While numerous publications have shown that apes can learn some aspects of human language, one frequently cited difference between humans and apes is the relative infrequency of declaratives (comments and statements) as opposed to imperatives (requests) in ape symbol use. This paper describes the use of declaratives in three language-competent apes and two children. The apes produced a lower proportion of spontaneous declaratives than did the children. However, both groups used declaratives to name objects, to interact and negotiate, and to make comments about other individuals. Both apes and children also made comments about past and future events. However, showing/offering/giving, attention getting, and comments on possession were declarative types made by the children but rarely by the apes.
This paper investigates phonological variation in British Sign Language (BSL) signs produced with a '1' hand configuration in citation form. Multivariate analyses of 2084 tokens reveals that handshape variation in these signs is constrained by linguistic factors (e.g., the preceding and following phonological environment, grammatical category, indexicality, lexical frequency). The only significant social factor was region. For the subset of signs where orientation was also investigated, only grammatical function was important (the surrounding phonological environment and social factors were not significant). The implications for an understanding of pointing signs in signed languages are discussed.
How did different concepts of language influence the way Heymann Steinthal and Friedrich Nietzsche regarded the cognitive subject? This paper historicizes an element of the recent ‘linguistic turn’ in the humanities by analyzing how two predecessors to Michel Foucault undermined the idealist assumption that concepts originate in the activity of a sovereign consciousness. Applying psychology to linguistics, Steinthal insisted that language originated in the unconscious and therefore limited man’s epistemological autonomy. Nietzsche further destabilized conceptual thought as the product of instinct and aesthetic impulses. For him, the cognitive subject was a linguistic fiction – a grammatical convention that had assumed unwarranted philosophical authority.
In this essay I propose to (1) offer some comments on areas of theoretical common cause shared by integrationists and other theorists, past and present, some of which have been explored more fully in other contributions to this volume; (2) propose some correctives to Joseph’s recent objections to the anti-surrogationalism of the integrational approach; and (3) conclude with some remarks on the importance of matching or calibrating new developments in technology with changes in linguistic practice and theory, so as to understand how language and technology are profoundly interdependent in their changing natures.
The central themes of a popular and scholarly literature of language endangerment are connected broadly to European concepts of Wonder and the Sublime, and specifically to an American ambivalence about ‘progress’ and environmental despoliation (also expressed, e.g., in 19th century American landscape painting). The documentation of ‘vanishing’ American Indian languages by John Peabody Harrington (1884–1961)—carried out indefatigably, in secret, and always in ‘salvage’ mode—is considered next. Harrington’s vast Nachlass is today playing a central role in language revitalization and tribal recognition efforts of contemporary Native Californians, even as its contents, and its compiler, remain at least partly lodged in those same Romantic tropes of the Sublime (as was Harrington’s own self-image, perhaps): limitless, forbidding, impenetrable. Writing as a way of rendering languages accessible and rescuing them from ‘oblivion’ is the unifying theme, ironically enough.
Traditional accounts hold that reference consists in a relation between the mind and an object; the relation is effected by a mental act and mediated by internal mental contents (internal representations). Contemporary theories as diverse as Fodor's [Fodor, J.A., 1987. Psychosemantics: The Problem of Meaning in the Philosophy of Mind. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA] language of thought hypothesis, Dretske's [Dretske, F., 1988. Explaining Behaviour: Reasons in a World of Causes. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA] informational semantics and Millikan's [Millikan, R.G., 1984. Language, Thought and Other Biological Categories: New Foundations for Realism. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA] teleosemantics share this act–content–object picture (which was also held by several early modern philosophers, in particular Locke). The core of the traditional view is the thesis that reference and intentionality are relational (‘thesis RR’). Although deeply problematic, RR is entrenched also in psychology, linguistics, cognitive science and Artificial Intelligence. Using for the most part arguments employed by Wittgenstein, we mount a case against RR and advance a deflationary account of reference and intentionality according to which neither is relational.
