Niken Larasati Wening



Language Corpora

  1. Introduction

Since the 1990s, a “language corpus” usually means a text collection which is:

• large: millions, or even hundreds of millions, of running words, usually sampled from hundreds or thousands of individual texts;

• computer-readable: accessible with software such as concordancers, which can find, list and sort linguistic patterns;

• designed for linguistic analysis: selected according to a sociolinguistic theory of language variation, to provide a sample of specific text-types or a broad and balanced sample of a language.

Much “corpus linguistics” is driven purely by curiosity. It aims to improve language description and theory, and the task for applied linguistics is to assess the relevance of this work to practical applications. Corpus data are essential for accurately describing language use, and have shown how lexis, grammar, and semantics interact. This in turn has applications in language teaching, translation, forensic linguistics, and broader cultural analysis. In limited cases, applications can be direct. For example, if advanced language learners have access to a corpus, they can study for themselves how a word or grammatical construction is typically used in authentic data. Hunston (2002, pp. 170–84) discusses data-driven discovery learning and gives further references.

However, applications are usually indirect. Corpora provide observable evidence about language use, which leads to new descriptions, which in turn are embodied in dictionaries, grammars, and teaching materials. Since the late 1980s, the influence of this work is most evident in new monolingual English dictionaries (CIDE, 1995; COBUILD, 1995a; LDOCE, 1995; OALD, 1995) and grammars (e.g., COBUILD, 1990), aimed at advanced learners, and based on authentic examples of current usage from large corpora. Other corpus-based reference grammars (e.g., G. Francis, Hunston, & Manning, 1996, 1998; Biber et al., 1999) are invaluable resources for materials producers and teachers. Corpora are just sources of evidence, available to all linguists, theoretical or applied. A sociolinguist might use a corpus of audio-recorded conversations to study relations between social class and accent; a psycholinguist might use the same corpus to study slips of the tongue; and a lexicographer might be interested in the frequency of different phrases. The study might be purelydescriptive: a grammarian might want to know which constructions are frequent in casual spoken language but rare in formal written language.

Corpora solve the problem of observing patterns of language use. It is these patterns which are the real object of study, and it is findings about recurrent lexico-grammatical units of meaning which have implications for both theoretical and applied linguistics. Large corpora have provided many new facts about words, phrases, grammar, and meaning, even for English, which many teachers and linguists assumed was fairly well understood. Valid applications of corpus studies depend on the design of corpora, the observational methods of analysis, and the interpretation of the findings.

Applied linguists must assess this progression from evidence to interpretation to applications, and this chapter therefore has sections on empirical linguistics (pre- and post-computers), corpus design and software, findings and descriptions, and implications and applications.

  1. Empirical Linguistics

Since corpus study gives priority to observing millions of running words, computer technology is essential. This makes linguistics analogous to the natural sciences, where it is observational and measuring instruments (such as microscopes, radio telescopes, and x-ray machines) which extended our grasp of reality far beyond “the tiny sphere attainable by unaided common sense” (Wilson, 1998, p. 49).

Observation is not restricted to any single method, but concordances are essential for studying lexical, grammatical, and semantic patterns. Printed concordance lines (see Appendix) are limited in being static, but a computer accessible concordance is both an observational and experimental tool, since ordering it alphabetically to left and right brings together repeated lexico-grammatical patterns. A single concordance line, on the horizontal axis, is a fragment of language use (parole). The vertical axis of a concordance shows repeated co-occurrences, which are evidence of units of meaning in the language system (langue).

Corpus methods therefore differ sharply from the view, widely held since the 1960s, that native speaker introspection gives special access to linguistic competence. Although linguists’ careful analyses of their own idiolects have revealed much about language and cognition, there are several problems with intuitive data and misunderstandings about the relation between observation and intuition in corpus work. Intuitive data can be circular: data and theory have the same source in the linguist who both proposes a hypothesis and invents examples to support or refute it. They can be unreliable or absent: many facts about frequency, grammar, and meaning are systematic and evident in corpora, but unrecorded in pre-corpus dictionaries. They are narrow: introspection about small sets of invented sentences cannot be the sole and privileged source of data.

There is no point in being purist about data, and it is always advisable to compare data from different sources, both independent corpora, and also introspection and experiments. Corpus study does not reject intuition, but gives it a different role.

3. Some Brief History

There was corpus study long before computers (W. Francis, 1992) and, from a historical perspective, Saussure’s radical uncertainty about the viability of studying parole, followed by Chomsky’s reliance on introspective data, were short breaks in a long tradition of observational language study. Disregard of quantified textual data was never, of course, accepted by everyone. Corder (1973, pp. 208–23) emphasizes the relevance of frequency studies to language teaching, and language corpora have always been indispensable in studying dead languages, unwritten languages and dialects, child language acquisition, and lexicography. So, within both philological and fieldwork traditions, corpus study goes back hundreds of years, within a broad tradition of rhetorical and textual analysis.

Early concordances were prepared of texts of cultural significance, such as the Bible (Cruden, 1737). Ayscough’s (1790) index of Shakespeare is designed “to point out the different meanings to which words are applied.” Nowadays we would say that he had a concept of “meaning as use.” By bringing together many instances of a word, a concordance provides evidence of its range of uses and therefore of its meanings, and this essential point is still the basis of corpus semantics today.

  1. Modern Corpora and Software

Modern computer-assisted corpus study is based on two principles.

  1. The observer must not influence what is observed. What is selected for observation depends on convenience, interests and hypotheses, but corpus data are part of natural language use, and not produced for purposes of linguistic analysis.
  2. Repeated events are significant. Quantitative work with large corpora reveals what is central and typical, normal and expected. It follows (Teubert, 1999) that corpus study is inherently sociolinguistic, since the data are authentic acts of communication; inherently diachronic, since the data are what has frequently occurred in the past; and inherently quantitative. This disposes of the frequent confusion that corpus study is concerned with “mere” performance, in Chomsky’s (1965, p. 3) pejorative sense of being characterized by “memory limitations, distractions, shifts of attention and interest, and errors.” The aim is not to study idiosyncratic details of performance which are, by chance, recorded in a corpus. On the contrary, a corpus reveals what frequently recurs, sometimes hundreds or thousands of times, and cannot possibly be due to chance.

5. New Findings and Descriptions

The main findings which have resulted from the “vastly expanded empirical base” (Kennedy, 1998, p. 204) which corpora provide concern the association patterns which inseparably relate item and context:

• lexico-grammatical units: what frequently (or never) co-occurs within a span of a few words;

• style and register: what frequently (or never) co-occurs in texts.

