Crossing And Code Switching Language, Ethnicity, And IdentityPresentation Transcript
Crossing and Code-Switching: Language, Ethnicity, and Identity (Or, ‘Excuse me, may I borrow your ethnicity, please?’)
Ethnicity – Some Definitions
What is ethnicity?
Not (always) race – can be culturally defined.
Though race can play a part, race = biologically defined, ethnicity = socially constructed. Similar to sex/gender distinction
From the Greek ethos: custom, trait.
ethnikas/ ethnicus: nation, group
So, group with similar/shared characteristics.
“… those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration; this belief must be important for group formation; furthermore it does not matter whether an objective blood relationship exists.” (Weber, 1922)
An individual may strongly identify psychologically with an ethnic group, however, the strength and authenticity of the identity is contingent on the acceptance and acknowledgment of "ingroup" and "outgroup" members. (Suharso, 1999)
‘ Ethnic identity is usually contextual and situational because it derives from social negotiations where one declares an ethnic identity and then demonstrates acceptable and acknowledged ethnic group markers to others. One’s ethnic declaration often is open to the scrutiny of others who may validate or invalidate the declaration.’ (Trimble & Dickson, 2004)
Language and Ethnicity
‘ Language, politics and power intersect on a multitude of levels, and analysis of language in the context of ethnicity and race allows for this relationship to be made explicit.’ (Price, 2004)
On an individual level: language is ‘a powerful tool in the display of ethnic self’ (Bucholtz,1995:357)
On a group level: language ‘the very emblem of the existence of that community.’
Sometimes, people learn the language of their heritage in order to achieve ethnic authenticity through language’ (Bucholtz 1995:362)
People often assume a link between ethnicity (race?) and language, particularly in situations where two or three ethnic groups are polarised (e.g. ‘White’ / ‘Chinese’ / ‘Black’ in Taiwan)
‘ White’ = are expected to speak / be able to teach English (even if e.g. Spanish)
Often expected to be ‘genetically’ unable to understand Chinese (!)
‘ Black’ = expected not to speak English well enough to teach
Even sociolinguists sometimes make this one-to-one connection: e.g. Black British English, African-American Vernacular English
1.5 Discussing Ethnicity: The Visible/Invisible Barrier
1.E. Just got a message from Edward
2.A: Hmm Hmm (clears throat)
3.G: Oh really
4.E: Yeah he’s playing tonight
7.A: But he speaks (.) but he can’t speak Chinese (.) English right
8.E: He doesn’t really like to speak English[( )and he has to speak at these parties
9. G: [He’s Russian yeah=
10. E: He’s half Chinese half something [else
11. G: [no
12. A: But he can’t really speak English
13. D: ((from kitchen)) [Who
14. G: [No
15. E: [he always has big eyes
16. D: Who Edward
17. G: Edward yeah yeah yeah yeah
18. E: Yeah Edward (.) Edward (.) Edward the weirdo
19. D: Yeah he’s a fucking FRE:[AK man
20. A: [is he a good DJ
21. E He’s really nice though
22. D He’s a sweetheart like a child
23. E I guess so I guess he’s a good [DJ
24. A [His Mom’s Russian
25. G. (laughs) He gets off his head he does he does
26. A His Mom’s Russian his father’s Chinese
Ethnicity and Accent
Rubin and Smith (1990)
Students were played a recording of a lecture. They were also shown a photograph of someone who was, they were told, the person giving the lecture. Though they all heard the same lecture, they were shown photographs of people with different ethnicities (Caucasian and Asian.) They were asked to rate the ‘strength’ of the lecturer’s accent.
When students were shown a picture of an Asian lecturer, the recording was rated as having a stronger accent than when a Caucasian teacher was shown.
