Sociolinguists are deeply politically committed to (dis)fluency. They have generally seen it as their task to revise popular wisdom on the presumed disfluency of nonstandard, accented, or multilingual speakers and to demonstrate regularity and competence where deficit is presumed. I argue that this revision has its merits but is not immune to reconsideration for its naturalization of cultural ideas that value fluency and its promise of modernization through sociolinguistic knowledge. After addressing the limitations of this literature, I review works that explore alternative conceptualizations of (dis)fluency. I build on these to argue that rather than being an inherent characteristic of particular linguistic forms, (dis)fluency depends on relationships between these forms and their evaluation by speakers with competing perspectives and different positions in the social arrangements they so help to reproduce.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Literature Cited

  1. Agha A. 2007. Language and Social Relations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  2. Agha A. 2015. Tropes of slang. Signs Soc. 3:2306–30 [Google Scholar]
  3. Alim S, Baugh J. 2007. Talkin Black Talk: Language, Education and Social Change. New York: Teachers Coll. Press [Google Scholar]
  4. Alim S, Smitherman G. 2012. Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the US. Oxford, UK: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  5. Androutsopoulos J. 2007. Style online: doing hip-hop on the German-speaking web. Style and Social Identities: Alternative Approaches to Linguistic Heterogeneity P Auer 279–317 Berlin/New York: de Gruyter [Google Scholar]
  6. Au KH, Mason J. 1981. Social organizational factors in learning to read: the balance of rights hypothesis. Read. Res. Q. 17:1115–52 [Google Scholar]
  7. Avineri N, Johnson E, Brice-Heath S, McCarty T, Ochs E. et al. 2015. Invited forum: bridging the “language gap.”. J. Linguist. Anthropol. 25:166–86 [Google Scholar]
  8. Basso K. 1970. “To give up on words”: silence in Western Apache culture. Southw. J. Anthropol. 26:3213–30 [Google Scholar]
  9. Bauman R. 1983. Let Your Words Be Few: Symbolism of Speaking and Silence Among Seventeenth-Century Quakers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  10. Bauman R, Briggs C. 2003. Voices of Modernity: Language Ideologies and the Politics of Inequality Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  11. Bennett J. 2012. “And what comes out may be a kind of screeching”: the stylization of chavspeak in contemporary Britain. J. Socioling. 16:15–27 [Google Scholar]
  12. Bereiter C, Engelmann S, Osborn J, Reidford PhA. 1966. An academically oriented pre-school for culturally deprived children. Pre-school Education Today: New Approaches to Teaching Three-, Four- and Five-Year-Olds FM Hechinger 105–35 Garden City, NY: Doubleday [Google Scholar]
  13. Bernstein B. 1961. Social structure, language and learning. Educ. Res. 3:3163–76 [Google Scholar]
  14. Blommaert J. 2014. Ethnography, Superdiversity, and Linguistic Landscapes. Bristol, UK: Multiling. Matt. [Google Scholar]
  15. Blommaert J, Backus A. 2011. Repertoires revisited: ‘knowing language’ in superdiversity Work. Pap. Urban Lang. Lit., Pap. 67, King's Coll. London [Google Scholar]
  16. Bourdieu P. 1991. Language and Symbolic Power Cambridge, UK: Polity Press [Google Scholar]
  17. Bourdieu P, Wacquant L. 1992. An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press [Google Scholar]
  18. Brumfit CJ. 1984. Communicative Methodology in Language Teaching. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  19. Bucholtz M. 1999. You da man: narrating the racial other in the production of white masculinity. J. Socioling. 3:4443–60 [Google Scholar]
  20. Bucholtz M. 2003. Sociolinguistic nostalgia and the authentication of identity. J. Socioling. 7:3398–416 [Google Scholar]
  21. Busch B. 2012. The linguistic repertoire revisited. Appl. Linguist. 33:5503–23 [Google Scholar]
  22. Büscher K, Dhondt S, Meeuwis M. 2013. Recruiting a nonlocal language for performing local identity. Lang. Soc. 42:5527–56 [Google Scholar]
  23. Cameron D. 2000. Good to Talk? London: Sage [Google Scholar]
