Journal of Sociolinguistics

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1467-9841
Print ISSN: 1360-6441
The evidence which sociolinguists have used in recent discussions of the question of prior creolization in African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) comes primarily from recordings made in the 20th century. While such evidence is helpful, we need to go further back in time, examining sociohistorical and textual evidence from the 17th and 18th centuries in which the roots of AAVE were laid down. Demographic and other conditions were most favorable to pidginization and creolization in the Southern colonies, which accounted for 87 percent of American Blacks in the mid-18th century, and especially in South Carolina and Georgia. Additionally, the sociohistorical evidence suggests that pidgin-creole speech may have been brought to America by the large numbers of slaves imported from the West Indies in the formative years of each colony, in New England and the Middle colonies as well as the South. Textual evidence of early creole-like speech in Massachusetts, New York, Maryland and Virginia may well derive from this source.
The paper examines one of the major metalinguistic debates in post-war Germany: the debate about the influence of English on German, an issue which was raised in the 1990s in the German media and has dominated media discussions on language ever since. The analysis demonstrates that the debate is deeply embedded in current socio-political discourses as well as in long-term discursive traditions concerning, on the one hand, the socio-political changes following German reunification in 1989/90, which involved a revision of the concepts of nation and nationalism, and, on the other, the genesis of the concept of nation, which is closely bound up with the history of the educated bourgeoisie and the process of standardisation as well as linguistic purism. It is argued that the debate on Anglicisms, as is the case in many other metalinguistic debates, cannot be regarded in isolation from the socio-political environment and the context of historical usage within which it is embedded.
This study examines several approaches linguists have taken to explain native language attrition. Five attitudinal factors linked to ethnolinguistic vitality are examined: minority status, access to, and participation in, institutions and markets, cultural strength, education, and migration. Each factor was quantified into proxy variables using information compiled from the 1994 Guatemalan national population census. After constructing the data set, the author used regression analysis of the proxy variables to determine the significance of each attitudinal factor. Minority status, participation in institutions and markets, education, and migration all showed statistically significant correlations with language attrition among Maya speakers in Guatemala. Cultural strength, however, did not show a statistically significant correlation to language loss in the country.
L'A. analyse des enregistrements de locuteurs maoris et pakehas nes entre 1860 et 1870 afin de determiner les effets des contacts de langues sur les premieres formes d'anglais parlees en Nouvelle-Zelande. L'analyse de la reduction des groupes de consonnes donne un apercu des processus d'assimilation de l'anglais maori et pakeha a la fin du 19 e et au debut du 20 e siecle
Situated within the sociolinguistic study of intra-speaker variation, this article reports a 'speech perception elicitation test' aimed at eliciting on which linguistic basis Austrian listeners perceive style-shifts between standard Austrian German and Austrian dialect. Forty-two informants were asked to listen to twelve audio-excerpts from an Austrian TV discussion and to underline in standard transcripts any passages in which they heard dialectal speech being used, as opposed to standard. The outcome is a set of linguistic features that appear to be consensually used by Austrians as dialect 'diagnostics', and hence can be maintained to evoke this style when used in conversation. It is argued that establishing such a set of features on an empirical basis meets an important requirement for any claims about effects created via style-shifting in interaction (such as participant alignments), because such claims are predicated on the assumption that a respective shift be identified by listeners in inferencing meaning.
This paper presents a critical sociolinguistic exploration of the cross-examination of three young teenage Australian Aboriginal boys in a Queensland court. The boys alleged that they had been abducted by six police officers, so they were prosecution witnesses in the case against the police officers. The paper examines the lexical strategies used by defence counsel to construct these victim-witnesses as criminals with ‘no regard for the community’, and to reinterpret the alleged abduction as a consensual car ride. Of greatest concern is the strategy which I term ‘lexical perversion’– the rejection of a witness's labelling of their own experience, through overt correction with, or covert substitution of, another lexical item. These lexical strategies are central to the judicial legitimation of neocolonial control by the police over the movements of Aboriginal young people.
