Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brockton High School Recognized

Elizabeth Vann teaches ESL at Brockton High School, recently recognized as a big school with high standards.  Given the availability of longitudinal data on schools, education is a prime field of study for those interested in language, culture and history.

NY Times Highlights Brockton High School as National Leader in Education
Posted 09/28/2010 03:01PM
NY Times Highlights Brockton High School as National Leader in Education
Brockton High School is being heralded as a model of public school success in a Page 1 feature in the New York Times. The September 27, 2010 story outlines how Principal Dr. Susan Szachowicz and the faculty and staff of New England’s largest high school radically changed the school’s culture and turned it into one of the nation’s top performing high schools.
“Ours is a story that proves that with determination, hard work and a focus on literacy, all students can and will achieve at high levels,” Szachowicz said. “I am so proud of our students for how they have defied the demographics, of our faculty who teach with great skill and passion, and of our administrative leadership team for their commitment to excellence. Our success has truly been a team effort!”

Stephen Leonard in the Arctic

Steven Leonard is currently in the Arctic documenting the language and culture of Inughuit hunters.  Articles can be found at:

The disappearing world of the last of the Arctic hunters | 2 weeks ago | 0 comments | read more like this
Via The Guardian - In the first of a series of dispatches, Stephen Pax Leonard reports on the unique culture of the Inughuit as the sea ice that has supported their ancient way of life melts ben... | 2 months ago | 0 comments | read more like this
Via The Guardian - Cambridge researcher will live in Arctic and document Inughuit culture and language threatened by climate change Stephen Pax Leonard will soon swap the lawns, libraries and hi...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Language, Culture and History, University of Wyoming, July 2010

Abstracts for the Wyoming Language, Culture and History Conference, July 1-3, 2010, Department of Anthropology, University of Wyoming

Madeleine Adkins
Title of Presentation: Will the real Breton please stand up?: Language revitalization and the problem of authentic language
In language revitalization contexts, community members and linguists typically look to traditional speakers for “authentic” language. This paper explores the challenges underlying notions of authenticity by examining the stances and language ideologies of Breton language speakers, and examining the historical contexts in which these ideologies developed.
Traditionally spoken in Brittany, France, Breton is currently spoken by a minority of mostly elderly, rural speakers. Some younger Bretons acquire a standardized variety that is distinct from traditional Breton (Timm 2003).
Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper examines the challenges in evaluating speaker fluency among native speakers of Breton. Problematizing the notion of authenticity, this study explores the language contact issues that have led to an environment where speakers’ language ideologies cause them to view their own or others’ Breton as—in some sense—inferior or inauthentic. By analyzing the stances that traditional speakers take towards varieties of Breton, this work examines the real-world challenges that language ideologies pose for endangered language communities looking to identify and promote confident, fluent speakers, the challenges for researchers in working with self- and other-reported evaluations of speakerhood, as well as on the sociolinguistic impact of language contact in endangered language contexts.

Bernard Bate
Title of Presentation: Bharati and the Tamil Modern
Was it a coincidence that Tamil’s greatest modern poet was among the vanguard of political actors to systematically deploy vernacular oratory as a new political medium?  More abstractly, what is the relationship between poetic and political modernity?  In this paper, I will focus on Subramania Bharati, one oration, and two songs.  The first oration was accompanied by a song, a procession, and a large public meeting on the Marina Beach in Madras on 9 March 1908.  It was during this time that Bharati wrote some of his most famous nationalist songs in a simple Tamil set to folk meters and melodies perfect for interpellating a new political agency: the Tamil people.  The second song was sung at a crossroads not far from the Marina during a procession of fervent political actors moving towards the first great satyagraha of the Madras Presidency, 6 April 1919.  By that time Bharati had been broken of politics through exile and opium addiction; and yet the enigmatic poet was sighted dancing in and out of events associated with the political form that he had helped to establish.  This paper will interrogate the relationship between poetic language, oratory, and the emergence of the mass political with a consideration of Bharati and a singularly Tamil modern.

Anne Bennett

Title of Presentation:  Heritage Arabic Learners in the Inland Empire (southern California)
This paper discusses the language ideologies and metapragmatics of heritage learners of Arabic on a California state university campus.  American students of Arab descent manage an array of expectations and identities both by choice and otherwise as a result of their individual biographies, family ties, regional “Inland Empire” cultural landscapes, and post 9/11 attitudes that impose a predominantly stigmatized identity on Arab-Americans. These college students, American citizens with transnational backgrounds and experiences, actively and creatively negotiate what it means to study Arabic as a heritage learner both in terms of their own personhood and in the context of the cultural politics of southern California and 21st century America. Moreover these students are effectively engaged in disproving the facile but influential thesis that a “clash of civilizations” exists between the West and the Middle East.

