kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
[personal profile] kaigou
Japan's Cinderella Motif- Beauty Industry and Mass Culture Interpretations of a Popular Icon — Laura Miller

Too much evo-psych but still important observation, from Psychology Behind The Cinderella Complex:
...there is also a division between the smart and the pretty girl. “We can’t do both, evidently,” Fraser said. “And if you are both, then you’re universally hated by both men and women; women because they’re jealous of you, and men because they don’t know what to do with you.” She said that a woman “who is living up to her potential is often cast aside or becomes a social outcast.”

From Wiki's entry on prestige (sociolinguistics):
Some instances of contact between languages with different prestige levels have resulted in diglossia, a phenomenon in which a community uses a high prestige language or dialect in certain situations—usually for newspapers, in literature, on university campuses, for religious ceremonies, and on television and the radio—but uses a low prestige language or dialect for other situations—often in conversation in the home or in letters, comic strips, and in popular culture. Linguist Charles A. Ferguson's 1959 article "Diglossia" listed the following examples of diglossic societies: in Switzerland, Swiss Standard German and Swiss German; in the Middle East and North Africa, Standard Arabic and vernacular Arabic; in Haiti, Standard French and Kréyòl; in Greece, Katharevousa and Dhimotiki; and in Norway, Bokmål and Nynorsk.

Although those (I gather) are significant linguistic differences between prestige and standard, couldn't a situation like Southern/non-Southern be considered a kind of diglossia? My understanding is that code-switching is when you mix two languages (dialects?) in the same sentence/breath, like a kind of maladapted or hyper loanword use. Diglossia sounds more like a complete switch, like what I do when speaking with relatives versus the way I speak at work. It also sounds like what people are talking about for Black Americans, who switch easily from Standard American at work to Black American while with friends/family or non-work situations. As others mentioned on earlier threads, that as long as you use those structures and expressions, you're still speaking "Southern" even if your accent is soft (or non-existent), the accent of Southern American, like Black American, is not the key feature. It's the significant differences in the grammatical structure as well as the idiomatic expressions.

Now I am reminded of that segment from Airplane: "Oh stewardess! I speak jive."

Tangential note: out of curiosity, I just looked up jive, wondering where the name itself (jive) originated. Still no idea on that one, but I did just learn that linguistically, African-American Vernacular English (AAVE, or what I was calling Black American) is a creole. The bit about prestige dialects remains at the forefront of my lizard brain right now, so that popped back in as I got to the section about Ebonics... and I gotta say, I loathe that term. The political ramifications aren't helped by a strange kind of verbal synesthesia, where the capital E + the bon looks... I don't know how to put it. Like something you'd call a child's music toy, or something. Not quite plastic-cheap, but that kind of reaction. Hard to qualify/express.

However, it seems to me there's a prestige, of a sort, when a dialect is known as a creole, probably in part because of the association with "creole" and "New Orleans" (in terms of cultural import/impact). New Orleans is, and hopefully will continue to be, a huge cultural value for America. So maybe we have an association, thanks to that, that lends prestige to "creole", regardless of whether the listener understands the linguistic differentiation. I think maybe it's also because most people are aware that "creole" (unlike the maligned notion of 'pidgin') is a dialect-into-language. Credibility, perhaps, that isn't granted by a bizarre and frankly stupid invented-word like Ebonics?

Strange, to be reminded yet again (as though I could forget) that words really do make all the difference. Instead of Ebonics and its ridiculous assumption that the non-Standard English is a sign of Black American childrens' lesser communication skills (oh please)... by emphasizing the creole aspect, the truth becomes: Black American children are actually gaining a skill many Standard-American speaking children don't gain: multilingualism. There are huge benefits to having that kind of multi-linguistic exposure as small children, not the least of which is a facility to learn other languages, because the brain is already used to switching back and forth -- and we've got more than just American-English vs non-English languages, we've also got computer languages, these days.

Too bad I'm never a hiring manager, or I think this would be a valuable trait in potential developers. Someone who can code-switch (or use diglossia) between a creole and Standard American is possibly also someone who can do the same with computer-language syntax. It's just one more way of adapting and working with language, and long experience in code-switching gives you the tools to apply the same in a new area. I think that'd be incredibly valuable (especially in industries like mine, which are always stumbling over and into new developments that then need to be integrated with the old).

Then again, I'm not a hiring manager... nor has any hiring manager ever given even a moment's notice to the languages I've studied. Or maybe it's just that as far as I know, I've never had a direct manager who isn't mono-lingual. Maybe you only recognize the value when you're multi-lingual yourself, or spend most of your time in multi-lingual environments, enough to realize that mono-lingual is... well, it's a drawback. It's not something to be proud of.

Also, awesome quote: "A language is just a dialect with an army."

