Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Language and Societies abstracts, vol. 7 (2015)

The abstracts below are summaries of papers by junior scholars from the 2015 edition of my course, Language and Societies. The authors are undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology and linguistics at Wayne State University. Over the next few weeks, some students will be posting links to PDF versions of their final papers below their abstracts. Comments and questions are extremely welcome, especially at this critical juncture over the next week, when the authors are making final revisions to their papers.

Kat Slocum: Greensky Hill Native American Methodist Church: the role of language in group identity

Nicole Lopinski:‘The Hobbit’: An Analysis of Popular Media Portrayal of Homo floresiensis

Kimberly Oliver: Voodoo in Popular Music: Linguistic Semantics’ Influence on Identity and Stereotype Formation

Laura Cunningham: #NotAllMen and the Blame Game: A critical discourse analysis of a Twitter hashtag

Krist Bollano: Word Frequency and Online Dating: Self Promotion Through a Text-Based Medium

Adam Bender: Is Intercultural Bilingual Education (IBE) Appropriate for Adapting Quechua to Modern Society?

Dovie Jenkins: Logically Speaking: Loglan, Lojban and the Search for a Logical Language

Erika Carrillo: Hoarding and the Material Accumulation of Time

Grace Pappalardo: Hausa Kinship Terminologies: Insights Into Culture and Cognition

Jaroslava Maria Pallas: From Little Acorns Big Oaks Grow: Exploring the nature metaphor in anarchist discourse

Kaitlin Scharra: Menstrual Authority: A Lexical Semantic Evaluation of Kotex’s First 20 Years

Sarah Beste: Pornography of Ruin: The Metaphor of Sensuality in Ruination as It Applies to Detroit

Mark Jazayeri: Arriving at a Cultural Model of Artificial Intelligence

Glenda Wyatt-Franklin: In Front of the White People: Black Speech, White Perceptions, and the Effects on African American Health

Samantha Malette: “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”: Montserrat’s “Brogue” Examined

Kayla Niner: Don’t Stay Here!: An Analysis of Words Used to Describe One-Star Class Hotels

Madeleine Seidel: Retelling Snow White: The Tale and its Reflection of Western Culture

Michelle Layton: Creating an Image of Purity Through the Use of Metaphor: The Case of Pure Michigan

Theia Easley: Language of Inclusivity: Womanist Theological Thought in Addressing Issues of Social Injustice

Eduardo Piqueiras: Countering an Equitable Multilingualism with an EU English Variant: The Role of Language Policies and Translators in the European Union

Elizabeth Bonora: Identity & Ink: An Interpretation of Kanji Tattoos on English-Speaking Bodies

Wendy Hill: The language of the law: linguistic discord in the courtroom

Livija G. Marina: Serbian Heritage Language Maintenance and Language Shift: Identity of the ‘Voice’ from a Serbian Orthodox Church in Michigan

Andrés Romero: Testimonios of Violence: A Discourse Analysis of Colombian Demobilized Paramilitaries

S.M. Hamdan: Identity & Second Language Acquisition: International Saudi Students Studying Abroad

Kathryn Nowinski: Constructing Identity through Sound: Brand Naming Practices and Phonetic Symbolism

Richard D.H. Bridges: Catching It in the Net: Some Lulzy Acronyms

Jeff Rowe: Divergent Definitions of Food Justice: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Inger Sundell-Ranby: Use of the word ague by pioneers in the Midwest



April 6, 2015 Posted by | Editor | Leave a comment

Use of the word ague by pioneers in the Midwest

Use of the word ague by pioneers in the Midwest

Inger Sundell-Ranby

Malaria was brought to the Americas by European immigrants. The disease spread along the frontier and quickly became common throughout North America. Pioneers arriving to Michigan came mainly from Ireland, England, Canada, Scotland, and Germany. English speaking pioneers dominated Michigan, and English was the most common language in the area. The word ‘ague’ was used in England at the time of the major emigration era. The aim of this study is to show how the immigrants are connected between the use of the word ague in their native country to the use of the word ague in Michigan. It is known that pioneers brought diseases like malaria from Europe to the New World. Historical records, newspapers, and scientific papers were used to follow how the word ague was used in England and in the Americas. It is known that pioneers sensed danger near stagnant water or marshes, and when mosquitoes were plentiful it caused climate disease and malaria. They did not know the mechanism nor did they have an effective cure. In historic Michigan newspapers, many local pharmacies advertised medications to cure ague. Folkstories also used the word ague. However names for malaria in American death records includes ague, bilious fever, cold plague, congestive chills, congestive fever, or shaking. Linguistic diversity prevents an accurate estimate of an exact number of deaths from malaria in a year in one particular Michigan county. The death records would allow for relative comparisons between years and between Michigan counties.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | Leave a comment

