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Open Access Publications from the University of California
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“And the winner is…”: Hierarchies of language competence and fashion sense in Tanzanian beauty pageants

This paper discusses how successful Tanzanian beauty contestants mark themselves as educated sophisticates through clusters of semiotic materials. At lower-level and provincial competitions, contestants’ ability to speak ‘pure,’ if non-fluent and non-standard, English helps them achieve victory. This register is coupled with local, often outlandish, interpretations of international fashions and hairstyles. Yet in the capital city, and especially at the national competition, winning contestants speak a standard, fluent variety of English, a super-elite register that is typically only acquired through tertiary education or through membership in an elite urban household. They also adorn themselves in ways that are in keeping with global trends. When provincial contestants advance through the pageant hierarchy, they find their language skills and agrestic style become indexical a lack of knowledge and sophistication. This paper thus explores the variable and hierarchical formulations of ‘language competence’ (Blommaert et al 2005), and emphasizes, using Agha’s (2007) notion of ‘metasemiotic scheme,’ that such competence is neither acquired, nor interpreted, in isolation from other symbolic behaviors.

Collaborative Unit Construction in Korean: Pivot Turns

This study examines how Korean speakers make pivot turns using particles and predicates as increments while coordinating their action in relation to a recipient's response moment-to-moment. The study discusses the speaker’s organization of syntax and prosody in the design of pivot turns and demonstrates how pivot turns emerge from stance negotiation between participants. The analysis shows how interlocutors take into account multimodal resources, including talk, prosody, and gestures, during their negotiation of stance. Finally, the study suggests that Korean interlocutors construct units collaboratively as speakers turn the trajectory of talk to modify their stance through pivot turns.

The Coordination of Talk and Typing in Police Interrogations

In this article, I examine the conduct and coordination of two activities that are relevant in the Dutch police interrogation: talking and typing. By taking a closer look at these activities, I can see how the police record is mutually constructed by officers and suspects and begin to understand what kind of orientation is required for these dual activities. Additionally, I explore how participants orient to and coordinate talking and typing during interrogations and explicate what this tells us about the ways institutional tasks are carried out in this specific environment. I have found that police officers not only structure talk during interrogations, but that their typing activities function as institutional, controlling actions when talk is transformed to text during the interrogations.

A Pioneer in the Use of Video for the Study of Human Social Interaction: A Talk with Frederick Erickson

In the spring of 2011, Dr. Frederick Erickson retired from his position as George F. Kneller Chair of Anthropology of Education and Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles. In this interview, Dr. Erickson recounts his personal interest in the organization of social interaction and those who influenced his work, alongside historical developments in the use of video methods for the close study of human social interaction. He further explains how his use of a quasi-musical transcription method avoids what he considers to be a tendency for logocentrism in empirical studies of face-to-face interaction. The highlight of our conversation with Dr. Erickson is his revelation of an alter identity or “Clark Kent” underneath both his teaching and scholarship. Lastly, we ask the inevitable question, “What intellectual pursuits he will follow upon leaving the Westwood campus” and also seek his advice for future generations of scholars interested in the study of language, interaction and culture.