Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Metaphors of Poverty

Metaphors of Poverty

Miriam Jacobs

This paper explores the conceptual metaphors associated with poverty to discover if different categories of discourses use significantly different kinds of metaphors. Though the condition of poverty is ubiquitous, the way people define and conceptualize this situation can vary considerably. Metaphors are a pervasive and critical component in the construction of our ordinary conceptual systems and, as George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980) argue, frame our understanding by either highlighting or hiding certain aspects. Three different kinds of discourses are analyzed. This paper first examines the poverty metaphors in two seminal speeches on the subject, namely the “War on Poverty” speech by President Johnson and the “Make Poverty History” speech by President Mandela. Then the language used on the websites of various NGO’s is mined for metaphors. Finally, the metaphors used in published papers in the field of economics, specifically those that use the terminology BOP (Bottom of the Pyramid) to refer those living in poverty, are examined. Metaphors using POVERTY AS ENEMY, POVERTY AS OBSTACLE, and POVERTY AS DISTANCE/LOCATION are present in these various discourses, but each one of them favors a different set of metaphors. Further study might uncover what metaphors about poverty are used in other sorts of discourses and what influence these choices of metaphor have in persuading an audience to agreement and action.


April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments

Ubermess: Corporate Social Responsibility Responses as a Dialogue through Social Media

Ubermess: Corporate Social Responsibility Responses as a Dialogue through Social Media

Kaitlin Carter 

In today’s business world, companies often find themselves in the middle of politically- and social-charged events. Whether they are in these situations willingly or unwillingly, they often must make time-sensitive responses on the issues at hand to clarify their corporate social responsibility (or CSR) stances. Today in America, social media allows for instantaneous publishing and scrutiny of CSR responses. The purpose of this paper is to assess the interactive, conversational nature of companies’ CSR responses in light of specific events. To do so, I analyze the appropriateness of classical business theory on CSR and the concept of audience in terms of who a company’s message reaches in the age of social media. I conclude that long-established classical political business theories on CSR seem to lack structure that elucidates the interaction that occurs in present-day. Instead, I argue that CSR should be viewed as a dialogue as outlined by Brennan et al. in 2013, keeping in mind that the audience receiving the CSR responses are larger than ever before due to traditional media coverage and social media dissemination. Lastly, I utilize critical discourse analysis to identify the avoidance techniques used by Uber in response to the January 2016 Uber involvement with the New York City taxi strikes as a timely example of how CSR response statements are formulated and continually altered in response to a specific event.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

A Woman Ran for President: A Political and Gender Discourse Analysis on Hillary Clinton

A Woman Ran for President: A Political and Gender Discourse Analysis on Hillary Clinton

Bridget Bennane

2016 was the first year that a woman made it to the general elections for president in the United States. However, after a long and hard campaign, Hillary Clinton did not win the presidency. Using the transcripts from the three presidential debates and commentary from three media outlets, this paper analyzes Clinton’s discourse and how the media could have affected the public’s perception of Clinton using gender stereotypes. Using Fran Tonkiss’s method for discourse analysis, word counts on specific words and phrases were done to analyze and identify key themes, arguments, variations, and emphases in her speaking. Some of the categories examined and counted were her use of pronouns, how she used Donald Trump’s name, the number of times she mentioned family, women, or children, and how many times she insulted or interrupted someone. The words that someone uses in their speech can tell a lot about their intentions. While the media criticized her for her sarcasm and “creepy” smile, a deeper look at Hillary Clinton’s words provide insight into some unnoticed details.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 9 Comments

Analyzing Detroit’s Racialized Public Discourse of Urban Renewal through Metaphor

Analyzing Detroit’s Racialized Public Discourse of Urban Renewal through Metaphor