Greensky Hill Native American Methodist Church: the role of language in group identity

Greensky Hill Native American Methodist Church: the role of language in group identity

Kat Slocum

Greensky Hill Church, situated in Northern Michigan (45°19′42″N, 85°11′5″W), is a blended church of Native American Christians and White Christians. Incorporated in church services are both the English and the Anishnaabemowin language – a Native American language from the Algonquin language family. This study asks how Greensky Hill Church became bilingual and situates it within the larger narrative of the nation. The utilization of historic documents contributions to the understanding of the history of the church, its founder, and its unique balance of Methodist and Native American ideologies that are incorporated through language. More broadly, this research seeks to understand language choices as strategies that forge allegiances and form group identity. For the purposes of this study, an in-depth analysis of the regional and national history is necessary. It is with this historic foundation that one can better understand the formation of the church that led to its current state of language and culture inclusion. The regionally unique history of the church as a culturally inclusive religious entity has led to a multi-cultural group identity. Group identity can best be described as including two perspectives which function to establish sameness and differentness. Internally, identity functions to establish a relationship between the self and the group. Externally, identity functions to establish difference between the self and “other”. By using these two perspectives this research highlights the role that history has played in forming Greensky Hill’s unique identity and use of language.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 7 Comments

‘The Hobbit’: An Analysis of Popular Media Portrayal of Homo floresiensis

‘The Hobbit’: An Analysis of Popular Media Portrayal of Homo floresiensis

Nicole Lopinski

The purpose of this research is to analyze the discourse of popular media outlets on the presentation of Homo floresiensis. Since the initial publication of this unique find in 2004, both the media and academia almost immediately dubbed it “the hobbit”. The remains of this short statured individual began a debate over how exactly to interpret the finding. The already unique hominin then had another unique problem to deal with: the myth of the Indonesian Islands of the ‘wild man’ or Ebu gogo. With this in mind, this study looks at popular newspapers and videos online ranging from documentaries to specials from scientific channels to independently run Youtube channels, to collect descriptions and labels used when discussing this fossil. This research examines the human and animal boundaries which are set up as ways to distinguish what makes us human, and therefore unique from other animals. To negotiate these boundaries, the media studied uses specific discourse when discussing H. floresiensis which in certain cases brings the hominin closer to humans, while in other cases propels it further away from us and closer to the animal boundary. Whether intentional or not, the protection of the human boundary can result in shaping the perceptions of this fossil. Future research would include expanding the sample size of newspaper articles and videos as well as incorporating other media sources like television news among others. The larger sample size would allow for a more in depth following of the human and animal boundaries as well as to see if further patterns emerge.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 6 Comments

Voodoo in Popular Music: Linguistic Semantics’ Influence on Identity and Stereotype Formation

Voodoo in Popular Music: Linguistic Semantics’ Influence on Identity and Stereotype Formation

Kimberly Oliver

Voodoo is widely recognized in popular media culture, although the religion that voodoo caricaturizes, fewer have heard of – Vodou, which was brought to Louisiana from Haiti in the 1790s. Hollywood has been portraying this African diaspora religion in largely incorrect and pejorative terms since its first zombie movie in 1932. Media has a noted influence on identity and stereotype formation of self and others in contemporary U.S. culture. Media messages influence ideas of what is considered normal, or of value, as opposed to deviant, or eccentric, in dominant culture. As previous research has shown that “emerging adults” in the United States spend most of their media time on the internet and listening to music, it is important to understand the messages imparted through these particular types of media and the impact those messages can have on identity and stereotype formation. This paper attempts to analyze the linguistic semantics associated with Voodoo in contemporary music and the messages being communicated about its practice and adherents. Linguistic data, representing themes associated with Voodoo in pop culture, is examined from song lyrics with the word Voodoo in the title. The data is analyzed using Joel Sherzer’s idea of linguistic forms and the use of ordinary words in performative contexts of language to show their conveyed meaning in the discourse of popular music to those consuming the messages. The conclusion shows evidence of stereotyping which is false and usually pejorative and thus contributes to negative self and group identity formation.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 7 Comments

