LINGUIST List 31.1726

Thu May 21 2020

Books: Language, the Singer and the Song: Watts, Morrissey

Editor for this issue: Jeremy Coburn <>

Date: 21-May-2020
From: Dan Iredale <>
Subject: Language, the Singer and the Song: Watts, Morrissey
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Title: Language, the Singer and the Song
Published: 2019
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Book URL:

Author: Richard J. Watts
Author: Franz Andres Morrissey
Electronic: ISBN: 9781316998458 Pages: 390 Price: U.S. $ 100
Hardback: ISBN: 9781107112711 Pages: 390 Price: U.S. $ 125

The relationship between language and music has much in common - rhythm, structure, sound, metaphor. Exploring the phenomena of song and performance, this book presents a sociolinguistic model for analysing them. Based on ethnomusicologist John Blacking's contention that any song performed communally is a 'folk song' regardless of its generic origins, it argues that folk song to a far greater extent than other song genres displays 'communal' or 'inclusive' types of performance. The defining feature of folk song as a multi-modal instantiation of music and language is its participatory nature, making it ideal for sociolinguistic analysis. In this sense, a folk song is the product of specific types of developing social interaction whose major purpose is the construction of a temporally and locally based community. Through repeated instantiations, this can lead to disparate communities of practice, which, over time, develop sociocultural registers and a communal stance towards aspects of meaningful events in everyday lives that become typical of a discourse community.

Part I. Creating Community and Identity through Song:
1. Language and music
2. 'Breaking through' into performance'
3. The communality of folk song
4. Answering back: rebels with and without a cause
Part II. Variation in Language and Folk Song:
5. 'The times they are a-changing'
6. Ideologies, authenticities and traditions
7. 'Insects caught in amber'
Part III. Folk Song Performance and Linguistics:
8. Voices in the folk song
9. The song: text and entextualisation in performance
10. Going out there and doing your thing
11. Enregisterment through song
12. Whither folk song, whither sociolinguistics?
Appendix: overview of musical concepts.

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Written In: English (eng)

See this book announcement on our website:

Page Updated: 21-May-2020