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This article approaches on-going sociolinguistic processes in Copenhagen by focusing on the overt metalinguistic activities of a group of adolescents. The article sheds light on how social power differences are refracted in the metalinsguistic activities of these adolescents in spite of the relatively homogenous (or hegemonic) sociolinguistic conditions of Danish society. In the article, I investigate how social status relations understood as cultural interpretations of societal “high” and “low” are relevant to on-going social value ascriptions to the contrasting ways of speaking labelled “integrated” and “street language.” The metalinguistic data I present points to a sociolinguistic transformation. Linguistic signs that used to be seen as related to migration, on an insider/outsider dimension of comparison, are now related to status on a high/low dimension as well. (Sociolinguistic transformation, ethnicity, social class, enregisterment, metalinguistic reflections)*
In this article I discuss language ideologies and stigma, exploring how a group of South Africans living with HIV confronted the perceived language of HIV and engaged with international aid to live “positive lives” amid stigma. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with a Zulu choir that functioned as an HIV support group and AIDS activist organization, I analyze talk about how others talked about HIV (metapragmatic discourse about HIV) to suggest a language-ideological component of stigma. I also explore how choir members' engagement with scientific medicine and international aid provided an alternative ideological framework in which the foreign was positively valued. I analyze how choir members creatively incorporated English medical terminology into isiZulu discourse as an alternative to the language of stigma. This analysis provides a model of the language-ideological constitution of stigma that suggests links to theorization of language and other types of marginality and abjection. (Language ideologies, stigma, HIV/AIDS, South Africa, Zulu, exclusion, markedness)*
The present study examines two unprompted versions of the same story, related by a mother and daughter in separate sociolinguistic interviews. Following a quantitative intraspeaker comparison of their use of grammatical features associated with Appalachian English within the entirety of their interviews, this study undertakes a close reading of the narratives (along with additional passages from the daughter) to demonstrate the manner in which the two women construct their identities as “mother” and as “other” through conversational narrative and the use of local dialect features. Specifically, this article addresses the use of regional grammatical variables to enact speaker stances toward mothering, focusing on two women's independent recollections of a single incident and how these narratives dialogically construct the (m)other. (Language variation, Appalachian English, stancetaking, motherhood)*
Bilingual call centers in El Paso, Texas, an extensively bilingual US-Mexico border setting, provide a valuable opportunity to examine empirically what occurs with respect to language shift reversal of Spanish in the context of new information economy. Interviews were conducted with thirty-nine call center operators and managers, and twelve translators and interpreters. Call centers provide an important occupational performance of and recognition to the Spanish language. Nevertheless, bilingual call centers mainly rely on uncompensated, socially provided language skills in Spanish, a freely available “heritage language” in the border setting. Spanish is not valued as a technical competency, worth specific attention to training, management of language features, and extra compensation. Bilingualism is used in the labor market as a sign of cheap and flexible labor, rather than as economically and socially valued “skill,” even though in the new information workplace it serves the latter role. (Call centers, new economy, language and workplace, bilingualism, Spanish, borders)*
How is ethnicity indexed linguistically in a speech community in which immigrant L2s have typically not been spoken for three or more generations? Drawing on recordings and ethnographic observations of eighteen white high school girls in south Philadelphia, speakers of Irish descent are shown to differentiate themselves from speakers of Italian descent through their use of (ay0), that is, Canadian Raising. (ay0) is an ongoing sound change in Philadelphia and is remarkable for being a rare example of a male-led change. Irish girls exploit more male-like, backed, and raised variants as a resource for indexing their ethnic identity, which is associated locally with stereotypically masculine characteristics such as toughness. The symbolic reflection of ethnic affiliation through this subtle linguistic device makes use of both local and supralocal social meanings. (Ethnicity, adolescence, Philadelphia, Irish, Canadian Raising, gender, sound change, language, and identity)*