Adults and three groups of children, aged 5–6, 6–7 and 9–10 years (241 subjects) categorized 13 vocalizations of Macaca arctoides using drawings of five human emotions: aggression, fear, positive emotion, submission, and dominance. Most vocalizations were recognized by all groups. The proportion of ‘correct’ judgments increased from 42% to 59% with age. The two younger groups were similar in their performance; the children aged 9–10 years resembled the adults. The two youngest groups chose the categories ‘angry’ and ‘commanding’ more often than the older subjects. Intense fear vocalizations, identified correctly by most adults, were not so well recognized by the two youngest groups of children, who frequently regarded them as ‘aggressive’ or ‘commanding’.
Succinctness, a defining characteristic of the discourse of advertising, implies specific sociocognitive and communicative mechanisms. Evidence from the conventionalized medium of advertising catalogs shows that degree of linguistic sophistication in these texts correlates less with the content being advertised than with its location along a glamour-utilitarianism continuum. It is proposed that the need for writers to manipulate representations of status by readers overrides the competing need to present content explicitly. Thus, the language of advertising consists essentially of often propositionally vacuous displays of competitive linguistic sophistication designed to create a largely artificial sense of exclusiveness among status-conscious readers.
This article examines ‘public reprimand’ (tshogs gtam) at Sera Monastery, a major Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Geluk sect in India. This disciplinary practice is shown to be of duplex textual and theatrical complexity. In this form of reprimand, the Disciplinarian seeks to (re)form the dispositions of monastic subjects by textually projecting, juxtaposing, and evaluating morally weighted voices. As the Disciplinarian stages this moral-didactic drama – this ‘serious theatre’, to borrow Foucault’s expression – he adopts a culturally prescribed stance on his own affective performance. In investigating the textuality of voice, stance, and affectivity in this form of public reprimand, this article seeks to rekindle interest in ‘penal semiotics’, a vector of inquiry that Foucault initiated.
Drawing its inspiration from Roy Harris's The Necessity of Artspeak which investigates the ramifications of the language myth in Western discourse on the arts, this paper examines Sir Nicholas Serota's 2000 Richard Dimbleby Memorial Lecture entitled `Who's afraid of modern art?' as an example of artspeak in the service of the institution. My analysis takes account of the socio-cultural context in which the Lecture is embedded and views this context as paramount to a close reading of the text. I argue that Serota's discourse, located in the very public domain of television, illustrates what Harris characterises as the subordination of artspeak to the new supercategory of mediaspeak.
In this paper, I discuss identity display among Francophone Black Africans in Cape Town. I focus on language practice and attitudes, both approached in relation to space, which is conceived of multidimensionally. I argue that the physical environment, symbolic meaning, and social practice are interrelated in shaping, together and separately, language practice and attitudes. I propose an interactional and dynamic model of analysis based on territoriality which helps us understand the relationship between space and language, and the way speakers give meaning to and appropriate their multilayered space.
The systematic study of African languages emerged in the 19th century as a scientific field along with other European projects of information-gathering, religious proselytizing, and establishing an imperial presence on the continent. This paper considers how the conditions – ideological, social, and material – of linguistic research in the early colonial encounter influenced the resulting descriptions of African languages and the delimitation of linguistic boundaries. Frameworks and precedents from those early projects have remained influential in African linguistics, for example in the identification of ‘ethnolinguistic groups,’ in the shape of grammatical descriptions, and in the politics of orthography.
This article develops an approach to contemporary governance as a communicative practice fundamentally organized by “graphic artifacts”—materials such as files, maps, letters, reports, and office manuals. The empirical focus is the role of graphic artifacts in bureaucratic institutions in Islamabad, Pakistan. Departing from functionalist accounts of bureaucracy and from approaches to governmental writing centered on reference and predication, the article describes the use of graphic artifacts, particularly files, in the ritual construction of collective bureaucratic authority and agents. This authority protects individuals and allows particular projects to be collectivized. The article highlights the relationship between, on one hand, the material qualities and dispositions of artifacts and, on the other hand, the semiotic processes they mediate.