  24. Canagarajah S. 2013. Translingual Practice. London: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  25. Carr ES. 2006. ‘Secrets keep you sick’: metalinguistic labor in a drug treatment program for homeless women. Lang. Soc. 35:5631–53 [Google Scholar]
  26. Cazden CB, John VP, Hymes D. 1972. Functions of Language in the Classroom. New York: Teachers Coll. Press [Google Scholar]
  27. Charalambous C. 2012. ‘Republica de Kubros’: transgression and collusion in Greek-Cypriot adolescents' classroom silly-talk. Linguist. Educ. 23:3334–49 [Google Scholar]
  28. Chun E. 2004. Ideologies of legitimate mockery: Margaret Cho's revoicings of mock Asian. Pragmatics 14:2/3263–89 [Google Scholar]
  29. Chun E. 2009. Speaking like Asian immigrants: intersections of accommodation and mocking at a US high school. Pragmatics 19:117–38 [Google Scholar]
  30. Chun E. 2013. Ironic blackness as masculine cool: Asian American language and authenticity on YouTube. Appl. Linguist. 34:5592–612 [Google Scholar]
  31. Cole M, Scribner S. 1974. Culture and Thought: A Psychological Introduction. New York: John Wiley [Google Scholar]
  32. Corley M, Stewart O. 2008. Hesitation dysfluencies in spontaneous speech: the meaning of um. Lang. Linguist. Compass 2:4589–602 [Google Scholar]
  33. Cotterill J. 2005. You do not have to say anything…: instructing the jury on the defendant's right to silence in the English criminal justice system. Multilingua 24:1/27–24 [Google Scholar]
  34. Coupland N. 2010. Language, ideology, media and social change. Performing the Self K Junod, D Maillat 127–51 Tübingen, Ger.: Gunter Narr [Google Scholar]
  35. Creese A, Blackledge A. 2011. Separate and flexible bilingualism in complementary schools: multiple language practices in interrelationship. J. Pragmat. 43:51196–208 [Google Scholar]
  36. Cummings L. 2008. Clinical Linguistics Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  37. Cummins J. 2000. Language, Power and Pedagogy. Clevedon, UK: Multiling. Matt. [Google Scholar]
  38. Cutler C. 1999. Yorkville crossing: white teens, hip hop and African American English. J. Socioling. 3:4428–42 [Google Scholar]
  39. D'Amato J. 1993. Resistance and compliance in minority classrooms. Minority Education: Anthropological Perspectives E Jacob, C Jordan 181–207 Norwood, NJ: Ablex [Google Scholar]
  40. De Certeau M. 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: Univ. Calif. Press [Google Scholar]
  41. Deutsch M, Katz I, Jensen AR. 1968. Social Class, Race, and Psychological Development New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston [Google Scholar]
  42. Dorian NC. 1982. Defining the speech community to include its working margins. Sociolinguistic Variation in Speech Communities S Romaine 25–33 London: Edward Arnold [Google Scholar]
  43. Erickson F. 1982. Classroom discourse as improvization: relationships between academic task structure and social participation structure in lessons. Communicating in the Classroom LC Wilkinson 153–81 New York: Academic [Google Scholar]
  44. Erickson F. 1987. Transformation and school success: the politics and culture of educational achievement. Anthropol. Educ. Q. 18:4335–56 [Google Scholar]
  45. Evans BA, Hornberger N. 2005. No child left behind: repealing and unpeeling federal language education policy in the United States. Lang. Policy 4:178–106 [Google Scholar]
  46. Ferguson C. 1975. Toward a characterization of English foreigner talk. Anthropol. Linguist. 17:11–14 [Google Scholar]
  47. Fillmore C. 2000 (1979). On fluency. See Riggenbach 2000 43–60
  48. Flores N, García O. 2013. Linguistic third spaces in education: teachers' translanguaging across the bilingual continuum. Managing Diversity in Education. Languages, Policies, Pedagogies D Little, C Leung, P Van Avermaet 243–56 Bristol, UK: Multiling. Matt. [Google Scholar]
  49. Gal S. 1989. Between speech and silence: the problematics of research on language and gender. Pap. Pragmat. 3:11–38 [Google Scholar]
  50. Gal S. 2006. Migration, minorities and multilingualism. Language Ideologies, Practices and Polices: Language and the Future of Europe P Stevenson, C Mar-Molinero 13–27 London: Palgrave [Google Scholar]
  51. Gal S, Irvine J. 1995. The boundaries of languages and disciplines: how ideologies construct difference. Soc. Res. 62:4967–1002 [Google Scholar]
