Imagining the native speaker: The poetics of complaint in university student discourse
AuthorShuck, Gail Ellen
AdvisorHill, Jane H.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study outlines relationships between ideological construction and conversational performances, or utterances during casual conversation whose aesthetic quality is highlighted. I identify a distinction between native and nonnative English speakers that is imagined in predictable ways and expressed in regularized discourse patterns. The ideology of nativeness is rooted in a monolingualist view of the world--an association of one language with one nation--and intersects with ideologies of race and education. The regularity of patterns associated with this ideology provides resources for performances by white, middle-class U.S. university students about incomprehensible accents, bad teachers, lazy or angry foreigners, and rude code-switching or uses of non-English languages. Speakers use performative strategies such as rhythm, dialogue, and emphatic stress, to frame performances as worthy of special attention. Utterances are interpreted as more or less performative depending on the density and intensity of those strategies. The notion of the discourse frame accounts for speakers' desire to complete performances and for listeners' understanding that they are expected to respond positively. Performance and ideology are reciprocally related, such that performances index and depend on the stability of ideological models while providing opportunities for sudden shifts in ideological position as well as for transformations of those models. As speakers frame performances, they simultaneously create social truths, such as exaggerated hierarchical relationships between linguistic in-groups and out-groups, in ways that become memorable and at least momentarily acceptable. Because performances are bounded and memorable, they are decontextualizable, which enables them to be re-performed by the same speakers or by their listeners in other contexts. Performances thus contribute to the pervasiveness of the ideological discourse patterns that form the basis of those performances. Because of many speakers' drive to establish social solidarity with their listeners, performances can coincide with a dramatic shift in ideological position. Such shifts are also understandable if we recognize that dominant ideologies are embedded in highly regularized discursive patterns, readily available to any speaker who wishes to employ them.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching