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People often begin stories in conversation by referring to person, time, and place. We study story beginnings in three societies and find place reference is recurrently used to (i) set the stage, foreshadowing the type of story and the kind of response due, and to (ii) make the story cohere, anchoring elements of the developing story. Recipients orient to these interactional affordances of place reference by responding in ways that attend to the relevance of place for the story and by requesting clarification when references are incongruent or noticeably absent. The findings are based on 108 story beginnings in three unrelated languages: Cha'palaa, a Barbacoan language of Ecuador; Northern Italian, a Romance language of Italy; and Siwu, a Kwa language of Ghana. The commonalities suggest we have identified generic affordances of place reference, and that storytelling in conversation offers a robust sequential environment for systematic comparative research. (Storytelling, place, narrative, conversation analysis, interactional linguistics)*
While interest in affective processes has led to an affective turn in cultural studies, in sociolinguistics this perspective has been given less attention. This study takes up the ‘lens of affect’ and directs it on two cases exemplifying the circulation of minoritised languages in new media spaces: music video covers from two minority-language contexts, Irish and Sámi, uploaded on YouTube. Combining recent theorising on affect with insights from sociolinguistic research, the study investigates how the YouTube users’ affective investments contribute to a (re)evaluation of the two minoritised languages, their speakers, and the related ethnic/national belongings, and how these investments are expressions of more or less banal nationalism, connected to the colonial histories of Ireland and Finland. The study illustrates how the social media operate as a catalyst of affective investments involved in an ethnolinguistic (re)ordering of languages and their speakers, at the intersection of ‘banal globalisation’ and ‘everyday nationalism’. (Minority languages, affect, discourse, social media, nationalism)*
This article explores the intertwining semiotics of language and embodiment in performances of Californian personae. We analyze two actors’ performances of Californian characters in parodic skits, comparing them to the same actors’ performances of non-Californian characters. In portraying their Californian characters, the actors use particularized jaw settings, which we link to embodied stereotypes from earlier portrayals of the Valley Girl and Surfer Dude personae. Acoustic analysis demonstrates that both actors also produce features of the California Vowel Shift in their Californian performances, aligning their linguistic productions with sound changes documented in California. We argue that these embodied stereotypes and phonetic realizations not only co-occur in parodic styles, but are in fact semiotically and corporeally intertwined, one occasioning the other. Moreover, the performances participate in the broader process of enregisterment, packaging these semiotic resources with other linguistic and extralinguistic features to recontextualize Californian personae in the present day. (Parody, performance, California, California Vowel Shift, embodiment, embodied stereotype, enregisterment)*
This article presents what we term a raciolinguistic perspective, which theorizes the historical and contemporary co-naturalization of language and race. Rather than taking for granted existing categories for parsing and classifying race and language, we seek to understand how and why these categories have been co-naturalized, and to imagine their denaturalization as part of a broader structural project of contesting white supremacy. We explore five key components of a raciolinguistic perspective: (i) historical and contemporary colonial co-naturalizations of race and language; (ii) perceptions of racial and linguistic difference; (iii) regimentations of racial and linguistic categories; (iv) racial and linguistic intersections and assemblages; and (v) contestations of racial and linguistic power formations. These foci reflect our investment in developing a careful theorization of various forms of racial and linguistic inequality on the one hand, and our commitment to the imagination and creation of more just societies on the other. (Race, language ideologies, colonialism, governmentality, enregisterment, structural inequality)*
This introduction presents a framework for analyzing the semiotic dimensions of mobility. Drawing upon the notion of pathway (Wortham & Reyes 2015), it examines how mobility is facilitated by semiotic processes that link linguistic emblems with speaker images across time and space (Agha 2007). It focuses on the circulation of discursive forms, facilitated by media technologies and complex patterns of transnational interaction, which ascribe identities to people on the move and root such identities within hierarchical structures of the market on local, national, and transnational scales. Looking at how interdiscursive networks intersect with people's experience of mobility and the way they position themselves in social space, this article problematizes the divide between ‘micro’ and ‘macro’ approaches, offering a historically grounded approach to operations of power that permeate both metapragmatic discourse and experiences of mobility. (Mobility, metapragmatics, mediatization, interdiscursivity)*