Kailey McAlpin

Research in cognitive science and linguistics has demonstrated that metaphors operate as conceptual maps that create and reinforce symbolic systems of thinking whereby one semantic from a source domain is transferred to another semantic in a target domain (Lakoff, 1987; Santa Ana, 1999).  Metaphors employed in the press function as semantic building blocks that structure the readers’ understanding of the world around them, shaping public opinion of contemporary issues.  This study set out to examine the racialized attitudes expressed through metaphor concerning Detroit’s mid-20th-century urban renewal efforts, which disproportionately targeted poor African-American communities, razing entire neighborhoods and displacing thousands of families from their homes.  The process of identifying metaphoric conceptualizations of urban renewal in Detroit involved keyword database searches of articles published by The Chicago Defender, a newspaper writing for a predominantly black readership, and The Detroit Free Press, a newspaper writing for a predominantly white readership, between 1940 and 1960.  Fifteen out of thirty-eight articles selected from The Chicago Defender contained reoccurring metaphors that conceptualized urban renewal as a catalyst for racial conflict, a mechanism used to contain and control expanding African American populations, and/or a nightmarish fantasy that is doomed to fail.  Forty-one out of one-hundred-and-twelve articles from The Detroit Free Press contained reoccurring metaphors that conceptualized urban renewal as a protector of elite white values, a savior ensuring the salvation of Detroit’s future, a mechanism for reviving the wellbeing of a growing city, and a far-fetched, naïve dreamAnalysis demonstrated that metaphors from The Detroit Free Press reflect and reinforce white support of urban renewal programs while metaphors from The Chicago Defender reflect and reinforce black opposition of urban renewal programs.  Overall, these findings provide insights into past experiences of urban renewal in Detroit and demonstrate that public opinion of urban renewal differed dramatically depending on racial identity.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Native American Code Talkers: Life before the Code

Native American Code Talkers: Life before the Code

Nadine Duchaine

This paper goes to explore Native American code talkers during World War II and the adverse effects boarding school regulations had upon them. The highly-classified project was a strategic defensive movement used on the Pacific front but indirectly used on the European. The code talkers and Native American enlisted had been forcibly confined to government boarding schools before their military service. The military setting in boarding schools crafted rebellion against the extermination of their culture and language. The code talkers who attended boarding schools who engaged in a form of rebellion, developed a code with the use of their language to give aid to a government that attempted to eradicate that language. Autobiographies and first hand accounts from former boarding school pupils are used in order gain perspective on the traumas and eradicate attempts from the government run boarding schools. Military records will provide insight into the need and use of native languages for the ambition of the war. The recruitment of Native Americans from around the country and the members of the Navajo tribe will provide details into how many native enlisted were encouraged towards the Marine branch and the code talker program and those specifically sought out on the reservation. The methods of reservation recruitment are essential in order to gain knowledge into the full impact of boarding school affects upon native youth. The lasting affects of boarding schools upon tribes whose male members served in World War II will explore the adverse and negative effects left.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

18th Century Advertising Language and the Shift from British Colony to New Nation

18th Century Advertising Language and the Shift from British Colony to New Nation

Hannelore Willeck

Advertising is a unique form of communication between buyers and sellers.  The specific language chosen can reflect the values and norms of a society while encouraging identity construction through material consumption.  Periods of great political change, such as the 18th century, can provide insight into how this type of discourse responded to changing public sentiments while allowing the maintenance of business interests.  The British colonies of North America that would become the United States provide significant data through advertisements printed in the many major newspapers in circulation.  This paper analyzes how advertising language reflected or manipulated identity constructions through material goods during the colonial, Revolutionary War, and early post-colonial periods in the United States.  Advertising segments from original publications now in digitized newspaper archives are analyzed for linguistic trends that indicate merchant responses to a changing sociopolitical climate.  The change in advertising language over time is shown through newspaper advertisements of the 1730s prior to a period of mass consumer demand, the 1760s at the height of colonial consumerism, and the 1790s after the foundation of a new country.  This paper explores how marketing language responded to the change from colonialism to independence and how it was used to help consumers establish identity through patterns of material consumption.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Memories of Unrest: Placing the Detroit 1967 Project within the Riot vs. Rebellion Debate

Memories of Unrest:  Placing the Detroit 1967 Project within the Riot vs. Rebellion Debate

Athena Zissis

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Detroit’s 1967 Uprising, the Detroit Historical Society created a public database of eye-witness testimonials to commemorate the events and aftermath of the 1967 Uprisings.  In doing so, the database placed itself in a larger lexical debate regarding the morality of the civil unrest and whether it should be classified as a riot or a rebellion.  Within this debate are themes of injustice, civil rights, violence, morality, discrimination, and resilience to oppression.  Utilizing Erving Goffman’s method of frame analysis coupled with themes of conceptual metaphor, this study examines 70 self-written testimonials of Detroit’s 1967 Uprising for patterns of prescribed agency, responsibility, and blame while exploring how the authors’ explicitly or implicitly frame their stories within the riot vs. rebellion debate.  Because framing shapes the viewpoint of a given audience, and is thus a powerful tool that has been shown to effect social change, it is important to understand how the Detroit 67 Project database contributes to the discussion, and to whom that discussion is reaching.  With the results leaning heavily in favor of categorizing the civil unrest as a riot, the narrative of 1967 Detroit emphasizes an arguably counterproductive discussion of self-sabotaging violence.  As the Detroit ’67 Project’s intentions were to “engage, reflect, and provide opportunities to take the collective action that can help move our community forward,” it is my hope that as more people submit their testimonials more equal representation will be given to the rebellion framework.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

