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 “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.
I currently have the privilege of TAing Intro to linguistic anthropology at the University of Toronto and in the previous weeks the students read and discussed connections between language and gender. As the course is a very short introduction to core concepts, students read a piece by Deborah Tannen in which the ideas about difference in childhood language socialization practices turn into consequential communicative differences in adulthood. Of course, for graduate students no reading can be complete without a ‘critique’. In Tannen’s successful attempts to bring the linguistic construction difference to popular audiences, some of the nuances and ambiguities in