This article investigates signage in the linguistic landscape of Toronto that is addressed to Hungarian-speaking Roma asylum applicants, focusing on multilingual public-order signs that convey warnings or prohibitions. Such signs are produced by institutional agents who often use machine translation (Google Translate), yielding ungrammatical texts in ostensible Hungarian. Drawing on ethnographic interviews, the article explores the indexicalities that such multilingual signs have for different groups of participants, including Roma addressees and English-speaking ‘overreaders’. While institutions may view the production of multilingual signs as indexical of open-mindedness towards migrants, Roma interviewees may see public-order signs as indexing racial stereotypes by presupposing deviant behavior, and may view ungrammaticality as indexing an unwillingness to engage in face-to-face interaction. (Multilingualism, Canada, Gypsies (Roma), linguistic landscapes, Hungarian, machine translation, indexicality)
This article is about the discursive pathway of grammatical structures such as y'a bon ‘there's good’, documenting how, in Hexagonal France, it has become an ‘enregistered emblem’ for indexing sub-Saharan Africans and, by extension, any African as allegedly incapable of speaking French competently. I argue that tracing pathways makes it possible to unveil the intricacy of the historicities of production, circulation, and interpretations of such racially based linguistic stereotypes. One of the central questions addressed in this article is: What are the sociohistorical conditions of the emergence and maintenance of these linguistic stereotypes? I show that these are grounded in long-standing linguistic ideologies of French as an exceptional language and of African languages and, therefore, their speakers, as primitive. I demonstrate how the rise of first age mass culture in the nineteenth century contributed to both the entextualization and the circulation of these stereotypical representations. (Stereotypes, mediatization, enregisterment, language ideology, France, Africa)*
Requests, offers, invitations, complaints, and greetings are some of the many action types routinely invoked in the description and analysis of interaction. But what is the ontological status of, for instance, a request? In what follows I propose that action is conduct under a description. Thus, for the most part, interaction is organized independently of any action description or categorization of conduct into discrete action types. Instead, participants in interaction draw on the details of the situation in which they find themselves in order to produce conduct that others will recognize and to which they are able to respond in fitted ways. ‘Action’ still plays a key role in the organization of interaction, however, because accountability attaches not to raw conduct but only to conduct under some particular, action-formulating description. (Action, interaction, description, conversation analysis, Anscombe)*
Multilingualism is often framed as human capital that increases individuals’ labor market value. Such assertions overlook the role of ideology in assigning value to languages and their speakers based on factors other than communicative utility. This article explores the value assigned to Spanish-English bilingualism on the United States labor market through a mixed methods analysis of online job advertisements. Findings suggest that Spanish-English bilingualism is frequently preferred or required for employment in the US, but that such employment opportunities are less lucrative. The results suggest a penalty associated with Spanish-English bilingualism in which positions listing such language requirements advertise lower wages than observationally similar positions. Quantitative disparities and qualitative differences in the specification of language requirements across income levels suggest that bilingual labor is assigned value through a racial lens that leads to linguistic work undertaken by and for US Latinxs being assigned less value. (Multilingualism, labor market, Spanish in the United States, economics of language, raciolinguistics, human capital)*
This study investigates how the descriptor ‘broken English’ is used to construct speakers as nonnative within standard language ideology. In-depth analysis of examples found through WebCorp, used to search US websites, and the Corpus of Contemporary American English found that the term was largely used to refer to comprehensible English identified as nonnative. Users of such English were constructed as Other, usually highly negatively. The rarer cases of more positive descriptions referred to encounters outside English-speaking countries, consistent with monolingualist ideology, and when used for a more distantly superior person, made them more attractive through greater apparent accessibility. Four mechanisms are discussed by which use of the term naturalizes ideologies. Crucially, its ambiguity promotes slippage between ‘neutral’ and negative uses, allowing any English identified as nonnative to be characterized as ‘broken’, slipping into ‘not English’, with such descriptions treated as an acceptable way to identify nonnative speakers as public menace. (Standard language ideology, ideology of nativeness, monolingualist ideology, Othering, corpus-informed research)*
