Student question on language crossing social barriers

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Mon Feb 4 02:09:51 UTC 2008

I got the following from a student today:

> In the last lecture, we touched on how languages change, and how
> sometimes different groups will adopt variations of other groups'
> languages/dialects.

> I've noticed that this can happen within languages, and cross social
> barriers. For example... Phrases like 'You go girl.' and 'You da
> man.' These seemed to have started in a certain demographic, and
> within two or three years, were abandoned by the people who coined
> them, but very popular with the demographic that didn't. (Notice all
> the white guys in suits using the 'you da man' phrase, but the
> brothers on the basketball courts don't anymore?)

> Could you direct me to an author, or maybe even a title that explains
> how and why this happens? I'd certainly appreciate it. (A
> non-linguistics major version if possible.)

All i'm thinking up are relatively technical things on in-group and
out-group language and such. Anyone here know of something accessible i
could refer him to? (The student's an upper-division undergrad in his
first and probably only lx course ever.)

David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

The American Dialect Society -

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