An Introduction to Sociolinguistics: Ethnographies

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Ethnographie s Topic Coverage
• Varieties of Talk
• The Ethnography of Speaking
• Ethnomethodology

Introduction
Speech is used between different ways among different groups of people.
As we will see, each group has its own norms of linguistic behavior.

A particular group may not encourage talking for the sake of talking, and members of such a group may appear quite taciturn to outsiders who relish talk , or they may feel overwhelmed by the demands made on them if those others insist on talking.

In contrast, in another group talk may be encouraged to the extent that it may even appear to be quite disorderly to an observer who has internalized a different set of ‘rules’ for the conduct of talk.

For example:

Listening to thunder or stones, as in the Ojibwa, may appear to be bizarre, even to those who ‘Listen to their consciences’.

In this chapter, therefore, we will look at how we can talk about the various ways in which people communicate with one another, in an attempt to see what factors are involved in adherence to the fact that much of that communication is directed toward keeping an individual society going; that is, an important function of communication is social maintenance. Language is used to sustain reality.
Consequently, a second purpose of this chapter is to look at ways in which individuals cooperate with one another to sustain the reality of everyday life and at how they use language as one of the means to do so.

Varieties of Talk

It is instructive to look at some of the ways in which various people in the world use talk, or sometimes the absence of talk, i.e., silence, to communicate.

For example, Marshall (1961) has indicated how the !Kung, a bush-dwelling people of South West Africa, have certain customs which help them either to avoid or to reduce friction and hostility within bands and between bands.

The !Kung lead a very harsh life as hunters and gatherers, a life which requires a considerable amount of cooperation and

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