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First Midwest Conference on Culture, Language, and Cognition
May 13-15, 2005

The Program in Culture, Language, and Cognition is proud to sponsor a graduate student conference this year. Presenters include students from the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois (both Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses), the University of Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, Indiana University, Chicago State University, and Northwestern. Abstracts, listed alphabetically by title, are below; a tentative schedule for this weekend conference can be found here: MCCLC Schedule, and directions to campus, hotel information, and on-campus housing information can be found here: MCCLC info.

Presentation Abstracts

Beyond modularity: A self-correcting model of cognitive architecture

Elizabeth N. Bartmess , University of Michigan

Much of evolutionary psychology is grounded in the notion of cognitive modularity (Cosmides & Tooby, 1991). Practitioners often implicitly assume that modules have been well-studied and clearly defined. Many would be surprised to learn that there are multiple substantially different definitions of cognitive modules (Sperber, 1994; Fodor, 2000), without a clear ‘winner.’ To reconcile definitions, theorists have proposed typologies of modules, which has led to multiple substantially different typologies (e.g., Sperber, 1996; Segal, 1994). I set forth a model of cognitive architecture based on three continuua: environmental responsiveness, encapsulation, and physical localization. Various definitions of modules, and module typologies, can be simultaneously mapped onto the model and compared, as can faculties not considered modular. I also describe abstract outlines for testing where faculties fall on each continuum. This provides more descriptive criteria for discussing characteristics of faculties, and helps the model evolve into an empirically supported map of cognitive architecture.

Biological Determinism vs. Social Constructionism: Implicit Theory of Race Moderates Cultural Frame Switching for Mainstream Culture Primes among Ethnic Minority Biculturals

Sun No and Ying-yi Hong , University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The authors hypothesized that ethnic minority biculturals who hold an implicit theory that race is fixed and biologically determined (vs. malleable and socially constructed) would respond to mainstream culture primes by differentiating themselves against the primes rather than responding in alignment with them. As shown in Study 1, the newly developed implicit theory of race measure demonstrated acceptable scale properties among samples of European Americans and Asian Americans. More importantly, Studies 2 and 3 showed that implicit theory of race moderates cultural frame switching for visible minority bicultural participants—Korean Americans—when mainstream culture is primed. Specifically, the belief that race is fixed was associated with an emotion projection response pattern typical of the Korean culture (Study 2), and associated with heightened threat responses (i.e., lowered discriminability between Korean value words and non-words in a lexical decision task; Study 3) when participants were primed with American cues, suggesting that biculturals with fixed views of race were reminded of their minority identity by the mainstream culture primes.

Carnaval and Brazilian Racial Categories: Why Statistics and Ethnography are Both Critical for Understanding Folk Beliefs

Michael Baran , University of Michigan

In this paper, I describe results from a controlled investigation to show that surprisingly shared cognitive models underlie conflicting explicit discourses of racial categorization in Belmonte, Brazil. These results address lingering debates about whether racial categories are essentialized in Brazil or based on physical features whereby racial status could change with physical changes or social context. Both of these anthropological theories resonate with my ethnographic understandings of race in Belmonte. However, using an experimental design based on locally meaningful themes from Brazilian Carnaval, I show that shared knowledge structures guide interpretations of physical differences, family resemblance, and social identity. Despite people’s talk indicating that someone can switch race based on physical changes or context, race “essence” generally holds over a surface transformation. In conclusion, I argue that both ethnography and controlled investigations are vital for understanding people and their complex beliefs.

Cross-Linguistic Transfer and Borrowing in Bilingual Narratives

Margarita Kaushanskaya and Viorica Marian , Northwestern University

The purpose of the present research was to examine patterns of cross-linguistic transfer (covert influences of one language on the other) and borrowing (active switches to the other language) in language production of Russian-English bilinguals. Bilinguals borrowed more from their second language, which was also the language of their ambient environment, but transferred more from their first and more proficient language. These results suggest that while borrowings are influenced more by sociolinguistic factors (e.g., language status), transfers are influenced more by cognitive factors (e.g., semantic representation). Across both languages, bilinguals were found to borrow more nouns than verbs, but to transfer more verbs than nouns. While semantic representations for nouns may be more circumscribed and bound to their linguistic referents, resulting in their greater availability for overt borrowing, semantic representations for verbs may be less stable and less connected to their linguistic referents, resulting in greater vulnerability to covert cross-linguistic influences.

Cultural differences in Visuospatial Working Memory and Attention

Aysecan Boduroglu, Priti Shah & Richard Nisbett , University of Michigan

Recent research suggests that East Asians process the world more holistically whereas Westerners process it more analytically; thus biasing what gets encoded during scene perception. For instance, while East Asians have been shown to recall more contextual detail from scenes, Westerners have been shown to mostly recall properties of central objects. However, whether these cultural differences in scene perception and memory arise from differences in lower-level visuospatial working memory and attentional processes is unclear. Using a color change detection paradigm, we have recently demonstrated that East Asians are more sensitive to configural information in visuospatial working memory (Boduroglu, Shah & Nisbett, 2004). Two possible explanations for the cultural differences are further investigated: (1) East Asians attend to context and thus are more sensitive to the relative positions of objects, or (2) East Asians have a larger focus of attention.

