Intro for Gurt2001

Tannen preface
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  Linguistics, Language, and the Real World: Discourse and Beyond: Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics 2001, ed. by Deborah Tannen and James E. Alatis. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2003. Introduction eborah annen Co-chair URT 2001 Even before I joined its faculty in 1979, I admired Georgetown University because of the Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics. I had regarded this alluring meeting with a combination of awe and envy throughout my graduate student days, as I saw my professor, John Gumperz, fly off to take part and return to write up his papers for inclusion in the volume. 1 could hardly have imagined then that eventually I would be fortunate enough not only to take part in but to organize three Round Tables: the 1981 meeting, Analyzing Discourse: Text and Talk ; the 1985 meeting, Languages and Linguistics: The Interdependence of Theory, Data, and Application, held in conjunction with the LSAffESOL Institute that I directed at Georgetown in the summer of 1985; and finally the current one, Linguistics, Language, and the Real World: Discourse and Beyond --exactly two decades after the first. I suggested to my co-chair, James E Alatis, that he write a brief history of the Round Table to be included in this volume, partly because I myself wished to learn the history of these meetings. I am personally grateful for his insight and wisdom. No one is better placed to bring this history into present awareness. What Jim Alatis does not emphasize in his brief account is the enormous role he himself has played in establishing the Georgetown University Round Table (affectionately if somewhat unaesthetically called GURT asa major force in the development of the field of linguistics. The role of GURT in the rise of sociolinguistics and discourse analysis as subfields of linguistics is an exemplary case of the importance of GURT meetings and volumes, and also Jim Alatis's vision. In his historical survey, Dr. Alatis notes the establishment of the sociolinguistics program in the Georgetown University Linguistics Department in 197n, thanks to a grant.from the National Science Foundation, but he neglects to mention that he himself was the driving force behind the winning of that grant. Throughout his tenure as dean of Georgetown University's School of Languages and Linguistics (SLL), Dr. Alatis also has been the force behind URT by ensuring funding, frequently organizing meetings himself, n ~in   years he did not do sQ-- -selectinganorganizer from theSLL faculty and lending his decanal support in every way possible. I remain personally grateful to him for the matchless opportunity to play a role by organizing three GURTs. I also would    I GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY ROUND TABLE ON LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS 2001 like to take this opportunity to honor Dr. Alatis's unrelenting efforts and contribution to the Round Table tradition leading up to GURT 2001, which I have had the honor of co-chairing with him. Given his unique role in supporting the Round Table from the time he assumed the position of dean of the School of Languages and Linguistics in 1973, the name James E. Alatis will always be associated with the Georgetown University Round Table. Yet this is the last GURT in which Dr. Alatis played an official role. Administration of future Round Tables will reside with Georgetown University's linguistics department. n light of this transition, I was able to convince Jim Alatis to allow me to dedicate this volume to him, so it may stand as concrete recognition of his incomparable contribution to maintaining the Round Table for nearly three decades. GURT 2001, Linguistics, Language, and the Real World: Discourse and Beyond, was designed to contribute to the field of linguistics in two ways: to advance research in the field of discourse analysis and to bring linguistic insight to bear on issues of importance to American society at large. This Round Table thus continues a tradition not only in the field of sociolinguistics but also of the Round Tables, as Dr. Alatis outlines in his brief history, which follows this Introduction. GURT 1981 addressed the topic Analyzing Discourse: Text and Talk. In my introduction to that volume, I define dis ourse as language in context across all forms and modes. GURT 2001 promises to extend work in discourse beyond the analysis of language to include examination of how language affects issues of importance to the world at large. Robin Lakoff remarks in a note to her chapter, As in previous years, GURT 2001 served as a reminder to all of us of the importance and centrality of sociolinguistics. Indeed, she continues, as Labov remarked many years ago, the field might be better off if what we call 'sociolinguistics' were recognized as, in fact, the central concern of the field, under the name of 'linguistics,' and if what is commonly referred to as 'core linguistics,' on the other hand, had been given a hyphenated or complex name like 'autonomo-linguistics.' In this spirit, let us think of this and the other papers in this volume as contributions to linguistics proper. Into the 19.80s, GURT meetings were composed of all-plenary, all-invited papers. The economics began to change, however, and beginning in 1988 GURT meetings became a combination of concurrent sessions composed of papers refereedqp. the basis of submitted abstracts and a smaller number of invited plenary speakers. The present volume is composed entirely of plenary addresses. Following is a brief overvievv