Recent books from Stanford-connected authors, some my colleagues, some my former students (so I have warm feelings). Two in sociolinguistics / educational linguistics, one on the (gasp) morphosyntax-phonology interface.
Archive for the ‘Sociolinguistics’ Category
Yesterday on NPR’s Morning Edition, a piece announcing a new NPR feature:
NPR Team Covers Race, Ethnicity And Culture (by David Greene and Gene Demby)
NPR this week is introducing a new team that will cover race, ethnicity and culture. Code Switch is the name of the new blog. Code-switching is the practice of shifting between different languages or different ways of expressing yourself in conversations.
Greene and Demby chat for a while about code-switching, with examples, bringing in linguist Tyler Schnoebelen as a consultant at one point. But if you read the transcript rather than listening to the segment, you might be puzzled.
Arne Adolfsen recently reported on Facebook that he’d been hearing the hit television show The Big Bang Theory. (Yes, hearing, not listening to, and certainly not watching. The show goes on in a room next to the one he’s in. He avoids it, because he hates the very obtrusive laugh track, an antipathy I sympathize with.) He’s formed the opinion that all of the male characters are gay, because of the way they talk [because of the phonetics of their talk. which is all he has to go on — see comments]. (Possibly relevant fact: Arne is gay.) Yet they’re all presented as straight — and awkwardly pursuing women — and the actors playing them all seem to be straight in real life [which is to say: there’s an apparent disjunction between orientation as perceived from phonetics and orientation as presented in the story — again, see comments]. Where does Arne’s impression come from?
On television, an ad for ChristianMingle.com begins “Single Christian? Good news!” and promises to “Find God’s match for you”. What does the noun Christian mean in this context? Not, I am sure, what NOAD2 says:
a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.
and certainly not the very broad sense in this quote from Anita Loos’s A Girl Like I (NY: Viking, 1966), pp. 195-6:
This small bouquet of words is quite insufficient to express the fondness and gratitude I shall always feel for Joe [Schenk]; it often strikes me that one of the best Christians I’ve ever known was a Jew.
Loos’s noun sense is the one related to a use of the adjective Christian that NOAD2 characterizes as informal:
having or showing qualities associated with Christians, esp. those of decency, kindness, and fairness.
Instead, Christian dating and matchmaking sites are using a much narrower sense of Christian, roughly ‘evangelical Christian’, with a specific sense of evangelical that excludes much of mainstream Christianity.
Damien Hall on the Variationist List today noted that the Queen’s Christmas Message will soon be upon us, and pointed to research on changes in the Queen’s variety of English over the years, using these broadcast messages as data.
The way the press reported this research is a story in its own right.
From Corry Wyngaarden va Chris Ambidge, a link to a recording (with slides) of “I can has language play: Construction of Language and Identity in LOLspeak”, a presentation by Jill Vaughan and Lauren Gawne at the Australian Linguistics Society annual conference 2011: a paper on LOLcats as language play and as construction of double identities, as a cat and as a savvy internet user.
The LOLcat genre displays text (usually in a characteristic font) associated with cute cat photos (or in later developments, other photos, as here). Though it’s displayed as a caption, the text, with its language play, is the point.
Haefeli cartoon in the latest New Yorker (November 21st):
The power of accents. Everybody knows, at some level, that our speech styles vary according to social context — who we’re talking to, about what, for what purposes — but most of us tend to assume that this variation is under conscious control, that people “put on” accents for some purpose, though linguists point out again and again that this degree of control is essentially impossible, that almost all of this style shifting has to be unconscious. But other people are often sensitive to these shifts, though again almost entirely at an unconscious level.
In the cartoon, the “Brooklyn” in her voice is surely not something she’s projecting willingly, but he’s aware of it and interprets it consciously. But not necessarily accurately — though it makes a wry joke.