CFP: 22nd Annual HLBLL Graduate Student Conference

Over the Wall/Saltar el muro:
Compromiso público y academia/Public Engagement & Academia

In current debates, the idea of a wall becomes a point of discussion from which to explore the relationship between public engagement and academia. Are the walls that separate intellectual, linguistic, artistic, social, and political practices insurmountable? What other metaphors of the wall speak to us? How do we imagine these metaphors and what forms do they take? Who constructs them and who challenges them? When are they useful and when are they not? How do we cross them?

This conference proposes to jump over, perforate, cross, and tear down walls. It invites us to transgress academic hermeticism in order to overcome isolation and promote reflection on intellectual work, its social dimension and its relationship with the public. Through original investigations, we hope to discuss limits and their forms, whether they be self-imposed or constructed, and strategies to overcome these limits.

In order to approach these issues, we seek to reflect on the following themes, without limiting ourselves to them:

  • Language of the wall and walls of language
  • Points of departure for outlining walls
  • Public engagement or “just another brick in the wall”
  • Glotopolitics and other sociolinguistic challenges
  • Contemporary language mapping
  • Multilinguism and the preservation of languages
  • Translation, demolitions and acculturations
  • Identity, immigration and culture
  • lntertextuality/intermediality/interdisciplinarity
  • Walls and coloniality
  • Gender/Género/Genre walls
  • Bodies and walls
  • Jumping over walls in performing practices
  • Social networks: the virtual wall
  • Walls and urban practices

The doctoral students of the PhD Program in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York invite you to submit abstracts (250 words) to congreso.hlbll.cuny@gmail.com before 01/15/2017. In the body of the email, please include your name, contact information, academic affiliation and any needed audiovisual equipment. Your presentations are limited to a maximum of 20 minutes and can be presented in Spanish, English or Portuguese.



CFP: 22nd Annual HLBLL Graduate Student Conference

Blog Entry on readings about Metapragmatics and Reflexivity

Warning compañerxs, you will find multiple orthographic errors and all kids of incoherencias!

“People differ in their normative sense of what should carry where” (Blommaert and Rampton, 2011)

In this week’s readings set up under the topics of Metapragmatics and Reflexivity, a great amount of concepts discussed this semester come out again. Enregisterment, authenticity, normativity, stylization, online and offline communication, superdiversity, crossing, etc. Perhaps one concept that was not considered as a keyword in these articles is race. In Smokoski’s thesis, the author problematizes the concept of race  and places it in the core of the analysis. Parenthesis, ¡Qué ganas de leer a Arthur Spears! Raza, race, racism, hate crimes everywhere. Let us keep in mind the current event, well, current? This has been around for a long time…

Now, retaking the readings, in Reflexivity in Facebook interaction–Enregisterment across written and spoken language practices, Stæhr draws on the concepts of normativity and enregisterment and looks at how these processes take place in online Facebook, and offline interactions among a group of young kids in the Danish society. He underlines the importance of understanding how the “rules” to communicate are changing. According Stæhr, “Facebook interactions are an indispensable contribution to our knowledge of how different forms of language convey social meaning”  (34). Within this frame, the author considers stylizations and reflexivity are central to understand the relation to social media and the construction of identities. Another interesting notion presented in the context of these group of kids is the notion of crossing, and this makes me wonder several things: Who, how, and why are some allowed to “cross the social boundaries? Who validates their transgressions of social and group limits? Who decides that a linguistic repertoire can be appropriate by one or another? What is the “limit” of the linguistics rights? How comments serve to perpetuate racial stereotypes?

But let’s continue. From this article I highlight the call to research how is language use in both contexts portrait and used? Is it part of a continuum? Why are we so obsessed with compartmentalize everything? Perhaps the registers, styles and functions to convey meaning in every group are not that different and are part of a continuum that we insist in keeping separate for research purposes, I guess?

Perhaps this has nothing to do with the interests of the journal where the articles are published, perhaps this is a topic that does not concern to this group of researches but yet again, one of the things that I believe this article misses its the problematization of the concept of race, the scant reference to migration and inequality.

