Having learned about accent, dialect, sociolect and idiolect, start thinking about your own idiolect.

 

Post a comment below, considering the following questions:

 

  • How would you describe your accent?
  • What features of a London dialect do you think that you use?  Or are there features of another dialect that you think you use instead?
  • What factors do you think influence your sociolect?  Do you talk differently in different social contexts?  If so, what are your reasons for your different styles of speech in each situation?
  • In addition to the factors above, what factors make up your idiolect?  Remember that this includes physical characteristics such as pitch, tone, a tendency to lisp etc.

Due date: before the lesson on Monday 22nd June

12 Responses to “Your idiolect”
  1. Zeynep says:

    “How would you describe your accent?”
    I would describe my accent as edging towards the upper class/ received pronunciation mixed with a working class (known as ‘street’) and a touch of Turkish accent (i.e. reading unknown words phonetically).

    “What features of a London dialect do you think that you use? Or are there features of another dialect that you think you use instead?”
    At times I do use “guv” to show my American friends that not all Brits use ‘guv’ or to make fun of American films where the English are either received pronunciation or Cockney-ish. I tend to end up with a Cockney accent (like Eliza in My Fair Lady) when I’m really angry and don’t want to swear. I’ve been known to yell ‘bloomin ‘ell, why donya jus’ DIE?’ when playing console games.

    “What factors do you think influence your sociolect? Do you talk differently in different social contexts? If so, what are your reasons for your different styles of speech in each situation?”
    When I’m talking to people who are older than me, those whom I respect, and am desperate to not say anything awkward I tend to use ‘like’ as a filler, all the time!
    When I’m talking to some of my friends I never bother to finish off my sentence when my friend monitors me, because I assume they know what I’m saying.
    When I’m answering a question in class I tend to hesitate more and use ‘umm’ quite a lot. I’m waiting to be monitored.
    When I’m in Turkey I make sure I don’t say ‘umm’ but I rather use ‘errr’.
    When I’m with my sister I tend to speak more “gangster.” I use words like ‘blad’ quite a lot, sometimes I make fun of the word, other times I use it seriously…

    “In addition to the factors above, what factors make up your idiolect? Remember that this includes physical characteristics such as pitch, tone, a tendency to lisp etc.”
    I like being monitored and when I am monitored I tend not to finish off my sentences because I assume the other person has got my point.
    I hesitate a lot when speaking to monitor myself and make sure I’m not saying anything embarrassing (sometimes it doesn’t work).
    When I’m speaking in Turkish I tend to speak with a lower voice because Turkish girls, only those residing in Turkey, tend to speak from their noses and I really hate nasal voices.
    Sometime ago I started patronising someone when I said something was good. “xyz was really, really good” and the way I say ‘really, really’ is really patronising but it’s a subconscious effect to emphasise my point. I’ve only just realised.
    I tend to stress one word in my sentence and the pitch of the last syllable, in the whole of my sentence, tends to be raised. Sometimes it sounds like I’ve got a question, other times sounds like I haven’t finished my sentence yet. This doesn’t really happen when I’m hesitating.

  2. Joshua says:

    How would you describe your accent?

    I would describe my accent to be low in tone but of a well spoken manner partly because of growing up in London but also perhaps because of growing up for a while in Gloucester for a while when i was younger but that part is not very evident. However there are elements of slang speech which sometimes alter my accent to a certain extent.

    What features of a London dialect do you think that you use? Or are there features of another dialect that you think you use instead?

    I probably use language that is evident in teenage conversations across London, but that is edging towards sociolect. However I will use words and phrases such as ‘jus get the bus down the road init’ when speaking to someone or ‘dun know’ to emphasise a point and ‘allow’ to avoid doing something. Words that I have undoubtedly picked up growing up in London.

    What factors do you think influence your sociolect? Do you talk differently in different social contexts? If so, what are your reasons for your different styles of speech in each situation?

    When I’m around older people I don’t know such as bank workers and Business’ I tend to speak in received pronunciation as I like to seem intelligent and precise on the phone and in person. With older people I know I will be more relaxed and less coherent. With peers of my age I will tend to use phrases and words specific to that sociolect as I explained before. When I am hesitating in an utterance, instead of using fillers such as ‘umm’ and ‘err’, i tend to click my fingers in trying to think of what to say, although I don’t know why this tends to happen.

    In addition to the factors above, what factors make up your idiolect? Remember that this includes physical characteristics such as pitch, tone, a tendency to lisp etc.

    I tend to have a low tone but when I am disagreeing or am shocked by a point i will heighten my pitch and sometimes raise my voice to allow me to be heard in the situation. I don’t really monitor people by saying yeah after every line but I do not my head occasionally in acknowledgement that I am listening to the speaker.