Cultural repertoires of markets - Markets for cultural repertoires

Klaus Weber & Simona Giorgi , Northwestern University

We develop a theory of how change comes about in the cultural resources that sustain economic exchanges in a market interface. Our analysis is grounded in a sociological perspective of culture as semiotic toolkits for practical action (Swidler, 1986; Sewell, 1999; White, 2000). Cultural repertoires manifest themselves as actors’ sociolinguistic vocabularies and sets of cognitive schemas, yet are best understood as modular sets of cultural memes that are syntactically organized and embedded in the social relations of a market arena. We first recast and systematize major theories of cultural change from this perspective. We then explore co-evolutionary dynamics that bring together the two sides of organized production and consumption of cultural materials. A text analysis of industry trade-shows illustrates our arguments. The paper contributes to the cultural-cognitive analysis of industrial markets, but will be of interest to anthropologists, sociolinguists and psychologists with an interest in economic exchange.

Culture and Communication in the Spanish Language Classroom

Virginia Shen , Chicago State University

Since culture is a reflection of a society’s history, arts, literature as well as its everyday behaviors, the national standards challenge all foreign language instructors to teach culture along with the development of language skills. The foreign language classroom thus, provides unique opportunity for students to understand culture in the target language. Although languages and cultures are inseparable, and that intercultural skills are an essential aspect of communicative competence in a second language, too often instructors must follow a syllabus based on vocabulary, grammar, and language functions, and reduce the cultural component that can make the language come alive for students. This presentation will explore the different communicative and creative activities that integrate cultural awareness and understanding through games, songs, group work activities and projects, etc. that display the complexities of cultural knowledge embedded in language.

Culture and Phenomenological Experiences: Their relation to Perspective Taking in Mental Models

Ka-yee Leung and Dov Cohen , University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

We extend perspective-taking research by assessing Euro-Americans’ and Asian-Americans’ mental models for comprehending narratives. In Study 1, we inferred people’s perspective by measuring reaction times as they read stories involving deictic terms “come” (implying movement toward one’s perspective) vs. “go” (implying movement away from one’s perspective). (Thus, if one imagines a scene from one’s own point of view, the sentence “my friend came toward me” is processed more quickly than “my friend went toward me.”) As predicted, Euro-Americans were more likely to take a first person perspective when the story’s main character was the self rather than a friend, whereas the reverse was true for Asian-Americans. Study 2 replicated findings of Study 1 when Euro-Americans and Asian-Americans were asked to spontaneously construct their own sentences. Both studies demonstrated that Asian-Americans are more likely to take an outsider perspective on the self while taking the “insider” perspective of relevant others.

Differentiating the role of phonemic sensitivity and awareness in reading ability for English- and Mandarin speakers.

Ellen Hamilton[1], Twila Tardif[1], Hua Shu[2], W. Jiang[2], Jing Zhao[1] , 1. University of Michigan, USA; 2. Beijing Normal University, China

Cross-cultural comparisons between alphabetic and non-alphabetic languages provide fertile ground for exploring the role of phonological processing in reading. Phonological processing is an important predictor of reading in morpho-syllabic orthographies like Chinese, but in ways that are different than in alphabetic languages. In the current study, we explore how phonological processing is related to reading using a cross-cultural, brain-based approach. English- and Mandarin-speaking adults will participate in a study comparing behavioral and event-related-potential (ERP) effects on a phonological mismatch task and individual differences in reading ability. We predict that early ERPs will relate to reading in both languages, but late ERPs and behavioral results will relate to reading only in English. Separating phonological sensitivity into two measurable processes and comparing these processes in two separate language systems will allow us to draw more representative conclusions about which phonological processing skills are related to reading.

Effects of Naming Practices on Children’s Understanding of Living Things

Florencia K. Anggoro, Sandra R. Waxman, and Douglas L. Medin , Northwestern University

