This article describes the social and linguistic processes underlying the formation of political language in France from the end of the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century. The author emphasizes the close relationship between the evolution of political language, as it can be traced through the many editions of dictionnaires and grammaires, and novel forms of sociability, from the medieval notion of friendship to revolutionary civism. The eighteenth century is considered a crucial moment in this process, given that during that period the thinkers of the Lumières, in their effort to harness civil society through language, forged the notion of a space of universal communication among men as a precondition for the invention of a political language specific to contemporary democracy.
Language and Sociability in France from the Fourteenth to the Nineteenth Century
James E. Cutting and Ayse Candan
This article investigates historical trends of mean shot durations in 9,400 English-language and 1,550 non-English-language movies released between 1912 and 2013. For the sound-era movies of both sets there is little evidence indicating anything other than a linear decline plotted on a logarithmic scale, with the English-language set providing stronger results. In a subsample of 24 English-language movies from 1940 to 2010 the decline in shot duration is uniform across 15 shot classes, a result that supports a broad “evolutionary” account of film change. The article also explores the proportions of these shot classes across years and genres, with the results showing that 25 percent of the decline in shot duration is due to a shift away from shot classes with longer-than-average shot durations towards those with shorter-than-average durations, and 8 percent of the decline is due to the increased use of shot scales in which characters appear larger.
The Situation Today as Reflected by the Ladino Database Project
Karen Gerson Sarhon
Judeo-Spanish is today considered to be an endangered language even though there has been much research into it. The Ladino Database Project, which has been set up and conducted by the Sephardic Center in Istanbul (www.instanbulsephardiccenter.com), aims at documenting the spoken Judeo-Spanish of the last native speakers in Istanbul. The data, which will soon be available on the internet, will be invaluable for all researchers of the language and culture.
Using pre-war Poland as an example, Helen Beer describes the richness of Yiddish cultural life prior to the Holocaust. Upon briefly sketching aspects of the Yiddish-speaking world of our times, she illustrates the modern phenomenon of forging an allegiance to Yiddish without knowledge of the language. Beer argues that Yiddish without Yiddish is not an option and that the only means of sustaining and perpetuating the language and culture is by means of learning and using it.
Civilisation and beschaving
Pim den Boer
Building upon an introductory discussion on linguistic exchange - the problem of missing words - and the emergence of transnational concepts, this article consists of a comparative study of the history of the concept of civilisation in some major European languages and the concept of beschaving in Dutch, the closest translation to civilisation in that language. According to the author, the particular and independent conceptual evolution of beschaving should be in part explained by the early development of a modern socio-economic structure in Holland.
Language ideologies in Dutch citizenship regimes
The Dutch language has become the key technology of the Netherlands' new integration and immigration policy regime. Given the impassioned debates that accompanied language-planning policies in the 1980s, what is most remarkable about the stringent new language policy initiatives is the consensus regarding their necessity. This article analyzes the most ambitious program of the integration regime, inburgering, in the context of the transition to a post-industrial economy and the concomitant restructuring of the labor market. Introduced under the Third Way social democrats in the mid-1990s, the inburgering program was designed to produce the literate laborer of late modernity. This article traces the shift from the 'one nation, one language' ideology associated with welfare state forms of governance to the 'language as commodity' ideology promoted by the Third Way regime. I argue that the inburgering program acted as the Trojan horse of integration politics, introducing the necessity for Dutch language skills into an integration regime that has become the basis for a new politics of exclusion under the current neo-conservative administration.
The Perils and Joys of Translation
From its very beginnings the character of Yiddish was marked by its role as translator and interpreter of religious texts. Although there were secular writings, they were not substantial until the nineteenth century. One hundred years ago the primary role of translation was to present the outside world to Yiddish-speaking Jews, and libraries were full of translations of the international classics. Today the main role is the reverse: translation from Yiddish to other languages to gain access to that lost Jewish world. Functional translation into Yiddish is still required, mainly for Hasidim/Haredim, for example in the field of health or (in Israel) civil defence. Yiddish has clearly influenced other languages spoken by Jews, where one finds Yiddish words or calques, particularly in Hebrew and English. The concept of 'postvernacular Yiddish' has arisen to describe the contemporary use of Yiddish by speakers of these other languages. Both in the past and the present, Yiddish has been represented stereotypically, and often as an essentially 'ludic' language. One of the functions of literary translation ought to be to combat these stereotypes and demonstrate the richness and flexibility of Yiddish, as of any other language.
Tracing Speech Through Narrative
The oral transmission of culture became the subject of serious academic study at the end of the nineteenth century, and since then we have come to recognize its pivotal role in any consideration of cultural dynamics. If we take the case of Judeo-Spanish culture, research has shown that the assimilatory forces of the dominant or co-territorial culture in which the Jews settled after the Expulsion, in both the Eastern and the Western Mediterranean, threatened to obliterate their cultural heritage, and in particular their language. Added to this, the displacement of the traditional speech communities during and shortly after the Second World War at both ends of the Mediterranean, as well as contact with the new cultures in which these Jews settled, seemed to augur badly for the survival of Judeo-Spanish culture. Furthermore Judeo Spanish has all but lost its currency as a spoken language, in the home and in the street, because the language is no longer transmitted to succeeding generations in the traditional fashion. Nevertheless an ever-increasing number of people are taking to the pen to write in the language and about its culture. This article also proves that defining features of the language have survived in spite of the impact of Modern Spanish in the areas in which Western Judeo-Spanish (hakitía) held currency traditionally.
The Politics of Carnival in the Dutch Province of Limburg
Leonie Cornips and Vincent De Rooij
In this article, we will present two case studies of language and cultural practices that are part of or strongly related to carnival, in the Dutch peripheral province of Limburg, and more precisely in the southern Limburgian city of Heerlen, which in turn is considered peripheral vis-à-vis the provincial capital Maastricht. We will consider carnival as a political force field in which opposing language and cultural practices are involved in the production of belonging as an official, public-oriented 'formal structure' of membership, and belonging as a personal, intimate feeling of being 'at home' in a place (place-belongingness) (Antonsich 2010; Yuval-Davis 2006). In the case studies presented here, we take seriously the idea that ideology, linguistic form and the situated use of language are dialectically related (Silverstein 1985). In doing so, we wish to transcend disciplinary boundaries between anthropology and (socio)linguistics in Europe.
Transforming the World One Word at a Time
This article reflects on the interface between biblical studies and feminist science fiction as a tribute to Rabbi Sheila Shulman, who was interested in the theological questions that underlie much science fiction. The essay discusses briefly Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow and Children of God followed by a longer analysis of Suzette Haden Elgin’s Native Tongue trilogy. The Native Tongue trilogy addresses questions of language and identity, the creation of a women’s language (Láadan), and the theory of linguistic relativity. The essay examines how these issues may be pertinent to the development of biblical based Jewish theology, with a particular focus on how questions of linguistic relativity might apply to the Hebrew language and, hence, Jewish theology.