The relationship between English language and social setting. How English affects social setting.Sociolinguistics

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the question must be about the relationship between English and society and the impact of English on society.

In many societies, English language impacts society because it becomes a prestige language.  People in the society start to believe that it is necessary to speak English in order to be considered well-educated.  When this happens, a society tends to start seeing English words and phrases used much more often in the media, in advertising, etc.

You could argue that this would negatively impact society.  It would make foreign things seem more important and valuable than native things.  I guess you could also argue that the English language reflects a basic mindset that is different from those reflected in other languages.  For example, in many languages, but not in English, people use different words grammar when talking to people "above" them in the social hierarchy than they use when talking to equals.  If you speak English, you might lose the attitude that there are hierarchies.  This would have an impact on society.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Orwell wrote that "language does not reflect culture; language is culture."  Certainly, acceptance into a group of people, whether this acceptance involves ethnicity, religious, or other considerations, involves the patterns of speech and pronunciation that an individual has.  In England, for instance, families have sent their boys to schools such as Eton so that the young man be well-educated, of course, but also in order that he sound like "an Eton man," an effect that can "open social doors."

There is no question that people are perceived as of a certain socio-economic class when they speak, regardless of the conventional opinion that anyone from anywhere can become wealthy and successful. Invariably, studies show that people who are articulate are often perceived as well-educated and intelligent and of, at least, middle class.  Indeed, one's place in society has speech as a contributing factor.  In the London of the 18th and 19th century, with its 50+dialects, people were locked into their neighborhoods by their speech.