The Cambridge Studies of Language Practices and Social Development

World network with outline of peopleThe Cambridge Studies of Language Practices and Social Development series provides a needed platform for scholarly discussions around the relationship between diverse language practices and social development and environmental conservation around the world. This series publishes research of the highest quality in socially oriented and problem driven applied linguistics integrating qualitative and quantitative methodologies from humanities, social sciences, public health, education and computer science.

Cambridge Extra spoke to the series editor Meng Ji (The University of Sydney, Australia) about the series.

What has motivated the development of the series?

Our series promotes innovative focused research to address practical social problems such as global environmental, health and legal issues which represent new research challenges, as well as opportunities for socially oriented language practice research.

This series fills in an important gap in current applied linguistics, i.e. socially oriented language practices for disadvantaged social groups such as aboriginal peoples, migrants, refuges, asylum seekers, women, children and people living with physical and mental illnesses.

Titles in this series will demonstrate that socially oriented linguistic research can produce significant, multi-disciplinary outcomes to help the global community and international and national policy makers tackle pressing social problems in the contemporary world.

The inclusion of world indigenous languages represents a major contribution of this series to the study of changing (bilingual/multilingual/translingual) language practices and services around the world.

Can you tell us about some of the topics that this new series will cover?

The series of Cambridge Language Practices and Social Development promotes research innovation and global research collaboration in (bilingual, multilingual, translingual) language practices. Our series covers a wide range of research topics that have emerged from our changing contemporary social environments:

  • multicultural healthcare and public health promotion
  • environmental conservation
  • protection of aboriginal cultural heritage
  • bilingual and multicultural legislation and policy communication
  • community health and medical interpreting
  • social service translation
  • aboriginal and immigrant translation and language policy
  • social language practices for disadvantaged communities and indigenous people

Who is the series aimed at?

This new series will be of important practical use for students and academics interested in developing advanced knowledge of (bilingual/multilingual and translingual) language practices.

It will include research monographs and edited volumes integrating and balancing input from leading academics and industry-based research leaders with extensive professional experiences of bilingual/multilingual/translingual education and research.

Titles in this new series will provide illustration of the application of advanced linguistic research methodologies in the study of real-life materials and data: for example, construction of digital multilingual infrastructure; and the development of empirical linguistic analytical instruments for the study of environmental, political, healthcare and legal issues and social phenomena.

 

Any interested authors can contact Meng Ji on [email protected] for an informal discussion.

 

Black Lives Matter

Written by Karen Stollznow, author of ‘On the Offensive

What do people mean when they say, “Black Lives Matter?”

“Black Lives Matter” is a slogan and a social movement in response to the historical and current social and systemic racism and violence perpetuated against Black people.

Where did the phrase come from?

In 2012, 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin was walking home in Sanford, Florida, having just purchased a packet of Skittles from a convenience store. He was spotted by local resident George Zimmerman who reported Martin to local police as “suspicious.” Martin was innocent of any crime, although Zimmerman confronted the young man and fatally shot him, claiming the act was in self-defense. He was acquitted of his crime. Following this incident the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter began appearing on social media, in support of Martin and in protest of social and systemic racism. This incident inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, which was co-founded by three Black community organizers: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.

Concerns about systemic and social racism against Black people have been reinvigorated in response to recent high-profile, racially charged incidents in the United States. These include the murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was shot while jogging in a south Georgia neighborhood, and also the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a white police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while the man was handcuffed. These tragic events inspired worldwide protests that have raised awareness of social and systemic racism and led to a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and its motto.

When the Black Lives Matter motto initially arose, the phrase “All Lives Matter” soon sprang up in response, ostensibly to argue that all lives matter because we are all human beings. Black Lives Matter was misconstrued as confrontational, divisive, and exclusionary.

However, Black Lives Matter does not mean that other lives do not matter. Black Lives Matter does not mean that only Black lives matter. In a world where Black people are undeniably discriminated against, in the past and present, Black Lives Matter recognizes that Black lives matter too.

Countering with “All Lives Matter” derails the specific conversation about social and systemic racism against Black people. The saying dismisses, ignores, or denies the problem of racism against Black people, and it effectively shuts down this important discussion.

