Comp Studies Research & Methods 2016-04-11 18:57:00

In chapter four Social Languages, Conversations, and Intertextuality in An Introduction to Discourse Analysis Theory and Method by James Paul Gee I really liked Section Two Social Languages. Not only did that part remind me of a classroom discussion in New Media Studies, but it also made me realize how easy it is to not notice changes in your own personality. Sometimes, I think people do not want to admit they change and other times not realizing the change makes sense. The changes can be so subtle. If I performed the experiment described, I think my changes would not be that noticeable.  But, I do think my word choice would change slightly. Unlike Jane, I would be less proper with my parents. The only explanation I can come up with is the fact I am more comfortable with my parents. I am comfortable because I know my parents would not judge me, if my grammar is not correct, or think less of me.
In addition I also thought it was interesting the chapter said, “we tend to think of writing, at least academic writing, as clear, unambiguous, and explicit in comparison to speech, . . . .” (Gee 51). I have experienced the complete opposite. Like I mentioned in class, teachers have understood my speech more at times, and teachers have made me realize it depends on who is writing and the purpose of their writing. Some people write to be understood while others write to sound and appear intelligent. But the same can be said with speech, like Dr. Zamora clearly told us one day in class. So, once again it all depends on the person.
Moreover, all the different ways Gee tried to interpret a sentence makes me think about why I love hearing people’s opinions. I love hearing different interpretations and statements that make me think. I see in my poetry class alone just how amazing our minds are and how we can take a simple image or word and transform it into something amazing or unique.


Comp Studies Research & Methods 2016-04-11 18:57:00

In chapter four Social Languages, Conversations, and Intertextuality in An Introduction to Discourse Analysis Theory and Method by James Paul Gee I really liked Section Two Social Languages. Not only did that part remind me of a classroom discussion in New Media Studies, but it also made me realize how easy it is to not notice changes in your own personality. Sometimes, I think people do not want to admit they change and other times not realizing the change makes sense. The changes can be so subtle. If I performed the experiment described, I think my changes would not be that noticeable.  But, I do think my word choice would change slightly. Unlike Jane, I would be less proper with my parents. The only explanation I can come up with is the fact I am more comfortable with my parents. I am comfortable because I know my parents would not judge me, if my grammar is not correct, or think less of me.
In addition I also thought it was interesting the chapter said, “we tend to think of writing, at least academic writing, as clear, unambiguous, and explicit in comparison to speech, . . . .” (Gee 51). I have experienced the complete opposite. Like I mentioned in class, teachers have understood my speech more at times, and teachers have made me realize it depends on who is writing and the purpose of their writing. Some people write to be understood while others write to sound and appear intelligent. But the same can be said with speech, like Dr. Zamora clearly told us one day in class. So, once again it all depends on the person.
Moreover, all the different ways Gee tried to interpret a sentence makes me think about why I love hearing people’s opinions. I love hearing different interpretations and statements that make me think. I see in my poetry class alone just how amazing our minds are and how we can take a simple image or word and transform it into something amazing or unique.


Words, Words, Words! (And Discourse too!)- Chapter 4: An Introduction to Discourse Analysis

Up to bat this week, Chapter 4 of An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method, by James Paul Gee. This chapter is titled, "Social Languages, Conversations, and Intertextuality," and I was excited to see the word "Intertextuality," because it hearkens back to my literary roots, and I look forward to seeing how it is tied in to this subject matter.

Gee opens with the idea of the social languages, the variations of language that allow for us to assume different social identities. For example, I speak differently to my parents than I would to my friends. I like that he talks about the importance of Discourse, because I would agree that language is far more nuanced than words alone, however I do see that the concern of linguistic discourse analysts is, first and foremost, language.

