Archive for the ‘Sociolinguistics’ Category

A vernacular construction?

December 10, 2018

Ben Yagoda on the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Lingua Franca blog on 12/5/18, “Why Do I Really, Really Want to Say ‘Had Went’?”

… You see what [actor and director Jonah] Hill and [director Bryan] Fogel were doing, grammatically. They were using the preterite (ran, went) instead of the past participle (run, gone). This is by no means a new thing. Writing in 1781, John Witherspoon decried the “vulgarisms” had fell, had rose, had broke, had threw, and had drew.

Such constructions have long flourished in the American vernacular.

Standard English uses the PSP (past participle) form of a verb in the perfect construction and the passive construction (among other places). Ben says that some speakers and writers have different (syntactic) constructions here, using the PST (past, aka preterite — nothing hinges on the name) form instead of the PSP.

I maintain that Ben has seriously misunderstood the phenomenon here, and that Vern, the vernacular variety, doesn’t differ syntactically from Stan, the standard variety, with respect to the forms used in the perfect and the passive; it’s the PSP for both. It’s just that for some verbs, Vern pronounces the PSP differently from Stan; for Vern, the PSP form for these verbs is pronounced the same as their PST.

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A book for the professor

October 22, 2018

On Facebook yesterday, this message from the J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Linguistics and the Humanities at Stanford University, my excellent colleague John R. Rickford:

Last night (Oct. 20), I experienced one of the most moving, memorable events of my academic career! After giving a keynote talk at the 47th annual conference on New Ways of Analyzing Variation in language, at New York University, I was presented with a festschrift (book) containing 47 articles and 9 vignettes by faculty colleagues and former students from around the world. It was a surprise gift to mark my retirement (last Stanford class is Jun 2019). Tears flooded my eyes more than once, beginning with the moment I saw all 4 of our children and 6 grandchildren in the huge audience, and ending with editors Renee Blake and Isa Buchstaller presenting me with four bound pre-print volumes and the contributors and family members coming on stage. The book, entitled “The Roundtable Companion to John Russell Rickford,” will be about 588 pages when printed (May 2019). This was truly one of those life-moments that “take your breath away.”

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Variationist sociolinguistics: NWAV 47

October 14, 2018

Coming in a few days (October 18th-21st), NWAV 47 at NYU:

Already noted on this blog, in my 10/2 posting “The Rickford plenary address”, with the abstract for my Stanford colleague John Rickford’s plenary address (on the 20th), “Class and Race in the Analysis of Language Variation and the Struggle for Social Justice: Sankofa”. To come below, the abstract for the other plenary address (on the 18th), “The Systematicity of Emergent Meaning” by Erez Levon (Queen Mary University of London); and details about a virtual Issue of the Journal of Sociolinguistics, “Innovations in Variationist Sociolinguistics” (ed. by Levon & Natalie Schilling), assembled on the occasion of the conference.

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The Rickford plenary address

October 2, 2018

Tomorrow at Stanford, John Rickford is doing a dry run for his plenary address at the NWAV (New Ways of Analyzing Variation) conference later this month:

Class and Race in the Analysis of Language Variation and the Struggle for Social Justice: Sankofa
John R. Rickford, Stanford University
Abstract for NWAV-47 plenary, NYU, 10/20/18

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If I might interrupt…

May 21, 2018


Jason Adam Katzenstein in the New Yorker — from a 1/11/18 posting on my blog, “The triumph of confidence over expertise”

Happening on Friday: a PhD oral dissertation defense by Katherine Hilton: What Does an Interruption Sound Like?, Friday, May 25th

(AMZ: About the subjective experience of interruption in conversation and how you might investigate it.)

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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

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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:

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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.

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I’m silently labeling you an asshole

October 5, 2017

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

(#1)

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

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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:

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