Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Wheel, Snipe, Celly: Understanding the Creation, Expansion, and Evolution of the Ice Hockey Anti-Language

Wheel, Snipe, Celly: Understanding the Creation, Expansion, and Evolution of the Ice Hockey Anti-Language

Andrew Bray

This study utilizes M. A. K. Halliday’s theory of anti-language to analyze the lexicon creation, expansion, and linguistic rules that have developed within the ice hockey community, establishing a hockey anti-language. Interviews conducted with hockey players from the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League and also the Central Michigan University Women’s Club Hockey team, ranging in age, nationality, and gender, allow the compilation of a list of basic terminology within the hockey community along with the rules that dictate creation and usage. Analysis of the interviews shows that there are three basic routes through which terminology is created: association, clipping and addition, and random assignment. The social hierarchy that has developed within the hockey community closely mirrors the incarcerated criminal anti-society Halliday studied, which offers insight into which players have the ability to create new terminology based on individual popularity establishing two different social levels, popular and unpopular. This study explains how the hockey community functions as an anti-society with a vast anti-language that is rapidly expanding and evolving.

Keywords: anti-language; anti-society; ice hockey; sports language

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April 9, 2014 - Posted by | abstract

1 Comment »

  1. Consider the radio and TV announcers, who have to act as intermediaries (translators?) between players and fans, balancing authenticity, credibility, and coherence. Mickey Redmond does it brilliantly– I can see a compilation (an ongoing project) of Mickey-isms. Now as for Don Cherry…

    Comment by Dan Harrison | April 11, 2014 | Reply


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