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Lakoff argues that the very things career coaches advise women to cut out of their speech are actually signs of highly evolved communication. When we use words like so, I guess, like, actually, and I mean, we are sending signals to the listener to help them figure out what’s new, what’s important, or what’s funny. We’re connecting with them. “Rather than being weakeners or signs of fuzziness of mind, as is often said, they create cohesion and coherence between what speaker and hearer together need to accomplish — understanding and sharing,” Lakoff says. “This is the major job of an articulate social species. If women use these forms more, it is because we are better at being human.”

Language is not always about making an argument or conveying information in the cleanest, simplest way possible. It’s often about building relationships.

A quote from the article “Can We Just Like, Get Over the Way Women Talk?” which is worth reading in full.

Reading Wednesday 22/03

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 10:26 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Recently acquired:
  • Can neuroscience change our minds? by Hilary and Steven Rose. Steven Rose was a big influence on getting me into bioscience, so I excited to learn that he's written a new book about debunking neurobollocks, a subject close to my heart. And that he's written it in collaboration with his wife, a sociologist of science.

  • Three non-fiction books to give as belated bar mitzvah presents: I went with A history of God by Karen Armstrong, 1491 by Charles Mann, and The undercover economist by Tim Harford in the end. I reckon that gives a reasonable spread of perspectives, periods and cultures to get a curious teenager started.

  • A whole bunch of mostly novels for a not-very-sekrit plot.

Recently read:
  • This is a letter to my son by KJ Kabza, as recommended, and edited by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. It's a near-future story about a trans girl, which has minimal overt transphobia but quite a lot of cis people being clueless, and also it's about parent death among other themes.

  • Why Lemonade is for Black women by Dominique Matti, via [personal profile] sonia. Very powerful essay about intersectionality between gender and race. I've not actually seen Lemonade yet, because everything I've read about it suggests it's a large, complex work of art which I need to set aside time to concentrate on, I can't just listen to the songs in the background. And I'm a bit intimidated by the medium of a "visual album".
Currently reading: A Journey to the end of the Millennium by AB Yehoshua. Not much progress.

Up next: I am thinking to pick up How to be both by Ali Smith, which has been on my to-read pile for a while. We'll see.

Reading Goal Update

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 10:31 am
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
[personal profile] forestofglory
I've decide to modify my non-fiction reading goal for 2017. My original goal was to read 10 academic monographs in 2017. However I was struggling to define academic monograph and also had some books I didn't think counted that I wanted to read on my shelf. So after talking it over with some friends I've decided to change the goal to 12 scholarly books, where scholarly is defined as written by a scholar not a journalist.* I upped the number of books to 12 (or one a month) since I'll be including some less dense books.

Having made this decision I've started reading Mary Beard's SPQR, which has been really interesting so far. The introduction promised some discussion of food and trade which I'm really looking forward to.

*Who is a scholar is not clear cut. For example I have book about planning written by practicing planner is he a scholar? I'm going to say yes for proposes of this book challenge. Because he is an expert in the field and not a journalist. Anyways I think "who is a scholar?" is an easier question to answer than "what is an academic monograph"

Linguistics and Language Podcasts

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 07:32 pm
[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed


If you need more language or linguistics podcasts between episodes of Lingthusiasm, here’s a list (in no particular order). I’ve made note of where transcripts are available, if audio is not your thing.

Talk the Talk

A weekly show about linguistics, broadcast on RTR FM in Western Australia, and then made available online for us all to enjoy. Every week Daniel, Ben, and Kylie cover the news in linguistics and tackle a particular topic.

History of English

Kevin Stroud has created hours of meticulously researched, professionally produced and engaging content on the history of English, and we’re only just getting into Middle English. He’s even gone part time on his day job to keep up with the episodes. Transcripts of earlier episodes available for a small fee. I have already reviewed it three times (episodes 1-4, episodes 5-79, bonus episodes). 

Lexicon Valley

I was thrilled when John McWhorter became the regular host of Lexicon Valley a few months ago. John is a great entertainer, without ever dumbing down complex linguistic ideas. There’s lots on English, it’s history and current use, and of course an impressive backlog of old LV content there for you as well.