In this paper I argue that a particular type of Anglo-American legal discourse treats spoken language as a text artifact and discuss the effects on the person to whom the text artifact is attributed. I do this by historicizing the language ideology that generally prohibits the use of hearsay in in-court testimony, but admits ‘excited utterances,’ or declarations made spontaneously in response to an event ‘startling enough to cause nervous excitement’ (Haggins vs. Warden, Fort Pillow State Farm, 1984, p. 1057). The language ideology mobilized and circulated in this discourse assumes that some utterances are by their very nature artefactual, and as artifacts, they are the property of the event, not the speaker. This rule and language ideology have roots in early modern English common law. I trace the history of this language ideology back through the definitions of the excited utterance exception to hearsay, historically called the spontaneous exclamation exception. This particular discourse highlights the ways ideas about language are historically saturated, the ways that history is embedded in metadiscourses, and the effects of metadiscursive evaluation on the people whose utterances are in question.
The Petalangan people in Indonesia practice beauty and love spells to evoke others’ desire. This article explores (1) the linguistic features and devices that are available for Petalangans to represent and recognize specific attributes of desires and (2) the metalinguistic dimensions of the language practice. The analysis demonstrates that Petalangan notions of desire are not necessarily associated with sexuality, but rather with the differences in agency and power between subjects and objects of desire. I discuss how a performer of the spells acquires agency by denying one’s own power and intentions, thus critiquing the conventional Western ideas of agency that emphasize individual will and intentions.
Le peuple, the ‘people’ is a collective noun difficult to define, because it changes its value according to place, time and political regime. The history of the notion shows that it oscillates between the social and moral concept of populace, the political concept of nation and the economical concept of working class. In the present paper, it is also given a linguistic content in so far as it refers to a linguistic community of variable extent in which an individual makes a projection of his relationship to other individuals in order to constitute a representation of a whole which then reflects back onto each individual. The inclusion of the concept of the people among linguistic categories dealing with agentivity presupposes a theoretical engagement for the existence of hypostasized concepts that transcend the heterogeneity of sociological variables. Precedence is thus given to a ‘linguistic’ principle which stresses equality of individuals in front of language in such a way that they are made to speak by the same mouth, that of a collective, abstracted personage to whom each individual has given a mandate to express his opinions and will somehow by proxy.
Television and aging is one realm of social gerontology inquiry with descriptive consistency in research findings. Although we have an adequate profile of older persons' television use, we are lacking more heuristic explanations of television's role in the lives of the elderly. Such explanations need to emphasize the communication, social and psychological attributes of media users, information-seeking motives to communicate, and the relationship of television viewing to the use of other communication channels and sociopsychological attributes. Following a brief summary of television and aging descriptions from earlier research, and a discussion of the notion of information seeking, this essay focuses on how communication, social and psychological characteristics of older persons relate to using television to seek information.
This paper compares shifts in speech genres within oratorical traditions in colonial America and contemporary Tamilnadu, India, and the relationship between communicative practice and the emergence of democratic politics. The American Revolution was predicated upon an `elocutionary revolution' in oratorical practice in which orators shifted from a high Ciceronian and elite mode of speech to one in which they evoked a `naturalness' of language that embodied the speech of Everyman. But in the emergent democracy of 1940s Tamilnadu, orators moved from a form of `ordinary' language to one that was specifically modeled on the written word. The paper interrogates shifting subjectivities of orators as aspects of the culturally and historically specific forms of power within two emergent democracies.
