Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

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

Language and Societies abstracts, vol. 8 (2016)

The abstracts below are summaries of papers by junior scholars from the 2016 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.

Kayla Hurd:Trepanning Medical Latin: The language barrier between doctor and patient

Melissa Moore: Kamen Rider vs. Fansubbing

Matthew Ashford: Who Carries the Water? An Analysis of Online Disputation Regarding the Flint Water Crisis

Amber Golembiewski: Negative and Positive Comment Discourse Analysis on a Popular Pornography Website

Allison M. Hebel: Hee-Hees, Giggles, and Titters, Oh My! English Lexical Laughter Grades, Associations, and Histories

Caitlin M. Cassady: Language Ideology in Discourses on Physician Assisted Dying: Untangling Threads of Discord in the Case of Brittany Maynard

Adelaide Gillham: Social Invisibility and Dehumanization of Asexuals and Aromantics through Language Policing

Kyle Dunn: Race, Agency, Blame and Gender: Narratives on Police use of Force in a South Carolina High School

Daniel Mora Argüelles: (Sad Beep): Eliciting Meaning from the Interactions between Pragmatics and Non-Linguistic Utterances

Kathleen M. Hanlon-Lundberg: Delivering Agency: Online Birth Stories in the US

Beau Kromberg: My Partner and I: Commitment Terminology within Evolving Heteronormative Linguistic Contexts

Natasha Modi: Examining the Use of Language in Promoting Hindu Patriarchy by Using Vedic Texts

Aaron Taylor: ‘I know words…I have the best words’: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Donald Trump’s Face-saving Tactics

Mallory Moore: A Pirate’s Life for Me: A Comprehensive Analysis of What it Means to “Talk Like a Pirate”

Kristy Estabalaya: Tagalog-English Codeswitching in Scripted Television Shows

Gavin Swantick: Latin, Metalinguistics, and the Society of St. Pius X

Andrew Eppens-Gross: Pass the Gaudy Dutchie to the German Side: An Examination of an Early Language Community in Nineteenth Century Detroit

Crystal Mitchell: Echolalia within Children with Autism

Ashlee Jed:Linguistic Norms and Expectations in Gyms with Different Social Spaces

D. Castagna: The Commoditization of Values in the Marketplace: Linguistics Utilized in Marketing Discourse

Debbie Leggett: Speaking Craft Beverage: Building Power, Status, and Economy with Linguistic Capital in the Craft Beverage World

 

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Editor | Leave a comment

Trepanning Medical Latin: The language barrier between doctor and patient

Trepanning Medical Latin: The language barrier between doctor and patient

Kayla J. Hurd

In the healthcare field, communication between doctor and patient is essential in both diagnosis and treatment of disease. However, issues often arise during these interactions when complicated medical Latin terminology is involved, leading to confusion. This lack of understanding of the so-called ‘dead language’ is to blame. Here medical Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes will be presented as the underlying components of the language, as they provide hidden context clues to enhance learning for medical students, doctors, and patients alike. The history and, although sometimes incorrect, use of the Terminologia Anatomica is discussed as it is the official guide to medical Latin for students new to the field. As seen in the literature, the main dilemma that medical professionals face is whether or not it is appropriate to use medical Latin or other complex terminology with their patients. It is evident that the power gained from learning medical Latin is critical to the belief that these medical professionals are qualified to treat patients. A look into an on-going study involving African American patients and their oncologists provides insight into relevant communication issues to the Metro Detroit area. However, it is shown that even when medical Latin is not utilized, there are still communication issues between doctor and patient that need to be remedied.