  52. García O, Wei L. 2014. Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan [Google Scholar]
  53. Gibson MA. 1987. The school performance of immigrant minorities: a comparative view. Anthropol. Educ. Q. 18:4262–75 [Google Scholar]
  54. Goral M, Conner PS. 2013. Language disorders in multilingual and multicultural populations. Annu. Rev. Appl. Linguist. 33:128–61 [Google Scholar]
  55. Graham L. 2011. Quoting Mario Juruna: linguistic imagery and the transformation of indigenous voice in the Brazilian print press. Am. Ethnol. 38:1164–83 [Google Scholar]
  56. Grainger K, Jones PE. 2013. The ‘language deficit’ argument and beyond. Lang. Educ. 27:295–98 [Google Scholar]
  57. Gumperz JJ. 1982. Discourse Strategies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  58. Gumperz JJ, Cook-Gumperz J. 1982. Language and Social Identity Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  59. Harris R. 1998. Introduction to Integrational Linguistics Oxford, UK: Pergamon [Google Scholar]
  60. Harris R. 2006. New Ethnicities and Language Use. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan [Google Scholar]
  61. Heath SB. 1983. Ways with Words: Language, Life and Work in Communities and Classrooms Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  62. Heller M. 1999. Sociolinguistics and public debate. J. Socioling. 3:2260–92 [Google Scholar]
  63. Hill JH. 1993. Hasta la vista, baby: Anglo Spanish in the American Southwest. Crit. Anthropol. 13:2145–76 [Google Scholar]
  64. Hinnenkamp V. 1991. Talking a person into interethnic distinction. The Pragmatics of International and Intercultural Communication J Blommaert, J Verschueren 91–109 Amsterdam: John Benjamins [Google Scholar]
  65. Hymes D. 1967. Why linguistics needs the sociologist. Soc. Res. 34:4632–47 [Google Scholar]
  66. Hymes D. 1972. On communicative competence. Sociolinguistics: Selected Readings JB Pride, J Holmes 269–93 Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin [Google Scholar]
  67. Hymes D. 1996. Ethnography, Linguistics, Narrative Inequality: Toward an Understanding of Voice London: Taylor & Francis [Google Scholar]
  68. Irvine J. 1990. Registering affect: heteroglossia in the linguistic expression of emotion. Language and the Politics of Emotion CA Lutz, L Abu-Lughod 126–61 Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  69. Jaffe A. 1999. Ideologies in Action: Language Politics on Corsica. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter [Google Scholar]
  70. Jaspers J. 2008. Problematizing ethnolects: naming linguistic practices in an Antwerp secondary school. Int. J. Biling. 12:1–285–103 [Google Scholar]
  71. Jaspers J. 2011. Talking like a zero-lingual: ambiguous linguistic caricatures at an urban secondary school. J. Pragmat. 43:51264–78 [Google Scholar]
  72. Jaspers J. 2014a. From unwanted to so-called expertise: ideologizing sociolinguistics in contemporary mainstream media. Sci. Comm. 36:5570–92 [Google Scholar]
  73. Jaspers J. 2014b. Stylizations as teacher practice. Lang. Soc. 43:4373–91 [Google Scholar]
  74. Jaspers J, Madsen L. 2016. Sociolinguistics in a languagized world. Introduction. Appl. Linguist. Rev. In press [Google Scholar]
  75. Jaworski A. 1993. The Power of Silence: Social and Pragmatic Perspectives. Newbury Park, CA: Sage [Google Scholar]
  76. Jensen AR. 1969. How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement?. Harv. Educ. Rev. 39:1–122 [Google Scholar]
  77. Jørgensen JN. 2008. Polylingual languaging around and among adolescents. Int. J. Multiling. 5:3161–76 [Google Scholar]
  78. Knowlson J. 1996. Damned to Fame. The Life of Samuel Beckett. London: Bloomsbury [Google Scholar]
  79. Koponen M, Riggenbach H. 2000. Overview: varying perspectives on fluency. See Riggenbach 2000 5–24
  80. Kroskrity PV. 2009. Narrative reproductions: ideologies of storytelling, authoritative words, and generic regimentation in the village of Tewa. J. Linguist. Anthropol. 19:140–56 [Google Scholar]
  81. Kuhn M, Stahl S. 2003. Fluency: a review of developmental and remedial practices. J. Educ. Psychol. 95:13–21 [Google Scholar]
  82. Kurzon D. 1997. Discourse of Silence Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins [Google Scholar]