Ok, I totally forgot that this blog has to be 500 words and I still have a lot to say! Let’s summarize… Now, in Kytölä, S., & Westinen, E. article, “I be da reel gansta”—A Finnish footballer’s Twitter writing and metapragmatic evaluations of authenticity, the authors discuss how the notion of authenticity is constructed and negotiated and normatively regulated in those two digital platforms. The English language use by a soccer player is associated to the hip hop and soccer culture having as backdrop the concepts of mobility and globalization. I found interesting the use of the words polylingual, centers, and polycentricity in the construction of identities, of  (dis)placed, (in)mobile humans beigns…

Ahora, ‘keepin’ it real’ in Voicing the other: Mock AAVE on social media, Smokoski brings a very interesting research about AVVE. She argues that, “examining outgroup AAVE use reveals which features of the variety have become iconic of it in the minds of White, European American speakers of ‘standard’ or mainstream American English, and cataloguing the topics it is used to discuss reveals its intertextual meaning: an image of a stereotypical AAVE speaker (9). I found particularly fascinating the way that she connects Hill’s studies on mock Spanish to her research and how she places the concept of race throughout her work.

I would like to end this messy, long blog entry with a quote taken from Smokoski’s thesis. This darker times called us compañerxs, there’s so much work to do, let’s don’t forget what is outside academia

“Instead of studying how African Caribbeans, Asians and Anglos use language, either together or on their own, we need to look at the role that language plays when humans interact together in situations where (a) discourses of race and ethnicity have currency (impacting on the distribution of material and symbolic resources, circulating in local, national and global networks), where (b) they’re potentially relevant to the participants (classifying and rating them differently), where (c) the participants may want or happen to activate these associations, but where (d) they might also have other things on their minds, or have come to an understanding that neutralizes the personal impact that these discourses can have (Rampton, 3).

This darker times called us compañerxs, there’s so much work to do, let’s don’t forget what is outside academia

Oh! And here is one of the videos mentioned in Smokoski’s work, just in case you are curious, “All Black Everything” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71McnVwWPwU

Also, I found this this week as I was reading the articles and I thought it could be interesting for someone. This is a whole new thing to me and I think it’s fascinating and worth to take a look even just out of curiosity https://video.vice.com/en_us/video/noisey-blackpool-the-controversial-rise-of-blackpool-grime/58060771227b7c35598b0d56?ref=noisey


Kytölä, S., & Westinen, E. (2015). “I be da reel gansta”—A Finnish footballer’s Twitter writing and metapragmatic evaluations of authenticity. Discourse, Context & Media, 8, 6–19.

Smokoski, H. L. (2016). Voicing the other: Mock AAVE on social media. Unpublished master’s thesis. CUNY Graduate Center, New York.

Stæhr, A. (2015). Reflexivity in Facebook interaction–Enregisterment across written and spoken language practices. Discourse, Context & Media, 8, 30–45.

Facebook, Space, and Place


After our discussion on embodiment last week, we move on to the recognition of emplacement in sociolinguistic studies of computer-mediated communications. In this blog, I will use some of the concepts I have extrapolated from this week’s readings to briefly explore the check-in feature of Facebook as a form of geotagging and the Facebook space in general.



Over the past two decades, scholarships in various fields of globalization studies have tended to deemphasize place while highlighting mobility. Sociolinguists of this week’s readings are writing against such erasure of place by foregrounding its significance even in virtual landscape of Internet presumed as physically detached and dislocated. Theresa Heyd and Mirka Honkanen’s (2015) “From Naija to Chitown: The New African Diaspora and digital representations of place” studies an emergent online community of the New African Diaspora (NAD) and analyzes their linguistic strategies to evoke and encode space and place. Pia Quist’s (n.d.) “Alternative place naming in the super-diverse margins of an ideologically mono-lingual society” attends to the superdiverse contact zones at the city’s margins and their place-based polylinguality in the context of Denmark. She examines youngsters’ linguistic and stylistic means of claiming local ownership, paying special attention to their practice of “alternative place naming”.


Semiotics of Checking in

Since 2010, Facebooks has launched the feature of “check in” that enables its users to make use of their mobile phones, computers, and other electronic devices installed with GPS and the Facebook application to locate themselves. The check-in feature offers a list of suggestions upon request, and users can search for an option that matches their idea of the location. It is embedded within the algorithm of advertisement as well.

