LINGUIST List 32.2519

Fri Jul 30 2021

FYI: Stoner Talk: The Sociolinguistics of Cannabis Cultures and Markets (colloquium proposal for Sociolinguistics Symposium 24, Ghent, Belgium)

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 30-Jul-2021
From: Joseph Comer <>
Subject: Stoner Talk: The Sociolinguistics of Cannabis Cultures and Markets (colloquium proposal for Sociolinguistics Symposium 24, Ghent, Belgium)
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This colloquium aims principally to shine a light on people – and/or personae – who have been featured, both prominently and peripherally, in a great deal of second- and third-wave sociolinguistic and linguistic anthropological research (Eckert 2012), but who have also arguably never received as much attention as they perhaps deserve: ‘stoners’.
Whether observed – and socially constructed – in relation to archetypal ‘burnout’ identities (Eckert 1989, 2000), frat-boy indexicalities of/for the use of ‘dude’ (Kiesling 2004), masculine, counter-cultural figures of the ‘hippie’, ‘dropout’, or ‘surfer’, simplistic and discriminatory (and racialized) notions of criminality, or otherwise, for many years it seems that marijuana users (‘stoners’) have been normatively understood (if not overlooked) in sociolinguistic and linguistic anthropological work. Here, the ‘stoner’ is defined broadly and non-pejoratively as a term for a person who enthusiastically or unashamedly uses marijuana recreationally.
Stoners’ partaking in a commonplace, yet taboo, practice has perhaps led to an unfortunate disregard for how such a practice incrementally contributes to articulations of self, community, political orientation, health and wellbeing, and social belonging – nor how it impacts the below-the-sentence (e.g. phonological) production of language (cf. Bigham 2002). In other words, although stoners have emerged in discourse for many reasons and in many ways over the past few decades, the discursive construction, stance trajectories and indexical relations of ‘the stoner’ have been left under-examined and normatively understood: with the individuals (and practices) in question uniformly framed as othered, undesirable, and unproductive.
Inasmuch as this framework has arguably always been inappropriate, it is now untenable. As Weiss (2015:n.p) states, “what was once an act of rebellion, however mild, has become a leisure activity, the best way to make boredom less boring”. Things have changed. Negative stigma has reduced. Legalization and attempts at legalization gather pace worldwide. It suffices to say that who stoners are, their relationship to historical and modern formations of ‘weed culture’, and the political economy (or marketplace) of cannabis – these have all recently changed dramatically, across many varied contexts. As Hudak (2020:3) summarises,
“this plant has been farmed out to the fringes of society by prohibition, vilification, racialization, and legitimate concerns about its consequences for public health and public safety. Yet marijuana is a pervasive part of society – garnering attention from government, serving as a symbol of societal protest, filling the lyrics of songs and the scripts of movies, and becoming the most widely used substance deemed illegal by the U.S. government.”
As marijuana intersects with symbolic/semiotic practice – through lyrics, media scripts, and policy documents alike – it becomes, clearly, an object of sociolinguistic examination, along with its users. This colloquium, accordingly, provides a space for such talk about ‘stoner talk’.

This colloquium foregrounds questions about ‘getting stoned’ as a practice, and as a discursive practice: as it manifests stylistically/linguistically; as it is mediat(iz)ed; and, as it is gendered, racialized, and otherwise differently indexed accordingly to class, race and social privilege. As an increasingly visible political constituency and community of practice, with real economic clout, it is high time that stoners, cannabis enthusiasts, and the more-recent class of ‘weedtrepreneurs’ came into the purview of sociolinguistic study.

This colloquium is currently being planned as an online session with 4–8 participating papers.

For more information, please find the full CfP at:

To participate, please email Dr Joseph (Joe) Comer ( your 300-word abstract prepared using the conference guidelines.

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics; Applied Linguistics; Discourse Analysis; Sociolinguistics

Page Updated: 30-Jul-2021