Language and Gender
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.
The phrase, “women and children” to mean non-combatants killed by war strikes me as somewhat outdated.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.
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.
This is the first of columns listing links in the news connected to language. These links do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology but are connected to topics that members might be interested in. Reaction pieces and comments welcome. From the New York Times: “Phonetic Clues Hint Language Is Africa-Born” [...]
P. Kerim Friedman, NDHU In her now classic 1989 paper on language and political economy, Judith Irvine talked about situations where language doesn’t merely index political and economic relations in the way that accent is linked to class in Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” but where speech acts are themselves a form of political and economic economic activity. [...]