"Whos-doing-whats." Oh man, I had to read this part through a few times. Although it made my head spin, and it took some time to understand, ultimately I found that the breakdown of the aspirin drug information was a compelling way to explain what was meant by whos-doing-whats. I don't feel bad saying that I don't make a habit of close reading drug information for different voices and tones but, when Gee explained it bit by bit, it made perfect sense and I could hear the different voices and understand the reason for them. I'll never look at my Advil bottle the same....

The discussion of social language continued with the example of Jane, and her conversation with her parents vs. her conversation with her boyfriend. This part made me laugh from the start, based on Jane's claim that she doesn't speak in different social languages, because this would be "hypocritical" and "not being oneself." I think it was pretty clear to see where this was going from the start. It is entirely possible to speak in different social languages and still be 100% yourself. I am 100% myself when I am speaking to my friends, or to my boss, but something tells me that starting an email to my boss with "Hey bae❤️❤️❤️," as I would greet my best friend, would probably get me sent down to HR. Regardless, this discussion does raise the important fact that different phrasing is crucial within different contexts. Whether it is the difference between a conversation between parents and a friend, or between a scientific journal and a magazine, different languages are required for different interactions.

Moving on from social languages, the next section that Gee delves into is the two aspects of grammar, and he posits that one aspect refers to the traditional set of grammatical units, and the other aspect refers to the rules by which patterns are created that "signal...whos-doing-whats-within-Discourses" (50). Gee explains that these patterns are called "collocational patterns," which means that the different types of grammatical devices correlate to one another, and with Discourses. The idea of co-location makes sense to me, as a bunch or words and phrases that go together to create a certain social language.

Although it was a very technical discussion, I thought that the 112 different interpretations of the sentence regarding the death rates of lung cancer was a fantastic breakdown of the different ways that language could work, and words could be interpreted. A sentence that particularly stood out to me was:
Meaning is not merely a matter of decoding grammar, it is also (and more importantly) a matter of knowing which of the many inferences that one can draw from an utterance are relevant. And 'relevance' is a matter deeply tied to context, point of view, and culture. (54)
Very well said. Our social languages have a much bigger effect on us, and our understanding of meanings, than is immediately realized.

Moving on to the Big C Conversations section, Gee defines "Conversations: as the public debates, arguments, motifs, issues, or themes that are big in society-- looking at them all as parts of one whole capital-C Conversation. For examples, all of the parts of the mission statement of Johnson and Johnson that make up the capital-C Conversation that is the company's mission statement. The capital-C Conversations are the big ones, which include themes that reach far beyond what is immediately evident. For example, both Johnson and Johnson and Philip Morris (cigarette company) both have the idea of individual opportunity included in their mission statements, but these take on two very different manifestations in the items the respective companies produce. It is at points like this that Discourse becomes important, because in certain situations, words and ideas are not enough, and the meaning behind them is what makes the difference. Both companies may say that they value individual freedom, but one is manufacturing cigarettes. At least, that's how I read this particular section.

The final section of this chapter is called Intertextuality and, as I mentioned before, I was interested to see how Gee ties this into the subject matter.  He uses this term to identify the act of incorporating words from one social language into another-- e.g. "Shakespeare said love was such sweet sorrow." Gee cites the Oakland School Board case, and shows a few paragraphs, which exemplify the marrying together of the legal and the research language that, together, make the document work as a whole. However,  although I understood the case that Gee was making, I think it could have been better explained.  Whereas the rest of the sections were explained in much more detail, I think he skimmed over Intertextuality, which was pretty disappointing.
 

Words, Words, Words! (And Discourse too!)- Chapter 4: An Introduction to Discourse Analysis

Up to bat this week, Chapter 4 of An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method, by James Paul Gee. This chapter is titled, "Social Languages, Conversations, and Intertextuality," and I was excited to see the word "Intertextuality," because it hearkens back to my literary roots, and I look forward to seeing how it is tied in to this subject matter.

Gee opens with the idea of the social languages, the variations of language that allow for us to assume different social identities. For example, I speak differently to my parents than I would to my friends. I like that he talks about the importance of Discourse, because I would agree that language is far more nuanced than words alone, however I do see that the concern of linguistic discourse analysts is, first and foremost, language.

