SLS 660 - Assignment 2

Option A: Cross-cultural communication and interculturality
If you choose cross-cultural issues, you will have to choose between interactional sociolinguistics, membership categorization analysis, or you can opt to design a small experimental study, following Cook (2001).

Option B: Language policy (details below)

Whatever you choose, you will need to provide a rationale for the research questions you ask, and for Option A, you will need to briefly explain the framework you use for analyzing your data. You will write a 12-14 page paper which will describe your research question, rationale for choosing one methodological approach, methodological procedures, data analysis, and discussion of findings. Option A should have at least 6 references; Option B should have at least 10 references.

Option A. Cross-cultural communication and interculturality

Details for Interactional Sociolinguistics or MCA

1a. Audio or video record and transcribe a communicative event in which at least two speakers participate. Examples include classroom contexts such as a pair/group task, a teacher-centered interaction, a role-play activity, or a task-structured activity during a classroom lesson. Other examples include examining talk at a coffeeshop dinner conversation, or a service encounter. In general, including yourself as a research participant is usually a bad idea since you will be tempted to employ internal, psychological motivations for describing the interactions - which is precisely what you want to avoid for this assignment, as the methodologies will take a social-constructivist perspective on the language data, rather than a psychoanalytic stance.   The activity that you record should take place for at least 5 minutes, but it would be best to find an activity that you could record for longer so that examine the data and then choose a portion that contains an interesting stretch of talk. Your transcription should be at least two pages long (single-spaced) and no longer than four pages long. This paper will likely involve interactional sociolinguistics or MCA as the analytic framework.


1b. Find an already-existing text of some sort which contains within it representations of dialogue (a movie, a novel, a TV ad, an ESL textbook, a foreign language textbook), and apply the criteria for (A). Your data should take up at least 2 pages of single-spaced text, but no more than 4 pages. You may use more than one dialogue or scene from a movie or book in your analysis.   In addition to these criteria, it will be necessary for you to take a stance on the fact that the text you are analyzing was scripted by someone for a particular purpose, and the scripting process likely involved revisions, editing, and re-writing. In other words, the production of texts is different from the production of naturally-occurring conversation in many ways. How does the fact that the text was produced impact the analysis of the language use? What can you find out about who wrote the script? What were their intentions in creating the text? Who is the intended audience? Even if you can't find out all the details, you will need to take a position regarding the effects of the scripted nature of the text in your paper.

If you are choosing to use language data that has already been scripted for another purpose, I'd advise doing a bit of research into the people who wrote the script (find out what their intentions were as much as possible) and also the audience --- who viewed/read the piece? You'll be required to discuss the consequences of the scripted nature of the text in your paper, so doing this research early on may help you to organize your thoughts.

Once you have chosen data, then:

2. Analyze the event according to one of the following theoretical frameworks: a. Interactional Sociolinguistics; b. Membership Categorization Analysis

3. Consider the role of CULTURE in your analysis. Which of the multiple possible cross-cultural (or same-culture) identities of the speakers involved are made relevant to the interaction or text?

4. Write up your analysis by framing your study within your methodological choice. Provide me with an appendix that contains the transcribed data as well.

5. References: Support your analysis by at least three published studies. Include three additional references to assist you in your discussion of research methods and culture/cultural difference. This means your paper will have a minimum of 6 references total.

Sample Outline for organizing your paper:

      1. Introduction to the research study. Why did you choose this particular context? What is the research question(s)?

      2. Description and rationale of research methodology chosen

      3. Methodological procedures

      4. Presentation of data and analysis of identities

      5. Discussion (keep in mind the two questions on our syllabus regarding implications for learning/teaching/use of second,       foreign, and heritage languages)

      6. Appendix (here you should include the entire transcript of your data).

Special instructions for Option A, involving the recording of naturally occurring data:

1. If you collect data from within your living environment, a microanalysis that is informed by ethnography may be highly suitable. If the data involves multiple cultures of some sort (gender, ethnicity, nationality etc.), then you might decide that interactional sociolinguistics is a good approach, particularly for its goals in resolving crosscultural miscommunication. Or, if your data contains interesting functional aspects of language such as codeswitching, interruptions, or pauses, or contains possibly interesting occasions to examine the social construction of categories like 'female' and 'male', 'insider' and 'outsider,' and 'novice' and 'expert,' you might consider CA as your approach.

2. If possible, try to use video to capture your data, especially if you are looking at classroom interactions or interactions involving several people. Video is superior to audio because it captures non-verbal behavior, which is typically highly meaningful in interactions. Also, it is much easier to tell who is speaking to whom with the help of video data.   If video data is simply not feasible, audio data is fine too. Video cameras are available for checkout in the language learning labs.