Findings about lexico-grammar question many traditional assumptions about the lexis–grammar boundary. The implications for language teaching are, at one level, rather evident. A well-known problem for even advanced language learners is that they may speak grammatically, yet not sound native-like, because their language use deviates from native speaker collocational norms. I once received an acknowledgment in an article by a non-native English speaking colleague, for my “repeated comments on drafts of this paper,” which seemed to connote both irritation at my comments and to imply that they were never heeded. (I suppose this was better than being credited with “persistent comments”!)

  1. Applications, Implications, and Open Questions

There are often striking differences between earlier accounts of English usage (pedagogical and theoretical) and corpus evidence, but the applications of corpus findings are disputed. Since I cannot assess the wide range of proposed, rapidly changing, and potential applications, I have tried to set out the principles of data design and methods which applied linguists can use in assessing descriptions and applications. Perhaps especially in language teaching, one also has to assess the vested interests involved: both resistance to change by those who are committed to ways of teaching, and also claims made by publishers with commercial interests in dictionaries and teaching materials. Apart from language teaching and lexicography, other areas where assessment is required are as follows:

  1. Translation studies. By the late 1990s, bilingual corpora and bilingual corpus-based dictionaries had developed rapidly. The main finding (Baker, 1995; Kenny, 2001) is that, compared with source texts, the language of target texts tends to be “simpler,” as measured by lower type-token ratios and lexical density, and the proportion of more explicit and grammatically conventional constructions.
  2. Stylistics. Corpora are the only objective source of information about the relation between instance and norm, and provide a concrete interpretation of the concept of intertextuality. Burrows (1987) is a detailed literary case study, and Hockey (2001) discusses wider topics. The next category might be regarded as a specialized application of stylistics.
  3. Forensic linguistics. Corpus studies can establish linguistic norms which are not under conscious control. Although findings are usually probabilistic, and an entirely reliable “linguistic fingerprint” is currently unlikely, corpus data can help to identify authors of blackmail letters, and test the authenticity of police transcripts of spoken evidence.
  4. Cultural representation and keywords. Several studies investigate the linguistic representation of culturally important topics: see Gerbig (1997) on texts about the environment, and Stubbs (1996) and Piper (2000) on culturally important keywords and phrases.
  5. Psycholinguistics. On a broader interpretation of applications, psycholinguistic studies of fluency and comprehension can use findings about the balance of routine, convention, and creativity in language use (Wray, 2002). Corpus-based studies of child language acquisition have also questioned assumptions about word-categories and have far-reaching implications for linguistic description in general (Hallan, 2001).
  6. Theoretical linguistics. The implications here lie in revisions or rejection of the langue/parole opposition, the demonstration that the tagging and parsing of unrestricted text requires changing many assumptions about the part-of-speech system (Sinclair, 1991, pp. 81–98; Sampson, 1995), and about the lexis/grammar boundary (G. Francis, Hunston, & Manning, 1996, 1998).


Question and answer:

  1. How many principles in modern computer-assisted corpus study?

Answer: Modern computer-assisted corpus study is based on two principles

  1. The observer must not influence what is observed.
  2. Repeated events are significant.
  3. What does “language corpus” mean?


  • • Large: millions, or even hundreds of millions, of running words, usually sampled from hundreds or thousands of individual texts;
  • • Computer-readable: accessible with software such as concordances, which can find, list and sort linguistic patterns;
  • • designed for linguistic analysis: selected according to a sociolinguistic theory of language variation, to provide a sample of specific text-types or a broad and balanced sample of a language.


Niken Larasati Wening


World Englishes

  1. 1.    Introduction

The expression “world Englishes” is capable of a range of meanings and interpretations. In the first sense, perhaps, the term functions as an umbrella label referring to a wide range of differing approaches to the description and analysis of English(es) worldwide. Some scholars, for example, favor a discussion of “world English” in the singular, and also employ terms such as “global English” and “international English,” while others adopt the same terms in their plural forms. Indeed, in recent years, a plethora of terminology has come into use, including: English as an international (auxiliary) language, global English(es), international English(es), localized varieties of English, new varieties of English, non-native varieties of English, second language varieties of English, world English(es), new Englishes, alongside such more traditional terms as ESL (English as a Second Language) and EFL (English as a Foreign Language).

In a second narrower sense, the term is used to specifically refer to the “new Englishes found in the Caribbean and in West African and East African societies such as Nigeria and Kenya, and to such Asian Englishes as Hong Kong English, Indian English, Malaysian English, Singaporean English, and Philippine English. Typically studies of this kind focus on the areal characteristics of national or regional Englishes, with an emphasis on the linguistic description of autonomous varieties of Englishes. In a third sense, world Englishes refers to the wide-ranging approach to the study of the English language worldwide particularly associated with Braj B. Kachru and other scholars working in a “world Englishes paradigm.

When Kachru and Smith took over the editorship of the journal World Language English in 1985, it was retitled to World Englishes, and Kachru and Smith’s explanation for this was that World Englishes embodies “a new idea, a new credo,” for which the plural “Englishes” was significant:

“Englishes” symbolizes the functional and formal variation in the language, and its international acculturation, for example, in West Africa, in Southern Africa, in East Africa, in South Asia, in Southeast Asia, in the West Indies, in the Philippines, and in the traditional English-using countries: the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The language now belongs to those who use it as their first language, and to those who use it as an additional language, whether in its standard form or in its localized forms. (Kachru & Smith, 1985, p. 210)

2. The English Studies Approach

The “English Studies” approach to world Englishes has developed historically from the description of English tradition, which dates back at least to the late nineteenth century and the work of scholars such as Henry Bradley (1845–1923), Otto Jespersen (1860–1943), Daniel Jones (1881–1967), Charles Talbut Onions (1873–1965), Henry Sweet (1845–1912), and Henry Wyld (1870– 1945). More recently, this approach may be exemplified by the work of contemporary British linguists, such as Robert Burchfield, David Crystal, Sidney Greenbaum, Tom McArthur, Randolph Quirk, and John Wells. Randolph Quirk was one of the first in the contemporary period to discuss varieties of English and the notion of “standards” of world English in his 1962 book, The Use of English. His Grammar of Contemporary English (Quirk et al., 1972) also surveyed varieties of English, although here the aim was to differentiate the “common core” of the language from such classes of variety as “regional,” “educational,” “social,” as well as varieties according to “subject matter,” “medium,” “attitude,” and “interference” (pp. 13–32).        Quirk later (1990) assumed the role of a guardian of international “standards” of English and was drawn into a celebrated debate with Braj Kachru on “liberation linguistics,” but one obvious irony here is that Quirk seems to have begun his academic life as a “linguistic liberal,” with his 1962 essay arguing for tolerance and noting that: English is not the prerogative or “possession” of the English . . . Acknowledging this must – as a corollary – involve our questioning the propriety of claiming that the English of one area is more “correct” than the English of another. Certainly, we must realize that there is no single “correct” English, and no single standard of correctness. (Quirk, 1962, pp. 17–18).

