Review of James Wilce, Eloquence in Trouble
In Eloquence in Trouble James Wilce describes how a particular speech genre is practiced in rural Bangladesh: "troubles talk," in which people lament some misfortune that has befallen them. Wilce describes how the language of laments has more than referential functions. Speakers do represent their misfortunes in lamenting them, but Wilce argues that these speakers also simultaneously reveal and shape their identities, engage in strategic interactions with interlocutors, and sometimes resist oppressive social orders. Using data from almost six years of work in Bangladesh and a substantial corpus of videorecorded troubles talk, Wilce convincingly demonstrates that laments serve multiple social and interactional functions.