Codes and Consequences: Choosing Linguistic Varieties

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This collection of essays considers how messages of intentionality are conveyed by choosing one style of English over another. While these choices are not necessarily conscious, implicit in the communicative competence of a speaker, performer, or writer is an awareness of the consequences of their choice of linguistic code. Messages of intentionality thus go beyond the referential content of the conversational turn, performance, or literary work. Intentions refer to everything from attitudes toward the subject matter to the presentation of the speakers persona in relation to the topic or audience. In this way, linguistic choices serve as a tool for the speaker or author and simultaneously as an index used by the audience to find these implied communicative goals.
The contributors examine this phenomenon, known as codeswitching, in situations ranging from translations of the Bible to surprise in poetry to supervisor-worker interactions on the automobile assembly line. A major theme throughout this volume is how the construct of markedness is utilized in codeswitching. Developed to varying degrees among these papers is the notion that speakers and writers, as rational actors, exploit the unmarked-marked opposition regarding audience expectations. Claims in many of these chapters follow the Markedness Model, Myers-Scottons explanation of linguistic choices. Under this model, the use of a particular code displays an intentional meaning that is viewed in terms of the extent to which the codes use matches community expectations, given the social situation or genre involved.
A wide array of subjects, from novels to family conversations at a holiday gathering, are discussed in these essays, making this volume of interest to linguists specializing in such areas as discourse analysis and sociolinguistics, as well as scholars and students of English literature and rhetoric.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195115239
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Myers-Scotton is the Carolina Distinguished Professor of Linguistics at the University of South Carolina where she teaches courses in sociolinguistics, language contact phenomena, and discourse analysis. She has published widely on codeswitching and is the author of Social Motivations for Codeswitching: Evidence from Africa (OUP, 1993) and Duelling Languages: Grammatical Structure in Codeswitching (OUP, 1993).

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3
2 A Theoretical Introduction to the Markedness Model 18
3 Implicatures of Styleswitching in the Narrative Voice of Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses 41
4 Marked Grammatical Structures: Communicating Intentionality in The Great Gatsby and As I Lay Dying 62
5 Markedness and References to Characters in Biblical Hebrew Narratives 89
6 Literariness, Markedness, and Surprise in Poetry 101
7 Villainous Boys: On Some Marked Exchanges in Romeo and Juliet 124
8 Markedness and Styleswitching in Performances by African American Drag Queens 139
9 Styleswitching in Southern English 162
10 Marked Versus Unmarked Choices on the Auto Factory Floor 178
11 "Not Quite Right": Second-Language Acquisition and Markedness 195
Index 215
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