Pragmatics 26:2 (June 2016)

Michael Tosin GBOGI
Language, identity, and urban youth subculture: Nigerian hip hop music as an exemplar


Towards the turn of the 20th century, a new wave of hip hop music emerged in Nigeria whose sense of popularity activated, and was activated by, the employment of complex linguistic strategies. Indirection, ambiguity, circumlocution, language mixing, pun, double meaning, and inclusive pronominals, among others, are not only used by artists in performing the glocal orientations of their music but also become for them valuable resources in the fashioning of multiple identities. In this paper, I interrogate some of these linguistic markers, using four broad paradigms: “Signifying,” “slangifying,” “double meaning,” and “pronominals and ghetto naming.” Under each of these areas, I show how Nigerian hip hop music is creating—through the mediation of language—sub-identities and a new subculture for a generation of urban youth.

Keywords : Nigerian hip hop music; Signifying; Slangifying; Language mixing; Double meaning; Urban youth subculture.

Categorization in talk: A case study of taxonomies and social meaning


This article seeks to advance the usage-based discourse research that investigates meanings and processes of meaning construction in interaction by elaborating an empirically grounded interdisciplinary model. The paradigmatic and sequential analysis employed here brings together linguistic discourse analysis with an ethnomethodological perspective, and presents an innovative take on category organization in talk, explaining how to capture knowledge resources such as asymmetrical category contrast pairs in talk. In analyzing in detail the speaker’s taxonomy construction in a sample conversation, the paper systematically explores the following two topics related to the speaker: what category characteristic he is orienting to as a resource for his present talk and what social meaning the speaker’s taxonomizing is consistently communicating in the flow of talk. The proposed model captures a color binary—used to categorize people—of the ‘colored’ versus the ‘white’, entailed in the expression ‘a so-called yellow colored people’, and reveals that the category pair is used as an organizational device in the speaker’s argument.
The paper claims that taxonomy analysis in sequence is useful to examine the selected words in relation to their semiotic resources.

Keywords: Categorization; Category as organization device; Color binary; Ethnomethodology; Race; Semiotic resources; Taxonomization; Taxonomy analysis.

Yen-Liang LIN
Discourse marking in spoken intercultural communication between British and Taiwanese adolescent learners  


This study investigate s and compares the use of discourse markers (DMs) by native speakers and learners of English based on a corpus of adolescent intercultural exchange students . The study employs a discourse analytical approach, in which Fung and Carter’s (2007) multi-category framework is applied with a view to examining DMs used by a group of Taiwanese and British adolescents in an intercultural setting. The analytical framework contains four main functional categories: Interpersonal, referential, structural and cognitive DMs. Each DM was analysed qualitatively and quantitatively in order to identify the functions it serves in its original context and to further reveal the different uses of DMs between Taiwanese and British participants. The findings demonstrate that the DMs used by both groups of participants serve the four central functions, and in particular Taiwanese participants display a significant use of interpersonal (e.g., yeah, oh) and structural DMs (e.g., so, okay), while British participants have a significantly higher usage of referential (e.g., coz/because, and) and cognitive DMs (e.g., like, well). The results of this study have direct pedagogical implications that can enhance the teaching of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) to better prepare learners for real life communication scenarios .

Keywords: D iscourse markers ; Spoken communication; EFL learners; Intercultural communication.

Yasuko OBANA
Speech level shifts in Japanese: A different perspective. The application of symbolic interactionist role theory


The present paper analyses speech level shifts in Japanese from a different perspective. By applying Symbolic Interactionist Role Theory, speech level shifts are categorised as the linguistic realisation of an interactional role, or ‘dissociative role’ I call in this paper. Dissociative roles are improvised identities, which occur when the speaker perceives a psychological change in relation to the other participant in the on-going interaction. Plus-level shifts (shifts from plain to polite forms, masu/desu ) are triggered when the speaker experiences cautious, attentive, thoughtful and/or grateful feelings at a certain time of interaction, which conforms to the original nature of honorifics. This prompts a dissociative role which creates a certain psychological distance between this role and the other interactant. On the other hand, minus-level shifts (shifts from masu/desu forms to plain forms) are the implementation of the speaker’s another dissociative role, which is assimilated with the other interactant, giving rise to empathy or drawing the other into the speaker’s world.
Whether plus or minus level shifts occur, the interactants’ social roles, i.e., their original roles when the situation is defined, continue to exist throughout the discourse. The interactants are fully aware of their social roles such as teacher and student, friends, family members, and senior and junior in company (= Institutional Roles in this paper). However, when an Improvised Role is created, it is forwarded to the on-going interaction and linguistically implemented as a speech level shift.
This paper also clarifies that both speech level shifts and the so-called ‘conventional’ honorifics are situationally determined, and that they are not separate entities but the two ends of continuum by examining the features they share from the viewpoint of ‘roles’. 

Keywords : Speech level shifts; Japanese; Identity; Role; Symbolic Interactionism.  

Laura ROSENBAUN, Sheizaf RAFAELI and Dennis KURZON
Blurring the boundaries between domestic and digital spheres: Competing engagements in public Google Hangouts


This study explores the phenomenon of multiactivity during recreational video-mediated communication (VMC) through the analysis of competing engagements. From a data corpus of naturally occurring interactions in public Google Hangouts, we focus on instances of competing engagements triggered by the co-presence of unratified participants in broadcasters’ physical environments. As users are immersed in their everyday spaces, interferences from their domestic sphere are common occurrences that break the participatory framework established in the digital sphere. Following a conversation analytic approach, we intend to show that these interferences lead to competing engagements that can be exploited rather than simply dealt with. Drawing on literature on multiactivity, we argue that participants at times organize and coordinate these multiple engagements to add playfulness and advance their interactions. In sum, this study aims to highlight how situated competing streams of action are coordinated and the purpose they may serve in recreational VMC.

Keywords : Videoconferencing; Google Hangouts; Multiactivity; Recreation.  

Hooman SAELI
Persian favor asking in formal and informal academic contexts: The impact of gender and academic status


The investigation of speech acts has been of interest, especially in cross-cultural pragmatics, to many L1/L2 researchers for many years (Blum-Kulka, House and Kasper 1989). Favor-asking, as an important speech act, is centered upon having the other party of conversation do a specific act (Goldschmidt 1999). Although some research has been done on favor-asking in different contexts, studies on this speech act are still scarce, if any, in Persian settings. The main thrust of the current study was to investigate favor-asking among a sample of 20 native speakers of Persian (10 women and 10 men). The participants were selected from graduate students, since the employed oral DCT scenarios were designed to elicit favors asked from three different academic statuses: Higher , equal , and lower (professors, peers, and students, respectively). A total of 240 responses were then analyzed to identify the recurring patterns under the three open-coded categories of pre-favor , favor , and post-favor . The examination of the responses illustrated some variation triggered by gender and academic status differences, namely, the length of favors, frequency of some (sub)themes, and formality degree. Additionally, some relevant syntactic issues were explored (e.g. plural/singular pronouns/verbs), which contributed to the formality/informality of the favors, depending upon the contexts in which they were incorporated. Finally, some insights into Persian sociocultural interactions, favor-asking in particular, were provided.

Keywords : Favor-asking strategies; Oral DCTs; Politeness theories; Gender differences; Academic status differences.