Agar Book

| May 1, 2016

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Main description:

Be sure to read the Agar book (at least the chapter “Situations”) and Ottenheimer P184-187 thoroughly, to gain an understanding of what a “rich point” is, although it can be briefly defined as: a word, phrase or communicative behavior which would be hard to explain to an outsider because its meaning depends on complex knowledge of various aspects of a given culture. “Insiders” may even have a hard time agreeing on the meaning of a rich point, although it may be very widely used. Note the emphasis of the project is not on that an outsider just can’t understand this rich point, but rather, why this point is rich (be it a word, phrase, or communicative behavior) WITHIN one speech community. How the explanation of its various meanings indexes/reflects the various aspects of a given culture/subculture/society/social group, etc.

Here is a guide on how you should unpack a rich point of your choice: Unpacking a rich point guide.pdfPreview the documentView in a new window. Read it!

Here is a list of old rich point topics from 2000-2005Preview the documentView in a new window. You only need to look at them if you’re stuck with choosing a topic or just curious. Please don’t get yourself overwhelmed by the number of possible topics in the list. This is just to give you an idea that I’m open to a wide field of topics. Yet looking at other people’s topics can make you indecisive. The best way is to understand what the rich point is and find something that’s interesting to you and that you will have a lot to say. And your focus should be on the “unpacking” part. So it’s better to read the sample papers and learn from them. You can read all or choose any of these:

Sample 1 YoroshikuPreview the documentView in a new window (an expression in Japanese, written by a Japanese speaker)

Sample 2 HickPreview the documentView in a new window (written by a native English speaker from Seattle, WA)

Sample 3 ShipmatePreview the documentView in a new window (an word used frequently in the Navy community, written by a native English speaker who was in the Navy)

These sample papers are not perfect. But they all did a very good job unpacking a rich point and explaining how the rich point of choice reflects the social realities.

One last word on choosing the topic and writing about it:

Two pitfalls I observed from the past: one is that you choose something that you’re not familiar with, something you only heard of, or something that you don’t feel confident writing about. The other is that you focus too much on the dictionary definitions (including Urban Dictionary) of the rich point of your choice or the history/origin of the word, or the most basic meaning in a word (for instance the meaning of cold in “cool,” the meaning of “strange” in the word “queer.” — these are NOT what I want. What I want to read is the social usages and the cultures the rich point reflects. You have to be a member of the speech community of the rich point you choose.


The ethnographic methods may include:
a) interviewing people about what they think it means and how they would explain it

b) observing how the rich point is used or enacted (participant observation)
c) conducting a survey (asking people to answer various questions (on paper, online, or in person) aimed at getting at the meaning of the rich point, in sample contexts for example) — You can use Facebook or other social networking tools to carry out a small survey. It worked well before.
d) collecting examples from the media (magazines, TV, the internet, movies, etc.), (Note: not explanations of the rich point, but examples)
e) self-analysis and reflection on own cultural knowledge.

You can choose any few (at least two) or as many methods as you want. But two methods is what I require. In your paper, be clear about where and how and from whom you get your data, and what is the basis of your assertions. You can list of your original data in an appendix. But the appendix doesn’t count as the pages in the paper. If you have an appendix, make it a separate file.

Please use “LOL” as the research topic. Based on the Internet (social media), who used to use LOL, in which case and how people use it. Does LOL has different meaning for different people? And so on


Category: Linguistics

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