Linguistics Seminar Series
Lecture: William T Young Library Auditorium, 5-6 PM
Reception: William T Young Library Alumni Gallery, 6-7 PM (RSVP Only)
Kelly Elizabeth Wright (She/Her/Dr) is an experimental sociolinguist specializing in linguistic discrimination and its institutional outcomes. She identifies as a working class Black Biracial cis woman, an Afrolachian raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. Wright is a scholar-activist, working for linguistic justice outside the academy, and interdisciplinarity inside the academy. She has recently completed an interdisciplinary dissertation on perceptions of Black professionalism which introduces a new method of metalingusitic interviews to sociolinguistic fieldwork and investigates findings directly with sociophonetic experimentation. Her previous research features a machine learning study of lexical racialization in sports journalism and an audit study of linguistic profiling in the housing market. Wright is also an accomplished lexicographer and researcher of profanity.
Dr. Wright will reflect among her peers on key lessons learned during the University of Kentucky MA program in Linguistic Theory and Typology that shaped her research trajectory. Namely, she will highlight moments from Jennifer Cramer’s Research Methods, Kevin McGowan’s Sociophonetics, and Mark Lauersdorf’s Corpus Linguistics that not only shaped Wright into the researcher she is today, but also undergird the more inclusive and representative experimental best practices she advocates for across the discipline. Wright will lead the audience in consideration of what she has found to be the most challenging aspect of language science: the objectification of language data. This talk will end with an active, large group discussion on this central issue of linguistic inquiry and the ways in which we–as a community of experts–can balance approaching empirical validity on one end and radical acceptance on the other.
A recording of the lecture will be posted to this page after the event.
Dr. Erica Britt, Associate Professor of English at the University of Michigan-Flint, will give the annual UK Department of Linguistics Martin Luther King Day talk.
This talk provides a description of the Vehicle City Voices (VCV) project, an oral history and linguistic survey of Flint, Michigan, and illustrates the role of the oral history interview as a critical site for the production of the individual and collective identities of Flint residents. Through this presentation we will explore the discursive tools that oral-history interview participants use to construct and contest mass-mediated representations of their community. In particular, given a media landscape that frequently circulates chronotopic representations (Bakhtin 1981; Agha 2007) that position Flint as a certain kind of city (i.e "apocalyptic" and in decline) populated by a certain type of person (i.e. dangerous and impoverished) at a certain moment in time (i.e. in its current deindustrializing/post-industrial period), the residents in this study respond by using reported speech and reported thought to challenge and revise these representations while at the same time amplifying the voices of those who are actively working to construct images of a dynamic, living city that transcends its negative reputation.
Verbal constructions take different numbers of arguments depending on their morpho-syntax context. For example, causative constructions increase the number of arguments, while passive constructions decrease the number of arguments. Nominalization can also affect argument structure in a number of ways. In this talk, I discuss Hawaiian, which expresses argument structure change via productive morphology, including causatives, nominalizers, and passives. I discuss interactions among these morphemes revealed by corpus analysis, and I argue that certain forms which are traditionally considered to be separate morphemes are instead allomorphs, the surface form of which is conditioned by morpho-syntactic context. I model these interactions within the 'syntax all the way down' approach of Distributed Morphology.
In collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences Office of Inclusion and Internationalization.
In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois famously articulated the experience of double consciousness as “this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others… two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings”. Over a century later, this experience still resonates with many African Americans, and perhaps especially many middle class African Americans, who find themselves having to navigate multiple, and sometimes conflicting, norms and identities, given their more central positioning along the socioeconomic and sociocultural spectrum of American society. In this paper, I offer an autoethnographic account of my experience as a middle class, middle-aged, African American female from the southern U.S., who is a native speaker of AAE and a linguist. Using recordings of myself in a variety of settings, I explore the range of features that I employ along the standard-vernacular continuum and provide an analytic perspective that is, at once, both inductive and deductive in its approach. I also offer a glimpse into a segment of the African American speech community that has been underrepresented in sociolinguistic research and make the case for why linguists must continue to extend definitions of the African American speech community beyond the working classes.
Braille and language processing.
“I’ve never known a white person to live on Hill Street:” Racializing Gentrification through Framing and Erasure
Gentrification, the “production of urban space for progressively more affluent users” (Hackworth 2001) is quite possibly the most well-studied phenomenon in urban studies, urban geography, and allied fields which deal with urban culture. It has, however, been seriously under-theorized and under-explored by linguists, with its studies being limited mostly to studies of linguistic landscape. In this talk, I discuss data from an ongoing project in Anacostia, Washington, D.C., an historically-Black neighborhood which has undergone rapid change in the 2010s. Despite that during the time the data was collected, the neighborhood was experiencing an influx of affluent African Americans, the process of gentrification is still thought of as being primarily driven by whites, a la the “white offensive” documented by Mary Patillo (2010, 2013) in her work on Chicago’s northern suburbs. Using data from 34 sociolinguistic interviews, I trace three frames of how Black residents of the neighborhood evaluate white presence in the neighborhood: neutrally, as a novelty, negatively, as a takeover, and positively, as diversity. I argue that these three frames have the effect of erasing the existence of Black newcomers, which in turn re-produces Big-D discourses which see gentrification as a purely racial, rather than economic issue. This in turn, allows the community members to position the neighborhood’s Black residents—old and new, lower income and affluent,—as a single cohesive community staking a firm claim on Black urban space.
Dunstan is the NCSU Assistant Director of the Office of Assessment. Her research examines dialect as an element of diversity that shapes the college experience, particularly for speakers of non-standardized dialects of English. Dunstan and Jaeger (2015) found that students from rural, Southern Appalachia felt that their use of a regional dialect put them at a disadvantage in the college classroom. The students interviewed by Dunstan reported that “they had been hesitant to speak in class, felt singled out, dreaded oral presentations, tried to change the way they talked, and felt that they had to work harder to earn the respect of faculty and peers”. In addition to speaking about her work with Appalachian college students, Dunstan would accompany members of the Department of Linguistics to a meeting with the UK office of Academic and Student Affairs to discuss how to meet the needs of all UK students, regardless of linguistic background.
This talk is made possible by generous support from our friends in Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures; English; Gender and Women’s studies; Sociology; Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies; African American and Africana Studies; and the College of Arts and Sciences.