The meaning of language – how studying Geordie can help us understand how and what language means

Møller Jensen, Marie (2012) The meaning of language – how studying Geordie can help us understand how and what language means. In: Northumbria Summer Speaker Series, 31 July 2012, The Literary & Philosophical Society, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

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The meaning of language’ can be interpreted in two ways:
1) How language means: how it works, arbitrary sounds form arbitrary words which refer to something in the real world (or in the imagined, we can talk about things that don’t exist), cf. Saussure’s notion of signifier and signified. However, it is not as straightforward as that. In the speech signal (the sounds that we make) we encode an additional social message.
2) What language means: the additional social message does not convey information about the‘thing’ we are talking about – it conveys information about the person saying it. In this way,it is possible to talk about what language means (Spoken) language (especially non-standard language if such a thing exists) is a bit like clothing – the way you dress sends signals about who you are/want to be (formal wear, casual style, sportswear, goths, punks, etc.). The only difference is that (for most people) clothing is easier to manipulate as we don’t often think about the way we speak (unless you’re an actor). People sometimes talk about having a ‘telephone voice’ etc. but when we are just casually conversing with friends, our ‘true’ identity comes out. So, language also means something from a social point of view. Among other things, my research looks at what Tyneside English (Geordie) means to the native Tyneside inhabitants and what this means for how the dialect is changing.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: The following images were taken out of the original presentation for copyright reasons: on p. 2 an image of the Tyne Bridge; p. 3 picture of a chair; p. 5 four images of people wearing different clothing (a man and woman wearing 'goth' clothing, a man and woman wearing shellsuits, a man and woman with coloured hair and tattooed arms, a Victorian photograph of a man in clothing of the era); p. 6 arrow points right to an image of Mel Gibson as Braveheart and an arrow points down to an image of Patricia Routledge as Hyacinth Bucket; p. 8 a map of the United Kingdom and Ireland with Tyneside highlighted.
Subjects: Q100 Linguistics
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Depositing User: Ay Okpokam
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2012 09:39
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2018 06:02

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