Welcome to the General Linguistics Discussion Group (GLDC). The GLDC offers linguists in the subfields of linguistics opportunities to discuss a broad range of topics relating to the nature of human language and its scientific study. This group may also interest those whose study is interdisciplinary and combines with linguistics subfields. The opportunity to serve on the Executive Committee (ExCo) of the GLDC is governed by the bylaws of the MLA. Members of your subfield or interdisciplinary field may wish to serve on this ExCo and guide our future discussions and meetings.

Abstracts for General Linguistics Panel ‘New Approaches to Vernacular Languages in the US’, Vancouver, 2015

Hans Boas, University of Texas at Austin (co-authored with Marc Pierce, Ryan Dux, Margo Blevins, Collin Brown, Matthias Fingerhuth, and Adams LaBorde): The Texas German Dialect Archive, Fourteen Years Later

This paper presents the Texas German Dialect Archive (TGDA), an on-line multimedia archive founded at the University of Texas at Austin in 2001, which currently contains 800 hours of interview recordings (including transcriptions and translations) with more than 440 speakers of present-day Texas German. The first part gives a historical overview of the development of the Texas German community, starting with the arrival of the first German immigrants in Texas in the 1830s and continuing to the present, when Texas German is critically endangered. The second part describes the workflow of the Texas German Dialect Project, which aims to document and archive the remnants of Texas German. Its goals are (1) to preserve the Texas German dialect; (2) to gather information about linguistic diversity; (3) to provide information about language differences and language change for public and educational interests; and (4) to use the collected material for educational programs. The first stage of the project involves recording sociolinguistic interviews with the remaining fluent speakers of Texas German. The second stage consists of digitizing the interviews, and the final stage consists of storing the interviews in an on-line database in combination with 35 metadata variables that can be used to search the database. Part three of the paper discusses how the Texas German Dialect Archive (http://www.tgdp.org) is used for linguistic research, in courses in German(ic) and general linguistics, and for community outreach programs throughout central Texas.

Jhonni Carr, University of California at Los Angeles, ‘The Vernaculars of Koreatown: Language Contact in the Linguistic Landscape’

Located in Central Los Angeles, Koreatown has one of the densest populations in the city (Sanchez 2012). However, Koreans are the ethnic minority, comprising 22 percent of the population, while, at 58 percent, Latinos constitute the majority. Consequently, Koreatown is a trilingual neighborhood in which Spanish, Korean, and English vernaculars are regularly seen and heard.
A fairly innovative approach to investigating the vernacular languages of a given region lies in the field of Linguistic Landscape (LL) studies. Still in its early stages, LL studies investigate signs with written text, visible in outdoor public spaces, which are known as LL texts (Franco-Rodríguez 2009). It has the communicative freedom of informal speech without the formal limitations of written language (Franco-Rodríguez 2009); thus, it is a vernacular in its written form. While qualitative research of the Korean language in the Linguistic Landscape of Koreatown has been conducted (Lee 2014), a quantitative investigation of the Spanish, English, and Korean languages in the public space has yet to be carried out.

Using a corpus of over 400 LL texts coming from Koreatown, the present study analyzes public signs to see the languages’ degree of ethnolinguistic vitality. A preliminary analysis shows that both vernacular Spanish and Korean enjoy a high degree of public utility, as demonstrated by their frequent use in the informative section, the part of the LL text that provides necessary pragmatic information. English tends to predominate in the main section (i.e. the most visually prominent portion where the main idea of the sign is displayed), signifying its prestige, ethnolinguistic pressure, and globalization (Franco-Rodríguez 2009).

Silvia Marijuan, Georgetown University, ‘Spanish vernacular use in college L2 language classrooms amongst Spanish heritage speakers in Washington, DC’

Whereas the role of vernacular Spanish in learning has been investigated in relation to Latino children taking part in bilingual education programs in the US (Sayer 63), an area which remains unexplored in relation to vernacular Spanish amongst adult Latino populations is how Spanish heritage speakers taking L2 Spanish courses at the university level cope with the standard variety taught in L2 language classrooms. In such instructional language-contact situations there is a complex interplay between the heritage identity display, the heritage language – usually informal and non-standard – that heritage speakers maintain as a unique resource of linguistic knowledge (Rothman 156-57), and the perceived prestige and social attitudes towards the standard variety. The complexity of such sociolinguistic phenomena calls for research investigating the influence of previous linguistic experience on language development and cognition (usage-based approach to SLA) and the potential presence of a fluid move between the vernacular and the standard – bidialectalism – as a constitutive part of heritage speakers’ multiple identities (sociocultural approach to code-switching). In my research, I adopt a usage-based sociocultural approach to Spanish vernacular in Spanish heritage speakers, and I analyze data from sociolinguistic questionnaires and interviews from second-generation Latino college students living in the Washington DC area. Quantitative and qualitative analyses are integrated to answer questions on how and when vernacular Spanish is used by heritage speakers in L2 advanced Spanish courses; and what relevant linguistic aspects (e.g., phonology vs. lexicon) are perceived as more identitarian as well as more susceptible to stigmatization by the standard norm.

Amelia Tseng, American University, ‘Urban diaspora, language contact, and emergent vernaculars: Latino English in Washington, D.C.’

Emergent dialects in immigration contexts offer important insight into language contact, vernacular development, and the relationship between language systems, language practices, and identity. In this paper, I examine stylistic usage of contact-origin Latino English features in consecutive immigrant generations in Washington, D.C. While research in this area offers insights into dialect development in the hyper-diverse, multilingual, and transnational modern reality, it remains relatively understudied in terms of American vernaculars. I apply a mixed-methods approach integrating quantitative variation methods and qualitative discourse analysis to the mid-front vowel /ae/, a phonetic feature with contrastive realizations in “general” American and Latino English vernaculars. By addressing the relationship between quantitative patterns and attitudinal motivations for variation, this integrated approach provides a more complete sociophonetic understanding of “standard” and “ethnolectal” variation in different interactional contexts, with implications for feature transfer in subsequent generations of speakers and dialect coalescence. Findings indicate 1) a language contact/transfer aspect and 2) stylistic variation by topic and interactional context, where phonetic variation serves as a contextualization cue indexing locally-relevant social meanings to create group formation and moral (re)positioning. These results address the relationship between language and identity in multilingual and multicultural contexts, implying that social ideologies about cultural groups and “types of people” may influence the retention and deployment of contact-induced features in subsequent generations. They therefore shed light into the influence of social and linguistic ideologies on the development of vernacular language systems, and underscore the importance of integrated research methods in understanding dialect coalescence.

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