While checking in can be set as automatic, the deliberate choice to check in for record, display, announcement, and other purposes is worthy of semiotic and performance studies. I ask questions about why, when, where, with whom do Facebook users check in. Based on my initial understanding about geotagging of photos, the specificity of time and space of a Facebook photo contributes to the identification of the photo, including any human figure in it. In other words, it is not only temporal-spatial information but also sociocultural, indexical, etc. meanings that are being conveyed by checking in.

“Is Facebook a Third Place? A Conversation with Jim Shoff of Queens”: https://youtu.be/kmV_2IAxZEM
Facebook as a Space or Place

In our class today, we may discuss the question of how the Internet itself or its platform constitutes not only a virtual linguistic landscape of uneven development (see Deumert 2014), but a sui generis space of e.g. context collapse (Marwick and boyd 2010). Heyd and Honkanen (2015: 16) have observed that the web with its community structures may figure “a perceived place of stability”, hence satisfying an anchoring function in the symbolic way. Dmitri Williams and Constance A. Steinkuehler (2006) in ‘Where Everybody Knows Your (Screen) Name: Online Games as “Third Places”’ examines multiplayer online games (MMOs) and compares their structural similarity to Ray Oldenburg’s (1999) notion of “third places” of informal sociability. My question is: Is Facebook a third place? Facebook users can enter or leave the social media at any time and choose to participate in conversations or not. However, can we say that Facebook is a space beyond the workplace and living place? How is Facebook similar with and different from MMOs based on the criteria listed in Steinkuehler and Williams’ article?


Concluding Thoughts

Embodiment and emplacement are fundamental human experiences. Instead of assuming a primordial, essentialist body, space, and place, readings of these two weeks have adopted a constructivist approach to the study of body-making and place-making. Further researches on the role of sociotechnical affordances of the new media would be beneficial in enhancing our understanding of embodying and emplacing Internet users.



Deumert, Ana. 2014. Sociolinguistics and Mobile Communication. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh UP, 2014.

Heyd, Theresa, and Mirka Honkanen. 2015. “From Naija to Chitown: The New African Diaspora and Digital Representations of Place.” Discourse, Context & Media 9: 14-23. Web.

Marwick, Alice E. and danah boyd. 2011. “I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience.” New Media & Society 13:114-133.

Oldenburg, Ray. 1999. The Great Good Place: Cafés, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community. New York: Marlowe.

Pia Quist’s. n.d. “Alternative place naming in the super-diverse margins of an ideologically mono-lingual society”.

Steinkuehler, Constance A., and Dmitri Williams. “Where Everybody Knows Your (Screen) Name: Online Games as “Third Places”” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 11.4 (2006): 885-909. Web.



The readings for this week discuss the relationship between language and the representation of the body. Locher, Jucker and Berger (2015) investigate spatial literacy in the online interaction of newbies in the game Second Life.  Different elements like choosing the avatar and its movement define the participants’ interaction. How different such interaction between the virtual world and the physical world? It seems that some aspects like reading the facial expressions is not informative in the virtual world where text chatting can be sufficient regardless of the position of the avatars.  However, the avatars can indicate the desire to talk by turning to other participating avatars or by using gestures. In this sense, the virtual world draws from the body language in the physical world.

This comparison between the virtual space and the physical space brought my attention to the various ways profile images on social networks embody language. On Youtube and Twitter, Muslim women whether Arabs or non-Arabs would not necessarily choose avatars representative of the way they appear in real life with regard to their Islamic attire. This could be because they view virtual space as totally different sphere where social or religious norms don’t take place or that the virtual space provides an opportunity to restrict the body image. This view, however, can clash with other interlocutors especially when certain posts discuss religious and social identities. Indeed, some interlocutors would not accept a religious advice from an interactant, for instance, without mentioning what they view as her “un-Islamic” avatar.  At the same time, what’s posted as “un-Islamic” avatar in a lot of cases may well be non-representative of the reality of self-image.  It is this contradictory portrayal between the “un-Islamic” avatar and the religious language used by the interactant that brings conflict in communication.

