Sociolinguistics panel follow-up (Readercon)

Our “Sociolinguistics and SFF” panel at Readercon went very well; the room was full, and some people had to stand. The panelists Anil Menon, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Sabrina Vourvoulias, and John Chu all had excellent things to say. We got great comments from the audience. Of course there wasn’t enough time, but overall I think the range of things discussed was just right for the first panel on the topic.

Some topics we covered:

-language and immigration; language shift in immigrant families
-linguistic hegemony; issues of prestige, literary vs. nonliterary dialects
-(briefly) language and colonialism
-language and gender
-SFF books that incorporate sociolinguistic issues, successfully or unsuccessfully

and during “Writing the Others 1: Theory” we talked about the following linguistic topics:

-incorporating languages other than English into fiction (who can do it; how to do it best)
-multilingual characters
-working with non-hegemonic English variants, including immigrant Englishes
-code-switching / code-mixing

I would like to propose a follow-up panel for Readercon 2014 on Sociolinguistics (and?) with a slightly different and if possible, narrower focus than this year’s. I am also toying with an idea of proposing a Sociolinguistics workshop. Regardless of whether you’ve attended this year’s Readercon and these panels, it would be excellent if you could comment and let me know what you’d like to discuss at the next year’s panel and workshop.

Please note that I want to keep discussing sociolinguistics, i.e. how language interacts with society. This is not an appropriate forum for constructed languages unless people want to discuss “constructed languages and society”, then I am game 🙂 🙂

Looking forward to your comments, and to next year!

One Comment

  1. This sounds like it was an awesome talk, just from the topics. And I’ve enjoyed reading through the essays you’ve posted here on sociolinguistics. I hope I can make it to one of these sessions someday and that it works out for you to continue posting essays here.

    You touched on it in your article on Feminist SF/F:On Feminist Characters, and I would think talking about linguistic prestige can’t help but to touch on it, but I’m fascinated by the specific ways in which language conveys a sense or lack of power. Ways that I never would have thought of or just not noticed. Like women being more polite. And what about other examples outside of western culture?

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R.B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues, and has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and other awards.

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