#NotAllMen and the Blame Game: A critical discourse analysis of a Twitter hashtag

#NotAllMen and the Blame Game: A critical discourse analysis of a Twitter hashtag

Laura Cunningham

Twitter has extensively been studied as an exchange between individuals, corporations, and political entities. In this paper I argue that this social media platform has helped develop online feminist theory through the interaction of two specific hashtags: #NotAllMen and #YesAllWomen. The purpose of this paper is to trace the evolution of the #NotAllMen hashtag from its beginning to a powerful aspect of feminism and rape culture in America. I will show that the original intention of #NotAllMen was as a simplistic conversation piece directed at the Twittersphere in general. Over time it became a tool to index users in one of two ways: as a supporter of men’s rights in the face of blame for rape culture or as a defender of women’s rights. I demonstrate this shift in usage through the critical discourse analysis of all original uses of #NotAllMen from its inception in 2009 until May 25th, 2014. The date is auspicious as it coincides with the Isla Vista shootings and the creation of the #YesAllWomen hashtag in response to that specific instance of sexist violence. I analyze this data set linguistically to illuminate how sexist language and linguistic power are employed in an online setting.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments

Word Frequency and Online Dating: Self Promotion Through a Text-Based Medium

Word Frequency and Online Dating: Self Promotion Through a Text-Based Medium

Krist Bollano

What used to be seen as a last resort for the desperate, online dating has seen a radical transformation since it began 15-20 years ago. Currently 45 million singles in the United States have turned to online dating to find a partner. Online dating offers the kind of flexibility that traditional dating does not. Users have the ability to describe in their own words themselves and their ideal romantic and/or sexual partner. This research utilizes text-based data from online dating profiles originating in Detroit, Michigan in an effort to understand how individuals self-promote themselves online. In an effort to answer this question, this research study analyzes the correlation between word frequency and self-promotion online. The text from two hundred heterosexual profiles was analyzed from the online dating site to ensure a general population sample in Detroit, Michigan. was chosen due to the fact that it has the largest number of users, it is targeted at the general population, and is a paid subscription—making it an option for users who are serious about dating. The variables used for this analysis were age, income, and gender. The preliminary results indicate that the female users from the selected sample used roughly 100 more words to describe themselves and or their intended partner on their profiles compared to male counterparts. The results imply that females and males represent themselves differently online.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Is Intercultural Bilingual Education (IBE) Appropriate for Adapting Quechua to Modern Society?

Is Intercultural Bilingual Education (IBE) Appropriate for Adapting Quechua to Modern Society?

Adam Bender

Linguistic imperialism posits a dominant language, spoken by the majority of a nation’s population, for official use, over indigenous languages spoken by smaller populations. Quechua contains the most widely spoken varieties of an indigenous language in South America, but they are subordinate to Spanish in political, economic, and educational uses. Intercultural Bilingual Education (IBE) programs have been introduced in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador where varieties of Quechua are most active. IBE programs ultimately intend to promote Quechua for official use, but the predominant indigenous view of IBE is solely for preservation. To answer the question of preservation versus official state use, reviews of case studies and the common perceptions of indigenous and non-indigenous citizens from Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador are presented. Although all three countries have legally enacted Quechua as an official language, its use beyond the classroom and rural indigenous societies is limited. Some cases have shown IBE to be effective in promoting the use of Quechua in urban societies, but IBE programs need to be revised for advancement of Quechua to national use. Collaboration between governments, educational boards, and the indigenous population has introduced standardized versions of Quechua into various forms of communication media. If Quechua is to be accepted as an official language, expanding its use within the media of politics, business, and entertainment is required.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Logically Speaking: Loglan, Lojban and the Search for a Logical Language