As the history of sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology shows, a sharp distinction between these fields and others concerned with the sociocultural investigation of language is untenable given their significant common ground. The article describes the current state of relations between sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and similar approaches to language, culture, and society. It then locates theoretical, methodological, thematic, and political points of commonality and explores emerging areas of productive dialogue among these closely overlapping research traditions. Two analytic examples, one focused on race talk in sociolinguistic interviews with European American youth and the other on ideologies of English among sexual and gender minorities in India, illustrate the benefits of bringing together different branches of sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology.
Recent work on phonological variation largely supports the apparent-time construct, though some change across an individual's lifespan is possible. But how much change is possible in an individual's grammar? How much is grammar affected by extended absence in a new, urban speech community? Social dialect surveys traditionally exclude individuals who have left their community for an extended period of time, under the assumption that dialect contact causes levelling or restructuring of the linguistic system. However, our ongoing work in a Caribbean speech community suggests that the kinds of changes that can affect grammatical variables are more constrained than we might think. Raw frequencies of vernacular variants may fluctuate, but language-internal constraints persist. Drawing on recordings from Bequia we compare the group norms for absence of copula/auxiliary be in three villages. We show that ‘urban sojourners’– Bequians who have spent an extended period overseas – may sound very different from their stay-at-home peers, but close examination shows only superficial restructuring of their grammars. Overall frequencies of be absence may be dramatically reduced but the ranking of language-internal constraints remains largely unchanged. These results reaffirm the validity of modelling variable rules in a community grammar, rather than as an aggregation of idiolectal norms.
Within institutions that provide assistance to victims of domestic violence, professionals and volunteers work as advocates for their clients at the same time that they act as gatekeepers for their agencies. While the labor of advocacy consists of empowering clients and validating their concerns and feelings, the task of gatekeeping entails making judgments about them in order to dole out goods and services. Thirty protective order interviews and their resulting affidavits form the data for this study. These interviews take place in a district attorney's office and in a pro bono law clinic. This micro-level analysis of the verbal interaction between protective order application interviewers (both paid and volunteer) and their Latina clients investigates what positive politeness strategies can reveal about how interviewers construct the conflicting discursive identities of advocate and gatekeeper. I examine what interviewers say to clients as well as how interviewers allow clients to give their accounts of abuse. The study points to specific linguistic techniques that may leave victims feeling unaccompanied in the sociolegal system. I suggest that one consequence of the gatekeeping required of interviewers is that victim-survivors may perceive a ‘second assault’ by the institutions meant to serve them. Linguistic phenomena particular to Latina women in the United States are also brought to light.
This paper presents an analysis of language variation and change in a socially stratified corpus of Glaswegian collected in 1997. Eight consonantal variables in read and spontaneous speech from 32 speakers were analysed separately and then together using multivariate analysis. Our results show that middle-class speakers, with weaker network ties and more opportunities for mobility and contact with English English speakers, are maintaining traditional Scottish features. Working-class adolescents, with more limited mobility and belonging to close-knit networks, are changing their vernacular by using ‘non-local’ features such as TH-fronting and reducing expected Scottish features such as postvocalic /r/. We argue that local context is the key to understanding the findings. Mobility and network structures are involved, but must be taken in conjunction with the recent history of structural changes to Glasgow and the resulting construction of local class-based language ideologies which continue to be relevant in the city today.
Evidence is presented in this paper of the levelling of the Tyneside (Newcastle) English vowel system toward that of a putative regional standard. This process is hypothesised to follow from the fragmentation of tight-knit urban communities that formed after large-scale immigration to Tyneside from elsewhere in the British Isles during the 18th and 19th centuries. High levels of dialect contact brought about by this influx are argued to have promoted the creation of an urban koiné, which in its contemporary form appears increasingly to be losing specifically local features. In addition to contact and mobility as agents of change, the history of unusually acute stigma attached to Tyneside speech should be considered. These and other social factors inform an analysis of the FACE and GOAT variables in the speech of 32 contemporary Tyneside English speakers of various ages, both sexes and from two social class groups.