The Allusionist

Stories about language and the people who use it. Helen Zaltzman puts together a lovely and thoughtful show each episode. There are also transcripts available (hurrah!). (my review)

The World in Words

From PRI, The World in Words has been delivering wonderful interview-drive stories about language and life since 2008.

A Way With Worlds

It’s not AWWW’s fault that I’m not a fan of talkback radio. But then, maybe we need more talkback on the history of English words, cryptic crosswords and slang. Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett are research ninjas, drawing on dictionaries and databases to help answer people’s questions about language.

That’s What They Say

Every week linguist Anne Curzan joins Rebecca Kruth on Michigan public radio for a five minute piece on a quirk of English language. You can listen to these chats on iTunes. They’re always interesting.

Words for Granted

In each episode Ray Belli explores the history of a common English word in around fifteen minutes. Though specific words you also get the chance to learn about historical language chance process more generally.


Colleen Patrick Goudreau explores animal-related etymologies. If you’re the kind of person who gets a buzz discovering how aviation and inauguration share a birdy past, this show is full of great word stories.


While this show is made particularly for those with an interest in constructed languages, they also have episodes that focus on specific natural languages, or linguistic phenomena. Pop culture fans may even find the inside word on their favourite language from Game of Thrones or Defiance. 

Speculative Grammarian Podcast

It’s like SpecGram for those of us too lazy to read. Like it’s written counterpart, you’ll probably find this more enjoyable if you have at least an undergrad degree in linguistics under your belt, and a healthy love-hate approach to academia.

Grammar Girl

Episodes are rarely longer than 15 minutes, but they’re full of tips about English grammar and style for professional writing. But if copy editing isn’t your jam, there’s discussion of poetry styles, idioms, language memes and etymology. Transcripts for all episodes also available!

Given Names

This is a four part radio series from a few years ago, all about names. I still love it. (my review)

Odds and Ends

There are also a number of podcasts that have only a few episodes, are no longer being made, or are very academic in their focus.

And of course, there’s new Lingthusiasm episodes every month!

Gretchen also has a list of linguistics podcasts. If there are any I’m missing please let me know!


Below are some recommendations from other language/linguistics podcast fans:

A helpful update of my long-ago list of linguistics podcasts, if you’re looking for more linguistics and language podcasts to listen to! I’m going to add a full description for our own podcast for reference. 


A podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics. In the style of a lightly structured conversation over tea, coffee, or other drinks of your choice, Lingthusiasm strikes a balance between being fun and accessible for people without a linguistics background while still containing enough depth to be a satisfying listen for practising linguists. Topics have included why speaking a common language isn’t going to lead to world peace, fun facts about colour terms, pronouns, and the International Phonetic Alphabet, and a review of the xenolinguistic film Arrival. (Transcripts available.)


Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 09:48 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
So this weekend I went to two synagogue services (in two different cities) and one church service, and I had a quiet going out for lunch and talking date with [personal profile] cjwatson and a bouncy metal gig date with Ghoti. And went to the cinema to see Beauty and the Beast and just about managed to squeeze in a little bit of time talking to [personal profile] jack. Um, it is hypothetically possible that I may have over-scheduled myself a bit.

I had fun, though )
[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed

Hawaiian language revitalization: a video with Larry Kimura at the University of Hawai’i Hilo about his long involvement with Hawaiian immersion education.

More about the immersion program in a news story from NBC

“The Pūnana Leo preschools continue until today based on the simple rule: If you speak only in Hawaiian to the children, they will begin to speak it back to you,” Larry Kimura, associate professor of Hawaiian language and Hawaiian studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, told NBC News. […]

Hawaiian was banned in the state’s schools in 1896. The language nearly died out, according to the Hawaii Department of Education, and in 1978 it was made one of the official languages of the state, leading to changes in Hawaii’s education system. The first Hawaiian medium schools were established in 1985.

According to Kimura, it takes three generations of native speakers to reestablish a language; Hawaii is now seeing its third generation of new Hawaiian native speakers — defined as children who are raised with Hawaiian at home until they are 3 or 4, he said.

After graduating 17 classes of students from K-12 Hawaiian medium schools, enrollment continues to rise, with some of those graduates now sending their own children, according to Kimura. […]

The education system goes beyond just language immersion, Kimura said, and also incorporates Hawaiian educational philosophy. “A more appropriate term perhaps is Hawaiian medium education where we can expand our own Hawaiian education philosophy and knowledge foundation for learning so it is not only about revitalizing our language but our language also connects us to a life force of well-being as a people,” he said.

