LINGUIST List 23.2896

Mon Jul 02 2012

Diss: Yiddish/Anthroling/Applied Ling/Discourse Analysis/Socioling: Avineri: 'Heritage Language Socialization Practices in Secular Yiddish...'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <>

Date: 30-Jun-2012
From: Netta Avineri <>
Subject: Heritage Language Socialization Practices in Secular Yiddish Educational Contexts: The creation of a metalinguistic community
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Institution: University of California, Los Angeles Program: Department of Applied Linguistics Dissertation Status: Completed Degree Date: 2012

Author: Netta Avineri

Dissertation Title: Heritage Language Socialization Practices in Secular Yiddish Educational Contexts: The creation of a metalinguistic community

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics                             Applied Linguistics                             Discourse Analysis                             Sociolinguistics
Subject Language(s): Yiddish, Eastern (ydd)                             Yiddish, Western (yih)
Dissertation Director:
Elinor Ochs Charles Goodwin Sarah Bunin Benor John Heritage Paul V. Kroskrity
Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation develops a theoretical and empirical framework for themodel of metalinguistic community, a community of positioned social actorsengaged primarily in discourse about language and cultural symbols tied tolanguage. Building upon the notions of speech community (Duranti, 1994;Gumperz, 1968; Morgan, 2004), linguistic community (Silverstein, 1998),local community (Grenoble & Whaley, 2006), and discourse community (Watts,1999), metalinguistic community provides a novel practice-based (Bourdieu,1991) framework for diverse participants who experience a strong connectionto a language and its speakers but may lack familiarity with them due tohistorical, personal, and/or communal circumstances. This researchidentifies five dimensions of metalinguistic community: socialization intolanguage ideologies is a priority over socialization into languagecompetence and use, conflation of language and culture, age andcorresponding knowledge as highly salient features, use and discussion ofthe code are primarily pedagogical, and use of code in specificinteractional and textual contexts (e.g., greeting/closings, assessments,response cries, lexical items related to religion and culture, mock language).

As a case study of metalinguistic community, this dissertation provides anin-depth ethnographic analysis of contemporary secular engagement withYiddish language and culture in the United States. The project is basedupon nearly three years of fieldwork in Southern California, NorthernCalifornia, and New York in over 170 language classes, programs, lectures,and cultural events, resulting in more than one hundred hours of video- andaudio-recorded interactional and interview data. It has also investigatedliterature, print media, and online sources related to Yiddish in secularmilieus. In order to capture the diversity of actors and contexts throughtime and space, the study examines meta-Yiddish literature in historicalcontext, conflicted stance (DuBois, 2007; Goodwin, 2007; Jaffe, 2009)toward linguistic alternatives as socialization practice, Yiddish"endangerment" as interactional reality and discursive strategy, aperson-centered ethnographic approach (Hollan, 2001) to Yiddish as aheritage language, and epistemic ecologies in intergenerational contexts.This project explores the multiple ways that metalinguistic communitymembers engage in "nostalgia socialization" into an imagined nationhood(Anderson, 1983) of the Jewish diaspora, demonstrating the central role oflanguage as identity maker and marker within multilingual contexts.

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