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VOICES OF NEW YORK




ANTHROPOLOGY/LINGUISTICS 288  •  Spring 2011

Dr. Miki Makihara
&

Dr. Michael Newman

(home)

Paper Abstracts


Emily Wiegers, "Franšais Role Play: Parallels of French Language Acquisition and Cultural Mimicry"

This paper examines the way in which American college students combine their acquisition of the French language along with body gestures of the head and hands identified as “French”. Observations were made during four classes at Queens College in New York, three at a beginning level and one at an intermediate level with students in the approximate age range of 18-25. A positive correlation was observed to exist between students exhibiting “French” body gestures and their overall fluency with the French language. This paper compares similar findings to a study done in Harvard in which college students were instructed to mimic French movement, resulting in an overall improvement in their French language ability. Additionally, numerical comparisons of gesture occurrences examined between males and females show that females have a higher incident rate of body gestures and showed French language improvement exceeding the males.
paper (pdf)presentation

Jeremiah Werner, "Pragmatics and Iconicity in Commerce: Starbucks Lingo and Its Significance"

This paper seeks to explicate the parallel nature of Starbucks lingo with natural language and the implications of the commercialization and commodification of language as a means of efficiency and branding. Beginning with a preliminary ethnography of the language of Starbucks through qualitative participant observation, it includes the abstract description and genesis of Starbucks lingo as a means of iconicity within the coffee industry and the standardization of this lingo as a means of efficiency in product delivery. Starbucks lingo is notoriously known for its pseudo-Italian nature which mimicries several parallel features of natural language in social interactions, specifically that of identity indexed through linguistic resources. Analyzing situations of incompatible discourse practices; e.g. customers who refuse to use the lingo and how employees handle those situations linguistically, I attempt to showcase how language is a pervasive element of human social interaction and a few consequences of the commercialization and commodification of language.
paper (pdf)presentation

John Valente, "House Music All Night Long"

The origins of house music are actually quite interesting since there are a few instances for the start of it. One of them are that in the late 1970’s there was a club in Chicago called The Warehouse and the people who came there were gay blacks and Latino men; Legend Frankie Knuckles was the DJ there. Frankie Knuckles went into a bar one day in the southside of Chicago and on the outside of the bar there was a sign that said “we play house music.”(“House”) Now the story behind it is that the DJ that worked in that bar put that up because house music is what he found at home and the music he listened to at his house was soulful and disco hits and this information was spread out to other people. Other DJs thought about this and started to think about what this DJ said and tried to make newer music incorporating what “house” music is. Another case in point that I have heard about in which house music was invented was that since most of the music was produced at home, there was new music coming out and this was called the house music. House music is a type of dance/electronica music genre that was invented in the early1980’s in Chicago. Soon after it became popular, other cities such as New York, Miami, and Detroit started to introduce this type of music to the people. Not too long after this, by about the mid to late 1980’s, it was being introduced to Europe starting with The United Kingdom.  One of the key elements to house in sense of how it originates from is incorporated with a mix of soul, disco and funky grooves.
paper (pdf)presentation

Jeff Tang, "Intuitions on the New York Dialect: Identifying the Voice of New York"

 Recent immigration has brought hundreds of languages to our city, but what happens to these languages and their speakers once they are here in New York? What effect do they have on the English spoken here? 
paper (pdf) • presentation

Jaspinderjit Singh, "The Desi Beat- The affiliation of South Asian Americans with popular Hip-Hop culture"

In the late 1970s Hip-Hop/ Rap were two musical genres that outburst into the lives of the Urban minority youth in the United States. The genre not only not only symbolic for a sense of unity but also portrays a sense of self-expression. Now thirty years later there is something similar that is happening among tt the South Asian Youth In the United States. Hip-Hop and Hip-hop culture has not only stepped into the lives of South Asians in American, but has spread across to the other side of the world into lives of people that before never heard of this phenomena. With its out spoken lyrics and its ways of expressing views against conventional politics, Hip-Hop has created a whole new culture on its own, eliminating the misconception that those who take part in Hip-Hop/ Rap culture are “trying to act black”. This paper not only explores the lives of South Asians that participate in Hip-Hop/ Rap culture, but also how Hip-Hop/ Rap culture has found its way into the lives of those who have little of no access to it.
paper (pdf)presentation

Jasleen Chandhoke and Tanya Simons, "'GUESS WHO?' Can People Really Tell the Difference Between Queens and Nassau Speech?"

