Student question on language crossing social barriers

Leslie Savan lsavan at VERIZON.NET
Mon Feb 4 15:24:41 UTC 2008

For accessible, fun, and non-linguistics major version, as the student says,
try my book, SLAM DUNKS AND NO-BRAINERS: Pop Language in Your Life, the
Media, and, Like...Whatever (Vintage), especially Chapt. 3, "What's Black,
Then White, and Said All Over?"

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Bowie" <db.list at PMPKN.NET>
Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2008 9:09 PM
Subject: Student question on language crossing social barriers

> ---------------------- Information from the mail
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       David Bowie <db.list at PMPKN.NET>
> Subject:      Student question on language crossing social barriers
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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