PhD Student session abstracts
Language and Identity Symposium
LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY
PhD student session
Abstracts (alphabetical by author)
Triin Kibar (Tallinn University)
Linguistic autobiographies, language memoirs and learner's diaries have become an important means of data collection in applied linguistics. Linguistic biographies focus on the languages of the speaker and discuss how and why these languages were acquired, used, or abandoned. Autobiographic narratives are valuable source of data because they offer insights into people private lives and provide the insider's view of the processes of language learning. However, linguistic autobiographies are not entirely individual stories - they are co-constructed by social, cultural and historical conventions. Thus, autobiographies produced in different languages and cultures may be very distinct. Language learning narrative is closely linked to the narrative of one's life - different languages can come to people's lives at different times, linguistic preferences, identity and linguistic environment may change. Using language learning motivation as a case in point, this paper analysis a corpus of 8 oral Estonian language learning narratives Linguistic narratives of 8 Russian-speaking immigrants were elicited through narrative interviews. The purpose of the study is to examine social, cultural, and historic conventions that shape language learning autobiographies, using language learning motivation as a case in point. The study demonstrates that Estonian Russian-speaking immigrant narratives offer a much different templates comparing to most studied American narrative tradition - American immigrants who construct their identity in new language and speak about their experiences. Sociolinguistic context in Estonia offers something else. After regaining its independence in 1991, the situation for the Russian-speaking immigrants in Estonia suddenly changed. They had to adapt themselves to new conditions, study Estonian as a sole official language, and apply for citizenship. It can be observed that historical changes, sudden turn in language policy, etc. produce certain types of linguistic biographies.
"We"- Verbal strategies of integrating the recipients´ perspective in political communication
Martha Kuhnhenn (University of Greifswald)
Political actors (parties as well as singular politicians) seek to gain votes in order to win elections. In this context verbal communication is a basic actor´s instrument to represent oneself as a competent, trustful and "people oriented" person. Hence, politicians ought to act and communicate in a way, which makes the recipients and voters anticipate, that their problems are taken seriously and the communicator (that is the politician) is eager to improve the people´s situation.
Following this idea, it is to be expected that political actors use specific verbal strategies (with regard to the outlined recipients´ perspective) while speaking in public and/or in the media.
Examples of these strategies might be the use of pronouns, such as you and we. Other strategies might be the use of humorous or emotional language, because the utterance of humour and emotions evoke a context which suggests a kind of "privacy" and therefore can be seen as a verbal instrument to integrate the recipients' perspective. Metaphors or the use of a dialect (in contrast to the standard language) might be further strategies within political communication in order to try to focus and engage the recipients and potential voters.
The analysis of these strategies is the focus of this study.
With regard to the modus of communication, this study focuses on the verbal communication of singular political actors and furthermore on oral communication that is transmitted via the media to a broad public.
The strategy described above and examined in this study seems especially important in order to gain votes. Thus, it is to be expected that political actors make great use of this strategy in the period shortly before elections. The corpus that has been analyzed so far and that shall be presented on the conference is taken from two episodes of one of the most well-known German TV talk show in the public television, namely hart aber fair, on the ARD . The examined episodes have been broadcasted before the elections of the German parliament in 2009. The advantage of the material taken from a talk show is the fact that the actors speak (relatively) free and spontaneously.
Furthermore the corpus contains oral communication of members of all five German parties, which are in the German Lower House of Parliament (Deutsche Bundestag).
Since the focus of this study is on singular political actors and their oral communication during a TV talk show two methods seem necessary. A) Coding: first of all every single strategy uttered (e. g. the use of metaphors, or emotional language) has to be coded and B) secondly, selected sequences of the conversation have to be transcribed and examined with the linguistic conversational analysis.
French configurative discursive identity vs Estonian space anchored identity
Marge Käsper (University of Tartu)
In a study I conducted in the field of contrastive linguistics (Käsper 2005), I analyzed the manner of text construction in French and in Estonian with the special focus on the use of possessive pronouns. It turned out that in the French texts possessive pronouns were used more frequently as opposed to Estonian texts which were less explicit in the way they expressed interpersonal relations. I also found that in the cases where the construction of text progression differed, Estonian texts tended to refer deictically to time or to space, the categories which seem to function quite independently in Estonian. In French, however, text progression seemed to be more explicitly related to activity and to its agents. This was expressed by possessive pronouns and other means.
In an another study, in the field of contrastive discourse analysis (Käsper 2011), I found that while the beginnings of book reviews in French employ different discursive processes to link the book to its (abundant) discursive context, the strategies of beginnings in the Estonian book reviews are rather to anchor the book to its spatio-temporal and interpersonal context (maybe in a desire to avoid the responsibility for what is being said). In a further study in this field (Käsper 2011b) I examined the way of presentation of the source text in French and Estonian book reviews. Results indicate a much more marked following of the source-text structure in Estonian reviews whereas a more synthesized, re-configurative way of presentation is evident in French reviews.
