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Humanities 2018, 7(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010009

Folklore and Sociolinguistics

Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
Received: 16 November 2017 / Revised: 18 January 2018 / Accepted: 18 January 2018 / Published: 22 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities)
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Abstract

Folklore and sociolinguistics exist in a symbiotic relationship; more than that, at points—in the ethnography of communication and in ethnopoetics, for example—they overlap and become indistinguishable. As part of a reaction to the formal rigor and social detachment of Chomsky’s theoretical linguistics, sociolinguistics emerges in the mid-twentieth century to assess the role of language in social life. Folklorists join the cause and bring to it a commitment to in-depth ethnography and a longstanding engagement with artistic communication. In this essay, I trace key phases in the development of this interdisciplinary movement, revolutionary in its reorientation of language study to the messy but fascinating realm of speech usage. I offer the concept of performative efficacy, the notion that expressive culture performances have the capacity to shape attitude and action and thereby transform perceived realities, as a means of capturing the continuing promise of a sociolinguistically informed folkloristics. View Full-Text
Keywords: Verbal art and speech play; ethnopoetics; ethnography of speaking; performance; speech act theory; semiotics; oral-formulaic theory Verbal art and speech play; ethnopoetics; ethnography of speaking; performance; speech act theory; semiotics; oral-formulaic theory
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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McDowell, J.H. Folklore and Sociolinguistics. Humanities 2018, 7, 9.

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