Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
An integrated approach to the study of language and music – or, musicolinguistics – offers a more comprehensive way of looking at language-in-interaction where music plays a vital role, true for many mediatized contexts. While stance has been studied in conversation (Cekaite 2012; DuBois 2007) and to a lesser extent, in media (Lempert 2009), the present study analyzes the stance-taking function of subtitles and music in a mediatized context. Specifically, language and music work together semiotically to shape the discourse and to influence participants to take negative stances vis-à-vis one speaker. I analyze a clip from the South Korean reality television show Unpretty Rapstar which features female rappers who compete in various musicolinguistic performances. Besides the rappers, other participants include the producers, editors, and hosts, who alter the discourse through the translating and editing process. Specific musical and editing choices, including the use of Korean-English subtitles, function to position one participant named Jessi as unlike the other participants. She is characterized as aggressive, threatening, and scary, both explicitly and through embodied enactments of fear by the other women. The music helps to set an idyllic scene, ultimately acting as a foil for the conflict that is credited to Jessi. The music, subtitles, and the other female rappers’ affect-laden discourse create a unifying stance vis-à-vis Jessi whose verbal honesty indexes an aggressive, non-normative femininity. The strategic employment of music with spoken discourse demonstrates the clear ideological position of the show’s producers vis-à-vis Jessi, who is rendered linguistically incompetent and transgressive.