25th Jan 2012 4:30pm-6:00pm
Sallis Benney Theatre
Tourism and the Commodification of Language
Professor Joan Beal
University of Sheffield
In this paper Professor Beal will discuss the ways in which language and dialect have been commodified by the tourist industry in various locations in the UK and the USA.
Heller (2003) discusses the commodification of language and identity in the ‘new economy’ with reference to call centre workers. For post-industrial cities such as Newcastle-Gateshead in the UK and Pittsburgh in the USA, tourism plays an important part in the ‘new economy’ and the distinctive dialects of these places have been commodified in order to present a sense of ‘otherness’ which is vital to the tourist offer. The marketing of these cities as tourist destinations builds on this sense of ‘otherness’, projecting the idea that these places have distinct culture, heritage and language. The dialects are literally commodified in the form of phrase-books and souvenirs such as mugs and t-shirts with slogans in dialect. Drawing on the language ideological theories of Agha (2003), and the application of these ideas to local dialect and identity in Beal (2009) and Johnstone (2009), I discuss the extent to which these commodities both draw on and perpetuate the indexicality of a small number of linguistic variants. I also consider whether the ideologies evoked by such commodities are those of the local community or of outsiders, and the extent to which they invoke positive or negative stereotypes.