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ERIC Number: ED340203
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990
Pages: 30
Abstractor: N/A
The Bulge: A Theory of Speech Behavior and Social Distance.
Wolfson, Nessa
Penn Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, v2 n1 p55-83
A discussion of speech behavior and social distance outlines the major ways in which the study of rules of speaking can provide insights into the norms and values of a speech community. It shows ways in which the same material can provide information about the interaction process and the situations in which interlocutors negotiate their relationships with one another, and then advances a theory concerning patterns of interaction within a general middle class American speech community. Speech behavior is shown to be a reflection of cultural values, and various examples of compliments and apologies in American English illustrate the concept. Speech behavior is also related to the negotiation of rules. The "bulge" theory is proposed based on the way the frequencies of certain types of speech behavior plot out on a diagram, with the two extremes showing similar patterns as opposed to the middle section, which displays a characteristic bulge. That is, there is a qualitative difference between the speech behavior that middle class Americans use to intimates, status unequals, and strangers on the one hand, and to non-intimates, status-equal friends, co-workers, and acquaintances on the other. The two extremes of social distance--minimum and maximum--seem to call forth very similar behavior, while relationships that are more toward the center show marked differences. Data on invitations and partings illustrate the point. The fact that urban middle class Americans live in a complex and open society means that individuals belong to a number of networks, overlapping and non-overlapping, in which they must continually negotiate their roles and relationships with one another. Contains 18 references. (LB)
Publication Type: Journal Articles
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A