Vox California Cultural meanings of Linguistic Diversity April 3-4, 2009 UC Santa Barbara
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April 3-4, 2009

SPEAKEr PresentationS

Jocelyn C. Ahlers (Liberal Studies, CSU San Marcos)
Native California Languages and Intersecting Identities

Slides [PDF] Handout [PDF]

Prior to European contact, the geographic area now known as California was home to over 100 distinct languages, belonging to at least six language families. The people now typically referred to as Native Californians did not historically see themselves as a single coherent group, although members of Tribes in proximity to one another were often multilingual and traditionally shared cultural elements and ceremonies. Currently, however, Native Californians act together in a number of arenas, and many Native people view themselves as participants in both individual Tribal and broader Native California communities, among others. While all indigenous California languages are critically endangered, they are widely recognized by their communities as invaluable cultural resources, and Tribes across the state are engaged in language revitalization projects, often in conjunction with larger cultural revival movements. This paper provides a brief overview of the status of indigenous languages in California, including the history of language loss faced by Tribes across the state, and the methods used by Tribal members to document and revitalize their languages of heritage; these methods are often shaped by the unique demands of California's linguistic situation. It then explores more deeply the ways in which these languages continue to serve as a vital resource in the performance of Tribal identity in spite of their endangered status and of the relatively few numbers of fluent speakers. While it would be easy to assume that these often severely endangered languages could not serve as broadly-deployed cultural resources until and unless they have been brought back into use by larger speech communities, that is not the case. The use of endangered languages in conjunction with English is one important way that Native Californians perform and engage with multiple intersecting identities: as members of particular Tribes, as Native Californians, as Native Americans, and, more broadly still, as indigenous peoples struggling to maintain their unique identities.

H. Samy Alim, Jooyoung Lee, and Lauren Mason Carris (Anthropology, UCLA)
Performing Race and Ethnicity in Freestyle Rap Battles in Los Angeles

This presentation focuses on multiracial and multiethnic participation in California's longest running Hip Hop open mic venue. Within the context of Los Angeles' underground Hip Hop scene, we focus on the performance of race and ethnicity in freestyle rap battles to highlight how verbal duels, and conflict more generally, are both constitutive and transformative of social realities. In particular, we outline an array of strategies used by local Hip Hop artists in performances that highlight racial and ethnic stereotypes for the purposes of reconfiguring racial hierarchies. Further, we explore how these performances of identities, through their contestation in "inter- and intra-racial" freestyle rap battles, present us with the temporary suspension of some dominant social hierarchies (particularly of race) even as they reproduce the very logic of racial hierarchies as a means of creating and sustaining difference. Lastly, we analyze the role of place and regional affiliation and how regional identities are constructed in conjunction with ethnoracial identities in southern California.

Arnetha Ball (Education, Stanford University)
A Cross-National Perspective on Preparing Teachers to Teach California's Linguistically Diverse Populations

Drawing on data collected while teaching and conducting research related to the literacy development of linguistically marginalized youth in California and in South Africa, this talk I will consider the necessity for and the implications of placing critical language study at the core of teacher education programs when addressing the challenge of preparing teachers to teach California’s linguistically diverse populations. I will draw on research that considers the centrality of language in teaching and learning at a transnational level and will discuss the use of writing as a pedagogical tool in teacher professional development. The talk will consider the use of different levels of analysis and different kinds of geography—local, national, transnational—that are needed in approaching the study of California’s increasingly diverse linguistic populations. It will also consider challenges to the research process when the goal is bringing issues of language, equity, and diversity to the forefront of educational research – and ultimately to highlight language as a central foundation of California’s teacher education programs. In my discussion I will point out some parallels between my research on the preparation of teachers to teach California’s "majority-minority" linguistically, racially, and ethnically diverse students at Centerville University, an economically well resourced institution in the US, and my research on the preparation of teachers to teach South Africa’s "majority-minority" linguistically, racially, and ethnically diverse students at Porterville University, an economically well resourced institution in South Africa. We will consider institutional constraints on research that can serve to undermine the overall aim of addressing the challenge of improving the language education of California’s marginalized students. If time allows, we will conclude with efforts toward an action plan for our future research.

Patricia Baquedano-López (Education, UC Berkeley)
From Nation to Neighborhood: Processes and Practices of Linguistic and Cultural Identification in Spanish Catechism Classes (Doctrina) for Mexican Immigrant Children

Across immigrant communities in California people are engaged in the process of creating, maintaining, and reclaiming cultural and linguistic identities. In institutions where more than one language is valued and more than one cultural and ethnic affiliation is possible, it is not unusual to find conflict between individual and group ideologies regarding how one's participation and affiliation into group practices are recognized and enacted. Indeed, there are no problem-free ways to enact participation in multilingual, immigrant community or to articulate present identifications that are not rooted in the past, real or imagined, especially in cases where these forms of participation and affilitions respond to political, including religious, projects that have blurred and sometimes forcefully shifted the scope and scale of nations resulting in complex processes of imagination (and re-imagination) of community, place, cultural practices, and even language (see Anderson 1983; Appadurai, 1996/2003; Mignolo, 2000). This is the case of immigrant Mexican children and their teachers in Spanish-based Catholic education classes (doctrina) in California.  In these classes the politics of identity are embodied in practices and rituals of communal belonging that construct local and transnational identities. Through an array of educational practices including prayer, narrative, elaborated roll and kinship calls, and song, students and teachers negotiate affiliation and manage cultural expectation. In this paper, I present examples of everyday classroom practices to illustrate the ideological and pedagogical strategies this program utilizes and how they impact continuity of transnational linguistic and cultural practice. The data come from fieldwork in Southern California (1994-1998) and in the Bay Area of Northern California (2001-2004) that documented practices in doctrina and the communities that promote this form of education. The paper also necessarily engages discussion of the larger politics of identity motivated by the Catholic Church in both Mexico and the U.S.

Mary Bucholtz (Linguistics, UCSB)
Narratives of Racialized Fear and Resentment among White California Youth

Slides [PDF] Handout [PDF]

As California has become a "majority minority" state, European American youth in public schools with ethnoracially diverse student populations have been forced confront their own whiteness and discursively negotiate race in new ways. One common response in the racial discourse of white teenagers (following the lead of white adults) has been to rhetorically position themselves as a beleaguered ethnoracial minority This paper examines how "race talk," or discourse about race and ethnicity (e.g., Bonilla-Silva 2003; Pollock 2005; van den Berg et al., 2004), among European American high school students reveals how racial ideologies and identities are produced and circulated within discourse. Race talk serves as a key resource for speakers to construct identities in contrast to racial "others." The paper demonstrates how practices of race talk among white youth may reproduce racial binaries while simultaneously perpetuating gender ideologies. The analysis focuses on European American teenagers' narratives of conflict collected during an ethnographic study of white youth language at an urban, ethnoracially diverse San Francisco Bay Area high school. Whereas white girls' narratives relied on referential vagueness regarding race as part of a broader white discursive strategy of "colorblindness," white boys' narratives highlighted racial difference through the linguistic practices of racial labeling, physical description, and evaluation. These contrastive strategies point to the different stakes for white girls versus white boys in making sense of their racial position at the school. The study indicates that in the California context, the linguistic construction of whiteness in ideological contrast and even subordination to racial others is central to the racial projects (Omi & Winant 1994) of many European American youth.

