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LCOM3001 - Cultural dimensions of language and communication (capstone experience)
Semester
2021-2022 Second Semester
Credits
6.00
Contact Hours per week
3
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Prerequisite
This course is only offered to final-year Language and Communication majors (under the 4-year curriculum) to complete the capstone experience. Students should have completed 30 credits of introductory courses (with 12 credits from List A, 6 credits from List B and 12 credits from List C) and 24 credits of advanced courses in the major (including transferred credits).

This course uses the topic of jargon to think about issues of language, communication, and identity. The term jargon has a number of meanings, but the focus of this course is on subgroup or subcultural varieties, that is, special languages or vocabulary sets which mark out or identify a particular group. These jargons may be technical, as in the expert terminology used in particular trades or professions (lawyers, engineers, doctors), or informal, for example the poetic, mythic or slang-like jargon used by criminals, taxi-drivers, police officers, prisoners, actors, gamblers, hospital workers, restaurant staff, and so on. The course combines viewpoints from sociolinguistics, social history, and ethnography. Students are expected to conduct their own small-scale ethnographic fieldwork on a jargon of their choice and write up a project. Students identify a subgroup, occupational class, or subculture with its own jargon and produce a research project investigating the jargon’s properties, social profile, and relationship to wider questions of communication and identity. They learn how to tackle an in-depth research project, dealing with methodological and theoretical questions, and integrating data analysis with wider intellectual questions. The student may work on English or non-English data, but any project using primarily non-English data must be presented so as to be comprehensible to a general reader.

 

Topics

Group identity: social distance; control & agency; efficiency & precision; euphemism: specialization; ritualization of communication; performativity; self-dramatization & language play; secrecy; nostalgia.

 

Objectives

This course aims to:

  1. introduce students to the topic of jargon and provide them with an understanding of the sociocultural and intellectual issues raised by the existence of jargons
  2. train students to identify and critique relevant issues relating to cultural dimensions in the study of language and communication;
  3. give students methodological skills for conducting independent research on issues that are relevant and significant in language and communication and present findings in adequate, reflexive ways;
  4. provide students with opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world linguistic and communicative data, in particular in their everyday contexts of Hong Kong and Asia.

 

Organisation

Tuesday 10:30 – 12:20

The semester will be divided into three sections. The first will consist of introductory presentations by the instructor, the analysis of selected readings, together with discussions about the topics and materials that students may be interested in exploring. The second section will involve discussion of research methods, as well as advice and assistance in choosing an appropriate topic. In the final section of the course, students will meet with the instructor individually or in groups for consultations.

 

Assessment

Students will be required to present a research plan of no more than two pages, together with a completed application for ethical clearance (20%), and then complete a final research project of approximately 3,000 words (80%), involving original research on a particular jargon or variety. Students can work individually or in groups of two.

 

Readings

Agar, Michael (1980) The Professional Stranger: An Informal Introduction to Ethnography. New York: Academic Press.

Agha, Asif (2003) The social life of cultural value. Language and Communication 23(3/4): 231-273.

Blommaert, Jan and Dong Jie (2010) Ethnographic Fieldwork: A Beginner’s Guide. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Briggs, Charles (1986) Learning How to Ask: A Sociolinguistic Appraisal of the Role of the Interview in Social Science Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Copland, Fiona and Angela Creese (2015a) Linguistic Ethnography: Collecting, Analysing and Presenting Data. London: Sage.

Copland, Fiona, Sara Shaw and Julia Snell (eds.) (2015) Linguistic Ethnography: Interdisciplinary Explorations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

De Fina, Anna and Sabina Perrino (2011) Interviews vs. ‘natural’ contexts: A false dilemma. Discourse in Society 40(1): 1-11.

Duranti, Alessandro (1997) Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Geertz, Clifford (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books.

Geertz, Clifford (1988) Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author. Stanford: Stanford University

Erickson, Frederick (1986) Qualitative methods in research on teaching. In: Merlin C. Wittrock (ed.) Handbook of Research on Teaching. 3rd edn. New York: Macmillan, pp. 119-161.

Hammersley, Martyn and Paul A. Atkinson (2007) Ethnography: Principles in Practice. 3rd edn. Oxon: Routledge.

Hymes, Dell (1996) Ethnography, Linguistics, Narrative Inequality: Toward an Understanding of Voice. London: Taylor & Francis.

Irvine, Judith and Susan Gal (2000) Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In: Paul V. Kroskrity (ed.) Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities, and Identities. Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research Press. 35-84.

Levon, Erez (2013) Ethnographic fieldwork. In: Christine Mallinson, Becky Childs and Gerard van Herk (eds.) Data Collection in Sociolinguistics: Methods and Applications, pp. 69-79. London: Routledge.

Rampton, Ben, Janet Maybin and Celia Roberts (2015) Theory and method in linguistic ethnography. In: Fiona Copland, Sara Shaw and Julia Snell (eds.) Linguistic Ethnography: Interdisciplinary Explorations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 14-50.

Rampton, Ben, Karin Tusting, Janet Maybin, Richard Barwell, Angela Creese and Vally Lytra (2004) UK Linguistic Ethnography: A discussion paper. Available (12 March 2016) online: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fss/organisations/lingethn/documents/discussion_paper_jan_05.pdf

Rapley, Timothy J. (2001) The art(fulness) of open-ended interviewing: Some considerations on analysing interviews. Qualitative Research 1(3): 303-323.

Saville-Troike, Muriel (2003) The Ethnography of Communication: An Introduction. 3rd edn. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Schilling, Natalie (2013) Sociolinguistic Fieldwork. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Snell, Julia, Sara Shaw and Fiona Copland (2015) Linguistic Ethnography: Interdisciplinary Explorations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

 

Burke, David (1993). Biz talk 1: American business slang & jargon. Los Angeles: Optima Books.

Burke, Peter and Roy Porter (1995). Languages and jargons. London: Polity.

Green, Jonathon (1984) Newspeak: a dictionary of jargon. London : Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Green, Jonathon (1987). Dictionary of jargon. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Johnson, Michael (1990). Business buzzwords : the tough new jargon of modern business. Oxford: Blackwell.

Partridge, Eric (1949) A dictionary of the underworld: British & American; being the vocabularies of crooks, criminals, racketeers, beggars and tramps, convicts, the commercial underworld , the drug traffic, the white slave traffic, spivs. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Williams, Robin (1993). Jargon: an informal dictionary of computer terms. Berkeley, Calif: Peachpit Press.

Yuen King-cheung Hong Kong (1981). Hong Kong police jargon and some sociolinguistic correlates. [Hong Kong]: MA thesis, University of Hong Kong, 1981.


Semester
2021-2022 Second Semester
Credits
6.00
Contact Hours per week
3
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Prerequisite
This course is only offered to final-year Language and Communication majors (under the 4-year curriculum) to complete the capstone experience. Students should have completed 30 credits of introductory courses (with 12 credits from List A, 6 credits from List B and 12 credits from List C) and 24 credits of advanced courses in the major (including transferred credits).