The discourse of Detroit: A critical look into the use of language within Detroit documentaries

The discourse of Detroit: A critical look into the use of language within Detroit documentaries

Elizabeth Riedman

In recent years, Detroit has been the focus of many outsider filmmakers, as seen in Detropia, Grown in Detroit, Requiem for Detroit, Detroit Lives, and Detroit Wild City. This paper aims to discover various elements behind the kinds of discourse that are being actively created for the city of Detroit by these non-Detroit filmmakers. In looking critically at the voices, language, images and forms of media chosen by filmmakers, in addition to the larger literature surrounding documentary discourse and urban decline, this paper begins to reveal the kind of outsider-imposed discourse actively shaping narratives about the city of Detroit. Fundamental elements of these films include the use of anonymous speakers, empty landscapes, conversations in cars, historical footage and text-overs. When combined with the use of documentary and conversational style, these films leave out a local point of view, producing a product that only displays the filmmakers’ own outsider view of Detroit for the world to take as reality.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Portraits of The Orange Man

Portraits of The Orange Man

Lynn Charara

Throughout his presidential campaign and into his presidency, Donald J. Trump has become particularly well known for his unusual political presentation, including his unconventional talking style. The way he talks does not conform to the mainstream American metalinguistic beliefs of what a presidential candidate or president should sound like: articulate, consistent, collected, and professional. Satirists and parodists have capitalized on Trump’s talking features in their impersonations and commentaries on him. This paper analyzes the role of satirists and parodists in maintaining the metalinguistic beliefs of what a president should sound like. The primary sources of this research are select episodes of Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The significance of the jokes made about Trump’s talking style in these shows is drawn from the work of anthropologists and linguists including Basso, Mintz, McWhorter, and Lempert and Silverstein. Through the critical analysis of how comedians mock Trump’s talking style, this paper demonstrates how they participate in upholding presidential speech standards by mocking of Trump’s failure to live up to these expectations. By placing comedians’ representation of Trump into the theoretical framework of the linguistic significance of humor and satire, this paper shows that comedians ridicule of a politician’s speech plays a role in discrediting said politician. Not only do comedians including Alec Baldwin, Trevor Noah, and Stephen Colbert make people laugh at Trump, they also critique his failure to live up to presidential speaking standards, thus attempting to subvert his political power. Future research on this topic be directed towards analyzing whether presidential speech standards change after Trump’s success in the 2016 elections.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments

Discipline or Domestic Violence: Distinctions in discourse about interpersonal violence

Discipline or Domestic Violence: Distinctions in discourse about interpersonal violence  

Maria Schell 

United States federal law defines domestic violence as a criminal act, (Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, 1994). However, despite the legal prohibition, some Americans frame interpersonal violence as legitimate physical discipline. This research examined written discourse to explore the construction of interpersonal violence as discipline rather than abuse, the cultural messages that contribute to this distinction, and whether the distinction interferes with help seeking behaviors of victims of domestic violence. This study employed critical discourse analysis of content from two websites, Christian Domestic Discipline and The Experience Project, to identify themes of male dominance and to uncover instances of interpersonal violence being framed as discipline. The analysis shed light on differing attitudes about consent and the nature of interpersonal relationships. It also exposed the frequent use of male dominance as justification for domestic violence, despite federal statutes prohibiting such violence. Survivor narratives indicated at least temporary acceptance of the male dominance paradigm and the construction of interpersonal violence as discipline, which delayed their decision to seek out domestic violence services.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Legitimatizing the right to water in Michigan’s post-industrial cities