This article demonstrates how the language death process potentially contributes to the emergence of a new dialect. A sociolinguistic survey of the prosodic phonology of Japanese spoken in Yaeyama, Okinawa shows that the obsolescence process of Okinawan has resulted in a new dialect of Japanese. First, Okinawan is undergoing processes typical of language death, including increased variability and the elimination of phonological contrasts at the prosodic level. These processes are also occurring in the incoming language, Japanese. Second, these processes have influenced the acquisition of the prosody of Standard Japanese, resulting in a new prosodic system. Third, a positive attitude towards the local variant of Japanese is prevalent among the younger members of the community, particularly the working-class males. These results suggest that a local prosodic system is emerging, resulting in a new dialect of Japanese.
We report quantitative results from a large online survey of 5010 U.K. informants' reactions to 34 different accents of English, based on simple accent labels. Patterns of accent evaluation, in terms of adjudged levels of prestige, social attractiveness and some other variables, in many regards confirm broad findings from earlier research. Accent-types associated with ‘standard’ speech are, for example, strongly favoured in the prestige and attractiveness dimensions. Several urban U.K. vernaculars, but not all, are systematically downgraded. On the other hand, robust differences emerge which have not been strongly evidenced previously – particularly differences according to informant gender (with females regularly producing more favourable evaluations) and region (with informants often favouring their own and linked varieties). There are also some important effects by informant age, for example with younger informants attributing less prestige to ‘standard’ accents. We interpret the findings as indicating rather persistent U.K. language-ideologies around accent difference that are being reconstituted only gradually and in specific regards.
‘Mixed Language,’ a characteristic pattern of language use among African township residents in South Africa, may well include words or full constituents from several languages. However, from both a structural and a social perspective, such speech has a systematic nature. In reference to grammatical structure, within any CP (projection of COMP) showing codeswitching, only one language (the Matrix Language) provides the grammatical frame in the data studied. Also, while speakers from different educational levels engage in codeswitching with similar frequencies, the types of codeswitched constitutents they prefer are different. In reference to the social use of language, we argue that specific patterns of codeswitching indicate how language is both an index of identity and a tool of communication in South Africa. In the codeswitching patterns they use, speakers exhibit strong loyalty to their own first languages. Yet, because they recognize that codeswitching facilitates communication with members of other ethnic groups, they use a number of codeswitching strategies as a means of accommodating to their addressees and simultaneously as a means of projecting multiple identities for themselves.
In this article, we will present empirical results of a longitudinal study on long-term dialect accommodation in a German dialect setting. An important model of explaining which linguistic structures undergo such convergence and which do not makes use of the notion of ‘salience’. Dialect features which are perceived by the speakers as ‘salient’ are taken up and given up more easily and faster than those which are perceived as ‘less salient’. The notion of salience has a tradition which goes back to the 1920s. We will discuss this research tradition, apply the criteria for salience that played a role in it to our results, and discuss the question of whether perceived (subjective) salience can be explained in objective (structural-phono logical or phonetic) terms.
Relations between event reports, explanations, and the reporter’s own credibility and involvement, are studied as discursively handled matters. A series of newspaper reports and commentaries is examined, concerning the controversial abortion of one of a pair of healthy twin foetuses. For two weeks the newspapers reported events, discussed issues, corrected errors, quoted sources, and in various ways handled issues of fact and responsibility concerning those events, including their own reporting of them. The approach taken is to analyse fact and accountability as the business being handled and managed in the texts themselves, rather than issues that the analysis attempts to resolve. This enables a study of how various descriptive and accounting categories are selected and deployed, including the reliability of sources, actors’ and informants’ intentions and motives, narrative uses of tense, journalistic categories such as the distinction between ‘news’ and ‘features’, and a wide variety of specific, rhetorically potent descriptions.
