Carl S Blyth
Associate Professor — PhD, French Linguistics, Cornell University
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Phone: 512-471-7600
- Office: HRH 3.114A
- Campus Mail Code: B7600
I am an applied linguist with a background in interactional sociolinguistics, pragmatics and technology. My research interests lie at the intersection of language, culture and interaction. In particular, I am interested in cross-cultural and intercultural online interaction. Currently, I am examining online discussions between French and American college students taken from Cultura, an on-going telecollaboration between MIT and various French universities. The general goal of my study is to demonstrate how miscommunication arises in cross-cultural discussions between French and American interlocutors who are largely unaware that their different cultures possess divergent "stance scripts," that is, culture-specific ways of expressing an opinion. The ultimate goal of this kind of pragmatic research is to identify the elements of conversational behaviors that index cultural ways of thinking and performing. Interest in the study of cross-cultural and intercultural stancetaking is growing due to the rapid expansion of the multilingual Internet. Once dominated by English speakers, the Internet is now a rampantly multilingual/multicultural social space. As a result, there are many new social contexts for multilingual and multicultural communication (e.g., chat rooms, virtual communities, etc.). While the rise of the Internet has made it easier to contact people from different cultures, cross-cultural intersubjectivity remains a challenge in online contexts.
In addition to cross-cultural communication, I am also interested in the use of digital tools and social media to facilitate collaborative social action (e.g., Wikipedia, open textbooks, etc. ). In particular, I am exploring the use of eComma, textual annotation software developed in the English Department at the University of Texas. In modern literate societies, reading is conceptualized as a private, mental act that typically involves one reader and one text. But today technology enables the synchronous reading of the same text by a large group of people who share their comments with each other as part of a collaborative meaning-making process. The goal of the eComma project is to understand how second language readers build collaborative commentaries of a given L2 text with the aid of this web-based annotation software. I have also worked with my departmental colleagues and graduate students over the years to build a suite of online pedagogical materials for French (e.g., Tex's French Grammar, a pedagogical reference grammar; and Français interactif, a 'blended learning' environment for beginning French).
Finally, I direct the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL), one of 15 federally-funded foreign language resource centers around the country. COERLL's mission is to produce and disseminate Open Educational Resources (OERs) for the Internet public (e.g., online language courses, reference grammars, assessment tools, corpora, etc.). The term OER refers to any educational material offered freely for anyone to use, typically involving some permission to re-mix, improve, and redistribute. Thus, COERLL seeks to promote a culture of collaboration that lies at the heart of the Open Education movement. In addition, COERLL aims to reframe foreign language education in terms of multilingualism. As such, all COERLL resources strive to represent more accurately language development and performance along dialectal and proficiency continua.
FR 392K • Pragmatics
TTH 200pm-330pm HRH 2.106C
FR392K Ethnopragmatics: The Study of Language and Cultural Values (Dr. Carl Blyth)
Ethnopragmatics (aka cross-cultural pragmatics) draws on, but is not limited to, the theoretical notions and analytical tools of several disciplines focused on human meaning-making: linguistics, anthropology (ethnography of speaking) and literary theory. However, despite the interdisciplinary nature of the field, the course will concentrate on the work of three well-known ethnolinguists, Anna Wierzbicka, Cliff Goddard and Bert Peeters who contend that norms of human interaction in different communities reflect different cultural attitudes and values. Their work offers a framework within which different cultural norms and different ways of speaking can be explored, explained, and taught.
Focusing on the concept of cultural meaning, this course seeks to explore how the construction and negotiation of meaning is culturally influenced. In particular, the course will explore how cultural scripts prevailing in different speech communities can be described and compared by using a natural semantic metalanguage, based on empirically established universal human concepts. One of the attractions of the natural semantic metalanguage is that it can be used equally for writing cultural scripts and for doing “cultural semantics,” thus enabling us to draw out the connections between them.
The cultural scripts approach is evidence-based, and while not disregarding evidence of other sources (ethnographic and sociological studies, literature, and so on) it places particular importance on linguistic evidence. Aside from the semantics of cultural key words, other kinds of linguistic evidence which can be particularly revealing of cultural norms and values include: common sayings and proverbs, frequent collocations, conversational routines and varieties of formulaic or semi-formulaic speech, discourse particles and interjections, and terms of address and reference—all highly ‘‘interactional’’ aspects of language. From a data gathering point of view, a wide variety of methods can be used, including the classical linguistic fieldwork techniques of elicitation, naturalistic observation, text analysis, and consultation with informants, native speaker intuition, corpus studies, and the use of literary materials and other cultural products. Finally, a central goal of this course will be to explore the practical applications of ethnopragmatic research for foreign language learning, intercultural education, and literary and translation studies.