As recently as 1997, Noam Chomsky has reiterated what he had affirmed on several occasions, especially during the 1970s, namely, that when working out his ideas on rule ordering for his Master's thesis on Morphophonemics of Modern Hebrew in 1951, he did not have access to Bloomfield's “Menomini Morphophonemics” 1939 paper, suggesting that the generative model of linguistic analysis he developed at the time was more or less original with him. The present paper argues that even if he did not have direct access to a copy of Travaux du Cercle Linguistique de Prague vol. 8 prior to the completion of his M.A. thesis, he had very likely absorbed the essentials of Bloomfield's ideas about rule ordering from various sources, including reaading the proofs of his supervisor Zellig S. Harris' main theoretical work, Methods in Structural Linguistics, in early 1947, in which the salient points of Bloomfield's 1939 argument are discussed in a section entitled “Morphophonemics”. Indeed, although Harris' book was not published until 1951, it had been circulating in manuscript form since 1946, and Harris' preface, signed January 1947, thanks Chomsky for helping with the proofs. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that Harris' Methods contains the essentials of the generative approach to language which is by now almost exclusively associated with Chomsky's name. A further case can be made that Harris' 1941 and 1948 articles on Hebrew provided more than simply the data of which Chomsky's 1951 M.A. thesis constitutes largely a ‘restatement’ in a much more abstract, technical form of his own making. The present paper argues that there has been much more continuity and cumulative advance in American linguistics than we have been made to believe both by the active participants in the ‘revolution’ and its historians.
An analysis of the structure and function of agonistic calls requires special methods because neither the essentials of structure nor their relation to function are known, nor the context involved. The first steps in this direction are (1) a structure analysis as detailed as possible; (2) identification of structure components essential for intraspecific communication on account of specific structural criteria, and (3) verification of the essentiality of components as regards function. For calls without any distinct frequency modulation, we were able to show that the animals utter calls containing categorical amplitude changes. The changes within one call were either very small or very large. The positions of the very large amplitude changes within a call depend on the social situation the animals were subjected to. This proves, in our opinion, that in agonistic behaviour discrete components are produced (structure) as well as used (function). These results confirm the advantageousness of the methods applied and will lead to further analyses of structure and function of primate vocalizations.
Using the verbal-guise technique, 190 Anglo and Hispanic adolescents listened to and evaluated a series of Anglo- and Hispanic-accented speakers reading an ethnically neutral radio announcement across a broad range of seven judgmental dimensions. Anglo-accented speakers were evaluated more favorably across all dimensions, although the effect was attenuated for Hispanic raters. The reported linguistic landscape of the raters was also investigated to determine its role in predicting language attitudes. While this had no effect on Anglo raters, the linguistic landscape significantly affected Hispanic ratings; the more Spanish the perceived local climate (e.g., in terms of road signs, media available), the less favorably Anglo-accented speakers were rated, whereas the more English their perceived landscape, the more favorably Anglo speakers were rated.
Cotext is the most immediate manifestation of context in discourse. It is a natural consequence of the linearity of language and the sequentiality of talk. Interpretations of utterances in discourse depend on information provided by earlier utterances in the sequence and constitute information necessary for interpreting later utterances in it. This paper focuses on influences of cotext on interpretations of vague language in court testimony during the O.J. Simpson civil murder trial in Los Angeles in 1996—or, more properly, on language interpreted as vague by the plaintiffs' attorney during the trial. Answers interpreted as vague or nonresponsive in the courtroom are often no more unclear, in isolation, than the questions they are intended to answer. That they are interpreted as vague in spite of this is partly attributable, I suggest, to the self-contextualizing effects of cotext.
This article addresses the problem of the construction of context as a key analytical concept in the methodology of social and cultural anthropology. It takes a developmental view, showing how the problem has been re-defined over time. It also adopts a ‘transdisciplinary’ approach plotting the development of the problem under different disciplinary conditions. It argues that context is linked to interpretation in terms of connection and disconnection of phenomena construed as relevant or not. It also argues that context is a social construct: it has a ‘social life’, and this life is susceptible to anthropological analysis.
This paper examines the apocalyptic theory of language described in three texts by the British chemist, theologian, and political radical Joseph Priestley. Combining a millennialist view of history with a Lockean conception of language and a republican zeal for liberty, Priestley displaces the Adamic dream of a fully motivated linguistic sign from the beginning of history to its end, predicting that a universal, philosophical language and the truth it would embody will one day arise provided that people are free to express and explore a plurality of views on all subjects. This paper suggests that, in foregrounding the performative dimension of language and presenting language as a process towards full meaningfulness, Priestley’s theory provides speakers with the possibility of contesting and revising received meanings and with them the relations of power and knowledge with which language is coextensive.