Dolores Inés Casillas (Chicana and Chicano Studies, UCSB)
Laughing with Los Angelenos: The Production of Gender as Heard on Spanish-Language Radio

Slides [PDF]

Since the 1990s, Spanish-language radio has successfully dethroned English-language radio stations from the number one and two standings within the coveted market area of Los Angeles. The broadcasting accomplishments of US Spanish-language radio are largely owed to unique male-led and immigrant-directed morning programming. An analysis of Los Angeles’ top two male-led radio hosts – El Cucuy (The Boogeyman) and El Piolín (Tweety Bird) unveil how Latino Angelenos hardly listen to music. Masked with humor, lucrative morning hours are spent listening to male radio hosts discuss the emotional, financial, and legal challenges of living as immigrants as well as exaggerated tales of male gallivanting. Within this spoken discourse, these morning programs feature a slew of sound effects reminiscent of the early days of radio. Together, these programs broadcast grandiose and not so subtle discursive claims of masculinity and migration. The popularity of such laugh tracks and studio sound effects signal the limitations of analyzing gender solely through language or the voice.

This paper examines how sound effects pose as stand-ins for a woman’s voice and often serve to corroborate troubling gender statements. Women are used as linguistic props and strategically bear the brunt of the joke, as the object(s) of “funny” silences and misunderstandings. On-air locker room chatter is often accompanied by timely sounds of horns, buzzers, water dripping, pages flipping, heavy sighs, and the ever popular noise of zippers. These sounds are instrumental to perpetuating this morning genre’s gender dynamics. Popular Spanish-language morning radio has effectively silenced women through sound, placing women in linguistic and sonic drag. Thanks to national syndication, California-based accounts become indicative of US Spanish-language radio broadcasts.

Carmen Fought (Linguistics, Pitzer College)
Awesome!: Perceptions of California speech

What is California, like, like?  People around the country have a fairly consistent set of stereotypes about California, which are reflected in and reinforced by the media, e.g. the view of California as "laid back," or "relaxed," but also "clueless."  I will be looking at the question of how these stereotypes are reflected in attitudes toward the dialects most associated with California, particularly the "Valley Girl" or "surfer" stereotypes. I will begin by presenting some perceptual dialectology data on California dialects, including data from people inside California as well as people in other parts of the country.  These data show that California dialects call up a very complex language ideology, encompassing both positive and negative qualities.  While both California and its dialects carry some level of prestige, the nuances of how this prestige is evaluated are interesting to unpack.  For example, an exploration of these attitudes reveals that Californians do not view "proper English" and "good English" as having the same meaning. In addition, California dialects have had a strong presence in the media, from feature films like "Clueless" to reports about 'like' on the Today Show.  How do these media representations contribute to the view of California dialects in the country as a whole?  And to what extent are dialect features California's largest export?  I will explore these questions and consider the implications for language change.  I will also look at the more subtle ways in which California dialects permeate the media, in, for example, Disney films, and talk about the role of the media more generally in reinforcing language ideologies.

Lanita Jacobs-Huey (Anthropology, University of Southern California)
Black and Brown Relations in the African American Comedic Imagination

This paper examines notions of race and authenticity in African American standup comedy comparing Blacks and Latinos. From jokes concerning life in Los Angeles to post-Hurricane Katrina humor, Black comics probe not only what it means to be “Black” and “Mexican,” but also what is at stake in these very claims. Often, Black comics’ jokes rely on notions of authenticity and racial incongruity to construct notions of “Blacks” and “Mexicans” as either one of the same or altogether different. Arguably, their comedic framings have palpable implications for our understandings of Black-Latino relations in global cities such as Los Angeles . Drawing from a six-year ethnographic study of African American standup comedy, I analyze how Black (and some Brown) comics make sense of themselves and each other and what their testimonies teach us about the tangibility of race and the pragmatics of racial authenticity. Moreover, I argue that Black/“urban” humor presents a performative stage for broader understandings of Black-Latino relations. In particular, comics’ jokes hint at varying perceptions of what is at stake in new residential formations, cross-cultural strife, and political coalition building involving African Americans and Latinos in the present.

Paul V. Kroskrity (Anthropology, UCLA)
Hearing Indigenous Voices in California: Language-Ideological Change and Struggle in Western Mono Communities

Slides [PDF]

Though Native American communities are often marginalized or erased in considerations of California's contemporary linguistic diversity, this paper explores some ways in which California Indian languages can provide a historical depth to understanding California as both a “border-zone” (Rosaldo 1989) contact space as well as a place that promotes diversity and hybridization. Drawing on my long-term research in Western Mono communities of Central California, I discuss three patterns corresponding to historical stages of linguistic and cultural contact. In the pre-colonial period for the Western Mono, language ideologies can be analytically constructed, on the basis of historical linguistics and ethnohistorical investigation, that firmly supported such practices as multilingualism, utilitarianism, variationism, syncretism, and intermarriage with neighboring groups, but—importantly--not the iconization (Irvine and Gal 2000) of specific languages to particular tribal or ethnic identites (Kroskrity 2009). But this indigenous cosmopolitanism was both suppressed and challenged during the Colonial period as the Missions introduced transformations, at first obliquely felt, that would be intensified and forcibly imposed by the State of California. Native Americans experienced racism, colonialism, and discursive marginalization. Loanwords from Spanish demonstrate that Mono communities became exposed to a new economic order that introduced them to alienated labor and economic subordination. They would later experience racialization as “untouchable” inferiors whose languages and discursive cultures were thought to mirror their social inferiority under the influence of dominant institutions of California and the United States. In what might be termed the “post-colonial” period, the indigenous languages of California attempt to survive and reclaim their linguistic heritages as best they can.  This period features both the reclamation of a narrative voice and the adoption, via a language ideological fractal recursivity (Irvine and Gal 2000), in which tribal languages become icons of local Indian identity just as American English is accepted as the icon of National identity.

