The phrase “societal segmentation” refers to the division of people that occurs in the society. This division results from the differences that the various members of a society individuals exhibit. Societal segmentation can be attributed to various factors. Two major factors that result to the division of people in the society is class and the race of the people. Despite the differences in class and race, people within a given society may share a distinctive culture, institutions, and values.
Various members of a society have different ethnic or cultural backgrounds, and this makes the ethnic or racial background of a person to determine the type of language he or she uses. Various languages that are used act as a means of communication between the members of a given community or ethnic group. The language variation in a given community affects the structure of a society. The language that is spoken or used by an individual indicates which ethnic or cultural group in the society he or she belongs to.
Some of the ways through which segmentation influences an individual’s life is in the choices one makes about who to interact with, who to marry, and where to live. The different cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds that people belong to in the society determines the type of language they use to communicate. A society that comprises of people from different cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds experiences language variation (Bonvillain, 2008). An individual’s background is considered to determine which societal class she or he belongs to.
Research findings indicate that, ethnic or racial groups that are considered as a minority in the society are accorded a low societal class. On the other hand, individuals who belong to the dominant group of people in the society are accorded a high class in the society. Societal segmentation results from the differences in race and class of the society members. Thesis Statement Societal segmentation is witnessed in almost all societies in the world. The class and the cultural background of a person based on their ethnic or racial background greatly influences how stratification in the society occurs.
The language that a given group of people use depends on their background. Because societal segmentation occurs among cultural, racial, and ethnic differences, linguistic variation is one way through which societal segmentation is expressed. Some racial or ethnic groups may occupy a high socio-economic class in the society, while a minority group occupies the low socio-economic class in the society (Trueba and Bartolome, 1997). Societal segmentation and linguistic variation are related to each other.
Linguistic variation plays an important role in the society, but it also has its disadvantages to the society. Discussion Relationship between societal segmentation and linguistic variation Variation in language plays an important role in societal segmentation. In the society, members of each community may differ in the way they structure their families or the roles that are assumed by the different members of the community. Since the ancient times, language has remained to be a very important means of communication in the society.
Spoken or written language is very vital in the process of socialization in a specific society. Because people develop and show language behaviors that depend on the values of the communities and families they come from, difference in community and family values results to differences in some aspects of language use. Through social participation, society members learn and acquire skills on how to appropriately use a language. Individuals in the society learn language through social participation. This begins at home for the child (Beebe and Leonard, 1994).
The process of learning a language in different communities depends on the community and family structure. Through interactions with the family members, children how to use a language. Parents, guardians, and caretakers at home communicate with a child through motherese. “Motherese” refers to a special type of utterance that comprises of repetitive phrases which have clear pronunciation but has an exaggerated intonation. It enables a child to begin learning a given language. The interaction that the parents develop with the children promotes communication.
Communication is considered to be the social function of language in the society and as the children go through the process of acquiring oral language, they get to learn about the rules of a language. Through social engagement with other members of the community who are competent language users, children learn different aspects of a language. For instance, how certain words in different languages are used can be learned by the children. Apart from their interaction with the family members, individuals interact with other community members.
The interaction between an individual and other community member’s acts as one way through which language learning which occurs at home is reinforced. In order for people to properly interact with other community members and to accomplish social goals, individuals must be able to learn the different ways through which people use languages. The different ways in which languages are used by various communities in the society contributes to segmentation of people in the society. The socio-economic class of a person plays an important role in the stratification of the society based on class.
The superiority of a certain group of people depends on the groups’ ability to succeed as compared to other groups that may be considered as a minority. For instance, a certain community that is considered to have an economic advantage over the others may be accorded a high socio-economic class. On the other hand, another community may not be economically successful, a situation that may result to the labeling of such a group as a minority. Because these two communities vary in their languages, language becomes one way through which the socio-economic class of a certain group of people can be identified in the society.
Various communities within a given society have a specific way through which its members socialize. Furthermore, different communities vary in the way they assist their members to function in the society. Because the experiences people go through language in a community influences language learning and use, the experiences that people from different communities go through determine how they use their language. The languages that are used by people from different communities are vary in the way they are in spoken, written, or how certain language signs are used.