Further details in a news release from the University of Hawaii Hilo. Excerpt: 

He ʻŌlelo Ola Hilo is a field study hosted each year at UH Hilo for an international group of indigenous language specialists. It allows attendees to experience firsthand the efforts being made to revitalize the Hawaiian language using Hawaiian as the medium of formal education from the infant toddler level all the way to college degrees.

This year’s field study was held on Feb. 28 and March 1— it is considered a field study because the Hawaiian language process cannot merely be discussed, it must be seen in action.

For this 5th conference, there was record attendance, the majority native peoples or those working with endangered native languages, from Okinawa, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Alaska, Minnesota, New Mexico and other U.S. states. Registration was closed after 165 people signed up.

The theme of this year’s He ʻŌlelo Ola Hilo Field Study is ʻO Ka ʻŌlelo Ke Kaʻā O Ka Mauli, Language Binds Us To Our Cultural Identity.

Each year, field trip attendees visit and partake in the closest immersion school, ʻAha Pūnana Leo, which is located near UH Hilo. Immersion schools include students from infant level to high school level and currently encompasses 21 sites with 3,000 students—these students are educated in the mother tongue of Hawai‘i.

During this year’s two-day event, in addition to ʻAha Pūnana Leo, the group visited Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu kindergarten–high school Hawaiian immersion program, and the UH Hilo Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language degree programs (undergraduate, graduate and doctoral) and Hawaiian immersion teacher licensing program Kahuawaiola. […]

“Education is the first step toward revitalization and we are using the same system that took it away to bring it back,” says Kimura […] “We don’t want to reestablish our language just to have it die because we are not cultivating the environment for it to flourish,” he says.

I was lucky enough to get to attend the Hilo Field Study this year when I was in Hawaii for ICLDC, and to see their inspiring work first hand. One of the themes that came up was the idea not just of revitalization but of renormalization. By many measures, the revitalization of the Hawaiian language has been very successful, but the goal isn’t just to have people speaking the language all the way through school – it’s also to have it be normal for people to speak it on the streets, in the home, and in workplaces beyond the university. 

One of the efforts that we learned about was expanding Hawaiian-medium university courses at UH Hilo beyond the current Hawaiian language, culture, and teacher training and into general education subject areas like sciences, arts, business, and so on. There’s a bill currently going through the Hawaii state legislature towards this goal. 

Another project is ʻŌiwi TV, which produces video and social media posts in Hawaiian to give people things to read, watch, and interact with in Hawaiian. You can watch videos on their website (such as this series on learning Hawaiian) or follow them on facebook, twitter, or instagram


Sunday, March 19th, 2017 10:40 pm
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Posted by Balashon Hebrew Language Detective

A reader asked about the origin of the word daysa דייסה - "porridge, gruel." He said that "the word looks and sounds not much Hebrew and seems to hide its roots." Indeed, Klein says that the etymology is unknown, and other sources weren't particularly helpful either. But I think I found a convincing back story. Let's take a look.

First of all, in Sokoloff's A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, he defines the original Aramaic form, דייסא, as "coarsely pounded wheat or barley eaten or mixed with honey." Jastrow similarly has "a dish of pounded grain (wheat or barley), grit". The common element here is the "pounding", and in that light, the Ben Yehuda dictionary (under the entry dayis דיס, which I suppose was a new Hebrew form by Ben Yehuda that never caught on) suggest that the root would be an Aramaic root דוס, cognate with the Hebrew דוש, "to tread, thresh". (I must point out that I have not found the root דוס in any Aramaic sources that I checked, but that doesn't mean it's not out there somewhere.) So the pounding, threshing action on the grain, led to the name daysa - which can be viewed as a gerund.

The root דוש, or the Hebrew noun disha דישה have a few other familiar related words. The passive form nadush נדוש, which literally means "threshed", has come to mean "trite, banal" - in the sense of "overused."

Also related is the modern Hebrew word for pedal - davsha דושא, although the original Aramaic (as in Shabbat 81b) just meant "treading." This is a good example of modern Hebrew taking somewhat archaic Aramaic words and giving them new life in the revived language.