Adrienne Lo (Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Language and the Racialization of Asian Americans in the Suburbs: Interrogating Residential Integration

This presentation examines the role that ideologies about language play in the racialization of Asian Americans in a middle class suburb in California. Based on factors like the high rates of Asian American intermarriage with whites, residential integration with whites, income, and educational attainment, sociological theories argue that race is becoming inconsequential for middle class Asian Americans.  They argues that like Jews, Italians, and Irish before them, Asian Americans will eventually “whiten” (e.g. (Bonilla-Silva, 2003; Gans, 1979; J. Lee, 2004; Yancey, 2003). In the popular imagination, Asian Americans are often cast as the beneficiaries of racialization, the immigrant “success story” against whom other racialized groups’ “failure” is juxtaposed (Kim, 1999). While such generalizations have been shown to vastly simplify the economic and educational diversity across the wide range of people who are known as “Asian Pacific Americans” and ethnographic evidence has highlighted the vital importance of class for Asian Pacific Americans who may be seen more as potential gang members than as high achieving nerds (e.g.  (S. J. Lee, 2005; Louie, 2004; Reyes, 2006) there is still a stubborn idea that race somehow doesn’t really matter, or perhaps doesn’t matter as much for Asian Americans as for other racialized groups. In this presentation, I seek to demonstrate the enduring significance of race for a group of Asian Americans that is, by all measures, one of the most “assimilated.” Drawing upon ethnographic research in a middle class suburb populated primarily by White and Asian American professional families, I describe how Asian Americans were racialized as self-interested foreigners in the public discourse of the town and how their visibility and attempts to participate in the civic and political life of the community prompted white flight. I highlight the role that debates about language played in these moral framings and discuss the implications of this research for theories of assimilation.

Norma Mendoza-Denton (Anthropology, University of Arizona)
Norteño and Sureño Gangs on YouTube: Localism in California Through Spanish Accent Variation

Performing place is an integral part of linguistic performativity. This paper analyzes youtube video postings and video battles representing the California gangs Norteños and Sureños (Mendoza-Denton 2008). Drawing on prior discussions of localism and politics of territory in the constitution of California gangs, this paper analyzes how use of and proficiency in Spanish acquires a symbolic, localistic dimension for these gangs. Gang-related videos (a sort of video-tagging) most often utilize streams of images overlain on top of rap music, avoiding the representation of specific individuals. Images of California, representation of area codes, and the territorializing devices around language are specifically discussed. Despite pervasive English-Spanish codeswitching in the music and soundtracks, videos purportedly crafted by Norteños make use of mock Spanish and exaggerated Spanish accents to portray.

Marianne Mithun (Linguistics, UCSB)
Our Deep Linguistic Diversity and Commonality: Indigenous Multilingualism in California 

California is home to some of the greatest indigenous linguistic diversity in the world. Around 20 distinct language families and isolates, groups of languages without demonstrable genetic ties to each other, were represented here at the time of first contacts with Europeans, and there may have been many more. 70-100 languages are known to have been spoken, many into recent times and some still today. California languages, which developed out of separate cultural traditions from those of Europe, Asia, and even other areas of the Americas, give us a window onto different ways of viewing the world. Their vocabularies reflect some surprising ways of partitioning experience into concepts. Their grammars codify some unexpected ways of combining concepts into larger ideas. Many California languages were never spoken by large groups. The hospitable environment allowed even small communities to thrive. As a result, exogamy was common; it was not unusual for people to marry speakers of other languages and for children to be raised multilingually. Multilingualism can affect languages in subtle but powerful ways. Speakers familiar with expressive possibilities in one of their languages often seek to replicate those possibilities in another. Over time, such practices can alter vocabulary and reshape grammar. California is in fact recognized as a strong linguistic area, a geographic region containing genetically unrelated languages that nevertheless share numerous characteristics. Here we look at certain features that developed in California and persist not only in the languages themselves, but in some cases in the English of their speakers and their descendants. Even when the traditional language is no longer the primary medium of daily communication, such features can become markers of community identity.

Robert J. Podesva (Linguistics, Georgetown University)
The California Vowel Shift and Gay Identity  

Slides [PDF]

While regional accents have long been recognized to index the geographic areas they characterize, sociolinguistic variationists have increasingly attended to the range of social meanings these features can index (Eckert 2000, Zhang 2005).  Features of the California Vowel Shift (CVS), for example, can in addition to region be used to construct various identities associated with gender (Eckert 2006), ethnicity (Fought 2002, Hall-Lew 2008), gang affiliation (Mendoza-Denton 2008), and even emotion (Drager, Eckert, and Moon 2008).  The present paper investigates whether and the extent to which components of the CVS can be used to construct gay identity. Given that previous work documents the use of CVS features to display emotion (Drager, Eckert, and Moon 2008), and that linguistic performances of emotion can index gayness (Podesva 2007), it follows that these features could partly constitute gay identity.  Previous work on the phonetic correlates of sounding gay, however, make some contradictory claims.  Pierrehumbert et al. (2004), for example, report that gay men exhibit more expanded vowel spaces than their heterosexual counterparts.  Thus, more central variants of the high back vowels are predicted by previous variationistwork, while more peripheral variants are predicted by previous work in laboratory phonology. This work examinesintraspeaker variation in the speech of Regan, a gay Asian American man who grew up in California.  Patterns of vocalic variation are examined across situations and within situations as topics and participant structures change.  Two conclusions are drawn: (1) As suggested by Munson and Babel (2007), work on the phonetic correlates of sounding gay should take regional variation into account; and (2) examining intraspeaker variation is a fruitful means of tapping into the social meanings of components of the CVS. 

Jason Raley (Education, UCSB)
When Is Language?: Language Diversity in the Interactional Lives of Schoolchildren

The fact of California’s language diversity usually enters conversations about California’s schools in three ways, and often in a predictable order.  First, as a way to characterize the psychological “equipment” that students bring with them to classrooms, including competence and/or identity.  Second, as a challenge for political and practical decisions about the language of instruction and curriculum material.  And third, as part of an enduring question about the proper aims of schooling in a diverse society.  This paper is an attempt to extend a different conversation about California’s language diversity and California’s schools.  It takes as a starting point the commonplace observation that, no matter what else is going on in and around schools, students are interacting with each other and, from time to time, with adults. Such interactions constitute the social and cultural space of “school,” as individual persons are constituted into various positions and relationships.  The paper focuses on a few short episodes from the first weeks of life in kindergarten at a dual-language immersion school, with special attention to the recorded interactions among students as they sort out what “school” means and what it means to be a student there. Language diversity surely matters for the organization of life in school.  This paper asks: when?  And with what consequences for the experiences of children?

