While the exam instructions asked for 3 separate essays due to the fact that this course has been formatted in the way it has (wherein each reading overlaps in some way with the readings both before and after it) I found it difficult to keep my thought separated. With that in mind I’ve written a single essay to express my ideas, and have provided my drafting notes in lieu of citation (though in-text citations are provided using Chicago Author-Date) so that each reading and topic may be clearly associated with one another despite the formatting. In deciding to take risks with my writing in producing reflective responses to each of the questions I figured taking a risk with the formatting would also be appropriate. This semester has been a gift, and I feel so lucky that the exam was created as an overview.
None of these have introductions or conclusions because that’s really just how I roll.
How can we see metalinguistic power in this course (either in readings or in class discussions/assignments)?
(Week 3) Bourdieu, Pierre 1980. The Production and Reproduction of Legitimate Language. In Language and Symbolic Power. Chapter 1.
(Week 7) Mufwene Salikoko S. 2015. “Colonization, indigenization, and the differential evolution of English: Some ecological perspectives”. World Englishes 34(1):6-21.
(Week 10) Paja Faudree. Singing for the Dead
- Research methods and writing practice
Within academia there are certain forms of language and communicative practices which are seen to be more legitimate than others: publishing via peer review is more legitimate than keeping a blog, speaking at an academic conference is more legitimate than speaking at an industry conference, and writing an essay is more legitimate than Tweeting (amongst so many other examples).
I’ve never been an especially great essayist. Other people seem to like my work, but it’s difficult for me to find pleasure in either the act of writing or in the act of rereading my own work (ie. I have great skills for if/when I decide to do research). The essay form is confining, and exerts structure upon thoughts and ideas which may or may not themselves be structure. While this is useful in a number of contexts, it inherently results in a loss-of-context for the materials. To that end I’ve spent a significant amount of time this semester trying to find ways in which I can transmit the absolute clusterfuck of my thoughts into something others can understand.
This has resulted in a number of Twitter essays (Twessays?), which although still not the idealized form for how I believe I can best portray my thoughts definitely come closer than a traditional essay. By allowing me to present information in this way the production of what is legitimate in the academy becomes skewed: no longer am I an undergraduate student slogging out another essay to be read by no one but myself and my professor, but I am a person speaking in public on a topic I am passionate about who also happens to be getting graded for their efforts. Mufwene uses Kachru’s circles of English to describe economic language practices, but the idea of “circles” as a method by which context-specific language may be recognized. Within the inner circle there is typical expressions of academic language such as essays, within the outer circle things such as academic poster presentations, and within the expanding circle things such as blog posts. While all of these represent academic language use, the economic legitimacy of only the inner circle is recognized.
Bourdieu explains that the above described “inner circle” is a “state language” in “The Production and Reproduction of Legitimate Language”: “[t]his state language becomes the theoretical norm against which all linguistic practices are subjectively measured” (Bourdieu 1980, 45). This subversion of standardized methods comes with specific boons (ex. reaching a wider audience, showcasing use for course knowledge outside of course confines, etc) but also some specific drawbacks. By subverting academic convention in this way the legitimacy of the research may come under question not only on behalf of the student conducting research and sharing their findings, but also on behalf of the professor who is teaching said student their research and writing skills.
While criticisms of public engagement are often easily dealt with, there does come a question of ethical practice. At what point is not sharing resources the more ethical decision? This is something which Paja Faudree struggles with regard to precarious housing due to assumed economic sharing, for example (Faudree 2013, 186-187). When it comes to physical items in the field it is well understood that physical resources such as cell phone or laptop access can be seen as preferential and should be avoided. So why then is communication of ideas different? The “open-access” is an ideology that is obviously not shared by all, and moving forward in my studies this is something I know I will have to ask myself repeatedly as someone who appreciates sharing so much of themself online. In this increasingly connected information landscape it is always important to consider the ways in which information affects others.
Describe the difference between micro & macro level enactments of power in/on language.
(Week 3) Alim, H. Samy 2011. Global Ill-literacies: Hip hop cultures, youth identities, and the politics of literacy. Review of Research in Education 35 “Youth Cultures, Language, and Literacy 120-146.
(Week 3) Chun, Elaine W. 2013 Styles of pledging allegiance: Practicing youth citizenship in the United States. Language and Communication 33:500-514.
(Week 5) Mertz, Elizabeth (2007). Law, Language and the Law School Classroom. Chapter 2 of The Language of Law School.
- State Power
As with my previous two short essays I’m going to be drawing on some personal experiences here. While not everyone is a fan of reflexivity, I know that I’m a very reflexive person and playing to my strong suits just honestly makes sense.
Summer before last I worked as the Canadian Indigenous Language and Literacy Development Institute (CILLDI) Office Administrative Assistant. As part of this position within the University of Alberta I worked closely on a macro-level with the departments of Linguistics, Native Studies, and Early Childhood Education in addition to students on a micro-level. Full-disclosure: I loved this job, and would absolutely work in this position again given the chance. That said: as a language revitalization effort CILLDI showcases many of the problems and concerns facing language revitalization practices today.