Some 20 years on, his 1990 paper was to see him arguing a rather different case, urging overseas teachers of English to keep in constant touch with “native speaker” norms, and praising the merits of a world “Standard English.”


3. Sociolinguistic Approaches to World Englishes

Sociolinguistic approaches to world English(es) may be regarded as subsuming four types of studies: (1) the sociology of language (Fishman, Cooper, & Conrad, 1977; Fishman, Conrad, & Robal-Lopez, 1996); (2) “features-based” approaches to world English(es) (Cheshire, 1991a; Trudgill & Hannah, 1994, etc.); (3) Kachruvian studies (Kachru, 1992, etc.); and (4) pidgin and creole studies (Todd, 1984, etc.).

3.1 The sociology of language

Two books by Joshua A. Fishman and his associates (Fishman, Cooper, & Conrad, 1977 and Fishman, Conrad, & Rubal-Lopez, 1996) have provided sociologically-detailed treatments of “the spread of English” and “postimperial English” respectively. These studies were published 20 years apart, and the data cited, and commentaries given, chart a number of developments in the spread of English in the world. The 1977 volume addressed a number of topics, and also attempted to identify the relevant sociopolitical predictors of the use of English in postcolonial societies (former anglophone colonial status, linguistic diversity, religious composition, and educational and economic development).

Fishman also noted that the “international sociolinguistic balance” at that time rested on three factors: (1) the spread of English; (2) the control of English; and (3) the fostering of vernacular languages (Fishman, 1977, p. 335). Twenty years later in Post-Imperial English Fishman and his colleagues (Fishman, Conrad, & Rubal-Lopez, 1996) returned to a consideration of some of the same issues. In the first chapter (“Introduction: Some empirical and theoretical issues”), Fishman (1996a) poses three questions: is English “still” spreading in the non-English mother tongue world, is that continued spread in any way directly orchestrated by, fostered by, or exploitatively beneficial to the English mother tongue world? (to be judged); and, third, are there forces or processes that transcend the English mother tongue world itself and which also contribute to the continued spread and entrenchment of English in non-English mother tongue countries. Fishman suggests that English is now less “an imperialist tool” and more “a multinational tool”



3.2 “Features-based” approaches

In contrast to the sociology of language approach to world Englishes, a “features-based” approach has typically involved the linguist in identifying and making statements about the distinctive features of varieties in terms of pronunciation or “accent” (phonology), vocabulary (lexis), or grammar (morphology and syntax). One leading example of this approach is Trudgill and Hannah’s International English (1994, first edition published 1982) which describes “standard varieties” of English in terms of “differences at the level of phonetics, phonology, grammar and vocabulary” (p. 3). International English uses tape-recordings of English speech from Australia, India, Ireland, New Zealand, North America, Scotland, South Africa, Wales, West Africa, and the West Indies. The third edition added an expanded section on creoles, as well as descriptions of Singapore and Philippine English.

3.3 The Kachruvian approach

The work of Braj B. Kachru in this field is of central and enduring importance, and the influence of the Kachruvian approach to world Englishes (WE) extends across a range of subdisciplines including applied linguistics, critical linguistics, descriptive linguistics, discourse analysis, and educational linguistics.

Indeed, the coining and promotion of the term “world Englishes” is chiefly associated with Braj Kachru, Yamuna Kachru, Larry Smith, and a sizable number of other academics who have adopted a world Englishes approach to research and teaching in this field. Kachru himself has had an enormous influence on such work. In addition to his many books and articles and his editorship of World Englishes, Kachru is also responsible for anchoring the annual conferences on world Englishes held by the International Association for World Englishes (IAWE), which provide a forum for research, discussion, and debate.

The issue concerning “the two faces of English: nativization and Englishization” focuses on the reciprocal effects of language contact: i.e., the effect on English in a localized context (nativization), and the effect on local languages in the same situation (Englishization). Instances of the borrowing of English vocabulary into local languages include Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, and many other societies around the world, but Englishization also extends to the level of grammar, as in the adoption of impersonal constructions in Indian languages; or the use of the passive constructions with a “by” equivalent in Korean, both of which have been traced to English.

3.4 Pidgin and creole studies

There have been periodic discussions in the last 20 years in the field of world Englishes about the relationship between such new Englishes and the study of English-based pidgins and creoles. As the study of world English(es) took off in the 1980s, the specialist journals in the field had to decide on how to deal with pidgin and creole varieties. Görlach (1980, p. 6) argues that because of the continua that exist in many societies linking pidgins and creoles with standard languages, their study “can therefore with some justification be regarded as being part of English or French or Portuguese studies, as is the study of the respective dialects,” citing Krio, Tok Pisin, and Sranan as cases in point. Over the years, Görlach published many such papers on English-based pidgins and creoles, and McArthur’s English Today has opted for a similar editorial policy, as has the journal World Englishes, with at least one special issue devoted to the topic (Mufwene, 1997).

4. Applied Linguistic Approaches

One of the first “applied linguistic approaches” to varieties of world English began in the 1960s with the work of Halliday, MacIntosh, and Strevens (1964), who sought to apply insights derived from “the linguistic sciences” to the newly-emergent field of applied linguistics, which in Britain and the USA was broadly concerned with theories of language learning, language teaching, and language pedagogy. In section 6 of the book the authors discussed the use of varieties of English around the world, noting that “during the period of colonial rule it seemed totally obvious and immutable that the form of English used by professional people in England was the only conceivable model for use in education overseas” (Halliday, MacIntosh, & Strevens, 1964, p. 292)

Prator’s central argument is that “in a country where English is not spoken natively but is widely used as the medium of instruction, to set up the local variety of English as the ultimate model to be imitated by those learning the language” is “unjustifiable intellectually and not conducive to the best possible results” (Prator, 1968, p. 459). He identifies seven fallacies associated with the British heresy: (1) that second language varieties of English can legitimately be equated with mother tongue varieties; (2) that second language varieties of English really exist as coherent, homogeneous linguistic systems, describable in the usual way as the speech of an identifiable social group; (3) that a few minor concessions in the type of English taught in schools would tend to or suffice to stabilize the language; (4) that one level of a language, its phonology, can be allowed to change without entailing corresponding changes at other levels; (5) that it would be a simple matter to establish a second language variety of English as an effective instructional model once it had been clearly identified and described; (6) that students would long be content to study English in a situation in which, as a matter of policy, they were denied access to a native speaker model; and that (7) granting a second language variety of English official status in a country’s schools would lead to its widespread adoption as a mother tongue.

5. The Lexicographical Approach

The domestic English dictionary tradition as exemplified by Samuel Johnson’s (1755) A Dictionary of the English Language and J. A. H. Murray’s Oxford English Dictionary (1884–1928) embodied two principles: (1) the potential of dictionaries for “fixing” and standardizing the language (however unrealistic this might turn out to be); and (2) the identification of a “nucleus” or core of the language, defined according to “Anglicity.”