In a dialect identification experiment, Queens College students were asked to make two judgments based on brief speech samples: First, whether the speakers were from Queens County or Nassau County, and second, to determine the ethnicities of the speakers.  The purpose of these questions was to determine if there is an obvious difference between Queens and Nassau speech, and to look for correlations between perceptions of race and perceptions of residency.  Our results showed that there are no differences that are easily identified; these findings regarding regional differences are parallel to those of William Labov.  In addition, our data revealed no patterns connecting perceptions of residence and ethnicities. 
paper (pdf)presentation

Brandon Shalim, "U MAD BRO: Study on the Discourse Community of Internet Meme Watchers/Creators"

This document is the research on the discourse community of internet memes. How to determine a person’s literacy in internet memes, and who makes up the internet meme community. I investigated these questions in my paper through interviews and discourse analysis to draw a general conclusion.
paper (pdf)presentation

Marlon Lackeyram, Can People Really Distinguish South Asians From Other Ethnicities Using Only Their Sense Of Hearing?

My study specifically focuses on dialect identification in New York.  I am very interested in discovering how well people can identify a South Asian American dialect from another dialect.  To this date, I haven’t found any other studies conducted about South Asian American dialect identification.  This made it more interesting to me because I can address a topic that a lot of people would like to learn more about.      
paper (pdf)presentation

Nicole King, "Americanization:  Accounts of 1st and 2nd generations from Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago in Queens, NY"

This paper will discuss the importance of the West Indian Creole in Queens, New York.  The West Indian Creole is facing a language shift more so than language maintenance.  Ethnographic interviews and participant observations for both 1st and 2nd generations from these countries were held to discover the overall importance of the West Indian Creole, if the 2nd generation is leading the Creole into a language shift, and to discover the factors that are leading this shift.  One possible factor is the adaption of the majority language in Queens, New York, Standard English.  Findings revealed this along with other multiple factors are involved in leading a language shift.  This language shift from the West Indian Creole to Standard English reveals speakers to become Americanized by adapting the language along with the cultures and values of Americans.
paper (pdf)presentation

Lawrence Gaier, "By golly, that hop is hip! An evaluation of the cohesive potential of Hip Hop"

In this essay, I explore several dimensions of Hip Hop culture. These include, but are not limited to, race, industry, and societal cohesion. As a culture whose art form is based upon several key social aspects, its very fabric as a communicative medium is inherently evolving with society. I briefly discuss the historical context in which Hip Hop culture emerged, as well as the factors that have shaped it to become what it is today. As Hip Hop culture varies by its content and motivations, the latter of which has only recently become a clearly identifiable issue, I seek to understand how Hip Hop has evolved as a function of its ever-changing body and how it will continue to do so. I draw upon the works of various authors in order to examine how Hip Hop has permeated throughout much of modern society from the very street in which it originated, and the effects this has had on its industry and common perceptions. By conducting interviews with Hip Hop performers (MCs), enthusiasts (listeners), and teachers (professor of Hip Hop theatre) of different races and sexualities, I access a widespread range of beliefs regarding the subject of Hip Hop as a culture and its potential growth and function. Most importantly, I aim to demonstrate that Hip Hop is not something one uses or participates in, but rather a medium of consciousness manifested in certain behaviors and ideas that different people embody; not the tool for which it is so commonly misused today.
paper (pdf)presentation

Lisa Fogelman, “A Qualitative Study of the Differences Between Italian-American and Greek-American English in New York City.”

This research paper is looking to see if there is a difference in the speech of Italian-Americans and Greek-Americans from a dialect identification task. It is also looking to see if people base what they choose the ethnicity to be influences how friendly or intelligent they believe the speaker to be.  I am also looking to see if the ethnicity of the speaker has to do with how well they can identify the ethnicity of the speaker. The data, for the most part proved to be inconclusive; much more extensive work would have to be done in order to garner any sort of results. However, interesting aspects were found in the results, such as how stereotypes play into the formation of opinion of what the perceived ethnicity is.
paper (pdf)presentation

Adrian Dominguez,  "Everyone’s A Critic: Discourse Analysis in Written and Oral Responses to James Cameron’s 'Avatar'”                                

Adrian1The movie industry in the past ten years has made extraordinary revolutions in the cinematic world. What we thought wasn’t possible now brings astonishment to our eyes. With these new modifications in cinema, the increase of personal reviews amongst people has increased thanks to the use of online movie reviews and YouTube. Instead of reading expert critical analysis in newspapers, we now have internet sources from everyday people who express themselves in various forms. The forms in which these reviews are expressed provide depth in the study of discourse analysis and how many discourses arise from this. Looking at the end of this first decade, James Cameron’s “Avatar” stirs a lot of controversy amongst the general public. It’s beauty, alluring cinematic display and attempt to create an original masterpiece becomes eye candy to people who want to provide their own criticism. In finding discourses in Avatar, it is important to study not only the evident ones, but also the ones which our culture influences in everyday society (in writing and oral forms).
paper (pdf)presentation

Emily December, "The Voices among the Masses: A Study of the Perceptions of English/Multilanguage Use and Acceptance"

This paper is to bring awareness to a nationwide as well as local political, social and linguistic issue. The English Plus and Official English (or English Only) movements will both be highlighted. For both movements, background research on language policy and language perception will be presented, with a concentration in Spanish and English. The means of gathering the data and analysis of local perceptions towards English and other languages will be presented. Suggestions for improvements will be given as well. The end of the academic paper will have the references and the list of the summary, consent form, transcripts and actual data tables.
paper (pdf)presentation

Kenny Cheng-Fung and Shirley Arana, "Tu vs. Usted: How formal are you?"