  3. Emma says:

    How would you describe your accent?
    I think my accent is fairly well spoken partly due to my parents not really using much colloquial language. I do use some slang when speaking, but this varies depending on where I am and who I’m with. I also notice that it changes depending on how often I hear things. For example when I visit Scotland I think I pick up a bit of their accent, but I loose it as soon as I return to London as I’m not constantly hearing it anymore.

    What features of a London dialect do you think that you use? Or are there features of another dialect that you think you use instead?
    While I think I do use grammar and vocabulary typical of a London dialect, I don’t think I use much of the slang associated with London. The main time that I do use it is when with a friend who uses slang a lot, and I tend to use it, like Zeynep, for a joke. I also think some of my dialect comes from Scotland though, as I use words such as “wee” (to mean little).

    What factors do you think influence your sociolect? Do you talk differently in different social contexts? If so, what are your reasons for your different styles of speech in each situation?
    Who I am with and where I am definitely influences my sociolect. For example, with certain friends I sometimes swear more often (possibly because they do too) and tend to be less coherent as I assume that they will understand me. However, when in a more formal situation I try to speak using more received pronunciation in order to create a good impression.

    In addition to the factors above, what factors make up your idiolect? Remember that this includes physical characteristics such as pitch, tone, a tendency to lisp etc.
    I think that when I make statements I can tend to raise my pitch at the end so it sounds like a question. Sometimes this is unintentional and I don’t really realise I’m doing it until someone points it out to me, but it can also be to get reassurance that I am talking about the correct information or that they understand me.
    I also used to use ‘like’ a lot as a filler, until my dad used to point it out every time I used it so I tried to stop, as it got very annoying. However, as most people around me say it, I still do use it to a certain extent.
    Also, when I’m excited I tend to speak faster and my pitch gets higher, and when nervous I can stumble on my words sometimes (e.g. when reading a speech).

  4. Christoban says:

    How would you describe your accent?
    I would say I am generally well spoken and like to speak in a manner that will let people know I am intelligent. I think my accent is difficult to place, and I would simly describe it as a middle class english accent. I think my voice has a low pitch and I speak quieter than my more egotistical/ boisterous friends. When talking to parents/ teachers/ adults in general I try to sound intellectual, for example using my best vocabulary and grammar when speaking. I also have a tendency to occasionally speak down to those that I deem inferior in intellectual capacity (<— like there) which is a bad habit as it can make me seem arrogant, when in truth I am not especially clever or well spoken.

    What features of a London dialect do you think that you use? Or are there features of another dialect that you think you use instead?
    I tend to use london slang regularly, however very rarely when speaking to adults or in formal situations such as family dinners. Some examples would be using the words ‘sick’ and ‘nang’ to express something positively, ‘peng’ or ‘fine’ to describe an attractive female, ‘safe’ instead of saying goodbye, and ‘fam’, ‘blud’ (generally used jokingly) or ‘cuzzie’ when addressing friends.

    What factors do you think influence your sociolect? Do you talk differently in different social contexts? If so, what are your reasons for your different styles of speech in each situation?
    As previously mentioned, I am purposely more polite and well spoken around adults or in formal situations than I am when around friends or school teachers when lessons are more casual. I tend to speak in a lazy manner when around friends, one reason for this may be to avoid stereotypes such as being a ‘nerd’, another reason may be that i feel more relaxed. Also, being on the same wavelength as friends means that it is less necessary to talk in received pronunciation or talk in full sentences, as it can be in situations where you do not know the person you are speaking to, such as in a bank.

    In addition to the factors above, what factors make up your idiolect? Remember that this includes physical characteristics such as pitch, tone, a tendency to lisp etc.
    I would say that the social situation always has a major impact on the way that I speak, for example it being unacceptable to swear around grandparents, but alright around friends as a teenager. In some situations I purposely talk myself up, for example when debating in sociology in order to seem more knowledgeable, however in a more casual setting such as at a friend’s house this can lead to insults/ ridecule, so it is safer to sound uninspired and unmotivated to do anything other than be lazy and act like a stereotypical teenager.