Arguably, the first dictionaries of world Englishes were glossaries produced in the United States at the beginning of the nineteenth century. These included Pickering (1816), Bartlett (1848), etc. Noah Webster, by contrast, was concerned to produce a national dictionary, for reasons partly if not wholly political, because “As an independent nation, our honor requires us to have a system of our own, in language as well as government.” Webster further predicted that: “These causes will produce, in a course of time, a language in North America, as different from the future language of England, as the modern Dutch, Danish and Swedish are from the German, or from one another” (1789, pp. 220–3).

6. Endword: From Theory to Practice

The review of the literature in the preceding section demonstrates just how far the debates and discourses on world English(es) and new Englishes have come since the identification of this topic in sociolinguistics and applied linguistics in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As is indicated above, there are currently a number of overlapping and intersecting approaches to this field of inquiry.

What also emerges from this survey, however, is a changing disciplinary and discoursal map, marked by a series of paradigm shifts in the last 20 years. In this final section, we might now pause to consider the implications of such approaches for applied linguistics. The kinds of responses that are possible in this context will depend on a range of factors, including different understandings of the field of “applied linguistics.”

For some, applied linguistics has the status of an independent discipline associated with its own body of theory and methodologies, while, for others, it is seen as “mediating” between such parent disciplines as education, linguistics, psychology, sociology, etc. and various forms of problem-solving activities, especially those associated with language learning and language teaching.

In this latter context, for example, Widdowson has commented that applied linguistics is “an activity which seeks to identify, within the disciplines concerned with language and learning, those insights and procedures of enquiry which are relevant for the formulation of pedagogic principles and their effective actualization in practice” (1990, p. 6, cited in Cook & Seidlhofer, 1995, p. 8). For the purposes of this short conclusion, I will assume that the term is capable of two broad definitions: in the first sense, as a wide-ranging area of interdisciplinary theory and activity of relevance to such fields as linguistics, psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics; and, in a second sense, as a rather narrower field of activity mainly concerned, following Widdowson, with pedagogic principles and practices.



  1. What is meant by international sociolinguistic balance proposed by Fishman?

Answer: “International sociolinguistic balance” at that time rested on three factors: (1) the spread of English; (2) the control of English; and (3) the fostering of vernacular languages

  1. What are the seven fallacies proposed by Prator?

Answer: He identifies seven fallacies associated with the British heresy: (1) that second language varieties of English can legitimately be equated with mother tongue varieties; (2) that second language varieties of English really exist as coherent, homogeneous linguistic systems, describable in the usual way as the speech of an identifiable social group; (3) that a few minor concessions in the type of English taught in schools would tend to or suffice to stabilize the language; (4) that one level of a language, its phonology, can be allowed to change without entailing corresponding changes at other levels; (5) that it would be a simple matter to establish a second language variety of English as an effective instructional model once it had been clearly identified and described; (6) that students would long be content to study English in a situation in which, as a matter of policy, they were denied access to a native speaker model; and that (7) granting a second language variety of English official status in a country’s schools would lead to its widespread adoption as a mother tongue.



Niken Larasati Wening



  1. 1.  The definition of Language Maintenance


The term language maintenance is used to describe a situation in which a speaker, a group of speakers, or a speech community continue to use their language in some or all spheres of life despite competition with the dominant or majority language to become the main/sole language in these spheres.


  1. 2.    LM and LS in the Context of Language Contact


Both phenomena emerge in the context of language contact. Although language contact does not always involve linguistic competition in which only one language survives, there are many situations of language contact in which one language (gradually) loses ground in the face of another language. This “losing ground” can have several consequences for the language and the speech community in question. The most drastic effect is undoubtedly language death.

This occurs in situations where an entire speech community stops using the language for a variety of reasons. The language dies because it no longer has a community of users (including speakers) and all its functions or uses have been usurped by another language. More drastic reasons for language death include cases where an entire speech community is wiped out as a consequence of disease, of genocide, or other disaster. Examples include the death of American Indian and Australian Aboriginal languages as a result of invasion, colonization, and settlement by Europeans in those territories (e.g., Grenoble & Whaley, 1998; Robins & Uhlenbeck, 1991).    Language death is usually irreversible, especially for those languages of which no written and/or oral records exist. In some cases language revival or language revitalization are possible either because of existing records of the language or through reconstruction based on similarities with neighboring languages or dialects.


  1. 3.    LM and LS as Cross- and Interdisciplinary Fields of Research


The study of LM and LS is a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary enterprise involving and/or bringing together (sub)disciplines such as sociology, sociology of language, anthropology (in particular anthropological linguistics), social psychology, sociolinguistics, contact linguistics, and applied linguistics as well as others such as (linguistic) demography and political science. Each (sub) discipline brings its own focus, goals, theories, and methods to the enterprise of studying language maintenance and language shift.

For the purpose of this chapter, which is embedded in a handbook of applied linguistics, the focus is on those aspects of the study of LM (and LS) which are of particular relevance to the field of applied linguistics and which highlight contributions applied linguists have made to the study of LM and LS. This comprises an overview of the main research methods and tools used and a discussion of research focusing on identifying factors and forces which may influence LM and/or LS patterns in speech communities, as well as a discussion of LM efforts.


  1. 4.    Researching LM and LS: Methods, Tools, and Data

Below the writer describes the main methods and data used to examine the issue of LM factors and to explore LM efforts.

4.1 The use of census and other large-scale surveys

Census surveys which include questions about language use, language proficiency, or language choice can provide useful data on LM and LS. Although census data on language use can be powerful tools in the study of LM and LS, they can also be fraught with problems reducing their value and validity (e.g., Clyne, 1991; Fasold, 1984; Lieberson, 1967; Nelde, 1989). Their main shortcomings include that they are almost always based on self-reports and self-assessments with people often over-estimating or under-estimating their usage patterns or practices. Furthermore, difficulties surrounding the interpretation of terms and words like “language,” “home language,” “mother tongue,” and “language use” can limit the usefulness of language questions in the census. Notwithstanding these weaknesses, analyses of language data from census and other large-scale surveys are helpful in studying the process and dynamics of language shift.

4.2 Questionnaires

The questionnaire (often administered via an interviewer) is another prominent tool in the study of LM and LS. Questionnaires have been used to document various features crucial to LM and LS. These include investigating the language use patterns of bi- or multilingual persons in specific context (domain analysis), their language proficiency, and their attitudes toward the languages and LM/LS. The documentation of language use is usually done through a domain analysis. Domain is a crucial concept in the study of LM as it allows for the identification of contexts in which the minority language or language under threat is best maintained and in which situations it is least maintained.