Otto Santa Ana (Chicana and Chicano Studies, UCLA)
Portrayals of Unauthorized Californian Immigrants and College Students in Print Media and the Courts

Slides [PDF]

My undergraduate teams and I have studied public discourses that paint portraits of two groups of (primarily Latino) undocumented Californians: college youth and immigrants. We find conflicting images of the thousands of post-secondary students who —through no fault of their own— have no social security number. The nation is deeply divided about their character. This year California's Supreme Court will debate the constitutionality of AB 540, which allows these students to pay resident tuition. Other states have codified them as criminals: Missouri public colleges barred such students from classes this year. College officials said the bill was designed "to keep illegal immigrants away." North Carolina and Alabama have passed similar laws. However, other citizens praise these same young people who strive to gain their piece of the American Dream. We report on two significant discourse streams: California legal debate on AB 540, and print media news discourse of the legal debate. Similarly, unauthorized immigrants (and their supporters) have been falsely spoken about as violent lawbreakers—on California television news stations—when in fact they have been the victims of police violence. This was the case on May 1st 2007 when a peaceful immigration rights demonstration in Los Angeles was assailed by 450 armed police officers firing munitions. My team evaluated the semiotics of 51 television news reports of 3 networks and 5 local stations, and found the most accurate reports made immediately after the police attack. By the next day, however, the events were (falsely) framed in terms of violent marchers who instigated excessive police response. California television news thus blamed the victims for the violence they suffered. We report on these studies with the hope that the people assembled at Vox California can help develop a strategy to address the persistent verbal misrepresentation of large portions of California's residents.

Ana Celia Zentella (Ethnic Studies, UCSD)
Multilingual San Diego: Challenging Erasure

Slides [PDF]

Diversity has been a hallmark of the linguistic history of San Diego for thousands of years, beginning with the many indigenous languages in the 16th century, the varieties of Spanish spoken by the colonizers in the 18th century, the dialects of English and other languages spoken by those who came searching for gold after 1848, and the rich mix of immigrant languages that marked the 20th century. An examination of the paradox of the real versus the tourist San Diego, underscoring the languages and cultures that have been elided in the narrative of “the nation’s finest city”, reveals that those gaps bolster a local and national view of the ‘good English-only-speaking American’ that makes it difficult for communities to hold onto languages other than English. In 2006, 2,941,454 people lived in San Diego County, including the 1,256,951 residents of the eighth largest metropolis in the United States, San Diego. Approximately 33% speak a language other than English at home, but more than 75% of those also speak English well or very well. Spanish is the language most frequently spoken after English; the nine other languages that constitute the top ten come from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, and the newest ethnolinguistic communities emigrated from Africa. Despite the extent of this diversity, geographical, racial, and economic barriers contribute to the erasure of the presence of ‘others’ in San Diego. Members of rich and poor ethnolinguistic communities who speak very different languages share a concern about the rapid loss of their heritage languages. The ‘ethnolinguistic vitality’ framework proposed by Giles and Powesland (1977) is reviewed in the light of San Diego’s profile, suggesting different projections for the maintenance of the leading languages, and revealing several aspects of the framework that should be amended.

POSTER PresentationS

Ursula Aldana (Education and Information Studies, UCLA)
Competing Language Ideologies of African American and Latino Students in a Third-Grade Dual Immersion Classroom in Southern California

Poster [PDF]

This study reveals the language ideologies of minority students in a dual immersion strand program in a general education school in southern California that has undergone demographic change. K-12 schools in California serve nearly a majority (48.6%) of Latino students and many districts continue to undergo rapid shifts to their student populations (CDE 2008). California urban centers, in particular, look like majority minority communities where Spanish speaking immigrants and their children have become the majority in contrast to a decreasing presence of other ethnic groups. Research in linguistic anthropology and the field of language ideologies indicates that non-dominant languages can still hold value in societies, in the form of capital (Swiggert 2001; Irvine 1989; Woolard 1985). In light of this, the case of African American and Latino students who choose to speak Spanish provides a unique linguistic practice in urban centers. This project documents the discursive practices of these students and through this process reveals how language indexes the status of English and Spanish in their community and school as well as the status of those who speak each language. The researcher employed ethnographic methods to document the language practices and ideologies of Latino and African American third-grade students in a dual immersion classroom located in an increasingly Latino and Spanish speaking community that had been historically associated as an African American enclave. This study shows the predominance of English in talk amongst peers but also the students’ consistent use of Spanish with adults. I contend that Spanish has value for these students given the context of their increasingly Latino community and state. This project also discusses how the state of California’s testing and language policies compete with the dual immersion teacher’s language ideology, which over time influenced the students’ language ideologies.

Saeid Atoofi (Applied Linguistics/TESL, UCLA)
The Poetics of Repetition in a Persian Heritage Classroom in Los Angeles

Poster [PDF]

Iranians are one of the biggest growing immigrant populations in California. The aim of this poster presentation is to show how teachers in a Persian heritage classroom in Los Angeles socialize their students into their heritage culture through the use of many forms of repetition in speech for its affective impact. More specifically, I will show that repetition in speech is skillfully utilized by Persian speakers as a poetic device to influence audience affectively. Audio and video recordings of naturally-occurring conversation involving seventeen Persian heritage students and two heritage teachers were analyzed for the use of linguistic repetition. Using a linguistic-anthropological framework, the analysis showed that the heritage teachers in the research site used repetition as an aesthetic device to impact their heritage students affectively. More specifically, the heritage teachers used synonyms, similar-sounding words, reiteration, grammatical and syntactical repetition, poetic rhyming, and similar-in-length phrases to beautify their spontaneous utterances for affective impact. Additionally, the data demonstrated that heritage teachers socialized their students into the use of repetition as poetic device for its affective bearing. Effective communication in Iran is believed to be obtained through a combination of reaching out to both the heart and the mind of the audience. By examining affective devices in language-use among young Iranians engaged in the study of their heritage language and culture, we can shed light on culture-specific communicative styles of minority groups living in California.

Netta Avineri (Applied Linguistics/TESL, UCLA)
“This Is the Language That Unites Us”: The Cultural Context of Yiddish in Southern California

Poster [PDF] Handout [PDF]

Yiddish (‘Jewish’ in Yiddish) has been spoken by Ashkenazic (European) Jews since 1000 C.E., but in the Holocaust most of its speakers died. There has been a recent resurgence of interest in the language as many of the remaining native Yiddish speakers have been disappearing. As one Yiddish-speaking group member noted in Yiddish, “It is interesting Yiddish…it is not only losing a language, it is losing the whole culture….” California has been central in the recent language revitalization movement; in fact, it has more International Association of Yiddish Clubs (IAYC) member groups than any other state or region worldwide. Southern California Jewish identities can be fruitfully examined through the lens of Yiddish, for it plays interconnected roles in multiple generations of both Yiddish- and non-Yiddish speakers’ lives.