Keywords: medical Latin, communication, doctor, patient, power, language barrier

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 5 Comments

Kamen Rider vs. Fansubbing

Kamen Rider vs. Fansubbing

Melissa Moore

Subtitling is one way in which foreign language television and movie media is consumed by fans who don’t speak the language of the original media. In the case of Kamen Rider, which has a strong following in its native Japan but a relatively low audience in English speaking countries, fan enthusiasm for the show has led to fansubbing. Through this process, fans of a show with knowledge of the native language translate, subtitle, and distribute the work to an English speaking community on a non-official basis. The two primary translation theories examined are literal and liberal. Through examination of the subtitling efforts themselves, public message boards, blogs, as well as translation theory, this article analyses the community and their interpretations of fansubbing efforts. What makes for a well-received subtitling translation? How important is it that the show give you exactly the same experience as the original language, and is it possible at all? Is one subbing style more legitimate than another? How much of this legitimacy is perceived and implemented through fan interpretation? This paper argues that indexing oneself as a part of a certain group is the central point of the debate. Future research could examine other views on subtitling methods, which could broaden audiences, lead to better marketing, and more effective subtitling.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Echolalia within Children with Autism

Echolalia within Children with Autism

Crystal Mitchell

For decades scholars have researched the significance of echolalia or repetition of speech within children with autism. Over the years, just as the understanding and classification of autism has changed, so has the meaning of the presence of echolalia and what that entails in light of communicative ability. This paper will investigate key scholars and their thoughts surrounding children with autism who express echolalia and whether or not they believe it serves as proof of real language ability within those adolescents. Through the investigation of ethnographies and various research studies of discourse analyses by these key scholars, this paper will highlight various findings and advancements in autism studies and language development thus leading to various changes in beliefs over the years. Audiences will recognize a drastic change in ideas, as they navigate from the earlier work of Fay (1969) which showcased echolalia as insignificant to the development of language, to beliefs from scholars like Sterponi (2014) whose later historical findings place echolalia as potential evidence of language ability. In this journey through history, the results following the various research have been key in identifying next steps that continue to lead future scholars towards more findings on this path of discovery of language ability.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Linguistic Norms and Expectations in Gyms with Different Social Spaces

Linguistic Norms and Expectations in Gyms with Different Social Spaces

Ashlee Jed

Linguistic norms and expectations create unique environmental settings in gyms. Marketing language used in gyms and their materials create linguistic norms that structure what language and action is appropriate and inappropriate to say or do when training in particular gyms. This is an understudied area of inquiry. Three locations of three gym companies (nine gyms total) with differing fitness missions are explored and analyzed. The first gym, Life Time Fitness, focuses on extreme weight loss, body building, and lifestyle changes. The second gym, Fit Zone for Women, provides a space for only women where fitness and attitudes regarding female body image are focused on. The last gym, Planet Fitness, claims to be a judgement-free and commitment-free zone. Through the use of ethnographic research, the collection of written materials, and linguistic theory, it is evident that gym companies, such as Planet Fitness, attempt to directly control gym member language behavior by targeting human feelings and emotions. This method of linguistic monitoring is not used in Life Time Fitness or Fit Zone for Women. In turn, Planet Fitness has to enforce more rules than any other gym, and they need to be more forceful about them. However, the written material found throughout each Planet Fitness location enforcing these rules creates an unintended judgmental and hostile reaction. Further research would include studying the same nine locations over a longer period of time with the consideration of investigating how host communities might play a role in shaping linguistic monitoring and how violations of linguistic norms and expectations are treated under these culturally shaped linguistic norms and expectations.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

The Commoditization of Values in the Marketplace: Linguistics Utilized in Marketing Discourse

The Commoditization of Values in the Marketplace: Linguistics Utilized in Marketing Discourse

D. Castagna

This paper discusses how branding has moved from an implicit discourse regarding personal values within product marketing and advertising narratives to explicit discourse on values where actual products are absent. A brand is a mark or a sign that produces many possible meanings and contexts, as well as generating pragmatic effects on subjects and objects through identification and by giving them value (Mangano and Marrone 2015:46). It is in these advertising stories that brand discourse emerges, and within these narrations where consumers valorize objects, while creating relations with them and through them (Mangano and Marrone 2015:47). Marketing discourse has taken the next step in constructing narratives that use personal values not only as a branding communique, but as a way to commoditize such values in and of themselves. This paper will argue that within marketing discourse values are in process of or have become completely commoditized. The analysis will cover briefly the concept of values-based marketing as much has been written on the subject. Next, the process and framework of commoditization and commodity will be discussed and then the focus will turn to the techniques and framework used to analyze marketing discourse. The last section of this paper will include an analysis using the aforementioned techniques and framework and commodity/ commoditization concepts and definitions to demonstrate that values are being if they are not already commoditized. For the marketing discourse analysis, samples from the branding/ advertising campaign of Dove and Lane Bryant will be utilized. This will demonstrate how marketers are using personal values to create value and solve their consumers’ problems.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | Leave a comment

