fully appreciate the linguistic scope within which this exists, one must acknowledge what it is that generates an informant’s attitudes. The American linguist Penelope Eckert (2000) has in her Linguistic variation as Social Practice written something that quite well captures what it is all about. Here is what she writes:
“In many cases it is easy to identity the common endeavour that assembles a community of practice (using language): a garage band, a day care cooperative, a research group, a kindergarten class. That endeavour develops a life of its own as local practices develop around it, transforming the enterprise, the activity, and knowledge. The practices that emerge as a rock’n roll band works together include such things as the choice of songs the band plays, the kind of music, a view of its place in the wider landscape of music, an attitude towards other kinds of music, the band’s “sound” and the contribution of each instrument of that sound, ways of dressing, ways of getting and choosing gigs, ways of performing and behaving on gigs, ways of developing new songs and rehearsing, ways of behaving and talking in encounters with band members and when representing the band. This practise is one that develops – it grows out of the band’s mutual engagement in being that particular band. The individual musicians, through their particular form of participation, simultaneously construct identities of participation in that band. At the same time, that process of construction, engaged in jointly by the various members of the bank, yields a band – or a (speech) community of practice – with a particular character. The character of that band in turn enters into the individual members’ interactions with people outside the band, in the members’ personae at work, at home, and at other bands’ gigs” (Eckert 2000: 35-36).
The above captures what attitude ‘is’ in many ways, not merely the explicit attitudes one actively display such as clothes, personal attire or style, but it prevails the sense of what linguistic attitudes are. The use of language, ergo speaking, is what generates our attitudes, or rather linguistic attitudes are maintained and constructed in line with how we like to be perceived, thus what language we wish to use. This is what the present study aims to unfold – what command of unconventional features would a user of language have and what does the informants’ attitudes toward language of this nature look reveal.
This is not to say perfectly ‘randomly selected’ but more in the sense that the study is not set against a particular group but rather the contrary, no particular group at all. This is in order to, to the point it is possible, enable the informants to form a model of a general cut of speakers in a society. This should preferably then include people from all segments of a society, as well socially, economically as ethnically. The informants in this kind of segment should further be naturally distributed on the age scale.
2011. , 76 p.