This paper examines the need for accountability in language planning in multilingual contexts in the South. After a brief overview of language diversity in the South, it notes that this multilingual reality has often been ignored by policy-makers acting in their own interests, unaccountable to those affected by their decisions. It considers how world trends of increasing democratisation and strengthening of minority rights are generating calls for greater accountability and language rights, so that governments become more accountable to communities for their decisions about language. Some dimensions of accountability are explored, focussing on the need to integrate the perspectives of both government and community. Structures are addressed, with an emphasis on the role of local communities and illustrations from two particular African contexts, in Cameroon and Zaire. The paper concludes with a discussion of some practical dilemmas relating to policy and research, technical input, financial assistance and community ambivalence.
Accounts have traditionally been understood as explanations designed to exonerate the speaker from an untoward act (e.g. account for lateness) (Scott and Lyman 1968). In this paper, I examine the use of accounts in advice giving, adopting a broader view of accounts as the reasoning provided to bolster the viability of the advice. The data set consists of 15 graduate peer tutoring sessions and a total of 143 advising sequences collected over a period of four years. Using the methodology of conversation analysis, I show that besides their remedial utility of ‘repairing the broken,’ accounts can also be used proactively to validate and promote a current agenda. In particular, I argue for the multi-functionality of accounts in addressing face threats, managing resistance, and doing pedagogy.
This paper discursively analyses advocates' explanations of asylum seeking in the 2001 Australian parliamentary debates. Previous research has mapped the negative discourses used to present asylum seekers as economic migrants ‘taking advantage’ of soft laws. This paper analyses how advocates oppose this rhetoric, re-categorising asylum seekers as potential refugees, and establishing Australia as legally and morally responsible for providing protection. This paper examines three influences shaping advocates' arguments: opposing anti-asylum seeker rhetoric; theories of the formation of anti-asylum seeker public opinion; and the parliamentary and wider liberal democratic intellectual political framework. It then analyses four extracts taken from political speeches in the parliament, focussing on the rhetorical strategies used to counter a pervasive ‘culture of disbelief’ against asylum seekers.
Regardless of the variability and complexity in the linguistic environment around them, children begin constructing stable linguistic identities at a young age. Prior research has effectively modeled child dialect acquisition in terms of parent influence versus peer influence, and peer influence has often been shown to be the key determiner. The present study takes the next step by showing that the parent/peer group contrast in prior studies should be viewed as a special case of a more general pattern: children learn and construct dialect identity as a process of group distinction. Using data the author collected among exogamous Sui clans in rural southwest China, the present study shows how diverse cultures can lend new perspectives to the issue of parent/peer influence; Sui children's linguistic worlds are not divided along parent/peer lines but rather along clan lines, yet a similar process of group distinction occurs.
In recent years, researchers in second language acquisition (SLA) have paid increasing attention to the socio-cultural context of language learning. Studies have drawn from a variety of sociolinguistic frameworks to examine: the relationship between second language (L2) speakers' multifaceted social identities and their opportunities for access to the target language; gender and choice of code in bilingual contexts; the effects of gender and style on L2 speakers' choice among phonological variants; language use in multilingual adolescent urban peer groups; and home language practices and minority language maintenance. In pursuing a wide range of questions concerning second language acquisition and use, researchers have drawn upon theoretical constructs and research methods developed in various sociolinguistic subfields and allied areas, including language socialization, cross-cultural communication, and conversation analysis. Indeed, some scholars have called for a reconceptualization of SLA research to redress what they see as the imbalance between cognitive and mentalistic orientations, and social and contextual orientations to language. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This paper identifies a particular ‘rapport-building’ speech style prescribed to call centre workers in four countries – Denmark, Britain, Hong Kong and the Philippines – irrespective of the language being spoken in the service interaction. It then compares Danish and British call centre workers’ compliance with the prescribed speech style and finds that Danish workers adhere significantly less to it than their British counterparts. It is suggested that this is attributable to the predominance of different politeness norms in the two cultures. The paper then discusses the indexicality of the prescribed speech style and argues that it is more commercially than culturally marked, despite the American origin of call centres. Overall, the paper draws attention to inadequacies in the paradigm focusing on the global spread of English, while lending support to recent theoretical suggestions to focus instead on how practices and styles are exported globally and potentially independently of language.