  5. pelin says:

    How would you describe your accent?
    I would describe my accent as from ‘street talk’, I often use words such as ‘innit’ and ‘bait’ meaning ‘obvious’ and ‘ite’ meaning ‘allright, most people refer to this sort of language as ‘slang’. I assume I’ve picked up this sort of accent from where I used to live and because my first language isn’t English I had easily picked up slang language as it seems easier to use. My voice is generally high pitched as I consider it comes from the fact I am a female (entirely my own opinion)! However, since I have started my as levels my accent has changed I have improved on certain vocabulary and try my best to use well spoken English; also I try my best to lower my voice I see it as a sign of respect. I try correcting my friends when they attempt to use slang. But overall I have a decent Londoner accent which is quite straightforward and without the extra concepts some accent may have such as, lengthening certain words etc.
    What features of a London dialect do you think that you use? Or are there features of another dialect that you think you use instead?
    I tend to use slang however it depends on the context, for example I will be using slang words when I am around friends of my age or texting through phones. I will use Standard English when I am around my elderly and in formal occasions such as, interviews and family gatherings. I presume that use of dialect is generally dependent on contextual factors.
    What factors do you think influence your sociolect? Do you talk differently in different social contexts? If so, what are your reasons for your different styles of speech in each situation?
    Certain factors influence my sociolect, one example of this is the situation I am in for example, if I am with my friends that I see very often and are having a day to day conversation, I would most likely to be using slang. If I am at an interview or having a conversation with an elderly I would most likely to be using formal language as I see this as a part of respect. This means that I talk differently in different social situations where I feel it’s suitable to speak a certain way in particular situations. The way I talk also changes depending on the opposite person that I am having a conversation with if the person is someone I know then I may be able to be more relaxed and use slang words, however if I am in a strange situation then I may feel the to speak formally which I see as a sign of respect and a way of impressing a stranger.
    In addition to the factors above, what factors make up your idiolect? Remember that this includes physical characteristics such as pitch, tone, a tendency to lisp etc.
    Idiolect also depends on contextual factors, for example if I was to be at home communicating with my siblings I tend to have a high pitched voice shouting over things or asking for something by shouting downstairs. However if I was to be outside in places such as, interviews or work places i would find using high pitch voice as arrogant and rude, also I try my best to use eye contact in formal situations to show my respect and involvement in the conversation. Also my mood depends on the tone of my voice if for example, i am really angry and try expressing my point I will use a high pitched voice which may seem faster as I believe it’s the way I could get noticed and use eye contact to show my aggression in depth. However if I am upset I tend have a low pitched voice and avoid eye contact as tend to feel more upset then. I assume that idiolect depends on the individual itself, some people show anger in different ways then others do.

  6. audrey says:

    How would you describe your accent?
    I would also say that I speak in a good manner although I do use lots of slang but it usually depends on where I am and who I’m with although I do it unconsciously. To add, I pick up words other people use very quickly then I find myself using them all the time. Also my accent changes when I go to Cyprus and speak Greek as I pick up the words I’ve forgotten and will mix Greek and English words into one sentence so my accent becomes more Greek.
    What features of a London dialect do you think that you use? Or are there features of another dialect that you think you use instead?
    I would say I use most of the modern dialect associated with London. Although I wouldn’t say I use much of the traditional old fashioned cockney dialogue, apart from maybe “Let’s have a butcher’s” but only because I’ve picked it up from my uncle.
    What factors do you think influence your sociolect? Do you talk differently in different social contexts? If so, what are your reasons for your different styles of speech in each situation?
    At school with friends I talk very colloquially and use lots of slang only because it’s more fun and relaxed to use words that don’t really make grammatical sense sch as “I’m goin’ shops!” But when talking to a teacher I tend to talk in more received pronunciation, probably just because teachers have more authority over me. In contrast my sociolect is more natural when talking to family as they know what I’m like and don’t have expectations of the way I talk.
    In addition to the factors above, what factors make up your idiolect? Remember that this includes physical characteristics such as pitch, tone, a tendency to lisp etc.
    I would say my voice is of an average pitch for a girl my age, although it can become much, much higher if I am overly excited or can’t control myself when laughing. Although if I meet someone new and they talk in a high pitch at the same times I do I find it very irritating as it sometimes comes across as if they are trying too hard to be bubbly and funny even though that is very hypocritical. I appreciate being monitored by others in any situations as it makes me feel more confident in what I am saying, especially if it is the answer to a question where there is a high possibility if I am wrong. Therefore I try to monitor people too, especially if they are new to the conversation or a new person where I try to keep sounding interested in what they are saying even if I’m not.

  7. Jack says:

    How would you describe your accent?

    I describe my accent as a southern accent, which means I use the long a in words like “bath” and “path”. I tend to have a North London accent and say “Norf” instaed of “North.”

    What features of a London dialect do youn think that you use? Or are there features of another dialect that you think you use instead?