Additionally, a “non-Islamic” avatar could provide a Muslim woman to participate in all sorts of topics without being judged and therefore restricted by an Islamic attire. On the other hand, Muslim women choosing “Islamic” avatars almost always indexes restriction to the type of language she will use. A Muslim woman can choose different ways of “hijab”. Hijab, in Arabic, means a cover so by its nature it adopts certain limits on behavior and speech. This can be both represented in virtual space and physical space. The types of hijab can signal social and national identity, for example, the “niqab” (covering of the face except the eyes) which is widely spread among Muslim women in the gulf and Yemen or the “burqa” which can be found mainly in the gulf and mostly with Bedouin tribes .The “burqa” avatar is interesting because it’s usually worn by older women. Thus, a Muslim woman avatar with a “Burqa” will most likely signal her association with a Bedouin tribe or pride of her family traditions. A woman with the “burqa” avatar doesn’t necessarily indicate religiosity. In often cases, it signals the social identity as a tribal member. This can be reflected clearly with the Bedouin language a woman uses. Thus, as Heyd (2014) argues that identity and the sense of “belonging” is effectively present in the digital communication. In this instance, a woman with “burqa” avatar proudly displays a tribal identity and builds her online social construction on it.

code switching in CMC of diasporas as discussed by Hinrichs 2015

In this blog I am attempting at linking the theoretical discussion and framework of  code-switching as a linguistic phenomenon in CMC as discussed by Hinrichs 2015 to actual authentic examples from my recent personal experience of family loss and dealing with it, and the role of CMC in this regard. Due to cultural differences my examples my seem to have crossed the boundaries of what is unshareably intimate and private. However, in our Arabic culture, we are open to share our sentiments and our experiences of loss and pain with others, just like it is acceptable in another culture to talk about traumatizing experiences of being subjected to rape and sexual assault for example.

In his (2015) paper, Hinrichs proposes that written digital code switching (WDCS) is a product of globalization. He provides an account for code switching (CS) among multidialectal diasporic Jamaican bloggers as a stylistic/ linguistic practice rooted in social power and identities. He argues that WDCS, unlike CS in speech, is more carefully constructed and is marked by rhetoricity which, to him, means figurative language: a language conveying meaning which does not arise from direct reference to objects, but rather from imagery or “semiotic tropes such as metaphor, symbolism, iconicity, simile and metonym…” Figurative language is “more elaborate, unpredictable, creative and artful” requiring cognitive work and reflecting aesthetic principles. Rhetoricity reflects how multiple contrasting linguistic resources are combined in discourse.
Hinrichs cites Gumperz and explains how the latter differentiates between situational and metaphorical CS:
In situational CS, the bilingual/ bi-dialectal speakers/ writers choose the language/ dialect according to their addressee, topic, location, and other situational, psychological, emotional, social and cultural factors, following the bilingual community’s norms dictating which code would be appropriate. Situational CS, which is rare in digital discourse as Hinrichs argues, involves “a simple almost one-to-one relationship between language usage and social context”, de-emphasizing volitional switching. Situational CS is a reaction on the part of the speaker to changes in setting, topic, or addressee. Only few topics in CMD produce correlations with CS in predictable directions.
In metaphorical CS, speakers/ writers switch codes as if a feature/ variable of the situation (addressee, topic, location, etc.) has changed when in reality nothing has changed. Hinrichs argues that it is this type of CS that is used in CMC. It is a focusing device which works through contrast. In this type of CS, the meanings are constructed from “complex juxtapositions of intertextually embedded voices and stances” of others which we assimilate, rework and re-accentuate, according to both Bakhtin and Hinrichs. Hinrichs argues that construction of complex and hybrid voices is the most strongly rhetorical discourse function of CS in general.

