Upcoming colloquium: Prof. Allan Bell

Our last colloquium speaker of the season will be Professor Allan Bell, from the Aukland University of Technology, New Zealand.

Date: Thursday April 16, 2015, 12:00-1:30pm - NOTE SPECIAL TIME

Location: Clearihue A118 - NOTE SPECIAL LOCATION

Talk title:"The Indexical Cycle and the making of social meaning in language: Why everybody needs good neighbours sociolinguistically"

Talk abstract: The Indexical Cycle models the processes by which language, particularly linguistic variation, generates social meaning. It focuses on questions such as: How do linguistic variants accrue social meaning? Why do they do so? Who is responsible? And why do some other forms not do so?
This issue has been addressed since the earliest days of sociolinguistics, initially by Ferguson & Gumperz and especially Labov. From the 1980s Silverstein theorized the process in a more sophisticated fashion in terms of indexicality, followed by Irvine & Gal (iconization), Agha (enregisterment) and Eckert. In this paper I build on my early attempt to model these processes as the foundation of Audience Design. The Indexical Cycle identifies five stages through which linguistic forms accrue social meanings based on the social distinctiveness of their users, then become evaluated and emulated by others, and eventually may serve as the focus of linguistic performance and overt comment.
This paper focuses on the nature of this last class of sociolinguistic features, termed ‘stereotypes’ by Labov or ‘third-order indexes’ by Silverstein, which have become the object of overt folk comment and stylization. I focus in particular on those forms which are emblematized in stock phrases, such as:
 fush n chups ‘fish and chips’ New Zealand
 dahntahn  ‘downtown’  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
 hoi toide  ‘high tide’  Ocracoke, North Carolina
 Kairdiff   ‘Cardiff’  Cardiff, Wales
 oot and aboot ‘out and about’ Canada
I focus particularly on the Australia/New Zealand contrast, looking at cross-accent performances in the media – as when Australians ‘do’ the New Zealand accent, and vice versa. New Zealand has long been keen to differentiate itself from its much larger neighbour. Two salient markers of this difference are the DRESS and KIT vowels. Both have taken part in the southern short front vowel shift, but differentially in the two national varieties.
On the basis of such examples, I hazard potential generalizations about stereotype forms, their linguistic characteristics and the social conditions in which they arise. I then suggest what sociolinguistics may learn from the study of stereotypes.