The volume brings together authors from different geographical areas (North America, Europe, and Australia) and from different disciplines (particularly communication, linguistics, and psychology). Contributions are organized around five themes, corresponding to the five sections of the book: defining features and constraints; tools of intergroup communication; social groups in their context; intergroup communication in organizations; and future directions.
Chapter Eight: Binomial Word Order and Social Status
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Binomial Word Order and Social Status
PETER HEGARTY, SANDRA MOLLIN AND ROB FOELS
Social psychologists are fascinated by the extent to which social identity (Tajfel & Turner, 1986) influences social behavior, and scholars in intergroup communication seek to understand how social identity impacts the behavior of language use in particular (Ehala, Giles, & Harwood, this volume). This chapter contributes to these efforts by reviewing work on the impact of social variables on the ordering of words in binomial phrases. In linguistics, a binomial is a coordinated pair of lexical items (Malkiel, 1959). Why would an English speaker predictably describe Mr and Mrs Smith’s house as spic and span but never describe Mrs and Mr Smith’s house as span and spic? If not grammar, what explains such preferences for seemingly equally true statements? Linguists have studied binomials for over a century with particular concern for frozen order preferences that cannot be explained by grammatical rules. This chapter integrates research in linguistics and psychology, focuses on the role of social status in affecting the ordering of terms in binomials, and argues for greater attention to binomials as everyday linguistic behaviors by which social status is communicated. We argue that there is already convergent evidence to ground a nuanced social psychology of gender binomials such as Mr and Mrs. We build on this evidence to consider how status affects binomial order more generally here, and we suggest novel directions for future interdisciplinary research...
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