Legitimatizing the right to water in Michigan’s post-industrial cities

Colleen Linn

Water as a human right is concept recognized by the United Nations, but infrequently ratified by U.S. national or state governments. In Michigan, two recent controversies over water, the Flint Water Crisis and the Detroit Water Shutoffs, have demonstrated how lawmakers’ decisions concerning access have left socially marginalized groups further disadvantaged by lack of access to clean, affordable water. In keeping with Sally Engle Merry’s suggestion to understand the “vernacularization” of human rights from global to local contexts, and Orlove and Caton’s suggestion to study water as a total social fact, this paper employs a critical discourse analysis of policy efforts put forth by both local activist groups and state lawmakers on how to remediate the ramifications of water insecurity experienced by two post-industrial cities in Michigan. Although human rights are a product of Western culture, how they are interpreted and employed domestically has been minimally researched. This paper seeks to understand how this concept is understood and used as a linguistic tool by non-profit groups engaged with the crises, as well as how lawmakers at the forefront of decision making respond to the claims. The critical discourse analysis focuses on texts put forth by a spectrum of actors, including local and national policy initiatives, briefings, as well as non-profit research and blog posts, in order to further assess how blame and agency are constructed by actors intent on changing the way their communities access water. Findings suggest that while government is understood as responsible for providing equitable water service, the ratification of water as a human right is impeded by the need for infrastructural upgrades and consequently political will to alter policy.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Power Play: gender, power, and language of nurses and doctors

Power Play: gender, power, and language of nurses and doctors

Stacy F. Markel

Speech is entwined with identities of power, status, class, ethnicity and in particular, gender. This paper will examine discursive strategies indexed by power and gender identities in the specific context of linguistic interactions between doctors and nurses in and out of medical settings. Media, both real life and scripted, is the setting for these interactions. How do doctors speak to each other and to nurses? Does gender matter? Are real life attitudes about gender power relations reflected in discursive practices, both in real life and scripted media? How have these discursive practices changed over time? The media sources used to answer these questions cover a timespan from 1960 to the present day. This paper does not attempt to answer another interesting question: whether these language practices are indexed by ethnicity. That is a question for another paper. This analysis begins with a historical discussion of metalinguistic ideas about gendered language, including myths and facts, and shows how media sources agree with or repudiate these ideas. It also attempts to show how changes in modes of speech are both reflective of, and perhaps shape changing power and gender roles.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

The language of extreme metal

The language of extreme metal

Luke Pickrahn

There has been significant sociolinguistic research in the analysis of song lyrics; however, the lyrical content of Extreme Metal, if considered at face value, is often prone to being discounted as gratuitous and needlessly transgressive. To extract some sociolinguistic information from what some might consider to be a vibrant subculture, it is necessary to ask several questions, namely, does Extreme Metal have some form of Alternate language, and if so, why, and what role does it serve to its participants? To effectively answer these questions, it was important to narrow the dataset to a manageable size, thus, Death metal and Black metal will serve in this respect, considering that they remain as two of the more “transgressive” genres to comprise “Extreme Metal”. The methods employed in this study, were a mixture of quantitative and qualitative datasets, and the application of “grounded theory” to analyze those datasets. 35 death metal songs, and 35 Black metal songs, from 7 bands of each genre, were fed into a word frequency analysis program to look for repeated ideas, concepts and lexicalities. Several qualitative sources, in the form of: artist interviews, media videos, an extensive literature review, and an in-depth analysis of lyrical fragments, also aided the discussion. The results of this study show that Death metal and Black metal, as part of a broader genre of music known as Extreme Metal, tend to have their marked differences, but will both generally use lyrics and linguistic devices to construct an oppositional identity that is intentionally antagonistic to the mainstream contemporary society. Lyrical content not only serves as an antithesis to contemporary cultural values, but challenges the boundaries of taboo and profanity. In many cases, Extreme Metal lyrics have a great deal of importance in reflecting the consumer’s “identity”, as well as the ontological security of that said identity.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 8 Comments

Displaying the Dead: Assessing Agency Through Museum Linguistic Practices

Displaying the Dead: Assessing Agency Through Museum Linguistic Practices

Kelsey Jorgensen

The implied authority of public exhibitions in museums to educate is especially nuanced when considering the language categorization of human remains as sensitive objects or ‘once living persons.’ Assignment of agency through language was born from Bourdieu’s argument that words are never neutral, and connotations of language and power are co-constructed by members of a culture. This research analyzes agency through the objectification or personalization of human remains from the descriptive language museums choose to utilize in their public displays. Results from 27 museums across the United States and the United Kingdom were gathered from email surveys, telephone interviews, and online collections databases. While federal policies and contextual origins of the human remains were occasionally cited as influences, decisions deciding linguistic terminology ultimately rested with designated museum personnel. Less than half of the museums possessed written policies concerning the treatment of human remains, and only one museum had guidelines on selecting language. It is therefore unsurprising that many terms such as ‘specimen,’ ‘body,’ ‘corpse,’ ‘cadaver,’ ‘it’ and even modern nicknames held conflicting acceptability amongst museums. No significant differences occurred between US versus UK museum practices, or between comparisons of remains’ original geographical contexts. Human remains that could still have living kin were given discernible agency through possessive pronouns, while non-contemporaneous remains had no such obvious temporally linguistic divide. Objectifying language such as ‘specimen’ or ‘the bones’ was instead highly correlated to the incompleteness of the human remains. This analysis of linguistic terminology used in labeling human remains on public display can aid in understanding shifting individual, museum, and wider cultural attitudes regarding agency of the dead.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Differences in opportunity teaching styles between multiparous and uniparous chimpanzee mothers suggest that experienced mothers are better teachers

