Stancetaking as identity work: The case of mixed American/Israeli couples
Damari, Rebecca Rubin
Podesva, Robert J
This dissertation identifies and contributes to filling several gaps in research on stance, with an eye toward the role of stancetaking as a means of identity construction. The case in focus is one at a cultural border, with data coming from relatively unstructured interviews I conducted with mixed American/Israeli couples. The twelve interviews yielded over 9,000 stancetaking clauses, which are the focus of three related analyses.The first analysis presents two types of evidence showing that stancetakers can achieve intersubjectivity beyond the level of the turn-by-turn: first, examples of explicitly intertextual stancetaking drawing on the relationship between stancetakers, and second, patterns in stancetaking within a community that provide support for the idea of a “stance repertoire” within that community. The second analysis is a statistical examination of Israelis’ and Americans’ uses of epistemic stance marking as they differ by stance topic; I argue that this second study provides quantitative support for previous qualitative studies of epistemic stance, and shows that Israelis and Americans pattern similarly in their use of epistemic marking. The third analysis uses four case studies of Israeli speakers to examine the relationship between the way a stance is produced at the discourse level and at the phonetic level, with a particular focus on vowel quality. Regression analyses find that each of the stance-related discourse factors of topic, epistemic stance type, evaluation, and alignment significantly affect the production of at least some vowels for at least some speakers, with some of the variation attributable to a change in the influence of the speakers’ L1 (Hebrew) phonology on their L2 production. This analysis demonstrates not only that stance-related variables are useful for understanding sound variation in general, but also that sound variation can help us understand the enterprise of stancetaking more thoroughly.Taken together, these findings show that speakers construct their identities in part through the kinds of stances they take and the ways that they take them. They also demonstrate several directions for further research on stancetaking, particularly in operationalizing relationships between local identity moves and higher-level identity categories (for example, nationality) that speakers orient to.
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