"Whos-doing-whats." Oh man, I had to read this part through a few times. Although it made my head spin, and it took some time to understand, ultimately I found that the breakdown of the aspirin drug information was a compelling way to explain what was meant by whos-doing-whats. I don't feel bad saying that I don't make a habit of close reading drug information for different voices and tones but, when Gee explained it bit by bit, it made perfect sense and I could hear the different voices and understand the reason for them. I'll never look at my Advil bottle the same....

The discussion of social language continued with the example of Jane, and her conversation with her parents vs. her conversation with her boyfriend. This part made me laugh from the start, based on Jane's claim that she doesn't speak in different social languages, because this would be "hypocritical" and "not being oneself." I think it was pretty clear to see where this was going from the start. It is entirely possible to speak in different social languages and still be 100% yourself. I am 100% myself when I am speaking to my friends, or to my boss, but something tells me that starting an email to my boss with "Hey bae❤️❤️❤️," as I would greet my best friend, would probably get me sent down to HR. Regardless, this discussion does raise the important fact that different phrasing is crucial within different contexts. Whether it is the difference between a conversation between parents and a friend, or between a scientific journal and a magazine, different languages are required for different interactions.

Moving on from social languages, the next section that Gee delves into is the two aspects of grammar, and he posits that one aspect refers to the traditional set of grammatical units, and the other aspect refers to the rules by which patterns are created that "signal...whos-doing-whats-within-Discourses" (50). Gee explains that these patterns are called "collocational patterns," which means that the different types of grammatical devices correlate to one another, and with Discourses. The idea of co-location makes sense to me, as a bunch or words and phrases that go together to create a certain social language.

Although it was a very technical discussion, I thought that the 112 different interpretations of the sentence regarding the death rates of lung cancer was a fantastic breakdown of the different ways that language could work, and words could be interpreted. A sentence that particularly stood out to me was:
Meaning is not merely a matter of decoding grammar, it is also (and more importantly) a matter of knowing which of the many inferences that one can draw from an utterance are relevant. And 'relevance' is a matter deeply tied to context, point of view, and culture. (54)
Very well said. Our social languages have a much bigger effect on us, and our understanding of meanings, than is immediately realized.

Moving on to the Big C Conversations section, Gee defines "Conversations: as the public debates, arguments, motifs, issues, or themes that are big in society-- looking at them all as parts of one whole capital-C Conversation. For examples, all of the parts of the mission statement of Johnson and Johnson that make up the capital-C Conversation that is the company's mission statement. The capital-C Conversations are the big ones, which include themes that reach far beyond what is immediately evident. For example, both Johnson and Johnson and Philip Morris (cigarette company) both have the idea of individual opportunity included in their mission statements, but these take on two very different manifestations in the items the respective companies produce. It is at points like this that Discourse becomes important, because in certain situations, words and ideas are not enough, and the meaning behind them is what makes the difference. Both companies may say that they value individual freedom, but one is manufacturing cigarettes. At least, that's how I read this particular section.

The final section of this chapter is called Intertextuality and, as I mentioned before, I was interested to see how Gee ties this into the subject matter.  He uses this term to identify the act of incorporating words from one social language into another-- e.g. "Shakespeare said love was such sweet sorrow." Gee cites the Oakland School Board case, and shows a few paragraphs, which exemplify the marrying together of the legal and the research language that, together, make the document work as a whole. However,  although I understood the case that Gee was making, I think it could have been better explained.  Whereas the rest of the sections were explained in much more detail, I think he skimmed over Intertextuality, which was pretty disappointing.
 

