Undergraduate students in LIN 471 Sociolinguistics today heard a guest lecture from Dr Carol Myers-Scotton, emerita professor of Linguistics at Michigan State. The theme in class this week was multilingualism. Dr Myers-Scotton is a world-renowned scholar of code-switching: the practice of switching between languages across social contexts and utterances and within sentences. Students heard about her experiences collecting data in Uganda and Kenya, and learned from many interesting naturalistic examples about the social motivations for code-switching. We saw speakers switching between English, Swahili and other languages to create or close social distance; assert authority; gain privileges; show respect; deliberately offend, and much more. Many thanks to Dr Myers-Scotton for giving us her time today!
The 43rd NWAV (New Ways of Analyzing Variation) featured six workshops, three keynote addresses, a poster session, eight blocks of oral paper session and the showing of Walt Wolfram’s Cherokee revitalization documentary.
This year's conference honored Walt Wolfram for his dedication to his students, the field of linguistics and teaching linguistic awareness to the masses. A festschrift in honor of Shana Poplack was dedicated by her students and colleagues. The last dedication was in honor of Bill Labov, via serenade by conference participants, on the occasion of his non-retirement!
There were many innovative studies presented during the 4-day long conference. Of particular interest to the MSU Sociolinguistics Lab, was the overwhelming number of presentations dedicated to the NCS. These studies ranged in scope from NCS production, attitudes toward the shift and attempts at pinpointing the origin of the NCS. During a panel presentation, Bill Labov introduced some of the current NCS studies being conducted in the field and offered a suggestion that the NCS may be in retraction in some parts of the United States. He concluded his talk with an ominous cliff-hanger: "Is the sun rising or setting on the Northern Cities Shift?”.
The Northern Cities Shift, while interesting, was not the only topic of discussion among NWAVers. Many talks centered around language attitudes, some offered physiological accounts of sociolinguistic phenomenon and a few (including Madeline Shellgren's panel discussion) proposed new techniques for future sociolinguistic analysis.
Ms. Shellgren was among several MSU faculty and students presenting at this year's NWAV. Other presenting Spartans included Dr. Gabriela Alfaraz (Spanish), Dr. Suzanne Evans Wagner (Linguistics), Ashley Hesson (PhD Linguistics) and Dr. Denise Troutman (Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures and Linguistics).
Many thanks to all who attended this year's NWAV. Pictures from the conference can be found in our gallery.
NWAV 44, will be in Toronto next year (October 2015). We hope to represent MSU in full force!
Who we are
We are faculty and students interested in language variation and change at Michigan State University in the departments of Linguistics & Languages, Romance & Classical Studies, Anthropology, Education and beyond.