While the verb dash דש means "he tread", the abbreviation da"sh  ד"ש is unrelated - it is an acronym for דרישת שלום - (sending) regards. However, just like porridge, it is best served warm - so you will frequently hear the request, "please send dash cham ד"ש חם!"
[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed

Linguist Facebook Bingo, by Ollie Sayeed on facebook (shared with permission). 

An accurate depiction of my own facebook feed, although I’d also add the admittedly self-referential “linguistics version of popular meme”.

[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed


Lingthusiasm Episode 6: All the sounds in all the languages - The International Phonetic Alphabet

English writing is hugely inconsistent: is “ough” pronounced as in cough, though, through, thought, rough, plough, or thorough? And once you start adding in other languages with different conventions and writing systems, things get even more complicated. How’s a person supposed to know whether to pronounce “j” as in Jane, Juan, Johan, Jeanne, or Jing?

In the 1800s, linguists decided to create a single alphabet that could represent any sound spoken in any human language. After several revisions and competing standards, we now have the modern International Phonetic Alphabet with 107 letters, 52 diacritics, and a surprisingly passionate fanbase including linguists, musicians, and people who like cool symbols.

In episode 6 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren and Gretchen talk about the history of the IPA, how it works, and some of the fun linguistics games and stories that have arisen around the IPA.

Note: soundcloud is having issues with tumblr embedding, so for the moment please go here to listen on soundcloud directly (the player above is actually just an image). We didn’t want to delay the shownotes page until their tech problem got fixed, but once we can embed we’ll probably delete this image post and replace it with a proper audio one, so please see here for the most recent episode shownotes page.

Here are the links mentioned in this episode:

Keep reading

It turns out that Lauren and I have a lot of fun and useful IPA links once we start listing them, so definitely check out this episode and the links in the shownotes if you’re trying to learn or teach the IPA, or if you already know it and would like some Quality IPA Jokes. 


Friday, March 17th, 2017 02:41 pm
karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
[staff profile] karzilla posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
Thanks to everyone who let us know that Photobucket images were not loading properly on some pages. The problem seemed to be mostly limited to HTTPS requests; Dreamwidth maintains a list of known high-traffic image sites that support HTTPS, so that our secure content proxy service doesn't cache them unnecessarily. Unfortunately Photobucket seems to have recently changed their site configuration such that HTTPS requests aren't being served as expected, and we've now taken it out of our list of "proxy-exempt" sites.

If you continue to have issues, make sure you're not using HTTPS Photobucket links. It's a bit counterintuitive, but if you use HTTP instead, it will be automatically transformed on our end to an HTTPS link that uses p.dreamwidth.org.

Hope that clears everything up for now! Let us know if it doesn't...

Freelance remote lexicography

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 06:30 pm
[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed

People periodically ask me about ways to get started writing about linguistics for a general audience. Here’s one option that’s come to my attention, from Dictionary.com

We are looking for writers with expertise in lexicography, linguistics, or a language-related field to contribute articles to our site, Dictionary.com.

Got a lot to say about words? Able to write objectively and descriptively about words that might have political or cultural overtones, or be found as offensive by some? Good at tackling hard concepts and boiling them down to fresh and approachable prose? We’d love to hear from you. You will be paid $40 for each article accepted by our editors for publishing.

I’ve been told that the articles are 350-500 words and that they’re looking for multiple contributors, ideally from a range of different backgrounds to work on words from different domains. So if you’d like to have influence on how your slang gets portrayed in a dictionary, or want to get a start in linguistics writing or lexicography, this may be interesting for you.

For more details and how to apply, see the full posting

See also Jane Solomon answering a couple other questions on twitter, her linguistics jobs interview about being a lexicographermy advice for writing pop linguistics articles, and if anyone else has paid linguistics writing gigs open to new or newish writers, do feel free to pass them along! (But if you’re a person wanting to do this kind of writing, do remember that a place doesn’t have to be advertising for linguistics-specific writing in order for you to pitch them.) 

Getting from "Hey you!" to "If only"

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 10:16 pm
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Posted by Lameen Souag الأمين سواق

A well-known Algerian proverb has it that:
لي عندهٌ مية يقول يا ميتين
li `andu mya yqul ya mitin
who has hundred says oh two.hundred
He who has a hundred says "If only it were two hundred!" (literally: "Oh two hundred!")

