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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Issues in Applied Linguistics

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ial is a refereed journal managed by scholars in the field of applied linguistics. Our aim is to publish outstanding research from faculty, independent researchers, and graduate students in the broad areas of second language acquisition, language socialization, language processing, language assessment, language pedagogy, language policy, making use of the following research methodologies (but not limited to): discourse analysis, conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, critical race theory, and psychophysiology. ial publishes articles, book reviews, and interviews with notable scholars.


Living in a Second Language: Self-Representation in Reported Dialogues of Latinas’ Narratives of Personal Language Experiences

This study analyzes self-representation in narratives of personal language experiences among five Latina immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador living in Los Angeles. Unexpected events in the narratives take the discursive form of reported dialogues between Latinas and the people they interact with in daily communicative exchanges in different social settings, both private and public (home, school, hospitals, shopping malls, and nightclubs). Far from being victimized and despite their level of English proficiency (beginner to intermediate), this group of Latinas portrays themselves as intervening in discriminatory situations that jeopardize their language and ethnicity, and as restoring the moral order violated in the narratives. Self-representation in their narratives of language experiences is analyzed through the quotation formula chosen to introduce the reported dialogues together with the most significant prosodic features of the narrative components: unexpected event, response, and attempt (Ochs & Capps, 2001). The degree of discursive agency (De Fina, 2003) exemplified in these narratives shows different strategies of resistance and empowerment among this group of Latinas.

The Dynamics of Classroom Small Talk

This paper illustrates how classroom small talk between a teacher and students constitutes a distinct interaction pattern which varies significantly from pedagogical discourse of an institutional nature such as the initiation/response/feedback (IRF) pattern described in previous literature (Mehan, 1979; Sinclair & Coulthard, 1975). By presenting a piece of extended small talk in an ESL secondary classroom in Hong Kong and contrasting it with a piece of typical teacher-orchestrated institutional classroom talk, I show how the teacher and students demonstrate more dynamic and less asymmetrical roles during small talk with clear evidence of active contributions to the exchange by the students in terms of topic setting, turn initiation, turn development, and negotiation of meaning. Features of the small talk resemble everyday social discourse. Implications of this kind of classroom talk on the learners’ L2 language development are explored.

Mood, Tense, and Copula Verb Selection in Near-Native Speakers of Spanish

The present study focuses on the use of Spanish by near-native speakers in the United States. I will consider near-native speakers to be those individuals who speak Spanish as a second language, who are capable of having a complex conversation in that language, who are able to understand any speaker, and who are able to function as professionals using Spanish in their field of work. The near-native speakers for this study consist of clergy and religious sisters from Allentown, Pennsylvania, who incorporate the use of Spanish in their ministry to the Hispanic communities in the United States within the Catholic church. The study examines the use of the indicative vs. subjunctive, the preterit vs. the imperfect, and copula verbs ser vs. estar, in relation to stylistic variables such as type of situation, topic of conversation, and type of discourse.

Constructing Otherness: A Linguistic Analysis of the Politics of Representation and Exclusion in Freshmen Writing

This study examines the extent to which college freshmen compositions seek to reflect and construct differences between the self and the other. The data sample consists of over 100 freshmen compositions on a variety of topics spanning a period of three years. The framework of analysis is derived from critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1994; Riggins, 1997; van Dijk, 1993). This study demonstrates that lexicalizations of outsiders, of others, in freshmen writing can often reflect univocal attitudes of ambivalence, derision, or impersonalization. Usually, differences in social groups are resolved via linguistic categorizations that absolve feelings of guilt or shame particularly if the student writes as a member of the powered group. Sometimes, however, lexicalizations reflect a unique critical stance on the part of the student writer who creatively utilizes such linguistic representations of ‘others’ to challenge status quo othering practices. Access to and the use of othering strategies, it is argued, is a powerful rhetorical tool. As the excerpts examined in this study will demonstrate, overt as opposed to covert lexicalizations of othering—encoded in language evocative of hierarchy, subordination, and dominance—often reflect differential rhetorical ability on the part of the student writer. The implications of this study are pedagogical, and call for a re-imagining of the teaching of writing via an examination of the actual discursive tools accessible to different writers, and how these serve in judgments of rhetorical skills in particular, and creative and critical thinking in general.