Date: 30 Jan 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
qem_chibati: Coloured picture of Killua from hunter x hunter, with the symbol of Qem in the corner. (A cat made from Q, E, M) (Default)
From: [personal profile] qem_chibati
While the prestige of New Orleans creole might be true, the local creole is looked down in most other places that I know of; New Caledonia, Mauritius, Seychelles. But those places also tend to have highly lingual people - the majority of people I know are at the very least trilingual.

I come from a French background where my immigrated relatives mainly speak a form of creole, here in Australia. Their reasoning was that creole didn't count as a "language" so while they wouldn't speak French to confuse the kids who they wanted to speak primarily English, they could still speak creole and talk behind peoples backs.

If you ask them to say what Creole is they will often use the word pidgin-French or mixed language, since it has a lot of loan words from the surrounding cultures that have immigrated to Mauritius over the years. Their explanation is that creole is a street language as different people speak their own language at home and can then communicate with other groups more comfortably.

My relatives that are still in Mauritius do not think highly of people who speak creole as opposed to proper French in casual settings (including the family that is in Australia).

This is despite the fact that the regional form of creole there is recognised as a language by their court system (but this only happened in the 90's IIRC) and you can organise to have a translator represent you in court if needed. (Something that was strongly needed in my opinion to assist with allowing accessibility to justice for the poorer classes.)

Date: 31 Jan 2011 12:23 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
I believe quite some time ago twistedchick posted a link which discussed the term "shuck and jive", where street sellers would sit shucking oysters for customers on the spot in places like NOLA. Shucking was scooping oysters out with a knife, and jive was talking to the customers while you did the shucking for them.
The impression I've gathered is that historically Creole didn't get a lot of respect on its home turf, because it's still a touchy subject for folks who play Cajun and zydeco music, for instance. Up until the late sixties or early seventies or so, I understand that kids were actively punished for speaking Creole French in schools in the Southern states (Cajun/Creole, as distinguished from other types of pidgins/creoles, such as African or Caribbean ones.) I understand there's a unique language inthe Carolinas too (I'm blanking on the name of it, though.) There's a greater respect for native languages and more academic interest in creoles now, but it still doesn't get any respect in business and states out here do not treat it as another language in the bilingual sense here on the West Coast--never mind that we have a lot of Katrina refugees out here. Ebonics as an idea gets ridiculed outright by ring-wing commentators in the media too.

Date: 31 Jan 2011 03:08 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
Best I recall of twistedchick's original post (and sorry, I don't have the direct link) the original references to jive were from tourist accounts from the 18-somethings in New Orleans, but that was regional usage. It must have migrated along with workers heading north to Detroit, Chicago, and NY, because it got much wider use in the 60's with blaxploitation movies using Detroit or Chicago slang (not sure if Superfly used that term, for instance) but then it was part of hip culture with further translation into mainstream with things like Saturday Night Fever ("jive-talkin" is in one of their lyrics, and it's interesting because the movie about Italian kids facing life in the factories, whether or not you consider them losers or scrubs or what have you.)
All of this is years before any of us pale people were aware of rap culture in any way, BTW. I understand that was getting going in some of the really tough slum areas for years before it reached Motown-levels of fame, but only folks seriously into digging up new music knew about it back then.
going back to qem-chibati's interesting comment, what you have going on there would be tri-lingual, the formal French at home, the English, and the street-culture pidgins or Creoles. I have the sense that a lot of immigrants in poor neighborhoods across the US similarly navigate those three very different sets of codes.
I don't understand a lot of the elusive new slang I'm hearing on transit, for instance, but then they don't intend for me to understand it, I'm not supposed to get it. There's all the multivarious terms for "incapacitated," and by what particular chemical, for instance. I know some of this is coming from mass-culture stuff I don't follow, gangsta rappers etc., and other bits are coming from jail and from gangs who've left LA to come here instead; so in that sense it's being imported from minicultures in other cities.
I'm privileged enough that I don't have to, these days. It does become a big deal when your neighbors have drug parties and strange people are constantly wandering around and fights erupt for reasons that are invisible unless you're aware of the dynamics within the groups.

Date: 31 Jan 2011 05:09 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
I suspect any day is improved by starting with cake, but perhaps that's just my inner four-year-old talking. (I have distinct preferences on what types of cake, which is one of the warning signs.)
RE: American as a distinct language/slanguage, and who's generating it, we do know that the demographics *will be* nonwhite majorities in future, IMHO clearly a big part of what's got the Tea Partiers' knickers in such a racist twist.
Local demographics may lead to interesting specialities. A good chunk of what you hear in border states will be Spanglish, which feels free to borrow whichever distinct terms that convey meaning more concisely. I don't quite know what to expect from other immigrant populations. Locally, for instance, we have a large Russian population, and one of the more interesting grocery stores started off as a Korean ethnic market which also stocked unusual and specialty items for the local Hispanic population. Now it imports all kinds of things from former Soviet Union states. It makes for very interesting store shelf labeling.
Then there's fads. I see all kinds of use of anime and manga terminology which I first started hearing from rapid adopters back in the 80's, for instance--those folks who were learning Japanese so they could translate new movies imported directly from buying services, none of it easy to do. Otaku, in current western terminology.

