Annie Claus’s essay, “How a professional writer improved my academic writing” at Savage Minds is quite useful. She counsels academics to resist overly long sentences, to vary the structure of paragraphs, and to reflect on each element of the paper and what it contributes to communicating the message. I differ with Claus, however, in cautioning against a particular set of words. At the risk of being labeled a positivist, I’ve compared the frequency of “insipid grammatical markers” in American Anthropologist, the Corpus of Contemporary American English, and the work of Joan Didion. The results, to paraphrase an academic writing cliche, are a bit more complicated.
The Journal of Linguistic Anthropology is the primary publication of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology. This web site features a variety of information about the journal, and links to additional content from the American Anthropological Association and Wiley Online Library.
A report on Fox News intimates that a course using Jane Hill’s Everyday Language of White Racism is problematic. It is not clear from the report whether anyone at Fox News read the book.
The January 7th attacks in France caused great sadness, anger, and fear. They also occasioned outpourings of support, and analyses of what went wrong. Some responses assert that religiously inspired terrorism is “unique” to Islam. Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian violence show that this is incorrect. Understanding religious violence requires careful analysis, not easy assertions.
In the latest SLA column at Anthropology News Anna Babel discusses how being a near-native speaker of Spanish complicates her role as insider/outsider in Bolivia.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2014 Society for Linguistic Anthropology prizes.
See the full list of this year’s prize winners, plus past years’ winners on the SLA Prizes page.
The latest SLA column at Anthropology News is now available. Shunsuke Nozawa’s “Contact and Its Allure” explores phatic communion, isolation and social relations, the role of technology, and more in Japan’s “It’s me” fraud. Nozawa draws on his own field work, Japanese media coverage, and a range theory in anthropology to analyze how fraud is experienced and understood in contemporary Japan.
Japanese media use the label “Lehman shock” to refer to the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent shocks. The phrase “financial crisis” occurred frequently in 2008 but has dropped ever since. “Lehman shock” endures, even though Lehman Brothers was neither the first nor the largest institution to fall.
This year’s list of language-related panels and activities at the American Anthropological Association’s Annual Meeting, to be held December 3-7 in Washington, DC
Press coverage of Dan Jurafsky’s The Language of Food exposes readers to linguistic ideas ranging from etymology and vocabulary to pragmatics, the philosophy of language, computational linguistics, corpus studies, and linguistic anthropology. Here is a brief round-up of the stories.
Susan Blum and Kathleen Riley offer a critical evaluation of programs designed to close the “language gap” between disadvantaged and middle-class children at Anthropology News.
Linguistic anthropologist Robin Shoaps examines how American conservatives outside of media punditry engage with the American Right’s claims of embattled minority status in this month’s Anthropology News.
The newly created SLA Award for Public Outreach and Community Service honors an SLA member or members for work that effectively impacts public awareness of social issues involving language and communication and/or represents a significant service to a particular community outside of the academy. Applicants may self-nominate or consent to the nomination of others.
Aaron Ansell of Anthropology News investigates language ideology and the US Supreme Court with a look at recent decisions related to campaign spending and First Amendment rights, “Auctioning American Democracy”.
Voting in American Anthropological Association elections is open until 31 May at 5:00 pm Eastern time. Members can access the ballot by logging on to AAA’s AnthroGateway web site.
A story by Beth McMurtrie in the Chronicle of Higher Education asks what ethical obligations historians have to people they interview. This is, in my opinion, an issue of tremendous importance for linguists, anthropologists, and all scholars who work with human subjects.
“If you choose an answer at random, what is your probability of being correct?” The question is, I think, pragmatically ambiguous. It features neither lexical nor structural ambiguity, yet the joke hinges on understanding the question in more than one way.
A table of language-related panels and activities at the American Anthropological Association’s 2013 Annual Meeting
Why am I uncomfortable with talk of evolution in the news? Maybe I’m hearing echoes of Herbert Spencer. A brief exploration of Terry Gross and Daniel Lieberman’s discussion of The Story of the Human Body, and my own discomfort with the necessary simplification of complex ideas
The Committee on World Anthropologies of the American Anthropological Association announces a web-based seminar from the World Council of Anthropology Associations, “Language and anthropological knowledge”, through 15 October.