of v/hat lies in store. Overview The volume opens with two essays that address fundamental and underresearched aspects of discourse. First, Frederick Erickson gives us Some notes on the musicality of speech. Throughout his long scholarly career, Erickson has DEBORAH TANNEN I 3 been a leading researcher into the rhythmic nature of spoken discourse and its importance in understanding the outcomes of interaction-including, prominently, the paper he delivered at GURT 1981 in which he transcribed the conversation he analyzed in musical notation (Erickson 1982). n the essay in this volume, Erickson begins his demonstration of both the musical nature of speech and the usefulness of a quasi-musical transcription of discourse by examining cadential sequences in well-known Western musical compositions that, he argues, deliberately imitate speech. He then examines the rhythmic patterns in speech recorded at a dinner-table conversation and in fIrst-grade and fifth-grade classrooms. The cadential organization of spoken discourse makes listener response possible by signaling transition relevance (cuing a speaker's willingness to transfer a speaking turn) and listening response relevance (an invitation to provide a sign of listenership such as mhm or uh huh ). Given listeners' inevitable ebb and flow of attention, Erickson notes, the ability to not only interpret but also anticipate customary,patterns of prosodic emphasis makes possible both comprehension and participation in interaction. n Laughing while talking, Wallace Chafe gives us the first (as far as I know) detailed linguistic account of a phenomenon that has been little studied by linguists but is pervasive in conversation: laughter. Based on audiotaped examples of laughter in naturally occurring conversation, he begins with the phonetics of laughter, examining its components (such as number of expulsion-of-air pulses and quality of vocalic articulation). Next he considers laughter as the expression of emotion, the feeling of nonseriousness, and examines its properties (such as its lack of voluntary control and its universality and contagiousness). He then considers the function of nonseriousness in conversational interaction, both in response to intentionally nonserious perfonnance such as joke-telling and other forms of verbal play and also in more frequent instances of laughter in the course of conversational interaction to replace unpleasant emotions, to evince ridicule, to serve as a conversationallubricant, and so on. Thus, Chafe suggests-and demonstrates by his own analysis-that research into the fonus and functions of laughter in conversation can add to our understanding of human cognition and interaction. The third chapter is my own: Power maneuvers or cDnnection maneuvers? Ventriloquizing in family interaction. Like all the papers that follow, this .chapter has relevance to a specific domain of the real world of our theme (in this case, family interaction), while also adding to our general understanding of discourse in interaction. It grows out of two of my ongoing and interrelated theoretical hiterests: fran-ring in discourse-a process I regard as central to the discursive creation of meaning, identity, and human relationships-and the interplay of hierarchy and connection, which I see as a corrective to the tendency to focus on power in discourse to the exclusion of the inextricably intertwined dimension of solidarity, or connection. Here I approach these interwoven threads through analysis of a linguistic strategy I call ventriloquizing in tape recordings taken  4 GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY ROUND TABLE ON LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS 2001 frama larger project in which dual-career couples with children tape-recorded all of their interaction over a week. I examine instances in which one family mem ber communicates to a second by speaking through, to, or as a third. For exam p ~ mother might ventriloquize her infant child by saying, in her husband's presence nd in a baby-talk register, My diaper is dirty My analysis focuses on how these interactions are simultaneously control maneuvers and connection maneuvers. My goal is to better understand family discourse, as well as to inves-tigatehow creative framing of utterances allows speakers to integrate the dynam icsofpower and solidarity, or control and connection, in their discourse. The next f Uf chapters address a range of real-world domains by examining narrative discourse. William Labov; who ushered in three decades of linguis- tic -analysis of narrative with a seminal paper that has been the foundation of all subsequent structural analyses of narrative in our field (Labov and Waletzky 1967), here revisits the topic in Uncovering the event structure of narrative. He begins with an examination of the event structure of a narrative told by a seven ty-three-year-old man living in a small midwestern town about a frightening experience he recalls from his teen years. Labov then examines a narrative told in the context of testimony before the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In that testimony, the speaker recounts events leading up to the murder of an innocent black couple a murder in which the speaker participated but for which he would like to downplay his responsibility. Labov shows that analy sis of the underlying event structure of the narrative helps to accomplish the ini tial goals of the Troth and Reconciliation Commission: to discover what was done and who was responsible. At the same time, Labov contributes to the linguistic analysis of discourse by advancing our understanding of the process by which