Active class involvement and preparation: 20%
Class assignments (critical reviews, data analyses, etc.): 50%
Independent research project: 30%
Goddard, C. (ed.). 2004. Special edition of Intercultural Pragmatics 2-1. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Goddard, C. 2006. Ethnopragmatics: Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Quinn, N. (ed.). 2005. Finding Culture in Talk: A Collection of Methods. London: Palgrave.
Wierzbicka, A. 2003. Cross-cultural Pragmatics: The Semantics of Human Interaction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Secondary Readings (selected chapters only)
Biro, D. 2010. The Language of Pain: Finding Words, Compassion and Relief. New York: W.W. Norton.
Deutscher, G. 2010. Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages. NY:Picador.
Hua, Z. 2013. Exploring Intercultural Communication: Language in Action. London/New York: Routledge.
Köveses, Z. 2006. Language, Mind and Culture: A Practical Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Lakoff, G. 1996. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Pinker, S. 2007. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. New York: Penguin Press.
Wierzbicka, A. 1997. Understanding Cultures Through Their Key Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
FR 364L • Intro To French Linguistics
TTH 1230pm-200pm HRH 2.112
This course provides a complete examination of the French language, in French, at a level appropriate for non-native speakers and non-linguists. It introduces students to linguistic analysis, using modern French as its target of study, and covering the linguistic subfields of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. This is not a grammar course where the emphasis is on learning the correct rules of "bon usage." Rather, the goal of this course is to learn how to formulate and test hypotheses about the French language and thereby to understand the French language at a deeper, more conceptual level. In addition, students will learn how to use practical language tools: bilingual dictionaries, phonetic alphabet, reference grammars.
FR 392K • Intro To Sociolinguistics
TTH 200pm-330pm HRH 2.112
FR 392K (36775) • Introduction to French Sociolinguistics • Dr. Carl Blyth
TTH 2 :00-3 :30 pm—Homer Rainey Hall 2.112 Seminar Room
In this course, we will examine different forms of sociolinguistic research concerned with the intersection of language, culture, and society. This interdisciplinary field seeks to understand language as a social object. But what does it mean to call language a social object ? In this course, we will attempt to answer that question by approaching language from the point of view of its users. At its most general, sociolinguistics focuses on how people use language for social purposes. This social approach to language was articulated many years ago by the anthropological linguist Edward Sapir :
“It is peculiarly important that linguists, who are often accused, and accused justly, of failure to look beyond the pretty patterns of their subject matter, should become aware of what their science may mean for the interpretation of human conduct in general. Whether they like it or not, they must become increasingly concerned with the many anthropological, sociological, and psychological problems which invade the field of language.” [Sapir 1929:214]
In particular, the goal of the course is to acquaint students with sociolinguistic research on the French language. As such, students will gain a better understanding of how French-speakers use their language(s) to construct and maintain relevant social distinctions in their communities. This course will be conducted in both French and English depending on the readings and the topic of discussion. A working knowledge of French is therefore essential.
As an introduction to the field, we will also examine the relationships between different research approaches and determine how they illuminate different social aspects of language: corpus linguistic, ethnographic, interactionist, sociocultural, social psychological and variationist. We will discuss these approaches in terms of their theoretical assumptions, their linguistic foci (e.g., phonological, morphosyntactic, discursive) ; their methods of analysis (e.g., qualitative, quantitative or mixed) ; and their timescale of analysis (e.g., a single interaction, a sample of aggregated synchronic data from a speech community, a sample of diachronic data.). Central topics to be discussed:
•Speech Communities and Social Networks
•Ethnography of Speaking
•Gender and Language
•Language Politics/Language Policy
•Language Attitudes/Language Ideologies
•Computer Mediated Communication
Assignments will include the following : presentation of a research article, 2 field projects (data gathering and analysis) ; proposal of a research project (including abstract, literature review and outline of methodology).
Required Texts :
Wardaugh, R. (2010). Introduction to Sociolinguistics (6th edition). Blackwell
Electronic reading packet (selected PDFs of recent journal articles on sociolinguistic aspects of the French language)
FR 364L • Intro To French Linguistics
TTH 1230pm-200pm HRH 2.112
Introduction to the syntactic, phonological, morphological, lexical, historical, and applied aspects of French linguistics.
Prerequisite: Six semester hours of upper-division coursework in French.
FR 392K • Analyzing Language Variation
TTH 330pm-500pm MEZ 2.118