In a study I conducted in the field of the iconicity of linguistic means (where the sounds of physical nature are imitated by the human language) (Käsper 2000), I noticed not only the little amount of onomatopoetic words in French as opposed to their abundance in Estonian, but also a curious coincidence that two eminent researchers to rise the topic of linguistic iconicity in the French language come from the Finno-Ugric context (Hungarians Peterfalvi and Fonagy), while one of the few researchers from the French background in the field, P. Guiraud, analyzes the topic from the point of view of its configurative structure.
Putting together these analyses from different fields of linguistic research both as the basis and the way to proceed, I'd propose to sum up a certain discursive identity of the two cultural areas considered. Thus I propose a certain configurative discursive identity for the French language and culture, and rather a spatial one for the Estonian language and culture. If French thought can indeed be characterized by structure configured around a Descartian subject in its center, then Estonian thought (in its very little discursive space of its own) can't really pretend to totalité, it's rather a perspective of an individual within a space.
Käsper, M. (2011). Quelle ouverture sur l'œuvre dans les incipits des comptes rendus de lecture? Une lecture contrastive des terrains discursifs estonien et français. In: Préfaces et comptes rendus dans les sciences sociales et humaines. Pour une approche interdisciplinaire des textes et cultures, (Eds.) Montes, Stefano; Taverna, Licia.Tallinn: Tallinn Pedagogical University, Institute of International and Social Studies, 2011, (Tallinna Ülikooli toimetised (Humaniora)), xxx - xxx. [to appear]
Käsper 2011b La structure comme objet et comme pratique dans les comptes rendus de lecture estoniens et français: la linéarité en question. In: Préfaces et comptes rendus dans les sciences sociales et humaines. Pour une approche interdisciplinaire des textes et cultures II, (Eds.) Montes, Stefano; Taverna, Licia. Tallinn: Tallinn Pedagogical University, Institute of International and Social Studies, 2011b, (Tallinna Ülikooli toimetised (Humaniora)), xxx - xxx. [to appear]
Käsper, Marge (2005). Deixis et anaphore dans la progression et la cohésion textuelles : différences d'emploi en estonien et en francais. Treikelder, A., Daniele Monticelli, D., Pajusalu, R. (Eds.). De l'énoncé à l'énonciation et vice-versa. Regards multidisciplinaires sur la deixis (383 - 401). Tartu: Tartu Ülikool.
Marge Käsper, Master'sDegree, 2000, (sup) JaquelineVaissiere, Motivation des onomatopées - a quel point et par quels moyens?, Paris 3 University.
Arguments of (ethno)linguistic particularism:
A contrastive outlook concerning Catalan and Romanian areas
Sebastià Moranta Mas (Philipps-Universität Marburg / Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)
K. Bochmann (1999) has compared Galician and Moldavian cases in relation to the identititary and political dimension of the linguistic conflict. In this paper we depart from some points of view of that essay in order to contrast the language ideologies present in peripheral areas of Catalan and Romanian: on the one hand, València and the Balearic Islands; on the other, the current Republic of Moldova. In both situations we observe, not to mention obvious differences due to dissimilar historical processes, a set of collective representations about language(s) which could be explained as issues of an unbalanced social bilingualism. These attitudes take often diatopical variation (i.e. the idiosyncrasy of the own variety) as a symbolic resource allowing political dominance as well as delimitation of the own group and national or regional identity.
Therefore, we propose to introduce the argumentative features of a particular kind of identitary (and sociolinguistic) discourse in Spain and the Republic of Moldova, based on a textual corpus reflecting respectively a Spanish (non-Catalan) national ideology and a Moldovan (non-Romanian) one. In the centre of this discussion there is respectively an implicit or explicit repulse of such concepts as "Catalan Countries" (Països Catalans), "Great Romania" (România Mare) and other related terms (catalanisme or pancatalanisme; românism). Linguistic identities on that level are certainly conditioned by upper political, mostly state structures, which have to do with historical tradition, cultural influence and geostrategic interests. Thus, whichever sort of Valencian or Balearic identity fluctuates symbolically between the autonomous Catalonia and Spain, as well as most Moldovan affairs seem for over two centuries to be determined by changing relations to Bucharest and Moscow. Cărăuș (2002) has suggested the following typology for identitary discourses in Moldova, which is possible to adapt mutatis mutandis to other situations with a conflictive linguistic or political identity: A Romanian discourse as opposed to a Moldovan one, with a radicalization in form of respectively an European and a Neo-Soviet discourses.
