LAL Speaker Series with Scott Kiesling: Toughness in Sociolinguistic Explanation

Courtesy image of Scott Kieseling, U of Pittsburgh

The Linguistics and Applied Linguistics/TESOL program in the Department of English at ASU presents this two-part event featuring linguist Scott Kiesling of the University of Pittsburgh. This is the first installment in the program's 2023 Speaker Series and takes place on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. 

  • Workshop: 9 –11:30 a.m. Space is limited to the first 20 registrants. | Ross Blakley Hall, ASU Tempe campus
  • Public talk: 1-2:30 p.m. and will be held in-person for workshop attendees and also online via Zoom for the larger ASU community. | Ross-Blakley Hall, ASU Tempe campus and Online

Registration is required for both events.

About the topic

Toughness has long been appealed to as a quality used to explain patterns of sociolinguistic variation, particularly in relation to gender. In this workshop and talk, Scott Kiesling explores the role of this term and the qualities it describes in explanations for patterns of sociolinguistics:

  1. Why is toughness used in so many studies?
  2. How can toughness be described/defined/theorized more robustly and connected to the variation patterns through ideology, iconicity, or embodiment, or all three?
  3. What can the recurrent reliance on toughness as an explanatory concept tell us about social meaning in variation?

Conclusions are based on a corpus of published sociolinguistics studies. In these studies, toughness is used overwhelmingly to code dimensions of other commonly-used variables such as race, class, localness, and ethnicity. From these patterns, toughness emerges as a bundle of qualia that researchers and speakers alike use to connect a persona with its assemblage of stylistic elements, affects, and comportments; stances which include: an ability to resist force; physical or mental strength or endurance; a predisposition to violence; affectless except for anger; cruelty; or some mixture of these. Such stances are incorporated into the stylistic assemblage of personas in these explanations. The focus on toughness shows how sociolinguistics can profitably use the concepts of qualia and assemblage to further theorize the dialectical relationship between language and society.

LaMonte Key
Friday, Jan. 27, 2023
Free of charge but registration is required

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