This article explores how transnationalism can be understood as an interdiscursive process. By making connections with chronotopes of past places along a transmigrant's trajectory, interdiscursivity allows for the emergence of complex indexical meaning associated with different speakers and different ways of speaking, imbuing the transmigrant's mobility with specific social significance. This article demonstrates this point through an analysis of how South Korean mid-level managers of multinational corporations in Singapore imagined their positioning in the global workplace. By tracing the ways the managers employed metapragmatic discourse associated with multiple chronotopes to make sense of their reasonably successful but limited careers, it offers an account of how interdiscursivity shaped their understanding of their own positionality as Koreans working beyond the time-space of Korea. (Interdiscursivity, transnationalism, chronotope, Korea, English, intercultural communication)*
Children acquiring sociolinguistic knowledge in transnational migration settings must learn to evaluate multiple languages and dialects in a fluid, multifaceted social landscape. This study examines the sociolinguistic development of local and expatriate children in Singapore and investigates the extent to which they share sociolinguistic knowledge and norms. One hundred fourteen children ages five to nineteen completed a region identification task and an occupation judgment task, focusing on their perception of four regional English varieties: Australian English, Northern-China-accented English, Filipino English, and Singapore English. While all groups performed well on the region identification task, expatriate children outperformed locals within the youngest age group. Singaporean and expatriate children attending local schools showed greater familiarity with local norms than international school students in their occupation ratings. Participants mapped speakers to occupations by general prestige level, suggesting that children rely on indirect knowledge of social status rather than direct experience with speakers in their development of sociolinguistic evaluation. (Children's sociolinguistic development, transnational migration, language attitudes)*
Despite the importance of gender differences in the voice, sociolinguists have not paid sufficient attention to the sociolinguistic processes through which phonetic resources are mobilized in the construction of a gendered voice. This article argues that gender differences in the voice—including those influenced by physiology—are best understood as elements of sociolinguistic style rather than static properties. With a focus on transgender speakers in the early stages of masculinizing hormone therapy, the analysis demonstrates the complex interrelationship of the gendered meanings attributable to characteristics like fundamental frequency and /s/. Trans speakers challenge systems for categorizing voices as female or male, which assume that different aspects of the gendered voice will pattern together in normative ways. Yet a voice's gender is not a unidimensional feature, but a cluster of features that take on meaning only in context with one another, leaving them open for recombination and change through stylistic bricolage. (Transgender, style, gender, voice, pitch, sibilants)
Despite a shift to service-based economies, male-dominated, high-status workplaces have been the predominant focus of research into language and gender in the workplace. This study redresses this shortcoming by considering one female-dominated, low-status, highly regimented workplace that is emblematic of the globalized service economy: call centres. Drawing on 187 call centre service interactions, institutional documents, interviews, and observations from call centres in two national contexts, the study employs an innovative combination of quantitative and qualitative discourse-analytic techniques to compare rule compliance of male and female workers. Female agents in both national contexts are found to comply more with the linguistic prescriptions despite managers and agents emphatically denying the relevance of gender. The study offers a new perspective on language and gender, pointing to the need to expand the methodologies and theories currently favoured to understand how language perpetuates occupational segregation in twenty-first-century workplaces. (Call centres, language and gender, new perspectives, male/female differences, globalized service economy)*
This article describes the range of discursive strategies in the socializing messages of a mother and daughter interaction. The analysis draws on the work of Bakhtin (1981) and Tannen (2007) to interrogate the role of a physically absent but discursively present sister-in-law, ‘Mami Ji’, across three speech events. Following Tannen, we show how the characterisation of the sister-in-law, Mami Ji, has chronotopic value that connects mother and daughter in the present and makes links across family histories. Through the discursive strategies of repetition, dialogue, detail, and translanguaging, ‘Mami Ji’ becomes an iconic benchmark of how not to speak, how not to dress, and how not to behave. Drawing on material from a linguistic ethnography approach, we present three discourse analyses from a much larger international project that also looked at classroom interaction and break-time conversations. The article contributes to the under-researched topic of the representation of sisters-in-law in discourse, theorises the chronotope in everyday conversation, and demonstrates how mother and daughter solidarity is achieved through opposition to another female family member. (Chronotope, linguistic involvement strategies, translanguaging, socialisation, sister-in-laws, mothers and daughters)
