Speaking Craft Beverage: Building Power, Status, and Economy with Linguistic Capital   

In 1978 U.S. H.R. 1337 was signed into law, legalizing homebrewing in the United States (Glass 2016). Growth of the hobby coupled with changing State and Federal regulations had an enormous impact on the expansion of commercial craft beverage production, from 80 breweries in 1983 to 4,144 in 2015 (Brewers Association 2016).

This research examines how discourse within craft beer communities and descriptive lexical items for aroma, taste, color, and other qualities of beer, cider, and mead are used together by hobbyists and professionals to describe flavor, aroma, and experiences in alcoholic craft beverage and how the use of this specific language creates and develops status and power within the communities of practice of craft beverage consumer and producer groups.

An analysis of collected description and discourse data from online users of craft beverage discussion and rating forums such as ratebeer.com, talkbeer.com, Untappd, and YouTube as well as branding and marketing information from the brewers was examined showing how linguistic, social, and economic capital are created and used in these communities.  Users have community specific terminology such as ‘whales’, ‘dome’, ‘vertical’, or ‘ticks’ and there are consequences to improperly using the language, engaging in discourse in ways that the community does not find acceptable, or failing to assess a product well; including public ridicule, being ostracized or banned from an online forum, or users leaving en masse from a forum due to unacceptable moderator behavior and speech.

As in any hobby or professional field, the craft beverage consumer and producer communities use specific language in describing and discussing products. Unlike wine and food (Silverstein 2006), beer expertise and the standards for describing brewed products have not historically come from the social elite. Using the social theory framework of Pierre Bourdieu (Bourdieu 1977 & 1984) and examination of discourse within the craft community we will see that language choice within the craft beverage community is used not only for the surface purpose of describing and identifying qualities of a beverage (Noble 1984 & 2016, Mosher 2009) but also to explicitly and implicitly confer information about socio-economic status, experience, and access to rare and desirable products. Use of accurate descriptors alongside other field specific lexicon when tasting and judging craft beverage has lasting effects on consumer perception and future engagement with a product, fellow enthusiast, or brewer.

Keywords: discourse analysis, craft beer, beer, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, craft beverage, mead, social theory, lexical semantics

Fermented Beverage Terminology as Wanderwörter

As people and their languages come into contact with one another the words from their lexicons may be borrowed, shared, or changed.  A common semantic field for lexical borrowing is food and drink as the movement of people means regional or cultural beverages and dishes find their way to new places.

The main goal of this paper will be an attempt to construct a model of movement and change in the phonology and semantics of the lexical items which humans use to identify fermented alcoholic beverages intended for consumption.  Although some data has been collected on distilled spirits the main focus will be on beverages which undergo fermentation only.  These have been produced both purposefully and accidentally for a much longer period of human history.  I aim to answer the following questions about these lexical items; specifically beer, mead, and wine:

  1. Is it reasonable to consider any of these as Wanderwörter using the framework and criteria discussed in Haynie et al. 2014? If so, develop a map of the movement in time and place of any such terms, with information as to contact and social circumstances of the borrowing.
  1. How has contact and borrowing influenced the phonology or morphology of the items and have they influenced the phonology of the language they entered into? How and why have these words undergone any semantic shift, reanalysis, metonymy, degeneration, or elevation?

The collected linguistic, historical, and anthropological data for each lexeme are charted into an interactive map using the mapping tool VisualEyes which is maintained by the University of Virginia.  This tool allows users to engage directly with the material, visualizing the relationships of the individual data points and sets.

Keywords: historical linguistics, beer, mead, fermented beverage, language change, map, lexicalization

Variation in African American Vernacular English: A Study of Three American Cities

African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is a widely spoken and well studied dialect of American English.  Although it is spoken across the geography of the United States and alongside a number of other dialects, previous research on variation has primarily focused on the relationship of this vernacular to dialects used by white speakers and not on variation within the vernacular.  This paper will first give a brief overview of the history, use, and key features of African American Vernacular English as well as draw attention to associated gaps in the existing sociolinguistic literature on the study of variation within the dialect.

A pilot study of six speakers of African American Vernacular English was conducted from recent interviews with rap music artists found on YouTube.  Two speakers each from Detroit, Los Angeles, and Atlanta were examined. Similarities and variations between the speakers in each city were observed in their phonological choices, lexical items, and speech patterns.

