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"Talking Shit" in Rayne: How Aesthetic Features Reveal Ethical Structures

John Laudun
The Journal of American Folklore
Vol. 125, No. 497 (Summer 2012), pp. 304-326
DOI: 10.5406/jamerfolk.125.497.0304
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/jamerfolk.125.497.0304
Page Count: 23
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"Talking Shit" in Rayne: How Aesthetic
Features Reveal Ethical Structures
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Abstract

"Talking shit" is a well-established social activity in many African American speech communities. This study of such talk by one speaker in a small south Louisiana town describes the dynamics of such talk as a negotiation, within a flexible set of forms, of the nature of the relationship between the speaker and the researcher in order to place the latter within a traditional framework of relationships between individuals. The study focuses on how the interactional order is embedded in the very structure of talk itself, revealing the potential logic behind what seems at first glance to be "verbal filler" but, I argue, actually is an extension of the larger worldview at work in speaking.

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