Field Assignment – Address and Referential Terms
Week 6 – Have your proposed hypothesis and methodology ready to discuss in section
Week 7 – Final Report + data due at the beginning of section
(Please also submit an electronic copy via bspace)
Summary of Assignment
Forming a hypothesis and determining how to test it (i.e.,
coming up with a method to examine it) are key to sociolinguistic analysis. This exercise
involves designing, implementing, and reporting on a small study on how people
address or refer to others. It is motivated by the following general question: how is the
use or interpretation of these terms guided by social factors like gender, socioeconomic
class, group membership, political ideology, religious beliefs, or geographic region?
Your assignment is to come up with a research question,
hypothesis about how
address/referential term usage will vary based on
social factors, and to design
a small field study as a means of answering that question. Members of our class will go
about investigating various hypotheses using a variety of methods, the following four
of which will be modeled in this assignment:
(noting natural language use around you)
(creating and distributing a questionnaire/survey)
(analyzing a predetermined set of language data)
EACH PERSON WILL DO DATA COLLECTION USING ONE METHOD.
everybody share their findings in section, everybody will be able to see the pros and
cons of research methods other than the one they used in their own study.
The goal of this assignment is
to find statistically reliable data sets, but rather (1), to
think through the notions of forming and testing a sociolinguistic hypothesis and (2), to
learn about pros and cons of different methodologies of data collection through real
experience. You do not need to collect a large amount of data, but your report does
need to be very specific about how you got that data, how you analyzed it, and why
your methodology was or was not effective for answering your research question.
: Address terms
refer to what a person calls somebody when speaking to
. Examples include titles (like ‘miss’, ‘sir’), names, nicknames, generic
terms (like ‘man’, ‘dude’, ‘guys’, ‘ma'am’), endearment terms (like ‘honey’), and insult
terms (like ‘doofus’, ‘fucker’), among others.
Note that many interactions do not
involve any address term (and some involve only a summons
like “hey”, which is not
an address term). The fact that there isn’t any address term is often very important.
(What determines when one uses or doesn’t use an address term?)