Audience at the conference

Plenary Speakers

  • Bob Craig, University of Colorado, Boulder (Communication)
  • Kira Hall, University of Colorado, Boulder (Linguistics)
  • Makoto Hayashi, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Ling/EALC)
  • Christine Mallinson, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Language, Literacy & Culture)

Plenary Abstracts

Bob Craig, Beyond the Conduit Metaphor: Framing Communication in Metadiscourse

Michael J. Reddy’s 1979 study of “the conduit metaphor” is often cited to support the claim that everyday thinking about communication is dominated by a simplistic transmission model. Reddy analyzed some 140 common English expressions, such as “put your ideas into words,” “get your thoughts across,” and “his meaning came through to me” and argued that most of them are based on an underlying conceptual metaphor in which “language functions like a conduit, transferring thoughts bodily from one person to another.” While critical of the conduit metaphor, Reddy himself apparently assumed that communication can be nothing other than sheer transmission (sending-receiving information) and so, of course, that is all he was able to see. An empirical exploration of ordinary metadiscourse based on less restrictive assumptions about communication quickly begins to reveal a far richer and more interesting picture.

Kira Hall, Ethnographic Interventions into Language and Masculinity: An Example from Multilingual New Delhi

This paper explores the bilingual practices of women associated with sexual alterity in New Delhi both as a contribution to previous work on language and masculinity and as an interrogation of what ethnography can bring to the study of linguistic interaction. Specifically, the paper examines the layers of indexicality that inform conversational stance-taking in a New Delhi NGO that has HIV/AIDS education as its mandate. The interaction under discussion includes two groups associated with women’s alterity who hold contrastive understandings of sexual identity. While self-identified “lesbians” orient to same-sex models of sexual attraction dominant in NGO discourses, those who identify as “boys” orient to other-sex models of gender eroticism long associated with rural India, aspiring to a semiotics of masculinity that has sexual reassignment surgery as its endpoint. With reference to diverse ideologies of masculinity that exist beyond the conversational immediacy of the excerpt under discussion, I explore the ways in which boys in this English-speaking NGO employ Hindi as a means of resisting the upper class privileging of a globalized female-identified lesbian identity—an identity solidified in the late 1990s through controversy surrounding Deepa Mehta’s film Fire. Because English has become ideologically associated with femininity through a variety of complex postcolonial and nationalist processes, the boys’ use of Hindi works to construct an antagonistic masculinity, providing a resistant rallying tool for speakers whose understanding of self is dismissed in this NGO as uncomfortably “vernacular.” My argument is not simply that linguistic constructs of masculinity vary over time, nation-state, and class, although this observation is assumed for the analysis I offer here. Rather, I aim to demonstrate how ethnographic methodology, with its potential to illuminate how localized negotiations of the relationship between form and meaning are dependent on ideological linkages within these larger parameters, is critical for the analysis of gender as a product of everyday interaction.

Makoto Hayashi, Referential problems and turn construction: An exploration of an intersection between grammar and interaction

In conversation, speakers often face problems in formulating and establishing referential expressions that are appropriate for the particular recipients to whom their utterances are addressed. This paper investigates how participants in Japanese conversation deal with such referential problems in the course of constructing a turn at talk, and how various grammatical practices used in this process shape the organization of turns and sequences in an orderly and recurrent manner. When referential problems occur, they regularly create tension between two orientations: On the one hand, in order to solve referential problems, speakers need to put on hold the construction of the turn with which they intend to execute the larger action. On the other hand, speakers¹ orientation to executing the larger action motivates the progress of turn construction, which in turn motivates the minimization of a disruption to the 'progressivity' of the unfolding turn. By examining ways in which participants handle referential problems during turn construction, I show how participants organize their engagement with two potentially competing activities within an ongoing turn and how they mobilize grammar to organize their concurrent involvement in these competing activities.

Christine Mallinson, Toward a Public Linguistics

In this presentation, I draw parallels between the disciplines of linguistics and sociology and suggest that the concept of “public sociology” (Gans 1988, Burawoy 2004) has utility in guiding linguists to conceive of a “public linguistics,” rooted in a long history of language-related activism and outreach. I outline public linguistics as an approach to intellectual engagement that proceeds from linguistic theory and research; brings linguistic information to bear on social concerns; includes existing models of outreach projects, principles, and ethical guidelines; foregrounds the need to connect with publics, including our students, in accessible ways; and establishes collaborative partnerships, with community members and/or with other academics. Proceeding from a public linguistics framework, I focus on one of the most pressing and longstanding U.S. social problems: the “achievement gap,” also known as the “opportunity gap,” which refers to the structural hurdles that hinder the opportunities for academic success for students from historically marginalized backgrounds. Linguists have contributed greatly to understanding the role of language use as a basis for the stratification of students from marginalized backgrounds. Nevertheless, there remains a significant need for linguists to disseminate relevant linguistic information to educators, to develop realistic, practical, and easy-to-implement classroom strategies that are both linguistically and educationally informed, and to engage in outreach that addresses the specific needs of students and educators within their local schools and communities (Charity Hudley and Mallinson 2009). Along those lines, I profile four of my recent projects that establish collaborative partnerships to address educational inequalities faced by linguistically diverse students. These examples not only illustrate some ways in which professional linguistics and public linguistics may be merged, but also reveal how linguistic insights may be critical in helping address social issues, such as those surrounding language differences, learning processes, and educational achievement for marginalized students in the U.S.


Makoto Hayashi & Barbara Fox, Conversation Analysis - Data Session

This workshop offers an opportunity for participants to practice conversation-analytic (CA) data analysis. We will examine a short segment of a videotaped conversation in English together, share our observations, and discuss how we may be able to locate describable "practices" in the data. Anyone interested in CA is welcomed.

Christine Mallinson, Exploring Connections between Sociological and Sociolinguistic Theories

This workshop will familiarize participants with a range of classic and contemporary sociological theories and examine their applicability to the field of sociolinguistics. A history of the relationship between theory in sociology and sociolinguistics is covered, with a focus on points of convergence and divergence. Most attention will be paid to contemporary feminist theories, practice theory, and past and present sociological approaches to theorizing social stratification, including social class. Some of these theoretical currents from sociology have not yet impacted sociolinguistic theory but may lead to innovative thinking in sociolinguistics, and the potential for bridging gaps between sociolinguistic and sociological theory will be explored. Participants are also encouraged to bring other topics of theoretical interest to be shared and discussed.

Bob Craig & Karen Tracy, Grounded Practical Theory

Grounded Practical Theory (GPT) is a methodology for describing, critiquing, and theorizing situated social practices for the purpose of informing critical reflection and deliberation on practical problems. GPT uses qualitative methods such as Action-Implicative Discourse Analysis (AIDA) to reconstruct the problems, techniques, and situated ideals that characterize a practice. This workshop will provide an introduction GPT and AIDA, followed by collaborative application using a case study.

Kira Hall, Doing Ethnography as a Sociocultural Linguist

This workshop, designed for conference participants who are interested in conducting ethnographically related fieldwork, will address both the benefits and difficulties of incorporating ethnographic methods into sociolinguistic analysis. In addition to discussing the fundamentals of ethnographic methodology, among them the concepts of participant observation and reflexivity, we will also consider how new audio and video technologies are transforming more traditional anthropological understandings of field research. Because the workshop is conceptualized not as a lecture but as a collaborative discussion, participants are encouraged to share any ideas, concerns, or caveats they may have regarding the employment of ethnographic methods, whether actual or anticipated.