Instead of dividing CS to situational and metaphorical, Hinrichs proposes categorizing types of switches into three types based on the notion of voice, intertextuality and heteroglossia. The first group consists of switches that construct meaning from contrast. The second and third groups are more rhetorical: the relation between the codes and the topic as well as the writer’s stance contribute to the interactional meaning.
In the first type, the switches signal to the reader that s/he needs to understand and contextualize stretches expressed in each language or variety differently. Switches between codes are not “jumps to external linguistic resources”; each code is rather an integral part of all the voices the speaker/ writer adopts or expresses.
The second type is the polyvocal CS, in which CS is used in contexts of intertextuality as a result of polyvocality. This type includes “switches through which either textual material form, of the voice of, an identifiable, concreate personal or textual source is integrated.” This includes switching for quotations, and quotations in turn serve different contextual and discourse purposes.
The third type, heteroglossic CS, refers to switches in which the other voice is an opaque source, not a concrete person or text. This type mostly manifests itself at the lexical level and indexes a sociocultural code. An example of this provided in the paper is when a young female narrates a story using one linguistic variety, and then comments on the story using another. This type of CS draws attention to the writer’s linguistic repertoire. Code switchers have access to a range of codes as diverse, different, and distant from one another, as the globalization nature of the communicative environments themselves. CS here reflects alternating between cultures. It is the most rhetorical and figurative type.
In conclusion, Hinrichs argues that the effect of globalization favor greater rhetoricity in WDCS behavior. “The transitional position of diasporic writers leads to more rhetoricity in diasporic writing…Electronic medium itself, as a site and agent of globalization, features rhetoricity.”
As we have seen the paper touches upon the notion of diglossia, which according to Fergurson is the co-existence of two mutually exclusive linguistic varieties of the same language in the same community. Arab communities in general are known to be diglossic with two forms or varieties of Arab, in addition to being bilingual or trilingual in some parts of the Arab world and among certain social groups. These two varieties of Arabic are selected by the speaker/ writer based on the situation, the topic, and the audience, etc. The two varieties are the Modern Standard Arabic MSA and the regional spoken dialect(s). MSA is the form used in writing books, newspaper and magazine articles, and official governmental forms. It is also the linguistic variety used for broadcasting the news on TV and the radio, in political or documentary programs, lecturing (though not always and not everywhere in the Arab world), formal religious ceremonies and other formal and official contexts in which education, politics, literature, or religion… is the core topic. Before the age of globalization and digital communication, writing in MSA was the sole medium for all genres and styles of writing including personal letters and journal entries. The regional spoken dialects which differ from one region to another and even from one socioeconomic stratum to another is (and had solely been before the age of CMC) the medium for conversations/ oral communication among people on everyday topics. Syria is no exclusion to this diglossic situation. Syrians grow up to a certain degree balanced bidialectal, exposed to the Syrian dialect(s) at home through communication with people around them, and to MSA at preschools and schools and through TV programs (including children program until not too long ago). What is interesting is that the beginning of the digital age marks also the beginning of a new linguistic era in which using spoken dialects for informal and personal communication has begun, especially in CMC. No studies are carried out yet to show if the total or partial replacement of MSA with spoken dialects in CMC is a mere coincidence or if it is one of the globalization’s results. Whatever the case is, the move from MSA only as the only means for writing to a mix of MSA and dialects marks a move from the wide socio-political notion of Arab nationalism to a narrower type of nationalism associated with one’s immediate home country and not the whole Arab world.
