Discuss what is meant by the term “language variety” and show how one variety of English may differ from Standard British English in a number of ways. Should non-native speakers be taught Standard British English and RP?

Discuss what is meant by the term “language variety” and show how one variety of English may differ from Standard British English in a number of ways. Should non-native speakers be taught Standard British English and RP?

Introduction

The influence of the Americans across the world has led to the spread of English in most parts opt the world. The spread of English across the globe has led to emergence of English varieties. (Crystal and Yule 203) call these language varieties language dialect or regional dialect this paper will majorly tackle the Irish English. This is the English spoken in Ireland. English majorly came from Britain and America. It later spread to various parts of the world. Countries that were colonized by the Great Britain use the standard British English version whereas those that were colonized by America use the standard America version. These regions later   adapted English as either their national or as the official language. Various factor led to variations in the English language leading to what is termed as regional dialect.

This essay will argue that non native speakers of English should be taught British Standard English and not Received Pronunciation. In my own opinion it’s important because the British standard version in recognized internationally when it comes to the written form but it’s very difficult to teach the Received Pronunciation unless one is the native speaker of the language.

Definition and background information

According to crystal language variety is the variation that people have in their spoken and written language as influenced by the regions they come from. (Yule 195) simple describes language variation as the regional dialects of a language.  Yule defines standard language as the variety of language that is considered the most correct and preferred way of writing and speaking. According to him the standard language is not a language but the preferred variety among the many regional dialects.

Irish English is the English spoken in Ireland, a country located north western of the European. The native language in Ireland was basically Greek and Latin. The English spoken by Irish was greatly influenced by the Gaelic language.

Interview structure, place and length

To understand the English dialect in Ireland simply known as the Irish English, 100 English speakers in Ireland were interviewed on the basis of grammar, spelling, vocabulary and pronunciation. To eliminate biasness the selection was done randomly. The interview took place in the small town called Dublin. The interviewed were asked to spell different English words.  They were also tested on grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Whereby, in grammar and vocabulary testing, they were given written tests. But on pronunciation testing they were given the same set of words to utter.

Findings from the interview

From the interview, it is observed that there is difference between the British Standard English and the Irish English in terms of lexical. The Irish speakers told to say parting words, they either say God bless you or God blessing be on you or simply safe home. Whereas in British Standard English we either say goodbye, goodnight, see you. In other words parting words in British Standard English is based on the time, circumstances and locality. From the interview it was also noted that words such as in the name of God, in Gods name where did you get that, God help us, God be with us are common utterance among the Irish English speakers. From their speech it was noted that their English is more characterized by more blessing as compared to the English spoken in Britain.

From the interview, it was also discovered that the word Jesus was used by people regardless of the age group and the social class. The interviewed probed further could not explain the use of this word in their speech. Thus the justification that the lexical Jesus is has a distinctive use in Irish English as a swearing word. The pronunciation of the word Jesus was also by the Irish speakers was noted to be distinct. The Irish pronounce it as  ”jayzizz”. They Irish people also pronounce the lexical tomato as “tomahto” as compared to the standard version “tomayto”

In pronunciation, there were distinctive features worth noting. The Irish English is spoken with great sped and they tend to stretch the words as compared to the British standard version. There was also application of tone, where by change of tone after every phrase was noted and also the intonation after every word and then continue to end the sentence in a higher tone than the rest of the utterances.

Still on pronunciation, the interviewed presented with five lexical that is what, at, brat, sweet, and treat all of them did not pronounce the final sound “t” in these words. Unlike in the British Standard English where the sound t in the words that end with the sound is usually pronounced.

From the interview, sentence structure of the Irish variation was noted. This distinction occurred in the verbal forms and the prepositional range. Normally in British Standard English we have the first person, the second person and the third person reference in the sentence construction. From the examples, constructions such as “he’s been dead for years” instead of he has been dead for years”.

 

A table on findings and references

The table below illustrates the findings from the interview on the differences between the Irish English and the British standard version on the basis of sentence structure, lexical and the pronunciation.

Table 1: findings

 Number   of intervieweelevel   differencereference
Sentence   structure100high(John   195)
lexical100moderate(Crystal   203)
pronunciation100high(Crystal   and Davy 89)

From the table, it’s noted that the level of difference between the standard British version and Irish   English is noted to be high in the sentence structure, moderate in the lexical and on pronunciation

Definition of the Received Pronunciation and the background information

Received Pronunciation in short the RP is the recognized accent typically the British accent (Yule 312). The Received Pronunciation is measured against the queen’s accent. RP is said to be an accent but not a dialect (crystal 117).In other words we can say it’s the EBS accent

My opinion on teaching of the SBE and RP

In my own opinion SBE should be taught but not the RP. The SBE should be taught because the standard version is the recommended version for international communication in the fields of commerce, education, hospitality, technology among others. It’s also advisable to teach the SBE because the written communication is usually standardized. On the other hand, RP should not be taught because accents are usually due to mother tongue influence or interference and it can only be taught to native speakers of English and not to second learners of the English language. It should also be noted that an accent is not a dialect. And linguists such as Yule and crystal has quoted that no dialect is considered better than the other. There are various factors that influences the accent of an individual just to mention a few we have the mother tongue influence, the learning   environment, physiological factors and the role of the teacher ( Yule 164)

Conclusion

The essay tackles the definition of the standard language and the Received Pronunciation on the introduction part. It also touches on the background of the same highlighting the basics. On the first part of the body, there is definition of the term s language variety and standard variety and the variety that is illustrated in the essay that is the Irish English. It also touches on the interview structure, the place and the length of the interview.

On the same part the findings from the interview are given tackling the grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling. It also elaborates the same findings in a table showing the references.

On the second part of the essay body, there is the definition the Received Pronunciation and the citation of the reference. in the this part of the essay I also state my opinion that the standard British English should be taught and embraced by everyone whereas the received pronunciation should not be taught based on the reason of mother tongue interference.

In general the essay has been divided in various parts giving the definition of the terms and the background of the same. It has also touched on the research through interviews and gave out findings and used a table to give an illustration of the same.

Work cited

Crystal, D,  and D.  Davy  (1969) Investigating English style:  London. Longman

Yule .J. (1968) the Standard of English Language: London. Longman

Crystal, D, (1969)  Investigating English style; London. Longman

Questions

  • Pronounce the word tomato?
  • Pronounce the following words what, at, sweat, sweat, brat, and treat
  • Read the following g phrases; I went to the school and took my bag
  • Give various parting words
  • Give two swearing words

 

Leave a Reply