The ya here is not a general-purpose interjection. Unlike English "oh", it's normally used as a vocative, followed by the name of the person you're addressing. That's its primary function in Classical Arabic too. But in Classical Arabic, you can't use it on its own to mean "if only..."; in fact, that usage isn't very common in Algerian Arabic either. Yet the same extension of function from vocative to wish-marker is found in Algerian Berber. In an 18th century Kabyle poem recorded by Mouloud Mammeri in his Poèmes kabyles anciens (p. 132), an aspiring poet, Muh At Lemsaawd, begs the better-established Yusef u Qasi to accept him as an apprentice:

Ul-iw fellak d amaalal
A wi k-isâan d ccix is

My heart is sick for you
If only I had you as my teacher (literally: "Oh he who has you as his teacher!")

You can't do this in Classical Arabic, nor in English: a vocative followed by a noun phrase is going to be interpreted as an act of addressing, not of wishing. But in Arabic you do find an otherwise unexpected vocative particle showing up in some wish constructions, notably يا ليت yaa layta "if only". And in (slightly archaic) English you have a very similar construction with an infinitive in "to" or a prepositional phrase in "for", instead of with a noun phrase: "Oh to be young again!", "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing!" That suggests that the connection between vocative and wishing reflects some general feature of human cognition, or at least of a rather large culture area.

The obvious connection would be through requests. One reason to address someone is to ask them to bring you something. It's not such a big step from "Hey kid, get me a glass of water" to "Hey, a glass of water!", with the addressee and the verb erased, and the vocative particle effectively serving as much to mark the wish as to get the addressee's attention. But that doesn't really predict forms like the Kabyle one, where the state wished for takes the form of a relative clause, nor even the old-fashioned English constructions discussed, so I'm not really happy with this explanation. Any ideas? And can you think of any parallels in other languages?

Book recommendations for teenaged boys?

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 07:09 pm
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
So my two former bar mitzvah students want to carry on with Hebrew now they've both completed their ceremonies. They've said they'd like to do a bit more conversational modern Hebrew as well as just practising prayerbook reading. Does anyone have any recommendations for textbooks?

The boys are 13 and 15, both reasonably academically able and reasonably committed. They can read fairly fluently, but have very little vocab or grammar at the moment. They're also extremely busy and probably won't have huge amounts of time for practice in between their fortnightly lessons. My options at the moment are:
The textbook recommended by the GCSE exam board. I'd generally like the boys to be thinking about GCSE sort of level, not that they hugely have to pass exams but as a streching, but attainable, target. The problem is that the book looks incredibly dated and dull and I don't feel inspired to teach from it!

Or Routledge Introductory Course in Modern Hebrew. I think this is basically aimed at beginners, but beginners who are university students or otherwise quite advanced in general language skills. It's really quite heavy on grammar, and might be overkill for a couple of years of informal lessons for teenagers.

I can't find anything I like better than these two options. I don't want a course that is primarily audio for self-learning, because I'm going to be there teaching and keeping up reading fluency is a big priority. And I don't want just a vocab list or beginners' dictionary. The younger boy suggested using a tourist phrasebook, which might work but ideally I'd like something more like a textbook and less like lists of phrases to rote learn.

Secondly, I still have not succeeded in giving the younger lad his bar mitzvah present, because everything I could think of is out of print and not for sale for reasonable money. I would like to give him a good work of popular non-fiction, something enjoyable to read but also informative. He's quite interested in politics and world affairs, which is a subject I know little about. And he's pretty bright but not especially precocious, I think he'd get more out of something accessible or even aimed at teenagers, than something hardcore academic.

I'm thinking something about the level of Jared Diamond's Guns, germs and steel, except not that because I'm now aware that Diamond not only plays fast and loose with scholarly accuracy, he conducted some rather unethical ethnographic research and published identifying stories about his subjects without their permission. And I have in mind that there used to be a journalist who did short programmes on Radio 4 about US politics and culture, and that he died a few years ago (?) and that prior to that he had written a book of anecdotes that this young man might enjoy, but that's not enough information to shake his name out of Google, does anyone have any clue whom I'm talking about?

So. Anyone who's taught conversational Hebrew, any recs? And in a less specialist query, what's the most interesting popular non-fiction book you've read lately?


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