Differences in opportunity teaching styles between multiparous and uniparous chimpanzee mothers suggest that experienced mothers are better teachers

Katilyn Gerstner

While eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) are the most commonly studied chimpanzees, due to the abundancy of populations, a gap in teaching methodologies of this critical species is still apparent in current literature. Recent video evidence of chimpanzees termite fishing from the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo demonstrates facilitated learning with tool-exchanging from mothers to offspring through instances of opportunity teaching. Opportunity teaching is defined as an instructor modifying their behavior at some cost or for no benefit to facilitate learning for another individual, usually a juvenile. To evaluate the degree of opportunity teaching for this chimpanzee population, this research conducts a literature review about chimpanzee non-verbal communication in combination with analysis of video footage taken of mother-offspring interactions at these termite mounds in Gombe National Park. Specifically, video analysis with focus on the chimpanzees’ nonverbal cues, gestures, and body language between these two populations. Results demonstrate that mothers with multiple offspring (multiparous) use a variation of behaviors that fall into the category of opportunity teaching, while first time (uniparous) mothers are not seen to demonstrate those behaviors. Although tool exchange is rare, multiparous mothers also tolerate tool theft and use swatting gestures to ween offspring; two alternative strategies of opportunity teaching. The data suggests two possibilities: that chimpanzees demonstrate teaching style variations between the two populations, and secondly that experienced mothers show more examples of teaching than non-experienced mothers. This research supports other studies of opportunity teaching in chimpanzee populations revealing that linguistic analysis can lead to a deeper understanding of teaching strategies in primates.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Symbolic Meanings of the “Rune Poems”

Symbolic Meanings of the “Rune Poems”

John Anderson

The word “rune” describes the letters of a variety of related Germanic alphabets, including the Anglo-Saxon futhorc and the Viking-Age “younger futhark.” Such letters have a reputation for playing a magical, divinatory, or at least symbolic role in these cultures. One of the best-known sources of symbolic information on runes are the Anglo-Saxon, Norwegian, and Icelandic “Rune Poems,” dating from the eighth to fifteenth centuries. To what extent do these poems represent traditional, pre-Christian beliefs about runes? This paper uses ethnopoetic analysis in the tradition of Dell Hymes and Joel Sherzer to understand the cultural context of the Rune Poems, and employs the comparative method to compare the Rune Poems to each other and to older related texts, such as the mythological poems of the Elder Edda. Similarities found in this way suggest that there was a set of common traditions that the rune poets drew from, rather than an original rune poem that inspired all three, which attributed sets of commonly agreed meanings to each of the runes individually. The practice of making rune poems likely began as an instructional tool for teaching beginners the sounds, shapes, names, or symbolism of the runes. Future research into this topic may inquire after the meanings of the symbols, riddles, and proverbs contained in the individual stanzas of the Rune Poems.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 5 Comments

Critical Discourse Analysis of Media: A Systematic Approach to Analyzing Child Welfare Representation in the Media

Critical Discourse Analysis of Media: A Systematic Approach to Analyzing Child Welfare Representation in the Media

Michael Henson

The relationship between the child welfare system and the media has been generally a rocky one.  Media coverage often focuses on extreme cases, such as child fatalities, and attributes the blame to the failure of the child welfare system.  Such coverage often has a negative impact not the child welfare system and the families it serves, causing advocates to call for strategies to improve the relationship between the media and the child welfare system.  By taking a case study approach, this article demonstrates how Norman Fairclough’s (1995) critical discourse analysis (CDA) can provide a theoretical framework and methodology to be used by researchers, practitioners, and students to develop evidence-based strategies to improve the relationship between the child welfare system and the media.   In order to establish the current context of this topic, existing literature and previously proposed strategies for the child welfare system engagement with the media are described.   Fairclough’s theoretical framework for CDA is then presented with discussion of how it allows for an in-depth understanding of the complex processes of news production.  To demonstrate how the theoretical framework can be turned into practice, Fairclough’s methodology for CDA is outlined and then applied to analyze three news articles from CBS news following the case of Cesar Gonzalez-Mugaburu.  By referencing the results of the case study, the article concludes with a discussion of how CDA can be used to develop media engagement strategies for researchers, practitioners, and students.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Anishinaabe Toponyms in Michigan: A History of Colonized Folk Etymology and Anishinaabe Cultural Renaissance

