Show Less
Restricted access

Language and Belonging

Local Categories and Practices in a Guatemalan Highland Community


Rita Vallentin

In this book, the author introduces belonging from a sociolinguistic perspective as a concept that is accomplished in interaction. Belonging can be expressed linguistically in social, spatial and temporal categories – indexing rootedness, groupness and cohesion. It can also be captured through shared linguistic practices within a group, e.g. collectively shared narrative practices. Using conversation analysis and an analysis of narrative as practice bolstered with ethnographic knowledge, the author shows how belonging is tied to locally contextualized use of deictics and to collectively shared narrations of the past in a Guatemalan community. The book examines the understudied phenomenon of belonging at the intersection of pragmatics and linguistic anthropology.

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

4. Tracing Belonging in Spoken Data


In this chapter, I will elaborate on how we can analytically trace belonging in the form of narratives and other interactions. Instead of providing finite tables showing the specific linguistic forms which could be used by speakers to make belonging relevant (cf. de Cillia et al., 1999, 35), I will instead point to the different discursive levels on which belonging can be made a “communicative problem” (Hausendorf, 2000, 99f.); this occurs primarily through the use of categories, positioning and narrative practice. At the micro-level of interaction, categories and positions can be displayed or uncovered by looking at contextual cues the speaker provides through linguistic indexes (Silverstein, 1976). On a meso-level, the speakers display positions in interaction as members of a community of practice or by occupying specific interactive roles. These categories and positions can, then, relate to macro-level structures within the community, or to “big discourse” surrounding the notion of belonging in Guatemala and beyond.45

In section 4.1 of this chapter, Membership Categorization Analysis and Conversation Analysis will be introduced as main tools to uncover the use of categories, their relations and organization in interaction. Positioning as a second major link to belonging is discussed and investigated in spoken language data in section 4.2. In section 4.3, I use an analytical approach to narrating as a community based practice, and underscore how it is a powerful locus for linguistic constructions of belonging 4.3.1. Finally, the specifics of positioning within the two temporal frames of narrative interaction...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.