Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:


Still Needed:


Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.

New from Cambridge University Press!


Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.

Summary Details

Query:   "Ventriloquizing" in Discourse
Author:  Cynthia Gordon
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Discourse Analysis

Summary:   Several months ago, I posted a query on behalf of Deborah Tannen
regarding a phenomenon she calls ''ventriloquizing,'' or when one person
speaks to another through a third (by speaking as, or in the voice of,
the third person). I was looking for references related to this
phenomenon and also information about Bakhtin's notion of
''ventriloquating.'' I received several messages that led to the
identification of some useful articles on the subject. I would like to
thank John Koontz, Akira Satoh, and particularly Jill Brody for
providing useful references. Below, I have listed the references I
have found most relevant to ventriloquizing. Sorry for the delay.

Schieffelin, Bambi B. 1990. ''Kaluli children: ideology and everyday
life'' and ''ElEma as a socializing practice.'' Chapters 3 and 4 in The
Give and Take of Everyday Life: Language Socialization of Kaluli
Children. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 37-74 and 75-111.

Scollon, Ron. 2001. On the ontogenesis of a social actor: From object
to agency in babytalk. In Mediated Discourse: The Nexus of
Practice. London: Routledge. 86-112.

Wertsch, James V. 1991. ''Beyond Vygotsky: Bakhtin's contribution'' and
''Sociocultural setting, social languages, and mediated action.''
Chapters 3 and 6 in Voices of the Mind: A Sociocultural Approach to
Mediated Action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 48-66 and

Also, Jill Brody suggested looking at her 1991 article, ''Indirection
in the negotiation of self in everyday Tojolab'al women's
conversation,'' which appeared in the Journal of Linguistic
Anthropology 1(1): 78-96. (I have yet to read the article - I'm still
waiting for my interlibrary loan request to come in!) She also
commented that the issue of ''ventriloquizing'' was addressed at the
Bakhtin Conference in Gdansk in a paper by Tatiana Bubnova and
M.-Pierette Mal/cuz^yn'ska (Gloss of diacritics: ' indicates acute
accent over preceding symbol, / indicates slash through preceding
symbol, ^ indicates ''hachek'' or little ''v'' over preceding symbol.).
They reported that the term ''ventriloquate'' appears only in the
English translation of The Dialogic Imagination by Emerson and
Holquist 1981:299.

John Koontz pointed out a related phenomenon: conversation between a
man and his wife's parents is normally avoided in various Siouan
cultures, e.g. Dakotan, Omaha. A common device among the Omaha to
deal with this taboo was speaking to a child who was present. (See
Fletcher, Alice C. and LaFlesche, Francis. 1911(1972). The Omaha
Tribe. BAE-AR 27, 1905-1906. Washington, DC. GPO. (Lincoln, NE: Bison
Books). P. 334.)

Other interesting articles relating to triadic exchanges where one
person serves as an intermediary (but a participant is not necessarily
''ventriloquized'' in Tannen's sense) include:

Brenneis, Donald. 1986. Shared territory: Audience, indirection and

Text 6(3): 339-347.

Field, Margaret. 2001. Triadic directives in Navajo language
socialization. Language in society 30: 249-263.

Haviland, John. 1979. Guugu Yimidhirr brother-in-law
language. Language in Society 8: 365-393.

Haviland, John. 1986. 'Con Buenos Chiles': Talk, targets, and teasing
in ZinacantE1n. Text 6(3): 249-282.

Ochs, Elinor. 1982. Talking to children in Western Samoa. Language in
Society 11:77-104.

Cynthia Gordon
Ph.D. Candidate, Georgetown University

Please send any further questions or insights into ''ventriloquizing'' to me
(not to the list.) Thank you.

LL Issue: 12.2502
Date Posted: 08-Oct-2001
Original Query: Read original query


Sums main page