We investigated the development of an understanding of the concept LIVING THING in 4- to 10-year-old monolingual children acquiring either English or Indonesian. In English, LIVING THING is comprised of two major constituent categories, animal and plant. However, the word animal has (at least) two senses, and these overlap in their scope. One sense of animal includes both humans and non-human animals; the other sense excludes humans and includes only non-human animals. In Indonesian, the constituents are organized differently: neither this overlapping category structure nor the polysemous use of animal exists. We consider the consequence of this cross-linguistic difference on acquisition, asking whether underlying category structure, coupled with the polysemy of the word animal, interferes with the acquisition of the concept ALIVE or LIVING THING. To address this question, we used a sorting task to compare English- and Indonesian-speaking children’s ability to form a category that includes all and only LIVING THINGS. English- and Indonesian- speaking children successfully formed this inclusive category when they were instructed to sort on the basis of terms like die or grow. Importantly, and as predicted, when children were asked to sort the very same objects on the basis of the term alive, cross-linguistic differences become evident. English-speaking children performed less well when sorting on the basis of alive than on the basis of the other terms, and indeed tended to include animals, but not plants. In contrast, Indonesian-speaking children showed no such decrement. We suggest that this cross-linguistic developmental difference likely stems from the naming practices and underlying conceptual structure in each respective language community.

fMRI Investigation of Cross-Cultural Differences in Object-Context Processing

Angela Gutchess , University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Nisbett et al. (2001) propose that Westerners engage in object-based processing with less regard to the entire field or context whereas East Asians process objects in terms of their relationships and contexts. Novel backgrounds impair recognition of previously encoded objects for Japanese participants, but not Americans (Masuda & Nisbett, 2001), suggesting that Americans focus predominantly on the target object while East Asians encode the object in its context. Activation of different neural circuitry should underlie these cultural differences in object encoding. Using an event-related fMRI design, 11 American and 11 East Asian participants incidentally encoded pictures of: (a) target object alone, (b) background scene with no target object, and (c) target object against a meaningful background. Americans, relative to East Asians, activated more regions implicated in object processing, including left middle temporal cortex. These results indicate that cultural experiences sculpt neural activity when individuals view complex scenes.

Her beautiful face opened the door to the world: Representation and evaluation of working-class female victims of violence, and upper-middle class women in newspapers published in Ciudad Juárez, México

Isabel Velázquez, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This paper compares language used to represent and evaluate women in the society and crime pages of two newspapers published in Ciudad Juárez, México. Located on the border with Texas, Juárez has a population of 1.5 million, and in recent years has been the object of international media attention because of an epidemic of violence that has left a toll of nearly 300 murdered women since 1993. This paper draws on the theoretical framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 2002; Van Leeuwen, 1996), to examine the differences in the rhetorical construction of poor female victims on one hand, and upper-middle class women on the other. The aim of this analysis is to contribute relevant sociolinguistic insights that will aid in explaining how social attitudes and ideological formations are embedded in media discourses.

Hot and cold war: an outcome of the rational decision filter.

Antonio Reyes–Rodríguez , University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Prior to the conflict with Afghanistan and Iraq, the US attempted to justify war through a demonization process that the G.W. Bush administration undertook to appeal to, reproduce and create emotions[1], particularly fear and rejection, to obtain full public support[2] (Bourdieu 2001). This paper focuses on the linguistic representations of war and their implications, on the way in which war is linguistically and rhetorically justified (particularly in the period of build–up to action) or rejected. By analyzing speeches of US presidents, I will account for the administrations’ intentional elusion of well-known totalitarian regimes like China and North Korea. I intend to describe when and why these elusions are latent in the discourse and through linguistic representations. I will present two new theoretical notions to describe a device often used by politicians to create emotions of fear and rejection: “Explicit Emotional Enumeration” and the “Rational Decision Filter”.

Hough Doo Sekund, Therd, & Forth Graiders Rede Gnew Wirds

Maya M. Khanna[1], Michael J. Cortese[2], Lara M.I. Shaffer[3], & David A. Balota[3] , 1. University of Michigan, 2. College of Charleston, 3. Washington University

We examined the reading performance of 2 groups of children (ages 7 -10), one (N=18) of affluent Caucasian children, the other (N=26) of underprivileged African-American children. We examined pronunciations for four groups of nonwords (based on Andrews & Scarratt, 1998): 1) Regular – pern; 2) Ambiguous – heaf; 3) Inconsistent – choll; and 4) No Regular Analogy - moup. We obtained the following baseline measures of nonword pronunciations: 1) proportion of regularizations (GPC rules); 2) proportion of analogies (word-body dominance); and 3) proportion of neither regularizations or analogies. The children then learned the pronunciations and meanings for word-body neighbors of the initial nonwords. Finally, the nonword pronunciation test was readministered. There was an increase in analogy-based pronunciations but no increase in GPC-based pronunciations for the affluent group. The underprivileged group increased their GPC-based pronunciations, but analogy-based pronunciations did not increase. These results are discussed in terms of current word recognition models.