3. In transcribing your data, follow the examples given by Cameron where each new speaker is placed below the next. And, number your lines. Your transcription should look like this (note that the [square] brackets indicate overlapping talk):

1 A: Have you started your second paper assignment yet?
2 B: Nah, I'm going to wait til the night before.
3 A: Wow! You are nuts. [ha ha ha
4 B:   [ha ha ha ha

In analyzing your data, note that it is very helpful to refer to line numbers as you do so. MS Word has a very accessible way to number lines (on format menu > bullets and numbering)

4. If you choose to transcribe language data which I am not familiar with (I'm only really familiar with Spanish and Swahili), then you will need to provide a three-line transcription such as the one below in Swahili. If you are dealing with a language written in a non-Roman script, please use the romanized script (such as Romaji ) in the first line. Note that the first line is the language as it would be spoken in Swahili; the second line is a morpheme-by-morpheme translation of each word; and the third line is a gloss (translation) into conversational English:

1 A: Umeanza       pepa   ya    pili     yako  bado?
    you-have-start   paper  of   second   your   yet
    'Have you started your second paper assignment yet? '
2 B: La,    nitasubiri   mpaka  usiku   kabla.
    no    I-will-wait   until    night   before
    'No, I'm going to wait til the night before.'

Special note: If you are analyzing data which requires translation, I will accept less than 2 pages of transcribed data (at least one full page of data, minus the translation is the minimum expectation). Translation requires a great deal of work, and I'd like to reward your efforts here.

5. When recording your data, make sure to give yourself a buffer zone around the expected number of minutes that you'll need for the transcription. Most of the time, it's best to avoid relying on the first few minutes of recorded talk since the initial period of a recorded conversation can be a bit awkward, especially if participants are adjusting to the recording equipment. Data which comes from later on in the recording session will be less affected by the recording devices, as participants should be somewhat more comfortable as time passes.

Details for a Small Experimental Design Study
If you plan to design a small study, you will need to plan carefully so that you can manage the project in the short time that remains for the semester. You are welcome to model your study loosely on Cook (2001). There are additional experimental design studies in the areas of cross-cultural pragmatics which you can use as models as well. See the following for examples:

Kasper, G., & Rose, K. 2003. Pragmatic Development in a Second Language. Blackwell.
Rose, K., & Kasper, G. 2006. Pragmatics in Language Teaching. Cambridge.

Option B. Language policy

A paper on language policy which probes existing policy for weaknesses and failures and also makes recommendations for change such as:

(1) a national language policy for a country in which you have lived and worked or studied;
(2) a policy regarding indigenous, immigrant, or pidgin/creole languages, or nonstandard varieties in a particular region;
(3) a language policy for a specific institution, such as workplace or an educational institution;
(4) a policy for corpus planning issues, for instance, the institution or change of a writing system, non-sexist language use, introduction of foreign words vs. indigenization;.
(5) other language planning or policy issues which you propose

Write a rationale for the language policy which answers the following questions in an integrated essay. In other words, do not simply list the answers to each question; rather, organize your writing so that these questions are answered, and in a writing style that flows:

    a) what languages and varieties are spoken in the country/region, by what numbers of speakers, living in what areas?

    b) what languages and varieties are currently used in different societal domains (government, education, social services, workplaces, arts, intergenerational communication, email, personal interaction)?

    c) what is the existing policy and practice regarding language teaching and/or language use in the country/region/context?

    d) what principles do you believe should guide the language policy? why?

    e) what specific initiatives should emanate from the language policy? why?

Plan of action: Start with a literature search for existing studies of, or documents on, language policies in your country/region/institution/corpus planning issue of choice. If you don't find any, describe the de-facto policies, including your sources of evidence. Assess the current policies, based on sociolinguistic theories and research. What is currently working? What evidence of success exists for current language policy? Conversely, what isn't working? What should be changed, and why? For your own policy proposal, do NOT develop a budget or spend time on intricate details. You paper will be assessed in terms of your research on the current situation, your understanding of language policy issues, and your ability to provide sociolinguistically informed ideas and arguments.

Below are some suggested topics (which are merely suggestions -- feel free to come up with your own area)

Helpful references

Canagarajah, Suresh (ed.) 2005. Reclaiming the Local in Language Policy and Practice . Erlbaum.
May, Stephen. 2001. Language and Minority Rights. London: Longman.
Schmidt, Ronald. 2000. Language policy and identity politics in the United States . Temple University Press.
Spolsky, Bernard, & Mesthrie, Rajend (eds.) 2003. Language Policy . Cambridge.
Tollefson, James. 2001. Language Policies in Education: Critical Issues . Erlbaum.

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