The study of African American folklore has been grounded from its beginnings in the colonial period in discourses and power dynamics of race. This chapter posits that these beginnings have given rise to two folkloristic traditions, with differing agendas, methodologies, aesthetics, relationships to black communities, and investments in race. The mainstream tradition has been aligned with scholarly trends within academe and has seldom focused explicitly on the most pressing concerns of black people, or on the most obvious influence on the creation and expression of black folklore, namely race. The other tradition has been more aligned with the political interests, racial histories, and day-to-day needs of African American communities. This chapter critically examines these two tributaries, relative to issues of race, arguing for an African American folklore and folklife studies that embraces an African American–centered political focus while encompassing the unique intellectual contributions of both.
Elizabeth Peel and Sonja J. Ellis
An aging demographic in Western societies as well as globally has made public health issues, such as dementia, subject to hyperbolic metaphor such as “tsunami” and “time bomb.” This chapter reviews the state of knowledge regarding language, sexualities, aging, and chronic illness. In particular, the discussion focuses on discursive research from across the social sciences that furthers understandings of older people’s lives and experiences. The chapter highlights research that has focused on ageism and chronic conditions impacting older people (specifically, dementia and type 2 diabetes), including empirical research on these conditions, and on manifestations of heterosexism and heteronormativity in these contexts. Using illustrative examples that emphasize the intersection of discourse and issues that relate to aging, the chapter foregrounds this area as an important element of language and sexuality scholarship. Last, future directions for the development of research focusing on these topics are indicated.
Folklore and folklife research is applied to a range of institutional settings that can be categorized in five different spheres of representation. These spheres overlap, but they include academic folklore, applied folklore, public sector folklore, public folklore, and private sector presentations of folk culture. This range of work revises the common dichotomy made between academic and public folklore. In addition to the overarching idea of heritage in applications of folklore and folklife research, key concepts such as preservation, interpretation, presentation, and representation that pervade the five modes of folkloristic work are discussed in relation to each sphere. The different situations within which folklorists work implicitly and overtly influence how they will preserve, interpret, and present folklore and folklife.
This article critically evaluates the notion of contrast and discusses the role that contrast has been claimed to have in grammar. It argues that a precise understanding of grammatical effects of contrast can only be gained if both the contrastive constituents with the kind of alternative set they evoke as well as the discourse relations that connect the discourse segments containing the contrastive constituents are subjected to detailed analysis for their effects on grammar (prosody, morphosyntax). It presents three hypotheses specifying the details for the identification of (a) contrast-related alternative formation, (b) contrastive discourse relations, and (c) grammatical manifestations of contrast. It reviews previous research on contrast in relation to these hypotheses, examining the linguistic materials that have been used to elicit grammatical manifestations of contrast, and discussing specific findings for particular languages from the prosodic and the morphosyntactic literature on contrast.
Elizabeth Stokoe and Susan Speer
This chapter describes and illustrates a conversation analytic approach to language and sexuality. It begins by exploring contrasts between conversation analytic and other approaches to connecting language as a practice and sexuality as an identity topic. This discussion is set in a broader ethnomethodological context, drawing out key themes and debates that have emerged since the inception of ethnomethodological approaches to the study of gender and sexuality in the 1960s, including notions such as “doing” gender and sexuality and “passing.” The chapter then briefly reviews the controversial debates about the analytic tractability of identity topics, like sexuality and gender, in the conversation analytic tradition. After summarizing conversation analytic work on sexuality specifically, an illustration of what this approach offers to language and sexuality scholars is given, showing the methodological steps involved as well as the possibilities for applying findings in the real world beyond scholarly debate.
Anthony K. Webster
This article argues for the continuing importance of ethnopoetics/cultural poetics in the work of linguists and anthropologists. A heuristic definition of ethnopoetics (or cultural poetics) is given as the various traditions of such recurrent patternings of linguistic forms (and the thwarting of such expectations of such patternings). The continuing relevance of a Hymesian-inspired anthropological philology is noted. After framing the discussion of poetry and poetics as both linguistic and ethnographic questions, this article engages questions of linguistic relativity and its relationship to poetics, as well as poetry and poetics as social practices. Examples of parallelism and metaphor are given and discussed both in relation to their poetic form and to their social work. A final extended illustration is given concerning Navajo poetry as an example of a cultural poetics informed by both linguistics and anthropology. It is argued that research on cultural poetics/ethnopoetics encourages patience and reflection.
Sex work has long been of interest to a variety of fields, among them anthropology, sociology, public health, and feminist theory, to name but a few. However, with very few exceptions, sociolinguistics seems to have ignored the fact that commercial sex, as an intersubjective business transaction, is primarily negotiated in embodied linguistic interaction. By reviewing publications in distinct social scientific areas that directly or indirectly discuss the role of language in the sex industry, this chapter critically assesses the analytical affordances and methodological challenges for a sociolinguistics of sex work. It does so by discussing the “tricks” played by sex work, as a power-infused context of language use in which issues of agency (or lack thereof) are paramount, on sociolinguistic theory and methods. The chapter concludes that the study of language in commercial sex venues is sociolinguistically promising and epistemologically timely.
The folklore of family and friends is a primary social frame of traditional knowledge, promoting distinctive values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Their associated narratives share certain characteristics. They have long been mined by folklorists as popular forms of personal experience narrative, and their transmission is somewhat gender dependent. Unlike friendship narrative, however, family narrative is widely studied in its own right. This chapter argues for a deeper study of friendship narrative, given (1) its role as a performative utterance, reflecting agency that helps form and maintain the group; (2) its horizontal, egalitarian mode of transmission; (3) the effect of the relative ephemerality of friendships; and (4) the role of gossip. The tension between tradition and innovation in American society and the growing importance of friendship groups in the culture, particularly through social media, make friendship narrative an increasingly compelling area of folklore scholarship and a potential means for countering intergroup hostilities.
This chapter examines the phenomenon of focus projection: a sentence with prosodic marking of focus on a word can lead to ambiguity, in that different constituents containing the word can be interpreted as focused. Two general approaches to focus projection are compared. In Default Prosody analyses, focus projection is epiphenomenal, a consequence of general principles requiring that focus be prosodically prominent, coupled with default principles of default prominence. In the F-projection approach, focus projection is encoded more directly, in terms of licensing rules for F-marking on constituents. Overall, the evidence in the literature favors the Default Prosody approach, and this chapter concentrates on comparing these two general approaches, as well as briefly summarizing other aspects of focus projection. The chapter ends with discussion of Basque data that are problematic for widely assumed generalizations about focus projection, and a possible way of understanding the data in the Default Prosody approach.
Folk dramas and festivals are encapsulated units of culture that distill, concretize, and make manifest through enactment important cultural values and ideas. Bounded in time and space, they offer scholars an isolatable prism through which to examine culture, making them appealing objects of study. They are marked off in time and space and amalgamate other genres such as song, dance, art, costume, food, and narrative to produce synergistic events that are greater than the sum of their parts. They also happen in public arenas, rely on active audience participation, and invoke frameworks of play. Both festivals and folk dramas create alternative worlds in order to transform reality. Festivals in particular are characterized by license, inversion, and a high degree of ambiguity. Which ideas, values, or social arrangements are proposed, whose values they represent, and how these ideas are contested or contradicted in festival and folk drama arenas remain important fields of investigation.