Members of SLA and AAA are issuing calls for papers to join panels for the AAA annual meeting via linguistic anthropology email list LINGANTH. Links to recent calls are here.
Gabriel Arana recently published a defense of creaky voice at The Atlantic. He notes that recent criticism of young women’s use of creaky voice, or “vocal fry”, is part of a long tradition of critiquing the speaking styles of less powerful groups of people. Arana’s conclusion that “normative judgments about linguistic prestige are relative, and merely reflect social attitudes” is absolutely correct and well-known to linguistic anthropologists and other scholars of language. The particular speech patterns he analyses to support his conclusion – up-talk, like, and creak – are somewhat questionable, however.
In 2011 the American Dialect Society listed ‘the 99%’ among its Words of the Year. In 2012 ’47%’ became the new politically-charged number. These numbers are connected in a way that might not be obvious.
Mitt Romney was recorded declaring, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.” Because they pay no income tax, Romney suggested, 47% of Americans are dependent on government. This resembles a charge made in 2011 by conservative activists at the53.tumblr, which in turn was a response to the Occupy Wall Street-affiliated wearethe99percent.tumblr.
The inaugural SLA presidential panel entitled: Frontiers in Methodology in Linguistic Anthropology has been organized for Thursday evening from 7:30-9pm in Union Square 22. Charles Goodwin, Marjorie H. Goodwin, Brendan O’Connor, Susan Philips and Deborah Tannen will be discussing how current theoretical interests within our subdiscipline have influenced how we do fieldwork. We encourage all the membership to come together to discuss and debate the current state of methodologies in our discipline(s).
Radio programs have recently celebrated a “new understanding” of the importance of preschool for success later in life. Related knowledge has been part of academic discussion for decades, but has had relatively little effect on how education is organized. To contribute to public understanding, I summarize Shirley Brice Heath’s “What no bedtime story means” (1982).
A preliminary schedule for the American Anthropological Association’s 2012 Annual Meeting has been released. This schedule includes more that 50 linguistic and language-related panel sessions.
Applications for AAA Committee on Ethics small grants for ethics curricular materials are due 2 November 2012. A grant of between $200 and $1,000 is available.
In this guest post Martha Sif Karrebæk relates how her Journal of Linguistic Anthropology paper, “What’s in your lunchbox today?”, became a topic of discussion in Danish mass media.
The AAA Nominations Committee is seeking nominations for open positions on the 2013 AAA ballot. The deadline for nominations in Monday 1 October 2012.
Recently I have been re-reading James Thurber’s “Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Guide to English Usage”, a parody of Henry Watson Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage. The parody is built around a central conceit: that a language usage guide is equivalent to lifestyle or relationship advice. This is not merely a conceit around which to build a parody; it is also a fair assessment of what usage guides are used for.
“Variable or non-standard realizations of inflectional morphology in English” sounds rather dry and academic, but the placement of suffixes within compound words or phrases can sound surprising and even amusing. Arnold Zwicky and Mark Liberman recently noted unusual verb conjugation. Non-standard pronouns can be equally interesting.
The phrase, “women and children” to mean non-combatants killed by war strikes me as somewhat outdated. Non-combatants are not necessarily women or children, and women and children are not necessarily non-combatant. The phrase might risk a mis-recognition of the nature of political violence and its victims.
The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer says conservative Evangelical Christians view President Obama as “the avatar of godless socialism”. Do American Christian conservatives use ‘socialist’ to mean ‘insufficiently religious’? If so, their usage parallels that of Osama bin Laden.
Record fans insist that the plural of ‘vinyl’ to mean “a vinyl record” is the zero-plural ‘vinyl’. This irregular form serves as a shibboleth for audiophiles. Since the form was regular (‘vinyls’) during the 1960s, I conjecture that the irregular form must have arisen relatively recently.
Chad Nilep reflects on work with Akiyo Cantrell to analyze reports from the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and its aftermath. Evacuees from Fukushima face discrimination based on vague fears of radioactivity or other danger. Nilep expresses hope that academic work can make a positive contribution to recovery.
Lauren Collister, a Ph.D. candidate in sociolinguistics at the University of Pittsburgh, describes how digital ethnography deepened her understanding of multimodal communication within a team of World of Warcraft game players. Players use text, voice-over-IP talk, and face-to-face talk to accomplish distinct functions.
NPR’s Morning Edition and the Sunlight Foundation suggest that congressional speech-making is becoming less sophisticated. The presentation appears to validate conventional wisdom that American politics has taken an anti-intellectual turn of late, but the story shows flawed methods coupled with confirmation bias.
The 2013 LSA Linguistic Institute is currently soliciting proposals for workshops and conferences. If you’ve been thinking about a workshop you’d like to create, this would be a great opportunity.
In “Lesbian bar talk in Shinjuku, Tokyo” Hideko Abe shows how identity positions are constructed and claimed through language use. One passage, which shows how use of the word futsuu (ordinary) includes homosexual and heterosexual subjects in the same category, bears additional analysis.
Elections for AAA, Society for Linguistic Anthropology, and other sections are open from 15 April until 31 May, 2012. Log in at www.aaanet.org with your username and password and click “Vote Now”.