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Britain and the United States: Two Nations Divided by the Same Language (and Different Language Ideologies)

Lesley Milroy
Journal of Linguistic Anthropology
Vol. 10, No. 1 (June 2000), pp. 56-89
Published by: Wiley on behalf of American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43103225
Page Count: 34
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Britain and the United States: Two Nations Divided by the Same Language (and Different Language Ideologies)
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Abstract

This article examines popular beliefs about language in Britain and the United States within a language ideology framework. With particular reference to Silver stein s discussion of second-order indexicality, it argues that language varieties in Britain and the United States are differently ideologized in such a way as to foreground social class groups in Britain and ethnic groups in the United States. This difference gives rise to characteristically different kinds of national language controversy. American and British images of a spoken standard language are not only quite different but also occupy a pivotal position in their respective ideological systems. In America, a leveled variety is imagined as standard and mainstream, while in Britain an elite classmarked variety is commonly imagined as standard. Each type of standard, while imagined as a neutral reference point, sets up a pattern of structural oppositions that foregrounds and stigmatizes the codes indexing "nonmainstream" groups in the United States and "lower-class" groups in Britain.

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