Black Lives Matter is a phrase that promotes the peaceful protest of racism against Black people. It also calls for immediate action against systemic and social racism. When said by Black people, Black Lives Matter is a declaration that Black lives do indeed matter. It is a cry for protection and recognition. When said by allies, that is, supportive people outside of the group, Black Lives Matter is a motto that acknowledges that Black lives matter, and says we stand in solidarity with members of the Black community.

Cambridge Reflections: Covid-19

Reflections of a tree in a puddle

Written by Alex Wright, Senior Executive Publisher and Head of Humanities at Cambridge University Press

The coronavirus and its challenges of immediacy have thrown into sharp relief the apparent disjuncture between intellectual endeavour and what a society goes through in the grip of a pestilence. When the difference between life and death is measured in terms of having enough ventilators in hospitals, or adequate PPE, should we even be talking about characterisation in Shakespeare? It is right to ask such a question, and proper too to give priority to what people need to do to survive the present emergency. But a moment of crisis helps us to see that we live out our lives perpetually threatened by loss; and gives us space too to reflect on the fact that the life of the mind has always attempted not just to make sense of the world but also to make it a better place.

Throughout its long history Cambridge University Press has tried to ask larger questions about meaning and value. Because our publishing has always at its heart been about outreach, and education in the broadest sense, we wish now to make some of our authors’ keenest insights available in the form of short blogs. The aim will be to provide a resource in times of need: crystalline, bite-sized chunks – digestible nuggets of reflection – which can be drawn upon anywhere where someone has access to the internet. Our hope is that this new digital library of concise contemplations will prove diverting and engaging: even consoling. That it will provide, at a critical moment, a reliable repository – gratis, and easily and immediately available – of ‘the best of CUP’.

The collection includes writing from all aspects of humanities and social sciences including linguistics. Explore the collection at www.cambridgeblog.org/category/cambridge-reflections-covid-19/

Developing intercultural competence through Avatar, Black Panther and the Jungle Book?

Book cover for The Cambridge Handbook of Intercultural CommunicationWritten by Guido Rings – co-author of The Cambridge Handbook of Intercultural Communication

In a connected world, the ability to communicate effectively with people from other cultural backgrounds is a necessity. It is also an opportunity to widen our horizon and learn from good practice elsewhere to improve our lives.

But how can we improve that competence?

There are numerous ways, but we could for instance choose more wisely what we watch and read, and could do this more consciously. We may have already actually watched or read something that enhances our intercultural competence, but we are not aware of it.

For example, who has not watched Avatar, Black Panther or The Jungle Book, some of the highest-grossing movies of all time? Or more recently The Green Book, Blackkklansmen or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood? Or perhaps you read some of the Black Panther comics and/or the Jungle Book stories.

Watching or reading these stories for entertainment, can also connect you with other worlds and worldviews. Many people feel inspired learning from these other perspectives.

Avatar, connects you with the Omaticaya, a Na’vi forest tribe from Pandora that cherishes nature and fights under Jake Sully and Neytiri’s leadership against a global company, aiming to exploit Pandora’s resources. It is Science Fiction – the Omaticaya are a fictional tribe, living on a fictional planet – but there are parallels to the destruction of our rain forests today.

When Neytiri explains the importance of the Home Tree for her people, she highlights an essential link between tribal people and their natural surroundings that is echoed ‘in real life’ by people from the Penan tribe in Borneo. One Penan man highlights: ‘The Penan people cannot live without the rainforest. The forest looks after us, and we look after it. We understand the plants and the animals because we have lived here for many years, since the time of our ancestors’ ( Survival, 2010).

This is of course only one example of a different world view.

Black Panther, The Green Book and Blackkklansmen are examples of films fighting racism, in future and past worlds as well as ours (watch out for the documentary link to Trump and white supremacist perspectives at the end of Blackkklansmen).

On the other hand, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood sheds light on fast pace change in the Hollywood film industry, which you might recognise from your company or institution. The film makes the point that fast pace change consumes us and could be handled better if we were able to learn from others – in this case people from another class, rather than a different ethnicity.

In this sense, intercultural competence is really an ‘action competence’ and the ability ‘to handle uncertain situations in a constructive way’ (Bolten, 2020: 57), be it in encounters with people from another nation or ethnicity, or simply with people with another worldview.