Bochmann, Klaus (1999): "À l'Est comme à l'Ouest, ou les extrêmes se touchent: Moldavie et Galice devant le problème de la langue". In: Homenaxe a Xesús Alonso Montero. Santiago de Compostela: Monteagudo, 249-263.
Cărăuș, Tamara (2002): "Republica Moldova: identităţi false, adevărate sau naţionale?". Contrafort, 4-5 (90-91), abril-mayo. URL: <http://www.contrafort.md/2002/90-91/338.html> [28.06.2009].
Discursive definition of national identity and citizenship: a comparative study of Canadian and Estonian constitutions and civil rights documents
Zanna Razinkova (University of Tartu)
The rapid increase in intercultural interaction, cross-border economic, social and technological exchange that globalisation has brought along has had enormous impact on the lives of different societies worldwide. As a result, the borders of nation-states, which are considered to be the primary guarantors of the preservation of the national identity, are dissolving and embracing diversity and variation. Consequently, the perception of one's national identity is, too, undergoing a change. In order to capture and explain the current changing condition of national identity the paper resorts to the fundamental laws of the countries, which are considered to be the ultimate manifestation of peoples' and their states' self-image.
The given paper studies how the concept of national identity is formulated in the basic laws of the countries studied: Constitution and civil rights documents. In other words, the paper compares the discursive definitions of national identity and explores to what extent different countries rely on their ethnic and/or political defintions. The paper consists of an introduction which outlines the effects of globalisation on national identity. The theoretical issues of the paper concern different discursive constructions of the notions of "ethnic" and "civic" and is followed by the methodology part which introduces the context-sensitive discourse historical approach developed by Martin Reisigl and Ruth Wodak (2001). Whereas, the empirical part more specifically focuses on the discourse analysis of the Constitutions and civil rights documents of Canada and Estonia and the discussion of the results achieved in the course of the analysis.
Identity of the United States as expressed/reproduced through the construction of Russia in Barack Obama's messages
Oksana Zueva (University of Tartu)
There are strong links between language, identity, and foreign policy. Identity of a state is deeply inscribed into the semiotic structure of its language and also influences the way this state interacts with other states. One example of this are the US-Russia relations and the construction of Russia in Barack Obama's speeches, statements, and messages.
When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, one item in his major foreign policy agenda was improving US relations with Russia. Ever since, Obama kept trying to construct Russia as an equal partner and a friend of the United States. However, such positive construction often turned out to be unwelcome despite the successful joint efforts of the US and Russia on the world arena (Russia allowed military and civil transit through its territory to Afghanistan; Russia supported sanctions against Iran; joint operations were undertaken by the US and Russia against drug dealers, etc.) One reason behind this situation is the nature of the state identity of the US. Almost always, US political discourse has constructed Russia as the Other to constitute the identity of the Self in this way (Campbell 1992). Russia in its turn has also been othering the US to constitute its own community. The reason behind this is that there are diverse identities within a state which would otherwise enter into conflict if there were no significant Other across the border whom the signification system of the state describes as a threat (Laclau 2007). Also, since identities within a state are not uniform and may even hold conflicting narratives, it is important that there be a constitutive outside which would imagine the identity of the state as uniform and stable (Morozov 2010).
It should be noted that outsiders/Others can be of a different nature. Russia is an active and hence very important outsider - it was already in the second half of the 18th century that Russia's debate on the Western community established the identity of the West as a cultural and political community. It is also in the situation of today's world politics that Russia reproduces and reifies the hegemony of the West when it actively seeks to oppose the West by using key notions from Western ideology ("democracy", "human rights", "free markets", etcetera) and tries to fill them up with a different content (Morozov 2010). As a result, the US cannot banish Russia into nowhere altogether, being at the same time incapable of taking Russia in completely. In the peculiar situation of Russia being the fence sitter (neither in nor out), it is especially rewarding to examine the ways in which Russia is constructed in Barack Obama's messages.
This presentation will discuss various (inevitably contradictory) ways of constructing Russia in President Obama's verbal communications. Comments will be made as to how the identity of the US influences/limits Obama's talk of Russia and how Obama, in his turn, shapes the US identity in terms of referring to Russia.
Campbell. David. 1992. Writing Security: United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Laclau. Ernesto. 2007. Emancipation(s). In Radical Thinkers. Brooklyn: Verso.
Morozov. Viatcheslav. 2010. Western hegemony, global democracy, and the Russian challenge. In Christopher S. Browning and Marko Lehti (eds), The Struggle for the West: A Divided and Contested Legacy, London, New York: Routledge, pp. 185-200.