Influence of a Local Dialect in Catholic Holy Week: The Sevillano Dialect

Antonio Manuel Rueda Mesa, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Holy Week in the city of Seville is the most famous, popular and literary one in the world. With more than eight centuries of history their roots are in the people and it is, because of that, a popular celebration more than a religious one. The sevillano dialect, a subdialect of Andalusian, at the same time, presents an innovative richness and a lexical variety which is far from the standard Peninsular dialect. And it is this dialect what I am going to dissect in this research. I will do this studying the speech of the “capataz”, the person who is responsible of the movements of the floats in which the scenes of the passion of the Christ are displayed. I have recorded more than 25 hours of audio and video of the speech of several “capataces” giving orders to the “costaleros”, the people who carry the floats. In these orders the pure Sevillian dialect can be observed. Listening to the “capataces” I will describe the features of the dialect. I will also describe how some of these features are stigmatized in the standard Peninsular dialect and how this is not an obstacle for the “capataces” to use their colloquial speech instead of the standard one which is adopted by some Sevillians who work for the mass media. Some of the most common features are the loss of intervocalic –d-, the “seseo” and the neutralization of l and r. I will postulate a theory which says that this way of speaking by the capataces is a way of vindicate the popular origins of the Holy Week in Seville. The “capataces” do not need to change their colloquial speech since they know in advance that this is part of the tradition of the city. Finally I will try to present some imaginary situations in which the capataces will use a standard accent and how this would change the vision of the Holy Week either by Sevillians and by people from outside of the city. A possible explanation for the impossibility of these situations could be the avoidance of characteristics which do not take part of a tradition of the city and that are seen as “foreign” traces. This tradition is, in my opinion, what have made possible the existence of this celebration for several centuries and that will probably have an important place in the continuation of this religious, social and popular celebration known as “Semana Santa de Sevilla”.

Korean Language Policy in Education: Assessing Motivational Language Learning Attitudes of Korean K-12 Students and Parents Toward English vs. Hancca

Jaeduck Park, Indiana University, Bloomington

In the past decades, the problems facing Korea’s language policy in education have been the primary focus in much of the recent research. Few research approaches have been formally applied to investigate the actual correlation between language education policy and language learning attitudes in Korea. This paper recapitulates and extends Kim’s (1999) work about implementation of usage of hancca and Park’s (2002) motivations of learning English and hancca which revealed that Korean students feel the need to learn hancca as a means of assistance to understand Korean. Olshtain (1989) notes the existence of tension between conserving hancca as part of traditional culture and promoting English education. By evaluating the types of motivational attitudes that K-12 students and their parents have toward learning English vs. hancca, I will show evidence of educational bias corresponding to the government’s language policy in Korea. Working within Agheyisi and Fishman’s (1970) language attitudes methodology, I examine the cognitive (knowledge), affective (feeling), and conative (action) attitudes of students and their parents towards English vs. hancca education based on a survey. In this survey, I created two different types of questionnaires for students in 6th, 8th, and 11th grade and their parents in a small city in Korea. Each group consists of approximately 100 people, making a total of 600 informants. Through qualitative analyses from quantitative results, the study investigates how the language policy in Korean education is perceived and implemented and what factors cause K-12 students and their parents to be motivated to take English vs. hancca education. I hypothesize that the unbalanced, favored, language policy in Korea causes the motivational attitudes of K-12 students and their parents to favor English education rather than hancca although their attitudes towards language education differ; this is due to English’s position as the lingua franca and the perception that one of the best ways to be successful in Korean society is by learning English.

Language alternation, multicultural space, and identity representations

Rakesh M. Bhatt, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

This paper analyzes the use of Hindi in English newspapers in India to demonstrate that code-switching in this context (i) presents a new socio-ideological consciousness, (ii) yields a new way to negotiate and navigate between a global identity and local practices, and (iii) offers a new linguistic diacritic for class-based expressions of cultural identity.  I will conclude that code-switching, as linguistic hybridity, is a third space where speakers (readers/writers) (re-)position themselves with regard to new community-practices of speaking and writing. It is in this space that speakers/writers, as well as readers, are presumed to have the capacity to synthesize, to transform: code-switching serves as a visible marker of this transformation, the creative adaptation to communicate a kind of multiplicity that is highly contextual, a new habitus representing for its speakers a new, slightly altered representation of social order.  Finally, it is in this third space where counter-discourses to the hegemony of monoglossic standards of English and Hindi find an articulation. 

Language as Identity in Modern India, or how language politics broke Bombay, and made Maharashtra.

Shreeyash Palshikar, University of Chicago

Language is an important component of identity formation in South Asia.  People have been producing texts in languages other than Sanskrit in South Asia for more than a milennium.  The geographic ranges of circulation of these texts can be thought of as early vernacular regions or spaces.  This paper explores the roles of language in identity and state creation in modern India.  It focuses on the moment after Indian independence when the government re-drew its administrative boundaries.  These boundaries were drawn largely on the principle of creating linguistic states.  Far from being a simple administrative task, the process of re-drawing state boundaries in India was a time when linguistic identity became a potent political force for opposition parties striving to carve out a niche in the newly independent nation. This paper explores the role of language as a component of identity creation in modern India. 

