The ability of narrative to verbalize and situate experience as text (both locally and globally) provides a resource for the display of self and identity. This article focuses on two stories told by Jewish-American women about troublesome issues in their families. Analysis of the language of the stories shows how they reveal aspects of the storytellers' agentive and epistemic selves; how they construct positions in their families (pivoting between solidarity and distance, the provision of autonomy, and the exercise of power); and how they display their social identities as mothers. The view of identity offered through narrative analysis is briefly compared with other methodological and theoretical perspectives on identity.
The role of the connective and is here considered as a preface to questions in spoken interaction. Using data from informal medical encounters, it is argued that and-prefacing is used to link a question to a preceding question/answer pair or pairs. In such contexts, and-prefacing indicates that the questions it prefaces have a routine or agenda-based character. This in turn can be a resource which invokes and sustains an orientation to an activity or course of action that is implemented through a series of question/answer pairs, but transcends any individual pair. The general characteristics of and-prefaced questions are contrasted with "contingent" or "follow-up" questions, which are not normally and-prefaced. Some strategic uses of and-prefaced questions are described, and the role of the device within the more general sociolinguistic context of the data is discussed.
Consideration of twice-told tales, of narrative events built around stories already familiar to the participants, offers a special perspective on conversational storytelling, because it emphasizes aspects of narration which lie beyond information exchange, problem-solving etc. This article seeks to show that the retelling of familiar stories has at least three functions: (a) fostering group rapport, (b) ratifying group membership, and (c) conveying group values. It is shown that familiar stories exhibit characteristic structures, conditions on tellability, and participation rights. Such stories are prefaced so as to justify their retelling on the basis of the opportunity they offer for co-narration, and this in turn allows participants to modulate rapport and demonstrate group membership.
This article describes how it could be possible for two participants engaged in conversation to jointly produce a single syntactic unit such as a sentence. From an inspection of sentence types that are achieved through such joint production, it was determined that participants have available a single utterance construction format. This format, the compound turn-constructional unit format, may be a component of a socially construed syntax-for-conversation. It can be constituted by a wide range of interactionally relevant features of talk in interaction that reveal an emerging utterance as a multiple component turn-constructional unit. The compound turn-constructional unit format is primarily a resource for turn-taking. It can be used to project the next proper place for speaker change. However, it concomitantly provides the resources needed to complete the utterance-in-progress of another participant, thus allowing for the construction of a single sentence across the talk of two speakers.
The study of language choice and code-switching can illuminate the ways in which, through language, social institutions with ethnolinguistically diverse staff and clients exercise symbolic domination. Using the example of French-language minority education in Ontario (Canada), this article examines the ways in which ethnic and institutional relations of power overlap or crosscut, forming constraints which have paradoxical effects. In an analysis of two classrooms, it is shown how an ideology of institutional monolingualism is supported or undermined by program structure, curriculum content, and the social organization of turn-taking, and how individuals use language choices and code-switching to collaborate with or resist these arrangements. The effect of these processes is to contain paradoxes and to produce new relations of power within the school.
Divergent practices for displaying respect in face-to-face interaction are an ongoing cause of tension in the US between immigrant Korean retailers and their African American customers. Communicative practices in service encounters involving Korean customers contrast sharply with those involving African American customers in 25 liquor store encounters that were videotaped and transcribed for analysis. The relative restraint of immigrant Korean storekeepers in these encounters is perceived by many African Americans as a sign of racism, while the relatively personable involvement of African Americans is perceived by many storekeepers as disrespectful imposition. These contrasting interactional practices reflect differing concepts of the relationship between customer and storekeeper, and different ideas about the speech activities that are appropriate in service encounters.
In sociolinguistics, approaches that use the variables of socioeconomic class and social network have often been thought to be irreconcilable. In this article, we explore the connection between these variables and suggest the outlines of a model that can integrate them in a coherent way. This depends on linking a consensus-based microlevel of network with a conflict-based macrolevel of social class. We suggest interpretations of certain sociolinguistic findings, citing detailed evidence from research in Northern Ireland and Philadelphia, which emphasize the need for acknowledging the importance of looseknit network ties in facilitating linguistic innovations. We then propose that the link between network and class can be made via the notion of weak network ties using the process-based model of the macrolevel suggested by Thomas Højrup's theory of life-modes.
