The aim of my investigation is to explore how young female’s formality of language represents their social class. I will be using extracts one and three to conduct my investigation. The extracts are written over a 30 year time period which should account for some of the dialectical differences as well as attitude changes toward sex roles. Method In my investigation I will consider lexical, grammatical and semantic frameworks to help explore my aim of females language representing their social class.
I will explore sentence types and functions as complex sentence types are associated with formality and simple with informality, I will also look at terms of address and intensifiers as these may indicate the formality of the text and highlight social class, conjunctions will also help to identify the formality of the text and the semantic fields of wealth and deprivation may help to indicate social class. Analysis
Extract one is written in the third person narrative in the past tense ‘their rackets lay beside them,’ the majority of the extract is made up of direct speech but although the direct speech is not written in standard English as there is evidence of contractions ‘We’ll jump’ the narrative is which makes extract one have quite a formal register which supports my aim as the formal register is an indication of social class. Extract three is written in the first person narrative and is in the past tense.
There is not as much evidence of direct speech in this extract but the narrative is of a much more informal style allowing it to seem like direct speech from the narrator, this is evident in the way the writer uses dialectical terms such as ”cos’, colloquial terms such as ‘mitt’ and by starting sentences in the non standard way of using conjunctions such as and ‘And when he’s found out,’ these colloquial terms and non-standard use of conjunctions support my aim as it makes the text much more informal indicating a lower social class than extract one which has no evidence of colloquial terms and has its narrative written in Standard English.
My aim is also supported by the, evidence of elision ‘didja’ in the direct speech of extract three, this gives the direct speech a realistic nature but this sort of elision is usually found in speech of the lower class. Extract threes conversational tone is achieved by the use of rhetorical questions ‘don’t you see? ‘ and it is written in mostly simple sentences making the narrative seem more like direct speech this is also true of the sentence ‘I’ll tell you more about him later. ‘ This direct address to the reader gives it more of an informal tone.
The narrator in extract three is female but has a tomboy aspect to her this is shown by the boyish name ‘Tyke’ and also through the many dialectical and colloquial terms that are used by her for example the simple sentence statement ‘Get knotted. ‘ would not be a statement expected to be used by a girl this may disprove my aim as it may be argued that my aim is to explore young females language but extract threes character has purposely been given more dialectical and colloquial terms to make her language more ‘boyish’.
In extract one the girls speak in imperatives ‘I’ll say this, and you say that,’. The direct speech in extract one shows quite extended vocabulary use and they are complex sentences but the direct speech in extract one has limited vocabulary use and are quite simple sentences this supports my aim as a higher social standing would give rise to an extended vocabulary though better education especially at the time the texts were written, however in extract three the narrative shows evidence of complex sentences it is just the direct speech that uses mostly simple sentences.
The terms of address in extract one such as ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’ and also the terms of address in the narrative to the young girls parents ‘Mrs O’Sullivan’ ‘Mr O’Sullivan’ show a level of formality however in extract three the terms of address have a more informal tone such as ‘Mum’ and the use of ‘Bonfire’ when speaking of a teacher that they have stole money off instead of the more formal term of address Miss/Mrs Bonfire this supports my aim as the level of formality in address reflects the social class of the speaker.
Extract one shows evidence of semantic fields of wealth ‘exclusive’ ‘well-bred’ which gives connotations of higher social class and extract three shows evidence of semantic fields of deprivation ‘boiled swede’ ‘cabbage smell’ which have opposite connotations, both have semantic fields of education ‘school’ ‘head-girl’ ‘classroom’ ‘desk’ and both have semantic fields of school activities but extract one has more sport related ‘hockey’ ‘tennis’ ‘lacrosse’ these activities also carry connotations of wealth but extract three has activities such as playing recorder and doing plays ‘the second year doing Aladdin again,’ these have much more deprived connotations even the name of the school in the third extract ‘Cricklepit’ has connotations of deprivation.
The adjective use in extract one is richer than extract three, adjectives like ‘fierce’ and ‘splendid’ are compared in extract three with adjectives like ‘crunkly’ and ‘nasty’. Conclusion From my analysis I have found evidence to both support and refute my aim. The use of sentence types supported my aim to an extent as it was the direct speech that showed evidence of simple being associated with lower social class and complex being evidence of higher social class but the narrative in both extracts had evidence of all types of sentence structure even though the first extract was a formal text and the third was an informal text.
However I do believe that the formality of the text relates to social class, particularly the non standard usage in the third text, this can be supported by Trudgill’s Norwich study Trudgill found that features such as the non standard ‘in’ form of ‘ing’ being higher in lower classes there fore finding more non standard forms in text three is a feature of the lower classes. However this may also be due to the audience that these extracts were written for, extract one may be aimed at higher social classes and therefore the language used in it will reflect this and the same would go for extract three, this may be aimed at lower classes so the use of non standard vernacular forms would be more evident.
This can be supported by Bells Audience design theory bell stated that a speaker will shift their style to accommodate their audience so a writer may shift his or her writing style to accommodate their target audience. Evaluation My investigation went quite well, however if I repeated it I would of maybe focused on gender and how attitudes to females have changed as these two texts were written over 30 years apart and therefore we could expect a difference in attitude between them. I would tried to support my aim with theorists such as Lakoff who suggested that women use hyper correct grammar this would of helped to support my aim as Lakoff’s theory was quite dated so it may have applied when the first text was written but less when the third was written.