Edited Date: 31 Jan 2011 05:10 am (UTC)

Date: 5 Feb 2011 12:40 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maire
Much as I like what I see as your intent here (suggesting ways to respect non-standard dialects of English spoken by people who aren't in power) I do have a couple of issues with your approach here.



One is with the idea that anyone's dialect can be seen as an incomplete language. If it's someone's native tongue, it's a complete language. Maybe not as wealthy in words as one spoken by millions, but still a complete language and capable of extending to a pretty much infinite degree, as the speaker encounters things they need to express.

Actually, the same goes for anyone's *ideolect* (their personal variant of their dialect).

'Standard American English' is a dialect. So are 'standard British English' and all the other 'standard' versions of English.



American English (AE) is a cousin of modern British English (BE), not a descendant of it. It's got features of the two dialects' common ancestor that have been lost in modern BE, just as modern BE has features that AE has lost.

Both also have innovations unique to themselves and both have borrowed from each other.

Date: 31 Jan 2011 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] axelrod
Maybe you only recognize the value when you're multi-lingual yourself, or spend most of your time in multi-lingual environments, enough to realize that mono-lingual is... well, it's a drawback. It's not something to be proud of.

Though I get the impression - um, largely from the wikipedia article - that there are plenty of Black USians - who themselves see AAVE as with lesser value, and some may do so even if they know it and speak it in different contexts. So hiring managers and other people in positions of relative power who speak two or more US dialects may or may not see the value of code-switching that you do, since they may be fighting through internalized racism and linguistic shame.

Interesting post, thanks!

Date: 31 Jan 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
I've hired people, including technologists. I find a few linguistic skills actively useful or proxies for other useful traits/skills. Two that come to mind:

(1) Being able to shift registers and approaches appropriately to communicate effectively with different audiences.

(2) Having studied a case-based language, such as Greek or Russian.

Date: 1 Feb 2011 06:08 am (UTC)
love: (Default)
From: [personal profile] love
Thanks for posting the link to the Cinderella article. I'd never actually thought about the points raised, but she's right, Cinderella is a really affirmative and empowering concept there. Wow.

Date: 5 Feb 2011 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maire
I grew up with Eleanor Farjeon's very old children's novel 'The Glass Slipper', which gives Ella much more agency (having to pass tests of bravery and generosity to win the fairy's help, although she doesn't realise it) and an actual relationship with the prince she marries, while still sticking to the standard plot pretty well.

warning: linguistics is my armchair hobby.

Date: 1 Feb 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
soukup: A still from "Julie and Julia" -- Julia and Paul in silly costumes with text "I am very conventional" (conventional)
From: [personal profile] soukup
I'm curious about something you say above. "Code-switching" is a term which (as far as I know, at least) is typically used to talk about situations involving two languages that are distinct enough that speakers of the one can't automatically understand the other without deliberately studying it. I'm not from the South, and I can usually understand people who speak Southern English, so I'm surprised and fascinated by the idea that there might be a group of speakers of it somewhere with whom I couldn't communicate. Is your dialect really unintelligible to people who aren't familiar with it?

BTW, I'm not asking because I disbelieve you -- I'm just insatiably nerdy about this stuff.

Date: 4 Feb 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
soukup: Kodama from Mononoke-hime (otp)
From: [personal profile] soukup
*chuckles* Oh, yeah, coastal Mass has some interesting backwaters. Isn't it funny how little pockets of regional dialect can happen sometimes in otherwise mostly Standard American English*-speaking areas? At least, that's how things are where I grew up (rural-ish New England): in certain tiny towns up here, outsiders have to really try hard to understand anyone over fifty.

Funny too that you're from Virginia, and particularly in re. to your other post, because I'm actually writing a character lately who's from that state. She's in politics, so she has to keep it tamped down most of the time, but I'm discovering that she has just a hint of an accent when she's tired or emotional.

*(That is, in so far as SAE actually exists, in which re the jury is still out, natch. For the sake of clarity/simplicity I'm using the term here and hoping you'll allow it with a big grain of salt.)

Date: 5 Feb 2011 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maire
No one ever really speaks the exact 'standard' version of a language, I imagine. It's a Platonic ideal.

