Archive for the ‘Sociolinguistics’ Category

The sociolinguistics of Chicano English sh/ch in ‘El Barrio’

March 22, 2018

Sitting in my queue since last June, when Isla Flores-Bayer defended her Stanford linguistics dissertation. First, an informal announcement from John Rickford, one of Isla’s advisers (lightly edited by me):

Isla Flores-Bayer has successfully defended her PhD thesis on social meaning and stylistic variation in Chicano English. Her work is an important contribution to sociolinguistics and the study of Chicano English, innovatively combining a community study, a stylistic case study, and a perception/matched guise experiment

The exam was held in the Nitery in El Centro Chicano at Stanford, the first time they ever had a PhD oral exam there, and Director Frances Morales memorably and movingly said to Isla, during the open question session: “We waited many years for you to come along, and we are so proud of you!” Thanks to her and to other Centro staff, Elvira Prieto and Margaret Sena, for helping to get the conference room ready for this big event, and for supporting Isla so strongly during her Stanford years. And to Ramón Martinez, new prof in Education, for serving as outside chair, his first stint in this role, and the other members of the oral committee: Rob Podesva (co-adviser, with me), Penny Eckert, and Tom Wasow.

The principals in The Nitery:

(#1) Martinez, Wasow, Rickford, Flores-Bayer, Podesva, Eckert


Affective style: chill vs. loud

March 15, 2018

An abstract for a Stanford linguistics dissertation to be defended this coming Monday (March 19th): Teresa Pratt, Affective sociolinguistic style: an ethnography of embodied linguistic variation in an arts high school:


Annals of casual speech

March 9, 2018

The One Big Happy from February 9th:

in other words > nudder words. Part of this is just ordinary stuff in connected casual speech. Then there’s the [d] for standard [ð] in other.


I’m silently labeling you an asshole

October 5, 2017

Accidentally encountered on the net yesterday: this t-shirt triumph of supercilious peeving:


It’s also available on signs, mugs, plaques, and goodness knows what else. Dare I hope for underwear?


The regional languages of France

September 10, 2017

Passed on by Norma Mendoza-Denton, this beautiful map of the regional languages of France, with a tool for playing sound files for each of them:

On the Positivr site, “La France a enfin son atlas sonore des langues régionales: En un seul clic, cette carte interactive permet de faire le tour de France des langues régionales. Du bonheur pour les oreilles.” by Axel Leclercq on 7/21/17.

The posting ends with a paean to the value of regional languages in France — with a treatment of (for example) Picard and Norman in the north and Gascon and Provençal in the south as languages in their own right and not merely local deviations from correct French; and also the recognition of the Germanic languages Flemish, Alsatian, and Franconian as regional languages on a par with, say, Breton and Basque:


From Tex-Mex to naked rugby

July 25, 2017

Yesterday’s morning name was the Mexican Spanish nickname Chuy (for Jesus). I’m pretty sure it got into my head from a friend who recently ate at a Chuy’s restaurant in Texas, so I’ll start with that.

But the real topic is Mexican Spanish nicknames: Chuy or Chucho for Jesus, Pepe for JoséChe for Ernesto, and Pancho or Paco for Francisco, in particular (with a note on the linguist Viola Waterhouse, who was a student of such things). That will take me to Pepe Romero, Che Guevara, Pancho Villa, the linguist Paco Ordóñez, Paco Rabanne (the man and the fragrances), and from there to Nick Youngquest in the buff, which will supply a moment of gay interest.


On the fierce femininity of drag queens

June 12, 2017

Linguistics news from Stanford: the public portion of a PhD oral exam, next Monday, 6/19/17, 3-4:15: Jeremy Calder, Handsome Women: A semiotics of non-normative gender in SoMa, San Francisco.

Drag queens in the 2015 SoMa “Oasis Follies” drag night


Non-standard sex talk

May 26, 2017

I’ll start with the steamy gay sex talk from an on-line messaging site — sensitive readers are hereby warned about this content — and then go on to focus on a non-standard syntactic construction in this exchange, what the YGDP (the Yale University Grammatical Diversity Project: English in North America) calls the Needs Washed construction (using as a label an instance of the instruction), involving a PSP complement of a head V.


Books from Stanford

February 13, 2017

Recent books from Stanford-connected authors, some my colleagues, some my former students (so I have warm feelings). Two in sociolinguistics / educational linguistics, one on the (gasp) morphosyntax-phonology interface.


More on sounding gay

July 10, 2015

Back on June 11th, I posted about the documentary “Do I Sound Gay?”, as I was about to be interviewed by a journalist about it. I had a number of critical things to say about parts of the film, though I didn’t post them here. Now NPR’s Terry Gross has interviewed two of the principals in it, the filmmaker David Thorpe and a speech pathologist, Susan Sankin, with whom Thorpe worked in an attempt to sound “less gay”.

Enraged by this interview, Sameer ud Dowla Khan (a phonetician at Reed College) wrote an open letter to Gross, which Mark Liberman has now posted on Language Log (with a link to Fresh Air and one to a transcript of the interview). Khan has many of the same criticisms of the interview that I had of the trailer for the film (I haven’t been able to view the whole film), both of which exhibit deep ignorance about simple (and well-known) facts about language in social life. Some excerpts from Khan’s letter follow.