  83. Labov W. 1972. Language in the Inner City: Studies in the Black English Vernacular. Philadelphia: Univ. Pa. Press [Google Scholar]
  84. Lakoff R. 1975. Language and Woman's Place. New York: Harper & Row [Google Scholar]
  85. Levinson S. 1983. Pragmatics Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  86. Lippi-Green R. 1997. English with an Accent: Language, Ideology and Discrimination in the United States London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  87. Macbeth D. 1991. Teacher authority as practical action. Linguist. Educ. 3:4281–313 [Google Scholar]
  88. Madsen LM. 2013. “High” and “low” in urban Danish speech styles. Lang. Soc. 42:2115–38 [Google Scholar]
  89. Makoni S, Pennycook A. 2007. Disinventing and Reconstituting Language Clevedon, UK: Multiling. Matt. [Google Scholar]
  90. Marsh J. 2011. Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way Out of Inequality. New York: Monthly Rev. Press [Google Scholar]
  91. Martin-Jones M, Romaine S. 1986. Semilingualism: a half-baked theory of communicative competence. Appl. Linguist. 7:126–38 [Google Scholar]
  92. Maryns K. 2006. The Asylum Speaker: An Ethnography of Language and Communication in the Belgian Asylum Procedure. Manchester, UK: St. Jerome Publ. [Google Scholar]
  93. McDermott R. 1974. Achieving school failure: an anthropological approach to illiteracy and social stratification. Education and Cultural Process: Toward an Anthropology of Education GD Spindler 82–118 New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston [Google Scholar]
  94. McDermott R. 1988. Inarticulateness. Linguistics in Context: Connecting Observation and Understanding D Tannen 37–68 New Jersey: Ablex [Google Scholar]
  95. McDermott R, Varenne H. 1995. Culture as disability. Anthropol. Educ. Q. 26:3324–48 [Google Scholar]
  96. Meeuwis M. 1994. Leniency and testiness in intercultural communication: remarks on ideology and context in interactional sociolinguistics. Special Issue: Critical Perspectives on Intercultural Communication M Meeuwis. Pragmatics 4:3391–408 [Google Scholar]
  97. Mehan H. 1979. Learning Lessons: Social Organization in the Classroom Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  98. Milani T. 2010. What's in a name? Language ideology and social differentiation in a Swedish print-mediated debate. J. Socioling. 14:1116–42 [Google Scholar]
  99. Moore R. 1996. Back to the future: the problem of change and the possibilities of advance in the sociology of education. Br. J. Sociol. Educ. 17:2145–61 [Google Scholar]
  100. O'Rourke B, Pujolar J, Ramallo F. 2015. New speakers of minority languages: the challenging opportunity—foreword. Int. J. Sociol. Lang. 231:1–20 [Google Scholar]
  101. Ogbu J. 1978. Minority Education and Caste: The American System in Cross-Cultural Perspective New York: Academic [Google Scholar]
  102. Otsuji E, Pennycook A. 2010. Metrolingualism: fixity, fluidity and language in flux. Int. J. Multiling. 7:3240–54 [Google Scholar]
  103. Perry TH, Delpit L. 1998. The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language and the Education of African American Children. Boston: Beacon Press [Google Scholar]
  104. Piestrup A. 1973. Black Dialect Interference and Accommodation of Reading Instruction in First Grade. Berkeley: Univ. Calif. Press [Google Scholar]
  105. Pratt ML. 1987. Linguistic utopias. The Linguistics of Writing N Fabb, D Attridge, A Durant, C MacCabe 48–66 Manchester, UK: Manch. Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  106. Pujolar J. 2003. Gender, Heteroglossia and Power: A Sociolinguistic Study of Youth Culture. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter [Google Scholar]
  107. Rampton B. 1995. Crossing: Language and Ethnicity Among Adolescents. London: Longman [Google Scholar]
  108. Rampton B. 2006. Language in Late Modernity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  109. Rampton B. 2010. Speech community. Society and Language Use J Jaspers, J-O Östman, J Verschueren 275–303 Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins [Google Scholar]
  110. Rampton B. 2011. From ‘multi-ethnic adolescent heteroglossia’ to ‘contemporary urban vernaculars.’. Lang. Commun. 31:4276–94 [Google Scholar]
  111. Rampton B. 2013. Styling in a language learned later in life. Mod. Lang. J. 97:2360–82 [Google Scholar]