Locating Consensus on Welsh Identity in the Employment of the Symbols of Welshness

Steven M. Maas , University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

There are three major positions on Welsh identity at the moment. One of these is that Welshness is heterogeneous and yet, where the Welsh language is most prominent, Welsh speakers share a virtually complete set of understandings about a dominant ideology of Welshness (Trosset 1993; Trosset and Caulkins 2001). Another is that knowledge of Welsh identity may not be completely shared, but there is and has been a virtually completely shared preference for exhibiting difference and dissent relative to the United Kingdom through culturally expressive means, rather than violent or overtly political action—-among 20th-century Welsh nationalists, in particular (Davies 1989, Rawkins 1984, Williams 1979). Finally, both positions would be contradicted were there no significant sharing of explicit understandings or principles of action regarding Welsh ways. This third position, which some Welsh scholars have suggested (e.g., Phillips 1996), seems to be what Stromberg (1986) meant by “symbols without meanings.” While the first position has been tested and confirmed (Trosset and Caulkins, 2001), no one has gone beyond the resulting “answer key” to see whether Welsh characteristics are employed uniformly, either in accord with the second position or among the young. Youths surrounded by those who wish to protect "Welsh culture" might use a shared stock of ideas of society, language, and culture, but exhibit only incomplete consensus (Boster 1985; Romney, Batchelder, and Weller 1987; Romney, Weller, and Batchelder 1986; and Trosset and Caulkins 2001) in the ways they employ those ideas. In that case, a consensus on knowledge of objectified culture (e.g., folkloric dances) alone might not reflect the cognitive processes that take place in the enactment of Welsh identity. This paper elaborates a methodology, following Gatewood and Lowe (2005), designed to determine whether Welsh identity might be enacted on the basis of differential employment of common understandings of the characteristics of Welshness.

Mediating Basque identity through pedagogical materials

Maria Ciriza, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

This paper examines how the images (comics, drawings, etc) presented in Basque language textbooks and Basque educational web pages promulgate ideas of who is Basque versus who is not. According to Echeverria (2003) Basque language textbooks’ images emphasize the idea that speaking Basque is an important part of being Basque, reinforcing an “ethnolinguistic pedagogy” which claims that only autochthonous Basques are “pure Basques”. Ethnolinguistic exclusivist ideas collide with the real sociolinguistic situation of the Basque Country in which only 26% of the Basque population speaks Basque and are Basque autochthonous, versus the majority coming from Spanish immigrant families. I will show how recent pedagogical materials employ images of a Basque popular culture which is less folkloristic and more integrative in an attempt as Heller claims (1999) to accommodate multiple identities to Basque language practice, adapting it to a wider audience that includes both Basques from Spanish immigrant families and heritage Basque speakers.

Navigating the Social World: Some Evidence for Increased Social Flexibility among Biculturals.

Kristy K. Dean & Wendi L. Gardner, Northwestern University

In line with the dynamic constructivist approach to culture and cognition (Hong, Morris, Chiu, & Benet-Martínez, 2000), current research has demonstrated that biculturals vs. monoculturals are more capable at flexibly shifting between self-construals (Gardner, Gabriel, & Dean, 2004). The current study examined whether biculturals are particularly capable at shifting their behavior in accordance with social norms. Participants responded to several behavioral scenarios in which the type of self-regulation necessary to behave appropriately was varied (e.g., boast/brag vs. behave modestly). Findings suggest that Asian-American biculturals, relative to monocultural Asians and North Americans, are more capable at altering their behavioral intentions to mirror the situationally-appropriate social norms. Interestingly, this effect only occurred for biculturals who compartmentalize vs. integrate their cultural identities, suggesting that separate identities may reduce ambiguity as to which meaning system is applicable in a given situation. Thus, shifting between two meaning systems may confer some social benefits for biculturals.

Para-Phrasing in the Zone of Proximal Development: Latino Child Translators and the Co-Construction of Knowledge

Julia Eksner, Northwestern University

Paraphrasing (meaning making, translating and interpreting) activities of bilingual children are generally implicitly theorized with models of individual cognition: the para-phrasing act is seen as happening within the "heads" of children. In my presentation I will show that these models do not provide a good fit for the data, and that situated and distributed models of cognition enable us to understand these literacy events more fully. I forward the notion of para-phrasing activities being  natural learning and developmental tasks that are scaffolded by parent-interlocutors in various ways. This presentation will draw on qualitative observational and interview data for three case study children which were collected for the "Latino Children as Family Translators" project at Northwestern University.