Jessica Boynton
Title of Presentation:  Wangkatha Language Ideologies: Perspectives on language endangerment
According to the formal criteria posed by, for example, Andersen (1982), Schmidt (1991), Fishman (1991), or Australia’s National Indigenous Language Survey Report (2005), the Australian Aboriginal language Wangkatha would be considered endangered. Language endangerment and shift has been widely discussed in anthropological linguistic literature since Dorian’s seminal volume in 1989 and the ground-breaking special issue of language edited by Hale in 1992, and the topic has even found a place in popular media in more recent history. This paper addresses the viewpoints of Aboriginal language consultants, specifically how they interpret the current and future status of the language in relation to their social history.
Perspectives on language shift come together to form a discourse about Wangkatha language and language endangerment. The discourse is reinforced through repetition in the community, the concurrence of language specialists such as local language workers, sympathetic representations of other endangered languages in the media, and the role the discourse plays in the broader discourse and struggle for indigenous rights. The discourses of language endangerment and maintenance are often used as part of a social justice platform that seeks social equality for Aboriginal Australians and reconciliation over the separation of children from their parents that occurred in the early to mid 1900s during what is now called the ‘Stolen Generation’ era. The practices during this era are often blamed, by community members and scholars alike, for the current threatened status of the language.

Cindee Calton
Title of Presentation: In Defense of American Sign Language: How the Need to Defend ASL's Linguistic Status has Shaped Research on ASL
In 1960, linguist William Stokoe published Sign Language Structure: An Outline of the Visual Communication System of the Deaf, which argued on linguistic grounds that ASL was indeed a language, and a language completely separate from English. Stokoe was followed by many others in the following decade, who provided more and more data reaffirming ASL's linguistic status. However, just as larger social trends and ideologies influenced the previous argument that ASL was a language, these linguists' discussions of ASL were shaped by their knowledge that society at large did not view ASL as a language on par with English or spoken languages. This paper examines the ideologies of ASL linguists in the 1970s, and how their work was shaped by their desire to make the case for ASL to the outside world. I argue that in doing so, these linguists actually erased the unique nature of ASL and other signed languages. Finally, I examine the ideologies affecting linguistics now, and the impact they have on current trends in ASL research.

Stephen Chrisomalis

Title of Presentation: Dynamic philology and the anthropology of numerals
Philology shares with anthropological linguistics a concern with language as it relates to culture, form as it relates to content.  Yet while philology concerns itself with long-term diachronic change, anthropological theory is currently grounded in shorter ethnographic timescales.   Conversely, anthropology’s concern with social organization and political economy is nearly absent in most philological traditions.  George Zipf (1935) sought to rebuild a historical, evolutionary “dynamic philology” using approaches from the behavioral sciences, including anthropology, but his work paid little attention to the processes linking linguistic and nonlinguistic behavior.
             Ethnohistorians and archaeologists interested in written numerical notations interact with philology through disciplines such as paleography, classics, and Assyriology, while anthropological and historical linguists work together to link cultural and linguistic histories.   I compare three anthropological cases of written numerals – Cherokee (Tsalagi), Mende, and Texcocan – to show how written numerical practices interact with each other, and illuminate linkages between the form of notations, the language(s) used alongside them, and sociopolitical systems.  A truly dynamic philology that attends both to changes in linguistic and nonlinguistic practices can emerge from this work.

Todd Corbett
Title of Presentation: Making Deaf History in Wyoming
In the 1960’s, when I was one and half years old, my mother noticed that loud noises didn’t startle her precious baby.  She was worried that I may not be able to hear.   She never dreamed of having a Deaf baby. The population of our town, Huston, Wyoming, was barely over 100 and had no public library.   No personal computers or the internet existed.   Prior to the discovery of my hearing loss, my parents had NO experiences or knowledge of Deafness. After a several failures with different doctors, she finally called an audiologist.  The audiologist’s office was in Montana and we had a long drive from our town to Montana for my audiology exam.  This day was the first day my parents got confirmation of my Deafness.  My first-time parents got upset due to their lack of knowledge of Deaf community.
After the “discovery”,  my naïve parents took  advice from the audiologist about teaching a Deaf child through oral programs (Oral-audiology education).   I was sent to the school for the Deaf in Casper, Wyoming at the age of three. This school had a strict oral program but we students signed behind our teachers’ back, using a forbidden of sign language system.  For the next ten years, all my lessons were on how to speak and hear, with little other education.  I was deprived of a real education because of all the time spent on speaking and hearing.
When I was about to become a seventh grader, I learned that I would be able to attend a mainstreamed school for the next seven years.  As an excited and education deprived student, I had a great desire to be free and to explore the real world.  However, on the first day of school, I learned that my parents and the Deaf school had agreed to have me in both schools (mainstreamed for a half day then Deaf school for the other half).  On the first day of school, I rebelled against being a half/half student in both schools.  I told my parents that I refused to attend the first week of school unless they allowed me to attend a full-time mainstreaming school.  I got what I wanted!   This personal rebellion changed the “Half/half era.” A whole group of Deaf students  was mainstreamed with me, with one of the teachers from the Deaf school as interpreter—she had been forbidden to use her sign language and finally got a chance to use it.
After I graduated from Kelly Walsh High School with honors, I was encouraged to attend Gallaudet University by my interpreters.   During my four years at Gallaudet, I happened to be involved in Deaf President Now protest in 1988.  It influenced my beliefs that I was a full human being with rights.  I later graduated with a BA at University of Wyoming and decided to become a teacher.  Since 1999, I have had taught five courses at University of Wyoming.  I teach three different levels of American Sign Language as well as Deaf Studies .