It is worth stressing that we don’t really think a lot about our own worldviews, and often do not even see them as a worldview, rather as the only ‘natural way’ to understand and handle things, implying that other ways might be wrong.

In this ‘single story’ context, the numerous and often competing stories developed in films, TV episodes, novels and short stories are useful, because they can describe other worldviews developing cognitive competence by presenting knowledge about other cultures, and enhancing affective competence by awakening our emphatic and even compassionate interest in other cultures. And they can help to develop pragmatic competence by projecting and examining the communication standards in another culture. In all these ways, a narrative can ‘become an agent in advancing intercultural understanding’ (see Neumann 2020: 138).

Does this mean we can understand your ‘Greenpeace obsessed’ neighbour, who keeps donating money for the preservation of the Borneo rainforest, better by watching Avatar?

Yes, we can. The Omaticaya stories and the Penan stories address a very similar existential problem, and your neighbour might actually want to help the Penan, or shares the same basic concern about the destruction of the rainforest without knowing about the Penan at all. In both cases, you experience a different worldview, connecting tribal concerns with your neighbour’s concerns, and that helps to address a key issue in contemporary public consciousness: global warming.

You might simply not connect to their genres or particular stories that much, everybody is different.

If you have examples of how your intercultural competence has increased thanks to film or literature, leave your comments. Which films/TV series/novels/short stories gave you a different worldview and why? How and when did you watch/read them, e.g. with your partner after a stressful day, and did that make a difference to your experience?

This might help you to reflect, and it could also help others to find the best text for the development of their intercultural competence.

 

References

Bolten, J. (2020). Rethinking Intercultural Competence. In: Guido Rings, Sebastian Rasinger (eds.): The Cambridge Handbook of Intercultural Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Neumann, B. (2020). The Power of Literature in Intercultural Communication. In: Guido Rings, Sebastian Rasinger (eds.): The Cambridge Handbook of Intercultural Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Survival (2010): ‘Avatar is real’, say tribal people, in: Survival International, 25 January 2010 (https://www.survivalinternational.org/news/5466) (last accessed 8 February 2020).

An interview with Susan Gal and Judith T. Irvine

Cover for Signs of Difference bookSusan Gal (University of Chicago) and Judith T. Irvine (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) discuss their new book Signs of Difference: Language and Ideology in Social Life.

Firstly, tell us what motivated you to write Signs of Difference?

Our interest in collaboration began some years ago when we discovered a curious parallel in our findings from the two very different places where we had done research: small towns in Senegal and Hungary. Our collaboration started with those unexpected parallels between our separate ethnographic projects. Reading each other’s papers and listening to each other at AAA meetings, we saw amazingly similar processes in two fieldsites that were utterly worlds apart.

The happy result has been a semiotic approach to difference, an approach that is much wider than our own ethnographies but is well illustrated by them. Our book is mainly devoted to developing and explaining that approach, but it begins by showing how it applies to the two ethnographic cases.

In the German-Hungarian town in Hungary as in the Wolof-speaking town in Senegal, people were making distinctions among themselves not only through the way they spoke but also through different forms of emotional expression, clothing, houses and numerous other signs and activities. Language, social organization, geography, history, were all quite different. But in both towns, as it happened, one social category of people spoke and acted in relatively reserved, restrained ways; the other category, by contrast, seemed to be more elaborate in everything, more vivid, dramatic. These were stereotypes of difference. People oriented to these social types, often enacting them in their everyday lives. But how to understand the weird parallels between the two towns? “Restrained” vs. “elaborate” were the ways the people in our two towns characterized their own differences. But when we read fieldwork by others, we saw that although there were always overarching cultural distinctions that organized relations between contrasting sets of people and signs, those distinctions could be quite different from ours. For instance, there was: tough vs. soft in one place but in another pragmatic vs. political. To understand our own examples and others, our explanations would have to be quite abstract. And semiotic.