Network research in sociolinguistics suggests that integration in a local community network promotes speakers' retention of local linguistic variants in the context of pressure from external or standard dialects. In most sociolinguistic network research, a speaker is assigned a single score along an index representing the aggregate of several network and other social features. We propose that contemporary network methods in adjacent disciplines can profitably apply to sociolinguistics, thereby facilitating not only more generalizable quantitative analysis but also new questions about the relational nature of linguistic variables. Two network analysis methods—cohesive blocking and Quadratic Assignment Procedure regression—are used to evaluate the social network factors shaping the retreat from the Southern Vowel Shift (SVS) in Raleigh, North Carolina. The data come from a 160-speaker subset of a conversational corpus. Significant network effects indicate that network proximity to Raleigh's urban core promotes retention of SVS features, and that network similarity between speakers corresponds to linguistic similarity. Contemporary social-network methods can contribute to linguistic analysis by providing a holistic picture of the community's structure. (Networks, sociophonetics, Southern Vowel Shift, dialect contact)*
There is strong evidence that legacies of Apartheid remain in place in South Africa's education system, entangling economic inequality, racial categorization, and de facto language hierarchy. This study draws from an ethnographic study of language diversity in a Cape Town public school, focusing on how classroom practices regulate and school staff frame language diversity and social inequality among their pupils. It uses the concepts of language register, sociolinguistic scale, and racialization to analyze how education policy, classroom practices, and school discourses about language in South Africa implicate class and racial hierarchies. It shows how register analysis reveals multi-scaled connections between linguistic and social inequality. (Language registers, education, social inequality, South Africa)*
This article investigates linguistic diversity, migration, and labour in the case of a nineteenth-century copper mine in the multilingual northern periphery of Norway. Taking a historical perspective on workplace multilingualism, it reveals the dynamic relationships between the economic interests and policy-making of an industrial enterprise and the political and sociolinguistic development in a multilingual region, at a time when national authorities introduced assimilation policies. Owned and managed by British industrialists, the mine recruited almost exclusively migrant workers to a remote fjord in the Norwegian periphery, many of them Kven from northern Finland and Sweden. In a multi-layered approach, the study sketches multilingual work practices, policy-making, and the discursive positioning of diversity, and explores the company's management of the relationships between capital, community, and nation-state. It reveals the company's flexible approach towards diversity governed by economic interest. (Workplace multilingualism, mining, Kven, Norway, historical)*
This article examines the intersections between migrant experiences, multilingual practices, and the creation of space. It does so by focusing on Italians who migrated to Tasmania, a group that has long been isolated from the rest of the Italian diaspora. Using an ethnographic approach within a constructivist framework, this research shows that when experiences of movement are recounted in interaction they bring about spaces of speech that are possible thanks to the articulation of local and transnational ‘centres’, which in turn are intertwined with a rich set of linguistic resources. These resources include code-choice, codeswitching, and intentional exposure of phonological variation, and are variously combined to allow the emergence of spaces for people to move through. Spaces of speech are thus situated interactional spaces where acts of (re)telling are related to centres as spatial resources through which not only social meaning is created but also location and locution are mutually constitutive. (Spaces of speech, centres, cultural presence, Italian, Tasmania)*
This article looks at Spanish-Estonian speaking families and their language ideologies in relation to language use in the family setting—how parents decide to use languages among themselves and with their children. Family members choose different languages for different purposes when they talk to one another. In our study, parents draw on their knowledge of the ‘one parent–one language’ strategy but also translanguage for different reasons, constructing new patterns of bilingual modes. In the article, we examine parents’ attitudes towards language maintenance, transmission, and use with their children. We incorporate the lens of ‘new speaker’ research to analyse the empirical data collected in Tallinn households among Spanish-Estonian speaking families so as to contribute to a better understanding of family language policy, planning, and management, highlighting how macro-level sociolinguistic expectations and norms might be elaborated on the micro level in everyday social interactions. (Family language policy, language ideology, new speakers, Estonian, Spanish)*