4.3 Participant observation

In-depth studies of LM and LS affecting specific communities or groups often rely heavily on participant observation and other forms of researcher participation in the community under investigation. Such studies focus on documenting the linguistic choices that individuals make in their community and on exploring the reasons why they make these choices or which factors/ forces shape their choice or usage patterns. Researchers frequently become “part” of the community by living and working there for a considerable period of time or by regular engagement with the group/community over an extended period of time. They observe and frequently audio-tape and/or video-record a variety of linguistic interactions which are then subjected to multiple analyses (e.g., domain analysis, analysis of discourse, linguistic analysis) which can shed light on the questions of LM or LS. Gal’s (1979) detailed study of LS in the bilingual village of Oberwart in Austria, Zentella’s (1997) longitudinal study of Spanish LM among the Puerto Rican community in New York, as well as Heller’s (1999) study of the language practices (French, English and other) in a school in Ontario, Canada are well-known examples of studies relying heavily on the participant observation/full participation methods to gather their data.

4.4 Integrative and multi-method approaches to LM and LS research

Not unlike practices in other fields of applied linguistics, scholars in the field of LM and LS also often prefer to combine methods or to adopt an integrative approach to research methods because of the perceived advantages of such a combination in examining and understanding the phenomena of LM and LS.

Besides the above mentioned methods, the following methods and procedures also frequently feature in LM and LS studies: collection of personal narratives (e.g., written and verbal stories, diaries), test procedures, archival methods, and focus groups.


  1. 5.     Factors and Forces Promoting LM or LS


 For applied linguists a key objective of studying LM and LS is to be able to address the questions: how can LS be halted or reversed (e.g., Fishman, 1991) and/or how can LM be effected? This objective is linked to what many applied linguists see as one of their crucial roles: advocacy. Making their expertise and knowledge available to inform and assist individuals, groups, communities, and indeed governments in relation to linguistic matters, including LM, is seen as pertinent to being an applied linguist. Addressing the question of LM efforts relies on the identification of factors and forces which operate to promote LM and those which tend to slow down or even halt the process of LS.

The multitude of studies investigating questions of LM and LS in a diverse range of situations has led to the development of some theories and frameworks which try to “predict” or explain factors and forces conducive to LM or LS. Unfortunately this chapter won’t be able to do justice to the depth and breadth of this enterprise and readers will be referred to other sources for a more in-depth discussion.


  1. 6.    LM Efforts: Community and Individual Strategies and Initiatives


Studies of LM and LS not only advance our insight into LM or LS factors but also reveal attempts, successful or not, at LM. The latter helps us to identify initiatives and strategies to maintain a language “under threat.” LM efforts can cover a very wide range of strategies and initiatives and can have variable goals and outcomes (e.g., Fishman, 2001; Grenoble & Whaley, 1998). The variability in goals and outcomes is often a result of the state in which the minority language finds itself as well as the social and political contexts within which the maintenance efforts take place. For example, a minority language with a sizeable number of “active” speakers and with access to a literary heritage may have a broader scope for LM than a minority language with few, if any remaining speakers. Similarly, the scope of LM efforts may go beyond the personal and private if the sociopolitical context is characterized by tolerance or support, whereas an oppressive environment may severely restrict the scope of LM.

A comprehensive and useful model within which to describe LM efforts is Fishman’s (1991) work on Reversing Language Shift. He proposes an eight-stage model to provide insights into the necessary steps which need to be taken by a community in order to reverse LS (see Figure 29.1). The number of stages is related to the “severity of intergenerational dislocation” (Fishman, 1991 p. 393) and is subdivided into two groupings. Stages 8 to 5 represent those which are needed to attain diglossia, that is, the continued use of the minority language as the low (L) variety, with the majority language representing the high (H) variety (Ferguson, 1959).



  1. What is meant by language death?

Answer: It occurs in situations where an entire speech community stops using the language for a variety of reasons. The language dies because it no longer has a community of users (including speakers) and all its functions or uses have been usurped by another language

  1. What are the main methods and data used to examine the issue of LM factors and to explore LM efforts?


  1. The use of census and other large-scale surveys
  2. Questionnaires
  3. Participant observation
  4. Integrative and multi-method approaches to LM and LS research



CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning)

Niken Larasati Wening



  1. 1.   CAL and CALL

CAL program refers to the learning involving the utilization of the computer, usually by means of an interactive computer. CALL means CAL which is implemented to language. In this point, the utilization of the computer is primarily directed to make provisions to a language learning tutorial program

Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) can be defined as “the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning” (Levy, 1997, p. 1). Although earlier practitioners relied on acronyms such as CAI (computer-aided instruction), CAL (computer-assisted learning), CELL (computer-enhanced language learning) and TELL (technology enhanced language learning), CALL is now widely regarded as the central acronym to refer to studies concerned with second language and computer technology.

Other terms, however, continue to be introduced to focus on particular uses of the computer. For example, individual learning through adaptive computer systems, promoted as intelligent CALL (ICALL), and web-enhanced language learning (WELL), is used by educators who promote Internet-based activities. A European Community group has formed under the banner ICT4LT (Information and Communication Technologies for Language Teachers). For their part, Warschauer and Kern (2000) prefer to use the term NBLT (networked- based language teaching) to encompass a broader range of the interconnected computers; whereas Debski (2000) has coined the term PrOCALL (project-oriented CALL) to highlight large-scale collaborative activities. Chapelle (2001), on the other hand, employs the acronym CASLA (computer applications in second language acquisition) to serve as an umbrella phrase that pulls together research in CALL, computer-assisted language assessment (CALT), and computer-assisted second language acquisition research (CASLR).

Overall, the main objective of CALL is to “improve the learning capacity of those who are being taught a language through computerized means” (Cameron, 1999a, p. 2).


  1. 2.     Key Areas: The Roles of Computers, Students, Teachers, and Researchers

Broadly speaking, CALL is made possible through an interdependent relationship among computers, students, and instructors. The use of computers, for example, influences the nature of student activities which in turn affects how teacher may set goals and constructs the learning environment. The aim of this section is to provide a detailed examination of the roles computers, learners, and teachers play in CALL settings.

  1. Roles of the computers

In the structural stage of CALL, educators characterized the computer as a “tutor” who patiently delivered repetitive drills. In this way the computer could engage the independent student in individualized, self-paced instruction through efficient materials delivery. Later, in communicative CALL, the computer was seen as a “pupil” that was trained to navigate through “microworlds” (Papert, 1980). Communicative CALL practitioners also used the computer to stimulate conversations amongst small groups of students who sat in front of it. In recent integrative CALL approaches, the computer acts like a “unified information manager” (Ullmer, 1994), that comes equipped with a host o applications, or a “toolbox,” that stand ready to be used in the construction of projects.   More and more, a computer environment can create a “social space” in which to conduct purposeful interactions through virtual reality (Toyoda & Harrison, 2002).