This research, collected in a Southern California senior center in 2000-01, highlighted language ideologies, metalinguistic awareness, code switching and mixing, and language shift among a group of Yiddish-speaking women. As one group member stated however, “we will not give you the pure Yiddish here.” Yiddish expressed content and indexed specific relationships with Jewish/ethnic identity, family background, and childhood experiences. The researcher continues to attend Yiddish cultural events and has developed an intergenerational Yiddish language partnership program. Yiddish serves as a central index of a common cultural group experience. In all of its forms (lexical items, speech style, all levels of language usage, music, and poetry), Yiddish unites the Southern California Jewish population such that they experience community within the complex multicultural context of California.

Lindsey Basbas, Stephanie Buelna, Andrea Bueno, Carlos Juárez, Kevin Escudero, Alberto Patricio, Wilber Prada, Kenny Ramírez, Ignacio Rodríguez, Luz del Carmen Trejo Martínez (Chicana and Chicano Studies, UCLA)
California's Competing Discourses on Immigrant Students: Victims or Criminals

Handout [PDF]

We explored the public's images of post-secondary students who have no social security number. California, and the nation, is deeply divided about their character. California's Supreme Court will judge the constitutionality of AB 540. Other states have gone farther, and now bar them from higher education. Using critical content analysis based on metaphor theory, and using a  protocol to limit selectional and interpretative bias, we analyzed today's public discourse of California and North Carolina about these students, by comparing 30 articles from the newspapers of each state.

In California, a dominant conservative discourse clashes with a liberal discourse. The conservative (mainstream) discourse equates students with other immigrants. Whether a pre-med student or a day-laborer, in this narrative, all immigrants are criminals. They never merit a higher education no matter how deserving they are. In contrast, the less frequently liberal discourse portrays undocumented immigrant students with metaphors that express a narrative characterizing them as potential contributors who deserve the chance to achieve their American Dream. California universities are portrayed as viewing undocumented students as deserving an equal opportunity to higher education, again in opposition to the mainstream view that criminalizing them.

These California's discourses also contrast with North Carolina's single anti-immigrant discourse. Like California's mainstream, it portrays immigrant students as criminals. However, North Carolina colleges share this anti-immigrants discourse, are portrayed as policing their gates again such students, and justifies denying them access by criminalizing them for crossing the border in the arms of their parents.

Kristen Bottema (Education, UC Berkeley)
The Role of Supported Experience in the Social Communication of Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Their Typical Peers: A Qualitative Study in Urban California

Poster [PDF] Handout [PDF]

For the past fifteen years, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has increased steadily in California, and rates of diagnosis in this state continue to exceed the national average (Hertz-Picciotto & Delwiche, 2009). This trend makes it especially important that Californians deepen their understanding of the social communication differences found in ASD. Individuals with ASD are often unable to form meaningful friendships, leaving few opportunities to experience peer interactions, develop social and communicative competence, and participate in the culture of their peer groups. The impoverished social lives of individuals with ASD become especially pronounced in the adolescent years, when accepted forms of interaction become more complex and rigid. There is evidence that individuals with ASD develop increased social and communicative competence when they participate in mutually engaging interactions with their typically developing peers (Wolfberg, 2003). This study is an exploratory analysis of a small-group program where teens with ASD and their peers participate in activities of their own design. Analysis has shown that this social setting can foster complex interactions. Within this setting, atypical language use that is common in teens with ASD becomes “normalized” over time, so that idiosyncratic utterances eventually become opportunities for communication as participants construct shared meanings around these utterances. Additionally, larger social structures appear to play a role in how and when typical peers include teens with ASD in their interactions, even in moments when teens with ASD exhibit social competence. The results of this study will shed light on how California teens affected by ASD co-construct social relationships with their peers while relying on unique linguistic resources.

Nathaniel Dumas (Anthropology, UC Berkeley)
Introductions in California American English Stuttering Speech Communities: A Discourse Genre for Co-Constructing Personae

Poster [PDF] Handout [PDF]

This poster explores introductions as a discourse genre (Hanks 1987) in two American English Stuttering Speech Communities (AESSCs). Audio-visual data is culled from ethnographic fieldwork in two chapters of the Stuttering Organization of America or SOA (a pseudonym) in Southern California. For this poster, I conceptualize SOA as a contemporary manifestation of the AESSC, which is defined as a number of collectives that have organized around stuttering beyond clinical settings, are not solely restricted to persons-who-stutter (PWS), and is an outcome of communicative practices that reconfigure the identities of PWS and “fluent” persons. Using conversation analysis, I show how interactants use syntax, intonation, gesture, and eye gaze in macro-turns (Duranti 1981) to co-accomplish introductions. In doing so, participants formulate relevant identity categories and the event of saying one’s name. This is an ideologically-rich event in the AESSC, for members often verbalize the belief that PWS in the American English Fluent Speech Community have particular “trouble” in introducing themselves. My study expands on previous discussions in linguistic anthropology and conversation analysis on introductions in everyday life (Duranti 1997; Pillet-Shore 2008a, b). Through introductions, interactants in this California speech community produce participant frameworks that move beyond a reductionist view of speakers as “fluent”/PWS and co-author a complex persona (Eckert 2002) that is not limited to a linguistic identity. Most importantly, this study sheds light on how social actors use one discourse genre to reproduce a speech community which has existed in California since 1952. Finally, I illustrate how interactants, in their central project of (re)making another sociolinguistic collective, design introductions to formulate California as place (Schegloff 1972), which includes invoking and, at times, erasing (Gal and Irvine 1995) the state’s sociolinguistic and cultural diversity.

Jesse Gillispie (Education, UCSB)
Not Speaking in English: Trouble, School Accountability and the Unequal Valuing of Language in a Dual Immersion School in Southern California

Poster [PDF]

Some studies show that dual immersion education is effective (Cazabon, Nicoladis, & Lambert, 1998; Lindholm-Leary, 2001) while other research suggests that dual immersion hinders bilingual development by fostering an imbalance between two languages (Amrein & Peña, 2000). In California in 1998, bilingual education was deemed publicly ineffective with the passing of Proposition 227. This poster explores the primacy of English over Spanish in a 50/50 two-way dual immersion kindergarten in southern California by looking primarily at how participants manage interactional “trouble.” A classroom rule, not speaking Spanish in the English class, becomes a resource for positioning students as troublemakers by the way the trouble is taken up and ratified by the teacher. Institutionalized separation of Spanish and English and the accountability measures at the level of the state encourage fostering the development of English over Spanish.

Analysis suggests that evaluating the efficacy of dual immersion programs may not be as simple as testing for language proficiency or appropriate implementation. Accountability measures and language politics trickle down to everyday interactions. Second, this research shows that programs can have consequences entirely in opposition to their goals. Close analysis of actual interaction can help teachers with what they do in their classrooms. Lastly, this research highlights the need for ethnographically situated accounts of school programs, especially where they intersect with language, in order to gain a complete picture of the impact these programs have on the everyday life of participants in California schools. Accurate and complete accounts of our state’s diverse schools and classrooms are necessary, given the multilingual nature of California.