Logically Speaking: Loglan, Lojban and the Search for a Logical Language

Dovie Jenkins

Constructed languages, or conlangs, run the gamut from the eminently practical to the fantastic and, like among those who tinkered with natural language, a belief that language has the ability to shape thought and behavior underwrites the reasoning behind many conlangs. Loglan and its descendant Lojban carry this belief to the extreme, asserting that irrational, illogical thought can be eradicated by adopting a perfect, logical language. The goal of this paper is to explore the metalinguistic beliefs which inspire the construction and learning of these logical languages, and the ways in which these beliefs connect to a larger network of metalinguistic attitudes in Western culture. This paper poses the following questions: what metalinguistic ideas about the purpose of language, the superiority of logical thinking, and the nature of rationality characterize the attitudes of Loglan/Lojban speakers, and do these attitudes diverge from those of mainstream America? This investigation combines a review of the existing scholarly literature on conlangs, Western metalinguistic views, and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis with the analysis of content drawn from forums where Loglan and Lojban are discussed by fans and critics. This inquiry reveals that the metalinguistic beliefs of Loglan/Lojban speakers diverge significantly from the language ideology that inspired the languages’ construction, suggesting that the appeal of these languages does not stem from ideological agreement. The results also suggest limitations in the “speakability” of these logical languages. These findings have implications for future research into the functional limitations of spoken language and the formation of a language ideology within a speech community.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Hoarding and the Material Accumulation of Time

Hoarding and the Material Accumulation of Time

Erika Carrillo

Hoarding disorder has been presented as a serious mental and public health concern. Drawing from previous work in socio-cultural constructions of time, I aim to explore how people who hoard envision their future selves through their accumulated material. Previous life course studies have revealed that normative constructions of social time encourage individuals to move forward along a linear trajectory. Along this trajectory are temporal phases that are defined by cultural norms, interpersonal interactions, and individual experience. Often material objects that people collect and discard are reflective of these various life stages. But people who engage in extreme hoarding behavior, the over accumulation of material demarcates an upset in this trajectory. Those who hoard retain items for a number of reasons. Some individuals envision utilizing objects in an ideal, undefined future. However, the rationale for utilizing the objects later sometimes conflicts with non-hoarding individuals how perceive more immediate threats caused by the accumulated items. By analyzing fifteen episodes in of the reality television show, Hoarders, I examine the ways that people who hoard conceptualize their material collections in relation to time and how that concept differs from those helping with decluttering process. Upon analyzing the discourse surrounding time in these interpersonal interactions, it reveals how people who hoard project an ideal future self in the accumulated material. But by indulging the possibility of this future self, people who hoard are perceived by others as “stuck” in a temporal phase. Thus, those aiding in the de-cluttering process try to reorient the afflicted individuals’ concept of time to move them along the normal trajectory. I conclude with further questions into the relationship to material culture and selfhood and how that relationship can provide insight into attitudes regarding normative aging and the life course.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 5 Comments

Hausa Kinship Terminologies: Insights Into Culture and Cognition

Hausa Kinship Terminologies: Insights Into Culture and Cognition

Grace Pappalardo

Kinship classification systems have historically played a critical role in understanding human cognition because of their cross-cultural prevalence and paradigmatic completeness. While componential analysis was the revolutionary tool of kinship analysis at its inception, this paper instead utilizes Optimality Theory, which argues that languages share universal constraints, but apply them differently when it comes to choosing between linguistic efficiency and accurate communication. In attempts to negotiate the rigidity of OT and remember the humanity behind the structure, this paper pairs a formal approach with an extensive analysis of family and social structures among Hausa language speakers. It engages with questions about the extent to which cognitive structures and cultural factors interact in the production of kinship terms and presents potential evidence for how the use of these terms influences the thought patterns of Hausa speakers as well as their conceptions of familial relationships. This paper applies cultural practice to theory to propose an underlying cognitive framework that lends itself to being shaped by cultural values and norms, ultimately producing kinship terminologies in the Hausa language. Using a variety of ethnographic texts, language learning resources, and the author’s own study of the Hausa language, this paper analyzes sets of Hausa kinship terms in context, applying the linguistic and cultural data to Optimality Theory. The model proposed claims that speakers are therefore equipped with a cognitive structure that creates a need for efficient communication and accuracy, but results in linguistic variation in kinship terminology production when a language’s speakers much negotiate with the above constraints. Ultimately, this paper argues that Hausa language speakers rank their most valued terminological distinctions based on cognitive constraints and cultural influences in order to produce the kinship terms found in the lexicon.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