The paper also is centered on the notion of diaspora whose definition in Merriam-Webster dictionary is “a: the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland, b: people settled far from their ancestral homelands, and c: the place where these people live.” According to this definition, we can nowadays speak of the Syrian population outside Syria as a diaspora since they have been dispersed outside their home-land involuntarily as an aftermath of the Syrian revolution against the regime in March 2011 and the consequent barbaric atrocities that have been inflected by Assad regime and his allies on the Syrian civilians ever since, which forced more than four million Syrians according to UNHCR to flee the country and seek refuge in the neighboring countries first: Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, and in Europe and the US later http://www.unrefugees.org/2015/07/total-number-of-syrian-refugees-exceeds-four-million-for-first-time/?gclid=CjwKEAjw7ZHABRCTr_DV4_ejvgQSJACr-YcwqGsVqonNnITMYw1xal47am73r0iHjiySXhzDXx7MzxoCbX7w_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
For the past five years, the emergence of Syrian dialects has been substantially noticeable in CMC and the use of Syrian Arabic has rapidly and enormously expanded in the CMC of the Syrian diaspora. Parallel to the actual Syrian revolution which took place on the Syrian soil and which was mainly manifested by peaceful protests of civilians followed by a merciless war waged by Assad and his allies on the Syrian civilians, is a world-wide digital Syrian revolution in which all Syrians opposing the regime participated through Facebook posts, blogs, online magazines, YouTube videos and smart phone applications like Whatsapp and Viber among others in support of their fellow Syrians at home. Millions of pictures, videos, and posts have been circulating among Syrians on these platforms. Code switching from MSA to Syrian Arabic is always present in CMC among Syrians. They make a choice with every post, blog, article or comment between using MSA and Syrian Arabic. In addition to using other languages of course, depending on the audience, the type of message, the emotional status of the writer and other psychological, cultural and social factors.
In addition to these national stories and narrations, and the detailed records of and commentaries on the revolution, the resulting war, the socio-political complications, and the humanitarian crisis, there are always the personal and intimate stories of everyday happenings which family members and friends from different parts of the world share and comment on, on Facebook pages and WhatsApp. Even in this type of CMC code switching between MSA and Syrian Arabic exists.
On a personal level, and to give one concrete example, I have been an active user of Facebook and a participant in two WhatsApp groups: one including my immediate family in different parts of the world (Missouri, Massachusetts, Istanbul, Damascus, and Riyadh) and the second includes all my female friends in New Jersey the majority of whom are Syrians. The main topic of these two groups in addition to my posts and comments on Facebook since Friday September 30, 2016 was the passing of my sister in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The purpose of my blog is not to share my agony but rather to show how digital communication in the age of globalization which has coincided with the emergence and expansion of the Syrian diaspora has changed our customs and traditions relating to the circulation of and reacting to the news of a family death. My purpose is also to provide an example of how code switching is integrated into this kind of communication.
Circulating and reacting to a family or friend decease involves four emotionally charged social communicative acts:
1. Informing
2. Expressing sadness and loss (and even sometimes provoking sympathy)
3. Offering condolences and expressing sympathy
4. Offering gratitude and thanks to those who have expressed condolences
If we go a decade ago, before the wide spread of CMC and before the Syrian revolution and the resulting Syrian diaspora (this is still the practice inside Syria today whenever possible), when a family member passes away, there were two ways of informing family and friends: phone calls to the closest and most immediate members who on their part start reaching others in the social network of the deceased, followed by a hundred or so one-page printed obituary which are glued on walls of the buildings where the deceased and his family live and work. The phone conversations are carried out in Syrian Arabic naturally, however the obituary is typed in MSA.
Expressing sadness and loss on the one hand, and offering sympathy and condolences on the other were offered in person during three-day-gatherings at the house of the deceased following the burial ceremony. The main medium is again Syrian Arabic and the only presence of MSA is limited to some short formal condolence-offering clichés and to some citations from the Quran or quotations from the Prophet’s Hadith.