James Grama and Bob Kennedy (Linguistics, UCSB)
Acoustic Analysis of Californian Vowels

Poster [PDF]

This paper provides new data on two aspects of the vowel space of California English: the California chain shift and the centralization of the nucleus of the vowel /oʊ/. The California Shift (Hinton et al. 1986; Gordon 2006) is characterized as retraction of the vowels of LOT and TRAP and lowering of the vowels of KIT and DRESS. The centralization of /oʊ/ results in a mid-central nucleus for the vowel of GOAT. We document each aspect of the California vowel system using acoustic analysis of interviews and elicitation data from 13 subjects. Our data indicate that the lowering component of the California Shift is clearly established in the speech of adult Californians, affecting the vowels of KIT, DRESS and TRAP. However, only some subjects show retraction of the LOT vowel, while others maintain it in a conservative low- central position. Subjects also show a consistent centralized nucleus for GOAT, relative to GOOSE and LOT, parallel to the analysis of /u/-fronting by Fought (1999). All subjects also meet Labov et al.’s (2006) criterion for centralized nuclei for GOAT. Eckert (2004), Gordon (2006), and Hagiwara (2006) attribute the California Shift to the retraction of the merged LOT-THOUGHT vowel to [ɑ]. In contrast, our speakers have a central LOT-THOUGHT vowel, suggesting that the LOT-THOUGHT merger is not fully responsible for the shift. Thus, the configuration of California vowels is unique among English vowel systems, even among those with the LOT-THOUGHT merger. Our findings suggest that further work on California English is warranted.

Angela Haeusler (Linguistics, UC Davis)
“Do You Speak English?”: German Language Maintenance in California and the U.S. Census of 1910

This study is a quantitative analysis of language maintenance and shift among German-speaking immigrants to California in 1910. Germans were the largest foreign-born group in the Pacific State at the beginning of the 20th century. Examining data from the U.S. Census and relating it to qualitative evidence, I will argue that language maintenance on the West Coast differed from traditional German areas in the U.S., particularly from Wisconsin where third-generation immigrants were still monolingual in German in 1910 (Wilkerson & Salmons 2008).

The “language question” was added to the Census in 1910. Enumerators inquired about the English-speaking ability of every person age 10 and over. For individuals with no command of English, the language spoken was indicated. I counted through hundreds of original census schedules from several townships that display the self-reported responses. I will identify German settlements in California and investigate their state of bilingualism. For a well-rounded picture, it is necessary to correlate the data with social variables, i.e. German-born parents, year of immigration, sex, age, as indicated in the schedules.

This study will give evidence that German assimilation tendencies in California were stronger than elsewhere in the U.S. I will show that, even though World War I represents a crisis in German ethnic identity and language maintenance in the U.S., the decline of the German language in California goes back to an earlier date. Sociohistorical reasons that can be identified are the absence of cohesive settlement patterns, internal migration and an ethnically diverse student population in public schools (these reasons do not apply to Russian-German immigrants).

Lauren Hall-Lew (Linguistics, Stanford University)
Ethnic Practice Is Local Practice: Phonetic Change in San Francisco, California

Poster [PDF]

Chinese Americans have long been a major part of California’s social landscape, particularly in San Francisco. Despite this, the sparse research on San Francisco English in the past (DeCamp 1953, Hinton et al. 1987, Moonwomon 1992) has not accounted for ethnicity, while research on Asian American English in California has not focused on Chinese ethnicities in particular. This paper presents the first community study of sociolinguistic variation among Chinese Californians, analyzing 88 sociolinguistic interviews with residents of various ethnicities in one residential neighborhood, San Francisco’s Sunset District. The analysis focuses on four phonetic variables: the vocalization of coda and coda-cluster /l/ (COLD~CODE), the merger of the low back vowels (COT~CAUGHT), the fronting of the BOOT vowel, and the fronting of the BOAT vowel. I argue that European Americans’ production of /l/-vocalization indexes an orientation to the Sunset District neighborhood and local meanings of ethnicity, rather than marking ethnicity as a context-free category (Eckert, in press). At the same time, regional practices, such as back vowel merger and fronting, are made available to members of all ethnicities in the community. I suggest that phonetic production patterns reflect a locally constructed relationship between ethnicity and authenticity where Chinese ethnic practices come to index San Franciscan identities. California’s multiethnic landscape thus provides evidence that ethnicity and place may be co-indexed in speech. Multiculturalism comes to define “California” as an imagined and lived community. Furthermore, this analysis problematizes the traditional separation of ethnic and regional speech varieties in sociolinguistic research.

Jessica Henderson (Anthropology, UCLA)
California Stylin’: Anticipatory Fashion in Tween Virtual World

Poster [PDF]

Virtual worlds are places where users can “create and play with different selves” (Whitty 2003:351). This study examines how a multi-cultural group of tweens in an after-school computer club in Los Angeles employed fashion to explore different identities online, and how they used language to sanction certain styles and disparage others. Students played on Whyville.net, an online space where users can play games, chat, and style their avatars (online representations of themselves). In the absence of speech, students represent themselves online through language and fashion. Bucholtz (2007:374) has noted that for youth cultures, consumption can be seen as “the route to subjecthood through the acquisition and display of an individual style create through commodities.” Yet, following Bucholtz and Hall (2004:369), language is the most pervasive symbolic resource for the production of identity. Thus, it is critical to examine the positive and negative assessments these tweens use to co-construct “the good body” and index a savvy Californian style. While this style often co-opts Los Angeles culture (copying looks from Hollywood stars), it also rewards creativity and playfulness. As these youth experiment with new online identities such as skaters, rockers, and starlets, students also recast their image in the offline space of the club. Examining the language and images that adolescents use online to create fashionable identities, as well as the language they use offline in the space of the club to co-construct what is desirable, illuminates the role of language in mediating identity. Furthermore, because this study takes place both in the online global world of Whyville, as well as at a local level of the after-school club in Los Angeles, it speaks to how the diversity of voices and styles present in California can shape wider discourses about fashion and identity online.

Ayana Kondo (Linguistics, CSU Long Beach)
High Rising Terminal Intonation in the Job Interview and Its Impact on Employability in Southern California

Poster [PDF]

High rising terminal (HRT) intonation is a way of speaking in which declarative sentences are uttered with rising intonation as if they were questions. There are two perspectives on the use of HRT. One perspective is that it reflects speaker uncertainty, as suggested by Lakoff (1975) and is thus a form of “powerless” language. Others claim that it signals engagement as found by McLemore (1991). However, little research has been undertaken on how people perceive HRT. HRT is often associated with Valley Girls (Gorman, 1998:,568), thus, research in Southern California may have a critical role in understanding how it is perceived.

