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Friday, October 11 • 8:55am - 9:20am
Strong et al.: Linking prestige with power: Gender, oration, and variable affrication in Ende

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Linking prestige with power: Gender, oration, and variable affrication in Ende

​Women tend to use standard variants more than men (Labov, 1990), possibly to access symbolic power when traditional avenues to power are unavailable (Eckert, 1989:256). We present results from a study examining variable affrication of retroflex obstruents (ʈ͡ʂ)~(ʈ) and (ɖ͡ʐ)~(ɖ) in Ende, a language spoken in Papua New Guinea. Despite no written standard, Ende speakers have strong opinions on what constitutes “good” Ende. Men, older speakers, and community orators hold positions of prestige. A variationist analysis of the speech of 16 Ende speakers demonstrates that the variable is more likely to be realized as a stop when produced by orators. Among the orators, older speakers and women are more likely to produce tokens as stops compared with younger speakers and men. We argue both that the observed patterns arise because the stopped variants are linked with power and that women orators use the variants to assert symbolic power.

Session abstract: What’s so standard about standards?
Standard language ideology (SLI) is a topic ripe for new cross-cultural comparisons, as notions of standard and prestige have been central to sociolinguistic theorizing (Meyerhoff 2019). Cheshire observes that ‘variationists have worked almost exclusively on languages that have been heavily standardized, so the potential influence of [SLI] on the selection of variables […] has been high’ (2005:87). Further, historically atypical standardized national languages of urban elites in modern stratified societies have entrenched hierarchical views of variation, that are grounded in a functional model and asymmetric power relations (e.g. Rickford 1986). These biases should be addressed if we are to build sociolinguistic universals (Guy & Adli 2019). This session continues the discussion by examining underrepresented communities where SLI is realized in different ways, or not at all. Six original research papers will explore this topic around the world, and a discussant presentation will contextualize the panel’s observations.


Katherine Anne Strong

PhD Student, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
avatar for Kate Lindsey

Kate Lindsey

Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Boston University
I work on language documentation and description in southern Papua New Guinea, particularly of Pahoturi River languages.

Katie Drager

Associate Professor, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Friday October 11, 2019 8:55am - 9:20am PDT
EMU Gumwood
  S: What's so standard about standards?