The Meaning of Style
Abstract † Article (PDF)
“It doesn’t actually mean death”: Entextualization and Intensional Transformation Through a Tarot Card Reading
Abstract † Article (PDF)
This paper will formally address and elucidate some of the more salient sociolinguistic and ideological aspects of linguistic differentiation in Quichua-speaking Ecuador, with particular emphasis on the ways in which the context of the extant ideologies has influenced the standardization process and the perceptions of Quichua Unificado ‘Unified Quichua’. The semiotic processes of iconization, fractal recursivity, and erasure as proposed by Irvine and Gal (2000), provide a solid basis for this analysis. While these semiotic properties can be observed in essentially all linguistic communities to varying degrees, they shed necessary light on languages such as Quichua, which, although it has a designated and singular minority language status, encompasses a decidedly heterogeneous population of speakers.
Bauman, Indiana University, Bloomington
Patrick Feaster, Indiana University, Bloomington
Oratorical Footing in a New Medium: Recordings of Presidential Campaign Speeches, 1896-1912
When Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, the capacity of the new invention that most impressed him was that it provided the means to overcome the ephemerality of human speech; it made the spoken word durable and available for future reproduction. But what kinds of speech were worthy of being recorded? Understandably, the preservation and dissemination of oratory seemed an appropriate and desirable use for the phonograph. As early as 1896, the new technology of sound recording was employed in political campaigns; by 1908, the new medium had become sufficiently well established to be enlisted in the campaign for the presidency.
The recorded texts of these campaign speeches and other historical records relating to the use of sound recordings in political campaigns signal the ambiguity of a new medium whose capacities had not yet assumed—or been disciplined into—a clear shape; the campaign recordings were unsteadily poised between varying alignments to an audience and other aspects of context. In this paper, we analyze how this work of contextualization was effected, with special attention to how the recorded speeches were aligned to various publics, constituting or reconstituting those publics in the process.
this paper I mark the distribution of modal elements in orally performed
narratives by Yucatec Maya speakers. In particular, I will look at the
distribution of modals and their apparent relationship to discursive,
metapragmatic tokens. I argue that the frameworks keyed by discourse-level
tokens bind and contextualize social possibilities and necessities through
the course of narration.
In this project I focus on reflexive and pragmatic tokens and their relation to modals. My texts are various transcriptions of historical and mythical stories that have been published by Mayan scholars. Within these narratives, I show a nonrandom distribution of modal elements at the text level, as framed by verbs of saying and other metapragmatic tokens. This distribution suggests that the modal function is subsumed under coherent, culturally specific frameworks, generating themes through manipulation of pragmatic and referential rules in discourse. That is, modals appear when the action and speech of a character are talked about in the course of storytelling. Mapping this distributional pattern shows us the governing principles of truths and obligations (marked by modal tokens) that are coded and reused through the course of many retellings and narrations.
Within Taiwan, two national identity ideologies prevail. One considers Taiwan as a part of “China” and its people as being “Chinese”, while the other declares Taiwan as a sovereign nation-state with a separate “Taiwanese” identity. Thus, discussing the nation’s or presenting one’s own national identity is not only sociopolitically controversial in Taiwan, but also proves personally complex for the individual. In my analysis of call-in show discussions, I examine how participants use reported speech, or constructed dialogue, to discuss the issue of national identity. As the literature on reported speech suggests, what is considered to be “quoted speech” or “reported speech” can be more accurately described as constructing dialogue in an active, creative, and transforming manner (Tannen, 1989). Hypothetical reported speech allows speakers to enact “thought experiments” of “real world” tensions while reconciling opposing views (Myers, 1999). Drawing from these perspectives, this paper explores how TV call-in show participants strategically use constructed dialogue to animate, negotiate, and perpetuate contesting discourses surrounding Taiwan’s national identity crisis.
