Center for the Study of Language and Society (CSLS)

Summer/Winter Schools
CSLS Summer School

Researching language attitudes with discourse tools: Appraisals, stances, and dispositions

Mittwoch, 15.06.2022, 09:15 Uhr

Veranstaltende: Center for the Study of Language and Society
Redner, Rednerin: Christina Higgins (University of Hawai’i)
Datum: 15.06.2022
Uhrzeit: 09:15 - 10:15 Uhr
Ort: 028
Hochschulstrasse 6
3012 Bern
Merkmale: Öffentlich

In this presentation, I discuss how the topic of language attitudes can be fruitfully reconceptualized and measured through tools from discourse analysis. In examining language attitudes as layered expressions of stance (DuBois, 2007), I show how discourse tools can be used to investigate the dynamic and dialogical nature of language attitudes.  Drawing on tools from appraisal theory (Martin & White, 2005), I illustrate how stances can be coded and quantified, thereby respecifying attitudes as dispositions-in-discourse. To illustrate these ideas, I discuss two projects that explore people’s attitudes towards marginalized and/or minoritized languages in Hawaiʻi. First, I present an analysis of stances that were expressed in response to a public conference about Pidgin, the creole language of Hawaiʻi, that featured educators who value Pidgin and incorporate it in their pedagogical practices.  By giving educators an opportunity to share how they use Pidgin as a resource to teach subject matter and to engage students better in their classrooms, the conference aimed to normalize Pidgin in a domain where it has historically been considered illegitimate. I analyze discussions about Pidgin among presenters and audience members at the conference as well as posts on comment boards related to news articles that covered the event. Next, I turn to interview data on family language transmission to analyze how speakers take stances toward their family languages and toward their family members’ stances as a means of understanding the attitudinal mechanisms of language maintenance and language shift in the family. I share examples from interviews to illustrate how interviewees voice their family members’ attitudes towards Hawaiian and Japanese, and how they engage in stance follows to express how their own dispositions toward language are created and reflected in and through this dialogic discourse.