Although (XXX) and (α) are thought to be merged in Utah English, acoustic analysis reveals that there are small, but consistent differences between them unless speakers are made aware of the vowels. Evidence that when the vowels are merged, hypercorrection is involved comes from a matched guise experiment. Listeners rated speakers more favorably on factors associated with Standard English when they produced more of a merger or when they gave no clue about whether they merged than when the speakers more clearly distinguished the vowels.
This paper examines factors complicating the definition of Standard Chinese, including register and socio-geographical variation, sound change and folk etymology, foreign loans and contact-induced structural change, and inherent imprecisions in the national spelling system. Also examined are reactions to change in the linguistic and language-teaching communities, how lay and academic attitudes towards impurities and linguistic innovation differ, and how differences between Chinese and western notions of ‘language’ and ‘dialect’ serve to further widen the gap between the textbook standard and perceived standardness. Predictions are made regarding the future development of Modern Standard Chinese that take into consideration the popular appeal of the language of westernized Chinese societies (e.g., Hong Kong and Taiwan) and the effect of the growth of native speakers of Mandarin in the Chinese-speaking world.
While working on a project to prepare archived Mvskoke language materials for public access, the author encountered narratives that members of the speech community consider to be dangerous for some audiences. This paper demonstrates that this response would be mitigated if rich ethnographic information about these texts was available. The author suggests that present-day collectors of linguistic material should include ethnographic information relating to their corpora as part of an ethical consideration for future users.
Linguistic relativism is the thesis that the grammatical structures of different languages imply different conceptions of reality. In this paper we critically discuss one form of linguistic relativism, which argues that grammatical differences between the English and Yoruba language exhibit differences in how English and Yoruba speakers ‘see’ reality (namely in terms of ‘spatiotemporal particulars’ and ‘sortal particulars’, respectively).We challenge the idea that linguistic relativism is an empirical thesis, i.e., a thesis that is substantiated through anthropological examples. We show that linguistic relativism is based on two assumptions: firstly, that the purpose of language is to describe the world; secondly, that being able to speak presupposes an ontological theory of the ultimate constituents of the world. We argue that the attempt to extract the outline of that theory from the language inevitably distorts the portrayal of language-using practice itself.
On some modern theories of language genesis, certain fundamental features of language arose, like birds’ feathers, through exaptation. The article offers a critical appraisal of three of these theories, namely those of Lieberman, Wilkins and Wakefield, and Calvin and Bickerton. It argues that these theories fail to assign to the features of language in question the status of ‘exaptation’ in a non-ad hoc and non-arbitrary way: these theories are not embedded in a sufficiently restrictive general theory of exaptation. It is moreover shown that, in the absence of such a theory, it is unclear what kinds of evidence are properly relevant to the appraisal of the exaptationist claims expressed by the three theories of language genesis.
College promotional discourse highlights qualities that a college claims for itself (excellence), claims to instill or select for in students (skills or leadership) or values in itself and its students (diversity). These terms appear to have clear cut referents because of their semiotic coherence in this discourse: excellence, skills and leadership denote qualities which contribute to the good of the whole and index a common perspective on what counts as good. Diversity is invoked as if it does too, but since it can denote racial difference, the denotational fit is off. The denotational parameters are reset through indexical ordering (after Silverstein): excellence, skills, and leadership establish the prior semiotic ground and diversity becomes congruent. Diversity and multiculturalism used to share that pragmatic ground but the latter has faded from use. In this paper, I show how promotional terms are strategically deployed in ways that demonstrate that pragmatic fit.