narratives are created, transmitted, and understood. Deborah Schiffrin, author of the classic essay Tense Variation in Narrative (Schiffrin 1981 , also returns here to the topic of narrative. Her essay, Linguistics and history: Oral history as discourse, addresses the intersection of linguistics and history by comparing two different accounts of a single experience by a Holocaust survivor. While briefly interned at a Budapest prison before being sent to Auschwitz, Susan Beer encountered a fellow prisoner named Hannah Szenes (sometimes spelled Senesh), a now legendary but then unknown young Hungarian Jewish emigrant to Palestine who had been captured (and, later was tortured and ex.ecuted) after parachuting into ungary on a failed rescue mission. Schiffrin compares- Beer's ·accounts of her meeting with Szenes as taken from two separate interviews and presented in two different modes. One excerpt comes from an interview conducted in 1984; the other appears on a website titled Women and the ,Holocaust, in which Beer's account of her meeting with Szenes is excerpted from an interview conducted in 1982. As Schiffrin shows, even though the two texts were told by the same speaker about the same event, they speak in different voices, reflect different stances, and include different aspects DEBORAH TANNEN / 5 of the truth. By viewing oral history through the perspective of discourse analysis, Schiffrin demonstrates the impact of transcription and other modes of presenting texts, the intertextual relevance of personal and historical themes, and the display of identity through referring terms and event-types. Thus, Schiffrin's analysis sheds light on issues of linguistic as well as historical concern. We again encounter a single speaker saying the same thing in different contexts in Alessandro Duranti's The voice of the audience in contemporary American political discourse. Having accompanied and videotapedcongression_ al candidate Walter Capps as he campaigned in California, Duranti compares multiple instances on a single day when Capps told the same joke and made the same political points to different audiences. By analyzing the varied rhetorical strategies Capps uses in different contexts, Duranti shows not only how the candidate sculpts his speech to accommodate a variety of audiences but also how the different audiences impose their own interpretations on the same words interpretations that at times diverge from Capps's own intentions. This phenome non poses a dilemma for the speaker, who must choose between his own voice and the voice of the audience ; Will he reassert control of his own meaning or go along with the audience-an especially tempting choice when their reaction displays enthusiastic approval of the meaning they heard. Duranti's chapter demonstrates that an ethnographically informed discourse analysis can contribute to an understanding of political discourse, as well as to an understanding of the moral dilemma between pleasing others and asserting oneself' that is central to the construction of human agency through talk. The chapter by Robin Lakoff dovetails with Schiffrin's and Labov's in compelling ways. Lakoff also addresses the intersection of historical events and narrative, and she also is concerned with varying versions of the same text. Her focus, however, is on narrative in the larger sense of a socially agreed-upon storyline that connects divergent events, rather than a particular story told by a single speaker about a personal experience. The narratives Lakoff addresses are news stories about current eventS- public stories -in which different groups of citizens agree on details, interpretations, and evaluations that differ markedly from those to which other groups of citizens ascribe. Lakoff contrasts two pairs of public stories. One is the o J. Simpson saga, in which celebrity athlete Simpson was tried and acquitted for the murder of his former wife, Nicole, and 'her friend Ron Goldman. The other is the political fate of President Bill Clinton and his wife, now-Senator Hillary Clinton. With respect to Simpson, Lakoff shows that the black and white comm.unities in the United States accepted as truth Tttreconcilably contrasting narratives. Similarly irreconcilable are the stories .\tflat is, the network of facts, interpretations, and evaluations-about the Clintons L{batare embraced as truth by divergent groups of Americans. For Lakoff,these i~~of stories are about race and gender, respectively, and she sees the compel:lition for narrative rights that they represent as both reflecting and aggravating    GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY ROUND TABLE ON LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS 2 1 social discord. Lakoff suggests that understanding public discourse as a struggle for narrative rights can shed light on the frequently remarked and frequently bemoaned rise of incivility in public discourse. The last three chapters all address, in different yet related ways, the intersection of language and public institutions. Heidi E. Hamilton-whose groundbreaking analysis of the language of an Alzheimer's patient (Hamilton 1994) established her as a leading scholar in the domain of discourse and medicine.,..examines the accounts given by patients to explain why they fail to comply with their doctors' advice regarding management of their diabetes. Echoing Lakoff's observation that dominant voices suppress the narrative rights of subordinate voices in news stories, Hamilton demonstrates in Patients' voices in the medical world: An exploration of accounts of noncompliance how patients' voices are similarly though inadvertently suppressed in