Values and Conflicts in Speech Communities

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Ever since the dawn of human civilization, we began to practice languages to communicate with each other and conceptualize our ideas about the world, whether in forms of body, sign and facial. Through the astonishing development of language systems, thousands of different languages have emerged, thereby creating and fostering numerous distinctive speech communities. A speech community is a group of people who share a set of norms such as a specific vocabulary and grammar or a particular speech style. The existence of different speech communities allows us to understand diversity and to preserve its heritage. However, conflicts such as racial bias inevitably arise. The value that speech communities offer us is the understanding of diversity. In a pledge written in 1974 by National Council of Teachers of English, it says, “ A nation proud of its diverse heritage and cultural and racial variety will preserve its heritage of dialects” (Eidhin 22). In other words, understanding, respecting and embracing different styles of speaking English is a strong and important indicator of a nation’s recognition of the values that cultural and racial diversity holds. This pledge shows that Americans not only started to appreciate the benefits that different speech communities brought to their society, but also proud of their existence, and altruistically accepting other elements. Another example of how we can understand diversity through speech communities comes from an article called Speech Community Values: Cultural Identity by Christa Smith Anderson who has published works in So to Speak, a Feminist Journal of Language and Arts, she says, “One had to go only as far as the club down the street in New York or New Orleans to find art—new music and poetry that reflected not only African American experiences, but also sounds and voices”(Anderson 5). By that she means the cultural value of minority speech communities such as African Americans started to be respected and cherished by...
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