The field of sociolinguistic variation has not so far developed a coherent theory of the social meaning of variables. This is because it has also not developed a coherent theory of style. The neglect of both is an outgrowth of the roots of the study of variation in the study of dialects and linguistic change. Variables have been selected for study on the basis of their status as being dialect-specific or as reflecting changes in progress and not for their role in the construction of social meaning. And the study of style has been restricted to the interpretation of intra-speaker variation as shifts in formality or alignment with pre-determined social positions. This paper takes off from the fact that our everyday interpretation of the actual use of variability is rich with types and personae—styles that we might identify as New York Jew or California surfer, but mostly styles that we interpret but have no name for. Our understanding of individual variables is embedded in our interpretation of their role in these styles. I explore a view of variation that begins with the question of style and social meaning, examining variation as stylistic practice. This paper will present speakers’ linguistic performance as a continual construction of a persona (or personae), and variables as resources for this construction. It will explore variables as having indexical potential that is heterogeneous and relatively abstract, and that is vivified—given greater specificity—in a given style as it is combined with other variables and embedded in the speaker’s wider linguistic and non-linguistic practice.
Thorough descriptions of some areas of adolescent and adult African American English (AAE) have been presented in the literature over the past 40 years; however, the use of AAE by young children has received limited attention. In general, child AAE has been analyzed in the context of communication disorders in efforts to compare normally developing child AAE to impaired uses of the variety. Such studies have been designed to determine the extent to which child AAE speakers use specific isolated features of adolescent and adult AAE that were published in early feature lists characterizing the variety. Research in communication disorders has been targeted toward developing intervention strategies that are useful for treating children with speech and language impairments, so it has not always been concerned with the entire system of AAE that children acquire. In presenting findings from an ongoing study of the use of AAE by 3-, 4- and 5-year olds, I explain the syntactic and semantic patterns that child AAE speakers use and show the ways in which they develop a complete linguistic system, not just a list of features. In addition, I discuss data that provide insight into the way child AAE speakers use remote past BIN to mark the distant past and the way they use preterite had to mark events in narratives. The data description presented here sets the course for research on the early stages of acquisition of AAE.
Scholars in the field of conversational interaction (Schlegloff, 1989; Jacoby & Gonzales, 1991) propose that the distinction between expert and novice in an interaction is not a dichotomous relationship that is maintained throughout the interaction. Instead, the distribution of expertise among participants in an interaction can be seen as fluid and dynamic, where participants are seen as “more-knowing” or “less-knowing” at different moments in the interaction. Jacoby and Gonzales (1991) examine the distribution of expertise in the discourse of a university physics group, showing how moment-by-moment ratification of expertise is achieved through various strategies.
This paper investigates the linguistic and interactional processes through which missionary students are socialized into ideologies of language learning and missionary work. Moreover, the paper illustrates how novices adapt those ideologies for their own purposes. I treat language socialization as an interactional process and achievement that involves both novice and expert as agents. Combining ethnography and discourse analysis, I focus on how the interactive nature of storytelling contributes to the socialization of language ideologies in a classroom for future missionaries. In so doing, I aim to illuminate the value of focusing on the activity of co-constructing narrative as a unit of analysis in language socialization research.
I discuss 1) the ways in which speakers’ narrative portrayals of themselves, their coparticipants, and absent characters are consequential to the process of language socialization; 2) how speakers use written texts in interpreting and assessing stories, thus demonstrating how the socializing influence of written texts can be revealed by talk-in-interaction; 3) how the professor implicitly socializes novices into particular ideologies by assessing, recasting, or building her own second-stories onto the students’ narratives; and 4) how novices in the missionary classroom actively employ new ideologies to reconcile lived experience with an ideal and unfolding view of self.