With the widespread use of computers in the 1980s, concern grew about their effectiveness (Kulik, Kulik, & Schwalb, 1986). Significantly, critics sought justification of claims that computers help to raise test scores and speed language acquisition (Dunkel, 1991) or otherwise promote cognitive augmentation through carefully designed materials (Clark & Sugrue, 1991). Such concerns were raised against a background of comparison studies which pitted computer-assisted instruction against other modes of learning and often concluded there was “no significant difference” between the types of presentations (Russell, 1999).

  1.  Roles of the learner

In each of the three stages of CALL, the role of students changes in tandem with shifts in learning theory, the capabilities of computers, and instructional processes. In structural CALL, students were dependent on programs of instruction that efficiently delivered grammar and vocabulary materials.

Communicative CALL practices sought to place learners in independent relationships with the computer, as students progressed through interactive work with applications. Within integrative CALL, students are expected to work collaboratively and utilize the computer as a “toolbox” for group project work. Increasing student familiarity with computers now challenges CALL educators to direct their use for the specific purposes of language learning (Chapelle, 2001). To better understand the relationship of students to the computer, CALL researchers have explored learner strategies, examined the status of learners, and begun to characterize the skills and practices required to work effectively in computer environments.

Generally, applied linguists hold a strong interest in learner strategies (Chamot, 2001). In CALL, this interest has been directed to looking at student behaviors regarding online reading, listening, speaking, and writing (Hegelheimer & Chapelle, 2000; Liou, 2000), particularly in regard to the comprehension of second language multimedia. Chun and Plass (1997) framed the key issues of “multimedia comprehension” based on studies of online reading and visual interpretation. Hoven (1999b), too, proposed a model for learners’ listening and viewing skills in multimedia environments.

  1.     Roles of the instructor

                 The integration of CALL into the classroom has challenged instructors to become familiar with new technologies and redefine their views of teaching. Indeed, according to Kramsch (1993, p. 201): The enormous educational potential of the computer is confronting teachers with their pedagogic responsibilities as never before. Never before have teachers so urgently needed to know what knowledge they want to transmit and for what purpose, to decide what are the more and the less important aspects of that knowledge, and to commit themselves to an educational vision they believe in. Not only have computers shifted instructional practices, they have changed the way materials are designed, assessment is conducted, and how programs are evaluated. Although once the realm of specialists, CALL techniques and practices have become an integrated part of professional development programs.

Within integrative CALL, teachers are encouraged to take on a less intrusive role. In classrooms described in the PrOCALL Project (Debski, 2000), for example, students are asked to nominate their own projects and, at the same time, take responsibility for shaping the objective, syllabus, and assessment components of the subject.


  1. 3.   Advantages  and  Disadvantages of CALL


  • As far as reading habits are concerned, CALL encourages users to develop a non sequential reading habit, which is hoped will carry over to reading tasks with traditional printed material
  • CALL offers freedom for users to choose any topic of information available within the package. The table of contents denotes all topics available which can be selected by simply clicking on the box labeled for a particular topic.
  • Since the CALL tutorial package can be also be used in pairs, it spurs the user to be able to collaborate very usefully in problem solving which in itself is considered to be a good skill to acquire
  • CALL’s flexibility of time allows the students to determine what particular topics and how long he wants to learn.


  • Compared with traditional books, the electronic book, the CAL program is considered to be much less handy. It is much different from traditional book that are small enough to be carried around
  • In general, reading a text, especially the long ones, on the screen is slower, more difficult and tiring
  • Viewing from the financial point, CAL is costly enough for the programmer or teacher, let alone the students



  1. What does the CAL and CALL mean?

Answer: CAL program refers to the learning involving the utilization of the computer, usually by means of an interactive computer.

 CALL means CAL which is implemented to language. In this point, the utilization of the computer is primarily directed to make provisions to a language learning tutorial program

Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) can be defined as “the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of CALL?



  • As far as reading habits are concerned, CALL encourages users to develop a non sequential reading habit, which is hoped will carry over to reading tasks with traditional printed material
  • • CALL offers freedom for users to choose any topic of information available within the package. The table of contents denotes all topics available which can be selected by simply clicking on the box labeled for a particular topic.


  • Compared with traditional books, the electronic book, the CAL program is considered to be much less handy. It is much different from traditional book that are small enough to be carried around
  • In general, reading a text, especially the long ones, on the screen is slower, more difficult and tiring


Niken Larasati Wening



  1. A.   What is discourse analysis?

Discourse analysis is part of applied linguistics but does not belong exclusively to it; it is a multi-disciplinary field, and hugely diverse in the range of its interests. For many the interest in discourse is beyond language in use ( Jaworski & Coupland, 1999, p. 3) to “language use relative to social, political and cultural formations . . . , language reflecting social order but also language shaping social order, and shaping individuals’ interaction with society.”

‘Discourse’ is the general idea that language is structured according to different patterns that people’s utterances follow when they take part in different domains of social life, familiar examples being ‘medical discourse’ and ‘political discourse’. ‘Discourse analysis’ is the analysis of these patterns.

Let us give a few examples of possible applications of discourse analysis. For instance, it can be used as a framework for analysis of national identity. How can we understand national identities and what consequences do the division of the world into nation states have? Many different forms of text and talk could be selected for analysis. The focus could be, for instance, the discursive construction of national identity in textbooks about British history.


BDefining Discourse

Discourse analysis is defined as the study of language viewed communicatively and/or of communication viewed linguistically.  Here instead is a set of definitions in the style of a dictionary entry for “discourse”:

1 the linguistic, cognitive and social processes whereby meanings are expressed and intentions interpreted in human interaction (linguist 3);

2 the historically and culturally embedded sets of conventions which constitute and regulate such processes (linguist 4);

3 a particular event in which such processes are instantiated (linguist 2);

4 the product of such an event, especially in the form of visible text, whether originally spoken and subsequently transcribed or originally written


  1. C.   Ways and Means

Each of our linguists will draw, in their own particular fashion and to different degrees, on the theories and techniques of a number of source disciplines for the study of language in use – especially linguistics, psychology, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, sociology, and anthropology. They will tend to favor one or more of a variety of approaches to conducting their research that have developed from these various sources. They are summarized in Table 5.1 and then briefly discussed under four main headings: rules and principles, contexts and cultures, functions and structures, and power and politics.

ü  Rules and principles of language in use

Under this heading are grouped approaches which seek to understand the means by which language users – presumably universally, though this is always open to empirical contradiction – make sense, in the light of various contextual factors, of others’ utterances and contrive to have their own understood more

ü  Contexts and cultures of language in use

Here are grouped approaches which focus on the sensitivity of ways of speaking (and writing) to situational and cultural differences. Ethnography of communication (Gumperz & Hymes, 1986; Duranti, 1997, Saville-Troike, 2003):

ü  Functions and structures of language in use

Grouped here are text-friendly models of language and grammar-friendly approaches to text. Systemic-functional linguistics (SFL) (Halliday, 1978; Halliday & Hasan, 1985; Martin, 1992)

ü  Power and politics

“Critical” approaches to discourse analysis do not hold a monopoly on interest in the power and politics of discourse. Pragmatic and sociolinguistic approaches necessarily share this concern.