The book explicates step-by-step a semiotic process of differentiation, with several aspects, that encompasses all the cases. Contrast – as axis of differentiation – is the fundamental idea. Contrasts in expressive signs pointed to contrasting categories of identity; and the qualities attributed to the signs were also attributed to the people-types indexed by the signs. For those familiar with a particular cultural context, the signs of each identity seemed to cohere and to display the same qualities as the people types they point to. We also turned our hand to American and historical examples: How did Yankees come to be thought different types of people than Southerners in 19th century US?  How do faculty differentiate among themselves at an American university? How did the National Rifle Association divide in the course of a crucial political battle? And how do the axes of differentiation themselves change? It was very exciting to work out how the semiotic process we propose illuminates relations between whatever culturally-specific qualities are involved.

You are both regarded as recognized authorities on language and culture. How has your past experience of work on language and culture helped to shape this book?

Although we studied at different doctoral institutions, we were both part of a movement in anthropology and linguistics toward sociolinguistics and the ethnography of speaking, in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. As it happens, too, our mentors had collaborated on some of the leading works in the field at that time. So our training was parallel, as was our experience of trends in language study and the social sciences in the decades that followed. One of those trends was the semiotic turn that has made the work of C.S. Peirce prominent in cultural and linguistic anthropology. Another trend was anthropology’s increasing interest in political economy, power, and social inequality – a trend which, when linked to the Peircean approach, resulted in a focus on ideology of language. A third trend has involved history and scales of analysis. We have participated in the development of these themes, and in various conferences and working groups that have pressed them forward and in some of which we have worked together. These groups have produced some influential publications, including edited collections to which we have contributed, either separately or together.

The book argues that ideological work of all kinds is fundamentally communicative – can you tell us more about this?

A key point here is that ideological work is both interpretive and productive. It selects an object of attention, something that is picked out and distinguished from a background, and it places that something in a semiotic field of relevant comparisons, differentiations, and inclusions. This is not something that can be done just by an individual brain acting totally in splendid isolation. Instead, it is informed by social experience, by available narratives, metaphors, and theories, and by awareness of one’s interlocutors, past, present, and potential. So there is always, as Bakhtin taught us, some implicit dialogue in semiotic processes, even in those cases where there is not literally a conversation. “Communication” includes all these dialogic relations, even internal dialogue and the ways we unconsciously build upon our social experience.

Actual interactions matter to ideological work, however: interpretation requires uptake, if it’s to amount to anything much. That is, placing an idea, or some focal object, in a web of semiotic relations would ultimately be a social act, involving joint attention. Private contemplation can go a long way, but at some point a concept of ideology – because bound up with moral and political values – means that the interpretive act must be relevant to other people too.

Your book has been described as an “influential approach to understanding ideologies of linguistic and social difference.” What contribution do you feel the book makes?

Well, we feel it makes many contributions! To begin with, in our work ideologies of linguistic and social difference are the same thing, not two different avenues of investigation. But perhaps the first thing to emphasize is, as we’ve indicated in our response to the previous question, that we focus the study of ideology on ideological work: that is, on the activity of interpretation and the social processes that follow from interpretations and enlist them in projects. There are several other important contributions we feel our book makes, as well. We explore ideological work in everyday life, even in the most mundane activities and trivial moments, rather than focusing on the grand doctrines and “isms” (fascism, socialism, and so on) that are the starting point for many scholars in studying ideology; we prefer to consider how the ongoing practices and actions in social life involve ideological constructions. To investigate how those constructions are built up, we take a semiotic approach to the analysis of ideology; and we highlight comparison and difference, as key concerns and fundamental aspects of semiotic processing. Taken together, what these several points allow us to do is to link ideology to perspective and point of view, recognizing that there’s always more than one perspective on the social world. They allow us to focus on contrast and comparison as fundamental in cognitive processing as well as in how people organize their views of society and language. They provide us with methods for analyzing discourse, social interaction (in both its linguistic enactments and its material dimensions), social groupings and ways of speaking. We see ideologies as regimes of value, socially based and semiotically constructed; pertaining to practices and actions in everyday life as well as to grand projects; and incorporating a point of view.

The approach to comparison in our book is important to us, and it’s an approach that connects the ethnographer’s interpretive activity with that of the people an ethnographer studies. Your education and research training and, perhaps, your outsider status (if you come from somewhere else) affect your position and your view of the ethnographic scene, but the people you study are analyzing it too, and that’s something you want to find out about. Besides, those people form views of you, and those views affect the research as well. Everyone is interpreting what’s going on, from their own points of view, all the time, and that includes the activity of doing field research, whatever that research consists of. We have been concerned here with ways of being comparative without assuming we have the ultimate grid on which to place everybody in the world. Drawing on a semiotic analysis lets us see how to do that kind of comparison, and it lets us show that the same kind of analysis works among so many different examples and cases around the globe, including our own social worlds.