This research focuses on the perception of HRT in an employment interview context. For the data collection, two short speech samples (one with HRT instances and the other without) were used as the stimulus for surveys conducted at California State University, Long Beach with 46 students. The respondents were asked to rate the speaker’s employability. In addition, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 10 students.

The survey results confirmed the hypothesis that HRT would be associated with “powerless” language and therefore result in lower employability ratings. The face-to-face interview, however, revealed that HRT was reported as a positive interactional strategy. Interviewees reported using HRT or hearing it used as a means of establishing group solidarity, as a controlling strategy used by employers at work places, and as an engagement strategy for telling a story. Therefore, the imagined user of HRT is not limited to people who have lower status; on the contrary, it is also seen as used by people with power. HRT may have started with Valley Girls; however, it appears that a new cultural meaning of HRT is developing in Southern California, highlighting the dynamic interaction between language use and ideology in this state.

Jung-Eun Janie Lee (Linguistics, UCSB)
Becoming a California Citizen: Performances of Allegiance as Routinized Ritual in a U.S. Naturalization Class

Poster [PDF] Handout [PDF]

With the sizable immigration flow from Latin America and more and more Latino immigrants becoming U.S. citizens, immigration and citizenship are important issues in California. Building on work on language and national identity (e.g., Pavlenko 2002, Heller 1995, Ricento 1998, Woolard 1989),  this study examines the role of language and interaction in the construction of U.S. citizenship in California. The analysis, which is drawn from a larger study of language and identity among Latino immigrants in California, is based on 40 hours of video-recorded data from an adult education class that prepares immigrants for the U.S. naturalization test, demonstrates that U.S. citizenship, in the site of citizenship education, is collectively performed through the ritual recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. In addition, I highlight the decontextualized and routinized nature of the ritual and argue that this embodied and repeated action fosters immigrants' transition to citizenhood.

Lisa Newon (Anthropology, UCLA)
Consumption, Identity, and Embodiment in a Suburban Los Angeles High School

Poster [PDF]

Research demonstrates that as girls move into adolescence, they become increasingly invested in the gendered discourses of popular media and consumer culture (Coates 1999). Branded, gendered images are made relevant to the everyday lives of youth as they are linked to high school status systems (Bucholtz and Hall 2004, Bucholtz 2007). Identity and affiliation is also demonstrated by youth through consumption and bodily presentation (Mendoza-Denton 2008).

In 2005, I audio-recorded 60 hours of natural-occurring speech in a group of middle-class, multiethnic cheerleaders at a high school in suburban Los Angeles. Located near Hollywood and the city of Los Angeles, urban spaces popularized by cinematic glamour, wealth, and sexuality, suburban Los Angeles is uniquely situated to model and support practices of high consumption. I examine evaluative speech fragments produced in friendship groups: the girls’ uses of assessments (Pomerantz 1984, Goodwin and Goodwin 1992), stance and alignment through turn-taking (DuBois 2007, Goodwin 2006), and self-deprecating narratives focused primarily on problematizing levels of body fat (Nichter 2001).

This data demonstrates how Los Angeles youth construct their social worlds through not only their consumption practices, but also through a corresponding language of consumption (Bucholtz 2007). The girls embody the projected images of consumer brands, linking clothing and labels to idealized body images and lifestyles belonging to a middle-class identity. This identity is marked through the girls’ use of ‘Valley Girl’ talk, a style specific to California. In addition, this research is significant for understanding California as it explores the ways in which Los Angeles moral values negate European values in favor of glamour and glitz (Davis 1990).

Dana Osborne (Anthropology, University of Arizona)
“From East LA to Montebello to Whittier”: Deixis in the Construction of Los Angeles

Poster [PDF]

This study builds on the foundation of W. Hanks’ (1990) concept of referential practice and J. R. Martin’s (1992) understanding of phoricity (the linguistic mechanics of referentiality) to examine the ways that fields of deixis generated in the discourse(s) of a fifty-something Mexican-American from East Los Angeles reflect how she cognitively and linguistically represents her lived landscape. Deixis in this analysis is treated as the linguistic crystallization of semiotic and social factors in relation to the material conditions present in history—in the case of 1950-60s East Los Angeles, these included the slow-growth movements of the Westside elite and the minimal city politics of the suburbs to the north and the south of East Los Angeles and downtown. Because access to the north, south and west was all but cut off from the residents of East Los Angeles in the 1950s and 1960s, Whittier Boulevard (a main thoroughfare that flows eastward from East Los Angeles to La Habra) experienced significant semiotic loading, becoming a kind of cultural symbol for Mexican-Americans seeking (upward) mobility. The significance of Whittier Boulevard as a semiotic center can be found in the way that it is treated in relevant contexts as a deictic origo (origin or center) – a tool to explain the state of the social landscape. An analysis of deictic representations present in contemporary discourses about Los Angeles by lifelong residents provides a window into the reflexive intersection between the ways that language reflects experience and the ways that experience shapes language.

Eva Oxelson (Education, UCSB)
Gold Mine: California’s Linguistic Diversity as a Resource for Second Language Instruction

Poster [PDF]

California’s educators have the distinction of working with one of the most linguistically diverse student populations in the nation, if not the world, with over 50 languages represented in our student body (CELDT, 2003). While often this is presented as a problem for educators to overcome, this paper examines a classroom event that turns this diversity into a resource. Video analysis of a lesson in a second grade English Language Development class shows how the unpredictable nature of a group project turns a range of interests and abilities into assets instead of obstacles. The classroom interaction shifts from the Interogative-Response-Evaluation (IRE) sequences others have shown to be prevalent in school (Mehan, 1979; Macbeth, 2003) to the teacher posing questions to which he can assert no epistemic authority. This positions all students as knowers and potential participants, which has been shown to be essential for learning (Dewey,1963; Lave & Wenger,1991; Rogoff,1990; Vygotsky,1978). Structuring educational situations so that all may participate is not only good for student learning, but good for California as it continues to be home to such cultural and linguistic diversity.

