Language Users: Identity and Attitude

  • Anthony F. Hartley
Part of the Contemporary Language Studies book series


In the preceding chapters we have seen the great variety with which the human faculty for speech expresses itself. Over a mere 500 kilometres, from Dover to Saarbrücken via Brussels and Luxemburg, we can hear five different languages — English, Flemish-Dutch, French, Letzeburgesch and German — each with greater or lesser dialectal variation from region to region. Moreover, if we were to stop over in the two capitals en route, we might notice individuals switching between three languages in the course of a day. A Luxemburg lawyer, for example, could well use German to speak to’a farmer or factory-worker client, French in court and to his colleagues, and Letzeburgesch to his family and friends. Regional variation and switching conditioned by changes in social situation and domain (see 4.5) are not neutral. People hold attitudes, favourable or unfavourable, concerning groups of speakers and their speech styles, including their own. A Fleming in Brussels may regard the increasing shift towards French as a target for which he too must aim in order to achieve social advancement or, on the contrary, as an obstacle to the continuation of a culture and a network of relationships expressed through the medium of Flemish. Accordingly he may seek to identify linguistically with or dissociate himself from the Walloon population. Views like this may be highly personal, in the nature of connotations (9.2), or widely held and a defining characteristic of a speech-community bound together by allegiance to a common set of norms for language behaviour and beliefs concerning its values.


Facial Expression Language Learner Voice Quality Language User Aesthetic Judgement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Anthony F. Hartley 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony F. Hartley
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BradfordUK

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