The Myth of the ‘Native Speaker’
The idea of being a native speaker of a language and having it as your mother tongue tends to imply [that] a particular language is inherited, either through genetic endowment or through birth into the social group stereotypically associated with it [and] being a native speaker involves the comprehensive grasp of a language. Rampton (1995: 336-7)
Taiwan Minister of Education:
The Ministry Of Education (MOE) would only consider teachers whose native language is English to teach in elementary schools. Teachers from the Philippines and India are not native English speakers and their mother tongues are other languages. The MOE so far only considers hiring teachers from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.
Reality: ‘brown people’ (South East Asians) clean floors. ‘White people’ teach English. Teachers of Asian ethnicity (e.g. Canadian-born Taiwanese) paid less than White Canadians. Black teachers find it harder to get jobs, as parents won’t pay.
‘ So my sister had a Black teacher. And my parents said to the school, ‘We’re paying the same money – why do we get a Black teacher?’
But … ethnicity not always fixed, essentialised biological category
Ethnicity can be ‘declared’ or ‘performed’ through language use
Code-switching: The use of one’s own languages
Crossing: The use of someone else’s language
Crossing: ‘The use of a language which isn’t generally thought to ‘belong’ to the speaker’ (Rampton, 1998:291)
‘ The redefinition of reality’ (Rampton, 1998)
Ethnic identity thus ‘constructed’ in interaction
From Rampton, (1999:293-4)
That ethnicity can be ‘performed’ is important – Foucault’s notion of resistance
Not fixed category, but fluid: but, importantly, not completely free to take any ethnicity we like or ‘runaway deconstruction of identity.’
Must be ‘approved’ by others
Thus ‘crossing’ can be a risk to ‘face’
Hip-Hop culture: e.g. ‘White’ artists such as Eminem; ‘white’ fans; ‘Blackness’ doesn’t guarantee acceptance into hip-hop culture (e.g. Sir Trevor MacDonald)
Rampton notes that White and Panjabi youths avoid use of Creole in the company of Black peers, White and Black peers hardly use Stylised Asian English to target Panjabis. (1999:299)
In the last example - Panjabi youths did not generally approve of white youngsters expressing an interest in Bhangra
1.3 Eating your words: Food, Language and Culture
1. E: ( . )
2. A: Bu xiang yao
([I] don’t want [to])
3. E: You should cook some Chinese food
4. A: Bu hui
5. E: No ((rising tone))
6. A: Bu hui a
([I] can’t eh!)
(* * *)
7. D: A - get some spaghetti even a little bit
8. G: You should eat some carbohydrates love
9. D: She can’t eat she can’t eat Western food you know
10.G: ((pointing at spaghetti)) These are noodles (1) [ SHI [MIAN] A!
([they are[noodles] eh!
11.D: [YAO BU YAO CHI [MIAN]
[ (Do you want to eat some noodles?
12. FAN QIE MIAN YAO BU YAO FAN QIE MIAN YAO BU YAO!
Tomato noodles! Do you want some? Tomato noodles! Do you want some?)
Similar to crossing: adopting a gender or ethnic identity through language when one’s own is ambiguous
G: Have you ever experienced discrimination when looking for teaching jobs because you are black?
K: Yeah but, Gareth, I ain’t that black
Especially chat lines and the internet
Is it ‘coz I is black?
Andy Runey : Ok, that's enough.I can't do this. I can't do this. Ali G : Why not? Andy Runey : It's not going good. Ali G : Is it because I is black? Andy Runey : You're black? Ali G : For real. Andy Runey : Who's black? Ali G : Yo, I is. Andy Runey : No. I just can't do this. I don't have
time for this. Ali G : You has been rude to me since the first moment. Andy Runey : Sorry. I'm sorry. Ali G : Telling me I don't speak English. Andy Runey : Well, alright. Ali G : He's being rude. That's quite racialist to be honest. Andy Runey : It's racist, not racialist. Ali G : Whatever, it's racialist. Keep the cameras rolling because this is racialism that's going on right here. He's chucking me out because of the colour of me skin.