This article discusses disagreement sequences in German and Anglo-American disputes. It is argued that the context sensitivity of preference for agreement with assessments that Pomerantz 1984 found in her data to be elaborated and extended. My findings suggest that the preference structure can change once a dissent-turn-sequence has been displayed; in this case, opponents are expected to defend their positions. The reduction of reluctance markers creates a new preference structure which itself has to be accomplished by all participants. Concessions, defined as a participant's agreeing to the central issue after his or her prior disagreement, show reluctance markers which are viewed as indicators of the dispreferred status in other types of talk. Concessions can be distinguished from partially agreeing presequences of dissent turns. Speakers move toward concessions stepwise. Unprepared position shifts can be regarded by the interlocutors as the inability to defend an opinion. Concessions, being an interactional achievement, reframe the dispute.
This article reports on research carried out in the Fens in Eastern England, a region noted in the dialectological literature as the site of a number of important phonological transitions, most notably [Ʊ - Λ] and [a - a:], which separate northern and southern varieties of British English. Recordings of 81 speakers from across the Fens were analyzed for the use of (ai), a particularly salient local variable. A "Canadian Raising" type of allophonic variation was found in the central Fenland: speakers in this area used raised onsets of (ai) before voiceless consonants but open onsets before voiced consonants, morpheme boundaries, and /ə/. The article weighs a number of possible explanations for the emergence of this variation in the Fens. Based on compelling evidence from the demographic history of the area, it supports a view that such an allophonic distribution, previously thought not to be found in Britain, emerged as the result of dialect contact. The sociolinguistic process of koinéization that is commonly associated with post-contact speech communities (Trudgill 1986) is held responsible for the focusing of this allophonic variation from the input dialects of an initially mixed variety. The article concludes by suggesting a socially based explanatory model to account for the way that speakers implement processes of focusing and koinéization in areas of dialect contact.
Conservative attitudes toward loanwords and toward change in grammar often hamper efforts to revitalize endangered languages (Tiwi, Australia); and incompatible conservatisms can separate educated revitalizers, interested in historicity, from remaining speakers interested in locally authentic idiomaticity (Irish). Native-speaker conservatism is likely to constitute a barrier to coinage (Gaelic, Scotland), and unrealistically severe older-speaker purism can discourage younger speakers where education in a minority language is unavailable (Nahuatl, Mexico). Even in the case of a once entirely extinct language, rival authenticities can prove a severe problem (the Cornish revival movement in Britain). Evidence from obsolescent Arvanitika (Greece), from Pennsylvania German (US), and from Irish in Northern Ireland (the successful Shaw's Road community in Belfast) suggests that structural compromise may enhance survival chances; and the case of English in the post-Norman period indicates that restructuring by intense language contact can leave a language both viable and versatile, with full potential for future expansion.
Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act clearly forbids an employer to discriminate against persons of color for reasons of personal or customer preference. Similarly, a qualified job applicant may not be rejected on the basis of linguistic traits linked to national origin. In contrast to racial discrimination, however, an employer has considerable latitude in matters of language, provided in part by a judicial system which recognizes in theory the link between language and social identity, but in practice is often confounded by blind adherence to a standard language ideology. The nature and repercussions of this type of linguistic discrimination are here explored.
The concept of plagiarism, as used both in considerations of academic writing and in international negotiations over intellectual copyright, assumes a model of communication based on autonomous, rational, individuals who behave as originators of their own discourses. But studies of communication, beginning with Goffman's concepts of production format and footing and also including the concepts of enactment, social role, face, politeness pragmatics, metaphors of self and communication, and innatist/social concepts of knowledge indicate that such a unified, autonomous, and original communicative identity presupposes an oversimplified model of communication, centrally based in the ideology of the rational, autonomous individual which has been dominant in Europe since the Enlightenment. The concept of plagiarism masks the assertion of this ideological position.
This article reports on research carried out in the Fens in Eastern England, a region noted in the dialectological literature as the site of a number of important phonological transitions, most notably [u - Lambda] and [a - a:], which separate northern and southern varieties of British English. Recordings of 81 speakers from across the Fens were analyzed for the use of (ai), a particularly salient local variable. A ''Canadian Raising'' type of allophonic variation was found in the central Fenland: speakers in this area used raised onsets of (ai) before voiceless consonants but open onsets before voiced consonants, morpheme boundaries, and /(sic)/. The article weighs a number of possible explanations for the emergence of this variation in the Fens. Based on compelling evidence from the demographic history of the area, it supports a view that such an allophonic distribution, previously thought not to be found in Britain, emerged as the result of dialect contact. The sociolinguistic process. of koineization that is commonly associated with post-contact speech communities (Trudgill 1986) is held responsible for the focusing of this allophonic variation from the input dialects of an initially mixed variety. The article concludes by suggesting a socially based explanatory model to account for the way that speakers implement processes of focusing and koineization in areas of dialect contact.
This article examines use of kinship terms, pronouns, and proper names in China, in an overall framework termed "naming" that demonstrates the performative power of uttering relational terms, especially by the junior in the relationship. It also describes the prototypical routine of introductions, which consist of three participants, in contrast to the more typical conversation in Western analysis which posits two participants. In this three-party exchange, the animator is not the author of the words, but rather the willing and necessary namer of the relationship. Finally, it situates this performative function of naming within a general discussion of language ideology in Chinese society, in which signifiers and their homophones are seen as somehow inseparable from the signifieds.
Just as turn-taking has been found to be both context-free and context-sensitive (Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson 1974), the organization of repair is also shown here to be both context-free and context-sensitive. In a comparison of American and German conversation, repair can be shown to be context-free in that, basically, the same mechanism can be found across these two languages. However, repair is also sensitive to the linguistic inventory of a given language; in German, morphological marking, syntactic constraints, and grammatical congruity across turns are used as interactional resources. In addition, repair is sensitive to certain characteristics of social situations. The selection of a particular repair initiator, German bitte? 'pardon?', indexes that there is no mutual gaze between interlocutors; i.e., there is no common course of action. The selection of bitte? not only initiates repair; it also spurs establishment of mutual gaze, and thus displays that there is attention to a common focus.
American quantitative sociolinguistics has drawn substantially on data from the African American speech community for its descriptive, theoretical, and methodological development, but has given relatively little in return. Contributions from the speech community to sociolinguistics include the development of variable rules and frameworks for the analysis of tense-aspect markers, social class, style, narratives, and speech events, plus research topics and employment for students and faculty. The contributions which sociolinguistics could make in return to the African American speech community but has not done sufficiently include the induction of African Americans into linguistics, the representation of African Americans in our writings, and involvement in courts, workplaces, and schools, especially with respect to the teaching of reading and the language arts. This last issue has surged to public attention following the Oakland School Board's "Ebonics" resolutions on Dec. 18, 1996. The present unequal partnership between researcher and researched is widespread within linguistics. Suggestions are made for establishing service in return as a general principle and practice of teaching and research in our field.
Since its introduction by Malinowski in the 1920s, "phatic communion" has often been appealed to as a concept in sociolinguistics, semantics, stylistics, and communication, typically taken to designate a conventionalized and desemanticized discourse mode or "type." But a negotiation perspective, following the conversation analysis tradition of research on greetings and troubles telling, fits the discursive realities better. Phaticity is a multidimensional potential for talk in many social settings, where speakers' relational goals supercede their commitment to factuality and instrumentality. We then analyze phatic processes in elderly people's responses to a scripted how are you? opening in interviews about their medical experiences. Discourse analyses of phatic communion can raise important issues for gerontological and medical research.
This study examines how deadlines and time limits for conference talks organize the discourse of consensus among collaborating experimental and theoretical physicists in a university laboratory. Six months of videotaped observations, including two cycles of conference talk preparation, indicate that, as the date of an upcoming conference nears, several things happen. (a) Co-authoring physicists usually have not achieved agreement on all aspects of the findings. (b) They nevertheless direct their energies to constructing a hybrid presentation rhetoric that satisfies the co-authors and fits the talk to the official conference talk time limit. (c) In the process of working through matters of rhetoric what to say, what to display visually, what to leave out, and in what order the information should be presented the physicists construct a working consensus on matters of physics: theory and experimental data explaining the properties and dynamics of the physical universe.
This article argues that self-expression is a crucial though heretofore largely overlooked part of the explanation for linguistic variation. Self-expression mediates between linguistic choices and social facts such as gender, occupation, linguistic ideology, and place of origin, as speakers use language not only to express their identification with or rejection of social groupings, but also to express their individuality. All language use is thus essentially idiosyncratic and syncretic. The point is illustrated with reference to case studies of the speech and writing of two Texas women who use language in public contexts. The article further argues for the sociolinguistic study of public modes of discourse in addition to "vernacular" modes, and for the need in sociolinguistic research for rhetorical as well as linguistic analysis.
The style dimension of language variation has not been adequately explained in sociolinguistic theory. Stylistic or intraspeaker variation derives from and mirrors interspeaker variation. Style is essentially speakers' response to their audience. In audience design, speakers accommodate primarily to their addressee. Third persons auditors and overhearers affect style to a lesser but regular degree. Audience design also accounts for bilingual or bidialectal code choices. Nonaudience factors like topic and setting derive their effect by association with addressee types. These style shifts are mainly responsive caused by a situational change. Speakers can also use style as initiative, to redefine the existing situation. Initiative style is primarily referee design: divergence from the addressee and towards an absent reference group. Referee design is especially prevalent in mass communication.