Sonya Pritzker (Anthropology, UCLA)
Feeling the Qi: Authenticity, Representation, and Translation in California Chinese Medical Education

Poster [PDF]

The point of this poster is to demonstrate the ways in which “authenticity” is understood in interaction in the context of translated knowledge in California Chinese medical (CM) education. In most Californian CM schools, students are not required to learn Chinese, and rely fully on translated material throughout the four-year program that prepares them to be licensed acupuncturists and herbalists. Over time, students are thereby exposed to many different local/English-speaking voices that hold sway in the discussion of what translated knowledge is considered “real” in the context of CM. Such voices include scholars and translators who are involved in the heated international debates over the standardization of CM terminology, teachers who discuss translation and authenticity in class, local and national gurus who locate CM within a certain California-style alternative spirituality, and students’ own voices as they make sense of the language and concepts they are learning vis-à-vis embodied experiences of “feeling the qi.” This poster demonstrates these multiple voices, showing the semiotic restructuring of “truth” in California CM as it unfolds in day-to-day interaction. Data includes several segments of classroom interaction collected over 18 months of participant observation at a Southern California school of CM, as well as quotes from in-depth interviews with students, teachers, and translators. This poster thus offers participants the opportunity to witness the unique ways in which a distinctly Californian language of CM emerges in concert with the cultural adaptation of the medicine through the lens of a particular, yet diverse, contemporary California zeitgeist.

Jacqueline Steiger (Linguistics and Anthropology, UCLA)
Time to Play: Language and Negotiation in the Los Angeles BDSM Community

Handout [PDF]

BDSM stands for Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, and Sadism & Masochism, respectively. At BDSM clubs, participants actively engage in consensual power exchange and consensual infliction of pain and other sensations. I have done over 50 hours of fieldwork, including 5 hours of audio recording, in the BDSM community in both clubs and community events. My analysis shows that participants engaging in a specific “scene”, or enacted scenario, require negotiation in order to remain safe and consensual in their activities. In order to successfully negotiate a scene, the interlocutors use routine adjacency pairs, employ metaphors related to their activities, and learn a scene-specific vocabulary. When negotiating, they demonstrate communicative competence, arrive at a consensus, and begin a mutually understood and agreed upon activity. Members of the community code their activity as play, and the tools and material culture they use to enact this play as toys. They create activity-specific identities (Goffman 1961) appropriate to the local community of practice. Using the theory of community of practice (Bucholtz 1999), Cameron and Kulick’s (2003) theories of sexuality and identity, and Goffman’s (1961) work on participation frameworks, situation and footing, I analyze the language of the BDSM community in Los Angeles. While there are BDSM communities all over the world, recent events in California (such as the opposition to Prop 8), the state’s sexually liberal/open history, as well as California’s history of sexual movements, make it a unique location for this type of community.

Eve Tulbert (Anthropology, UCLA)
Homeless in Hollywood: Youth Explorations of Style and Genre in the Creation of Original Comic Books

Poster [PDF]

Most people associate Hollywood with the glamour and glitz of the red carpet, but for the homeless teens of Los Angeles, Hollywood is a place of sex traffic, police harassment, and the ins and outs of alleyways. This poster documents a program in which homeless teens create original comic books about street life issues for other homeless teens. Building upon work on style, slang, and youth identity (Bucholtz, 2006; Alim, 2005; Mendoza-Denton, 2008; Goodwin, 2006), this research shows how these youth engage in complex linguistically mediated processes of identity construction as they decide what their characters should say and how they should say it, investing their creations with a rich array of urban registers and youth styles. This research shows the embedded and diglossic meanings of youth life in Hollywood. On the one hand, youth creatively draw upon the tropes of the Hollywood action movie genre, creating original superhero characters and exciting narrative plot twists. They dream about getting "big breaks" on MTV music shows. On the other hand, youth reject and critique these too-easy stories, creating characters that more closely represent their own linguistically mediated experiences and identities. They use multimodal choices of linguistic style and register, photographic angles, and costume pieces in order to create believable cop, john, and meth head characters. This poster thus demonstrates the important connections between space/place and linguistic style. These youth mediate between and creatively combine the place-less styles and stories of the transnational Hollywood culture-industry, and their own on-the-ground experiences of talk on the street.

Ariana J. Valle (Economics, UCSD)
The Vitality of Spanish in Barrio Logan

Poster [PDF]

Barrio Logan is the Mexican enclave of San Diego where Mexican heritage and identity are tightly interwoven into the community’s history and culture. Due to el Barrio’s dense immigrant presence, geographic location, and unique cultural environment, it may be assumed that it provides a setting conducive for preserving the Spanish language. In Barrio Logan, Spanish is commonly used for different aspects of everyday life and in many instances, it is the lingua franca. However, as other scholars point out (Portes & Rambaut 2001), the process of acculturation in many immigrant communities in the U.S. leads to the eventual loss of the ethnic language as immigrants and their children adopt the language and lifestyles of the new host society by the third generation. This study examines whether the vitality of Spanish language in Barrio Logan is strong enough to sustain its linguistic survival. Observations were conducted in Chicano Park from February-May 2006 for a total of 50 hours. I observed linguistic speech patterns and bilingual preferences of diverse age groups, genders, and generations. For my analysis I used the framework provided by Giles, Bourhis, and Taylor, (Giles, Bourhis, & Taylor 2001), who identify three main variables that determine the “ethnolinguistic vitality” of a language: Status, Demographics, and Institutional Support. The application of the model indicates that younger generations in Barrio Logan are redefining what it means to be Mexican-American and which elements of the ethnic culture need to be embraced and reproduced to claim a Mexican identity. I conclude that Spanish is presently alive in Barrio Logan but may not be strong enough to survive eventual displacement by English. This project is significant to understanding California because it provides insight into the linguistic assimilation process and linguistic adaptations Mexican-American generations of California may follow.

Alexander Wahl (Linguistics, UCSB)
“Dude, We Totally Rock”: Mediated African Performances of California Linguistic Styles

Handout [PDF]

As Hollywood projects performances of linguistic styles to global audiences, consumers often reperform these styles in their everyday lives. California especially is a source of stylistic interpretations in this particular variety of speech-chain network (Agha, 2007), being the most populous state, the home of Hollywood, and the mediatized exemplar of sunny middle-class white suburban life. This study considers the performance of California "surfer" identities by Ricco and Munya, two young black African contestants on M-Net's 2008 reality television program, “Big Brother Africa 3.” Ricco and Munya primarily derive their styling from the 1989 Hollywood film “Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure,” a comedy that focuses on stereotypic practices of white slacker postadolescent males; indeed, Bill and Ted are the explicitly declared targets of their performance. But Ricco and Munya's performed identities, though semiotically effective, are only fractionally congruent with the original representation (Agha, 2007): Bill and Ted are musicians--not surfers--and Ricco often enlists features of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) to constitute his performance. In other words, the language ideologies involved reach beyond the film's strict characterology, even as a "surfer" identity is what the performance is "about": Ricco and Munya perform frequent commentary on their shared practices as "surfers." The study illuminates the understudied processes whereby a particular perspective outside of California and the United States may constitute identity by taking up and grouping together broader Hollywood and other American images about California and AAVE under an essentialist rubric of "American surfer youth."

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