Introduction to Special Issue on Transience: Emerging Norms of Language Use

Dorte Lønsmann, Hartmut Haberland, Spencer Hazel

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In this introduction to the special issue, the concept of transience is introduced as a theoretical perspective and as an object of research. The perspective of transience foregrounds the temporality of norm formation, located within the practices of people on the move. The introduction suggests that it is beneficial to apply the concept of transience in order to understand processes of norm development, including those pertaining to language choice and language socialization. Working from an understanding that communities form and dissolve, we claim that it is useful to look at these processes, as it is in the process of communities coming into being that norms emerge. Transience, in spite of being ubiquitous, is not always salient for members or analysts, but to identify, fixate and theorize it as an object of study in linguistic anthropology invites new ways of conceptualizing the interdependence of language and social structure.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)264–270
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2017


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