A central concern of the literature on Caribbean creoles has been the development of models to explain the distribution of linguistic codes. Most linguists have argued that it is most accurate to describe cases where French-lexified creoles are spoken along with their lexifier as stable diglossic situations, in contrast to those where English-lexified creoles are spoken along with their lexifier, which are described as creole continua marked by decreolization. Still, these categorizations remain a topic of discussion (e.g., Lefebvre, 1974; Meyjes, 1995; Prudent, 1981). In this paper I consider the applicability of the diglossia model (Ferguson, 1959) for describing patterns of language use in Guadeloupe, French West Indies. Guadeloupeans, all French citizens, are generally bilingual in French, the official language, and Kréyòl, a French-lexicon creole. For the present paper, I draw on 100 hours of audio- and videotaped data to explore how people in Guadeloupe use French and Kréyòl in their daily interactions and which model best describes their language use. As a further point, I consider whether or not Guadeloupe’s linguistic situation is best described as a stable one. In doing so, I will counter the argument of Meyjes (1995) that language shift is occurring in favor of French monolingualism.
I investigate the intersection of language ideology, educational practice, and identity within segments of English lessons in two different public high schools in Tokyo, Japan, one a technical high school, the other a liberal arts high school. This study explores the complexity of values concerning English language constructed during lessons. In lessons in both schools, a piece of text, the design of an activity, or a teacher’s elaboration will thematize explicitly a distance between English language and Japanese national subjectivity. However, at a different level of explicitness, utterances and words often display moments of simultaneity (Woolard, 1999), where words come to inhabit a kind of translinguistic space somewhere between English and Japanese. Differences in practices between the two schools construct different educational class identities.
The structure of verbal art and the grammar of everyday speech have been argued to be intimately related by scholars from a variety of theoretical backgrounds. A major theme in this line of research is that poetic forms are generated by the artistic redeployment of linguistic resources already present in the grammar of a language (Jakobson, 1968; Sherzer, 1990; Tannen 1989). This paper evaluates and explores this claim by examining the poetic structure of a particular verbal art form in relation to the grammar of the language spoken by its performers. The verbal art form I examine is karintaa, an extemporaneously composed poetic form performed by the Nantis of the Peruvian Amazon. Focusing on the phenomenon of vowel lengthening in these chants, I compare this prosodic phenomenon with the grammaticalized prosodic structure of everyday Nanti speech. To make my comparison maximally explicit, I adopt an optimality theoretic framework in which I take extemporaneous karintaa to be outputs of a canonical optimality-theoretic constraint system that serves to force inputs (which are everyday utterances) to more closely match the prosodic structure of the refrain.
commencement rituals inhabit Padua’s urban landscape, centering
on the graduate’s reading from the papiro, or scroll, in front
of friends and family. Scrolls include hypersexualized images of
graduates and rhymed poems that recount their lives, particularly
sexually explicit moments. I analyze graduation scrolls in both
as a ritual and literacy shaping and shaped by gender and classed
identities and understandings. How does this reading evoke various
linguistic ideologies as scrolls are written in standard Italian,
the regional Veneto dialect and English? I interrogate how this
linguistic practice both challenges and reinforces existing understandings
of gender, sex and class. I also focus on how the actions of graduates
during the ritual, and the visual images on scrolls, confirm, and
sometimes contradict, the written narrative. After an introduction
to the history of scrolls in Padua, I analyze one man’s scroll
with specific attention to embedded voices and code-switching between
Veneto dialect and standardized Italian. Together with ethnographic
details, close linguistic analysis, and a variety of theoretical
insights, I undertake an analysis of this unique graduation ritual,
carefully examining debasement, parody, and the reconstitution of
Obituaries are perhaps the most frequently read section of the daily newspaper. They note the passing of friends and acquaintances, the famous and the infamous. They recount the life stories of ordinary people and people of power. These short essays also give us a glimpse into the shape and cultural interpretation of life and death. In this paper we examine a sample of obituaries drawn from The New York Times 1983-2002. The sample includes both those articles written by Times writers and the paid notices authored by family and friends. A text grammar is proposed based on Brown and Yule's (1983) discourse topic framework. The four parts of the text grammar are analyzed. We argue that the language of obituaries reveals important understandings of the beliefs our society holds about our lives and our deaths, especially with respect to the causes of death, life expectancy, and gender differences in our life stories. The textual analysis of obituaries offers an intriguing view of how we understand living and dying in our society today.