This paper illustrates the necessity of very differentiated approaches to context when analyzing political discourses. Specifically, the case of antisemitic rhetoric will be regarded because antisemitic beliefs were tabooed in official domains, in postwar Austria. Nevertheless, politicians continued to use such prejudices for political purposes. Certain linguistic devices, like presuppositions and insinuations can only be understood and interpreted when enough co-text and context knowledge is assumed. The paper argues for an interdisciplinary approach in the Social Sciences, because such complex problems, like populism, racism or antisemitism cannot be grasped by one traditional discipline. It also argues for an intertextual approach which regards historical developments and socio-political factors while analyzing discourses.
The early development of autobiographical memory is a useful case study both for examining general relations between language and memory, and for investigating the promise and the difficulty of interdisciplinary research in the cognitive sciences of memory. An otherwise promising social-interactionist view of autobiographical memory development relies in part on an overly linguistic conception of mental representation. This paper applies an alternative, ‘supra-communicative’ view of the relation between language and thought, along the lines developed by Andy Clark, to this developmental framework. A pluralist approach to current theories of autobiographical memory development is sketched: shared early narratives about the past function in part to stabilize and structure the child's own autobiographical memory system.
This paper examines the links between language use, speakers and institutional authority at the oldest Aymara-language radio station in Bolivia. The station’s Aymara language department develops and approves scripts and monitors programming, identifying Spanish loan words – “aberrations” – and replacing them with Aymara neologisms. In the context of indigenous political resurgence in Bolivia, language has become a metonym for the indigenous nation, another terrain for decolonization and personal transformation. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and discourse analysis of a broadcast of the program Aymara Language, I argue that the metadiscursive regime operating at the station plays a role in consolidating a distinct register of Aymara and its elusive model speaker.Highlights► An Aymara radio station in Bolivia maintains a language policy of broadcasting “pure Aymara” free of Spanish loan words. ► The radio’s Aymara Language Department draws on academic, religious, and familial authority. ► Language endangerment and nationalist discourses inform metadiscursive practices surrounding this register of Aymara. ► Pure Aymara is diffused by the radio as a complex icon of Aymara personhood.
Morality is a concept that is based on value judgments of “right” or “wrong” and “good” and “bad”. Three language-competent apes (two bonobos and a chimpanzee) are shown to use the symbols “good” and “bad” in appropriate contexts and to co-construct these values with the humans in their environment, indicating that the specific expression of value judgments is cultural. Their developmental use of these symbols parallels studies in children which suggest that conceptual simplicity and internal development may affect the development of moral precursors. These findings support recent research that has found moral precursors in several species of nonhuman primates.
Indigenous or village sign languages arise suddenly, spread rapidly, and disappear quickly. Their compressed life cycles lend urgency to and pose challenges for language documentation, description, preservation, and revitalization. This case study analysis of a Thai village sign language demonstrates how the traditional anthropological methods of mapping, surname analysis, kinship diagramming, medical genetic pedigrees, and social network analysis were effectively combined to develop a foundational description of the size, scope, and membership of Ban Khor Sign Language’s speech/sign community. This replicable metric can aid other fieldworkers in producing baseline accounts of the speech/sign communities of other un(der)documented indigenous sign languages.
Approaches to the phenomenon of ‘talk’ have been polarized between very different, apparently irreconcilable or incommensurable, antinomic approaches to the phenomenon (and the kinds of data, ‘real’ or ‘imagined’, that can be used), characterizable as ‘technical’ versus ‘normative’, ‘generic’ versus ‘genred’ views of talk. By looking at how Starbucks baristas recount dialogs with ‘stupid’ customers as part of ‘rants’ or ‘vents’ about service work, we find that there is a common model of conversation widely shared by both members and analysts based on peer conversation, which serves as an implicit model for barista critique of service interactions and understanding barista rants about customers.
This article discusses the difficulties of devising and implementing workable mission language policies in one of the world’s linguistically most diverse regions. In spite of ample funding and the involvement of professional linguists, the ambitious project of making Mota the lingua franca of the south-western Pacific was a failure. One of the principal reasons for this was that the Melanesian missionaries saw intercommunication as a technical problem and failed to consider the social and cultural factors that determine the success or failure of any language plan.
