Linguistics and Heiman Response Paper

Submitted By queboy80
Words: 628
Pages: 3

Kevin Q. Ewing
Linguistic Anthropology
Professor Rachel Heiman
Response Paper 5

Subtext and Filtration

The dialectal relationship inherent in spoken language cannot be simply reduced to the oscillation of communication between speaker and hearer. Each communicative participant, foremost, employs—but not limited to—a command of the language coupled with a pre-existing knowledge schema. This reduced notion of what participants bring to the table does not account for the circumferential, and of-times, underlying dynamics effecting the shape and outcome of speech events. Considerations could include: What is the topic? The frame? What is the setting at which the speech event occurred? What is the socioeconomic, gendered, or racialized positions of the participants? What is the perceived goal of the participants? What is the cultural and historic moment in which the social actors are embedded? These considerations, complex as they are, can further be complicated when the utility of language supersedes the immediate speaker-hearer, but coalesces and affects a larger public sphere and have far reaching impacts. One such sphere is the domain of government, particularly, the specific practice of policy-making. Policy-making, as we learned, “is made in small-scale situations mediated by language” (Dent pg. 48). Given such, the readings for this week, “Driving after Class” and “Intellectual Property in Practice” points to policy-making as a site of linguistic anthropological analysis. In “Driving after Class,” a close reading of the Danaboro zoning board debate over a proposed six-foot gate demonstrated how subtext could inadvertently affect the goal of communicative participants. For the prospective residents, the gate embodied a form of security and, essentially, exercising one’s right over one’s property (neoliberal space making). However, for others—long-time Danaboro residents represented by the board members—who held a liberal, democratic idea about their community as well as the meaning of private and public spaces saw the gate as an exclusionary act. By analyzing the language used at the hearing, the “gate-debate” then can be seen as a contested site wherein it incites “class anxieties and rouse uncertainties about the fiscal and discursive boundaries of inclusion and exclusion” (Heiman, pg. 3). Inclusion and exclusion, “mediated by language,” also finds a place in larger-scaled forms of governmentality, such as the handling of international affairs. In “Intellect Property in Practice,” Alexander S. Dent, identifies a process of filtering employed by the United States Trade Representative to…