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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: Othering in Gossip: “You go out you have a laugh and you can pull yeah okay but like…”
Adam Jaworski
Institution: Cardiff University
Justine Coupland
Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: None
Abstract: It has been claimed that gossip allows participants to negotiate aspects of group membership, and the inclusion and exclusion of others, by working out shared values. This article examines instances of gossipy storytelling among young friends during which participants negotiate self- and other-identities in particular ways. Participants are found to share judgments not only about others' behavior but also about their own behavior through particular processes of othering. A range of discursive strategies place the characters in gossip-stories (even in the category called “self-gossip”) in marginalized, liminal, or uncertain social spaces. In the gossipy talk episodes examined, social “transgression” might be oriented to as a serious matter and thus pejorated, or oriented to in a playful key and thus celebrated. This ambiguity – “Do we disapprove or approve, of this ‘bad’ behavior?” – means that in negotiating the identity status of “gossipees” liminality is constant. It is argued that othering, as an emergent category, along with the particular discursive strategies that achieve it, is an aspect of gossip that deserves further attention.


This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 34, Issue 5.

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