Permission Slips: Language Choice, Informed Consent, and Educational Context in Research on Minority Language Revitalization

Emily McEwan-Fujita, Loyola University Chicago

This paper explores the issues of language choice and informed consent when conducting fieldwork in a bilingual cultural context involving a minoritized language. The paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted at a week-long children’s Gaelic music tuition summer day-camp held in a bilingual Gaelic-English community in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. In conducting participant observation field research at the festival (held at a local school), informed consent was obtained from parents to tape record their children participating in the classes. All of the parents were familiar with the textual genre of the "school permission slip" and willingly agreed to sign what they saw as a similar consent form in English, except for one Gaelic language activist who challenged the use of English for the form. His challenge highlights the way that culturally-sensitive issues of language choice in an educational context can impact research on minority language revitalization efforts.

Personal Storytelling Practices with Young Children in Euro-American and Taiwanese Families: A Longitudinal Study of Early Socialization

Eva Chian-Hui Chen, Shumin Lin, Peggy J. Miller, and Heidi Fung, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Existing research demonstrates that personal storytelling is a powerful medium of early socialization. Moreover, emerging evidence further suggested that personal storytelling is used to correct young children’s misdeeds in Chinese cultures, whereas it is used as a medium of affirmation in Euro-American culture. However, existing work is cross-sectional; we know little about how personal storytelling changes during the preschool years. The current study addressed this omission, building directly on earlier research that compared Taiwanese and Euro-American families when the children were 2;6 (Miller et al., 1997). We followed the same children at 3;0, 3;6, and 4;0 and asked the following questions: Did the families continue to engage routinely in personal storytelling at the later ages? Did personal storytelling continue to carry culture-specific interpretive frameworks when these children got older? The study was ethnographic in approach, involving intensive everyday home observation in 12 families in Taipei and Longwood (a Chicago neighborhood), yielding a total of 144 hours of video-recorded observations. Stories of personal experience were defined and these stories were transcribed verbatim in Chinese and English, respectively. Coding criteria developed in the earlier studies were adapted to the older children and were reliably applied, yielding a corpus of 600 naturally-occurring stories. Results show that personal storytelling was still practiced routinely at the later ages and continued to carry culture-specific meanings. These findings indicate that personal storytelling, remains a robust medium of socialization for both Taiwanese and Euro-American children throughout the preschool years.

Phonostatistic Approach to Intelligibility: A Comparison between American English and Jamaican English

James H. Yang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Earlier studies on the mutual intelligibility of different English varieties have found that people who have negative attitudes towards language variation might be adversely affected in their performance of word recognition tasks and tend to overstate the unintelligibility of English speakers with ethnic, regional or foreign accents other than their own (Mettler, 1989; Preston, 1996; Lippi-Green, 1997; Lindemann, 2001; Kachi, 2004). Accordingly, if we would like to assess intelligibility, how can we separate bias from the evaluation of intelligibility? This study will provide a phonostatistic approach to measure “systemic mutual intelligibility” (SMI), which Cheng (1996) defines as describing different varieties “in terms of their systems and correspondence patterns,” in contrast to “participant mutual intelligibility,” which is based on “personal experience and linguistic ability of individuals” (p. 280). I will present how we can quantify phonological divergence to assess SMI, as a linguistic index of participant-based research into intelligibility.

Pragmatic Functions of the Diminutive in three varieties of Colombian Spanish

Monica Millan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The use of diminutives has been documented (Lipski, 1994) as a frequent phenomenon in Colombian Spanish, and this constant use might have contributed to an extension of its functions. Some authors claim (Alonso, 1961; Montes Giraldo, 1972; Jurafsky, 1996) that, historically and across languages, the functions of the diminutive in Spanish derive from the concept of small and child. From this starting point, the diminutive has developed a wide variety of semantic and pragmatic functions, such as affect, contempt, courtesy, modesty, among others. The present paper attempts to compare and contrast the pragmatic functions assigned to Spanish diminutive forms in three Colombian dialects. The data was collected from three different dialectal regions of Colombia: Cartagena in the Caribbean Coast, Cali in the Pacific, and Bogotá in the Central Highlands. The forms under study were analyzed on the basis of gender, age, and dialect of the participants.

Reformulation of language and thought symbiosis

Sevda Numanbayraktaroglu, University of Chicago

Approaches to linguistic relativity question is discussed in the context of a reformulation of language and thought symbiosis. Despite their mutually exclusive stances, arguments that make up the polarized discussion on the linguistic relativity share a common understanding of language as a stable system of normatively identical linguistic forms. An alternative understanding of language that foregrounds its pragmatics is proposed for a reformulation of the relationship between language and thought. The relationship between language and thought is reconceptualized as intersecting at the semantic level, at the discursive level, and at the moment of interaction. This formulation counters the shortcomings of the previous approaches to linguistic relativity by bringing into theory the contributions of the sociocultural and the interactional contexts to the language/thought symbiosis. It is suggested that this complex relationship is examined through naturally occurring speech embedded in the nexus of the sociocultural and the situational contexts.