blog 7

James Paul gee; Ch 4

“Who’s-doing-what’s”:
1.      Social languages – different kinds of languages that allow people to identify (“express”) the different social roles we have. So this means that social language is more specified/ narrow as far as content goes. It also seems to be more goal-oriented (the goal is to use the specialized language/ writings to convey your social identity).
2.      Conversations – important to note that Conversations is proper here (capital C). Conversations are, then, different from conversations, in that Conversations are generally related to hot-button or socially prevalent issues.  A Conversation is a recognizable debate within a social setting, with recognizable “sides” to each argument. Furthermore, it is easy to figure out “what kind of people” take what kind of stance in any given argument.
3.      Intertextuality – in this context, “intertextuality” does not have a specialized definition. Intertextuality is when spoken or (more likely) written word quotes or refers to another text either directly or indirectly.
4.      Discourse – not comprised of language alone. Rather a Discourse (capital D) is comprised of words, actions, thoughts, feeling, setting, etc.

Thoughts: Interested in seeing the difference between a “social language” and a “conversation.”

Social language example: the aspirin bottle. The stylistic choices (caps and italics) and language used in the directions conveys more than just a message; rather it is also conveying who is speaking to us, and what it is they do or don’t want us doing (who’s-doing-what’s). The important messages are stressed using these features, while the less important/ standard instructions are paced very plainly in the middle with generic language. The point of this section is to analyze how delivery of a message can impact how the message makes us feel (very “it’s not what you say, but how you say it”). The text states that the stressed sections are spoken by a “lawyer” and the unstressed are spoken by a “doctor” but I disagree. It all seemed like a doctor to me.

“Social Languages”:

Who-doing-what = social languages in short hand.

The example of the “riverboat” – Jane displays two different versions of herself when she explains the story of Abagail and Gregory to two different audiences. To her parents, she conveys the persona of someone who is intelligent, reflective and critical. To her boyfriend, Jane is emotional and informal (the who of who’s-doing-what’s). The different languages she uses indicates the what she is trying to convey.

Parents (who): intelligent, reflective, critical individual // (what): a logical analysis of a philosophical situation
Boyfriend (who): girlfriend // (what) how upsetting such an amoral and hypocritical situation* can be 


            * I thought it was interesting that Jane included herself in her assessment to her boyfriend: “I should hope, if I ever did that to see you, you would shoot the guy.” Not only is Jane identifying with Abagail, but also projecting expected (gender?) social norms onto her boyfriend.
Scientific journal example – shows how social language becomes specialized, and why it matters.
“Two aspects of grammar”

Grammar has two (fairly uniform) aspects: traditional units (nouns, verbs, etc.) and patterns (“rules”) for connecting them. However, the exact usage varies, depending on the social language context. Some audiences receive certain grammatical patterns better than others. (Personal example: I’ve noticed scientific-based writing usually utilizes longer sentences, even to the point of run-in sentences.)  This is referred to as a “collocational pattern.”(Collocational patterns aren’t limited to just language.)

“An example”:

“‘Context’ determines meaning (informal)” while the meaning of language in formal contexts is more explicit and withstanding (“decontextualized”). However, I don’t think there is anything that is completely void of context.



I feel that 2c and 2d are not interpretations that people would get out of this noun. I don’t see how [lung cancer] differs from [lung] [cancer]. I really don’t think that it does honestly. Even when he explains it, it still sounds like he’s trying too hard to make meaning out of something that isn’t there. Furthermore, the issue of “correlation” and “causation” seems like he is splitting a hair. The only plausible variance in meaning, I think, is the phrase “increase in smoking.” However, I don’t think this really proves anything simply because it seems like he’s taking the sentence out of its own context. I don’t think breaking down a sentence in this way really reveals alternative meanings, because if that were the case, then every sentence would be as ambiguous, and I just don’t believe this is the case. I also don’t think being privy to this conversation (Conversation?) in the past helps eliminate alternative meanings. I think there are some combinations of words that are just as explicit as they seem to be. There are words that can have dualistic meanings (hello, synonyms), however, I don’t think speaking and conveying a message is as complex as this example would have us believe.   
    Q1: After reading the example of Sentence 1, what are your thoughts on linguistic ambiguity?
“Big ‘C’ conversations”:

External factors like “themes” and “values” and “beliefs” often play large roles in Conversations.