The dialect spoken in the Shetland Islands is one of the most distinctive in the British Isles. However, there are claims that this variety is rapidly disappearing, with local forms replaced by more standard variants in the younger generations. In this paper we test these claims through a quantitative analysis of variable forms across three generations of speakers from the main town of Lerwick. We target six variables: two lexical, two morphosyntactic and two phonetic/phonological. Our results show that there is decline in use of the local forms across all six variables. Closer analysis of individual use reveals that the older age cohort form a linguistically homogeneous group. In contrast, the younger speakers form a heterogeneous group: half of the younger speakers have high rates of the local forms, while the other half uses the standard variants near-categorically. We suggest that these results may pinpoint the locus of rapid obsolescence in this traditionally relic dialect area.
The process of coming out linguistically as a lesbian or as a gay man is occasionally referred to as a speech act (e.g. Harvey 1997: 72; Liang 1997: 293). This analogy is taken as a starting point to explore the extent to which coming out is a performative act, and what sort of speech act coming out may be. The discussion draws on the perspective of both the speaker and the hearer to consider how the acts involved in coming out are open to interpretation. Parallels are drawn between the act of coming out as a lesbian or a gay man and other instances of self–disclosure or of individuals’ constructions of new facets of their identities.
Nexus analysis takes human action rather than language or culture as its unit of analysis. We take one specific case to illustrate the methodology as well as its continuity with the project of Hymes, and of Boas before him, to take action against racism. A nexus analysis takes the constitution of human social groups and languages as a problem to be examined, shifting the focus away from groups toward action as the prime unit of analysis. This shift disrupts power relations between ethnographer as participant and observer and those observed who are now participants and observers in partnership, with consequences concerning when, where, and with whom ethnography can be done, consequences for the security of subjects as well as national security. We begin where inequality is perceived and analyze the actions that bring that about, our analysis itself being a form of action.
This paper examines a range of interactional activities participants carry out in the course of corner shop transactions in Quito, Ecuador. These activities include: phatic communication exchanges as traditionally conceived, that is, conventionalized forms such as how-are-you and health inquiries; individualized exchanges in the form of conversational work around a range of topics (e.g. politics, health, school); and creative language play activities (e.g. wordplay and linguistic play with names). These activities are described as reflecting participants’ orientation to the maintenance of positive rapport or friendly relations (Aston 1988a) with the effect that the service transaction becomes a pleasant and even an entertaining encounter. Such orientation is described here in relation to the familiarity existing between shopkeepers and customers as a result of frequent contact in the context of the barrio(residential neighbourhoods) in Quito. As such the study lends support, from a different socio-cultural perspective, to recent work in the area that highlights the centrality of phatic communication in task-oriented interactions in English (cf. Coupland 2000a, 2000b, 2003), and brings to the fore a wider range of activities which appear to be employed for rapport-building purposes in service encounters.
Between 1998 and 2000, the House of Lords in the United Kingdom debated and rejected a Bill to equalise the age of sexual consent for gay men with the age of consent for heterosexual sex at sixteen years. A corpus-based keywords analysis of these debates uncovered the main lexical differences between oppositional stances, and helped to shed light on the ways that discourses of homosexuality were constructed by the Lords. In the debates the word homosexual was associated with acts, whereas gay was linked to identities. Those who argued in favour of law reform focused on a discourse of equality and tolerance, while those who were against law reform constructed homosexuality by accessing discourses linking it to danger, ill health, crime and unnatural behaviour. The discussion focuses on the ways that discourses can be constructed via chains of argumentation.
