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Sociolinguistic situation in Great Britain

The Panorama of Great Britain. Examination Theory


Main geographical and political names referring to Great Britain. State symbols. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland as parts of the country. Their symbols, other features of national identity

The United Kingdom (abbreviated from "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland") is the political name of the country which consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (sometimes known as Ulster).

Great Britain is the name of the island which is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, whereas the British Isles is the geographical name of all the islands off the north-west coast of the European continent. In everyday speech "Britain" is used to mean the United Kingdom.

The flag of the United Kingdom, known as the Union Jack, is made up of three crosses. The upright red cross on a white background is the cross of the 1st George, the patron saint of England. The white diagonal cross on a blue background is the cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, The red diagonal cross on a white background is the cross of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

The Welsh flag, called the Welsh dragon, represents a red dragon on a white and green background.

St. George's Day falls on 23 April and is regarded as England's national day. On this day some patriotic Englishmen wear a rose pinned to their jackets'. A red rose is the national emblem of England from the time of the Wars of the Roses (15th century).

St. Andrew's Day (the 30th of November) is regarded as Scotland's national day. On this day some Scotsmen wear a thistle in their buttonhole. As a national emblem of Scotland, thistle apparently first used in the 15th century as a symbol of defence. The Order of the Thistle is one of the highest orders of knighthood. It was founded in 1687, and is mainly given to Scottish noblemen (limited to 16 in number).

St. Patrick's Day (the 17th of March) is considered as a national day in Northern Ireland and an official bank holiday there. The national emblem of Ireland is shamrock. According to legend, it was the plant chosen by St. Patrick to illustrate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish.

St. David's Day (the 1st of March) is the church festival of St. David, a 6th-century monk and bishop, the patron saint of Wales. The day is regarded as the national holiday of Wales, although it is not an official bank holiday.

On this day, however, many Welshmen wear either a yellow daffodil or a leek pinned to their jackets, as both plants are traditionally regarded as national emblems of Wales.

In the Royal Arms three lions symbolize England, a lion rampant — Scotland, and a harp — Ireland. The whole is encircled and is supported by a lion and a unicorn. The lion has been used as a symbol of national strength and of the British monarchy for many centuries. The unicorn, a mythical animal that looks like a horse with a long straight horn, has appeared on the Scottish and British royal coats of arms for many centuries, and is a symbol of purity.


Sociolinguistic situation in Great Britain

In Britain, "people are often able to make instant and unconscious judgements about a stranger’s class affiliation on the basis of his or her accent." (Wells 1982a) Both the words and pronunciation of many individuals reflect that person’s social position. It is agreed that in England, the "phonetic factors assume a predominating role which they do not generally have in North America" (Wells 1982a).

Traditionally, it has been acknowledged that in England, the relation between social and regional accents can be diagrammed as follows:

Geographical variation is represented along the broad base of the pyramid while the vertical dimension exhibits social variation. It can be seen that working class accents display a good deal of regional variety, but as the pyramid narrows to its apex, up the social scale, it’s also apparent that upper class accents exhibit no regional variation. (Wells 1982a)

Thus by definition, any regional accent would not be considered upper-class and the more localizable the accent, the more it will described as a "broad" accent. Wells (1982a) purports that broad accents reflect:

· regionally, the highest degree of local distinctiveness

· socially, the lowest social class

· linguistically, the maximal degree of difference from RP.

A 1972 survey carried out by National Opinion Polls in England, provides an example of how significantly speech differences are associated with social class differences. (Wells 1982a) The following question was asked:

"Which of the these [eleven specified factors] would you say are most important in being able to tell which class a person is?" Respondents were randomly chosen from the British public. The factor that scored the highest was "the way they speak" followed by "where they live." At the bottom of the list was "the amount of money they have." All this is evidence that then, and to some degree even now, "speech is regarded as more indicative of social class than occupation, education and income."

(Giles & Sassoon, 1983) also cite consistent findings of listeners evaluating anonymous speakers with standard accents more favorably for such status traits as intelligence, success, confidence. In Britain the middle class is associated with having not only a standard accent, but with also speaking in a more "formal and abstract style than working class."

Accents are often characterized by British speakers themselves as either "posh" or "common" accents. Most speakers of British English would recognize these labels and create a fairly accurate image of the sound of these far ends of the spectrum. Conservative or U-"Received Pronunciation" representing the "posh" end and a less broad version of Cockney representing the "common" accent.

The significance of accents and their cultural and social associations is well represented in films and on television in Britain. The critically acclaimed 1964 file My Fair Lady based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play, Pygmalion is often referenced in linguistic discussions as a wonderful example of how social class and accent were, and are still, inextricably linked in Britain. Over the past years, numerous television series have also provided viewers with a glimpse of the lives and accents of the Cockney population of London. The Cockney English section talks more about the current, very popular long running television series EastEnders.


Date: 2015-04-20; view: 2513

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