This article explores how an economic ideology—neoliberalism—serves as a covert language policy mechanism pushing the global spread of English. Our analysis builds on a case study of the spread of English as a medium of instruction (MoI) in South Korean higher education. The Asian financial crisis of 1997/98 was the catalyst for a set of socioeconomic transformations that led to the imposition of “competitiveness” as a core value. Competition is heavily structured through a host of testing, assessment, and ranking mechanisms, many of which explicitly privilege English as a terrain where individual and societal worth are established. University rankings are one such mechanism structuring competition and constituting a covert form of language policy. One ranking criterion—internationalization—is particularly easy to manipulate and strongly favors English MoI. We conclude by reflecting on the social costs of elevating competitiveness to a core value enacted on the terrain of language choice. (English as a global language, globalization, higher education, medium of instruction (MoI), neoliberalism, South Korea, university rankings)*
Stories of personal experience have been a staple of research on narrative, while stories of vicarious experience have remained largely ignored, though they offer special insights into issues of epistemic authority, telling rights, and evaluation. This article seeks to show that stories of vicarious experience can fulfill the same functions as stories of personal experience in conversation, illustrating a point in an argument, sharing news, and for their entertainment value. Discrepancies between stories of vicarious experience and stories of personal experience follow from the distinction between third person and first person narrative along with corresponding differences in their participation frameworks in the sense of Goffman (1981): conversationalists cannot deploy third person stories of vicarious experience in functions such as mutual self-disclosure or to display resistance to troubles; conversely, stories of vicarious experience offer greater opportunities for co-narration. (Epistemic authority, evaluation, identity, narrative, participation frameworks, telling rights, vicarious experience)
Before accepting claims of the function of linguistic stylization, it is imperative that we are certain of what we are examining. Mikhail Bakhtin's widely cited definition that stylization is an “artistic representation of another's linguistic style” (1986:362) leaves unclear what counts as “artistic,” making identifying stylizations simultaneously intuitively obvious and empirically illusive. Drawing from 270 hours of data from a radio program, the current study uses interactional discourse and acoustic analyses to compare one disc jockey's exaggerations of ethnically salient accents (stylizations) with his mundane use of reported speech. The analyses demonstrate that in both types of talk he uses a similar bundle of interactional and acoustic resources to design his talk as belonging to someone else. The link between reported and stylized speech places stylizations in an analytical category distinct from that of crossing and its issues of language ownership. The pertinent questions are those of speaker responsibility. (Crossing, stylization, reported speech, discourse analysis, acoustic analysis)*
Examples of falsetto and higher pitched modal voice are presented in which the meanings are linked iconically and/or indexically to the signs, and therefore nonarbitrarily. Nine such meaning types are identified and discussed as inferences about falsetto derivable from observations that are minimally informed by cultural traditions. Observational knowledge and the logic by which it is utilized are seen as central concepts mediating universals and relativist approaches to the social meanings of voice qualities, including falsetto, and it is proposed that most falsetto use can be placed within the nine functional meaning categories identified. (Voice quality, falsetto, iconicity, indexicality, observational logic, universals, relativity)*
Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Texas death penalty trials, this article explores how language helps to make death penalty decisions possible—how specific communicative choices mediate and restrict jurors', attorneys', and judges' actions and experiences while serving and reflecting on capital trials. By analyzing postverdict interviews with jurors, trial language, and written legal language, I examine a variety of communicative practices through which defendants are dehumanized and thus considered deserving of death. This dehumanization is made possible through the physical and linguistic management of distance, which enables jurors to deny empathy with defendants and, in turn, justify their sentencing decisions. In addition, the article probes how jurors' linguistic choices can create distance between themselves and the reality of their decisions, further facilitating death sentences. (Law, empathy, deixis, agency, dehumanization, linguistic distance)*