Keywords: sociolinguistics, African American Vernacular English, variation, creole, prosody, phonology, American dialectology

Lexicalization of the –ish Suffix in English: A Change in Progress

Morphological change is one way that languages change over time. This research aims to identify and analyze a possible change in progress, reanalysis of the English derivational suffix ish as a free morpheme and as a bound morpheme with extended domain of application. Historically, in English, this suffix is a bound morpheme and functions to form a new word with a similar semantics but a different lexical category from the root.

The data for this study are comprised of a small set of examples from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and a larger set of roughly 600 tweets randomly selected via keyword search from social media site Twitter. These items date from 2006 to 2016. Examples drawn from this data set will support claims made in previous literature about the contemporary use of ish in (American) English and demonstrate new innovative uses of the morpheme, including possible lexicalization.

Keywords: morphology, affixing, lexicalization, corpus linguistics, derivational morphology

Profanity and the Taboo as Factors in Selection

Profanity and the taboo have a long and important role in human communication.   Something about the profane seems to invoke an emotive and primal feeling for the speaker and listener. Determination of what is profane or taboo and the relationships between the control or prestige speakers and the social situations dictate not only what is unacceptable to say but by whom and in which context.  I argue that the proficient and creative use of profanity, slurs, and discussion of the taboo is an advantage for humans in sexual selection.  From the small clause stage and concrete meanings to the seemingly limitless way in which the profane can be creatively constructed and carry abstract meaning in modern languages; profanity taps into and expresses the deeply emotional and raw responses of humans as well as the salient moral values of people .

Keywords: Evolution of syntax, profanity, taboo, slur, ritual insult, sociolinguistics, syntax

Avoiding Reference Failure with E-type Pronouns in English

Direct Reference is a theory in the philosophy of language which states proper names and indexical in natural language are genuine terms.  A genuine term is one whose sole contribution in use is its semantic referent.[1] That is to say that the meaning of a term in this way is what it directly points to in the world.  There are some important consequences to reference failure. According to McKinsey the most salient of these is the implication that a sentence (utterance) containing a genuine term which fails to refer cannot have a truth value, as it is not a proposition.  An approach from neutral free logic is used to accommodate evaluation of these utterances.

There does appear to be a specific condition under which a genuine term can fail to refer and yet the utterance remains a proposition with a truth value.  These indexical genuine terms are special pronouns called anaphoric or E-type pronouns. E-Type pronouns are defined in linguistic literature as those which have a quantifier as an antecedent and are neither referential nor bound variables; rather they are definite descriptions with silent predicates.

It must then be the case that either E-Type pronouns in fact, do not refer and therefore make the utterances which contain them not propositions; or there is a set of conditions under which they are able to circumvent direct reference failure and its consequences. This paper will examine how E-Type pronouns avoid causing direct reference failure, thus allowing an utterance containing them to express a proposition and have a truth value.

I will make an argument from formal syntactic and semantic theory in linguistics that the ability of the E-type pronoun to avoid reference failure relies on the syntactic Theta-roles and semantic argument types of the verbs in the utterance which establishes reference for the E-type and the ones which contain it. I will state a consequence of this claim for syntactic theory and finally, explore the possibility for other types of lexical categories or constructions to avoid direct reference failure in this way.

Keywords: anaphora, reference failure, E-type pronouns, philosophy of language, direct reference

[1] McKinsey, Michael. 2015. Consequences of Reference Failure. Unpublished. p4.

Negation in Palembang

Co-Authored with: B. Baker & S. Alshahrani

This work provides a preliminary analysis of lexical negation items in Palembang, spoken in Southern Sumatra, Indonesia. Palembang (Musi) is underrepresented in the research among Austronesian Languages.  The data was elicited from a single, native, speaker of the language.

The data identifies six lexical items with varying degree and use in marking negation.  Each item has a distinct scope.  Evidence is presented for semantic information additional to negation which is built into each item based on the restricted and allowed category selection for each.  Palembang is a highly contextual language and although it does permit some flexibility in word order, movement of negation items through an utterance can result in varied meaning.

Keywords: Palembang, negation, Austronesian Language, field work, Indonesia, Musi, Sumatra

Sprechen Sie Denglisch? Perspectives on Anglicisims in German.

This paper discusses the use of and perception of Denglisch by German speakers. Denglisch is a variety of multilingual discourse which adopts lexical items and some grammar from English into German. A brief overview of multilingual discourse, pidgins, and creoles will be followed by examples from Denglisch, Modern Standard German, and English on lexicon and structural features.  The paper concludes with a discussion of some social perspectives of German speakers on the use of Denglisch.

Keywords: sociolinguistics, language, multilingual discourse, code switching, Denglisch, Anglicism, pidgin, creole, discourse.