Who Carries the Water? An Analysis of Online Disputation Regarding the Flint Water Crisis

Who Carries the Water? An Analysis of Online Disputation Regarding the Flint Water Crisis

Matthew Ashford

The internet has become one of the foremost places for people to discuss, pontificate, and argue about politics; one can find long threads of comments and arguments following almost every article about politically charged events. This paper examines internet comment threads attached to articles surrounding the Flint Water Crisis to examine the motives and goals of the individual posters. Are they just arguing to advance their particular opinion or ideology? Does the subject of the article relate to the comments posted? Are they trying to win the argument, and can the argument ever, in fact, be won? The study examines nearly eight hundred comments posted on six separate articles and breaks down the language used as it relates to existing literature on conflict resolution, political disputation, and strategies for legitimization. This analysis leads to the conclusion that internet posters largely base their comments not on winning the argument, but instead focus on two primary goals: First, to dominate the conversation and obfuscate or refute viewpoints other than their own, and second to index themselves with a particular group or ideology. Future research into this subject could yield new ways to approach political arguments in general, online arguments, and even perhaps shed light on the hardening of the political divide in the United States and possible ways to bridge that divide.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Negative and Positive Comment Discourse Analysis on a Popular Pornography Website

Negative and Positive Comment Discourse Analysis on a Popular Pornography Website

Amber Golembiewski

Discussing sexuality can be taboo, but can discussing sexuality, in particular pornography, assist in understanding a larger cultural phenomena? This study examined comments posted on a popular pornography website, PornHub, with two main research goals. The first goal was to determine if there were differences in the level of aggressiveness in the comment section between lesbian pornography (FF) and heterosexual pornography (MF). The second goal of the paper was to examine if pornographic video titles which had more aggressive verbs, or other statements of degradation, would elicit more aggressive comments from users? The data was collected into a relational database management system called MySQL. A total of 40 videos were analyzed, 20 for FF and 20 for MF. Each video’s title was scored as negative, positive, or neutral. All posted comments were scored in the same fashion. Verbs used in negative comments were also examined. Any use of the word “fuck” as a verb was considered to be negative using Pamela Hobb’s argument that it is a metaphor for male sexual aggression. Common negative verb usage included “fuck”, “hammer”, and “pound”. Preliminary analysis indicated that there were more negative comments overall followed closely by neutral comments. After the final analysis is conducted, the author would like to examine homosexual pornography (MM) to see if it has any similar patterns in the comment section. Another future research project would look at the actual content of the pornography and then analyze the types of comments posted.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Hee-Hees, Giggles, and Titters, Oh My! English Lexical Laughter Grades, Associations, and Histories

Hee-Hees, Giggles, and Titters, Oh My! English Lexical Laughter Grades, Associations, and Histories

Allison M. Hebel

English contains a variety of laughter words and phrases that have changed and grown since Old English to the present day by their emergence or disappearance in the language. This paper identifies a list of thirty-five laughter words and thirteen laughter phrases. Each laughter word is part of a new classification, building upon the grades of laughter defined by Roger Woodville, D.G. Kehl and the types of laughter noted by Jürgen Trouvain. These words have been reclassified into ten main categories which are based upon reduplication and onomatopoeia (hehe and haha), perceived sound (quiet, subdued, and loud), animal-noise origin (howl), phrase (bust a gut) and grammatical structure. This study adds to the histories noted from the Oxford English Dictionary and Kehl by finding earlier text dates from the Google Ngram Viewer and Google Books databases. Certain associations have been discovered between laughter words such as gender in giggle and cackle by using data from the three English language corpuses. Continued work on English laughter words, phrases and their associations can benefit our understandings of the use, growth and change of those words.