medical encounters. Starting from the premise that physicians sincerely wish to help their p' tients, Hamilton surmises that doctors treating patients for diabetes would be better able to help .patients comply with medical advice if they better understood their patients' reasons for noncompliance. Yet these reasons, which patients volunteered in postexamination interviews, did not emerge in interaction with their doctors. Hamilton.'s analysis of the contents and structure of patients' accounts shows that they know what they need to do to manage their diabetes but are hampered by an identifiable range of real-life obstacles, which they explain by reference to an identifiable set of excuses and justifications. With this understanding as background, Hamilton then presents examples of physician-patient interactions to show how patients' admissions of noncompliance could (but don't) provide an opportunity for physicians to address the reasons for noncompliance. Her analysis of patients' accounts is useful not only for the domain of doctor-patient communication but also for a wide range of human interactions in which accounts of various types are given. Moreover, Hamilton's chapter joins with those of Schiffrin and Duranti to elucidate how discourse varies in response to different contexts. In Discourse of denial, Shirley Brice Heath also presents a structural analysis of account-type discourse: the discursive strategies employed by well-intentioned policymakers and educators in denying the import of research findings. Heath draws on her own encounters with such policymakers in bringing to their attention her own research in two divergent contexts: first, a decade of investigations into the impact of community-based, arts-centered leaming environments on high.,.risk youth; second, her work with linguists and literacy specialists attempting to belp Papua ~ w   Guinea villagers address their concerns about potentially disastrous.threats. to their environment. With regard to high-risk youth, Heath notes thateducatorsandpolicymakers deny the well-documented promise of communi   base<lyouthpI og-rams in part because they see such programs in opposition to, aIlaG.QJlsequently a threat to, school-based programs. Interestingly (and sadly), Heathuotesthe:powerof narrative as a denial strategy, as when a policymaker sim- DEBORAH TANNEN 7 ply tells an engaging narrative that disputes the research findings. Heath then examines the linguistic strategies (in her tenns, stylistic maneuvers ) by which these narratives effectively sidestep the research. Shifting to Papua New Guinea, Heath shows that villagers presented clear evidence that a wide range of texts in several languages could be made accessible to villagers, so long as oral patterns of infonnation transmission were honored. Yet educators, linguists, and literacy experts questioned the evidence because of their unwavering commitment to the necessity of literate skills such as decoding written texts and individuals' abilities to read aloud and use written texts in public. Again, Heath's chapter demonstrates that discourse analysis can help elucidate and address the most pressing problems in the real world, while enhancing our understanding of interpersonal interaction. The volume ends with a success story. In Implementing a district-wide foreign language program: A case study of acquisition planning and curricular innovation, G. Richard Tucker and Richard Donato report on their successful six year consulting experience with a public school district in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that resulted in the planning and implementation of a system-wide Spanish language program.. By discussing the steps involve<tin selecting the target language and incorporating active participation by all senior administrators in every aspect of program planning and implementation, Tucker and Donato provide an in-depth glimpse of successful researcher-policymaker collaboration. They describe the program, which was completing its fifth full year in 200 I, as well as their documentation of the students' success in learning Spanish. Among the themes that emerge in the account, the notion of empowennent stands out, as the authors note the unanimous reports of satisfaction at feeling ownership of the program among teachers, department heads, principals, and others. Taken together, then, the chapters in this volume contribute to the field of discourse analysis by enhancing our understanding of language in interaction, at the same time that they illustrate that linguistics can address real-world problems, in both private and public domains. n his brief history of the Round Table, James E. Alatis notes that GURT was founded following World War II as a way to a.ddress what is surely the most pressing problem humans face: to ensure world peace. This noble purpose is even more urgent as I write this introduction; the rise 6fintemational terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear as well as chemical and piological weapons capability constitute threats to world peace as grave as any §lnce the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. ~ethaps   we have become more jaded in our faith in the ability of languages and ~guistics   to create peace in t.lIe world. If the goal of world peace seems ever i~re   elusive, the goal of using our linguistic expertise to address human prob  ~in   society at large seems ever more urgent. As Robin Lakoff observes in the iO te to her paper, this goal is neither more nor less than the business of linguis  4ti:~~ ·That   is the optimistic hope of this volume.
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