“Intertextuality”

The example:


Intertextuality here refers to the findings of various “scholarly articles.”
Intertextuality involves a certain degree of uncertainty regarding the audience’s receptiveness of indirect references (when mentioned indirectly). Or, in the case of the mandate, will alleviate any uncertainty, as sheer mention of other works carries enough prestige to ignore direct quotation.
Interesting point about the use of quotation marks, and how they can be used to insinuate that a certain phrase should be interpreted a certain way within another text. As far as research goes, this seems like something teachers and students often disagree about—whether a source is really useful to the overall paper or not; specifically, using a quote out of context in order to meet the mandatory source limit.


Also an interesting point about Black English being viewed as a second language (of sorts) and that these students should be entitled to financial aid as bilingual students. (This, I think, is a much better example of multiple languages and multiple meanings than the “lung cancer” sentence.)

blog 7

James Paul gee; Ch 4

“Who’s-doing-what’s”:
1.      Social languages – different kinds of languages that allow people to identify (“express”) the different social roles we have. So this means that social language is more specified/ narrow as far as content goes. It also seems to be more goal-oriented (the goal is to use the specialized language/ writings to convey your social identity).
2.      Conversations – important to note that Conversations is proper here (capital C). Conversations are, then, different from conversations, in that Conversations are generally related to hot-button or socially prevalent issues.  A Conversation is a recognizable debate within a social setting, with recognizable “sides” to each argument. Furthermore, it is easy to figure out “what kind of people” take what kind of stance in any given argument.
3.      Intertextuality – in this context, “intertextuality” does not have a specialized definition. Intertextuality is when spoken or (more likely) written word quotes or refers to another text either directly or indirectly.
4.      Discourse – not comprised of language alone. Rather a Discourse (capital D) is comprised of words, actions, thoughts, feeling, setting, etc.

Thoughts: Interested in seeing the difference between a “social language” and a “conversation.”

Social language example: the aspirin bottle. The stylistic choices (caps and italics) and language used in the directions conveys more than just a message; rather it is also conveying who is speaking to us, and what it is they do or don’t want us doing (who’s-doing-what’s). The important messages are stressed using these features, while the less important/ standard instructions are paced very plainly in the middle with generic language. The point of this section is to analyze how delivery of a message can impact how the message makes us feel (very “it’s not what you say, but how you say it”). The text states that the stressed sections are spoken by a “lawyer” and the unstressed are spoken by a “doctor” but I disagree. It all seemed like a doctor to me.

“Social Languages”:

Who-doing-what = social languages in short hand.

The example of the “riverboat” – Jane displays two different versions of herself when she explains the story of Abagail and Gregory to two different audiences. To her parents, she conveys the persona of someone who is intelligent, reflective and critical. To her boyfriend, Jane is emotional and informal (the who of who’s-doing-what’s). The different languages she uses indicates the what she is trying to convey.

Parents (who): intelligent, reflective, critical individual // (what): a logical analysis of a philosophical situation
Boyfriend (who): girlfriend // (what) how upsetting such an amoral and hypocritical situation* can be 


            * I thought it was interesting that Jane included herself in her assessment to her boyfriend: “I should hope, if I ever did that to see you, you would shoot the guy.” Not only is Jane identifying with Abagail, but also projecting expected (gender?) social norms onto her boyfriend.
Scientific journal example – shows how social language becomes specialized, and why it matters.
“Two aspects of grammar”

Grammar has two (fairly uniform) aspects: traditional units (nouns, verbs, etc.) and patterns (“rules”) for connecting them. However, the exact usage varies, depending on the social language context. Some audiences receive certain grammatical patterns better than others. (Personal example: I’ve noticed scientific-based writing usually utilizes longer sentences, even to the point of run-in sentences.)  This is referred to as a “collocational pattern.”(Collocational patterns aren’t limited to just language.)