This paper addresses a current debate over the universality of ideophones, a class of expressions that are used to simulate, through performative foregrounding, the salient processes and perceptions of everyday life experience. Using data from Quechua-speaking Runa in Amazonian Ecuador, I argue for a view of ideophones as a type of cultural discourse through which speakers align themselves with nonhuman life forms and forces of nature. This alignment is suggested by the special performative properties of ideophones, which collapse the distinction between a speech event and a narrated event, thus compelling a speaker to become an action, event, or process, in order to communicate about it. My argument finds support in Quechua data from a variety of discourse genres, including life history narratives, myths, and casual conversations. While there may be a universal tendency for all languages to develop ideophones, there are extralinguistic factors that can constrain or inhibit their emergence as a fully blown class of expressions with unique formal properties. Evidence for the importance of extralinguistic factors to ideophonic development or decay comes from comparative data on Zulu and Japanese ideophone usage, as well as the functionally restricted use of ideophones by speakers of English.
paper discusses how humorous use of English in South Korean TV comedy
shows constructs a negative competence of English attributed to
Koreans. In the TV shows analyzed, Koreans are depicted as unable
to carry on a conversation in English, and only capable of using
a markedly “bad English” which can be characterized
by the use of stereotypical American English phrases and expressions
that are clearly elementary, as well as hyper-Koreanized pronunciation
of words. Together with the use of subtitling that does not presume
a complex understanding of English, these practices contribute to
a construction of a negative English competence for Koreans. This
negative competence can be analyzed as an ideological construct,
as it is treated as something that is shared among all Koreans.
I argue that this ideology of "Koreans as bad speakers of English" may lead Koreans to perceive their community as being subordinate to that of native English speakers, thus reproducing the cultural hegemony of English in the globalizing world (Pennycook, 1994, 1998). This suggests that, in contrast to Mock Spanish (Hill, 1993, 2001), construction of competence may also be used in a self-deprecative manner, causing a community of speakers to put themselves in a subordinate position in relation to other dominant communities.
this paper, I analyze the personal narratives of “ex-gay”
individuals who are attempting to transform their sexual identity
in order to bring this identity in line with their understanding
of evangelical Christian theology. Liang (1997) footnotes a distinction
between “coming out stories,” i.e. narratives of realizing
and accepting homosexual identity, and accounts of homosexuality
given in ex-gay ministries; however, no sociolinguistic investigation
of ex-gay narratives and their distinct differences has been published.
Here I examine ex-gay narratives and compare the language and identity
issues they present with research on coming-out stories.
Based on the analysis of 20 hours of data from ten ethnographic “life history” interviews (5 males and 5 females), I found that ex-gay narratives reveal a plot-initial tension similar to coming-out stories in the recognition and self-naming of homosexual identity. However, within ex-gay narratives, religious discourse about homosexuality creates an inter-textual identity conflict and leads them to begin a complex process of re-naming and acquiring new discourse. Ex-gay narratives provide a significant opportunity to observe individuals using language as the primary tool to not only express identity but also create and transform it. My analysis of these narratives also reveals how individuals’ identities and discourse replicate and are constrained by religious Discourse.
Across America, hearing parents are encouraging their hearing 1-year-olds to use visual-gestural signs, either ASL signs or invented symbolic gestures, hoping to promote earlier and clearer parent-child communication. Most baby-signing families have no exposure to a natural sign language or to the Deaf community. Spoken English remains the families’ main communication mode, with parents signing occasionally as they speak and children producing single signs, words, or sign-word pairs. Once the children become proficient in speech, most families stop signing. This paper investigates the role of baby signing in hearing children’s language socialization, with attention to the language ideologies that underlie the practice. Data were collected from three sources: 1) videotapes of three babysigning 1-year-olds interacting with other family members at home, 2) interviews with the children’s parents, and 3) writings on baby signing in the mass media and online. Both the existence of baby signing and the ways that it is used are consistent with the portrait of middle class American language socialization given in Ochs and Schieffelin (1984), but individual families vary in their uses of signs depending on their children’s development and on their families’ interactional styles.