Police-suspect interviews in England and Wales are a multi-audience, multi-purpose, transcontextual mode of discourse. They are conducted as part of the initial investigation into a crime, but are subsequently recontextualized through the judicial process, ultimately being presented in court as evidence against the interviewee. The communicative challenges posed by multiple future audiences are investigated by applying Bell's (1984) audience design model to the police interview, and the resulting “poor fit” demonstrates why this context is discursively counterintuitive to participants. Further, data analysis indicates that interviewer and interviewee, although ostensibly addressing each other, may orientate to different audiences, with potentially serious consequences. As well as providing new insight into police-suspect interview interaction, this article seeks to extend understanding of the influence of audience on interaction at the discourse level, and to contribute to the development of theoretical models for contexts with multiple or asynchronous audiences. (Audience design, audience orientation, police interviews, forensic linguistics)*
Existential constructions in a corpus of spontaneous English from Bequia (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) are used to explore a linguistic problem (Is variation in verb form in existential constructions best viewed as grammatical or lexical?) and a sociolinguistic problem (What aspects of variation change over a lifetime?). We compare “urban sojourners” (Bequians who have been away) with their home village norms. We observe differences in the frequency of the type of existential preferred in different villages and by the urban sojourners. We also observe differences in whether or not the main verb agrees in number with a postposed plural subject. Building on William Labov's early discussions of constraints on variation imposed by the “sociolinguistic monitor,” we suggest that variation in individual speakers supports the notion that variables that are fundamentally grammatical are less likely to mark social factors than lexical variables are. (Bequia, Caribbean English, existentials, subject-verb agreement)*
This article examines the use of corporate names as personal nicknames for Asian American youth. The analysis traces the meanings of these nicknaming practices through the concepts of brand personification (how figures of personhood are recruited as embodiments of corporate brands) and emblematic scales (how signs of personhood emerge across trajectories of use and scales of time). Within the crossracial institutional structure of an Asian American supplementary school, these nicknaming practices not only formulate speech, participants, relationships, and settings as informal, but also infuse the nicknamed with brand qualities linked to race, nation, class, and status. These practices also generate fleeting and stable frameworks of group distinction and adequation that operate simultaneously or cyclically and that maintain or transgress classroom roles and racial boundaries. This article demonstrates how an attention to temporal dimensions enables researchers to explore the ways in which small-scale activities accumulate across events and assemble into wider scale structural change. (Nickname, brand, emblem, timescale, trajectory, Asian American youth, race, classroom discourse)*
While in many indigenous minority-language situations traditional native speaker communities are in decline, new speakers are emerging in the context of revitalization policies. Such policies, however, can have unforeseen consequences and lead to tensions between newcomers and existing speakers over questions of ownership, legitimacy, and authenticity. This article examines these tensions in the case of Galician in northwestern Spain, where “new speakers” have emerged in the context of revitalization policies since the 1980s. The subsequent spread of the language outside traditional Galician strongholds and into what were predominantly Spanish spaces complicates the traditional ideology about sociolinguistic authenticity and ownership and raises questions about who are the legitimate speakers of Galician, who has authority, and the potential tensions that such questions generate. To illustrate the tensions and paradoxes that new and native speakers face in this postrevitalization context, we draw on three discussion groups consisting of sixteen young Galicians. (New speakers, authority, authenticity, minority languages, Galician)*
This article describes discursive processes by which inhabitants of the Congolese border town Goma attribute new indexical values to Lingala, a language exogenous to the area of which most Goma inhabitants only possess limited knowledge. This creative reconfiguration of indexicalities results in the emergence of three “indexicalities of the second order”: the indexing of (i) being a true Congolese, (ii) toughness (based on Lingala's association with the military), and (iii) urban sophistication (based on its association with the capital Kinshasa). While the last two second-order reinterpretations are also widespread in other parts of the Congolese territory, the first one, resulting in the emergence of a Lingala as an “indexical icon” of a corresponding “language community,” deeply reflects local circumstances and concerns, in particular the sociopolitical volatility of the Rwandan-Congolese borderland that renders publicly affirming one's status as an “autochthonous” Congolese pivotal for assuring a livelihood and at times even personal security. (Lingala, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, orders of indexicality, language community, autochthony, Kiswahili)*
Theoretical and applied research in the field of institutional discourse analysis calls for an increasing awareness of the constitutive nature of discourse in the representation and the assessment of social identities (Sarangi & Roberts 1999; Blommaert 2010; Eades 2010). The staunchly textualist accounts surviving institutional practice, however, tend to obscure complex multidiscursive and language ideologically anchored processes that mold procedural outcomes. On the basis of first-hand ethnographic data collected across legal-administrative procedures in Belgium, this article aims at revealing some meaningful contexts that have been erased in the case of an asylum seeker who became a murder victim and whose asylum file was used in the assize trial as a resource to sketch his social identity. The analysis explores the ideological functioning of textuality in the situated details of communicative practice, thereby aiming for a better understanding of the intricacies of multidiscursive identity construction in translocal procedural settings. (Institutional discourse analysis, multidiscursivity, language ideology and identity, sociolinguistic mobility, asylum procedure, assize court procedure)*
Informed by recent work on the commodification of language and identity, this article offers a critique of the neoliberal corporate discourse of “diversity management,” in which the diversity of the workforce is conceived as a resource for maximizing profit. Through a close analysis of the language ideologies deployed in an interaction between three mid-level managers at a multinational corporation and a researcher, this article shows how the discourse of diversity management, constituting a metadiscursive regime, works to rationalize and justify the inequalities of the global workplace through the specific ways in which older and newer discourses of language and identity are juxtaposed. The findings emphasize how sociolinguistic research may contribute to a deeper understanding of the conditions of work in the new economy by identifying language as an indispensable part of the mechanism that sustains processes of control. (Metadiscursive regime, diversity management, neoliberalism, work, language ideology)*
Anthropologists often construe “property” in terms of rights, obligations, and interests, or use “property” in a largely undefined way. The use of the language of rights as a metalanguage is questionable for it is culturally specific, having developed in the Early Modern period in Europe in the context of the spread of market relations and the growth of contract law. One might ask, how are “rights” expressed and constituted in the indigenous languages? The article examines the role of language in the constitution of possession relations with reference to three case studies: ownership of land by Kaiadilt people of Bentinck Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, possession more generally among Navajo of the southwest United States, and family/household “property” of the Southern Song dynasty of China. It focuses on the constitution of possessors, possessions and connections between them, and the expression of norms entailed by relations between possessor and possessum. (Property, possession, rights, Kayardild language, Navajo language, Southern Song dynasty, metalanguage)*
This article considers a particular contextualisation of the religious classical and practices associated with it within broader sets of linguistic resources or repertoires. Through a description and analysis of religious classical practices occurring in multilingual urban settings in the UK, the article employs the interpretive frame of performance to account for practice. An introductory overview of religious classical practices is provided, which is followed by a brief discussion of the theoretical considerations surrounding performance and entextualisation. This is followed by the sharing of ethnographic data that aim to demonstrate the performance-oriented and highly entextualised nature of religious classical practice. The article concludes with the suggestion that the latter is an example not only of a set of linguistic resources used predominantly for performative practice but has more in common with scripted theatrical performance than with other conventionally referential communicative practices. (Religious classical, language variety, performance, entextualisation, linguistic resources, linguistic repertoire, Muslim, multilingualism, practice)*
This study examines the role of social class and gender in an ongoing change in Spanish spoken in New York City (NYC). The change, which has to do with increasing use of Spanish subject pronouns, is correlated with increased exposure to life in NYC and to English. Our investigation of six different national-origin groups shows a connection between affluence and change: the most affluent Latino groups undergo the most increase in pronoun use, while the least affluent undergo no change. This pattern is explained as further indication that resistance to linguistic change is more pronounced in poorer communities as a result of denser social networks. In addition we find a women effect: immigrant women lead men in the increasing use of pronouns. We argue that the women effect in bilingual settings warrants a reevaluation of existing explanations of women as leaders of linguistic change. (Language change, social class, gender, bilingualism, Spanish in the US, pronouns)*