Today, the means and methods for carrying out these communicative acts have changed. Members of my family outside Riyadh, including myself, have been informed of my sister’s passing via a post on WhatsApp. Acts of mourning have been digitalized. All other related communications have been circulating on Facebook and WhatsApp. Syrian relatives and friends have offered their condolences on these two platforms from many cities in different states in the US, France, Germany, Emirates, Oman, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. In all of these communicative acts, both MSA and Syrian Arabic have been present side by side and have been linked by code switching.
In what follows are some instances of my posts and comments on Facebook in which the two codes have been used and in which code switching is sometimes present. Whether these switches are of type I, II or III according to Hinrichs, I leave it up to you to judge. I am giving a rough rephrasing of the meaning conveyed in the italicized English translations.
1. انتقلت آلى رحمته تعالى اختي الحبيبة الغالية سهير MSA/ FB profile picture
My dear beloved sister Suheir has moved to God’s mercy.
This comment accompanied a stock image which I used as my profile picture in which two verses from the Quran are cited along with a commonly used phrase.
2. انتقلت الى رحمته تعالى اختي الغالية سهير كنجاوي ام شذى وأنس وهيفاء. الى جنان الخلد يا حبيبتي. اللهم ارحمها وأسكنها فسيج جنانك وبدل سيآتها حسنات وعظم اجر اولادها وصبرهم يا الله. MSA/ FB post
My dear sister Suheir Kinjawi, mother of Shaza, Anas and Haifa, has moved to God’s mercy. May God have mercy on her, make paradise her residence, exchange her sins with good deeds, greatly reward her children and give them patience.
This post was accompanied with a picture of my sister, which is not the norm in traditional conventional printed obituaries.
3. MSA and English FB post
أمجد كنجاوي وريم كنجاوي فرج وناصر فرج وميس بجبوج كنجاوي ينعون إليكم خبر وفاة المرحومة سهير كنجاوي.
تقبل التعازي من النساء والرجال بأختنا الحبيبة المرحومة الأحد 2 تشرين الاول من الساعة الثانية والنصف بعد الظهر إلى الساعة الرابعة بمسجد ICPC.
Amjad Kindjawi, Reem Kinjawi Faraj, Mayss Bajbouj Kinjawi, and Naser Faraj are holding Azaa for their beloved sister tomorrow Sunday October 2 between 2:30 pm and 4:00 pm at ICPCtraditional.
Following the sociocultural conventions of the printed obituaries and in order to attach some gravity and weight to the initial act of informing MSA is used here in the above three FB posts
4. نتقدم بخالص الشكر لكل من تقدم لنا بالمواساة والعزاء شخصيا أو عن طريق مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي أو الهاتف. شكر الله سعيكم ولا فجعكم بعزيز
MSA/ FB comments
We extend our thankfulness to all those who offered sympathy and condolences personally, via social interaction media, or phone. May God reward your efforts and may you never mourn a person dear to you.
To give the post a formal and religious connotations, MSA is used here.
شكرًا لكل اللي عزانا وواسانا بفقدان أختنا الغالية سهير رحمها الله وأسكنها فسيح جنانه. لا فجعكم الله على عزيز وشكر سعيكم
Code switching/ FB comment
Thank you to all those who comforted us and offered sympathy for the loss of our dear sister (Syrian Arabic). May God have mercy on her and make Paradise her residence. May God reward your condolences and prevent your mourning on a dear person (MSA)
The switch from Syrian Arabic to the Modern Standard Arabic marks a switch from my personal voice addressing my FB friends through a familiar and warm everyday expression of gratitude, to a prayer addressing God with a linguistic code associated with indirectly quoted formal prayers that have started as the voice of an identified or unidentified social source and then have become integrated in our own voice by time and repetition.
6. كان عندي أمل شوفك مرة تانية يا غالية وودعك بس قدر الله وماشاء فعل. عزاءي انك عند رب غفور رحيم كريم وأنك تركتي ذكرى طيبة وأولاد صالحين. رحمة الله عليكي يا سهير. Code switching / FB post
I had hoped to see you again my dear and say goodbye but (Syrian Arabic), ‘God had willed and He carried out His will’ (MSA). That you are by a forgiving, merciful, and gracious God, and that you have left us a good memory and good kids are my comforts. God’s mercy be upon you Suheir (Syrian Arabic).
While the main message from me to my sister is in Syrian Arabic, the quote cited here is in MSA. I have moved from my personal voice, to that of a voice of, an identifiable, concreate personal or textual source, as in Hinrichs Type II.
7. الحمد لله وصلت الرياض بالسلامة. والرحلة كانت مهونة من رب العالمين. شكرًا الكن حبيبات قلبي. بشوفكن على خير ان شاء الله Syrian Arabic/ FB comment
Thank God I have reached Riyadh safely and the trip was made easy by God. Thank you all my beloved. See you well God willing.
Since this message is intended to all my FB friends who have been following my posts and my trip to Saudi Arabic, Syrian Arabic is selected to express warmth and closeness.
In this blog I have attempted to offer my own examples for the use of two different varieties of the same language in computer-mediated communicative acts related to the loss of a family member, in an attempt to link my own experience with the argumentation that Hinrichs offers in his article.

