The MSU sociolinguists were well represented at NWAV 46 this year. We also had a great time catching up with the many MSU alumni and associates who were there, and hearing the work of many of the senior researchers in the field. Congratulations to everyone from MSU for some really good papers!
MSU sociolinguists have been busy this summer already! Here are a few updates, with more to follow.
There was a special session on panel studies at the recent International Conference on Methods in Dialectology XV in Groningen, Netherlands. The session, Panel Studies: Challenges, Food for Thought and Ways Forward, was co-organized by Suzanne Wagner (MSU) and Isabelle Buchstaller (University of Leipzig). Panel studies collect data from the same individuals at multiple time-points, and are a crucial tool for understanding how individual linguistic change intersects with community language change. Yet they are difficult to undertake, presenting a wealth of issues in data collection and analysis.
The participants included Patricia Cukor-Avila, Frans Gregersen, John Rickford, Malcah Yaeger-Dror and many others. Topics ranged from appropriate statistical and acoustic methods, to the changing interviewer-participant relationship, to making use of unexpected sources of data. The contributions to the session will appear in an edited volume to be published by Routledge Ltd, along with other specially commissioned chapters -- one of them from MSU Anthropology professor Chantal Tetreault.
Sociolinguistics faculty Peter De Costa (Second Language Studies), Camelia Suleiman (Arabic) and Suzanne Evans Wagner (Linguistics) have received seed funding from the MSU College of Arts and Letters as part of the nationwide Humanities Without Walls initiative. The funds will be used this summer to support student fieldworkers as they record interviews of immigrant experience with speakers of Chinese, Arabic and Nepali in south-east Michigan. MA TESOL student Hima Rawal will be working in the Nepali-speaking community; PhD Linguistics student Mingzhe Zheng will work in the Chinese-speaking community; and MSU Arabic Flagship co-ordinator Anas Attal and two undergraduates will work in the Arabic-speaking community. Watch this space....
Suzanne Wagner was an invited speaker on a faculty panel entitled "What Divides Us/What Unites Us" on Tuesday, April 8th. The session, which was open to the public, was sponsored by the MSU Honors College as part of its "Sharper Focus/Wider Lens" series.
Suzanne talked about the ways in which language serves to unify all humans, while also reflecting (and sometimes creating) divisions among us.
Video of the event is here.
Suzanne Wagner will be convening a workshop on panel studies at the International Conference on Methods in Dialectology XV on Friday, August 15th, 2014. Her co-organizer is Isabelle Buchstaller of the University of Leipzig. The workshop is titled Panel studies: Challenges, food for thought and ways forward and will feature presentations by Patricia Cukor-Avila, Jonathan Harrington, Frans Gregersen, John Rickford, Walt Wolfram, Sali Tagliamonte, Malcah Yaeger-Dror and others. It is hoped that the workshop will provide an opportunity for researchers who have been engaged in panel studies to share their experiences, and to lay out some best practices for future researchers in this area. The guiding questions of the workshop include:
This morning, Suzanne Wagner gave a short summary of her work on adolescents' and young adults' use of the -ing suffix. It was a challenge to say it all in just one minute! The Academic Minute is broadcast by WAMC Northeast Public Radio, and features a new one-minute talk by a researcher every weekday. Previous talks have included "Hate Speech and Free Speech", "Night Owls and Morning People", "Who Controls the Internet" and "Observing Embryonic Development", among many others. Listen to Suzanne's talk, "Non-standard Speech and Higher Education".
MSU has sent out a press release on Suzanne Evans Wagner's work on age grading in late adolescence. The release, titled "Adolescents under pressure to speak 'properly'" reports on Wagner's finding that high schoolers who plan to attend nationally-oriented colleges (as opposed to regional or local colleges) start adjusting their speech in a more standard direction before graduation. This finding holds even when speakers' social class is controlled for.
Wagner was interviewed on Thursday, December 6th for a local radio news station, and the story is making its way around internet news outlets.
The second half of fall semester 2012 has been fun and busy. Here are some of the highlights:
Ashley Hesson and Suzanne Evans Wagner convened a panel session this weekend at GURT 2012. The panel, titled "Using physician-patient interviews for quantitative sociolinguistic analysis: a methodological check-up" featured contributions from Heidi Hamilton and Wen-ying Sylvia Chou who are co-editors of the forthcoming Handbook of Language and Health Communication (Routledge), as well as from Robert Podesva and Robert Lannon. Ashley and Suzanne's collaborators J. Daniel Hasty and Norma Mendoza-Denton were also represented. The panel was followed by a discussion of how best to bring together qualitative and quantitative analysts to solve healthcare communication problems, and how to access large databases of doctor-patient conversation.
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.