This ethnographic research examines language socialization practices and language ideologies in secular Yiddish “metalinguistic communities,” communities of positioned social actors shaped by practices that view language as an object. “Metalinguistic community” is a framework for diverse participants who can experience both distance from and closeness to the language and its speakers, due to historical, personal, and/or communal circumstances. Through an examination of classroom interactions in California, this article shows how simultaneous distancing and closeness experienced by metalinguistic community members can manifest in “contested stance practices,” public demonstrations of language ideologies that reveal both internal and external tensions. Contested stance practices reveal how members’ perceptions of language are shaped by their personal histories and those of their imagined communities; these practices become a fertile means through which individuals negotiate their relationships with language as a symbol of identity, ideology, and community.
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