DiO Workshop on CMC and style

24 11 2009

A successful conference in September 2009, a new logo and invitation template and a new workshop series. Things are looking up for Discourse in Organizations. On 11 December, Michael Opgenhaffen (Lessius/K.U. Leuven) will give a DiO talk on presentation style in computer-mediated communication. Participation is free as of this year. Drop us a line if you’d like to attend the workshop at the Modern Chinese Art Foundation.





Deconstructing Martha Stewart’s style

19 11 2009

Lovely paper by Jennifer Sclafani in the latest issue of the Journal of Sociolinguistics. Sclafani investigates “parodies of a linguistic style that has been attributed to the ideological construct of the ‘Good Woman’ (Eckert 2004), as it is used by lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewart” (2009: 615).

Using Lakoff’s list speech elements typical of Woman’s Language (which I am reproducing below, just for the fun of it), Sclafani illustrates how Martha Stewart parodies exploit these features to expose Martha Stewart’s ‘Bad Woman’ alter ego.

1. lexical items related specifically to women’s interests (e.g. dollop, mandolin);
2. hedges (you could, if you like);
3. hypercorrect grammar (British pronunciation of herb with initial /h/ aspirated intervocalic /t/);
4. superpolite forms (double-thanking guests, i.e. ‘thank you, thank you very much’);
5. no joking;
6. speaking in italics (i.e. using emphatic stress);
7. the use of intensive ‘so’ (these are so tasty);
8. empty adjectives (gorgeous, utterly fantastic);
9. wider intonation range; and
10. question intonation in declaratives.

(Sclafani 2009: 617)

Sclafani, Jennifer (2009). Martha Stewart behaving Badly: Parody and the symbolic meaning of style. Journal of Sociolinguistics 13 (5): 613-633.





Presenting: DiO Workshops 2009-2010

12 11 2009

DiO2009-2010





Negotiating client No. 9 news discourse

7 11 2009

I am one of the 28,492 people who follow NYU Professor of Journalism Jay Rosen’s tweets. Jay is well-known for launching the People Formerly Knows As The Audience acronym and for mindcasting instead of lifecasting on Twitter. He also has a knack for curating content.

The Gawker story Jay recently linked to is a remarkable piece of investigative journalism (in itself a practice many ‘journalism-is-dead’ advocates never thought would be possible online). The story reconstructs the off-the-record email traffic that ensued when the Eliot Spitzer story broke. Mark Peterson calls it “unwriteable discourse”, Gawker calls it a “the inside of a PR meltdown”.  A recommended and surprisingly cordial tale of news management:

You’d think that, with blood in the water, the traditional coziness that develops between official flacks and the beat reporters who have to talk to them every day would break down into some kind of last-man-standing slugfest. But in the Spitzer case, the opposite happened. The revelations upended the worlds of both reporter and flack alike, and the uncertainty, long hours, and breakneck pace of the scandal actually seemed to throw them together as they worked toward what seems, if you read the e-mail exchanges, like a common goal of getting the news out and behind them.





Michael McIntyre on indexical order

12 10 2009

I have written about this before, but Michael Silverstein’s concept of indexical order is so good it makes me smile. Indexical order refers to the normativity of meaning relations: it is the ‘principle’ that bestows discourse with a particular meaning in a particular context.

Registers are a case in point. For instance, Jane Hill (2005: 114) has illustrated that mock Spanish has at least two indexicalities: a first-order indexicality that is usually associated with qualities of speakers of Spanish. However, when used by English speakers, words like ‘mañana’ can take on a pejorative second-order indexicality of laziness and ‘taking it easy’.

This sort of stereotyping also works in posh English, as illustrated by British comedian Michael McIntyre.

Hill, Jane (2005). Intertextuality as source and evidence for indirect indexical meanings. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 15: 113–24.
Silverstein, Michael (2003). Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life. Language & Communication 23 (3-4): 193-229.





Hope for a generation (of sociolinguists)

7 10 2009

I think the world of sociolinguistics and other forms sociocultural scholarship on language. And so I am pleased to learn of languageonthemove.com, “a collaborative space where research on language and communication in multicultural and transnational contexts can be shared, brainstormed, discussed and disseminated.”

The ‘portal’ is managed by Ingrid Piller and Kimie Takahashi and comes with a blog, conference announcements, resources, and an award for aspiring sociolinguists:

Each year we would like to present two young researchers in the field with the chance to “play” with us on Language on the Move. We will feature the awardees’ work prominently on the site and mentor them over the course of one year to take your research (and your research writing!) to “the next level” – whatever that “next level” may be. The mentoring relationship is designed to be informal, related to the dissemination of your work, and to complement and support your existing supervision arrangements but not to infringe upon those in any way. Oh, and we’ll also throw in a book voucher at the end of the year.

Lovely idea. Then again, so is this.





DiO Workshop day III: final plenaries

18 09 2009

Four, yes four, plenary presentations were scheduled on the Friday afternoon. Two corpus linguistic studies kicked off the written corporate communication theme. Birgitta Meex & Heidi Verplaetse (Lessius/KULeuven) compared German and English corporate mission statements. Berna Hendriks & Margot Van Mulken (University of Nijmegen) then presented an analysis of CEO communication.

The final two presentations were on…journalism. Ha! Martina Temmerman & Els Belsack (Erasmus University College Brussels) talked about positioning and self-representation during televised political interviews. Finally, Ellen Van Praet (Ghent University) and yours truly went the reflective/methodological route. We opted not to present micro data and instead focus on the pros and cons of secondary analysis.

Thank you: Geert, Katja, Craig, Chris, Sylvain, Priscilla and all the delegates for coming out. Hope to see you again at a DiO event.








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