Interview with Sali A. Tagliamonte

SALI A. TAGLIAMONTE is Canada Research Chair in Language Variation and Change and a Full Professor and Chair of the Linguistics Department at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is a member of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America. She is the author of six books, including: Making Waves, Variationist Sociolinguistics (Wiley-Blackwell 2012, 2015) and Analysing Sociolinguistic Variation, Roots of English and Teen Talk (CUP 2006, 2013, 2016). She has published on African American varieties, British, Irish and Canadian dialects, teen language and television across the major journals of the field. Her research has been funded by agencies in Canada, the US and UK. Her most recent research program is the Ontario Dialects Project, which focuses on cross-community and apparent time comparisons in corpora of spoken vernacular dialects to explore linguistic change. She is editor of the new book series, Studies in Language Variation and Change, published by Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Xtra asked her about the inspiration behind the series. Interview by Andrew Winnard.

 AW: What motivated you to establish the book series?

ST: I started noticing that there was no serious, advanced venue for publication of a cohesive research program in Language Variation and Change. CUP’s journal Language Variation and Change publishes journal length articles on one linguistic variable or another or a specific topic, but at the time I started thinking about this there was no venue for work that had reached a point of synthesis. At the same time, the field was evolving in all kind of new directions and importantly, there was a whole generation of scholars reaching a point in their careers when they had made a significant contribution. I wanted to harness that intellectual energy and creativity and bring it into the field in a more comprehensive way. I wanted to convince scholars who were putting things together to write a book bringing their ideas into a coherent whole. I also think I had a mission in mind to make books that would set the new foundations of the field. So, I have started watching and listening and noticing when someone working in the field is ready to do that. Then, I ask them out for a coffee.

AW: What, broadly, is the concept behind the series?

ST:The concept in a nutshell is synthesis of a research program, by that I mean a book that is not simply about a linguistic feature or a language phenomenon of interest but a work that encompasses a research enterprise that has started to extrapolate beyond a single thing to make more general observations about language variation and change. When a scholar’s research reaches this stage, it has become something that Labov has always striven for — research that reaches beyond a series of analyses or a superficial reality to something that unifies and explains and makes sense in the world. A novel and I believe decisive component of the series is the requirement that all the books follow several general principles: 1) replicability of research findings; 2) consistent reporting; and critically, 3) a cogent discussion of the implications of the research for Sociolinguistic Theory. These three operating guidelines ensure that the series has a unifying component and builds informatively on existing foundations. The requirement of cutting-edge research of the field and this consistent ‘signature’ will give the series reliable value.

AW: What is the first book to appear in the series?

ST: Sociolinguistic Varation in Children’s Language, co-authored by Jennifer Smith and Mercedes Durham, synthesizing their decade long work on child language acquisition. The examples are absolutely hilarious! Several more books are in the pipeline, including an edited volume on studies in sociosyntax, syntactic variation in World English, game theory pragmatics and a book unifying linguistic variation with an historical linguistics perspective. There are many more possibilities. When I go to conferences, I strategically go to presentations that I think are about research that is on the cusp of having the key ingredients I am looking for —research ideas that are making connections to the bigger questions of language.

 

Upcoming titles in this series:

  • Explanations in Sociosyntax
    • Tanya Karoli Christensen, Torben Juel Jensen
  • Synchrony Meets Diachrony: Linguistic Variation and Linguistic Change
    • Alexandra D’Arcy
  • Syntactic Variation in World Englishes: Comparative Variation analysis
    • Benedikt Szmrecsanyi and Jason Grafmiller
  • Meaning, Identity, and Interaction:  Sociolinguistic Variation and Change in Game Theoretic Pragmatics
    • Heather S. Burnett

An interview with Peter Trudgill

Peter Trudgill, FBA, is one of the world’s best-known sociolinguists and dialect experts.  I interviewed him ahead of the publication of his latest Cambridge book, ‘Millennia of Language Change: Sociolinguistic Studies in Deep Historical Linguistics’.

