[PLing] Einladung zum Gastvortrag Barbara Johnstone, 19.10.16

Woydack, Johanna johanna.woydack at wu.ac.at
Fri Sep 16 12:06:09 CEST 2016

Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen,

Wir würden Sie gerne zum einem Vortrag von Professor Barbara Johnstone,

Professor of English and Linguistics an der Carnegie Mellon University, USA einladen.  Der Vortrag findet im Rahmen des "English Research  Seminar" am Department für Fremdsprachliche Wirtschaftskommunikation der WU statt.

Vortragende:  Professor Barbara Johnstone, Carnegie Mellon University


[cid:image002.jpg at 01D21044.FECE5000]Titel: Language for Sale: Understanding Pittsburghese T-shirts

Vortrag in englischer Sprache

WANN: 19.10.16 um 18.15 h

WO:       Campus WU, Gebäude D2, D2.0.392

Title and Abstract
Language for Sale: Understanding Pittsburghese T-shirts
Barbara Johnstone
Carnegie Mellon University

This talk explores how languages and dialects can become commodities. The particular artifact I will consider is the Pittsburghese shirt. Pittsburgh is a mid-sized city in the US where a distinctive variety of American English is spoken. This variety, known as Pittsburghese, is tightly tied to local identity, and Pittsbughese is used to decorate coffee mugs, shot glasses, beer mugs, and many other items that are for sale in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburghese shirts are almost always either white, black, or a yellow-orange color thought of locally as "gold," with printing in white, black, and/or gold. The front typically depicts the cityscape and includes the word "Pittsburghese" (sometimes "Pixburghese") together with a scattering of respelled words meant to represent local  words and pronunciations. On the back there is sometimes a dictionary-like alphabetical list. Newer designs are often simpler, involving a single black word or phrase on the front of a white shirt:  YNZ (yinz 'you, pl.'), I'm surrounded by jagoffs!  ('jerks, irritating people').

In this talk, I will ask and try to answer two questions about Pittsburghese t-shirts. First, why are there shirts like these?  Why are they so popular?  What makes it possible to produce them and desirable to purchase them?  To answer this question, we will look at the commodification of language. Second, what do these shirts do?  How do they shape how Pittsburghers think about themselves and their language? To answer this question, we will look at language ideology. Through an analysis of Pittsburghese shirts in their social, cultural, and material contexts, I will show that language ideology and language commodification go hand in hand. Producing, selling, buying, and using Pittsburghese shirts is one of the many ways in which Pittsburghers and ex-Pittsburghers come to share ideas about what Pittsburghese consists of and what it means.

Barbara Johnstone teaches advanced writing and linguistics courses in the Rhetoric Program at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. She has been studying Pittsburgh speech for the past fifteen years. Her book Speaking Pittsburghese: The Story of a Dialect was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. She is also the author of many other books, journal articles, and chapters on topics having to do with the role of the individual in language and linguistics and the relationships between language, identity, and place, as well as textbooks on discourse analysis and sociolinguistics.

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