Combine linguistics with ethnography

If ethnography provides researchers with the means of opening up our understanding of everyday life, then it is the combination with linguistic analysis that provides a way of reaching 'deeper into the ethnographic description of social or institutional processes' (Chapter 2, page 18). The slow and intensive analysis of language and communication sheds light on small (but consequential) aspects of social practice, taking the ethnography into smaller and more focused spaces and drawing analytic attention to fine detail (for example, the gestures of surgeons - see Chapter 11). As Copland and Creese explain, it is the combination of linguistics and ethnography that 'links the micro to the macro, the small to the large, the varied to the routine, the individual to the social, the creative to the constraining, and the historical to the present and to the future' (2015, p. 26). But is it only the combination of linguistics and ethnography that makes these links? Are these kinds of connections made elsewhere? And if so, then what is it that makes linguistic ethnography appealing?

Linguistic ethnographers use the combination of ethnography and linguistics in ways that help them to understand the complexities of modern life (for example, focusing on processes of globalisation and superdiversity, see Blommaert [2013], Blommaert and Rampton [2011]). For linguists, the combination with ethnography represents a reorientation: a conscious effort to resist the perceived empirical rigour, neatness and certainty of linguistic analysis and embrace the openness and uncertainty of ethnography (see Copland's description of the development of her 'ethnographic sensibility' - Chapter 6). For ethnographers, the combination with linguistics presents an opportunity to hone in on specific instances of everyday life and to evidence analysis in small instances of social practice. This means that researchers employing linguistic ethnography are often not satisfied with one kind of data or one kind of analysis. They use ethnography to 'open up' linguistic analysis and linguistics to 'tie down' ethnographic insights (Rampton et al. 2004). To achieve this, they draw upon a wide variety of linguistic and discourse analytic traditions (for example, conversation analysis, textual analysis, quantitative variation analysis, corpus analysis, social semiotics) in combination with ethnography. This process of 'opening up' and 'tying down' may well distinguish linguistic ethnography.

Linking ethnography with language is not solely the territory of linguistic ethnography. Researchers in a range of areas have struggled to overcome the fundamental tension between openness and systematic- ity that is inherent in integrating the two disciplines. While there is clearly no one way of doing this kind of work, contributors to this collection provide examples that demonstrate how the linguistic and ethnographic come together in their analyses to ensure that tensions such as these are at least made explicit. For example, Bezemer (Chapter 11) explains how his analysis of linguistic and multi-modal data, alongside ethnographic field notes, revealed how surgeons use talk, their bodies, and other artefacts to make and communicate decisions in the operating theatre. And Snell (Chapter 12) uncovers the pragmatics of pronoun use amongst children by combining a rigorous quantitative analysis of the children's recorded talk with field notes which meticulously documented the children's actions. Both writers combine systematicity in ethnographic and linguistic data collection and analysis with an openness to the emic perspectives of the participants, enabling a synergy to emerge that in turn allows researchers to make plausible and nuanced interpretations of talk in context.

Established traditions and scholars have been influential in linguistic ethnography, guiding contributors to combine language and ethnography in ways that they find productive. The work of Dell Hymes, Erving Goffman and John Gumperz has been particularly influential. Their theoretically informed ways of working provide a catalyst for investigating language and communication and linking to wider social processes. This is evident in the use of Gumperz' work on 'contextualisation cues' and 'crosstalk' (Rock, Chapter 8); Goffman's work on 'co-ordinated task activity' (Bezemer, Chapter 11), footing (Swinglehurst, Chapter 5; Snell, Chapter 12), performativity (Shaw and Russell, Chapter 7) and face (Copland, Chapter 6); and in the use of Hymes's reminder that 'how something is said is part of what is said' (1972, p. 59), which is taken up by Creese, Takhi and Blackledge (Chapter 14). Contemporary scholars have also influenced the thinking and work of contributors to this volume. In particular, Silverstein's and Blommaert's work on indexicality (Rampton et al.; Chapter 2; Swinglehurst, Chapter 5; Snell, Chapter 12; Madsen & Karreb^k, Chapter 13) and Goodwin's work on 'professional vision' (Lefstein and Isreali, Chapter 10).

 
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