Address pronoun systems in German and Swedish German Swedish
German and Swedish speakers diverge in contemporary address practice. The Swedish T form has become unmarked, with V limited to very specific situations. Apart from some specific T or V contexts, German now has coexistent systems, one with T, the other with V as the unmarked form, with different speakers or networks preferring one or the other. In an ongoing project, focus groups and participant observation in Austria, (eastern and western) Germany and Sweden and with Swedish speakers in Finland have identified factors and contexts determining degree of social distance and hence address choice. First name use is more marked than T use in Swedish but the two are closely linked in German. National variation is more substantial in Swedish than in German. In both languages there is some reversal of liberalization and distaste for imposition of the address form.
Although stylistic variation within social networks has been described in adults, this topic remains under-researched in children. One question that remains unanswered is the extent to which stylistic variation is the result of automatic alignment or of intentional, pragmatically motivated adjustment. We present an in-depth sociolinguistic case study of a 10-year-old boy, his family and four friends selected according to their place of birth and the duration of their relationship with the boy. Statistical analyses of sociolinguistic variables of French suggest that the child's use of these variants is influenced by pragmatic motivations but not by automatic alignment.La variation stylistique est bien décrite chez l’adulte. Toutefois, sa forme, ses mécanismes et ses fonctions ontogénétiques doivent être davantage étudiés chez l’enfant. Une question concerne notamment le degré auquel cette variation résulte d’un alignement automatique sur les usages de l’interlocuteur ou d’un ajustement intentionnel, fondé sur des motivations pragmatiques. Nous présentons une étude de cas approfondie d’un garçon de dix ans enregistré avec sa famille et quatre amis sélectionnés selon leur lieu de naissance et la durée de la relation amicale qui les lie à l’enfant cible. L’analyse statistique de variables sociolinguistiques du français suggère que cet enfant est capable d’ajustements subtils en fonction de l’identité des interlocuteurs. Plutôt que d’être sous-tendus par un alignement mimétique sur les usages d’autrui, ces ajustements semblent fondés sur des motivations pragmatiques et identitaires.
This article presents the results of an ethnographically informed sociolinguistic investigation of Glaswegian Vernacular and examines the intersection between language and identity using data collected from a group of working-class adolescent males, over the course of three years, from a high school in the south side of Glasgow, Scotland, called Banister Academy. Through the fine-grained acoustic analysis of the phonetic variable cat (equivalent to the trap/bath/palm set, Johnston 1997), coupled with ethnographic observations, this article shows how patterns of variation are related to Community of Practice membership, how the members of the Communities of Practice in Banister Academy use linguistic and social resources to differentiate themselves from one another, and how certain patterns of variation acquire social meaning within the peer-group. This article contributes to the under-researched area of adolescent male language use and offers one of the first ethnographically supported accounts of linguistic variation in Glasgow.
The paper analyses the narratives told between adolescent friends, recorded in single-sex friendship groups with a fieldworker. It confirms the importance of narratives in the construction of friendship and, specifically, in the interpretation of past experience according to peer group norms. The link between the self and others is different in the narratives told by the male friends and the female friends. The boys establish a sense of group identity through the joint activity of ‘telling’, whilst for the girls the links are between individual selves, constructed through their tales. Key figures in the friendship groups take the lead in demonstrating how events are interpreted. The same speaker uses styles that could be labelled ‘competitive’ and styles that could be labelled ‘cooperative’, depending on the interactional context.
The sociolinguistic study of discourse features is still at a very elementary stage, so there is very little evidence available on which to trace changes in the use of such features. One feature that has received attention is the use of non-traditional quotatives in the U.S., particularly by younger speakers, in the past twenty years. The use of be like as a quotative has spread from its presumed origin in California to other parts of the U.S. and also to Canada and England. This paper examines the further spread of non-traditional quotatives to the speech of adolescents in Glasgow and how these forms might have been transmitted.
