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.


Scrabble, globalization, dopeness

11 09 2009

Ha, grassroots cultural productions. Does it get any better than this? Case in point: the global trajectory and flavor of Scrabble, a laid-back.be production. What started as a blog post, grew into a Japanese remix and materialized as a 7 inch. Floats my boat. If only I had a record player.

Language and media session @ J21C

17 07 2009

A small but interested turnout at yesterday’s session on language and media at the Journalism in the 21st Century conference at the University of Melbourne (Law Building – fantastic venue for a conference). Nice diversity of papers, great discussion afterwards. Here are a few of my impressions.

1. Van Hout, Tom, Ghent University, Belgium
Quality Churnalism: Ethnographic Insights into Business News Production
Here is my presentation – adapted slightly at the last minute to fit the 15 minute presentation time slot.

2. Burger, Marcel, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Conflicting Journalistic Styles and Textual Production: The Oral Negotiations Preceding the Inscription of Media

Marcel really impressed the audience with his data. Recurring question during the discussion afterwards: how in the world did you get this sort of access?

3. McKay, Susan & Fitzgerald, Richard, The University of Queensland, Australia
News Language in Contemporary Media Environments

How do broadcast news media target niche audiences? Answer: by converging production formats with consumption formats. The news studio has become a domestic space of consumption, complete with arm chairs, dinner tables and sofas – and the conversationalized register that these settings elicit.

4. Owen, Thomas, Massey University, New Zealand
Representations of Global Governance in Press Coverage of the Access to Medicines Debate

A corpus analytical study of a (quintessentially) globalized public discourse: access to medicines. Thomas is a very talented speaker and his data speak to issues of governance, agency, equality and nation-states.

Two observations:

  • 15 min. presentation time and 5 min of Q&A is really short. I’m much more comfortable in the traditional 20min-10min format.
  • I would like to blog about another presentation I saw, but honestly, it is beyond my descriptive abilities.


SBS Radio and @UOMmedia are providing excellent live coverage of the J21C conference.

A sound sociolinguistics of globalization

11 07 2009

I am still jetlagged and so I read everything from movie reviews to working papers on language diversity:

I would suggest that a sound sociolinguistics of globalization should not  just look at the world and its languages, but also to the world and its registers, genres, repertoires and styles, if it wants to have any empirical grounding. It is in small-scale, niched phenomena such as the ones considered here [i.e. the language ideologies of American accent websites, TVH] that we see real language: language that is invested by real-world interests and language that matters to real people.

Jan Blommaert (WPLD 8, p17). And no, this quote does not induce sleep. But let’s try anyway – otherwise I won’t get to see anything of Melbourne during daylight.

Globalized emotions: WeFeelFine.org

22 06 2009

Am doing backflips over Judy Sims’ presentation about new media economics. She draws mainly on Havas Media Lab’s Umair Haque (whom I had not heard of previously, thanks Judy). In Media 2.0, abundance rules supreme, as opposed to scarcity in Media 1.0. This abundance creates endless niches which can snowball (a crucial word) into mega niches.

Judy talks about 3 types of snowball triggering entities: smart aggregators, micro-platforms, and

Re-constructors – Sites that take the micro-media chunks and reconstruct them into something of new value.  My favourite example of this is We Feel Fine, …

Go ahead. Click the link. Wait for the application to load and enjoy this “artwork authored by everyone“. Re-entextualization. That’s what’s up.

Intro to Part I – News cultures in flux

9 05 2009

***This is an outdated version. Please do not cite or reproduce in any way.***

This is the second post in which I test the PhD waters. This time, I’m making a draft version of my introduction available (slightly adapted to a blog friendly format). A complete table of contents can be found here. Any and all comments are welcome. On a regular basis, I will post sections and outtakes until you are bored stiff. I am already way past that stage.

Introduction to Part I: News cultures in flux (version 9 May 2009)

The globalization of journalism is a two-faced Janus. The first face is abuzz with the creative promise and transformative potential of technological innovation. In essence, the development of ‘new media’ technologies such as content management systems, weblogs, feed readers, podcasts, news aggregators and other internet applications has revolutionized journalism and other forms of public communication such as public relations, advertising and politics. This digital revolution has paved the way for new journalistic practices like online and citizen journalism. It has also produced cultural shifts in news production and consumption. Read the rest of this entry »

JB talks hip hop and globalization

13 04 2009

Jan Blommaert‘s latest book project (scheduled to appear in the Cambridge Approaches to Language Contact series and available as a Word file here) is once again a theoretical tour de force.  In A Sociolinguistics of Globalization, he formulates a theory of language which tackles space (geography) and time (history). Here’s what he has to say about the global spread of hip hop (links added).

Hiphop (Pennycook‘s main target of analysis) is a case in point. It is a multimodal (or better: transmodal) semiotics of music, lyrics, movements and dress, that articulates political and sub-cultural anti-hegemonic rebellion as well as aesthetics, a philosophy of life and a particular range of identities; that has its origins in the US inner cities among African-American youths but has spread all over the world and appears everywhere in a recognizable form, in spite of very significant local differences. Hiphop artists all over the world use similar patterns of semiotic conduct (including the use of English stock terms and expressions), but wherever it occurs, Hiphop offers new potential for local identity formation (see also Richardson 2007). What happens with Hiphop is therefore “the global spread of authenticity” (Pennycook 2007: 96ff), not just a flat distribution of cultural forms, but a layered distribution in which local forces are as important as global ones. There is always “a compulsion not only to make hip-hop locally relevant but also to define locally what authenticity means” (id.: 98), and while many ‘global’ (including English) features of Hiphop are adopted in this search for authenticity, many others are rejected as well, and alongside the globalized African-American English Hiphop register we often see the emergence of similar registers in the local languages as well, sometimes (like in Tanzania) leading to a new, localized, fully-fledged vernacular Hiphop tradition.