Linguistics 150: Language in Society     Fall 2014                                                  

The class meets in .

The purpose of this course is to help students develop a view of language as social practice. Throughout the course there will be a focus on fluidity - on language not as a static structure, but as a dynamic system and an integral part of social change.

Students are responsible for reading the entire week's assignments in time for class on Tuesday. Beginning in Week 5, students will submit a page of commentary on the week's readings by 8:oo AM on Tuesday. The purpose of these commentaries is to show that you've both read and thought about the readings. Each week's commentaries will be worth two points: 2 points for very thoughtful comments, 1 point for somewhat thoughtful comments. We give no credit for summaries of the readings. All written assignments are due at a specific date and time. We are hard-nosed about these deadlines: we will reduce the grade on a late assignment or paper by 10%. Short assignments will not be accepted once class on Tuesday has begun.

This is a Writing in the Major course. All the readings will be articles from journals or edited volumes, and they can serve as models of the genre you'll be aiming for. We encourage you to take critical notice of the writing styles in these papers. You will do two writing projects, each between seven and ten pages long. The first will be a corpus study examining a linguistic feature of your choice. The focus in writing this paper will be on the interest and analysis of the feature you study, and on the handling and presentation of quantitative data. The second project will be a project of your choice. Each paper will undergo an extensive revision process.

Grades will be Calculated as follows:
    Short Assignments 10% (5% each)
    Papers 70% (35% each)
    Research Proposal 5%
    Class Participation 5%
    Reading Commentaries 10%

Students with documented disabilities:
Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) located within the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). SDRC staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is being made. Students should contact the SDRC as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 723-1066).
     Penelope Eckert
     108 Margaret Jacks
     Office hours: Thurs 4:00-5:00

  Janneke Van Hofwegen
  030E Margaret Jacks
  Office hours: Wed 2:00-3:00

     WIM TA:
     Annette D'Onofrio
     030D Margaret Jacks
     Office hours: By appointment

Useful References


There's lots of good stuff on Language Log
Here's the Grano paper on the use of ain't on CNN.
And here's Lydia Santos's paper on tryna
Chi square tool
Information on quantitative analysis
Language, Power, and Gender violence Thanks, Cameron!
Slides from Thursday
Aramaic in Chicago
The Quebec language police
Endangered languages week at SOAS
Prescriptivism in British schools
some sensible standard language rules: part of the British grammar wars.
a hate speech map of the US
Weird apostrophe policy
Texas German

   What it's about                                                            Readings and Assignments

Part I: The Structure of Talk

The course will begin with a focus on how talk is organized. During this part of the course, each student will do a corpus study, searching an online corpus for patterns of use. This corpus study will serve as the basis of the first paper.

Week 1: Introduction to Language Use
In a general introduction to sociolinguistics, we will begin by considering what we can figure out about people based on how they speak. We will then move on to consider the relation between local linguistic practice and macrosociological structure.

Week 2: Some English Idiosyncracies
In order to start getting ideas for your corpus studies, we will discuss the kinds of linguistic features that a layperson is likely to notice - discourse markers, lexical choices, intonation patterns, etc. During this week, you will think about some features that you would like to study for the corpus project.

Week 3: Speech Events, Speech Acts
In the third week, we will turn to the structure of language use at the highest level - when talk is called for, how talk is organized in speech events and activities, cross-cultural differences in norms and practices.

Week 4: The Micro-Organization of Talk
This week will be devoted to the actual structure of conversation. How do people take turns at talk? How do they carry out strategies in interaction?

Instructions for Corpus Project

Week 1: April 2 and 4
Read this early article on variation for Thursday's class:
FISCHER, J.L. 1958. Social influences on the choice of a linguistic variant. Word, 14.47-56.

Week 2: April 9 and 11
The readings for this week should begin to give you ideas about linguistic forms you might be interested in for your corpus study. By 8:00 AM Tuesday, email us a list of three candidates for your study, with a brief hypothesis for each, showing how it could be socially interesting.
Macaulay, Ronald. 2002. You know, it depends. Journal of pragmatics,34.749-67.
Acton, Eric. 2011. On gender differences in the distribution of um and uh. University of Pennsylvania working papers in linguistics, 17.
Tagliamonte, Sali and D'arcy, Alex. 2004. He's like, she's like:The quotative system in Canadian Youth. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 8.493-514.

Week 3: April 16 and 18
This week's readings focus on the general structuring of talk. Basso is concerned with when talk can/should happen, and Irvine and Gleason/Weintraub are concerned with ritualized speech acts. As you're reading these papers, think about the issues they raise with respect to your own speech community. By 8:00 AM Tuesday, send us a couple of sentences about:
(1) one way in which the regulation of talk is different from what Basso describes for the Apache.
(2) a routine speech act that you perform either regularly or rarely.
Basso, Keith H. 1972. 'To give up on words': Silence in Western Apache culture. Language and social context, ed. by Pier Paolo Giglioli, 67-86. London: Penguin.
Irvine, Judith. 1974. Strategies of status manipulation in the Wolof greeting. Explorations in the ethnography of speaking, ed. by Richard Bauman and Joel Sherzer, 167-91. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gleason, Jean Berko and Weintraub, Sandra. 1976. The acquisition of routines in child language. Language in society, 5.129-36.

Week 4: April 23 and 25
Corpus study papers are due at 8:00 AM on Thursday, April 25. Email yours to Janneke, in PDF format.
Schegloff, Emanuel and Sacks, Harvey. 1973. Opening up closings. Semiotica,8.289-327.
Tannen, Deborah. 1981.New York Jewish conversational style. International journal of the sociology of language. 30.133-9.
Keenan, Elinor. 1974 Norm-makers, norm-breakers: Uses of speech by men and women in a Malagasy community. Explorations in the Ethnography of Speaking, ed. by Richard Bauman and Joel Sherzer, 125-43. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Part II: Language and Discrimination

Language is inseparable from power, and we will be discussing the role of power in language use throughout the course. In this section of the course, we will focus on some ways in which power and discrimination are particularly obviously at work in language use and language policy.

During this part of the course, you will be thinking about a topic for your second paper, based on some issue that has come to mind in the first half of the course. Ideally this project will involve collecting your own data, whether through fieldwork or the media or other means. You should be discussing this project with us throughout this period, as a full-blown research proposal is due on May 14.

Week 5: The Linguistic Circulation of Stereotypes
Language use from private conversation to media broadcast can play on social and linguistic stereotypes in many, and often controversial, ways.

Week 6: Language Standardization and Shift
Linguists like to say that a language is a dialect with an army. Power dynamics are at work not only in which varieties get "language" status and which varieties live or die, but also how use is structured in bilingual and multilingual communities.

Week 5: April 30 and May 2
Bucholtz, Mary. 1999. You da man: Narrating the racial other in the production of white masculinity. Journal of sociolinguistics, 3.443-60.
Hill, Jane H. 1993. Hasta la vista, baby: Anglo Spanish in the American Southwest. Critique of anthropology, 13.145-76.
Wong, Andrew. 2005. The re-appropriation of Tongzhi. Language in society, 34.763-93.

Week 6: May 7 and 9
The rewrite of your corpus paper is due Friday, May 10 at 5:00 PM. You can email it to the person who read the original, or put hard copy in Penny's mail box in the Linguistics office.
Gal, Susan. 1978. Peasant men can't get wives: Language change and sex roles in a bilingual community. Language in society, 7.1-16.
Fader, Ayala. 2007. Redeeming sacred sparks: Syncretism and gendered language shift among Hasidi Jews in New York. Journal of linguistic anthropology, 17.1-23.
Eustace, Elizabeth. 2012. Speaking allowed? Workplace regulation of regional dialect. Work employment society 26. 331-48

Part III: Sociolinguistic Variation

In the third part of the course, we turn to sociolinguistic variation. Variation serves as a robust indexical system, both providing information about a speaker's place in society and providing the speaker with resources for stylistic practice.

Week 7: Place, Persona and Dialect
What connections do people make between places, the dialects spoken in those places, and the lives and people who inhabit those places?

Week 8: Variation up Close
In the second week on variation we will examine the use of variation up close in stylistic practice, as speakers move through situations and through life.

Week 9: Variation up Close
Variation has a way of showing up in interesting ways on the public stage.

Week 7: May 14 and 16
Zhang, Qing. 2005. A Chinese yuppie in Beijing: Phonological variation and the construction of a new professional identity. Language in society, 34.431-66.
Dubois, Sylvie and Horvath, Barbara. 1998. Let's tink about dat: Interdental Fricatives in Cajun English. Language variation and change, 10.245-61.

Week 8: May 21 and 23

The proposal for your second project is due at 10AM on Monday.
Podesva, Robert. 2007. Phonation type as a stylistic variable: The use of falsetto in constructing a persona. Journal of sociolinguistics, 11.478-504.
Moore, Emma. 2004. Sociolinguistic style: A multidimensional resource for shared identity creation. Canadian journal of linguistics, 49.375-96.
Eckert, Penelope. 2011. Language and power in the preadolescent heterosexual market. American Speech, 86.85-97.

Week 9: May 28 and 30
SCLAFANI, JENNIFER. 2009. Martha Stewart behaving badly: Parody and the symbolic meaning of style. Journal of sociolinguistics, 13.613-33.
    Here are the links to the comedy routines Sclafani discusses:
         South Park
         Mad TV
TRUDGILL, PETER. 1983. Acts of conflicting identity: The sociolinguistics of British pop-song pronunciation. On dialect: Social and geographical perspectives., ed. by Peter Trudgill. Oxford and New York: Basil Blackwelll and NYU Press. 141-60.

Week 10: June 4,6. Dead Week.
Students' choice

Project paper due at 8:00 AM on June 3.
Final edited paper due at noon on June 10.