What language is doing

Initiating a dialogue with Judith Bridges





languaging, ventriloquation, resemiotization, entextualization, enregisterment, authority


This article is meant to initiate a dialogue with Judith Bridges about the performativity of language. By analyzing how social media users talk about what language is doing, especially when these users accuse someone of whitesplaining, mansplaining, or other forms of [X]-splai­ning, I show that they implicitly acknowledge what has been called elsewhere the ventriloquial dimension of communication. By ventriloquation, I mean that whenever we speak, write or, more generally, communicate, an act of delegation always takes place, which means that what is said, written or communicated can be presented by others as making us say things that we had not necessarily anticipated. This form of delegation, which is typical of the episodes analy­zed by Bridges and that I identify as a form of downstream ventriloquation, is contrasted with upstream forms of ventriloquation, that is ventriloquations by which other actors are deemed as expressing themselves through what is being said or, more generally, communicated. I believe that the identification of these two forms of ventriloquation can help us analyze the performati­vity of language that interests Bridges.




How to Cite

Cooren, F. (2022). What language is doing: Initiating a dialogue with Judith Bridges. Language Under Discussion, 6(1), 47–53. https://doi.org/10.31885/lud.6.1.257