ANTH 120 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Chicano English, Language Assessment, Racialization

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12 Jun 2018
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Anth. 120 Week Eleven Lecture Notes
So is race real?
Race is real as a social and historical phenomenon, though it has no real
biological basis
Can document empirically the process of racialization, the most obvious of these
in an official capacity is a census or demographic data.
Idea of racialized identity and separating people into race really emerged with the
slave trade as a way to rationalize the enslavement of other human beings.
Why talk about race in a course on language and culture?
Race continues to shape our institutions including language and culture
John Baugh did early research on linguistic profiling
Indexicality: the way that certain things point at something else, such as accents
indicating race or origins.
Learning to discriminate, Lippi-Green looked at depictions of disney characters
over time in 1980
“Children learn not only how to use variation in their own languages but
also how to interpret social variation in the language of others.
(Lippi-Green 1980:80)”
She reviewed 24 Disney films multiple times
Analyzed 371 characters for language and character variables (variety
spoken, gender, animal vs. human, hero vs. villain, etc.)
Language assessment based on character’s pronunciation, syntactic
structure (grammar), marked lexical items (salient vocabulary)
Refers to mainstream US english (MUSE) as the standard variety of
english to be the benchmark like the way people talk on NPR or CNN
Quantitative results:
43% of characters spoke MUSE
8% spoke a regional variety of US english, usually a southern
variety, and 5% a social variety like AAE or Chicano English
22% spoke a mainstream British accent and 11% with another
variety of British english
Non-native english (foreign)
Used to convey story setting in another country
But not just setting…
Research questions: When characters speak a variety other than the
standard, what kinds of characters are they? Or what characteristics are
implicitly associated specific accents in children's films?
Found that most ‘good’ characters spoke MUSE or British english
though in the latter a higher proportion of ‘bad’ characters and that
most ‘bad’ characters, or at least an equal amount rather than
lesser, spoke with foreign-accented english.
Most if not all african-american vernacular speaking characters
appear in animal rather than human form and in films like Lion
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