“A word they used in the past”: The Expansion of Moral Concern in Cambodia
Join us for SOAN department anthropology candidate Cheryl Yin as she presents “A word they used in the past”: The Expansion of Moral Concern in Cambodia."'
Cheryl is currently a Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies. She got her PhD in Linguistic Anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is a child of Cambodian refugees and a first-generation college student. Her research and teaching interests include language ideology, language variation, and Southeast Asian studies.
The book Cheryl is currently writing - Language and Morality: Being Modern in Early 21st Century Cambodia - is based on dissertation research she did in Cambodia examining Khmer honorific registers - a system that encodes in conversation the social identities and relationships of speakers - in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime. She analyzes language disagreements to show how they reflect people's competing worldviews about social hierarchy, identity, and morality in the 21st century. She coined the phrase "moral circle of honorification" to describe the way language is used to show moral concern. Additionally, she plans to conduct supplemental research about Khmer language change among Cambodian Americans in the United States to learn how language contact with English and American culture impacts the Khmer spoken by Cambodian immigrants and their descendants.