Peoples’ experiences in the society affects how they use their languages, hence different experiences contribute to segmentation of people in the society. For instance, the way a person uses a language may tend to emphasize on values that an individual learns through life experiences. The societal segmentation is based on the different communities that the various members of the society come from. For instance, research findings showed that children from different cultural groups may express different language use by exhibiting varying story telling behaviors.
The language behaviors one adopts due to their racial or cultural background can affect how individuals interpret the experiences they get in the society (Katzner, 1999). Various members of a society can use different mother tongues. The difference in mother tongues is one way through which variation in language occurs in the society. The individuals bring into the society the knowledge of their mother tongues as well as cultural values that exist in their community. The diversity in languages and values plays an important role in bringing emphasizing the society stratification.
The multicultural aspect of a society due to language variation in the society then becomes clear. Cultural values in different communities or races are in most cases are expressed by the language a particular group of people who hold those values use. For instance, some communities advocate for loyalty, family commitment, duty to care for the family, and a hierarchical order in the society. These values are should be reflected in an individuals’ behavior. One way through which people from different cultural backgrounds express the values they hold as community is in the way they use their language.
Because the values people from different communities hold vary, language use will be affected by how the people show these values in their day o day living. Division in the society therefore may arise from the different values that different communities consider important. Sometimes, the values that the communities within one society uphold may even conflict, a situation that may be an indication of the negative effect different values on the society. The expression of the values held by different racial or cultural groups of people can occur through language.
For example, research findings have shown that Hispanic children tend to adopt their community and parents’ commitment to political and religious beliefs. The Hispanic culture promotes values such as the upholding of dignity of each person, spirituality, and the respect for the authority (Griggs and Dunn, 1996). These values are expressed through the language that the children from the Hispanic culture use. However, people from another culture do not necessarily hold and express these values in their language. They may express different values through their language use.
Therefore, the way they use their language to express cultural values will differ from the way people of the Hispanic culture will use their language. This difference in values and how the values are expressed through language use contributes to division of people in the society. Role of Linguistic variation in the society. Linguistic variation has its advantages to the society. Linguistic variation promotes socialization between different members of the society (Chaika, 1994). The members can either be those from the same community or from different communities which have varying ethnic, cultural, or racial backgrounds.
Socialization is the process through which society members interact and learn from each other. Learning about each others’ culture and language, and how to live in harmony within a society is important. Through the process of socialization, individuals are able to acquire habits and skills that will promote harmonious living between the members of a society. Furthemore, socializing is necessary for appropriate interaction and participation of people in various activities that are undertaken in the society. People in the society may sometimes interact with others who speak a different language from theirs.
This sometimes triggers the individuals’ interest to learn from each other, a good example being by learning each others’ language. Through the process of learning each others’ language, the individuals get to learn the other person’s culture, values and experiences. Through the learning process, all members of the society can be inducted into the values, moral norms, and languages spoken in the society. The people who make efforts to learn about another person’s language tend to act as an agent of socialization in a given society.
By appreciating the differences they have in language, learning about each other encourage individuals to acquire skills and to embrace values that will promote better living. Although variation in language contributes to societal segmentation, socialization can reduce the negative effects of language variation . One negative effect of language variation is stereotyping of some communities. Variation in the cultural backgrounds of the people results to differences in the language used by the people (Lu, 1998). Variation in languages can be beneficial to a society because it promotes diversity in knowledge and cultural values.
Cultural diversity in the society promotes the sharing of different cultural groups’ knowledge, values and experiences. This improves the well being of the society. Each community in the society has values and knowledge that contribute positively to the society. When people from different communities’ learn about each others’ language, values, and knowledge, it paves way for the development of better ideas on how to address certain issues in the society. This benefits a society because the linguistic variation in the society becomes an advantage.
Difference in language empowers people to develop various ways through which they can share their experiences. Language learning in communities may occur through different learning-styles. The diverse groups of people in a society differ significantly in their language learning styles school. Since, people who use different languages may show differences in the family structure, religious beliefs, cultural values, the socio-economic activities that they are engaged in may vary. These differences are exhibited in the language people use and the way people use language to share their experiences in life.
The experiences people from each group have are shared through different language use. A society benefits by having people who show diverse ways of sharing their experiences. For example, a person’s behavior and actions can be used to put emphasis on the message passed through spoken language. In others, the use of sign language and dramatized speaking may be common. These different ways through which people use language to communicate and share their experiences can be embraced by the society members to make communication much better.