Keywords: English, laughter, grades, lexical history, gender associations.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 5 Comments

Speaking Craft Beverage: Building Power, Status, and Economy with Linguistic Capital in the Craft Beverage World

Speaking Craft Beverage: Building Power, Status, and Economy with Linguistic Capital in the Craft Beverage World

Debbie A. Leggett

In 1978 U.S. H.R. 1337 was signed into law, legalizing homebrewing in the United States. Growth of the hobby coupled with changing State and Federal regulations had an enormous impact on the expansion of commercial craft beverage production, from 80 breweries in 1983 to 4,144 in 2015. As in any hobby or professional field, the craft beverage consumer and producer communities use specific language in describing and discussing products. Language choice within the craft beverage community is used not only for the surface purpose of describing and identifying qualities of a beverage but also to explicitly and implicitly confer information about socio-economic status, experience, and access to rare and desirable products. Use of specific and accurate descriptors alongside other field specific lexicon when tasting and judging craft beverage has lasting effects on consumer perception and future engagement with a product, fellow enthusiast, or brewer. This research examines how descriptive lexical items are used together by hobbyists and professionals to describe flavor, aroma, and experience in alcoholic craft beverage and how the use of this specific language creates and develops status, power, and economy within the communities of practice of craft beverage consumer and producer groups. An analysis of collected description and discourse data from online users of craft beverage discussion and rating forums such as ratebeer.com, talkbeer.com, Untappd, and YouTube as well as branding and marketing information from the brewers will be examined to see how linguistic, social, and economic capital are created and used in these communities.

Keywords: discourse analysis, craft beer, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, craft beverage, mead, social theory

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments

Language Ideology in Discourses on Physician Assisted Dying: Untangling Threads of Discord in the Case of Brittany Maynard

Language Ideology in Discourses on Physician Assisted Dying: Untangling Threads of Discord in the Case of Brittany Maynard

Caitlin M. Cassady

Language matters in an ethical debate about death. Physician assisted dying for the terminally ill is legal in only a handful of places in the United States, however locales continue to actively consider the issue through legislation or legal action. The year 2015 saw physician-assisted death legalized by a Supreme Court decision in Canada, and by legislative action in the State of California. Prior to this legislation, in 2014, 29 year-old California native and Oregon transplant Brittany Maynard became an outspoken activist in the Death-with-Dignity movement at a national level. During the course of her advocacy for terminal patients’ rights to hasten their deaths, she identified use of the word “suicide” as “inflammatory”. Although not the first of their kind, Maynard’s contestations of the word suicide may be the most public and widely debated to date in the United States. This paper uses discourse analysis to examine publicly available internet texts focusing on terminological contestations and varying perspectives of euphemistic language forming ideology in an ethical debate. I argue that candid declarations of ‘correct’ or ‘best’ terminology within these texts can act as a window through which what really matters, what is at stake for those taking part in the debate, can come into focus. Linguistic and medical anthropology offer useful lenses for examining cultural beliefs about terminal illness and meaning in language disagreements surrounding physician assisted dying. Research exploring common language and associated meanings about morally ambiguous death choices in the United States is valuable not only to anthropologies of death and suicide, but also potentially to professions working with the terminally ill. Findings may have important implications both for future research on American English language about death, as well as how medical and legal professionals discuss physician assisted dying, suicide, or other contested terms with those they service.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Social Invisibility and Dehumanization of Asexuals and Aromantics through Language Policing

Social Invisibility and Dehumanization of Asexuals and Aromantics through Language Policing

Adelaide Gillham

In what ways do people control language in order to oppress individuals who use the “asexual” and “aromantic” labels? This work aims to answer that question through analysis of data collected from both internet communities and scholarly discourse on the subject of asexual and aromantic identity and terminology, as well as broader discussions in linguistics about the use of prescriptivism as a tool of oppression. These data suggest that language policing plays a significant role in the dehumanization and erasure of asexuality and aromanticism in society, using redefinition, pathologization, gatekeeping, and other similar tactics.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Race, Agency, Blame and Gender: Narratives on Police use of Force in a South Carolina High School

