The Story of English
LANGUAGE AND SOCIETY
Language is not simply a means of communicating information. It is also a very important way of establishing and maintaining relationships with other people. Whenever we speak we give our listeners clues about our origins and personality; our accent and speech generally show where we come from and may tell a little about our background. By communicating, we may even give an indication of our ideas and attitudes on various issues from which our listener(s) can formulate an opinion about us.
Therefore, the social aspects of language are very important in establishing social relationships and conveying information about the speaker. Both of these aspects of language behaviour reflect the close relationship between language and society. They are also closely tied to the social structure and value systems of society where different dialects and accents are evaluated. British English, for example, is seen by many as having much more status and prestige than any other English dialect. It is highly valued by many people and certain economic, social and political benefits are enjoyed by those who speak and write it.
In fact, the English accent is often described as being correct, beautiful, nice, pure and so on. Other varieties are often said to be wrong, ugly, corrupt or lazy. Standard English, moreover, is frequently considered to be the English language. This somehow assumes other varieties of English deviate from the norm; the deviation being due to laziness, ignorance or lack of intelligence. In this way, millions of people who have English as their mother tongue are persuaded they do not speak "English" at all.
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