“An example”:

“‘Context’ determines meaning (informal)” while the meaning of language in formal contexts is more explicit and withstanding (“decontextualized”). However, I don’t think there is anything that is completely void of context.



I feel that 2c and 2d are not interpretations that people would get out of this noun. I don’t see how [lung cancer] differs from [lung] [cancer]. I really don’t think that it does honestly. Even when he explains it, it still sounds like he’s trying too hard to make meaning out of something that isn’t there. Furthermore, the issue of “correlation” and “causation” seems like he is splitting a hair. The only plausible variance in meaning, I think, is the phrase “increase in smoking.” However, I don’t think this really proves anything simply because it seems like he’s taking the sentence out of its own context. I don’t think breaking down a sentence in this way really reveals alternative meanings, because if that were the case, then every sentence would be as ambiguous, and I just don’t believe this is the case. I also don’t think being privy to this conversation (Conversation?) in the past helps eliminate alternative meanings. I think there are some combinations of words that are just as explicit as they seem to be. There are words that can have dualistic meanings (hello, synonyms), however, I don’t think speaking and conveying a message is as complex as this example would have us believe.   
    Q1: After reading the example of Sentence 1, what are your thoughts on linguistic ambiguity?
“Big ‘C’ conversations”:

External factors like “themes” and “values” and “beliefs” often play large roles in Conversations.

“Intertextuality”

The example:


Intertextuality here refers to the findings of various “scholarly articles.”
Intertextuality involves a certain degree of uncertainty regarding the audience’s receptiveness of indirect references (when mentioned indirectly). Or, in the case of the mandate, will alleviate any uncertainty, as sheer mention of other works carries enough prestige to ignore direct quotation.
Interesting point about the use of quotation marks, and how they can be used to insinuate that a certain phrase should be interpreted a certain way within another text. As far as research goes, this seems like something teachers and students often disagree about—whether a source is really useful to the overall paper or not; specifically, using a quote out of context in order to meet the mandatory source limit.


Also an interesting point about Black English being viewed as a second language (of sorts) and that these students should be entitled to financial aid as bilingual students. (This, I think, is a much better example of multiple languages and multiple meanings than the “lung cancer” sentence.)

Gee’s “An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method”



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     I'm going to agree with Martha and say that I thought the aspirin warning was a great example that got the author's point across. I really enjoyed the anecdote involving "Jane" as well. After that, a lot of the chapter didn't make too much sense to me until the part about Ebonics. I feel like most of it was unnecessary and could be simplified into the ideas of audience and context: the language you use depends largely on who you're talking to and in what situation.

     My students have always struggled with the language they should use in an essay. Slang and curses generally riddle their papers. I tried to correct this by asking them to imagine how they talk to their friends versus how they talk to their parents. Treat the essay like a conversation with your parents. Unfortunately, many of my students are on a first name basis with their parents. They would swear up and down that they speak the same to both groups. Unlike Jane from the chapter, I believe them. (I wanted to substitute a priest for their parents, but I was worried about what I might hear.)

     Ebonics became a big topic when I was in high school, so I never really looked into it too much. The way it's presented in this chapter makes it sound like the children were ELL students from a foreign country that only spoke Ebonics, not kids who had grown up in America going to public schools. At the risk of sounding insensitive, I don't know if I would consider an ELL student and an Ebonic speaking student as equal.

     This chapter does a good job of demonstrating just how frustrating the English language can be. When you have to take into account all the secret hidden meanings each sentence might have, it's amazing that we can communicate effectively with one another at all. Using the number of meanings the sentence about lung cancer may carry, I can determine that this blog post has upwards of 1,425,673 possible interpretations.
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Gee’s “An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method”



www.pinterest.com 
     I'm going to agree with Martha and say that I thought the aspirin warning was a great example that got the author's point across. I really enjoyed the anecdote involving "Jane" as well. After that, a lot of the chapter didn't make too much sense to me until the part about Ebonics. I feel like most of it was unnecessary and could be simplified into the ideas of audience and context: the language you use depends largely on who you're talking to and in what situation.

     My students have always struggled with the language they should use in an essay. Slang and curses generally riddle their papers. I tried to correct this by asking them to imagine how they talk to their friends versus how they talk to their parents. Treat the essay like a conversation with your parents. Unfortunately, many of my students are on a first name basis with their parents. They would swear up and down that they speak the same to both groups. Unlike Jane from the chapter, I believe them. (I wanted to substitute a priest for their parents, but I was worried about what I might hear.)

     Ebonics became a big topic when I was in high school, so I never really looked into it too much. The way it's presented in this chapter makes it sound like the children were ELL students from a foreign country that only spoke Ebonics, not kids who had grown up in America going to public schools. At the risk of sounding insensitive, I don't know if I would consider an ELL student and an Ebonic speaking student as equal.

     This chapter does a good job of demonstrating just how frustrating the English language can be. When you have to take into account all the secret hidden meanings each sentence might have, it's amazing that we can communicate effectively with one another at all. Using the number of meanings the sentence about lung cancer may carry, I can determine that this blog post has upwards of 1,425,673 possible interpretations.
www.pinterest.com

"Who’s-Doing–Whats in Language" by James Paul Gee

Social languages and their different practices I get all too well; working with the public for so many years, I recognized the different ways I spoke to different people from my early days in retail. Very quickly, I was made aware of the need to speak—to connect—with my present audience, in their “lingo” especially if they were complaining, venting, or simply irate over something that happened as they shopped. When I found myself transferred to the downtown Jersey City store I am presently working in, my vernacular adapted to my new area, just as it had in my previous stores.

When I was working in a highly Hispanic area, certain phrases, mannerisms, and types of body language were the precedent; one is usually unaware they acquire these, but it is simply a matter of association and immersion. In order to communicate with shoppers and co-workers, one needs to speak the same language. In the downtown store, we have many African-Americans, both on staff and as customers, so my mannerisms, body language, and speech have adapted again through these associations and friendships.

Since 9/11, the area has been flooded with an upper-class, business clientele because of many WTC companies relocating “walking distance” from our store, along the waterfront. These customers expect a different type of speech and treatment; such differentiation is not difficult, and my more formal speech can be heard when dealing with these shoppers. None of these habits are intentional, but a natural context of speaking to the many different people in our daily routine, on their terms. These are my peeps, below. Note we are many different types, and so are our speech patterns.

The example of “Jane” as she describes the story from class to both her parents and boyfriend, hoping to prove there is no change in her speech patterns, is classic. She quickly recognizes the vast differences in her social languages just as I have described the variations of my own. When I was younger, like Jane, I did not see all the adaptations of language I used but was aware of the obvious ones--talking “nicer” to parents, teachers, and clergy but being ourselves with friends. Jane’s claim that she did not ever speak differently was destined to fail when tested, and did.

The ability to read and grasp the essence of the author’s intent has a lot to do with a ready knowledge of what is going on around us. If a person is completely uninformed and reads an aspirin bottle, such as Gee’s example, they might be puzzled or misinterpret the warnings it carries. However, unless you live under a rock, on a deserted island, or in a remote cloister, you would be somewhat familiar with such information and able to discern, by the time you were an adult making this purchase, what the message intended its reader to ascertain. Understandably, in today’s ever-changing society, there may be many who use English as their second language, missing certain social cues. But because of social media, they would have an easier time adapting to mannerisms and speech patterns of average American conversations.
On the topic of social responsibility I can only say that if cigarette manufacturers should be held accountable, then what about liquor and prescription drug manufacturers, which are also highly addictive. I do not disagree BUT these are all very serious social issues and as long as they are readily available, there will be a higher incident rate which negatively affect families, and loved ones by ruining lives. Accountability needs to be addressed across many forums, deciding where freedom of choice ends and responsibility to each other begins.


