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Drag (linguistically defined)

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Drag (linguistically defined)
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  Drag (Linguistically Defined) Rusty Barrett Within linguistics, “drag” refers primarily to the language of a gender performance that contrasts with a speaker’s own gender identity. Linguistic drag is a form of “crossing”   (Rampton 1999), or the use of language associated with a social group with which the speaker does not identify. Although linguistic research recognizes an overlap between the language of drag kings and queens and that of transgender speakers (Mann 2011; Valentine 2007), the use of the term “drag” is generally used to describe specific cases of temporary linguistic crossing that is intentional and consciously performed. While transgender language generally involves a shift across gendered forms of language that results in a permanent change in speech, the gender shift associated with drag is usually limited to language use in a specific performance context. Although drag  performers may attempt to produce a believable representation of the opposite gender, the context of performance requires that the audience recognizes that gender is being consciously  performed. For this reason, the language of drag performance often involves movement across linguistic varieties (Barrett 1999). Thus, a drag queen may briefly switch into a stereotypically masculine voice for humorous effect, reminding the audience that the feminine behavior is consciously performed. Because of the context of performance, the language of drag usually emphasizes highly stereotyped linguistic features associated with the performed gender and need not involve the full acquisition of a different form of gendered language (Barrett 1999). Although the concept of drag srcinates with studies of gender crossing, it has also been applied to cases in which speakers use language variation to perform identities associated with some other social group, including groups that differ in terms of ethnicity, age, or regional identity. For this reason, Gerard Van Herk suggests that the term “draggin g ” should be used to  refer to “any kind of identity performance in which awareness that it is a performance is important” (Van Herk 2012:99). Although this definition is not used by all linguists, it accurately reflects the centrality of performance to linguistic studies of drag. It also highlights the way in which the concept of drag has been applied to other contexts in addition to gender. SEE ALSO: Drag Kings; Drag Queen. Key Words: crossing; drag; language References Barrett, Rusty 1999 Indexing Polyphonous Identity in the Speech of African American Drag Queens. In Mary Bucholtz, A. C. Liang, and Laurel A. Sutton, eds.,  Reinventing Identities: The Gendered Self in Discourse , pp. 313−331. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Mann, Stephen 2011 Drag Queens’ Use of Language and the Performance of Blurred Gendered and Racial Identities. Journal of Homosexuality. 58:793−811. doi: 10.1080/00918369.2011.581923. Rampton, Ben 1999 Crossing. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 9:54–56. doi: 10.1525/jlin.1999.9.1-2.54. Valentine, David 2007  Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category . Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Van Herk, Gerard 2012 What is Sociolinguistics?  Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.  Further Reading Hall, Kira 2003 Exceptional Speakers: Contested and Problematized Gender Identities. In Miriam Meyerhoff and Janet Holmes, eds.,  Handbook of Language and Gender, pp. 352−380. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Zimman, Lal, and Kira Hall 2010 Language, Embodiment and the “Third Sex”. In Carmen Llamas and Dominic Watt, eds.,  Language and Identities , pp. 166−178. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
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