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Language Planning as a Sociolinguistic Experiment

By: Ernst Jahr

Provides richly detailed insight into the uniqueness of the Norwegian language development. Marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Norwegian nation following centuries of Danish rule

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Acquiring Phonology: A Cross-Generational Case-Study

By Neil Smith

The study also highlights the constructs of current linguistic theory, arguing for distinctive features and the notion 'onset' and against some of the claims of Optimality Theory and Usage-based accounts.

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Language Production and Interpretation: Linguistics meets Cognition

By Henk Zeevat

The importance of Henk Zeevat's new monograph cannot be overstated. [...] I recommend it to anyone who combines interests in language, logic, and computation [...]. David Beaver, University of Texas at Austin

Academic Paper

Title: 'Richard Buttny, Talking Problems: Studies of discursive construction'
Author: BonnieUriciuoli
Linguistic Field: 'Not Applicable; Sociolinguistics'
Abstract: Richard Buttny, Talking problems: Studies of discursive construction. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004. Pp.ix, 214. Hb $45.00. Richard Buttney's Talking problems: Studies of discursive construction addresses the centrality of ordinary talk as a key site in the construction of human sociality and social reality. He characterizes talk about problems as a linguistic abstraction from actions or events that call for solutions. Such discourses have regular patterns which people routinely deploy as they tell their troubles and seek solutions to problems. How people structure such talk and position themselves and others in it provides insight into how those people identify themselves socially and operate within moral systems. Problems do not exist independently of the ways in which people perceive and evaluate both the problem situation and themselves. People position themselves as good, blameless, likable, and so on through what Buttny calls a “microlevel rhetoric.” Examination of that rhetoric sheds light on the interests at stake, since positioning means casting oneself or another in terms of specific, often moral characterizations (dutiful, realistic, happy, etc.) which are in turn related to one's membership category (social role, ethnic identity, etc.). Buttny thus builds on work in ethnomethodology and conversational analysis to develop a particular set of methods for the analysis of trouble-telling. He focuses, as he puts it, on communicative practices, positionings and constructions: “How problems get interactionally formed and oriented to, and how interlocutors position themselves in the course of such problem talk” (p. 9, italics in original). Buttny examines three areas of trouble-telling: teens talking about being young parents, therapy talk among clients and their therapist, and talk among college students about race relations. The book is organized into eight chapters: an introduction (summarized above) and conclusion, and two main sections of three chapters each, the first focusing on talking about problems, the second on reported speech about race.


This article appears in Language in Society Vol. 35, Issue 3, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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