  1. D.   Interaction

It is with the concept of interaction that discourse (for the analyst) comes to life. Entrances are made, intentions are formed, topics are introduced, turns are taken, actions are performed, reactions are prompted and in turn reacted to; understandings are checked, contributions are acknowledged, breakdowns occur, repairs are contrived; exits are negotiated. People are at work, doing things with meanings (producing them, interpreting them, negotiating them), co-creating an event whose trajectory may be clear to none of them until it is complete, and perhaps not even then.

This is discourse seen not as product (a text on a page) but as process, joint action in the making (Clark, 1996), and in consequence most difficult to capture and analyze without losing sight of its essence.

The concept of discourse as interaction is present in all current ways and means of doing discourse analysis. In pragmatics, meaning is seen as “a dynamic process, involving the negotiation of meaning between speaker and hearer, the context of utterance (physical, social, and linguistic) and the meaning potential of an utterance” (Thomas, 1995, p. 22). The interactional workings of intention and effect are central to speech act theory; Grice’s maxims “are essentially ground rules for the interactive management of intentions” (Widdowson, 1998, p. 13); and the mutual establishment and maintenance of rapport (the avoidance of threats to face) underpins theories of politeness and tact.


  1. E.      Discourse and first language education

It is, of course, not just second language learners for whom communicative competence is a goal of education. Education generally must acculturate children to new registers and genres, both spoken and written, developing their grammatical, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic competences along the way (Verhoeven, 1997).

Children bring to their school experience of a variety of standard and non-standard dialects and communicative codes which tend to be valued differently within the commodified “exchange system” of classroom speech (Wortham, 1998). The school, in turn, brings to the children’s learning experience an organized process of classroom talk which may promote personal involvement, co-ordinated interaction, and shared meaning (Cazden, 1988 cited in Verhoeven, 1997) or induce the transmission of standardized knowledge through a standardized structure (Wortham, 1998, p. 256). It is often claimed that the standardized structure that does most to induce standardized transmission is the IRF pattern referred to above, but a recent article by Nassaji and Wells (2000) suggests a more complex reality. The work of Halliday, Martin, Hyon and others in the Sydney School ( Johns, 2002; Macken-Horarik, 2002) addresses the issue of genre competence directly, drawing on SFL theory to produce text-based descriptions of school and institutional genres and registers. “Using these insights, practitioners have developed pedagogical frameworks in which genres and registers are related to the goals, values and ‘staged’ processes of a culture . . . As students become comfortable with particular text types, they are given an increasing amount of independence and encouraged to negotiate text structure and content” ( Johns, 2002, p. 5).


  1. F.      Discourse and second language education

Since the beginnings of communicative language teaching (CLT) and especially the teaching of English for specific (academic and professional) purposes, second language teaching and learning has come to be understood increasingly in terms of discourse, so that “today it is rare to find people involved in language teaching who are unaware of the significance of discourse for teaching reading, writing, intonation or spoken language, and for the evaluation of students’ communicative competence” (Pennycook,


Hymes’ concept of communicative competence has been appropriated for language teaching purposes in a series of evolutionary reformulations (Canale & Swain, 1980; Canale, 1983; Bachman, 1990) so as to include grammatical, pragmatic, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic competences, all of which are in effect discourse competences, since they account for the ability of members of speech communities to put language to use. Defining the goals of language teaching in terms of communicative competence leads naturally to “an integrative view wherein the over-arching perspective of language as discourse will affect every part of the syllabus, including any conventional system components and functional/speech act components, however they are treated, whether as a series of layers of language, or as realizations within general specifications of discourse strategies” (McCarthy & Carter, 1994).

Within such a perspective, learner needs, syllabus aims and content, and task goals and procedures will all be specified primarily in discourse terms. Materials (text or audio/video) are selected and presented to meet criteria of communicative authenticity. Tests are constructed to recreate as closely as possible the conditions under which language will be used in real communication in the defined target situation.





  1. What is the definition of discourse analysis?

Answer: Discourse analysis is defined as the study of language viewed communicatively and/or of communication viewed linguistically

  1. What are the approaches that proposed by the linguist?

Answer: There are rules and principles, contexts and cultures, functions and structures, and power and politics.


Niken Larasati Wening



Feminism has inspired gender and language study since the late 1960s ,but there have been different feminisms, with different natures and objectives, not only historically, over time, but also at the same point in time, and this continues to be so (see, for example, Tong 1992). Different feminisms have had different impacts on gender and language study. For example, Dale Spender’s (1980) approach (see Unit A2 and Unit B2.2) can be seen as a radical feminist one, embracing the notion of patriarchy as primary in women’s ‘struggle’ – rather than, say, class, which has been of prime importance to socialist feminists. However, as Cameron (1997b) points out, what different feminisms have in common is not just an interest in women and men, girls and boys, and gender relations, but also a critical interest. This extends to social arrangements and power relations, although notions of power (who has it, can have it and how it is exerted) similarly vary with different forms of feminism (see below). Different phases of feminism can be seen as the driving force behind the retrospectively named ‘(male) dominance’ and ‘(cultural) difference’ approaches to the study of gender and talk (see Units A2 and A3). To bring together her quotes from these two units, Cameron notes that, ‘Both dominance and difference represented particular moments in feminism: dominance was the moment of feminist outrage, of bearing witness to oppression in all aspects of women’s lives,while difference was the moment of feminist celebration, reclaiming and revaluing women’s distinctive cultural traditions’ (1995b: 39).

