Archive for the ‘Language in social life’ Category

Women’s jobs, men’s jobs, feminine language, masculine language

March 2, 2017

Another item from my blog backlog, this time a 2/17 piece by Claire Cain Miller in the NYT,  (in print) “Job Disconnect: Male Applicants, Feminine Language”, (on-line) “Job Listings That Are Too ‘Feminine’ for Men”. On the one hand, we have jobs that are widely considered to be the province of one sex rather than the other (and so are dominated by that sex). On the other hand, we have lexical items that have associations with one gender rather than the other. Meanwhile, there’s a need to attract more men into what have traditionally been “women’s jobs” — because that’s where the action is.

The article reports on research about how things might be jiggled in a positive direction via the way job ads are phrased. This can be only a small piece of a solution, but it’s a possible piece.

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Roll, Brittania

February 23, 2017

A piece in the NYT on the 20th, by Steven Erlanger, under the head

British Snobbery Still Found In Paychecks, a Report Says [in print]

Hear This: Class Pay Gap in Britain Shows Snobbery Persists [on-line]

To a (very) rough approximation: in the UK, the most significant social fact about a person, the thing you register first about them, is their class; in the US, it’s their race. What follows from this is that the most powerful forms of social discrimination in the UK are based on class, in the US on race. And while some advances have been made in reducing the baleful effects of these types of discrimination in both places, the fact is that great and shameful social disparities, seriously disadvantaging the disfavored groups, persist (and fuel angry backlash towards the favored groups). In particular, Britannia rolls on in her disdain for the working class, and the first and easiest signal of class identity (though not the only such signal) is language.

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Constructing a Voice of Authority through Persona

June 19, 2016

A highlight of Stanford’s graduation last Sunday for me was Andrea Lawson Kortenhoven’s “walking through” our departmental ceremony for her PhD in Linguistics, tentative title above. Something personal for me, since I had the pleasure of encouraging Angi when she was a BA student in Spanish at Ohio State (graduating 1995), before coming to Stanford. Her husband Matthew and their four kids were there to cheer her on; I wasn’t able to make it, but I was cheering.

First, a photo (courtesy of Lelia Glass) of Angi with her immediate academic family — her thesis advisers, sociolinguists Penny Eckert and John Rickford — then Penny’s summary of the dissertation, and then some remarks on Angi’s academic regalia in the photo (in black, green, gold, and red).

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More on sounding gay

July 10, 2015

Back on June 11th, I posted about the documentary “Do I Sound Gay?”, as I was about to be interviewed by a journalist about it. I had a number of critical things to say about parts of the film, though I didn’t post them here. Now NPR’s Terry Gross has interviewed two of the principals in it, the filmmaker David Thorpe and a speech pathologist, Susan Sankin, with whom Thorpe worked in an attempt to sound “less gay”.

Enraged by this interview, Sameer ud Dowla Khan (a phonetician at Reed College) wrote an open letter to Gross, which Mark Liberman has now posted on Language Log (with a link to Fresh Air and one to a transcript of the interview). Khan has many of the same criticisms of the interview that I had of the trailer for the film (I haven’t been able to view the whole film), both of which exhibit deep ignorance about simple (and well-known) facts about language in social life. Some excerpts from Khan’s letter follow.

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