Rhetoric of Hate: An Analysis of Gender and Metaphor in Hate Speech

Tarini Bedi, University of Illinois at Chicago

Metaphor use in hate speech frames the parameters of this speech. A critical parameter of hate speech is gender. On the one hand, the increasing participation of women in acts of violent speech, forces a recasting of the masculinized domain of violent speech. On the other hand, an analysis of the hate speech of organized racist groups illustrates the ways in which racist hate discourse, both of men and women is deeply, even if invisibly gendered. As suggested by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, the conceptual structures and metaphors used to describe socio-cultural life are structured by the mind in a variety of ways that have very little to do with the “objective” relations of the world but are held to be true by those who share the metaphorical universe. This paper argues that the intentional use of metaphorical strategies is reflective of underlying gender ideologies as well as of gendered uses of language. First, this research explores the ways in which hate speech uses metaphors that tie together ideologies of racism and xenophobia with ideologies of gender. Second, it compares the use of metaphors by racist men and racist women to explore the ways that male and female organized racists talk about their perceived “others.” It argues that both male and female hate speech is constructed within ideologies of gender and power and that the “other” is often seen in gendered terms.

Role of cultural factors in linguistic maintenance and endangerment: the case of Piana degli Albanesi, Sicily

Eda Derhemi, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This paper emphasizes the idea that the structural changes consistent with language endangerment and loss are always motivated and supported by extra-linguistic changes, like economic, cultural or political factors. In this paper I analyze the cultural factors that have played a significant role in the maintenance of Arbresh, an Albanian dialect spoken today in Sicily (Italy), and in its endangerment of the last decades. Arbresh successfully survived for more than 5 centuries, thanks to a longstanding and great tradition of cultural perseverance and self-appreciation. The paper analyzes first the patterns of community attitudes and institutions like the church and the community elite that were the motor and basis of linguistic maintenance.

Schizophrenia.com: The Cognitive and Cultural Benefits of Online Communication for People Diagnosed with Schizophrenia

Neely Laurenzo Myers, University of Chicago

Current research on people diagnosed with schizophrenia highlights interpersonal difficulties as “symptoms” experienced by this commonly marginalized group.  Various disciplines theorize the potential causes for these interpersonal difficulties, ranging from neurocognitive deficits to problems with "social cognition" to a sense of social defeat.  I explore how computer-mediated communication (CMC) affords people with schizophrenia the opportunity to commune with others experiencing the intense ramifications of this illness, and thereby form a "culture of communication" on their own terms.  Thousands of people diagnosed with schizophrenia log-in from English-speaking countries around the world every day to share words with each other at www.schizophrenia.com.  What (cognitively and culturally) makes these relationships possible for a population that has demonstrated remarkable difficulty forming interpersonal relationships in the past?  How do participants use these social relationships to negotiate, understand, and alleviate the emotional distress experienced by a person with schizophrenia?  What might we learn from this community that will help us combat social isolation for people with schizophrenia?

Teaching an Ethnographic View of Interpersonal Communication

Leila Monaghan, Indiana University

In the past five years, Indiana University has radically rethought its large Interpersonal Communication course.  Whereas previously it was a textbook-based course reflecting the field’s usually quantitative approach, the new version is based on an ethnographic approach.  Today, students read original ethnographic work and do a semester long ethnographic project, tape-recording and transcribing the conversation of friends or family. The results of teaching students to do ethnographic analyses of conversations of those around them have been striking.  They include giving students a chance to discuss extremely personal issues such as romantic or family relationships in a non-judgmental and theoretical manner.  Students are not told what the right or wrong way to communicate is, but instead develop a nuanced understanding of their own communication forms and the cultural contexts and ramifications of these forms. Data-grounded comments like that of one woman reacting to the differences between how she and her brother were perceived, “when I listen to the tape, it's perfectly okay for my brother to do that” are common and give weight to discussions of both personal and theoretical issues.  Rather than just reinforcing previously held notions about communication, specific practices can be looked at from a distance that allows students to understand how they themselves participate in larger cultural practices. This paper is an ethnography of students learning to do these ethnographies.  Based on participation in and taping of an August 2004 Assistant Instructor training session and a Fall 2004 class, this paper documents how students have reacted to the new version of the Interpersonal Communication course and examines the kinds of skills they have learned.  By doing so, I hope to not describe IU’s program but illustrate how others can use similar techniques in their own classrooms.

Terms of Address in Boondei Families

Aimee Johansen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Boondei people are a Bantu culture in Tanzania. Within Boondei society, people generally name their children after members of their own parents' generation, with the first children being named after the parents' parents, and subsequent children being named after the parents' aunts and uncles. It is then possible for family members to refer to the children by the title of the relationship that they hold with the person that the child was named after (PNA). For example, if the child was named after her mother's maternal aunt (who is older than her mother's mother), she could be addressed by the following family members using the following terms: Mame Mkuu 'Big Mother', by her mother and her father; Daada 'Sister', by her maternal grandmother; Daada 'Sister', by her maternal great-aunts and great-uncles; Wao 'Grandmother', by her siblings; Mame 'Mother', by the children of her PNA; and Mwanangu 'my child', by her great-grandparents (who are the parents of her PNA). It will be argued that this practice is a reflection of the importance of one's position within the extended family. Additional evidence for this argument comes from nicknames that can be used to address family members. This practice is common in other Bantu cultures as well, and data will be drawn from Kikuyu, another Bantu language spoken mainly in Kenya.