“Like language, gender as a social category has come to be seen as highly fluid, or less well defined than it once appeared. In line with gender theory more generally, researchers interested in language and gender have focused increasingly on plurality and diversity amongst female and male language users, and on gender as performative–something that is ‘done’ in context, rather than a fixed attribute. The whole notion of gender, and identity in general, is challenged when this is seen, rather like language itself, as fluid, contingent and context-dependent. This is mainly an alternative theoretical conception of gender, though there are also suggestions that identities are loosening, so that in many contexts people now have a wider range of identity options.”
(Joan Swann, “Yes, But Is it Gender?” Gender Identity and Discourse Analysis, ed. by Lia Litosseliti and Jane Sunderland. John Benjamins, 2002)

Although the rate may vary, language is in a continual state of change: phonetic,syntactic, lexical, discoursal. ‘Change’ extends to such phenomena as the recent ‘feminisation’ of public discourse (Cameron 2000, 2003) in Western societies, and language shift in bilingual speech communities, which may sometimes be gendered (for example, Gal 1978, see also Unit A1). Although change usually refers to the way language is used, it extends to folk-linguistic views of and prescriptions about how it should be used. Change can be seen as ‘diachronic variation’, that is, variation over time. Diachronic variation is related to synchronic variation – variation at a given point in time, the notion which underpins most sociolinguistic work. Prior to the 1970s, synchronic variation included ‘Language and sex’ – a linkage comparable to, say, ‘Language and social class’ and ‘Language and ethnic group’. (These are chapter headings in Peter Trudgill’s Sociolinguistics [1974, 1983, 1995].) Lesley Milroy (1980) similarly treated gender as an independent synchronic variable in her Belfast study (see Unit B1.2).However,whereas Trudgill focused on synchronic differences in language use between women and men, relating these to class, Milroy, having demonstrated synchronic differences within women, used these to show the importance of speakers’ social networks (see below) as regards their work and outside-work lives. As regards the question of which synchronic variant(s) will ‘succeed’ and thus contribute to diachronic variation, there has been a long-running debate on gender and language change (Trudgill 1972a, 1972b, Labov 1990). A question often asked is whether innovation is the province mainly of women or men. Labov, who has written on this at greatest length, concludes that women are leaders of most changes but in different ways (see also Cameron 2003).Whether or not innovation is valued, however, will vary with time, place and community – as well as, perhaps, with who does the innovating.

Task A8.1.1: Reflection task

➤ With what academic disciplines, in addition to linguistics, do you associate gender and language study?

➤ Is gender and language study characterised by particular sorts of data and data collection?

➤ What do you see as the role of feminism in gender and language study? ‘Gender and Language’ is not an approach.Rather, it can best be described as a topic, or, more broadly, ‘field’ of study.Within Linguistics, gender and language study haslinks not only with sociolinguistics, discourse analysis and language change, as we have seen, but also with stylistics, pragmatics, literacy, the history of language and even historical and descriptive linguistics (for example, Corbett 2004). As a field, Gender and Language is highly diverse, as recent work illustrates. The programme of the IGALA3 (International Gender and Language Association)

Conference of 2004 included presentations on:

■ discursive creation of gendered bodies in Internet chats;

■ institutionalising norms and roles of gender and sexuality in a call-in radio programme;

■ positioning a mature and normative heterosexual self in ‘attraction talk’ in tenyear- old boys;

■ ‘half-Japanese’ adolescent girls’ display of multi-ethnic and feminine cultural capital;

■ language, gender and world view: oral narrative in a Berber village;

■ are psychotherapy texts gendered?

■ the portrayal of women in selected Polish print advertisements.

Language and Gender Theories
4.1 Deficit and Dominance Theories
These works led to the ‘dominance approach’ that provides a traditional, negative evaluation of women’s speech, which the authors contend is a direct consequence of women’s political and cultural subordination to men. Thus, women’s linguistic inadequacies are attributed to societal inequalities between men and women, where men’s conversational dominance appears to reflect the wider political and cultural domination of men over women (Freeman & McElhinny, 1996). Lakoff (1975) argues that women’s manner of speaking, which is different to men, reflects their subordinate status in society. Thus, women’s language is marked by powerlessness and tentativeness, expressed through the use of mitigators and inessential qualifiers, which effectively disqualifies women from positions of power and authority.
In particular, Lakoff (1975) argues that women’s language style is deficient, lacking in authority and assertiveness. Lakoff (1975:43) also makes the interesting observation that women face a ‘double bind’ where they are criticized or scolded for not speaking like a lady but, at the same time, speaking like a lady systematically denies the female speaker access to power on the grounds that she is not capable of holding the ground based on her linguistic behaviour (Ibid.).
Freeman & McElhinny ( 1996) divide Lakoff’s ( 1975) ideas on women’s language into three categorizes , the first which refers to the lack of resources that would enable women to express themselves strongly ; secondly, language that encourages women to talk about trivial subjects and finally, language that requires women to speak tentatively. The authors also provide a comprehensive list of Lakoff’s (1975) claims as provided below:
• Use of expletives while women use weaker ones
• Women’s speech is more polite than men’s
• Trivial, unimportant topics are considered to be women’s domain
• Women use empty adjectives
• Women use tag questions more often than men
• Women express uncertainty through the use of the question intonation
• Women tend to speak in ‘ italics’ ( women use more intensifiers )
• Hedges are used more often by woman
• Hyper – correct grammar is a feature of women’s speech
• Women don’t tell jokes
(Freeman & McElhinny, 1996 : 232)
The above features have been critically studied empirically by other researchers to determine the accuracy of Lakoff’s (1975) claims. This resulted in many of the claims being rebutted. Zimmermann & West (1975) who focused on male dominance in interaction added the feature of interruptions and silence to the list above. They argued that interruptions are used to silence others and that men tend to interrupt women more than women interrupt men (Ibid.). The study of interruptions also proved to be more complex than originally thought of by West & Zimmermann who argued that interruptions are “a device for exercising power and control in conversation”(1983:103) but as Tannen points out “to claim that a speaker interrupts another is an interpretive, not a descriptive act”(1989:268).
Women’s way of speech is often connected with tentativeness and the reason for this might be their way of using hedges. These hedges are linguistic forms such as for instance I think, you know, I’m sure, sort of, perhaps. Lakoff appears to be rather convinced that women’s speech contains more hedges than men’s speech. She explains that it is because ‘women are socialized to believe that asserting themselves strongly is not nice or ladylike, or even feminine’ (Lakoff, 1975:54). Another researcher named Bent Preisler (1986) also claims that women use more hedges in their language. Coates gives a possible reason for men’s lower usage of hedges and that is their choice of topics. She explains that men prefer to talk about impersonal subjects (Coates, 1993:116-118). Yet, another researcher named Janet Holmes has made a study concerning hedges. Her analysis proves that hedges are multi-functional. Hedges reflect the speaker’s certainty as well as uncertainty in a conversation.Tag questions, such as I did- didn’t I ?, He was- wasn’t he? etc. are also one of the linguistic forms that are connected with tentativeness according to Lakoff who claims that females use more tag questions than males.
As indicated earlier, the dominance approach to the study of gender is not without its limitations. The inherent problem with the difference approach is that the theory is almost based on men’s dominant position in society, with women being portrayed as “ weak, helpless victims of a patriarchy that forces them to act in weak, passive, irrational or ineffective ways” (Freeman & McElhinny, 1996: 236). In fact, dominance is seen to be in the same category as ‘weakness’ , ‘passivity’ and ‘deficiency’ (Uchida, 1998:286), effectively portraying women as disempowered members of society. This can be seen as a distortion of reality, “depreciating the amount of power women have succeeded in winning and minimizes the chances of further resistance” (Jaggar, 1983:115