Jenny L. Davis
Title of Presentation: (Linguistic) Diaspora in Indian Country
In order to understand the current geo-political realities that affect language revitalization efforts within the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, I explore the historical processes that created those realities. Specifically, I examine how the process of ‘accumulation through dispersion,’ through which public assets--in this case land--are privatized and commodified, contributed to a linguistic and social diaspora even within the geographic boundaries of the Nation’s territory. This history, and its ramifications, is a critical reality to consider in the designing of various aspects of the Nation’s language documentation and revitalization efforts.
The tribal land allotted by the U.S. government to the Chickasaw Nation is privately owned by each tribal citizen, rather than community owned, as in the case of many reservations. This has meant that non-natives were able to inherit or purchase the land itself as well as the mineral (oil) rights. As a result, tribal citizens, as well as political and social power, are dispersed. Based on 5 years of Native ethnography, I will discuss the effects of this specific diasporic context on the development of the Master/Apprentice program and on the process of gaining approval from the Oklahoma Board of Education for Chickasaw language courses in K-12 schools.

Gloria Delany-Barmann & Carla Paciotto
Title of Presentation: Contesting Language Shift in the Rural Midwest: Developing Intercultural Identities and Voices in a Dual Language Program 
             This paper presents data from an on-going ethnographic study of a dual language program in a small Midwestern town that experienced a 5000% increase in Latinos between 1990 and 2006 (Miratfab & McConnel, 2008). Our analysis draws on interview, observation and questionnaire data from two small rural elementary schools with approximately 350 students. The main research questions ask: 1) What are the children’s attitudes towards Spanish and English; and 2) What are the effects of the dual language program on the social relations and social networks of students attending the dual language program inside and outside of the school?
The schools in this study represent an important example in the region in terms of demographic change and curriculum reform, where like for any school program, positive socialization and cross-cultural interactions are fundamental goals. With the current trend of meat packing plants being located in the Midwest, rural school districts in this section of the country will likely continue to experience a large and rapid increase in their population of culturally and linguistically diverse students. This study provides insights into how one school district addresses that change in a way that encourages maintenance of the home language and the acquisition of a new one, with the added benefit of improved social relationships.

Inga    Ghutidze
Title of Presentation: Toward the Pecularity of Lexical Borrowings in Ethnic Georgians Speech in Turkey
     According to the heavy political conditions, Georgian language (the state language of Georgia) is spoken in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran. Loosing the statehood and the territories, declaring different ethnographic groups of Georgian nation as separate peoples, forced migration and exiling of muslim Georgians to different regions of Turkey, were the results of Russian tsarist policy in 19 century.
The great part of forced migration Georgians was settled in 20 villages of Inegol, Bursa Vilaiet, which are multiethnic in compositionThe analyses of studies have shown that the results of language relationships are ultimately  dependent on the particular character of political and social interrelations existing between them.
Ethnic Georgians, living far from their historical homeland and not sharing certain inborn attributes and cultural values, create language island in Turkey, that as a whole is predominantly Turkish speaking.
            The paper deals with the question of preservation of Georgian language in speech of these people, whose several generations have never been to Georgia. It is interesting to see that despite the strong language assimilation only two groups of the lexical borrowings are found and distinguished in speech of forced migration  Georgians. These units reflect only new realities and concepts.  If ethnic group, living far from historical homeland, changes the basic part of lexis and submits influence of the state language, there discussion on all system peculiarities are far from opinion.
            This peculiar type of Turkish borrowings and maintaining of basic lexical units, which with other factors provided preservation of language, is one aspect of the process that is going with productive interrelations to the second language. This once more confirms the unique result of language relationships.

Peter Grund
 Title of Presentation: “I verily believe that she is a witch”: Evidence, Evidentiality, and the Witness Depositions from the Salem Witch Trials
The study of evidentiality focuses on the linguistic resources that speakers and writers use to mark where their knowledge comes from. Recent studies have shown that English has a complex system of indicating the basis of knowledge (Bednarek 2006; Chafe 1986). However, while the strategies used in Present-Day English have now received some attention, historical patterns remain an uncharted area.
The aim of this paper is to explore the use of evidentiality marking or evidentials in witness depositions from the witch trials of Salem, MA, in 1692-1693. I will show that studying evidentials gives us insights into how different types of knowledge (sensory evidence, hearsay, belief, deduction) were valued within the Salem trial process. Charting the use of different markers, I will demonstrate how the witnesses utilized evidentials in different contexts to fulfill a variety of pragmatic functions, such as indicating reliability/possibility/probability and signaling emphasis. More generally, the paper will underscore the importance of considering the interplay of language, society, and communicative context when interpreting historical texts.

Peter C. Haney,
Title of Presentation:  The “Barbed Wire” of Print:  Transcription, Theory, and Representation in Documentary Editing and Conversation Analysis.
Since Elinor Ochs’ s famous 1979 essay, linguistic anthropologists have agreed that transcription is theory and that to transcribe is to interpret.  During the same period, historians who publish print versions of handwritten documents have faced issues similar to those that arise in Conversation Analysis (CA), even though the two fields are not in conversation.  Although documentary editors use symbols available on typewriter and computer keyboards to represent phenomena different from those that interest students of talk, their transcriptions resemble CA transcripts at a glance.  The resemblance is more than superficial.  Both historians and conversation analysts seek to capture in printed text the particularities of another discourse medium.  For both, transcription draws attention to features of the original that would otherwise go unnoticed.  And in both cases, an inverse relationship obtains between the transcription’s level of detail and its legibility.  This latter problem has led some critics of documentary editing to decry the slashes, dashes, and other symbols used to represent the vagaries of the pen as “barbed wire.”  Drawing on recent insights in critical literacy studies, this paper explores the implications of this generally unacknowledged convergence and the implications of new image-reproduction technologies for the enterprise of transcription.

Alison Quaggin Harkin
Title of Presentation: Constructing the Idiot Asylum: A Critical Analysis of Past and Present Discourses of Developmental Disability
Discourses, says Michel Foucault (1972), are “practices that systematically form the objects of which they speak” (p. 49). They therefore produce rather than merely express social and cultural realities. Both past and contemporary discourses often participate in the creation of developmental disability as a set of identifiable deficits to be controlled and managed. Thus, current “enlightened” discourses that ostensibly encourage social inclusion of those labeled developmentally disabled frequently reinforce former discourses about “feeblemindedness” and exclusion. Textual examples of such discourses are wide ranging: they can be found in academic papers, the medical and psychological literature, legal documents, and educational and instructional materials. In this paper, I examine and compare a selection of past and present discourses of developmental disability. In doing so, I use the tools of critical discourse analysis (e.g., a close and reflexive reading of complexities and contradictions in texts, and an exploration of their social significance). I also discuss the observations of discourse theorists such as James Paul Gee, Norman Fairclough, Sara Mills, Jan Renkema, Chris Barker, Dariusz Galasiński, and Kay O’Halloran. My aim in exposing the subtle ways in which language constructs developmental disability is to encourage the emergence of alternative, resistant discourses.
Foucault, M. (1972). The archaeology of knowledge (S. Smith, Trans.). London: Tavistock. (Original work published 1969)

Stormy M. Iverson
Title of Presentation: Construction of Oralism: Tracing Historical Ideologies of Deafness in Contemporary Media
            The Justinian Code of the 16th Century is said to have initiated the oral-manual controversy.  It is the first legal document to make a distinction between deaf and deafened individuals, with a preference for the latter because of their ability to assimilate into the dominant hearing culture through speech and lip reading. Today, the misconstruction of manualism and the power and domination of oralism are still evident. In 2006, the number one daytime soap opera, The Young and the Restless, announced that it was introducing an educational storyline about a deafened adolescent. The images that were presented in the script were created with support from a major cochlear implant manufacturer. The current study demonstrates how the media, by operating within a limited interpretational framework, omitted and mitigated objective information about deafness and cochlear implants, and at the same time disseminated misleading and biased information in a way that appears natural and just. The resulting image is one that illustrates the propaganda of historical ideologies of oralism by portraying deafness as a condition that should be pitied and treated immediately--cochlear implants as a miracle cure for everyone--and sign language as a rudimentary tool inadequate for conveying complex information.

Stephen Pax Leonard
Title of Presentation: Social and Linguistic Identity Construction in the North Atlantic: the case of Iceland
This paper explores the historical anthropology of how the settlers to Iceland in the ninth century constructed a linguistic and social identity for themselves in a tabula rasa society. The size, relative isolation and linguistic homogeneity of the Icelandic speech community provides us with conditions akin to an anthropological laboratory for examining questions of linguistic and social identity construction. The Icelandic linguistic norm was based on revered texts and it is one that the Icelanders have tried to maintain ever since. There was an indigenous concern for the Icelandic language from the outset; the first settlers were attracted to an idea of a separate linguistic identity for ideological reasons. There prevails today a Settlement linguistic identity which in contemporary Iceland has taken on mythical proportions: many Icelanders like to think they speak the language of the original settlers. Early Iceland's social structures were unique: it would seem that the Icelanders wanted to create a different society. It is impossible to know what the motivation for this may have been. I contend that the uniqueness of the social structures is intertwined with the Settlement itself. It was the unsettled land that gave the Icelanders the freedom to create their own society.

Jacqueline Messing
Title of Presentation:  Discourse analysis and ethnohistory:  What can narrative tell us about Sixteenth Century Mexico?
My paper argues that discourse analysis can offer key insights to ethnohistory.  I will offer examples from my study of colonial identities through the analysis of indigenous historical documents from the state of Tlaxcala, Mexico.  The state of Tlaxcala presents a historical anomaly because its inhabitants resisted Aztec imperial encroachments and forged a political alliance with the Spanish conquistadors, winning them both special privileges and a reputation as “traitors.”  Following several years of ethnographic research in Tlaxcala, I am analyzing sixteenth century Nahuatl language documents, including court testimonies, pleas, and wills, transcribed in Thelma Sullivan’s (1987) posthumously published monograph, Documentos Tlaxcaltecas del Siglo XVI en Lengua Nahuatl (Tlaxcalan Documents of the Sixteenth Century in Nahuatl Language).  Notions of social identity emerge in the historical record of indigenous communities in this Nahuatl-speaking state that was pivotal in the conquest of Mexico.  My narrative analysis consists of the application of a discourse-analytic perspective to the historical texts, a topic which has not been treated extensively in the literature.  My forthcoming monograph develops this approach while delving into local concepts of Tlaxcalan identity at the time of the conquest.

E. Jennifer Monaghan
Title of Presentation: Culture, History, and the Acquisition of Literacy: The Experience of the Wampanoags of Martha’s Vineyard, 1643-1720
In the year 1643, one year after he had moved his family to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, the Englishman Thomas Mayhew, Jr., initiated the conversion to Christianity of hundreds of the Wampanoag Indians living there. The Wampanoags’ acquisition of literacy in their own tongue, Noepe (a dialect of the Massachusetts language), was a direct result of Mayhew’s proselytizing efforts, which in turn arose from the Protestant emphasis on the importance of Christians’ having direct access to the Bible. John Eliot, the Congregational pastor of Roxbury, Massachusetts, was determined to translate Christian works into the Massachusett language, and with vital Indian help he did so, witnessing the local publication of the entire Indian Bible in 1663. It and other Eliot translations were the only books available to the Wampanoags in their own tongue and were entirely Christian in content.
Mayhew’s first and most important Wampanoag convert, Hiacoomes, was crucial to the conversion and literacy efforts on the Vineyard, especially after Mayhew’s untimely death. But while literacy was valued by Christian Indians, even non-Christian Indians appreciated it. In this paper I will argue that once literacy has been adopted by a culture, it can be put to creative uses as a tool that transcends the initial purposes of those who bestowed it.
Holy Bible: Containing the Old Testament and the New, Translated into the Indian Language…Cambridge [Mass.], 1663.
Mayhew, Experience. Indian Converts. Or, Some Account of the Lives and Dying Speeches of a Considerable Number of the Christianized Indians of Martha’s Vineyard, in New-England. London: Samuel Gerrish, 1727.
Monaghan, E. Jennifer. “’She loved to read in good Books’: Literacy and the Indians of Martha’s Vineyard, 1643-1725.” History of Education Quarterly 30 (1990): 493-521.
Monaghan, E. Jennifer. Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America. Amherst, Mass., University of Massachusetts Press, in association with the American Antiquarian Society, 2005.            
Ronda, James P. “Generations of Faith. The Christian Indians of Martha’s Vineyard.” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., (1981): 369-94.
Silverman, David J. “Indians, Missionaries and Religious Translation: Creating Wampanoag Christianity in Seventeenth Century Martha’s Vineyard.” William and Mary Quarterly 62, 3rd ser., 62 (2005): 141-74.
Simmons, William S. “Cultural Bias in the New England Puritans’ Perceptions of Indians.” William & Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 38 (1981): 56-72.

R. Timothy Rush, Christine Rogers and Burnett Whiteplume
Title of Presentation: Accessing History and Motivating Study Through Music and Song
This paper presents an approach to motivating public school student study of historical issues and social injustice, though protest songs.  The presenters will illustrate how lyrics and melodies can be used as starting points for deeper texamination of aspects of history that are seldom addressed in American History curricula as it applies to American minorities, especially Native peoples.
Protest songs and the incidents they identify give us points of entry into history which is not generally studied in public schools.  Songs often have haunting and, therefore, motivating qualities that draw reflective listeners into history and social action and provide starting points for in-depth study. 
Invisible Americans, to use Peter LaFarge’s term, are our focus, here.   We will examine American Indian protest music.  Some of it might be familiar.  Some of it will be new to you.  Most will be in the first language of most 21st Century American Indians – English.  Some will be in ancestral language or combinations.  All will reveal instances of social injustice that are essential for understanding historical and, in nearly every case, current events.

Rich Sandoval
Title of Presentation:  Evidence for the Spanish Phono-Semantic Origins of
‘Cowboy’: The Linguistic Forging of the West
Westward expansion of the US in the early 1800s brought Anglos in contact with Hispanos, the originators of basic Western ranching practices. As many of the most salient words in the cowboy lexicon directly reflect this history (Lodares 1996), some are more obvious Spanish borrowings (e.g. ‘rodeo’) and others (e.g. ‘stampede’) are camouflaged in this regard through “phono-semantic matching” (PSM) (Zuckermann 2003). An English word is said to be a PSM of a source Spanish word when the English word’s supposed continuity with a pre-existing English form obscures the word’s semantic and phonological alignment with the Spanish word. Looked at another way, such borrowings are developed through a process of folk etymology that is part of a larger “syncretic project” to fully anglicize cowboy culture (Hill 2001). I present linguistic and historical evidence that the term ‘cowboy’ itself is a PSM of the Spanish word ‘caballero’ and argue that much syncretic work has gone into this attempted erasure, which has helped make for an elusive history of this key term.  Through these findings, I aim not only to motivate more critical analyses of language but also to add to the scholarship on the understated multi-ethnic roots of popular US heritage.

Jennifer Schlegel
Title of Presentation: Not Dead Yet: Examining the Life History of the Pennsylvania German Language
This paper scrutinizes contemporary communicative practices of nonsectarian Pennsylvania Germans. While some communicative practices, such as personal narratives told among familiars, emphasize the history of the obsolescence of the language and the cultural practices that have waned along with it, other practices, such as single-teller jokes told in public arenas, address contemporary affairs and exploit the Pennsylvania German skills of those who can comprehend but not produce the spoken language. In addition to data from dialect classes and community events, this paper examines efforts in the Palatinate region of Germany to revitalize both the Pennsylvania German language and the cultural and historical relationship between current residents of the Palatinate and descendants of immigrants from the Palatinate made possible by new technologies. These most recent attempts at revitalization suggest that language, as spoken by nonsectarian Pennsylvania Germans, is not dead yet.

Stacy Sewell
Title of Presentation: The Warrior History of Basketball on the Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming
The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, have not been passive receptors of white-American sports; they have tailored the game of basketball to suit their cultural needs and have infused it with traditional Arapaho and Shoshone values.  In this paper I examine the influence of the tribe’s warrior history on contemporary perceptions of basketball, and subsequently the language employed in reference to the game.  The use of the Plains warrior tradition is considered as a metaphor for basketball on the reservation evidenced by the discourse surrounding game preparation, play, and community involvement.  High school basketball coaches on the reservation invoke the warrior tradition to inspire players, members of the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes describe the game using warfare terminology, and just as Plains warriors achieved honor and status within the community through successful war exploits and counting coup, basketball players attain personal advancement and notoriety by demonstrating skill on the court. 

Michael Silverstein (Keynote Speaker)
Title of Presentation: Culture and History in Kiksht:  Ethnohistorical contextualization of a linguistic form
            Linguistic anthropologist Edward Sapir’s 1909 Wishram Texts was compiled from dictations in 1905 by at least four native speakers of Kiksht,  spanning multiple generations.  In it, there is a unique textual example, text philology’s hapax legomenon, of an ‘Evidential Passive’ construction (“[Subject] must have been [Verb]ed,”) which, in my own field research in the 1960s and 1970s, was revealed to be highly productive. Understanding the Wishram Texts example from a speaker born ca. 1875 in its textual and contextual frames reveals to us, via Bakhtinian voicing, the emergence, under contact with Euro-American discursive practice in the late 19th century, of a new kind of narrative stance, an “indirect free style” of first-person memory in which one’s experiencing consciousness of the culturally integral period could be narratively enacted in contrast with one’s consciousness in the post-colonized horizon of culture disintegrating under contact.  

Beth Simon
Title of Presentation:  Language and Survival In Michigan’s Keweenaw Copper Country
Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula is a copper rich finger of land three to five miles wide, approximately thirty miles long. Initially isolated and forest-covered, by 1880, the Keweenaw had become a “oneindustry region,”  still called Copper Country. Between 1880 & 1920, the Keweenaw population rose from approximately 27,000 to nearly 100,000, fewer than 10,000 of whom were born in the U.S. to citizen parents. Over a dozen ethnolinguistic groups were established on the Keweenaw, with churches, newspapers, businesses, etc. The Keweenaw was a densely populated, socially vibrant, economically robust, ethnolinguistically diverse community.
I use ethnohistorical research, historical sociolinguistics, and ethnographic interviews to examine competing expressions of dominant language ideologies as indexical of identity. The notion of enregisterment, “through which a linguistic repertoire becomes differentiable [and] … socially recognized” provides insight into an era of intense immigration and promulgation of American English as concomitant with American identity. I ask whether enregisterment can be applied to a speech itself, and how commodification identifies the “holder” of that commodity as American or nonAmerican.
Primary data from the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company Collection, 1855-1988, the Quincy Mining Company Collection, 1848-1988, Houghton County Circuit Court case files of civil and criminal cases, 1865-1983, and the 7 volume1914 Congressional Subcommittee Hearings on Conditions in the Michigan Copper Mines are supplemented by conversations I recorded (2000-03) with surviving copper-era residents of Cornish, Irish, Finnish, Italian, Macedonian, Swedish, and English backgrounds.

Camelia Suleiman
Title of Presentation: Debates of Arabic Diglossia and visions of citizenship
During the Arab Renaissance “Nahda”, three ideas of nationhood emerged: regional pan-Arabism, Islamic, and local state nationalism. At the heart of the debate was the Arabic language. Some ideologues called for modernizing the literate “fusha” form, while others called for adopting the local “amiyyah” as a literacy medium. This debate is still much alive today. This paper discusses the current status of Arabic and ideas of citizenship. I am relying on programs on Al-Jazeera that span from 2001-2009, as well as on newspaper articles. A recurrent theme is the weakness of the Arabic language in facing the challenge of the various forms of “amiyyah” on the one hand, and English and French on the other. Al-Jazeera interviewed Arabic linguists, Islamic scholars, academicians, writers, and members of Arabic Academies in different Arab countries. Three visions which mirror the old debate emerge: Arabic as an Islamic language, Arabic as a literary language with an intellectual history, and Arabic as several languages, thus, a vision which promotes the elevation of the “amiyyah” to the level of national languages. This debate highlights problems of “passport citizenship” versus “atavistic nationhood”. In other words, the media are a site where citizenship is performed. Further, implications of this debate have to do with studies of literacy and of language standardization, as the standardization process of Arabic had started in the 7th century, long before the standardization of European languages associated with the rise of the nation-state.

Susanne Stadlbauer
Title of Presentation: The Conflicting Constructions of Historicity in the Narratives of Female Muslim Students in Colorado
This paper addresses how negative media images of Muslims and Islam in the post-9/11 era shape the discourse of female members of the Muslim Student Association at a Colorado university. I examine the role of space-time relations in the construction of a Muslim identity, looking at instances of temporal and spatial deictic markers in narratives against the background of a moral narrative of modernity (Keane 2007). My aim is to uncover how members respond to a mass-mediated, post-9/11 Islam that positions them as ‘anti-modern’ and ‘anachronistic,’ or simply out of tune with a linear narrative on progress (Anderson 1991). This ‘secular’ and ‘modern’ discourse takes for granted exclusionary concepts of ‘Islam’ and ‘US,’ and pitting them against each other reinforces their incompatibility in the present US society. Consequently, 9/11 has become a break with the past, yet speakers continue to rely on Islamic spaces to make reference in the present - a ‘now’ that some speakers call ‘West-times’. The members of the Muslim Student Association define their chronotopic (Bakhtin 1983) self-placement in relation to these negative images; however, they subvert them to address the pragmatic concerns of the moment and to defend Islam.

Emily Weiskopf-Ball
Title of Presentation: French Frogs Don’t Die – They Croak Louder The Long Road to Linguistic Equality in Ontario High Schools as Demonstrated by L’École Bilingue de North Bay
             Critics agree that the language of instruction in a school does a lot to promote or hinder cultural awareness and pride for minority groups.  In a mixed language setting, the language of the centre more often influences students of the minority language and so makes them easier targets for assimilation.  L’École Bilingue de North Bay, although progress toward equality between French and English in Ontario, was nevertheless an affirmation of the English majority’s control over minority rights and freedom because it maintained the hierarchy between the French and English in the community.  Through the analysis of language’s important tie to culture and education, and especially through Michael O’Keefe’s seven key factors that impact linguistic vitality and language policy, this paper will shed light on the reasons the English wished to assimilate the French of Ontario, the amendments that were made to linguistic policy in schools throughout the province, and the ways in which Francophones opposed this assimilation.  As a microcosm of linguistic conflict throughout the province, North Bay’s first French high school, l’École Bilingue de North Bay, clearly demonstrates the struggle for French linguistic equality for in the province of Ontario.

Elizabeth R. Vann
Title of Presentation:  Linguistic Generations / Linguistic Generation: the importance of history in understanding the observed moment
        This paper examines the relationship of agency, language, history and cultural identity.  The agency is that of teenagers and young adults, and the way that they changed their local language, the Silesian dialect of Polish, in the 1920's and 1990's.  These changes reflect different assessments of Silesia's place in relation to Germany, and urban culture more generally, at two pivotal moments of 20th Century history: the inter-war period, and the immediate post-Communist period.  
            The two generations of young people are related to one another: the former are the grandparents of the latter, in a society where grandparents have central responsibility for childcare.  Each generation used language to generate a distinct sense of cultural identity, relative to a larger historical and cultural field.  The paper explores the necessity of understanding the linguistic changes of the 1920's for interpreting the linguistic choices of the 1990's.  It thus contributes to the project of recuperating a sense of history in the quest to understand language.

Anthony K. Webster
Title: Blackhorse Mitchell's 'Beauty of Navajoland': Local languages, bivalency, and the work of Navajo poetry
Why do some Navajo poets write poetry that describes “ugliness” on the Navajo Nation and what do they believe they are doing by writing that poetry? I examine those questions by focusing on Blackhorse Mitchell’s poem ‘Beauty of Navajoland’. I first discuss a performance of this poem to a Navajo and non-Navajo audience at Swarthmore College. I turn to discussions I had with Mitchell about his poetry and this poem. Contrary to an injunction on the Navajo Nation to dooajinída ‘don’t talk about it’, Mitchell and other Navajo poets argue that it is only by talking about it that the “ugliness” can be restored to “beauty”. Here I argue that we must understand these terms as bivalent terms that reside in two linguistic systems. In attending to Mitchell’s poem, we must understand something of the historical trajectory of Navajo English (a local language) as against “mainstream” English and we must attend to the linguistic ideologies that inform what some Navajos understand language can do. This allows us to appreciate what some Navajo poets consider to be the work behind their poetry that calls attention to the “ugliness” on the Reservation and why it is important to accurately describe that “ugliness.”

Keisha Wiel
Title of Presentation: "Perceptions on the Social Status of Papiamentu in Contrast to its Official Significance in Aruba and Curaçao"
           Creoles have become the main vernacular spoken by many in the Caribbean.  Some creoles have become official languages while others just remained as a recognized vernacular.  Although many of these creole languages are part of the identity of the Caribbean islands, they do not have the same level of prestige as the formal or ‘official’ language.  Papiamentu, a creole language spoken on the islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire, has conveyed a status that other creoles have not.  There is no distinction as to who can speak it.  Although it has been the ‘mother tongue’ of these islanders for over two hundred years, Papiamentu finally became an official language in 2003 in Aruba and in 2007 in Curaçao and Bonaire.  Despite this ‘official’ status, however, it is still not the language of instruction for education nor is it used in official government documents.
            Ethnographic research was conducted in Aruba and Curaçao to explore the perceptions on the social status of Papiamentu.  Some themes that were investigated include Papiamentu’s use in education and the media.  This research provides sociolinguistic insight into the perceptions of Papiamentu and the effect of these perceptions on its usage.

Karenne Wood
Title of Presentation: “The Language Ghost”: Linguistic Heritage and Collective Identity Among the Monacan Indians of Central Virginia
This paper discusses the effects of linguistic and cultural loss on group identity among the Monacan Indian people of Virginia.  It focuses on how the concepts of tradition and collective memory are means through which notions of separate identity are transmitted and kept alive.  The paper examines, from an insider’s perspective, the nature of Monacan identity construction, the language ideology that constitutes a critical part of that identity, and how that ideology is expressed by various individuals and subgroups.  It proposes the concept of a language ghost, a sense of sacred relationships lost along with the ancestral language, which continues to influence Monacan identity.
As colonial powers pressured North American Native communities to abandon ancestral languages and cultural practices, Native peoples ceased to communicate through traditional domains. They no longer spoke to the ancestors, the winds, or the mountains as they had before. The language ghost, therefore, is the absence of appropriate cultural categories of addressees which, in the shift to English, were dropped from what was considered possible. However, these cultural categories are not completely forgotten.  For peoples such as the Monacan, their inaccessibility is a tragedy of unspeakable proportions.

Lal Zimman
Title of Presentation:  Language socialization as a life-long process: Gender change across the individual lifespan
Many people assume differences between men’s and women’s voices are driven primarily by biological differences between the sexes. However, a considerable body of linguistic research demonstrates that gendered aspects of the voice emerge long before biological differentiation occurs during puberty. This work is significant because of the way it debunks biological deterministic understandings of the gendered voice, but it suffers from some limitations as well. Specifically, the view presented in this literature suggests that the process of gendered language socialization takes place primarily or entirely during childhood. Such a view creates a different sort of determinism whereby individuals’ voices are shaped primarily by the social pressures they are subjected to early in life. However, I argue that this perspective ignores the role of ongoing gendered language socialization throughout the lifespan. In order to demonstrate the importance of adulthood gendered language socialization, I present early findings from a longitudinal study of the voices of female-to-male transsexuals, or individuals raised in a female gender role who nevertheless identify as male as adults. Through an examination of how these speakers’ voices change over the course of their gender role transitions, I show that gendered language socialization is an ongoing, life-long process, reflecting speakers’ complex personal histories rather than simply their childhood experiences.


This blog is for exploring the interconnections between language, culture and history.  New bloggers welcome, just respond to this post and I will add you as a blogger.

all best,


Leila Monaghan, PhD
Department of Anthropology
University of Wyoming