Humans had “fully syntactical language” as early as 75,000 years ago. This has been inferred from properties of a number of Middle Stone Age (MSA) shell beads excavated at Blombos Cave in South Africa. Addressing the question “Can one learn something about the evolution of language from prehistoric shell beads?”, the article analyses the chain of inferential steps by which this conclusion was reached. It argues that some of these steps are problematic in not being underpinned by well-articulated theories of what “fully syntactical language” is and of why a complex form of syntax is a requisite for transmitting MSA symbolic meanings. At a more general level, the article, moreover, fleshes out the concept of a “window on language evolution” by contrasting the shell bead window with the window provided by pidgin languages in regard to the form of inference they embody and the purpose for which they are used.
This paper discusses how education, and especially its key product English, shape Tanzanian beauty pageants both implicitly and explicitly. Discourses within these events extol education as the primary resource for social mobility and the most promising solution to society’s and individuals’ problems. Furthermore, contestants and observers plug into English-language, school-based models of speaking, listening, and manifesting knowledge, a process facilitated by the configuration of contestants as schoolgirls. Yet the data presented here demonstrate a mismatch between the social construction of education and the realities that it offers on and off stage. This article will thus outline the mobility of educational models of language use in urban Tanzania, and how, once mobile, they are subject to reinterpretation, revision, and hierarchical reorganization.
This paper explores how some individuals’ talk about sexual desire is rendered as incomprehensible when those desires are not easily talked about through categories of sexual identity. Using data from an ‘alternative lifestyles’ support group in New York City, I argue that paying attention to expressions of desire is vital for understanding what ‘sexuality’ has come to mean in contemporary theoretical accounts. Moreover, such an approach enables a critical view of both the political systems which underpin sexual identity as well as the relationships among language, gender, sexuality, and desire.
This paper explores the establishment of migrant identities through linguistic and sociolinguistic exchanges in a Beijing public school. Drawing on the data from ethnographic observation and interviews, the research demonstrates how small features of language become emblematic of individual and group identities, and how such identities have an impact on the appraisal of migrant pupils’ performance at school as well as in wider frames of macro-political order which often invoke homogeneism within the dominant language ideologies, emphasizing linguistic uniformity and homogeneity.
This paper examines ideologies in action. In Dutch classes provided to newly immigrated children (so-called ‘Newcomers’) in Belgium, literacy is narrowed to a highly specific set of normative writing practices (‘ortho-graphy’), and mastering these practices is seen as a precondition for learning. This highly specific view of literacy fits into larger societal, normative ‘monoglot’ ideologies of language, in which language competence is perceived as a complex of highly regimented skills, and in which degrees to which such competences are acquired reflect on wider identity categories of group membership. In the Belgian classrooms we examined, this particular view of literacy led to various forms of disqualification of pupils’ linguistic and literacy resources. Mastery of different writing systems or a capacity to produce basic forms of writing was dismissed as ‘non-writing’. There was little or no allowance for what we call ‘hetero-graphy’: the deployment of literacy means in non-normative ways.
Language contraction is shaped by the unequal distribution of power and resources, both between the language community and the dominant society, and within the contracting language community itself. Gender is connected to other social divisions and inequalities, rendering it central to processes of maintenance and loss. For indigenous groups struggling for recognition and rights, public acknowledgement of intra-group fractures may be political suicide, but for scholars it is crucial, albeit absent from the outpouring of attention to endangered languages. Linguistic ideologies about place, gender, and social change naturalize, reinforce, and mediate subjectivities, ethnolinguistic repertoires, national identities, and collective moralities. Two groups of Tashelhit Berber speakers of southwestern Morocco – Anti-Atlas mountain dwellers and Sous Valley plains dwellers – contrast in regard to their patterns of language maintenance and contraction, but in both, women are central in ways that engage their dissimilar relationships to Arabic speakers and to their own conceptions of rurality.
