EDUC545-010 Citizen Sociolinguists

EDUC545-010 Citizen Sociolinguists

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EDUC545-010 Citizen Sociolinguists

Text of EDUC545-010 Citizen Sociolinguists

  • Sociolinguistics, Conversation Analysis, and Linguistic Anthropology are increasingly overlapping fields broadly interested in understanding how language and communication are intertwined with social relations. While each of these perspectives has illuminated elements of language in use--e.g., the internal consistency of certain varieties of speech, like African American Vernacular, patterns of dialect variation, the role of language in social class distinction, and the way language perpetuates inequalities--each also positions the subjects as analytically one order removed from the analyst. The sociolinguistic interviewer manipulates the interviewee into speaking naturally; The conversation analyst relies on native intuitions to read the unfolding of (transcribed) naturally occurring speech; The ethnographer draws out patterns from field notes and transcriptions, and builds an interpretation in consultation, largely, with her own professional community. In each of these approaches, the sophistication of the subjects and their own detailed understandings of their language practices can be missed. This course is designed to mitigate this problem. In it, we will investigate yet another type of data to illuminate communicative practices: Metacommentary. Rather than creating our own explanations of linguistic practice, or manipulating subjects to give us what we have decided a priori is real, we will investigate subjects own metacommentary on speech. In short, we will work through a new methodology for engaging in Citizen Sociolinguistics, drawing on the Internet and daily news while juxtaposing these media with the usual scholarly sources. Our case study will be The

    Language of Philadelphia. Students in the seminar will then produce new case studies, engaging in their own citizen sociolinguistic study of a Citizen Sociolinguistically Identified Language Group (e.g., Baltimore English, Roman Italian, Carioca Portuguese, etc). Throughout the course, we will discuss the relevance of this kind of inquiry to work around language and literacy in formal and informal educational settings. Course Topics to Include:

    Approaches to Geography and Demographics: That is so DelCo! Means of Circulation: Missed your posts! So glad youre back!

    Citizen Corpus Analysts: Is strident a misogynist word? Language Bullies: or, Citizen Prescriptivists

    Multimodality: Crabby Patties and Homemades! Citizen Sociolinguists in Classrooms: I speak broken English, thats what its called.

    EDUC545-010 Citizen Sociolinguists

    Instructor: Betsy Rymes, Associate Professor of Educational Linguistics Spring 2014 Mondays 4:30-6:30

    Contact Kristina Lewis (, Educational Linguistics Program Manager, to request a permit for this course.