Variation in language allows the people in the society to connect the other peoples’ experiences to their culture (Kerbo, 1996). This becomes possible when people interact with each other. Due to the difference in the cultural background , the people’s experiences are related to the culture, values, and customs of the community he or she belongs to. Lack of understanding about each other’s values and customs may make it very difficult for a person to interact, learn, and to understand the other person’s behavior.
Efforts to address the differences that result from language variation provide individuals with an opportunity to understand the other persons’ experiences with the culture. The variation in language influences the way people relate their experiences to what occurs in the society. The role of linguistic variation in society segmentation. Difference in languages that are spoken or used by people promotes societal segmentation. The way a language is spoken or used is determined by the moral, social, and ethnical issues that are present in a particular community.
Different communities vary in the moral, social, and ethical values they consider important. A community therefore adopts language use that promotes the values it considers vital. Because different languages may vary on the values they put emphasis on, a society becomes divided based on the values people hold important. For instance, individuals from communities that promote family commitment are likely to use a language in a manner that promotes an individuals’ commitment to a family. However, another language may not put great emphasis on family commitment.
The difference in languages used by people from different cultural backgrounds can promote division in the society. This occurs when people who hold different values live together in the same society. Language variation contributes to societal segmentation based on the different conversational style that exist for various languages vary across different cultures (Griggs and Dunn, 1996). The interaction between individuals from different cultural backgrounds results to an interaction between their conversational styles.
When the involved parties or individuals lack an understanding of the other persons’ culture and language, misunderstanding and confusion may result. The communicative styles in different languages vary. For example, a research carried out on classroom participation of children of the Navajo and European – American descent showed that while it was a positive thing for children to show a high physical and verbal activity when conversing in the European-American culture, it was seen as a negative attribute by people of the Navajo descent.
According to the study, people who belong to the Navajo community do not encourage high levels of physical and verbal activity, those from the European – American descent view high levels of physical and verbal activity in language use as positive. The difference in interaction and communicative styles for communities that use different languages may contribute to societal stratification. Lack of understanding about each others’ language, conversational styles, and how they are used increases the gap that promotes society segmentation.
The variation in languages used by people in the society may trigger the interest of some individuals, who can then choose to learn more about the languages that are used by the society members. A good example is the modern society foreign languages learning in schools and in other education institutions such as colleges and universities. Due to the peoples’ appreciation of others and their language, some individuals tend to develop interest in a foreign language. In addition, some individuals tend to develop interest towards the cultures and customs that are exist in communities different from theirs.
Because different cultures promote uniqueness in language, using language to identify the members of the community who are different from them becomes common. An initiative to learn about other peoples’ language and culture may promote an individuals positive perception about others despite the differences in culture and language. However, a person can put boundaries and limitations on how they interact with another person who speaks a different language from theirs. The boundaries can be very vital in determining how one can interact with the others without going against the values they hold important, their culture, or customs.
In schools and other institutions of education, the prior experiences and knowledge that teachers and learners may use in instructional conversation are influenced by their differences in language. In instructional conversation, a dialog that occurs between the learner and the teacher is based on the prior experiences and knowledge that the students have had . The prior knowledge and experiences are then used to promote a higher understanding in class. One of the factors that influence the effectiveness of instructional conversation in class is language.
Communication between students and teachers who speak different languages or are from different cultural backgrounds may result to misunderstanding and confusion between the teacher and the students. This may occur if the parties involved lack an understanding about the other persons’ culturally based communicative conventions. In addition, instructional conversation between students and teacher is influenced by the volume at which students and teachers speak to each other. For instance, some students may speak more softly than others.
According to research conducted on instructional conversations, Native American students in spoke softly as compared to non-native Americans. (Instructional Conversations in Native American Classrooms, 1994). In instructional conversation, there is need for learning to link the knowledge and experiences that students have had previously to what is learned in class. Due to the students’ different experiences in the community, their experiences are expressed in their different ways of language use.
For example, some languages may be learned through productive activities that exist in a given community. A community that is engaged is a certain productive activity may use that activity to teach a language. However, another community may not be engaged in that activity, hence its reference to that activity in language use is minimal. Since the people who speak or use different languages interact with each other in the society, their experiences and knowledge based on the productive activities of their communities can lead to divisions in the society.