In recent years, the appearance of egg donor advertisements in American college newspapers, sometimes offering five- and six-figure fees to ‘genetically gifted’ donors, has given rise to critical comment on both sides of the Atlantic, and has caused some to fear that the use of these procedures will eventually result in the creation of ‘designer babies’ with preselected genetic qualities. Whether such fears will be realized depends, to a great extent, upon how both the participants themselves and society as a whole come to view and understand these procedures. This article explores emerging images of assisted reproduction through an analysis of the use of metaphor in egg donor ads that appeared in the student newspaper of the University of California, Los Angeles. I argue that the attitudes displayed in these ads result from a mapping of existing cultural stereotypes associated with biological parenthood, including the role of childbearing in marriage and ‘coupledom’, onto the assisted-reproduction process, and that these metaphors are used precisely because they construct this cultural model and adapt it to the new reality of the assisted-conception experience.
This paper analyses variation between -ly and -ø in English dual form adverbs by examining conversational data from York, U.K. Using multivariate analysis and the comparative method we assess the constraint ranking, significance and relative importance of external factors (age, sex, education level) and internal factors (lexical identity, function and meaning). The results show that -ly is dominant and has increased dramatically in apparent time. However, cross-tabulations with individual lexical items reveal that this correlation with speaker age is restricted to a single item–really. In conjunction with evidence from the history of English, we suggest that this does not reflect ongoing developments in English adverb formation, but is the result of continuous renewal in the encoding of ‘intensity’. In contrast, separate analysis of the other adverbs shows that variation between -ly and zero is retained in part as a socio-symbolic resource, in particular for marking less educated male speech. Underlying this social meaning however, is a linguistic constraint which operates across all speakers. The zero adverb encodes concrete, objective meaning–a tendency which can be traced back 650 years or more. This provides yet another example of the interface between social and historical developments in language variation and change.
This paper explores the identities projected in advertisements directed towards HIV positive individuals and people with AIDS. Fifty such advertisements were collected from three popular American magazines for gay men over a period of seven months. Analysis of the ads reveals a paradoxical presentation of people with HIV/AIDS, which offers simultaneous conflicting images of hope and fear, power and weakness, innocence and guilt. An interactive sociolinguistic model through which this contradictory discourse might be understood is presented, drawing on Goffman’s insights on stigma management and the presentation of the self in social interaction. Advertisements directed towards people with HIV/AIDS, it is suggested, present a contradictory discourse in which the advertisers are positioned as ‘the wise’, offering to mediate the conflicting identities of the stigmatized. The identity values enacted in this contradictory discourse are further measured against American conceptions of communication and the self as observed by Carbaugh and others. The possible consequences of these positionings on the roles made available to people with HIV/AIDS in the wider social context are discussed.
A survey of self and other categorisation in 200 lesbian and gay male dating advertisement texts, taken from current magazines and newspapers, reveals the discursive means by which homosexual advertisers in our corpus commodify and market sexual/self-gendered identities. Detailed analysis of a sub-sample of the advertisements allows us to trace the discourse processes and conventions used in formulating identity in such texts. We interpret these discourse practices in relation to a social critique of gay attitudes, beliefs and lifestyles. The different conventions for self-commodification followed by lesbians and gay men in this survey suggest generalisable differences in sexual stance and cultural identification
This case study focuses on a white upper middle class New York City teenager who employed linguistic features of African American Vernacular English (AAVE). It describes some of these features, discusses their origins, and explores the complex dynamics of identification with hip hop, a youth subculture involving the consumption of rap music, baggy clothes and participation in activities like break dancing, writing graffiti and rapping.
This study covers an area of sociolinguistic methodology which so far has received relatively little theoretical attention: the composition and analysis of orthographic transcriptions of non-standard speech. The following aspects will be addressed: first, the linguistic/semiotic properties of orthographic transcriptions, i.e. the relationship between graphemic representation and phonology, morphology and syntax. Secondly, the different functions of orthographic writing and its ‘ideological’ (popular and linguistic) dimensions (e.g. social stereotypes, linguistic distance). The discussion of these in a database of sample transcriptions of earlier African-American English illustrates that the interplay between the functional, linguistic and ideological dimensions of orthographic transcripts is highly complex, and that their analysis and interpretation have implications for (socio)linguistic methodology in general.