There is a specific language involved in working with or within a university system. As part of the CILLDI process students must be registered within the University of Alberta Open Studies program before they can be registered in CILLDI classes. As CILLDI is intended for community members who wish to initiate or work within language revitalization projects not all of the students who are appropriate candidates for the Community Linguist Certificate (CLC) there are a number of CILLDI students who do not fulfill the standard expectations of what “an undergraduate student in Edmonton” means. While many students do have degrees in various areas, most CILLDI students are first-time university applicants who rarely enter large cities and as such do not have the same academic-language (ie. the language of academia; explored further within a specifically law-school example in Mertz 2007, and within a hip-hop culture example in Alim 2011) skills as someone who, for example, has parents who are academics and who has lived in a city for their entire life. This barrier to CILLDI access is a major one, as it exists on the front line of the program. While many people do and are able to do language revitalization work without academic recognition this recognition provides support elsewise inaccessible and (ideally) eases the process of language revitalization by providing people with the skills they need in order to undertake revitalization work.
There are barriers to access on the micro-level as well. If the act of being in a classroom is traumatic on a micro-level, where can we look to find the cause? Macro-level forces are too often ignored in the construction of traumatization and re-traumatization, and within language revitalization situations this leads to fewer supports available to those affected. In situations where people have experienced language-related trauma due to residential schooling, for example, the macro space of the university can exert micro-level retraumatization for students (to return to The Mindful Body this can be thought of as the body politic exerting stress upon the self). This results in student difficulties with regard to even “simply” being on-campus, but also more specifically in difficulties with executing and handing in assignments, speaking to professors, and generally reaching out for help. Are efforts to mitigate these concerns merely “performative,” as is the case with Chun in “ Styles of pledging allegiance: Practicing youth citizenship in the United States” wherein regardless of how someone states the pledge it is still regarded as valid? Are we merely repeating the same aphorisms of reconciliation in order to remain regarded as valid?
(Week 2) Johnstone, Barbara 2014. ‘100% Authentic Pittsburgh’: Sociolinguistic authenticity and the linguistics of particularity. In Indexing Authenticity: Sociolinguistic Perspectives. Véronique Lacoste (ed). Berlin: DeGruyer.
(Week 4) Mehan, Hugh (1996) The Construction of an LD Student: A Case Study in the Politics of Representation. In Natural Histories of Discourse (ed. Michael Silverstein and Greg Urban). pp. 253-276.
(Week 4) Sif Karreback, Martha 2013. ‘Don’t Speak Like That to Her!’: Linguistic Minority Children’s Socialization into an Ideology of Monolingualism. Journal of Sociolinguistcs 17(3):355-375
As someone who hits a fairly large constellation of aspects to my identity the ways in which I use language to describe my experiences can become complex. To that effect I tend to view myself (and others, honestly) as existing through multiple bodies: the self, the social body, and the body politic. This type of analysis is something which has been explored by a number of people, but for the purposes of this essay I’m basing my analysis on The Mindful Body. Using this contextual frame allows to better showcase the types of stigmatization of identity occur, and when.
Mehan denotes four specific aspects of identity I’ll be focusing on: “intelligence, deviance, health, illness” (Mehan 1996, 255). One aspect of my own identity which is easily viewable through my expression of self within the social body and body politic and which also touches on each of the aspects outlined above is my transness. What are the obvious “multiple and competing” (Mehan 1996,254) interpretations? Who decides the titles people use regarding my transness? When are these titles contextually bound? Sif Karreback explores this concept of language and spoiled language in “’Don’t Speak Like That to Her!’: Linguistic Minority Children’s Socialization into an Ideology of Monolingualism” with regard to the enforcing of language use. “Who watches the Watchmen”?
While technically everything about language and expression of self through language is highly contextual the thing about my personal expression of transness though language which tends to require the most context for understanding is the fact that as a assigned female at birth person who expresses themself as a queer non-binary person why I would choose to continue to have my family continue to call me “Auntie.” While not really confusing for most people who have had the opportunity to glimpse aspects of my self within the social body, those who exist closer to the body politic (doctors, aquaintences from volunteering, etc) tend to express the most confusion. To return to Mehan’s language my use of “Auntie” is deviant in the everyday now that I have begun to take testosterone and express myself more masculinely, and retains even further potential for deviancy if/when I become more commonly marked as male, however in considering the fact that this is a term which my nieces have grown up using and which only utter with respect to their love for me it is the most intelligent choice to allow them to continue to express their love in the way in which they feel most comfortable (there is something to be said for family members expressing “love” versus love here, but that’s beyond the scope of this essay).
The value of my identity as an authentic article is also questioned when the term “Auntie” is used while I am being read as a masculine person. This happens both within contexts of queer conversation and within contexts of non-queer conversation. To compare to Johnstone’s “’100% Authentic Pittsburgh’: Sociolinguistic authenticity and the linguistics of particularity” I am perpetually read as the non-authentic “Pittsburgh” as I deviate from the norms prescribed to queerness by both the in-group and the out-group by prescribing to both queer and cisheteronormative use of terms of endearment.