Can you tell us about ‘Millennia of Language Change’?

Millennia of Language Change takes a (very) long view of important historical sociolinguistic developments which occurred during the thousands of years stretching from the Old Stone Age, through the Neolithic era and the Classical Age, and on to the Early Middle Ages, concentrating on processes involved in long-term linguistic change and long-distance migration and contact, with examples from a wide range of – in particular – European, Pacific Ocean and native North American languages.

What new things are we going to learn about language change, from your book?

In Ancient Greek, verbs could have more than 275 different forms. The West Greenlandic language has about a thousand different verbal affixes. These two languages came into being in very different communities, in very different parts of the world, but they have in common the fact that they are extraordinarily complex. One of the things which Millenia of Language Change considers is how many thousands of years it takes for such complexity to develop – and what linguistic processes might be involved.

Can you give us a brief overview of the topics the book will cover?

Major themes which are covered in the book include linguistic complexification; linguistic simplification; substrate theory; migration and conquest; geographical diffusion; koinéisation; and transitivity of contact. An example of “transitivity of contact” would be that, if the Brittonic Celtic precursor to Welsh was infuenced by contact with the Late-Latin/Northwestern Romance of the Roman provinces of Brittania and Gallia; and if Old English was subsequently influenced by contact with Brittonic Celtic; then some aspects of the structure of the Old English language might be due to the indirect influence of Northwestern Romance.

Who will benefit from reading this book?

The book will be of particular interest to academic linguists and graduate students in all parts of the world – the text takes examples from a very wide range of languages and linguistic areas – who are concerned with the great puzzles presented by linguistic change; the big challenges of historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, and historical sociolinguistics; the important insights provided by dialectology and variationist linguistics; the complexities involved in the investigation of language contact; and with the relevance to all these topics of work in linguistic typology.

What are the key benefits that the reader will take from reading it?

All of the papers which make up this book were originally published between 2004 and 2018 in – in some cases rather obscure – festschrifts, conference proceedings, handbooks, and journals. Millennia of Language Change now makes available some of my most important and innovative pieces, freshly revised and updated, and centring as a coherent whole around the big-picture theme of deep historical-sociolinguistics.

‘Millennia of Language Change: Sociolinguistic Studies in Deep Historical Linguistics’ is due to be published in April, and is available for pre-order.

Helen Barton
Commissioning Editor, Language and Linguistics
Cambridge University Press

Peter Trudgill has also featured in The Linguist List Famous Linguists, read the full entry here.

Image credit: The Academy of Europe

Global Ethnolinguistic Conflict, Redux

by Stanley Dubinsky (University of South Carolina)

 

In February 2018, a visit to Corsica by French President Macron refocused media attention on the issue of Corsican nationalism, a century old movement that seeks Corsican separation from France in “a centralized state with a single, national identity and only one official language.”  In the same month, a Voice of America News article reported on Korea, noting that “Sixty Years After Division, Korean Language Has Gone in Separate Directions.” Over the past 10-20 years, language and ethnolinguistic identity issues have come to play an increasingly important role in domestic internal politics across the globe: in Israel, between Hebrew and Arabic speaking populations; in Spain, where Catalan speakers are newly vocal about autonomy; with the Kurdish speakers of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran; and with Libya’s Berber speaking southern minority. The list could go on and highlights the fact that language and ethnolinguistic identity play an increasingly important role in defining and exacerbating conflicts in a post-colonial and post-Cold War world.

The resurgent salience of ethnolinguistically motivated conflict is somewhat unexpected, and even now not fully appreciated. When Language Conflict and Language Rights (Cambridge University Press 2018) was first imagined by its authors (William D. Davies and myself), they were simply seeking to write a book that would serve a course on Language Rights that Bill (Davies) had begun to teach at the University of Iowa. This was back in 2009-2010. In the intervening years, the number and intensity of conflicts categorized in the book have increased severalfold, with new ones (and newly sparked old ones) coming into focus on a weekly and monthly basis. As the book went to press, it seemed the world was imitating the book (rather than the book describing the world).