From Little Acorns Big Oaks Grow: Exploring the nature metaphor in anarchist discourse

From Little Acorns Big Oaks Grow: Exploring the nature metaphor in anarchist discourse

Jaroslava Maria Pallas

The metaphor of nature in the contemporary English language serves a number of purposes from marketing to political activism. This metaphor is a prominent and frequently used representation because of the close relationships that humans have to the natural world around them. In the past, this metaphor has been used to juxtapose nature and culture as well as to include culture as a part of the natural realm.   The overtone of the metaphorical meaning of nature has also changed over the years, from the negative representation of natural state as wild and untamed to the positive representation of nature as peaceful and healthy. One of the political ideologies that employed the use of the nature metaphor in the most profound way is anarchism. The metaphorical use of nature in the anarchist ideology has influenced many groups and movements today, from punk communes to organized resistance movements. Scholars including Santa Ana (1999), Clark (2004), and Verhagen (2009) have contemplated the meaning of nature metaphor in anarchist ideology. This paper examines the patterns associated with nature metaphor in contemporary anarchist discourse and explores the reasons and implications for the use of these metaphoric structures. Nature metaphor is a tool available to contemporary resistance movements to relate their ideological agenda into the mainstream. The importance of understanding the metaphorical structure of political discourse is critical, as the relationship that people form with nature can be indicative of the power relations in a society. The metaphor associated with human-nature relationship can be a useful tool for understanding the contemporary anarchist ethos and the contribution of this ideology to contemporary political movements.

Keywords: anarchist discourse, nature metaphor, anarchist community, political discourse, anarchist anthropology, punk anthropology

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Menstrual Authority: A Lexical Semantic Evaluation of Kotex’s First 20 Years

Menstrual Authority: A Lexical Semantic Evaluation of Kotex’s First 20 Years

Kaitlin Scharra

The introduction of mass consumer advertising at the turn of the 19th century allowed brands to create ideological infiltrations into the capitalist culture. This paper looks at the modes of authority utilized by the brand Kotex in its first twenty years of sanitary napkin production. These different modes function as a reflection of the broader social discourse on menstruation and the female body. Countering the previous work of Mandziuk, this research seeks to comment on the role of personality in advertisements through a lexical semantic analysis. The corpus for the research was 80 Kotex advertisements provided by Duke University’s Ad*Access from the years 1921-1941. The advertisements were rated on the content of lexical elements as in the six semantic groups of hygiene, science, comfort, reliability, personality, and secrecy. The research answered which modes of creditability were utilized in these formative years, when they were applied, how they responded to consumer concerns, and in what ways the brand reestablish brand loyalty. It was found that through these years comfort and reliability had a consistent presence. Following this, the themes of hygiene and science peaked in advertisements for the five years prior to the 1938 FDA act. Affected by this legislation, it was not until after this time that personality and secrecy had a large presence in the advertisements. This research counters the preconception that personality was always the main mode of authority utilized in female focused marketing. Further research looking in to the role of personality post-FDA legislation would answer broader questions about what misconceptions of female brand advertising exist. An inconsistent role of personality targeting throughout the later years of Kotex marketing will reveal alternative strategies reflecting historically overlooked views of women in society, both positive and negative.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Pornography of Ruin: The Metaphor of Sensuality in Ruination as It Applies to Detroit

Pornography of Ruin: The Metaphor of Sensuality in Ruination as It Applies to Detroit

Sarah Beste

This paper explores the meaning of the metaphor “ruin porn” especially as it applies to the condition of the city of Detroit. Remnants of post-industrial Detroit are spread in abundance throughout the city proper, not only evidenced in the buildings left to rot but also in the people left in its wake. The powerful metaphor “ruin porn” is used to describe a genre of photography of primarily urban architectural dereliction. In the case of Detroit, most of the architecture currently in ruin is a product of the Industrial era when the Motor City was the world’s source of automobiles. The history of the Industrial era of Detroit leading up to the present day will be reviewed followed by an examination of the metaphor “ruin porn” using cognitive theory and studies of metaphor by Lakoff and Johnson as well as Deignan. “Ruin porn”, like other types of pornography, can be conceptualized as being empowering and positive, or exploitative and negative. This article will explore how people around the globe are using the metaphor when referring to Detroit and whether the connotation is positive or negative. Who is using the metaphor more often – the photographer or the critic? What makes the collapse of a social system sensual will be explored through various forms of media, especially posted opinions from blogs, reports from news websites, and research posted throughout academia. Possible future research into the metaphor “ruin porn” and its application could be to explore how the metaphor is used to describe photographs of other ruin sites elsewhere around the world.