    I normally use slang words when I am out with my friends which is a feature of my London dialect. I normally use words like “mates” instead of “friends” and also words like “innit.” I use very typical London phrases when with my friends like “jam your hype” which means calm down but this is more in a joking way.

    What factors do you think influence your sociolect? Do you talk differently in different social contexts? If so, what are your reasons for your different styles of speech in each situation?

    My sociolect is influenced by the people I ma speaking to. If I am talking to a teacher or the parent of a friend I use Standard English but this changes when I am out with a group of my friends. We change to our own style of conversation which includes slang words and occassionally swear words. We feel the need to conform to be accepted as one of the “gang.”

    In addition to the factors above, what factors make up your idiolect? Remember that this includes physical characteristics such as pitch, tone, a tendency to lisp etc.

    My idiolect changes depending on the people I am with. When talking with the family I am inclined to mutter in a low-pitced tone. When I am with my friends and joking around my voice is higher pitched and clearer.

  8. yuniqer says:

    I would describe my accent as a middle class accent but it often changes depending on who I’m talking to
    My features of the London dialect. Funnily enough I feel that my dialect is very much London. For example saying ‘mate’ and ‘love’ comes very naturally to me and is used in my everyday life. Also phrases such as ‘you’re avin a laugh aren’t ya’ or ‘you’re avin a bubble mate’ I use very often. I also sometimes use cockney rhyming slang such as ‘my dog and bone’ or ‘she’s gone up the apple and peers’ or ‘I’m bloody lee Marvin mate’
    The reason I feel my London accent I so strong is because of one of my best friends Ellie and my dad. My dad in everyday life is very cockney how ever changes when he’s in an unknown environment. Also because I spend so much time with my best friend ellie and her family I’m picking up the ay they speak which is also strong cockney. So when around them I feel I most cockney. However I don’t feel I’m a cockney girl because I do often correct her when she drops he ‘H’s’ and her ‘T’s’. Also when in environments such as school and with my cousins and with other friends I use a lot more slang. I don’t purposely do it, it just happens. Also I have pick up phrases from friends which I never used to say for example Soumia would say ’because my mum wont let’ instead of ’my mum wont let me’ and know I say it the way she says it. However when in meetings with MP’s and people with higher statuses I feel it is a necessity to speak in a formal way. Not because I’m trying to impress them but because I feel they wil understand me better and I will be presented better if I speak standard English. Although sometimes I do slip up and say ‘innit’ or ‘do you get me’.
    My idiolect has been influenced by my surroundings. I feel my voice is really deep so when I speak on the phone I tend to make it higher pitched. Also I speak in a very grammatically incorrect way for example I say ‘I don’t got that-nah-yeh- ya get me- na bruv’. I know sometimes when I say a sentence that its grammatically incorrect but that’s just the way I speak, before I could control it but know its like a habit.
    think also because of the area I live in I’m bound to speak with a lot of slang because its like a dialect of our own.

  9. duygu sevik says:

    I would describe my accent as working class, or sometimes with a bit of Turkish accent because it was my first language. I recon I do not have an upper class accent. I do use slang while speaking therefore this also depends on who I am talking to and where I am. I use many slang words which is not proper English therefore this is also because of my social background, I constantly use it and cannot stop! Even though I am trying to change. I also have a habit of mixing English and Turkish whilst speaking if the person I am talking to knows both languages. I generally try to speak in English because people around sometimes get the wrong idea or take it personally.
    What features of a London dialect do you think that you use? Or are there features of another dialect that you think you use instead?

    I generally use words such as ‘kool’ in a way to express good or nice. ‘kaz’ or ‘bruv’ which is really manly therefore still pops out my mouth sometimes! I also use ‘mate’ to refer to a friend or ‘peng’ to something which is nice.
    What factors do you think influence your sociolect? Do you talk differently in different social contexts? If so, what are your reasons for your different styles of speech in each situation?

    With young people which is my age or my friend I tend to speak in a comfortable way and do not hesitate t use slang because often people my age also use slang. If I am speaking to older people who I do not know I speak in a quieter and calm way to show my respect towards them. I also do not use slang and speak proper English to show my intelligence. Towards people such as teachers I tend to stay quiet and prefer not to answer back if thee is a situation, therefore if it was to be a friend I will not hesitate to answer back.
    In addition to the factors above, what factors make up your idiolect? Remember that this includes physical characteristics such as pitch, tone, a tendency to lisp etc.

    I would say my voice is an average pitch for a girl, but could sound quiet manly sometimes depending on a situation (if I’m angry).Which I hate! It could also get really high if I’m energetic and happy or when I’m laughing. I am not really confident to talking to people I do not know, I also hate presentations, I am unconfident which makes me struggle to speak out loud.My idiolect changes depending on who i am speaking to or where i am.