This is not to say that such conflicts were previously unknown. China’s present occupation of Tibet, dating back to 1950, is an ethnic conflict with a long history continuing into the present. And the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War, beginning in 1967 (four years after Nigeria’s independence), was only one of many conflicts to follow the decolonization of Africa. Yet the emergence of so many such conflicts has been slow in coming (though a likely outcome of the receding hegemonies of the Cold War). Following decolonization of the 1960s, the unraveling of the Soviet Union and its hold over East European states, the post-Vietnam War withdrawal of Western powers from Southeast Asia, and the weakening or dissolution of autocratic regimes in North Africa and the Middle East (e.g. Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen) have all opened the way for the emergence (or re-emergence) of long-standing and sometimes violent ethnic conflicts. This development is astutely noted in Robin Fox’s timely book, The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind (Harvard University Press 2011), wherein he describes the ever more obvious dissonance between national borders and ethnic identification, especially in Third World conflict regions.

With this in mind, as the Language Conflict book was prepared for publication, Bill Davies and I realized that there was much, much more to be done, as regards educating others about the topic, documenting conflict cases, and making such information generally accessible. To address this, we proposed to create an online repository of such information. Bill’s passing in 2017 put the plan out of reach for a time, but soon after, colleagues at my own university stepped up and brought their own energy and imagination to bear upon the matter, leading to projects that would have been inconceivable ten years earlier – the creation of an Encyclopedia of Global Ethnolinguistic Conflict (EGEC) and the formation of a consultancy ConflictAnalytiXTM.

The consultancy, an effort with political scientist Harvey Starr, is in its initial organizational stages, while planning for the EGEC began in 2017 with digital humanities scholar Michael Gavin, and work on it commenced in August 2018. The EGEC will be a source of information about ethnolinguistic conflicts and language rights violations around the world, ultimately growing to several hundred cases, providing useful information to linguists, political scientists, historians, and legal scholars, as well as to students, public school teachers, journalists, and activists. Each conflict entry will provide information about: the parties to the conflict and the conflict itself; the languages/dialects spoken/used by those parties; key conflict events (causal/resolution events, aggravating/ameliorating events); laws, edicts, and constitutional acts pertaining to the conflict. Cases will be geolocated, with search functions filtering conflict type, language (family), state/territory/region, recency, and intensity.

It is our current plan to present the Encyclopedia with some prototyped entries at the January 2019 LSA Annual Meeting in NY, and to have a teaching and testing version of it up and running in time for a course on the topic at the 2019 LSA Linguistic Institute in June-July 2019 at University of California – Davis.

Language Conflict and Language Rights by William D. Davies and Stanley Dubinsky is available now.  The Encyclopedia of Global Ethnolinguistic Conflict is a curated digital source of information about ethnolinguistic conflicts and language rights violations around the world, information not readily available elsewhere

Call for Editor Proposals – Language in Society

Professor Jenny Cheshire is completing her tenure in December 2019 as Editor of Language in Society (LiS). Cambridge University Press is now inviting applications for the position of Editor. A team of two Co-Editors will also be considered. Final appointment decisions will be made by the Syndicate of Cambridge University Press.

The deadline for applications is February 1, 2018.

Language in Society is an international journal of sociolinguistics concerned with language and discourse as aspects of social life. The journal publishes empirical articles of general theoretical, comparative or methodological interest to students and scholars in sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and related fields. LiS aims to strengthen international scholarship and interdisciplinary conversation and cooperation among researchers interested in language and society by publishing work of high quality which speaks to a wide audience. In addition to original articles, the journal publishes reviews and notices of the latest important books in the field as well as occasional theme and discussions sections.

LiS published volume 47 in 2018. Its 2017 Impact Factor was 1.426, placing it 45 of 181 journals in the Linguistics JCR and 56 of 147 journals in the Sociology JCR (ranked by Impact Factor).

Interested applicants should send a curriculum vita and cover letter along with an abbreviated development plan (not to exceed two pages) and the names and email addresses of three referees, to Amy Laurent at Cambridge University Press (details below).