Date: 5 Feb 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maire
Not so much 'understandable to the rest of the country', if my understanding is correct, as 'not offensive to anyone in the country, while still sounding like a reliable source of information'. They may have said it was about being understood, but what I've heard about the hiring of New Zealanders by the BBC (what they were told when hired) suggests otherwise.

The classic BBC accent of twenty years ago (back when they weren't hiring people who had obvious local dialects colouring their speech) was not quite RP (AKA Received Pronunciation -- the speech of the British university-educated) but was similar.

A number of New Zealanders with upper or middle-class NZ accents in the sixties and seventies did very nicely out of working for the BBC. We sounded upper-middle-class British to them then, but not from any identifiable location. This was regarded as a very good thing as it meant the BBC got to sound nicely 'British' while lacking that very British feature of a clear local accent.

Date: 6 Feb 2011 12:42 am (UTC)
soukup: Eleanor in pearls, giving Raymond bedroom eyes (thatcher)
From: [personal profile] soukup
Oh, boy. *noms your comment greedily*

I'm embarrassed to say I was not aware of how heterogeneous Virginia is in terms of local accents. Thanks for alerting me! And now, of course, I'm getting nervous about whether or not what I've imagined for my character is accurate. At the risk of completely wearing out my welcome here, can I bug you for advice about this? *grovels*

The character I'm speaking of is Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw of The Manchurian Candidate, and my version of her is based heavily on the 2004 film version. In the film's final cut her accent is a very bland, unmarked, New York-ish thing; but the actress seems to have toyed earlier on with the idea of giving her a slight twang, because she's quite audibly Southern in a screentest which was done for one of her costars. In my head her accent is much the same as the following video, if somewhat fainter -- the "why," for example, would have a slightly sharper long "i" sound and a very little bit less of an "ah" about it.

(In case you're scratching your head about this, her son talks like a New Yorker because he's lived there for a little over a decade now.)

To my uneducated ear her speech sounds mostly Carolinas-ish. The film doesn't specify where she's from, so I had decided that she'd been raised in Richmond, but after reading your comment I'm starting to reconsider whether that's really the most fitting choice considering how she talks in my head. IYO, where did the woman in the video grow up?

Of course, I do realize that this is a performance by an actress who herself lives in NYC. But given this actress's reputation for putting an insane amount of preparation into her roles (and particularly into their accents) I'm hopeful that there's something coherent going on here! If you can't tell what she was going for, though, feel free to let me know it.

Or if you're busy playing with your adorable cat and can't be bothered to do my research for me, that's totally fine too, and I will completely understand -- feel free to ignore my natterings, and no hard feelings in that case.

Date: 6 Feb 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
soukup: flower-ish mandala doodle (orange doodle)
From: [personal profile] soukup
Yes. When I first watched this I was wincing for the same reason, and I think that may have been why she chose to leave it blank in the end. But Streep's actually said in many interviews that she didn't consider Eleanor a villain -- her take on the character was that she was an extremely righteous, patriotic, self-sacrificing person; not at all an evil woman, just tragically misguided. I do totally grok that the accent was problematic because most people would have read it as the Eebil Southerner trope, but on reflection I think the intent may have been less about evil and more about insincerity. Eleanor is an extremely charming, warm-and-friendly sort of person, the sort of woman who smiles almost constantly, whether or not she's truly glad to see you. And I think that that type of excessive, fake sweetness is something that Northerners perhaps associate with Southern women. (Hopefully it goes without saying that I don't subscribe to this.) Which I suppose isn't much better, really, but my point is that the actress actually kind of loved this character, and I doubt that she would ever have meant to present her as a villain.

Now that you've pointed it out I can hear what you mean about the shift she makes halfway through -- in retrospect that was what caught my ear about that first "why." I think I'm just going to pin down her accent as being a soft Richmond one, with the caveat that her mother was from Connecticut and her dad's speech was heavily influenced by Washingtonese (he was in politics as well).

Thank you so much for helping me puzzle this out! Getting people's voices right is always really hard for me, so this was a crucial bit of my process.

Date: 6 Feb 2011 12:45 am (UTC)
soukup: Kodama from Mononoke-hime (otp)
From: [personal profile] soukup
...Ooookay. Somehow the embed failed? Er, there's a video at the following address:


(Like I said, your cat is very cute, so I will totally understand if you have better things to do.)

Date: 5 Feb 2011 12:47 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maire
Code-switching is the term I was taught in linguistics classes at university for swapping dialect, language, or even sometimes register.

Date: 5 Feb 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maire
Oh dear. No, I mean register as in going from formal language to informal.

"I am pleased to make your aquaintance" is in a high register.

"Glad to meetcha!" is in a lower register.

It's the sociolinguistics term, rather than the phonology term.

Date: 5 Feb 2011 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maire