  112. Reay D. 2010. Sociology, social class and education. The Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Education MW Apple, SJ Ball, LA Gandin 396–404 London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  113. Reyes A, Lo A. 2009. Beyond Yellow English Oxford, UK: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  114. Rickford J. 1999. African American Vernacular English: Features, Evolutions, Educational Implications Malden, MA: Blackwell [Google Scholar]
  115. Rickford JR, Rickford RJ. 2000. Spoken Soul. The Story of Black English. New York: John Wiley & Sons [Google Scholar]
  116. Riggenbach H. 2000. Perspectives on Fluency Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich. Press [Google Scholar]
  117. Ronkin M, Karn HE. 1999. Mock Ebonics: linguistic racism in parodies of Ebonics on the Internet. J. Socioling. 3:3360–80 [Google Scholar]
  118. Schegloff EA. 1980. The relevance of repair to syntax-for-conversation. Syntax and Semantics 12 Discourse and Syntax T Givon 261–86 New York: Academic [Google Scholar]
  119. Schegloff EA. 2010. Some other “uh(m)”s. Discourse Process. 47:2130–74 [Google Scholar]
  120. Scollon R, Scollon SB. 1979. Linguistic Convergence: An Ethnography of Speaking at Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. New York: Academic [Google Scholar]
  121. Silverstein M. 1979. Language structure and linguistic ideology. The Elements P Clyne, W Hanks, C Hofbauer 193–248 Chicago: Chicago Linguist. Soc. [Google Scholar]
  122. Silverstein M. 2003. Talking Politics. The Substance of Style from Abe to “W”. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press [Google Scholar]
  123. Simpkins G, Simpkins C. 1981. Cross-cultural approach to curriculum development. Black English and the Education of Black Children and Youth G Smitherman 221–40 Detroit, MI: Cent. Black Stud., Wayne State Univ. [Google Scholar]
  124. Snell J. 2013. Dialect, interaction and class positioning at school: from deficit to difference to repertoire. Lang. Educ. 27:2110–28 [Google Scholar]
  125. Stroud C. 2004. Rinkeby Swedish and semilingualism in language ideological debates: a Bourdieuean perspective. J. Socioling. 8:2196–214 [Google Scholar]
  126. Stubbs M. 1976. Language, Schools and Classrooms London: Methuen [Google Scholar]
  127. Talmy S. 2009. Forever FOB? Resisting and reproducing the other in high school ESL. See Reyes & Lo 2009, pp. 347–65
  128. Tannen D, Saville-Troike M. 1985. Perspectives on Silence Norwood, NJ: Ablex [Google Scholar]
  129. Trudgill P. 1975. Accent, Dialect and the School London: Edward Arnold [Google Scholar]
  130. Tsitsipis L. 1989. Skewed performance and full performance in language obsolescence: the case of an Albanian variety. Investigating Obsolescence: Studies in Language Contraction and Death N Dorian 117–37 Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  131. Valentine G. 2008. Living with difference: reflections on geographies of encounter. Prog. Hum. Geogr. 32:3321–35 [Google Scholar]
  132. Varenne H, McDermott R. 1999. Successful Failure: The School America Builds. Boulder, CO: Westview Press [Google Scholar]
  133. Varonis EM, Gass SM. 1985. Non-native/non-native conversations: a model for negotiation of meaning. Appl. Linguist. 6:171–90 [Google Scholar]
  134. Wiese H. 2012. Kiezdeutsch: Ein neuer Dialekt entsteht. München, Ger.: C.H. Beck [Google Scholar]
  135. Wiese H. 2015. “This migrants' babble is not a German dialect!”: the interaction of standard language ideology and ‘us’/‘them’ dichotomies in the public discourse on a multiethnolect. Lang. Soc. 44:3341–68 [Google Scholar]
  136. Williams G. 1992. Sociolinguistics: A Sociological Critique London: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  137. Williams Q, Stroud C. 2013. Multilingualism in transformative spaces: contact and conviviality. Lang. Policy 12:4289–311 [Google Scholar]
  138. Woolard K, Ribot Bencomo A, Soler Carbonell J. 2014. What's so funny now? The strength of weak pronouns in Catalonia. J. Linguist. Anthropol. 23:3127–41 [Google Scholar]
  139. Woolard K, Schieffelin B. 1994. Language ideology. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 23:55–82 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error