Editorial responsibilities will include:

  • Shaping the strategic direction of the journal, in cooperation with Cambridge
  • Organizing and managing the editorial office, with support from Cambridge
  • Managing the peer review process (the journal uses the ScholarOne system)
  • Making final article acceptance decisions
  • Editing and proofing articles for the journal
  • Proposing and working with members of an active Editorial Board
  • Attending relevant conferences and an annual editorial meeting

In your application, please indicate your:

  • Experience of publishing in the field
  • Editorial experience, ideally with an academic journal
  • Ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines and work as part of a team
  • Strong professional and academic links
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English in the Movies by David Crystal

I hear pop songs in English in every country I visit. Just back from a lecture tour around Italy, and I heard them in taxis, in hotels playing background music, and in cars passing in the street with the radio on loud – in every city. Often, the listeners are singing along, demonstrating a level of English ability that is sometimes well beyond their general level of competence. It’s a great language-learning tool – and I’ve had exactly the same experience in my own encounter with other languages. When I was learning Portuguese in Brazil, my samba-ese far exceeded by general skill. But the musical dimension had all sorts of benefits. It gave me confidence. I felt I was beginning to identify with the culture. And I could drop musical quotations into my basic Portuguese that delighted both me and my hosts.

So why isn’t there always the same experience in the cinema? On my Italy tour, I was in a different hotel every night, and occasionally flicked through the TV channels. I glimpsed many English-language films, and every one was dubbed into Italian. What an opportunity missed! Same thing happened in Germany. I love watching foreign films in their original languages, with English sub-titles. It’s a totally different experience. One of my favourite films is La Nuit AmericaineDay for Night – and I’ve watched it both in French and dubbed into English. There’s something bizarre about seeing people with distinctively French expressions and gestures interacting with English voices. And my Italian friends on this trip told me they felt exactly the same watching English-language movies dubbed in Italian.

But the climate may be changing, and in this week of the launch of the third edition of CEEL I read news reports from different countries proudly announcing that it’s now possible to watch English-language films in the original language. And Italy is among the headlines! The website Wanted in Rome has a report about  the ‘growing number of cinemas in Rome showing movies in their original English-language versions, with subtitles in Italian’, and lists eighteen of them. In Spain, Murcia Today reports that  the Hornillo multicine shows Spanish-language films throughout the week, but every Tuesday shows English language originals – this week on 27 November The Girl in the Spider’s Web and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Might these initiatives spill over into television?

The mood seems to have been building up this year. I don’t recall such developments making online headlines before. In March, a teacher of English at a lycée in the town of Béziers, southern France launched a petition on Change.org calling for an end to the dubbing of foreign films and TV series and asking for all foreign programmes broadcast in their original version. She commented: ‘People say the French have problems with foreign languages but it is because they do not have the opportunity to hear them regularly enough.’ And the headline of the report is sympathetic: ‘Why it’s time France stopped dubbing English-language films and TV series’. For adults, of course, not for kids who are still learning to read.

It’s already happened in some countries. A report last year in Dutch Review headed ‘Why are the Dutch so good at speaking English?’ comments:

‘Fact is that the Dutch get in touch with the English language early in life through television. They don’t dub any movies or series, and contrary to other European countries like Spain, Germany or France you can watch everything on TV in original language while reading the subtitles in Dutch. This means that the kids in the Netherlands have a much more natural approach when it comes to learning and speaking English propelling them well ahead of their peers in other countries.’

I’ve found similar comments in relation to Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. And as a regular visitor to the Netherlands (I have a daughter living there) I have to concur with the reporter. But my remarks are anecdotal. It would be really interesting to see a current survey on dubbing practices worldwide – and not just for English, but for all languages. I remember reading an English Proficiency Index report a few years ago which pointed out parallels between proficiency and subtitling. There wasn’t a total correlation (e.g. in Poland and Germany), and there were some complicated scenarios in places where the choice of ‘subs or dubs’ raises issues of endangerment and identity (such as Quebec). Practices evidently vary greatly worldwide.

David Crystal is one of the world’s foremost authorities on language, having published extensively over the past fifty years on his research work in English language studies.  An internationally renowned writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster, he received an OBE in 1995 for his services to the study and teaching of the English language. He is Honoury Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and was made a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2000. David lives in Holyhead, Wales, where he is the director of the Ucheldre Centre, a multi-purpose arts and exhibition centre.

David Crystal’s third edition of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of English Langauge, with additional features such as audio recordings is now available.  Explore the David Crystal Collection which includes these resources, free articles, a competition and more.