Speech communities can explain the beginnings of a language and the development of how one language becomes many variants of the same thing. These communities are thus people sharing a set of expectations and norms concerning the same language. As such, speech communities will have the same rules of formation in a language and are connected majorly because they share the same methods of the language development at the basis. Upon divergence, languages adopt new styles and methods of formation that are unique from each individual variation. Since the speakers of the variations all share the common language root, they become related in the group known as the speech community. This paper is a review of the book, its assertions and its mode of writing with regards to its target audience.
This book asserts that language change is a constant part of the evolution of a language. Taking the example of a community that has stayed in one place with a fixed amount of people speaking one language. As a new generation comes along, there is the introduction of new terms and expressions, which the older generation pins to youthful irresponsibility and growth. Nonetheless, these expressions do not go out easily and thus become part of the language. With each new generation comes different forms of expression which become an addition to the original language. The language in the end becomes changed from its original version. This is the reason for the formation of speech communities – people with similar rules of language application become attached to each other in a “community”.
The intended audience is for English learners and those interested in tracing the movement of languages. For example, research has shown that American English has remained more consistent to the English that Shakespeare spoke as opposed to the British English – something that would not be expected. Language change does not occur in the expected patterns as would be expected. Evidence shows that deviation in the old community from the original language is often more than the deviation in the new community if the community mentioned above was divided into two groups. The author often refers to illustrations that would often appeal to the learner as rational examples of the point that he is trying to put across. In one example, the writer uses the example of the American and British people when there was migration to the Americas to prove that there was more change to an ‘old’ community as opposed to the changes in the new community.
The old community in this case was the community that was left in Britain during the migration, while the new community was the one that moved to the United States. In the analysis of languages and their differences, the writer finds that American English is closer to the original version that was spoken before the migration as opposed to the British English spoken today. Moreover, evidence is applied to prove this point, thus appealing to researchers in the area of speech development, thus the inclusion of the academicians in the possible audience for the book.
I would describe the essay as persuasive and informative. The author is trying to make us to see his point of view by informing us, but is at the same time presenting an argument that is quite compelling in nature. In the example where the author talks about the speech divergence for English speakers, he begins with an abstract illustration which may not appear to have any meaningful application in the real world – the example of a community, its speech evolution and the eventual separation and an analysis of the changes that have occurred within the community languages during the period of separation (Roberts, 2014).
He later compares this to the English people who are this community which evolved and eventually separated. Today, the speech of the two peoples is significantly different but they share similar rules in language formation so that it is very easy for an American to understand an Englishman. The only difference is that there will be glaring differences in the way they speak to each other. Moreover, the author uses further illustrations to show the differences that may occur in any of the two groups due to differences in socio-economic status among other factors. The occurrence of social classes could cause limited access to education for members of the lower class meaning that some people learn how to read and write while others remain illiterate. This means that another language will develop among the lower class that would be different from that of the higher class. Another speech variation among members of the same community happens.
In the end then, Professor Roberts brings to light the deviating factors that may be at work in a community leading to differences in language characteristics. However, all members who speak the language have similar rules governing their language use, thus determining them to be a speech community.
Roberts, P. (2014). Supplementary Reading: Speech Communication. Retrieved from www.docservice.shtvu.org: http://www.docservice.shtvu.org.cn/Web/Upload/网上课堂/WY1306/历史资源/7title92001125103436/Supplementary%207.htm.
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