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10 - Reconciling Seemingly Conflicting Social Meanings

from Part II - The Structure of Social Meaning

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 July 2021

Lauren Hall-Lew
University of Edinburgh
Emma Moore
University of Sheffield
Robert J. Podesva
Stanford University, California
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As work in sociolinguistics explores new variables and communities, linguistic phenomena whose wide range of social meanings pose a challenge for any first-wave (Eckert 2012) perspective are uncovered. I focus on the Hebrew pharyngeal consonants, which have a particularly unusual combination of ideological associations. They are stigmatized and associated with speakers that are underprivileged in Israeli society: Mizrahis (Jews of Middle Eastern descent) and Palestinians; nevertheless, since they are also an older prestige form, they are also seen as ‘correct’, unlike many stigmatized variants. Using data from sociolinguistic interviews and media, I argue that the patterns of stylistic variation show that although they may initially appear irreconcilable, the disparate meanings of the pharyngeals are not mutually exclusive: speakers can and do invoke the full set of indexical links in the same interaction. These data demonstrate the significance of Eckert’s (2008) indexical field, as its ability to include potentially conflicting associations captures an intuitive part of how speakers understand social meaning – a whole that is greater than the sum of its indexical parts.

Social Meaning and Linguistic Variation
Theorizing the Third Wave
, pp. 222 - 242
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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