In English there are many pronouns but only one that can refer to ‘you’, ‘you’ can be used with anyone, your mother, a colleague, student, this however is not the case on other languages. While language may be the most natural thing that comes to humans, how we chose to express ourselves is strongly influenced by society and social stratification. In French, German, Italian, Spanish and many other languages there can be two singular pronouns of address. Both forms of singular pronouns correlate with social standing, formality and power which makes it very important to use in context when addressing someone. The variation of pronoun use can give insight to the dimensions of social life and contribute to the analytical aspects behind social standing, being that how we see ourselves often tends to depend on how others see us first. A person’s constant style of pronoun use, some say, can even give away his/her own class status, their mood and attitude. Brown and Gilman in “The Pronouns of Power and Solidarity” state that the “European development of two singular pronouns of address began with the Latin tu and vos. In Italian they became tu and voi, in French tu and voi”  and in Spanish tu and vos which is now usted.
paper (pdf)presentation

Claire Beresford, Patterns of Divergence from the Classic New York City Short-a Split

A uniquely conditioned short-a split is one of the features that constitute the classic New York City dialect. The split manifests when a speaker alternates between ‘standard’ lax/low /Š/ and a tensed/raised variant that could be represented by a range of phonetic symbols, for example /ɛː/,  /ɛə /,  or /ɪ ə/. The system of conditions that generates the split has been outlined by Paul Cohen (1970) and summarized by William Labov (2007), but the first noting of such a split was made by E.H. Babbitt (1890-1896), who found a historical correlation with the Old New England system for broad-a. This paper will first describe the NYC split, next refer to previous research, and then report on my study which asked and developed a means to answer the question: Is the NYC short-a split disappearing over time?
paper (pdf)presentation

Abigail Bellomo, "Vintage Slang: Discourse Markers 50 Years Ago"

This project accomplishes three tasks: what type of slang was used by a group of Italians, if there are words or phrases that are still used in “modern” slang, and lastly what are the attitudes toward “modern” slang by those who grew up through 1950 to 1960. In order to retrieve accurate data, interviews were conducted with an Italian family who grew up in Brooklyn, New York during said time period. Therefore, most data and notes were collected during the interviews. Although, that the interviewees suggested other sources, such as some films to watch in order to have a better understanding about how some of the words and phrases were used in conversation. These films ranged from between the late 1940’s to the early 1970’s. But, all the information from the interviewees and the films gave an answer to each of my research questions. Even though slang is different now, some slang that was used some 60 to 50 years ago is still used today yet, the attitude toward “modern” slang is not complacent.
paper (pdf)presentation

Astrid Avalos & Andrea Barranco, "Spanish Language Maintenance within Immigrant Families in Queens"

Andrea1This study explores Spanish language maintenance in communities in Queens, New York. The study addresses the factors that influence Spanish language maintenance within families of mixed generations. The factors observed were those of use of Spanish and English in different settings and environments, the attitudes towards Spanish language maintenance within the generations, and the attitudes and views of peers. Interviews and participant observation of 8 different families composed of 1st and 2nd generation Hispanics are analyzed to try to establish which factors actually contribute or discourage Spanish language maintenance. Living in a country that is extremely diverse but still dominated by the English language, it is easy to see how each generation understands how important the English language really is, but they also find it equally important to compliment it with their native language, Spanish.
paper (pdf)presentation

Khealzaree Ahmedzay, "Speaking Pashto in NYC: Pashto Language Maintenance and Shift"

This is a research project that will look into the Pashto community from a sociolinguistic level. It will explore how some Pashto speakers have shifted to English and others have maintained the Pashto language. In doing this I focus on factors that would play a role in competence or usage of the Pashto language. Some factors that influence Pashto maintenance were speaking Pashto with parents, siblings, and friends, having ties with family and visiting them often, having parents that encourage Pashto to be spoken at home, listening to Pashto music and having a positive perception of Pashtoons’ and valuing Pashto maintenance. Speakers shifting towards English was due to such factors as: being in a dominant English speaking society, having more contact with English speakers, listening to English music, acquiring a popular culture lifestyle than the Pashtoon culture, and not having strong ties with family that speak Pashto either here or back home.
 paper (pdf)presentation