SALSA XXVII will take place at the University of Texas at Austin. This year's conference theme is Language and the Body: Rhetoric, Cognition, and Identity.
Pre-register online here.
"Who is speaking, and what do they say?": Mapping the blind spots in research and perceptions of Native American language use
UNESCO’s declaration of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages comes after over one hundred years of the study of Native American languages in our field(s). Given this length of time, we might expect that most topics will have been more or less covered in the published research about Indigenous languages and communities in the US, and the ways we teach (and learn) about them. However, in this talk I will highlight areas that, although central to contemporary Indigenous language use, remain at the margins of academic and community discussions including multi-tribal, multi-lingual, and urban contexts; American Indian English(es); and Indigenous language users and learners beyond cisgender and heteronormative identities. To do so, I draw on over a decade of research on language use and revitalization in both tribal jurisdictions such as the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma and urban contexts like Tulsa and Chicago, as well as on the role of language in the negotiation of multiply marginalized members of Two Spirit societies and activism to consider what patterns of cognition and culture might be contributing to this disjuncture between practice and representation especially in contexts where such dynamics are co-occurring. I hope to demonstrate that attention to these 'blind spots' has much to offer us in understanding the dynamics of indigenous language use, maintenance, and revitalization that can contribute not only to current theoretical inquiries within and across our fields but also to topics of critical importance to the marginalized communities under discussion.
Jenny L. Davis is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she is the director of the Native American and Indigenous Languages (NAIL) Lab and affiliate faculty of American Indian Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies. She has held fellowship at Yale University, the University of Kentucky, and was just named the Chancellor's Fellow of Indigenous Research and Ethics. Jenny earned her PhD in Linguistics at University of Colorado, Boulder in 2013. Her research focuses on contemporary Indigenous language(s) and identity, with dual focuses on Indigenous language revitalization and Indigenous gender and sexuality. In addition to articles published in Language and Communication, Gender & Language, and Language Documentation & Description, Jenny has published one monograph, Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance (2018, University of Arizona Press) and a co-edited volume, Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexuality (2014, Oxford University Press), which was awarded the Ruth Benedict Book Prize from the Association for Queer Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association.
Embodied Mind, Meaning, and Language
There are mainstream traditions in Western philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and communication studies that regard thought and language as not being substantially shaped by our bodily makeup. In contrast, research in cognitive linguistics and neuroscience emphasizes the central role of the body and brain in constituting meaning, concepts, and thought. Meaning is not, in the first instance, linguistic. Instead, language depends on and recruits prior sensory, motor, and affective processes. I will survey some of the more important embodied structures and processes of meaning-making that give rise to the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of natural languages. This includes body-part projections, perceptual concepts, image schemas, emotions, body-based grammatical constructions, and conceptual metaphors, as those are understood from the perspective of simulation semantics, embodied construction grammar, and the neural theory of language. In addition to the popular four E’s of cognition—embodied, embedded, enactive, extended—we need to add three more E’s—emotional, evolutionary, and exaptative.
Mark Johnson is the Philip H. Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Emeritus, in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon. His research has focused on the role of human embodiment in meaning, conceptualization, reasoning, and values, especially from the perspective of the interaction of embodied cognitive science and pragmatist philosophy. He is co-author, with George Lakoff, of Metaphors We Live By (1980) and Philosophy in the Flesh (1999) and author of several other books, including The Body in the Mind (1987), Moral Imagination (1993), The Meaning of the Body (2007), Morality for Humans (2014), Embodied Mind, Meaning, and Reason (2017), and The Aesthetics of Meaning and Thought (2018).
On the Importance of Legal History to Afro-Hispanic Linguistics and Creole Studies
The origins of the Afro-Hispanic Languages of the Americas (AHLAs), the languages that developed in Latin America from the contact of African languages and Spanish in colonial times, are extremely intriguing, since it still has to be explained why we do not find creole languages in certain regions of Spanish America, where the socio-demographic conditions for creole languages to emerge appear to have been in place in colonial times. Nowadays, in contrast, we can find such contact varieties in similar former colonies, which were ruled by the British, the French or the Dutch (McWhorter 2000). Despite the fascinating implications of this phenomenon, our knowledge of the AHLAs remains extremely limited. Several hypotheses have been proposed to account for this situation, but no common consensus has yet been achieved (Chaudenson 2001; Mintz 1971; Laurence 1974; Granda 1968; Schwegler 1993, 2014; Lipski 1993; etc.). The pull of different views on the issue has been labelled in the literature as the ‘Spanish creole debate’ (Lipski 2005: ch.9).
The current study is aimed at casting new light on the Spanish creole debate by relying on a comparative analysis of slave laws in the Americas. This article highlights the role that legal differences played in shaping colonial societies and the Afro-European languages that developed in the New World.
Sandro Sessarego is an Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a former Marie Curie Junior Fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, a HCAS Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, a member of the Foro Latinoamericano de Antropología del Derecho and a member of the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice. His work primarily focuses in the fields of contact linguistics, sociolinguistics, syntax and human rights. He covers topics like the linguistic study of the Afro-Latino Vernaculars of the Americas (ALVAs)—the languages that developed in Latin America from the contact of African languages, Spanish and Portuguese in colonial times. In particular, his investigation combines linguistic, sociohistorical, legal and anthropological insights to cast light on the nature and origins of these contact varieties.
The Symposium About Language and Society, Austin (SALSA) is an annual symposium promoting the study of language and its intersection with society. Originally created through the joint efforts of students from the Linguistics, Anthropology, and Communication Studies Departments at The University of Texas, SALSA has developed into an interdisciplinary conference with contributions from various fields, including foreign language education, educational psychology, media studies, and language departments, including French & Italian, Spanish & Portuguese, German, and English. Our conference annual proceedings appear in special editions of Texas Linguistic Forum.
University of Texas at Austin
Department of Linguistics
Robert Patton Hall (RLP) 4.304
Phone: (512) 471-1701
Conference presented by the SALSA Graduate Student Organization at UT Austin: