Plenary Speakers

Thank you to our three distinguished plenary speakers for SOSY 2020!

Dr. Kim Potowski (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Linguistic Erasures and Brownface: Span(gl)ish in Mainstream Television

Click here for the recorded talk!

The growing influence of a diverse U.S. Latinx population is changing both the quantity and quality of their representations on TV. However, the limited inclusion of Latinx writers, producers, and actors on television has meant that their identities and language continue to be caricatured, misrepresented, or omitted entirely. To examine these trends, I analyze the content of 10 TV shows that feature Latinx characters in recurring roles, integrating theory and methods from linguistics, anthropology, and media studies. With linguistic discrimination continuing to fester across the U.S., this project is motivated by a commitment to fostering ethnolinguistic pride among Latinx and stemming the intergenerational loss of Spanish.

Dr. Atiqa Hachimi (University of Toronto Scarborough)

Policing Language Loyalty: Ideologies of Gender and Style-Shifting in a Virtual Community of Practice

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This talk explores the relationship between sociolinguistic style and ideologies of language and gender in an increasingly globalized and mediatized Arabic-speaking world. Deepening our understanding of what I have called the Maghreb-Mashreq language ideology, or the sociolinguistic hierarchies between North Africa and the Middle East (Hachimi 2013), the talk draws from a Facebook page dedicated exclusively to the ‘blacklisting’ of co-national Moroccan celebrities who converge to Middle Eastern Arabic varieties in mediatized pan-Arab encounters. The analysis focuses on the co-construction of gender and national dialect (dis)loyalty by examining the celebrities’ actual linguistic/stylistic practices as well as the Facebook participants’ metalinguistic and metapragmatic framings. The talk highlights the ways in which the ludic ‘blacklisting’ stances are informed by a gendered form of ‘folk verbal hygiene’ (Cameron 1995) that shames style-shifting and demands the valorization of the national vernacular, especially from female cultural figures. It argues that participants in this Facebook page constitute a virtual Community of Practice that is mutually engaged in the joint enterprise of policing language loyalty, all the while co-producing a shared repertoire of gendered labels, social categories and indexical meanings of authenticity. It further argues that the language-ideological debates unravel the complex relationships between stylistic practice, sexual morality, and today’s conceptualizations of Moroccan national identity.

Dr. Jenny Davis (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Who counts and who is doing the counting?: ‘Expectation’ and ‘anomaly’ in Native American language use

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Native Americans have long-been central to linguistics and related fields, where descriptions of indigenous languages and studies of Native American communities have provided the analytical and theoretical underpinnings of the field. However, in historical and contemporary dynamics, strong trends emerge in who is included in linguistics study of Native America—and who is not. In this talk I will highlight areas that, although central to contemporary Indigenous language use, remain at the margins of academic and community discussions including multi-tribal, multi-lingual, and urban contexts; American Indian English(es); and Indigenous language users and learners beyond cisgender and heteronormative identities. To do so, I draw on over a decade of research on language use and revitalization in both tribal jurisdictions such as the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma and urban contexts like Tulsa and Chicago, as well as on the role of language in the negotiation of multiply marginalized members of Two Spirit societies and activism to consider what patterns of cognition and culture might be contributing to this disjuncture between practice and representation especially in contexts where such dynamics are co-occurring. I hope to demonstrate that attention to these ‘unexpected places’ has much to offer us in understanding the dynamics of indigenous language use, maintenance, and revitalization that can contribute not only to current theoretical inquiries within and across our fields but also to topics of critical importance to the marginalized communities under discussion.