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Language and place. February 2015

Dear friends, - advisory board, colleagues and partners,

With this, our first LaPUR newsletter, we wish to share with you in a brief overview format the steps we take as we develop the project, its themes, analyses and of course its results. We plan to send out the letter once a month, or any time we have news that we would like to share with you. Maria will be responsible for gathering topics to announce in the letter. If you know of a conference, a new book or article of relevance to the project, please send a note to Maria and she will include it in the next update.

Although we are already weeks into 2015, we take the opportunity to wish you all a very happy New Year. We are looking forward to be sharing and discussing new aspects of language-and-place with you all.

Best regards, Pia and Maria

Fieldwork and data

Since the launch of the LaPUR project in September 2014 we have been occupied with carrying out fieldwork in Bylderup and Vollsmose. We have observed around 70 9th graders in and out of classrooms, conducted interviews, recorded student counselling and much more.

The collected data in Bylderup up until now consists of:

  • 27 sociolinguistic interviews with focus on place conducted by a standard speaking interviewer (Henrik)
  • 28 sociolinguistic interviews with focus on place conducted by a dialect speaking interviewer (Malene)
  • Group-recordings of all informants during physics lessons (Astrid)
  • Ethnographic participant observations during lessons and breaks (Astrid, Malene and Henrik)
  • Ethnographic participant observations of selected informants during peer-group, spare time activities (sports etc.) (Astrid)
  • 54 video recording of student counselling (Jann)

The collected data in Vollsmose up until now consists of:

  • Ethnographic participant observations during lessons and breaks (Pia, Jann, Astrid)
  • Ethnographic participant observations of selected informants during peer-group, spare time activities (sports etc.) (Astrid)
  • 35 sociolinguistic interviews with individual informants (Pia, Astrid)
  • 65 video recording of student counselling (Jann)
  • 10 sociolinguistic interviews with 9th graders at Munkebjergskolen, a public school in a more affluent area (compared to Vollsmose) of Odense (Jesper, Pia)

 The plan now for February and March will be to collect:

  • Recordings of group work in classes, in order to obtain comparable data.
  • Continued participant observation and individual interviews
  • Focus group interviews. The aim of these will be to explore in depth:
    -  the informants’ everyday mobility practices (through individual mapping of their mobility and means of transportation in the past week) and their thoughts on and feelings connected to these practices
    the informants’ definitions of local identity 
    -  the informants’ sense of belonging/not belonging to different parts of the local place
    -  the informants’ demarcation of the local, as well as
    -  the significance of interaction in negotiating the meaning of the local

Astrid's PhD thesis – a brief description

Young Danish men and women differ with regard to their degree of geographical and socio-economical mobility, as more young women than men move away from the rural parts of Denmark to the cities to study for a degree, and more women than men stay in the city upon graduation. Sociological studies have shown that young Danish women express a lower degree of attachment to the local place than young men do (Hansen 2014).

My study aims to examine the intricate relationship between everyday mobility, place, linguistic practice and gender among approximately 85 adolescents in Bylderup and Vollsmose. Questions include:

  • How do young people in a rural and an urban area respectively orient to place and social space – and how does this socio-geographic orientation influence language choice?
  • Is there a gender component to how the informants make use of, conceptualize and relate to their local place – and to how they linguistically index the local (Johnstone 2010b)?
  • How do place-specific characteristics such as local history, physical layout and demography come into play in this connection?

Hansen, C. D. (2014). Gender differences in place attachment and residential mobility. 19th Nordic Demographic Symposium. Aalborg, Denmark.
Johnstone, B. (2010b). Indexing the Local. Handbook of Language and Globalization. N. Coupland. Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell: 386-405.

Jesper's master thesis

We are delighted to have Jesper Wiingaard connected to the project. He is employed as student assistant and will be writing his MA-thesis using data from Odense and Vollsmose. In December, he and Pia visited a school outside of Vollsmose, Munkebjergskolen, which is not originally part of our research design and plans. The composition of students at Munkebjergskolen differs from the one at Vollsmose, both with regard to class and ethnicity, as Munkebjergskolen is a “white” middleclass school situated close to the city center of Odense. Here we conducted 10 sociolinguistic interviews in order to be able to compare how much local Funen dialect is spoken in Munkebjerg and Vollsmose. Jesper will present his project in a future newsletter.

Activities during spring

In March we have planned an Odense/Vollsmose workshop in collaboration with Anja Jørgensen from Aalborg University.

In April we have arranged a daytrip to Aalborg to visit Anja and her SocMap colleagues.

Public communication

  • The LaPUR project was presented by Malene, Henrik, Jann and Pia in September in the Sociolinguistic Circle, and again at the department’s recent “fusionsdag” (merging day) with the Centre for Language Technology.
  • Pia has written a column on “street language” for the newspaper Weekendavisen, published January 30th.
  • has updated the interactive map. A presentation of LaPUR will soon be published here. It is our plan, over time, to include samples from Vollsmose and Bylderup.

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Sendt d. 3 February 2015