What is the importance of language in social life? 


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Language and social class
Beside being a very class-conscious people, the British attach great importance to language as a social marker.

This means that, in Britain, everybody knows which social class everyone else belongs to, just by their way of speaking.

People belonging to the upper classes, or to the intellectual elites, speak a kind of cultivated English, generally spoken in the Southern part of England, in Oxford and Cambridge.

This accent is sometimes called Queen's English, BBC English, or, in technical terms, Received Pronunciation (R.P.).

The recordings you hear on the cassettes of most language courses reproduce an educated, though not affected, Received Pronunciation.

Remember, however, that you are likely to hear a great variety of English accents in Britain, due to geographical, social, and individual factors. Also age influences the way people speak.

Examples of British speech and social indications:
Beside accent (pronunciation, intonation) there are also words and idioms which can give away the speaker's social class.

Here is a list of words which mean the same, but are more often used by one particular social class, or another:

Sitting room - lounge
lavatory - toilet
pudding - dessert
sofa - settee
Looking - glass mirror
Record player - HiFi

It is difficult to describe the distinctive features of of working-class English, because it is more influenced by regional accents than is BBC English.

It can be noted, however, that less-educated people tend to drop the "h" at the beginning of words: Instead of house, him, hit, they pronounce these words as "aus", "I'm", 'it".

Common British grammatical mistakes:
1) use of double negations, such as "I didn`t go nowhere".
(In Standard English, this would be, "I didn't go anywhere".)

2) use of the Past Participle instead of the Simple Past, such as, "We gone to the pub last night".
(In Standard English, this would be, "We went to the pub last night".)

3) use of object personal pronouns instead of the possessive adjectives, such as, "Give the kids them toffees". (In Standard English, this would be, "Give the kids their toffees".)

However strange it may seem, some of the mistakes usually made by foreign learners of English can also be found in the language spoken by native British children, or by non-standard speakers of English.

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