Keywords: ruin porn, metaphor, Detroit, photography, architecture

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments

Arriving at a Cultural Model of Artificial Intelligence

Arriving at a Cultural Model of Artificial Intelligence

Mark Jazayeri

As computer programs’ abilities to process natural language improves, and the technical hurdles of language processing are solved, we are seeing more examples of machines that can communicate with language.   This expanse can be noted in all areas of our culture, from making phone calls by speaking to a car, to making choices in automated phone systems, to performing a web search by speaking to our phones. Products that are being marketed as “socially intelligent agents” (SIA) are becoming more ubiquitous as large companies such as Apple and Google are battling for the mass consumer market. After proposing a common definition of intelligence to start from, I build off of ideas from Luck, d’Inverno, and Dautenhahn to describe what a SIA is. I then discuss the current state and ideology of artificial intelligence (AI) in the mass media to help arrive at what would be expected from an SIA in terms of domain of expertise and discourse. This then helped drive the creation of a cultural model of artificial intelligence, one key element of which was the issue of “believability.” An SIA does not have to actually be human-like in intelligence; it just needs to provide enough social cues and act believably intelligent. This model was then validated by performing discourse analysis of conversations with Apple’s particular offering of an agent, Siri. It was found that when the discourse fit well within this cultural model of AI then the human user categorized Siri as a believable SIA. When the conversation deviated from this model then Siri was categorized as just an object. Ultimately it was found that an AI is expected to be intelligent in its domain, able to communicate clearly, and able to function with minimal supervision. It is not expected to be perfect, but should be graceful and polite in failure. It is also expected to try to interpret our needs and react to them as our agents.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, social agents, autonomous agents, discourse analysis, cultural models

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

In Front of the White People: Black Speech, White Perceptions, and the Effects on African American Health

In Front of the White People: Black Speech, White Perceptions, and the Effects on African American Health

Glenda Wyatt-Franklin

Black speech or African American Vernacular English (AAVE), a variation of Standard American English (SAE) commonly attributed to African Americans, has been a volatile topic in recent decades. Despite wide disagreement about its use, there is a general consensus that Black speech is perceived negatively among many people in the United States. These perceptions translate into assumptions that often result in practices such as housing and employment discrimination. Though it can be argued that substandard housing and lack of viable employment opportunities have an indirect effect on health, it is probable that American standard language ideology permeates the views of health care professionals, resulting in more direct health effects. This paper proposes to investigate whether the use of Black speech may have implications for the delivery of health care and for health outcomes. A review of the literature shows that treatment decisions among physicians are commonly influenced by race-based bias. However little (if any) scholarship has been produced that explores the effects of the use of Black speech in the health care setting and whether it contributes to biased assumptions that impact treatment. Do health care professionals have more favorable perceptions of African American patients who use Standard American English or who lack (or suppress) a Black accent? Does the race of the clinician influence these perceptions? How might these perceptions impact care? This paper does not intend to answer these questions, but rather to establish the need for research that can provide answers as well as spark related questions.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

“Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”: Montserrat’s “Brogue” Examined

“Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”: Montserrat’s “Brogue” Examined

Samantha Malette

Although the small volcanic island of Montserrat has been under the control of the British for most of its colonial history, today the island stands out amongst its Caribbean neighbours as the purported “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”, an identity formed as a result of the Irish culture of the island’s earliest European settlers, and continued by present-day commemorations of St. Patrick’s Day. This island identity has become integral to Montserrat’s contemporary tourism industry, especially in light of the recent volcanic disaster devastating the island. Historical claims exist, purporting the continuity of the Irish accent (or ‘brogue’) among Montserrat’s inhabitants, asserting language ties that remain between the 17th century Irish settlers and present day Montserratians. However, there is some debate amongst scholars as to the verity of such accounts. This paper attempts to expose the accuracy of claims purporting the continuity of local speech of Montserrat as having Irish brogue-like characteristics, situating the island within its historical and present-day contexts. The links between Irish and Montserratian identity, language, and culture are identified, discussed, and interpreted in order to determine the extent to which Irish influence has impacted the formation of Montserrat Creole English. Although a few historical records exist that mention the continuity of the Irish accent into the 18th and even 19th century, these texts must be interpreted critically. A few linguistic characteristics that are shared between Irish English and Montserrat English exist; however, these similarities cannot be used as definitive proof of direct Irish influence, given that these features are also shared among a wide range of Caribbean Creoles that do not possess the same overwhelmingly Irish colonial origins. Nevertheless, this does not detract from the substantial amount of toponyms, surnames, and Irish symbolism that remain persistent on the island today, firmly solidifying these cross-cultural connections. It is clear that although the Irish influence on Montserrat is based on historical evidence, the narrative through which this relationship persists is considerably more complicated than is initially presented.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | Leave a comment

Don’t Stay Here!: An Analysis of Words Used to Describe One-Star Class Hotels

Don’t Stay Here!: An Analysis of Words Used to Describe One-Star Class Hotels

Kayla Niner

Modern travelers can review their hotel experiences online and immediately leave their feedback for the whole world to see. This paper looks at and analyzes the use of descriptive words in these reviews as well as other notable features of the reviews, including recommendations to not stay at the hotel and assertion of desire to stay again. The hotels looked at were those given a 1 to 1.5 star class rating on TripAdvisor in five selected major cities from around the United States. Using Microsoft Word and Excel, the descriptive words were found and analyzed per each user-given rating level. It found that certain adjectives were used with more frequency in particular rating levels, that more unique adjectives were used as the user-rating improved, and that people were much more likely to recommend that other travelers do not stay when giving a lower user-rating. It would be interesting to see further research on whether similar trends could be found for 3 star and 5 star class hotels.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Retelling Snow White: The Tale and its Reflection of Western Culture

Retelling Snow White: The Tale and its Reflection of Western Culture

Madeleine Seidel

Folklore is often regarded as a reflection of societal norms and values. When transcribed, each story provides a snapshot of its storyteller’s social environment. Certain tales, such as the Grimms’ version of Snow White, are reissued and retold, displaying the evolving cultural context consistent with the date of each publication. These linguistic changes help audiences to understand their contemporary social challenges. This paper analyzes the linguistic evolution of the English-language printed editions of Snow White and the impact of the Disney film on subsequent printed renditions of the story. Systematic analysis of the narrative style and form of the 19th and early 20th century versions of the story were compared with those published after the film along with the dialogue and narrative structure of the Disney film itself. This study demonstrates that the tale of Snow White evolved linguistically in conjunction with Western culture, reflecting the changing values and societal norms that led to those prevalent today.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Creating an Image of Purity Through the Use of Metaphor: The Case of Pure Michigan

Creating an Image of Purity Through the Use of Metaphor: The Case of Pure Michigan

Michelle Layton

Metaphors are often applied to complex concepts that would be difficult to express otherwise, such as the symbolism of natural spaces. Such metaphors present culturally-dependent imagery that influences people’s understanding and perceptions of the world. This conceptual metaphor theory is attributed to cognitive linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson, and is further explored through the work of cognitive psychologist L. Elizabeth Crawford. Within this framework, this paper explores how and why Michigan is marketed as ‘pure’ by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The purpose is to examine how metaphorical descriptions of natural space are utilized by the ‘Pure Michigan’ campaign in an attempt to create an image of untouched landscapes and influence the perceptions of tourists and residents. An analysis of the Pure Michigan sponsored materials, as well as parody websites and public comments, serve to demonstrate what is being projected by the marketing campaign and how some of the public interpret the metaphors. The findings convey that, while some people do not agree with the portrayal of Michigan, the metaphor of purity is often successful in evoking an emotional response in the audience and positively or negatively influencing some people’s perceptions of Michigan. Further topics of study include: a comparative analysis of Michigan and other states’ nature-marketing strategies; how the history of Michigan impacts the focus of nature-based marketing to tourists; or a survey-based study to determine how residents and non-residents perceive Michigan, comparing those who have been exposed to the Pure Michigan advertisements and those who have not.

April 6, 2015 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments