Sociolinguistics Lunch: Judit Kroo (Vassar College)

SEP 20, 2019 | 2:00 PM TO 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




September 20, 2019: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM




Judit Kroo (Vassar College) presents:

Discourse (Re-)Framing & Resistance Among Contemporary Japanese University Students

While contemporary linguistic analysis emphasizes the multiple indexical possibilities of linguistic items, far less attention has been paid to the ways in which broader discursive structures themselves are sites of contention and reformulation. This talk interrogates the social possibilities of (re-)framing in discourse. In particular, it analyzes Japanese university students’ use of the youth-associated constructions: utterance final mitai na ‘be like’ and intensifier shi. Considering the social aspects of mitai na and shi, I argue that these linguistic elements can be strategies for speakers to reframe the indexical characteristics associated with interaction-salient discourses. This paper argues that such discourse (re-)framing is a micropolitical practice, enabling speakers to indirectly resist dominant ideologies as they are expressed in discourse by shifting the indexical characteristics of the discourse itself. These instances of discourse (re-)framing are situated in the broader social frameworks inhabited by contemporary Japanese university students, which are marked by increased social and economic precarity. In this ‘precarious Japan’ once taken for granted practices are becoming more difficult for individuals to obtain. This paper locates indirect resistance in everyday social and linguistic practice, emphasizing the potential for ‘ordinariness’ to be a site of micro politics. The results of this talk underscore the importance of attending to the social and interpersonal aspects of linguistic elements that are frequently analyzed from a purely functional pragmatics perspective and argues that political resistance, as micropolitics, can also be localized in individuals whose practices appear to conform to normative expectations.