  10. Rohan says:

    How would you describe your accent?
    My accent changes depending on the situation im in, for example if I was at a job interview I would try and avoiding using slang like I would do around my friends. Generally I think my accent clearly shows I am from london as I speak with a London accent, since I was born in London aswell I do not have a foreign accent. I have quite a deep toned voice as i’ve been told before. The middle-class area I live in also plays a part in the type of accent I have!

    What features of a London dialect do you think that you use? Or are there features of another dialect that you think you use instead?
    My London accent is not the stereotypical cockney accent that “Londoners” are meant to have. But instead my accent may at times fit into the stereotype of a teenager living in an urban area in London. I try to avoid using too much slang as in London these days, theres a slang word for everything! For example “shubz” meaning rave, or “crep” meaning trainers which I originally thought meant pankcakes in french!

    What factors do you think influence your sociolect? Do you talk differently in different social contexts? If so, what are your reasons for your different styles of speech in each situation?
    Like I said before the situation im in does change the way I speak, another example of this is if im talking to someone with a higher authority then me like a police officer or someone with that sort of power. A teacher even, although If I am honest i’ve been rude before! I think as i’ve grown up i’ve started to talk with more manners to people who I need too do so. The way I speak infront of my friends is much different too, for the same reason Audrey said, I feel more relaxed around them. It’s as if I do not need to show them I can speak Intelligently as they know me well enough. I would use slang instead but to a certain extent. I would also use words like “bruv”, whilst talking to my friends, who are boys obviously!

    In addition to the factors above, what factors make up your idiolect? Remember that this includes physical characteristics such as pitch, tone, a tendency to lisp etc.
    The main reason for the way I speak is the area I grew up in and the way my parents speak too me. Both of my parents are well spoken but i’ve been told my dad has a hint of cockney in his accent, whilst my mum has a hint of an Indian accent in hers. I can’t notice this as i’m so used to hearing them so whether it is true or not I don’t know! The situation is another key factor which determines the way I speak, my parents tell me that I mumble when I speak to them, but my friends tell me otherwise, I think this is because they are my parents I do not put as much effort into speaking to them so i’m lazy in the way I speak.

  11. tware says:

    It’s interesting how often people mention using RP to create a good impression. Despite moves to have all dialects seen as ‘equal’, it is undoubtedly standard English and (to a lesser extent) RP that are seen as the mark of a well-educated and intelligent person. The GCSE Speaking and Listening criteria, for example, mention an ability to use “Standard English vocabulary and grammar” even for fairly low grades.

    All your responses show a good understanding of the contextual factors underpinning use of language, which is excellent – you are all conscious of adjusting speech to suit audience and situation.

    Zeynep – thanks for doing yours early so we were able to discuss it as a class!

    Emma – interesting to hear about the Scottish influences on your dialect. Swearing more in certain situations can be common (just not in front of the grandparents Chris!) Taboo lexis is the usual term for swear words in linguistic analysis (the term may encompass words other than swear words, though this would be contextually driven – eg blasphemy in a church)

    Josh – clicking your fingers as an alternative to a verbal filler is an example of a paralinguistic feature, as is your nodding to express agreement or understanding.

    Chris – thanks for this really honest and thoughtful analysis. Your analysis of contextual factors is detailed and illuminating.

    Josh, Chris, Pelin, Audrey, Duygu – I’m pretty sure you know the differences but make sure you clearly separate accent from some of the other factors each of you discuss in answer to that first question, eg grammar (dialect), pitch or tone (idiolect) and slang (dialect)

    Pelin and Audrey – some interesting comments on how your pitch changes depending on social context and situation – there are a lot of comments on how language choice changes but not so many on prosodic features. Well done for including those elements.

    Jack – interesting to have a description of how you consciously use the ‘teenage boy’ features of idiolect when ‘muttering’ to your family! Rohan, you also touch on this, so it seems to be a male feature!

    Which leads to Duygu – I’m interested in your discussion of ‘bruv’ being a ‘manly’ word to use. We haven’t really discussed how sociolect might be influenced by gender, but can anyone think of other ways that mean and women might speak differently?

    Yuniqer – you’re absolutely right that slang is a feature of your dialect – both the area, as you say, but also your age (hence the fact that you say you correct yourself when with older people, as do many others in the class)

  12. Great stuff folks, just to let you know we used your students responses to inform a GCSE class.

    We then asked students to match the teacher feedback (with a little dockering) tot he students post as an anlystical quiz. I will post on my blog how it was done and give you the recognition you deserve.

    THANK YOU!

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