National Public Radio posted a nice info graph that depicts employment numbers in each sector of the United States economy. This is a good opportunity to try to point out which sectors are PRIMARY, SECONDARY, TERTIARY, QUATERNARY, and QUINARY. The data is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Topics: Language, isogloss, dialect, accent, regional dialect, thematic maps
Time: 50 minutes
Purpose: To make a visual connection/understanding of isoglosses within the United States and see regional variations in the English language.
Materials: Computer lab or iPads/Android devices, notebook, blank political map of U.S.
1) Discuss/Lecture on isoglosses, dialect, accent (preferably after discussing the language tree).
2)Ask students if they have examples of friends or family who say words differently then what they do.
3) Pick 5-10 words/phrases from the Dialect Survey site and ask them to write down (phonetically) how they would say it, or the word that they would use to describe it.
4) Have the students partner up and verbalize their phonetic words/terms.
5) Debrief pair-share.
6) Have the student look at the Dialect Survey website and investigate three words/terms that they find most interesting. Tell them to write down where the general isogloss can be found on a blank US Map provided.
About the Dialect Survey
The dialect survey is an expansion of an initiative begun by Professor Bert Vaux at Harvard University. Dr. Vaux prepared an earlier version of this survey for his Dialects of English class at Harvard in 1999. The survey has since been revised and expanded for a larger, lay audience.
About the Creators
Bert Vaux is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Harvard University. His specialties are phonological theory, fieldwork, and dialectology. He is currently preparing an Atlas of English Dialects. [ homepage ]
Scott A. Golder is a graduate student at the MIT Media Laboratory, where he studies social communities online. He graduated from Harvard College in 2003, where he was a Linguistics concentrator. [ homepage ]
Past support and assistance has been provided by Rebecca Starr and Britt Bolen.
Thank you to the Harvard Computer Society for hosting the Dialect Survey from 2000-2005. HCS is an undergraduate student group promoting the use of computers and technology at Harvard and beyond.
Fact: The United States does not declare an official language.
So what’s the big deal anyway?
Do you think the Whole Food’s policy is needed or racist?
Position 1: Pro-Bilingualism
- Isn’t it a good thing that there are staff members who are able to communicate bilingually?
- Maybe the bilingual speakers feel more comfortable or even share camaraderie in their heritage.
- Bilingual speakers have the ability to help customers who may speak another language.
- Shouldn’t we be encouraged to speak multiple languages?
- Some Europeans pride themselves in being able to speak four or five different languages.
- Does this show that Americans are hesitant towards allowing other heritages from expressing themselves in public?
- Is this an attempt to squash civil liberties, especially if there is no law.
- Should big business be allowed to create employee rules that prevent languages other than English from being spoken, essentially “trumping” federal laws/or lack there of?
Position 2: English Only!
- Some people feel that speaking languages other than the standard one is rude because they think others might be speaking poorly about them.
- Some may argue that speaking Spanish in the US prevents Latinos from assimilating into the mainstream and holds them back intellectually and economically.
- Should Latinos be forced to learn English? If there is an expectation that migrant workers learn English, should it be an expectation that all native born Americans earn an A in English class?
- Does speaking a different language make the workplace more hazardous?
- Is it still OK to speak a different language if the employee can understand both languages?