Ebonics—why not? If children can take ESL classes to learn English, and others can learn a second language, such as Spanish, in school to accommodate the many Hispanic families living in the USA, why not Ebonics. If many children are more familiar with this vernacular, as long as they will also learn how to write and communicate in English, it seems as acceptable as the decision to include Spanish as a second, required language in schools. The factor of time and scheduling would, of course, be an issue, but if this would prove advantageous to students, particularly in certain areas, why not try and implement this form of expression? Yet, I wonder what will come of these changes and the absence of grammar at the same time…

"Who’s-Doing–Whats in Language" by James Paul Gee

Social languages and their different practices I get all too well; working with the public for so many years, I recognized the different ways I spoke to different people from my early days in retail. Very quickly, I was made aware of the need to speak—to connect—with my present audience, in their “lingo” especially if they were complaining, venting, or simply irate over something that happened as they shopped. When I found myself transferred to the downtown Jersey City store I am presently working in, my vernacular adapted to my new area, just as it had in my previous stores.

When I was working in a highly Hispanic area, certain phrases, mannerisms, and types of body language were the precedent; one is usually unaware they acquire these, but it is simply a matter of association and immersion. In order to communicate with shoppers and co-workers, one needs to speak the same language. In the downtown store, we have many African-Americans, both on staff and as customers, so my mannerisms, body language, and speech have adapted again through these associations and friendships.

Since 9/11, the area has been flooded with an upper-class, business clientele because of many WTC companies relocating “walking distance” from our store, along the waterfront. These customers expect a different type of speech and treatment; such differentiation is not difficult, and my more formal speech can be heard when dealing with these shoppers. None of these habits are intentional, but a natural context of speaking to the many different people in our daily routine, on their terms. These are my peeps, below. Note we are many different types, and so are our speech patterns.

The example of “Jane” as she describes the story from class to both her parents and boyfriend, hoping to prove there is no change in her speech patterns, is classic. She quickly recognizes the vast differences in her social languages just as I have described the variations of my own. When I was younger, like Jane, I did not see all the adaptations of language I used but was aware of the obvious ones--talking “nicer” to parents, teachers, and clergy but being ourselves with friends. Jane’s claim that she did not ever speak differently was destined to fail when tested, and did.

The ability to read and grasp the essence of the author’s intent has a lot to do with a ready knowledge of what is going on around us. If a person is completely uninformed and reads an aspirin bottle, such as Gee’s example, they might be puzzled or misinterpret the warnings it carries. However, unless you live under a rock, on a deserted island, or in a remote cloister, you would be somewhat familiar with such information and able to discern, by the time you were an adult making this purchase, what the message intended its reader to ascertain. Understandably, in today’s ever-changing society, there may be many who use English as their second language, missing certain social cues. But because of social media, they would have an easier time adapting to mannerisms and speech patterns of average American conversations.
On the topic of social responsibility I can only say that if cigarette manufacturers should be held accountable, then what about liquor and prescription drug manufacturers, which are also highly addictive. I do not disagree BUT these are all very serious social issues and as long as they are readily available, there will be a higher incident rate which negatively affect families, and loved ones by ruining lives. Accountability needs to be addressed across many forums, deciding where freedom of choice ends and responsibility to each other begins.


Ebonics—why not? If children can take ESL classes to learn English, and others can learn a second language, such as Spanish, in school to accommodate the many Hispanic families living in the USA, why not Ebonics. If many children are more familiar with this vernacular, as long as they will also learn how to write and communicate in English, it seems as acceptable as the decision to include Spanish as a second, required language in schools. The factor of time and scheduling would, of course, be an issue, but if this would prove advantageous to students, particularly in certain areas, why not try and implement this form of expression? Yet, I wonder what will come of these changes and the absence of grammar at the same time…