formality and informality

this article attempts to distinguish between informal and formal acts within culture. It also tries to distinguish if some cultures have a different idea of formal and informal than others. One example of formality talked about is “special structuring and planning of the discourse”. Another important factor is of course “seriousness”. During wedding quarrelling, the conflict sort of ranks people by their position rather then their identity as an individual and this is what makes it very formal. In Ethiopia,┬áDavid Turton has surveyed three forms of conversation that are chatting, discussion, and debate. Chatting being the most informal and debate the most formal. He refers to it as “degree of formality”. To me, degree implies that everything is of the same kind only of a different degree. It’s not like comparing apples and oranges, but oranges and oranges of different size and color. So my question is this; do you think after going through this reading that different cultures have different ideas of formal and informal, or are there just certain traits to each culture that are unique with informal and formal general leading along the same lines? Personally I would think most cultures have similar opinions of informal and formal because humor versus “seriousness” is a universal trait that would inevitably guide all formal and informal speech down the same lines for each culture.


pronouns and solidarity

There was, in its creation, a second pronoun for you which was not tu (in latin). It was vos which is usually plural and was addressed for the very first time┬áto the King. Perhaps it is because there were two kings, one in Constantinople and a ruler to the west in Rome. Perhaps it is because the king has two duties, which are to be “the summation of his people and can speak as their representative”. Plurality is a definition of power, not one of kind but degree. The ability to control another is defined as power. The king tended to be referred as something different then those that they ruled over. In olden times this power semantic only described superior and inferior but as we reach towards the modern age, there is call for multiple ranks of variation. It really becomes a question of if two things have enough solidarity to be related and to use the same terms. It seems that as we get closer to modern times language adapts more solidarity. I would certainly see this as a good thing because it’s closer to the equal world that our respectable forefathers dreamed about. Do you guys think it’s alright to make power distinctions in language as useful tools or should it be about solidarity? Is there enough solidarity or should there be even more?


The cupacapa is a small native tribe of North America situated mostly in Arizona. Fishing has degraded from environmental degradation. Amongst fights for land water and to fish, the old have not been able to focus on teaching the young their language. Many negotiations were done in purely Spanish when the people only spoke cupaca. Therefore they lost many land rights. This is clearly a very unfair reason and little consideration was given to them during land negotiation. Now their lack of fluency in their own language currently is “deligitamizing” their current legal claims. To think that this is allowed to occur only leads me to believe that some organizations actually want this. Because certain laws do not enable discrimination perhaps it is displayed very quietly. The moment Spanish realized they could use cupacapa influency to claim the land, they capitalized on this. The same thing is occurring currently as they continue to lose land rights now for losing their own language. Someone allows this to occur because they will benefit. It’s really not their faults. They are forced into this for others gain. How does one preserve their language when they are heavily pressured to retain it? This kinda pressure makes it die faster. Furthermore, how do these people preserve it when everything is taken away from them. Not given the time or resources to adjust to American integration they can slowly lose everything.

Irvine and Gal

Languages of the same “variety” were not investigated by old time linguists. If there was another language commonly used with foreigners, for instance, that would be the documented language. Languages of the same “variety” are not necessarily similar at all and could be lost eventually if they are not studied. Yet, a language reflects the cultural or spiritual essence” of this people and should not be overlooked by emphasis on another language (even if they are similar in background). Many peoples used multiple languages at home and “Greek” for instance, during trade. A Christian from Macedonia would claim to be Greek, and an ablanian a muslim. This makes it difficult for Investigators to single out specific languages for study. Important ones may go without mention and a fluent speaker of a language that is important to study may never even reveal that they speak such. Not only do these places seem to have a great variety of languages among multilingual speakers, but many of the phonological differences between languages were not taken seriously and macedonian, for example, was lumped into the Bulgarian category. Isn’t it possible that a large amount of culturally signicant Information is jeopardized when the differences between two languages is not taken seriously? It quickly becomes apparent that languages in such areas lacked accurate ethnographic recordings. How many different languages and how many speakers? Maybe these languages are considered the same. These kind of former innacuracies probably still have an effect on modern data and to not take various languages seriously could jeopardize the number of speakers in the future.