This case study on the linguistic ideas of George Berkeley is designed to exemplify the clandestine intrusion of ‘linguistic Platonism’, i.e. occult conceptions of language, into linguistic theories of modern times. The assumption underlying the study is that occult linguistic thought has played an important role in the formation of all modern theories of language which argue for a cognitive function alongside, or instead of, a communicative function of language. Focusing on the historical emergence of linguistic Platonism in Renaissance esoteric traditions, part I will lay the foundations for a new interpretation of Berkeley’s theory of language (part II), which will be presented in the following issue. Here I will argue that occult concepts of language are indeed amenable to serious historiographic study, widespread convictions to the contrary notwithstanding. I will suggest that the apparent contradictions and other theoretical inconsistencies in occult concepts of language vanish once we allow for the possibility that they can be allocated to two different kinds of language and to two theories of language. It is this double theory of language that provides the theoretical backbone of linguistic Platonism.
As a technology for writing, the computer promises to redefine the relationship between author, reader and writing space. Word processing, which looks back to the medium of print, only hints at what the computer can do. More sophisticated programs for ‘hypertext’ and ‘hypermedia’ can now present text as an evolving structure, the sum of hierarchical and associative connections among verbal and pictorial elements. Unlike printing, which lends fixity and monumentality to the text, electronic writing is a radically unstable and impermanent form, in which the text exists only from moment to moment and in which the reader joins with the writer in constituting the text.
Cataloguing in libraries was formerly done by cataloguers with a wide range of academic backgrounds and linguistic abilities. With the rise of networked databases much of this work is now automated, outsourced to vendors, or done by persons lacking the requisite skills. The removal of this activity from libraries leads to a generic product produced for a generic user, with no possibility for a library-internal evaluation of the product. Librarians demand “a bibliographic record” of a certain form in a manner analogous to the generative grammar’s production of sentences. So long as the form is correct, it is not evaluated for appropriateness or usefulness. The resulting information is often equivalent to colorless green ideas.
The article deals with a fundamental mechanism here referred to as ‘discoursivation’ meaning the transformation of local utterances into available and binding discursive facts. Discoursivation, it is claimed, lies at the heart of (legal) discourse formation since it provides the basic material for all the operations to follow such as defining, assessing, and deciding. The basic mechanism is explored in light of two models: Luhmann’s “procedural past” and Foucault’s “field of presence”. Do these models grasp the mechanism of discoursivation? Three criminal cases provide the empirical reference for the conceptual endeavour. In each of these cases, the analysis traces the suspect’s early defence and the multiple reappearances and references to it in the procedural course. On these grounds, the article distinguishes three modes of discoursivation. Utterances are turned into discursive facts by ways of staging, reiteration, and mobilisation. By using only one of these modes, an analysis of legal discourse unavoidably mistakes the subject- and power-position of the contributor vis-à-vis the procedure.
The theoretical importance and explanatory value of ‘rules’ have frequently been questioned. This article discusses two different lines of criticism presented by the representatives of ethnomethodology and connectionism. It is argued that in both approaches a ‘rule’ is understood in a limited sense. Consequently their criticism does not give grounds to refute the notion of rules. The assumption that the later Wittgenstein proposes to reject ‘rules’ altogether can also be seen as mistaken. Wittgenstein attempts to dissolve the conceptual problems associated with the notion by considering it as praxis. His rule-considerations are compatible with an emergent approach to language, for they both reject rule-reification.
Word learning has been extensively studied in humans. Children seem to be able to map new words onto objects with only one exposure to the referent. This ability has been called “fast mapping”( and ). Using a modified human paradigm, this paper explores two language-competent bonobos' (Pan paniscus) abilities to map new words to objects in realistic surroundings with few exposures to the referents. This paper also investigates the necessity of the apes maintaining visual contact (ostensive context) with the item to map the novel name onto the novel object. The bonobos tested in this experiment were able to map new words onto objects and could do so without visual contact with the items.