How does the structure and deployment of a tarot card reading make plausible the intensional transformation of a client? This paper draws on the theoretical and methodological sophistication of linguistic anthropology’s approaches to discourse and interaction in order to understand how the so-called ‘perlocutionary’ effects of a tarot card reading are achieved. Much work has been done on the compelling effects of ritualized discourse, but very little attention has been paid to the relative contribution of different kinds of physical artifacts to its efficacy. Using video-recorded data from a tarot card reading, my analysis demonstrates that this rich multimedia textual display draws on at least two different kinds of physical artifacts—resonating columns of air and ink on paper—to create at least one denotational text which is dense with internal indexicality. And owing to the relative mnemonic stability of the more durable of those artifacts—the cards themselves—the entire set of co-textual relationships is more reliable—and “true”—for the participants in realtime than those constructed entirely out of more evanescent phonetic devices.
emergence of a new sign language in Nicaragua over the past
25 years highlights selection and information as key components
in language change. Theoretical perspectives informed by cybernetic
systems theories, such as those put forth by anthropologist
Gregory Bateson and developmental psychologist Jean Piaget identify
principles common to both evolutionary and ontogenetic processes,
though the expression of these principles differ in these analytically
distinct processes. Unlike other approaches, cybernetic theories
account for the range of interacting phenomena in several domains;
environmental, biological, social and cultural (including linguistic).
The history of this new sign language, including specific grammatical
changes, and ethnographic observations show that cybernetic
perspectives clarify factors involved. For example, borrowed
linguistic forms, emerging grammatical constraints and even
referential confusion during discourse are all more understandable
in light of systems-level perspectives.
Dan Slobin argues that older individuals have introduced the new elements in this emerging language, not children. Ann Senghas and her colleagues have argued that deaf Nicaraguan children have introduced grammar to Nicaraguan Sign Language. These seemingly opposing views can be resolved with cybernetic perspectives that account for both universal evolutionary principles and historical particularism, thereby unifying approaches to historical change and ontogenetic development—without conflating the two.
This paper explores the motivations behind the survival of Tulu, a minority language in South India, despite sociopolitical reasons for its speakers to shift to Kannada, a larger and more economically viable language. I argue that the lack of codeswitching between Tulu and Kannada has facilitated the maintenance of Tulu in the South Kannara district of South India where Tulu is largely spoken. Individual interviews were conducted with 15 informants in South Kannara and in Bombay to elicit information about language attitudes and language identity. Based on these interviews, I examine the various motivations—linguistic, social, and political—as to why speakers do not codeswitch between Tulu and Kannada in South Kannara. I then compare the linguistic situation in South Kannara to the situation in the city of Bombay (which has the largest number of Tulu speakers outside South Kannara) where there is codeswitching, and language shift from Tulu to other languages is taking place. The findings of this study illustrate the complexity of language contact situations and the role of codeswitching, language identity, and language attitudes in language maintenance.
Critical Discourse Analysts investigate how ideology and power are instantiated in language. Rhetoricians of science investigate the role of persuasion in the construction of scientific knowledge. I show how these approaches can be integrated. As a case study, I use media representations of a study presented to the American Psychiatric Association that concluded that “highly motivated” gay men and lesbians can “achieve good heterosexual functioning.” I trace how the original presentation of the study is recontextualized in an Associated Press (AP) article on the study, press releases from “ex-gay” organizations and gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (GLBT) rights organizations responding to the study, and articles written for conservative and GLBT audiences about the study. I first examine how these stories were framed in the headlines and lead paragraphs. In general, the story was framed as controversy in the AP and GLBT articles, and as groundbreaking, newsworthy research or flawed, politically motivated research in the “ex-gay” and GLBT press releases respectively. Second, I examine how scientific topoi are deployed and evaluated in defining this study as good or bad science. This analysis suggests that both “sides” define what science is in essentially the same way, but differ in how they evaluate this study with respect to scientific norms.
