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Title:Sociolinguistic effects of mobility: Iranian Azerbaijanis in the U.S.
Author(s):Karimzad Sharifi, Farzad
Director of Research:Bhatt, Rakesh
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bhatt, Rakesh
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Koven, Michele; Terkourafi, Marina; Bolonyai, Agnes
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Discourse Analysis
Language and Identity
Language ideology
ethnolinguistic identity
Abstract:This dissertation investigates the sociolinguistic effects of mobility. I mainly focus on three analytic dimensions of language use: (a) migration discourses; (b) language ideological discourses; and (c) sociolinguistic grammars, and claim that these three dimensions collectively present a conceptual understanding of a sociolinguistics of mobility and migration. The empirical data motivating my analytic framework come from Iranian Azerbaijanis in the U.S. Scholarship on the sociolinguistics of mobility appears to favor unpredictability with respect to the sociolinguistic effects of mobility and migration – i.e. a rather chaotic situation brought about by the mobility of people and of linguistic resources in a ‘superdiverse’ globalizing world in which patterns of language use are unpredictable. This study attempts to determine what sociolinguistic behaviors change as a result of migration and why, and whether or not some sociolinguistic effects of mobility are indeed predictable. I follow an ethnographically-grounded discourse analytic approach in which I incorporate knowledge of social, cultural, and situational factors obtained through observational and interview data along with detailed transcriptions of interactions to reach a better understanding of the discursive practices of the community under study. To do so, a total of 25 hours of audio-recordings were collected over the past 4 years in two different contexts: Iran and the U.S. In chapter 5, I illustrate that past migration trajectory and current migration status affect migrants’ (re)-construction of spatiotemporal representations of the ideal life, using Bakhtin’s (1981) notion of chronotope. In particular, through comparing the educational migrants with those of the U.S. Green Card lottery winners from Iran, I argue that there are discursively realized differences in how these two groups construct chronotopic images of the ideal life. Moreover, I argue that migration discourse does not necessarily deal with a ‘remove’ from homeland, as characterized by Eisenlohr (2006) and Dick (2010); it can also deal with future-oriented desires for a better life in the host country. More specifically, I show how, due to the social, political, and economic issues the educational migrants experienced in Iran before migration as well as the bureaucratic restrictions around them after migration, which deprive them of, for instance, the ability to leave the U.S. to visit their families, their discourses tend to revolve more around hopes for a better future. I argue that such future positionings highlight a different aspect of migration discourse: the generation of chronotopic images of a ‘life beyond’ (Dick, 2010) which renders temporal future topically more prominent (Agha, 2007a) than spatiality. Moreover, scholars of language and migration discuss how the development in new technologies intensifies interconnectedness between the home and host countries (Vertovec, 1999; Blommaert, 2010; De Fina & Perrino, 2013; Lo & Park, 2017); however, this study argues that while technology facilitates connection to the homeland, it also brings feelings of disconnection. This is because the decontextualized information migrants receive from the homeland via new media (1) reminds them of their lack of access to physical presence there and (2) leads to the reconstruction of the image of the homeland which disrupts the image they already have, and hence cause them to feel disconnected. In chapter 6, I argue that acts of ethnolinguistic identification are chronotopically organized (Blommaert & De Fina, 2017). That is, it is the dialogical nature of various (and sometimes conflicting) large-scale and small-scale chronotopes that informs participants’ understandings of ethnolinguistic identity and guides their discursive processes of (de)authenticating certain identities. I illustrate how the spatiotemporal configurations in which interactions take place make certain chronotopes more salient, and that these more salient chronotopes are invoked by participants, organizing their discourses. Additionally, I illustrate how the participants have a chronotopic understanding of appropriate language choices. That is, given the participants’ experiences interacting with certain types of people in certain time-space frames, they have developed a chronotopic image of appropriate linguistic behaviors. This image then guides not only their own multilingual practices in similar chronotopic contexts, but is also used as a lens through which they evaluate others’ linguistic practices. I specifically show how personhood becomes salient when the participants invoke certain people or types of people while evaluating acceptability of certain multilingual practices. In chapter 7, I provide a comparative-theoretic account of code-switching in Azeri- Farsi-English multilingual communities in the U.S. and Iran using Bhatt and Bolonyai’s (2011) optimality-theoretic framework for the analysis of inter-community variation. The salient differences between the grammars of these communities, I claim, reside in the relative ‘value’ each community places on the two relational constraints: POWER and SOLIDARITY. Specifically, in the diaspora context, SOLIDARITY outranks POWER, but in the indigenous context POWER outranks SOLIDARITY. I argue that this ranking difference between the two sociolinguistic grammars pertains to the practices that offer the profit of distinction (Bourdieu, 1991): in the diaspora context it is the solidarity function, accomplished by switching to Azeri and/or avoiding POWER switches, whereas in the indigenous context it is the differentiation function, in terms of status/power, accomplished through switching to English/Farsi. Overall, I argue that a better understanding of the sociolinguistic effects of mobility requires a study of both macro-discursive practices of position-taking and micro-discursive practices dealing with patterns of multilingual language use. Taking into account the migration narratives of this community, we see how being in minority is a salient factor in how the participants position themselves relative to home and host countries. Specifically, their narratives reveal their longings for collective identities, as evident in their discursive constructions of us and/or elicitations of alignments from others to highlight their shared transnational identities. Similarly, such feelings of being in minority are revealed in their language-ideological discourses in that, in terms of language choice, they prefer the relatively more local language that is shared by the interlocutors. Finally, in terms of their multilingual practices, we see how the relative value of solidarity vis-à-vis power is enhanced in diasporic contexts, which is in line with their overall desires for constructing collective transnational identities.
Issue Date:2017-07-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Farzad Karimzad Sharifi
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08

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