Loudness registers: Normalizing cosmopolitan identities in a narrative of ethnic othering

Singh, Jaspal (2020). Loudness registers: Normalizing cosmopolitan identities in a narrative of ethnic othering. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 24(2) pp. 209–227.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12364

Abstract

An analysis of one narrative shows how loudness of voice acquires indexical meaning in interaction and becomes a resource for the narrator to position himself along an axis of social differentiation defined in terms of morality. The narrative was collected among young, male, migrant hip hop artists in Delhi who experienced ethnic othering. In the narrative, loudness registers are used to establish voice contrasts between two antagonistic characters: the racist people of Delhi and the cosmopolitan hip hop self. The racist people speak in soft (piano) and loud (forte) registers, while the cosmopolitan self speaks in normal-volume registers. The prosodic normalization of the self allows the narrator to differentiate himself from racist others, take moral stances on global solidarity, and construct his cosmopolitan identity.

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