Mock spanish

In the work place, these Spanish speakers are blamed for miscommunication and are the ones that are considered lazy. These Spanish are expected to speak perfectly uniform english but ,in contrast, the English speakers are allowed to speak broken Spanish that they believe is not harmful or insulting. They actually think it is open minded and this is actually quite a raccial problem. The Spanish speakers will often use the fact that they can’t be understood, to hide things and control resources. So both sides are attacking each other. Mock Spanish speaks in aa way that it stereotypes in a racist fashion. Some younger people see mock spanish as slang like the English word “chill” for English. However older english speakers use mock with other mock speakers and those that can speak full Spanish will avoid being grammatically correct and intentionally use mock with Spanish speakers. The writer of this article conducted research within a restaurant while being a waiter. Workers would tease the author for writing down what was said. The author discovered a large amount of racism and was surprised to find out that racism was tolerated. Waiters would accuse hosts of giving them all the racial groups they discriminated against or would take note of which ethnic groups do not tip. Much of the time Spanish workers names are not remembered. One lady finally realized that “beaners” actually tip well as long she pretends “not to hate them”. Mock spanish users speak with English structure and even the menu had mock spanish. Apparently these white workers have no idea that they are being racist and managers let it continue. What would happen if Spanish people stood up against this racism? It seems to me that with official reports, perhaps the government would intervene with this unethical behavior. In the work setting if a Spanish person spoke up they might be punished or even fired. However, This would be illegal and reportable.

Language and landacapes

A landscape is used in language to help conceptualize a material world. However, landscape also allows us to create particular situations within it and shapes the words we use to describe these situations. Certain places with specific details and specific histories can sometimes shape specific lexicons. Place naming is also a part of language and have a “functional value”. So speaking of a place can hold a symbolic virtue and therefore much can be communicated, interpreted, and thought about using very few words. For a peoples like the apache, it is not the same as the modern world, or at least it wasn’t. The modern world if full of streets and cities and is much of what one can see. But in the past before modern development and industrialization, many native languages, and those that need ethnographic recording, involved people who lived in villages. So most of what was actually saw was nature itself as far as the eyes could seems that in aa discussion between a few apache people, they used many descriptions of places. To us English speakers it seemed disjointed, random, and quite hard to understand. When one apache woman says ” it happened at whiteness spreads out descending into water, this very place!” It held much more meaning then what can be understood in literal English. It explained many social circumstances and was not just a detail of a place. These place names help create depictions of people and situations. They create pictures for our imaginations and also something to respond to. Apache people claim that they speak incompletely in a fashion that requires others to finish constructing thoughts. This way no one speaks too much inerpreting everything with their own subjective view.This is seen as too subjective and requires cooperation of others to finalize thoughts. Each persons sentences are like part of a an adobe wall, and the conversation of everyone makes up the entire wall. This is very interesting. Do you think that English shares this quality, or does it allow people to “talk too much”? Apache talkers love to describe places because if the listener cannot picture the physical place spoken of, they will not fully understand what is being said.

Those who speak with specific speech and grammar are said to belong to specific ‘good circles’. Those who speak with vulgar words fall out of this. In England there is a special accent known as RP. Even though only three percent of the English population speak it, it is supposedly heard everywhere on the radio or with specific well known people. Some think that everyone should collaborate to speak the same dialects and same languages but then again the world would lose its diversity in such a case. Much of the time, RP is considered the ‘proper accent’ and that there is a right way of speaking (like not being vulgar). Many British who do not speak with the RP accent tend to believe that they are inferior. Yet can it really be decided that there are superior accents? There are many other things that speakers of supposedly higher class accent go by such as ‘proper etiquette and manners’. Even appearance is measured in such cases. This is how higher classes are distinguished from lower classes. Though this keeps us diverse I would have to say this is wrong, for to say that one person and their language is superior to another’s is all a matter of perspective. Such social stigmas are rude and may prevent greater levels of success for many due to self esteem issues.