This paper investigates the use of humor between Japanese and American workers on a southern US factory floor, a highly task-oriented setting. While working as a liaison officer, I gathered ethnographic and discourse data through observation, interviews, and video-taping of interactions. Most previous “intercultural” studies observe non-native speakers who occupy inferior positions in a given context. However, in the present setting, the Japanese workers are superior to the local American workers with respect to their experience and hierarchy. Thus, interactions between the two groups took place in the context of more balanced power relations. The purpose of this study is to examine how, despite their serious linguistic limitations, workers in the two groups managed to utilize humor while working together. Firstly, humor strengthened the bonds among them. In using humor, the workers of the two groups made the most of what they had in common. Secondly, humor functioned to release tension in stressful situations. Finally, it was used for a contestive purpose from the American, or the subordinate, side. The findings of this study present not only the multifunctional nature of humor, but also the fact that “national characteristics” are not necessarily the most prominent aspects in the analysis of “intercultural” interactions.
This paper looks at kinship as a central, organizing motif for ritualized teasing among French adolescents of Algerian descent. Specifically, I analyze adolescent uses of parental insults to collaboratively establish and subvert ‘respectful’ behavior in an Algerian immigrant community outside Paris. In performances of parental name-calling that negotiate the boundaries between play and insult, adolescents both structure and symbolize social relationships with their peers and their parents. In addition to expressing shifting affiliations with peers and kin, these performances represent both cultural change and continuity in a diasporic context. Through them, adolescents articulate conflicting beliefs about public space, gender, and generation. With respect to adolescent social networks and group identity, these verbal performances are central in three ways. First, they are often embedded in interaction and so are difficult for adults or outsiders to understand. Second, they symbolically pose parents and adolescents in oppositional and yet dependent terms. Third, parental name-calling functions as a personalized form of deixis to ‘point’ toward a specific peer, thereby creating a social context for that individual.
Action-implicative discourse analysis (AIDA) is an approach to discourse that is particularly communicative in thrust. AIDA describes the problems, conversational strategies, and ideals-in-use within existing communicative practices. It melds the analytic moves of discourse analysis—giving attention to the particulars of talk and text—with the goal of constructing an understanding of a communicative practice that is action-implicative. It is a type of discourse analysis that has been influenced by conversation analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, and critical discourse approaches; at the same time, it is quite distinct. In this paper I describe how AIDA is similar to and different from these approaches. In addition, drawing on studies of several communicative practices (e.g., school board meetings, citizen-911 telephone exchanges, and academic colloquia), I make visible the kinds of questions AIDA is particularly well suited to address.
study examines and compares interview data by Japanese language
learners in a U.S. institutional setting. Specifically, I reconsider
“complaint sequences” (Roulston, 2000) in research
interview settings from a conversation analytic perspective.
Past studies indicate that complaining is a “category-generated”
activity in which an informant and a researcher share a co-membership
category and the researcher tends to become a recipient of complaints
if s/he shares co-categorial incumbency. However, as a researcher,
I found that I became a recipient of complaints even though
the informants and I seemingly differ in terms of gender, “race”
or ethnicity, and/or nationality. I argue that rather than assuming
these larger “categories,” informants treat the
researcher as a person (presumably) having extensive knowledge
about the topics they are complaining about. Methodologically,
follow-up interviews are found to be effective to reveal the
ideologies of informants more clearly by prompting reformulations
of “unsafe” complaints (Sacks, 1992).