Superdiversity, Normativity and Money

The three assigned articles of Discourse, Context and Media, in the occasion of its special issue about “Digital Language Practices in Superdiversity”, form an interesting image of different phenomena that can be recognized around the key concept, superdiversity. This notion was first introduced by Vertovec around the middle of the last decade to cope with the challenges that poses to linguistics the increasing migration movements the globalized world brought with it.

The two cases presented (the first article is only a general introduction to the topic) are focused in contexts that could be thought as mirroring each other: in the first one, what is analyzed is the relationship between Dutch-Chinese teenagers and the language —that they barely master— of the country where their roots are: China. In this sense, this article is about leaving the identitarian language behind. In contrast, the next article deals with Luxembourg and, added to its already multilingual community (Luxembourgish, French and German) one can find not only English (a well established lingua franca) but also the language that each ethnic group brings with them (34.5% on the inhabitants of the country speaks 4 languages or more —page 76): here the experience is the clash that the already existing languages have with the new ones, particularly in the context of a Facebook group created with the purpose of giving and receiving objects without monetary exchange in return.

Regulation and normativity, on the other hand, complete the specular analogy: if one of the points that articulate the case of the Dutch-Chinese community is the different impositions the PRC has made (as still does) to the language, in the pursue of homegenizing the linguistic practices in the country (in this sense —but not only, according to the article— this is a top-bottom regulation), the other article shows how this type of attempt fails (in this case, requesting the opposite: diversity, i.e., always bilingual posts); and, finally, when the Facebook group gets acephalous (after a sort of funny coup d’état in the first anarchistic trial), the “natural” forces produced the contrary result: a vast majority of the posts ended up being solely in  Luxembourgish. Linked to this, are two ontological problems about identity: the identity of the language and the identity of the people that speaks that language. In particular, these identities in the case of China seem to be reversed in comparison to the ones of Luxembourg. If in the first case we seem to have some sort of abstract national identity, regardless the fact they do not really speak the same language, in the second case what we have is a national identity that seems to be threatened and is in virtue of this that the language issue arises by imposing the (reactionarily) defined identity of Luxembourgish to the newcomers.

As a minor comment to this topic, there is something that seems to me worth noticing: the idea of the people of Luxembourg being “hospitable” as an explanation of their acceptance of using different languages with foreigners in the daily exchanges is, of course, unsatisfactory (not only because the non-scientific certainty that “hospitable” is not the word that best suits Europeans). Similarly, the idea that the PRC is a monster that tyrannically imposes their irrational whims to the passive people of China also doesn’t seem to work. Of course, a small economy as the one of Luxembourg, surrounded by strong economies as the French and the German ones, had to accept their participation in the country’s way of living, even in the most “identitarian” one, as the language is; needless to say, that is the reason why English is accepted as lingua franca in their business. Is exactly the same pattern the one that seems to explain why China needs to have a better communication system within its borders. Maybe this is why the imposition of Luxembourgish in the Facebook group did actually work: it is very likely to think that, having been money involved in that group, the identitarian protester would have accepted the bilingualism with a different attitude.

Tanya Karoli Christensen: “Vagueness in youth speech. Functional analyses of spoken Danish.”

International Linguistic Association

Monthly Lecture Series


Tanya Karoli Christensen

University of Copenhagen


Vagueness in youth speech. Functional analyses of spoken Danish.

Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 11 AM – 12 PM

Borough of Manhattan Community College, Room N451

199 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10007


NOTE: All attendees will be asked to show some form of ID in order to enter the college.

Contact: Maureen Matarese, mmatarese@bmcc.cuny.edu                  www.ilaword.org  


Young people have always been charged with ruining the language of their parents and grandparents by being sloppy and imprecise in their speech (and writing, for that matter). However, it has long been argued that ’vague’ language may serve a range of interactional functions (e.g. Kempson 1977; Dines 1980; Channell 1994; Gassner 2012). For instance, vagueness may arise because of unclear reference between a linguistic item and a class of objects, because a speaker (or her language) lacks an appropriate word for a specific concept, or because precision is uncalled for in the context.          

Many different types of linguistic items have been categorized as vague in one way or another, including approximate quantifiers (about N), generic expressions (thing), general extenders (and stuff like that) and epistemic phrases (I think). Since the interpretation of vague expressions rests on context, many studies revolve around the semantics-pragmatics interface, but because vague expressions come in such great variety, sociolinguists have also studied such expressions as examples of so-called discourse variation (e.g. Cheshire 2007; Tagliamonte & Denis; Pichler 2010).

In this talk, I review data and results from a series of research projects related to different types of vague expressions in modern spoken Danish, i.e. epistemic adverbials (måske ‘maybe’) and epistemic phrases, general extenders, as well as the highly productive equivalent of English –ish (Dan: –agtig). The material I draw upon is the large and richly annotated LANCHART database of sociolinguistic interviews compiled during the 1980s and early 2000s.

On the backdrop of distributional data, I exemplify and discuss some representative uses of vague expressions in youth speech. One particularly interesting context is the elicitation of language attitudes. The task of categorizing other people on the basis of their speech is obviously a face-threatening act (Brown & Levinson 1987), and informants orient to this by couching their descriptions in vague terms (1-2).

(1)        altså måske er de lidt mere landlige ovre i Jylland men jeg ved det ikke rigtigt

            I-mean maybe they are a-bit more rural over in Jutland but I don’t really know

(2)        det er sådan lidt mere … slang … og bare … go with the flow-agtigt … end det der andet 

            it is like a-bit more … slang … and just … go with the flow-ish … than the other one