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Theme: In writing this paper, you will get a little taste of the kind of systematic data collection that is the input for linguistic analysis. You will also use the tools and knowledge from the class and apply what you have learned to novel data, your own. The purpose of the paper is to get you to reflect on your own language(s) by taking a closer look at how you speak and comparing your native language with another language that you have some familiarity with. One of the languages will be YOUR NATIVE LANGUAGE. The other language will be a language with which you have some personal experience. If your ability is weak in the second language, so much the better! It will make for a good comparison. The second language could be any of the following:
English, if you speak a language other than English as your first language.
A language that you have studied in school, even if only two years in high school.
A language in which you have some ability because of exposure to it through relatives who speak it, having lived where it was spoken, or any other circumstance.
Research: Your only sources of information should be your knowledge of the two languages you choose and the information you get in Linguistics 1 from lectures, the course textbook, and course readings. If you choose a language that you studied in school, you may want to consult your textbooks, but you do not need to do any library research.
Length and form: The paper should be 4-6 pages, double-spaced, and in 12-point type with 1 inch margins (approximately 1100-1400 words). The titles and order of the sections in your paper should be exactly as they are shown below, with clear labels. You will not need a bibliography other than listing a language text(book) you may have consulted, as mentioned just above. Your paper is to be submitted to TurnItIn through the BruinLearn course website.
Outline of the Paper: Your paper must include all four of the following sections (in underlined bold below; conclusion is optional). The titles and order of the sections in your paper should be exactly as they are shown below, with clear labels.
Introduction: Describe your linguistic background as it relates to the paper. This should include information on the context of where you learned each language—at home, in school (including where you studied and the amount of time), living where the language is spoken, etc. If you learned one of the languages in school, say a little about how it was taught—little or much speaking of the language in class, little or much English used during class, little or much emphasis on good pronunciation, little or much emphasis on memorizing grammar rules, etc.
Slang: Most people use both formal and informal language, depending on the situation. In this section, there are two tasks. First, identify 3 slang or informal words/phrases in your native language that you use and are currently in vogue at your university, in your nightclubs, among your friends and social circle, etc. For each word/phrase, (1) explain what it means, and (2) when you would use it. The second task is to identify 3 slang or informal words/phrases in your native language that are not in fashion or sound outdated (like “give someone a knuckle sandwich.”, “Far out!”, “a smokey”, etc.) For each word/phrase, explain (1) what it means, and (2) who uses/used it.
Dialect: Think about dialects and speakers of your native language. In this section, you should do the following. Say whether or not your own native language variety is the standard or prestige dialect or a non-standard variety.
If your native variety IS the standard or prestige variety, what prototypical characteristics of a standard language does it have? Provide an example of each. (You must make explicit reference to the characteristics mentioned in Lecture 1 of Language and Dialect.)
If your native variety IS NOT the standard or prestige variety, identify a couple of ways in which it is different from the standard/prestige variety. For example, does your dialect have sounds that are absent in the standard/prestige variety or vice versa? Provide a couple of examples that show this using IPA. Does your dialect have words that are different or absent in the standard/prestige variety? Provide a few examples that show this.
Comparison of sounds: Select one point of comparison between sounds found in the two languages. Examples of such comparison might be:
The presence of front rounded vowels in French, German, or Chinese and their absence in English.
The presence of palatal fricatives in English ([ʃ] and [ʒ]) and their absence in Spanish.
The presence of velar fricatives (“guttural sounds”) in German or Hebrew and their absence in English
The sound description need not be technical, but try to use terminology and concepts introduced during the lectures on Phonetics. You should (1) write the sounds using the INTERNATIONAL PHONETIC ALPHABET symbols as we did in class during the Phonetics module of the course, (2) provide an articulatory description of the sounds, and (3) give sample words. Additionally, you should discuss what sounds you tend to substitute for the “hard” sounds of your non-native language (e.g. what sounds do English speakers actually pronounce when they try to pronounce a French word that has front rounded vowels?), or what sounds speakers of the other language tend to substitute for the “hard” sounds of your native language (e.g. what sounds do Spanish speakers actually pronounce when they try to pronounce an English word that has palatal fricatives?).
DO NOT CONFUSE THE ORTHOGRAPHY OF THE LANGUAGE WITH THE SOUNDS OF THE LANGUAGE. FIVE POINTS WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE DEDUCTED FOR THIS ERROR.
Conclusion: In 1-2 sentences, mention how looking at the topics discussed in the paper have gotten you to thinking about your own language.