What Happens When We Encounter a Foreign Culture? A Dynamic Constructivist Approach to Intercultural Contact

Manchi Melody Chao and Ying-yi Hong, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The increasingly diverse population in the United States has created a pressing demand to understand the impact of intercultural contact. What happens when an immigrant comes into contact with the host culture? What happens when individuals from the mainstream culture encounter foreign ideals? The current research attempts to answer these questions from a dynamic constructivist perspective. In a sequential priming task, we presented Asian American and European American participants with American or Chinese cultural icons briefly, followed by cultural value words (or non-words). Based on the participants’ reaction time towards the different cultural icon-word pairings, we examine (1) how individuals’ cognitions are shaped by their cultural experiences, and (2) the role individual differences play in moderating individuals’ cognitive responses. Our study demonstrates that cultural exposure and individual differences in their belief of the fixedness of race moderate their cognitive processes. The implications of the findings will be discussed.

Reading Teachers Read: Uncovering English Teachers' Personal Orientations to Reading

Malayna Bernstein, Northwestern University

Classrooms are complex places. To truly understand the dynamics of a classroom, it is not enough to consider each component in isolation – a student, a teacher, a curriculum – nor is it enough to examine how these elements interact. We do justice to the complexity of the classroom only by understanding each variable as multi-faceted. While in the past two decades educational research has made major strides in understanding teachers in more nuanced ways – unpacking their knowledge and beliefs about students and pedagogy – researchers have not moved beyond the classroom walls in trying to understand teachers. This has led to an over-simplified understanding of perhaps the most important variable in classrooms, an understanding which promotes undifferentiated approaches to teacher education and development; however, just as a “one size fits all” approach cannot successfully teach all students, a singular view of teachers cannot advance teacher learning and reform. Unlike in other disciplines, English teachers frequently engage in the very task they in which they instruct their students: they read at home, on the train, during lunch, and over vacations. Hence, reading is a logical place to begin the study of how teachers’ lives outside of school may affect their classroom instruction. Just as understanding children’s “funds of knowledge” helps us cater instruction for students (Moll, 1992, 1997), understanding teachers’ reading histories, practices and beliefs can help teacher educators better prepare and teach English teachers. This study collected “life story” interviews from fourteen high school English teachers about their personal histories with reading. These teachers also completed extensive surveys about their personal, academic and professional reading practices. The life story interview and survey allowed the researcher to identify different personal orientations to reading. Teachers representing each reading orientation are being observed over the course of a school year. During observations, the researcher examines how each personal orientation manifests itself in the teaching of reading. In cases where a teacher’s personal orientation to reading seems contradicted in teaching, the researcher is documenting potential mediating factors, such as a standardized curriculum, beliefs about student achievement, and teaching “for the test,” as suggested by Zancanella’s research (1990, 1991). In order to triangulate the researcher’s conclusions, she will conduct a clinical interview with each teacher, using video from the subjects’ classroom to solicit their explanations for their practice. Finally, nine of the teachers’ students were surveyed about their orientations to reading, once in September and again in June. The pre and post surveys of approximately 800 students will measure if students’ reading orientations were affected by their teachers over the course of the school year. Using this varied data, analysis has begun to examine when and how teachers’ personal orientations to subject matter affect students’ orientations to subject matter, considering a myriad of mediating forces. Early analysis suggests that when teachers’ personal orientations involve empathic or interpersonal approaches to reading, a more reform orientation instruction follows when no mediating forces interfere. A lack of pedagogical context knowledge or low expectations of students seems to be common causes of interference between personal reading orientations and reading instruction.

Word order, Animacy, and Agreement Cues in Sentence Processing by L1 Mandarin EFL Learners

Yowyu Lin , University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The present study examined the crosslinguistic data from the perspective of Competition Model (Bates & MacWhinney, 1987). English native speakers and Taiwanese English learners with different English proficiency were recruited. Three research questions were investigate: (1) Which cues would be used most for different groups of subjects? (2) What kind of language transfer would be found in Taiwanese high school students? (3) Would two different nonnative groups differ in their use of cues? Findings indicated that intermediate and advanced Taiwanese English learners used mainly animacy and word order cues respectively, due to a different length of exposure to a foreign language. Also, results showed forward transfer by intermediate nonnative subjects, while the advanced group of subjects did not show this transfer. Interestingly, animacy cues in native English speakers did not reach significance, which might be due to the influence of real world bias in the previous studies.


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