This paper explores the distribution of /ai/ monophthongization in African-American and European-American speakers in Memphis, Tennessee. While often considered a feature characteristic of White Southern speech, /ai/ monophthongization has also been recorded in Black speech, both within and outside the South. However, expansion of glide-weakening to the less common pre-voiceless contexts has been considered unique to European-American dialects. Evidence of extensive glide-weakening in the African-American community in Memphis will be presented and compared to the degree and contexts of glide-weakening in the European-American community. The results will show that not only is /ai/ monophthongization a feature of Memphis speech generally, regardless of ethnicity, but that African-Americans in fact lead in glide-weakening in all contexts. The role of Southern identity in the expansion of /ai/ monophthongization is discussed as a critical component in the selection of features in both Black and White speech in the Memphis area.
This study examines trajectories of development in the use of African American English (AAE) for 32 speakers through the first 17 years of their lives based on a unique, longitudinal database. Temporal data points in the analysis include 48 months, Grade 1 (about age 6), Grade 4 (about age 9), Grade 6 (about age 11), Grade 8 (about age 13), and Grade 10 (about age 15). Complementary methods of analysis for assessing AAE include a token-based Dialect Density Measure (DDM), a type-based vernacular diversity index, and frequency-based variation analysis. The study reveals different trajectories and peak periods for the use of AAE, including a ‘roller coaster’ and a curvilinear trajectory; at the same time, there is a common dip among speakers in the overall use of vernacular AAE from Grade 1 through Grade 4. Examination of a selective set of demographic and self-regard measures shows no significant differences for gender, school racial density, racial peer contacts, and measures of Afro-centrality, but does show a significant correlation between mothers’ and child use of AAE as well as age/grade.
This paper examines the degree of sociolinguistic change in the English of young middle-class South Africans of different ethnic backgrounds in relation to new post-apartheid opportunities and friendships. Once tightly controlled, social networks of young people of middle-class background are now deracialising. The paper examines whether young people of the major ethnic groups, Black, Coloured and Indian, are simply adopting prestige White middle-class norms, adapting them or resisting change. Forty-eight speakers were analysed within a Labovian framework in relation to the goose vowel (long /u/or /uw/). Over 4000 tokens were analysed acoustically using PRAAT and compared via vowel normalisation procedures based on Watt and Fabricius (2003). The results show that middle-class speakers of the three ethnicities are fronting the vowel, but in different ways. Black speakers show the greatest accommodation to erstwhile White norms. Females show greater resistance among Coloureds and Indians, but overall it is the Black females of the study who approximate most closely to the norms of the White reference group of their gender.
The study of multilingual landscapes promises to introduce a new perspective into theories and policies of multilingualism, and to provide essential data for a politics of language. However, the theorization of space and language underlying the notion of linguistic landscape is not able to capture the manifold complexities of (transnational) multilingual mobility that is characteristic of many late-modern multilingual societies. Basing our argument on signage data from a contemporary South Africa in a dynamic phase of social transformation, we argue that more refined notions of space coupled to a material ethnography of multilingualism could provide a theoretically more relevant and methodologically refocused notion of (multilingual) linguistic landscape. Specifically, we take an approach to landscapes as semiotic moments in the social circulation of discourses (in multiple languages), and view signs as re-semiotized, socially invested distributions of multilingual resources, the material, symbolic and interactional artifacts of a sociolinguistics of mobility.
Top-cited authors
Penelope Eckert
  • Stanford University
Jan Blommaert
  • Tilburg University
Jenny Cheshire
  • Queen Mary, University of London
Juliane House
  • University of Hamburg
Alastair Pennycook
  • University of Technology Sydney