'Blood-Talk': A Language Network Analysis of English Speaking Heritage Butchers in the Southwestern United States
AuthorStinnett, Angie Ashley
KeywordsCommunities of Practice
Butchers & Meat Production
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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.
AbstractRecently, network theory has been used to analyze the formal syntactic and semantic properties of written texts to explain the development of language (Solé et al. 2005). While foundational, this approach neglects the social and cultural pressures affecting language in interaction, a central focus of sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology (Hymes 1974, Goffman 1981, Gumperz 1982, Goodwin 2006). The influential work of M.M. Bakhtin (1981) frames speech as an emergent social process inflected by shifting patterns of negotiated meanings. As Hill (1986) observed "the enormous impact of Bakhtin's work, already felt with earthquake strength in literary studies...[is] now beginning to appear with equal force in the anthropology of language" (1986: 89).The aim of this research is to test the conjecture that by expanding the frame of language network analysis to include the social context of speech, the emergent properties of heteroglossia predicted by Bakhtin will be clarified. This analysis builds on prior research on language in interaction, drawing from sociolinguistic analysis (Sacks et al. 1974, Atkinson & Heritage 1984), word frequency (Nelson et al. 1998, Mendoza-Denton 2003), and network analysis (Bearman & Stovel 2000, de Nooy et al. 2005, Solé et al. 2005, Mehler 2010).According to Bakhtin, heteroglossia emerges as speakers "appropriate the words of others and populate them with one's own intention" (1981:428). This multi-sited doctoral research investigates the speech of butchers through participant observation, work place interactions and interviews, with a focus on references to blood. Some of the semantic features that become affixed to blood are due to historical and popular culture understandings of this signifier, while other salient features derive from subject positionality and community of practice (Lave & Wenger 1991). This work provides a snapshot of all of these processes at work in the speech of an occupational community of American butchers. The results of this analysis show that including the social context has significant effects on the conceptualization of both semantic and social networks, in comparison with networks derived exclusively from written texts.
Degree ProgramGraduate College