Anishinaabe Toponyms in Michigan: A History of Colonized Folk Etymology and Anishinaabe Cultural Renaissance

Josh Wolford

A specific name given to a geographic location is referred to as a ‘toponym’, there are numerous places across North America whose toponyms were given to them by their indigenous inhabitants. This is most certainly true in Michigan, a region that has been inhabited by the Anishinaabe peoples for thousands of years and has thus received numerous toponyms with Anishinaabe origins. These toponyms elucidate the cosmological, environmental, and practical positions these places hold for the Anishinaabe. While there are numerous toponyms indigenous in origin, there’s a multitude of toponyms and folk etymologies that were fabricated by Euro-Americans. By examining the historical and cultural literature I attempt to illuminate the historical contexts of colonization of Anishinaabe culture and language told by European and American scholarly invaders. Then shed light on the resurgence and renaissance of Anishinaabe culture and language from their own words, taking this knowledge to task against some folk etymologies of Michigan that persist today. I rely heavily on modern Anishinaabe scholars, such as Basil Johnston, for much of my cultural and linguistic analysis of the Anishinaabe, as well as ethnographic analysis from anthropologists and ethnologists. I analyze folk etymologies and fabricated words made primarily by Henry R. Schoolcraft and Henry W. Longfellow from their works and find that many of the toponyms and stories in Michigan we now think as holding Native American origins are, in many cases, not true. But they are instead the product of colonized Anishinaabe language and culture mixed with foreign lexicon, creating entirely fabricated stories and terms far from indigenous origins.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 5 Comments

Lexical and Performative Cues for the Provocation of an Altered State of Consciousness in the American Evangelical Church

Lexical and Performative Cues for the Provocation of an Altered State of Consciousness in the American Evangelical Church

Jasmine Walker

The charismatic preaching style synonymous with several denominations within the Evangelical church is known for inducing physical responses with a perceived supernatural origin from pious congregants known as “Spiritual Gifts.” This article focuses on lexical and performative cues for the provocation of an altered state of consciousness (ASC) in the American Evangelical church, specifically members of the Pentecostal denomination. The research aims to determine whether preachers in the church use institutionalized homiletical devises to guide members of their congregation into two forms of invocation of spirit known as “Catching the Holy Ghost” and Glossolalia or “speaking in tongues,” which often happens in conjunction with one another. Preachers’ motivations come into question in terms of whether they are actively trying to induce the reception of Spiritual Gifts to legitimize their claims as mediums between god and their congregants to use as empirical proof of being “anointed” (officially chosen by god to be a representative on earth). Aspects of Jon Bialecki and Niko Besnier’s Language and Affect theories are used as a framework of analysis to understand how a preacher’s words can cause a desired response. Ralph Locke and Edward Kelly’s research on altered states of consciousness help to understand exactly what happens when one enters an ASC. Online videos of church services, participant-observation, as well as informant interviews were used to collect the ethnographic data needed for this research. The resulting data suggests that there is, in fact, a prescribed manner of delivery that incorporates specific word choice and stylized performance tools that “build-up” within a congregant, causing them to enter an ASC. This research can be useful in a number of anthropological contexts including semiotics, power and agency, ontology, and discussions on American race and gender.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments

Identity at 70 MPH: The crafting, meaning, and importance of personalized license plates

Identity at 70 MPH: The crafting, meaning, and importance of personalized license plates

Rebecca Cornejo

Personalized license plates allow the owner of a vehicle to express themselves in creative ways.  While some work has been done on the variety of plate names out there, little work has been done on ascribing meaning to the combination of letters on a personalized plate. How can identity be conveyed in the constraints of such few spaces, and why is this kind of language use important? This original research looks at 334 personalized license plate found in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs.  The collection will be analyzed to show methods used by vehicle owners to express themselves using very few spaces. Additionally, this article will discuss the semiotic nature of personalized plates, and the importance of this kind of language play and creativity. The literature review will show that this type of language use promotes healthy literacy habits and abilities, demonstrates the evolution of language as we use it, and shows us creative ways to express one’s identity in a confined space.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments