Although I’ve stopped posting regular sets of links to great reading, I haven’t stopped collecting great blog posts and articles that I want to share with you. Here are some of my favourites from the last few months if you’re looking for some entertaining linguistics reading over the Easter break!
The Inky Fool explains why you need to have been an adolescent to commit adultery. Fritinancy’s post on normcore suddenly gave a name to my partner’s shopping style. The Lexiculture Papers from Stephen Chrisomalis’s student research are also great reads and include research on words like vanilla, punk and bromance. If you have some time on your hands you can use your own word-hunting skills to help the OED find earlier sources for words, or if you have an afternoon to spare, Stan Carey talks about Dmitry Golubovskiy reading a single word that’s 3 1/2 hours long. Geoffrey Pullum is in fine form in this post, pointing out that differences between UK and US English are, all things considered, relatively trivial. On Dialect Blog we see an example of how this can be manipulated for an easy trick to make something sound more British (get people to say ‘oi’ and ‘bollocks’ a lot). Also, since this XKCD post about the Baby Name Wizard Blog I’ve been learning a lot about naming practices in the USA.
If you’re looking further afield than English, That Munanga Linguist has a beautiful post about the power of owning language in schools. After announcing he was leaving ELAR, David Nathan wrote a post at the Paradisec blog about the tension between open access and language documentation. This inspired much of the discussion at a recent LIP event blogged by Ruth Singer.
A while ago we shared with you The Great Language Game. The game’s creator has gone back to look at the data and there are some interesting results looking at which languages are most likely to be confused. WugLife and others have a great collective Tumblr post about the results.
Finally, if you’re just after entertainment, check out this rad Party Chomsky design, or kick back with a few round of Geminator, an IPA version of 2048.
I’ve had a few people send me links to this great Rap Battle on Jimmy Kimmel Live in the USA. Three ASL interpreters take turns to simultaneously interpret Wiz Khalifa singing Black and Yellow.
My favourite part is at the end, when all three join in simultaneously to sign the final chorus. Here you can really see the personal spin that each interpreter puts on the lyrics, switching signing hands and generally conveying the flow and rhythm of the song.
It’s a pity that at the same time Kimmel declares this the first Sign Rap Battle on the show, he also says it’ll probably be the last - it’s be great to see more of this, and more sign language in the media space more generally.
This series of three images of the same dog manage to crack me up every time. For me it captures two of the most important things about puns. The first being that you need to get your timing right, and pretend to give your audience a moment to think about it before giving the answer. The second being that two-part pun-makers always realise that the pun is terrible, which is part of the joke itself.
This furry dude is definitely my favourite meme animal for a while!
“If this were a cartoon, there’d be a word for ‘cartoon’ in our language, which there isn’t.”
- “Wingman” (Jeff Winger)
NBC’s Community continues its return to form since the return of Dan Harmon. The most recent episode is set almost entirely in a parody of the G.I. Joe cartoon universe constructed in the mind of Jeff Winger, including bad animation and merchendising opportunities.
When “Fourth Wall” Abed Nadir attempts to explain that they exist in an animated world, Wingman uses a wonderful self-failing version of the ‘no word for X in this language’ trope.
People use this one when they want to make a larger sociological point - if the language doesn’t have this word then people don’t think about this concept (or in reverse, they have a single word that means they articulate a concept that is beyond us because we don’t have that word). While a language may not have a single word that means exactly what that word does in another language, we can still communicate the same idea, it might just be less elegant. Language log have been keeping track of this one for quite a while. This archive list dates back to 2009, and I’m sure there’s been plenty more since.
I am pleased to be able to let you know that the April edition of the Australian Journal of Linguistics is now available online, and it’s a special edition focusing on gesture, sign language and alternate sign language. I have an article in there with my former supervisor Barb Kelly, in which we seek to understand how people pay attention to gestures and other body movements.
It’s always exciting to see an academic article in print, but this one is particularly exciting for me. This paper is based on the research I did for my honours project back in 2007. In between I’ve started and finished a PhD in a completely different area of linguistics. I’m glad this work has finally been able to see the light of day!
All good libraries should have access to the AJL either in print or online. If you can’t get access and you’re interested then contact us!
As the field of gesture studies has developed researchers have created ways of analysing and categorizing bodily movement phenomena. In this paper we look at whether gesture categorizations have any resonance with the ways that people other than gesture researchers approach bodily movement. Building on Kendon’s observations that people generally have a consistent attitude towards what constitutes ‘significant action’, we asked 12 participants to conceptualize their own categories of gesture and then analyse a short video that contained a predetermined variety of bodily movements. We found that non-analysts had a wider conception of what constituted gesture than analysts. In regards to the categorizations of gesture that non-analysts made, there were a range of schemas, which we broadly categorized as being ‘form-based’ and ‘function-based’.
It’s a cute little wug.
It is looking for a bug all snug in a rug
If the wug finds the bug, it will give it a tug.
But the bug is waiting for a hug on the jug.
Look wug look. The bug is on the jug.
Cute little wug.
A couple of weeks ago I started a new job as a research assistant on the Aboriginal Child Language Acquisition project at Melbourne Uni. I’ve been enjoying reading the literature on child language, and thought I’d share this little wug poem I came across that was used as part of the experimental design for Strapp et al. (2008).
This research paper investigates the type of feedback parents give their children, and how that may influence the way that children learn language. They found that at different ages children appeared to respond differently to positive feedback and negative feedback. I also love that someone had to sit down and think up this little story for kids. I thought I had seen it somewhere other than the Strapp paper - but I couldn’t find it in my notes anywhere. Anyway, enjoy!
Strapp, Chehalis M., Dana M. Bleakney, Augusta L. Helmick & Hayley M. Tonkovich. (2008) Developmental differences in the effects of negative and positive evidence. First language28(1): 35-53.
In what could be an early contender for the American Dialect Society’s ‘Most Euphemistic’ category for Word of the Year, Gwyneth Paltrow’s announcement of her separation from her husband is not a divorce, but a ‘conscious uncoupling’.
Why would Paltrow, who has a history of odd turns of phrase, feel the need to rewrite the lexicon of breaking up?
Euphemism is a common language mechanism, which we all employ to avoid the existing connotations of available word choices. ‘Conscious uncoupling’ is because divorce is too angry and separations are too common; GP is a classy lady above such ordinary problems that even the end of her marriage is more glamorous than the plebeian relationships of common people.
If you feel your life is a bit drab, add a dash of euphemism. Today I might go in for some thoughtful desobering (it’s a Friday after all). What part of your life are your going to give the Paltrow treatment?
This is one of those posts that will probably be overstating the obvious to our Tumblr-readers, but I thought I’d write it for the sake of our readers who aren’t Tumblr users. As always, feel free to add any observations I’ve missed as a comment below, or in a repost.
I have spent the last year or so watching the development of The Fandom as an entity. The term fandom itself is nothing new, with the earliest example in the OED is from 1903.
Fandoms have their own domains - the Rugby Fandom, the Spider Man Fandom, really any element of modern pop culture, and the ease of online access to other people with your interests means that there are many Fandoms. The word fandom has been on the increase for the last 20 years or so, but there’s also been a rise in the phrase the fandom.
I’ve noticed a rise in a reference to a Fandom that doesn’t necessarily specify what the subject of fanatic devotion is. Of course, that doesn’t mean that The Fandom isn’t clear on what it likes; Sherlock, Dr Who, and all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy. It looks like specific fandoms have evolved into The Fandom and those within The Fandom culture manage the geekery within.
Maybe you have a different perspective on what falls within the domain of The Fandom. Is it evolving? Are you a member?