Your task is to identify and analyze one of the speech communities to which you belong which means figuring out the ways in which members of that speech community help to reproduce it in everyday interactions.
There are two main components to your project.
First, youll listen for and write down a number of particular words or phrases that are native to a particular speech community youve identified. Choose one group that you regularly participate in to examine closely. For instance, some of your examples may be words that you only use at work, or phrases that make sense to people raised in a certain ethnic tradition, or maybe in a student group on campus. Its up to you which community you choose and what words you put on the list, but you should use the definition of speech community offered by GumperzPreview the documentView in a new window to help you figure out what the community is.
NOTE that its OK to choose a group you are not currently a part of which means your examples will be made up ones but make sure you make that clear in your assignment.
Second, write a 500-750 word description (thats roughly 2-3 double spaced pages) of the speech community youve identified. The essay should provide us with a brief but coherent snapshot of the community itself by drawing on some of the examples youve gathered. The goal is to generate generalizations about the community and its members based on your observations and the data youve collected.
PART 1 Instructions
Collect at least ten (10) examples of in-group terms produced by members of the speech community youve identified. What does that mean? Well, you should look for words or phrases that are meaningful to the people using and hearing them, but that may not be so meaningful for people outside the group. The most obvious examples would be slang, but you could also look at technical talk you use at your job, or special words used in a club you belong to.
For each word or phrase, provide as much information as you can, according to the following criteria and format:
The word or phrase, including its meaning and pronunciation (if applicable)
The person who said the word or phrase (pseudonyms are OK). Make sure to jot down all the demographic information you think is necessary for understanding the speakers position in the speech community (age, sex, etc.)
The larger linguistic context in which the word or phrase was used.
The social context in which the word or phrase was used (to whom, where, when, etc.).
Special notes (optional): if you know the origin or history of the term, or special usages, put that here.
Here is an example of what a typical entry should look like:
The Reg (The Regenstein Library; the main library at the University of Chicago)
KT; 20 year old female college student
Hey, I think Ill try to get a job at the Reg this summer. Theyre the only ones hiring.
Three college students KT, KM, and ML were standing outside the main classroom building at the University of Chicago. It was a cold spring morning, and the three were discussing plans for the summer before heading into class.
The Reg is a shortened form of The Regenstein. The terms are used interchangeably, sometimes along with the library. However since there are multiple libraries on campus, the particular library being referred to is usually specified. Only in very rare cases would someone use the full phrase, The Regenstein Library.
PART 2 Instructions
Introduce the speech community in a short verbal analysis. Give us a general sense of who the members are and how they differentiate themselves from people who arent included in the community (for instance, college students at the University of Chicago in my example). Describe the kinds of places members meet and the typical ways they interact, using specific examples youve provided in Part 1. Yes, youll be repeating some of the same information youve already given, but the idea is for you to make connections between the different examples to reveal generalizable patterns for how language works in the community. For example, if it turns out that all of the terms youve collected are in some way bad words, then you might want to talk about how bad words are not actually negatively valued in this community, and discuss what using these words might be doing instead.
Youre free to structure your description however youd like. However if you get stuck, remember to use Gumperzs definition of the speech community to help guide you through the description. And if youre really stuck, try to apply the SPEAKING model to your examples to see if any patterns emerge.
Your limit for the essay is 500 – 750 words. This is not very long, so if you feel you might need more space, please clear it with your TA first. NOTE: You can choose any speech community you want as long as your list of terms convinces us it’s an actual speech community but there are some exceptions. You cannot use the following:
Your family; or you and your friends; or a community you belonged to in the distant past.
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