Race, Agency, Blame and Gender: Narratives on Police use of Force in a South Carolina High School

Kyle Dunn

How do the police, media and other parties use language to frame blame agency and race? This paper explores this question in the incident that happened at Spring Valley High South Carolina. This exploration is done to better understand how parties frame these complex issues of race, blame and agency on the level of language. In this incident the schools resource officer removed a student from her desk through a questionable amount of force. This was all captured on video and was covered by major news organizations and social media. More specifically this paper, looks at how people defending the student and officer frame race, agency, blame, and gender. This is accomplished through analyzing 6 online news articles of the incident. Who mentions Race, blame, agency, and gender was collected and analyzed. Furthermore, a literature review of cultural, and linguistic anthropological sources was conducted to provide theoretical context and to help better understand the data. In doing so this paper illustrates the linkage between ideology and narrative in police officers explanation for their use of force. It also illustrates how news organizations when trying to be unbiased, reinforce systematic racism through un-even representation.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Delivering Agency: Online Birth Stories in the US

Delivering Agency: Online Birth Stories in the US

Kathleen M. Hanlon-Lundberg, M.D.

Agency, the capacity to effect an outcome, is challenging to assess. Linguistic clues to agency may be identified by examining “loci of control”, a concept developed in social learning theory and applied to health care analysis, where perceived internal causality correlates to improved outcomes. Narrator satisfaction with birth events as reflected in positive and negative utterances in birth stories may also reflect demonstrated agency. This study examines linguistic markers of perceived loci of control, positive and negative utterances, and birth outcomes as indicators of maternal agency in labor and delivery as related through birth stories. First-person, on-line birth stories occurring between 2006 and 2016 within the US were analyzed for linguistic indicators of loci of control: the self, others (health care providers, husband, etc.) and chance (no perceived loci of control). Positive and negative emotive utterances were identified, tallied and combined, producing an emotive ratio (positive/negative) for each narrative. 30 birth stories were analyzed. All narrators indicated desire for vaginal delivery. During delivery, 17 women indicated “self” or “self with others” as loci of control, 11 indicated “others”, and 2 indicated “chance”. 15 birth stories contained positive, 4 neutral, and 11 negative emotive ratios. Positive emotive ratios were associated with “self” loci of control; negative emotive ratios were associated with “other” or “chance” loci of control. Outcomes consistent with a stated goal (vaginal delivery) support actualized agency. Overall, narrators experienced a significantly more vaginal deliveries than the US population (86.7% v 67.8%). “Self” loci of control and positive emotive ratios were associated with vaginal delivery. This suggests that women who perceive themselves as the loci of control express more positive emotive utterances and are more likely to experience vaginal delivery, enacting agency in labor and delivery. Conversely, cesarean delivery may be associated with “other” and “chance” loci of control and negative emotive ratios. Greater sample size is needed to confirm these trends.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | Leave a comment

My Partner and I: Commitment Terminology within Evolving Heteronormative Linguistic Contexts

My Partner and I: Commitment Terminology within Evolving Heteronormative Linguistic Contexts

Beau Kromberg

The terminology used to define committed relationships is changing rapidly in order to encompass a variety of relationships that exist outside of the heterosexual community. Drawing on work in sociolinguistic, feminist, and queer theory, this research investigates how the selection of relationship terminology is motivated by the avoidance of taboo, relationship expectations, and the negotiation of one’s own identity. Further investigation into the use of the word “partner” in both heterosexual and homosexual dating profiles highlights thematic aspects of the term “partner”, in order to argue for the continued proliferation of the word as a relationship term within both communities. Through inquiry centered around a single word, this work elaborates on the complexities of selecting relationship terms in a heteronormative society that is evolving to acknowledge relationships that were previously peripheral.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment