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.
Recommendations for seeking letters of recommendation to graduate school from Judy Pine, Paul Garrett, Margaret Buckner, Oona Schmid, and Shannon Bischoff
From the American Anthropological Association blog we learn that the 100 articles most downloaded from Anthrosource during 2012 will be ungated for the summer. Anyone interested can read the articles on the Wiley Online Library during this period. The Top 100 list includes a number of terrific articles related to linguistic anthropology.
In this guest post Anna Marie Trester, Director of the MA in Language and Communication (MLC) at Georgetown University, explains how the linguistic theory of deictics can help job seekers think about themselves from potential employers’ points of view.
Elections for American Anthropological Association positions, including President-Elect, Executive Board members, and several committee positions, as well as elections for the Society for Linguistic Anthropology and other sections are open now until 31 May, 2013.
Members of SLA and AAA are issuing calls for papers to join panels for the AAA annual meeting via linguistic anthropology email list LINGANTH. Links to recent calls are here.
Gabriel Arana recently published a defense of creaky voice at The Atlantic. He notes that recent criticism of young women’s use of creaky voice, or “vocal fry”, is part of a long tradition of critiquing the speaking styles of less powerful groups of people. Arana’s conclusion that “normative judgments about linguistic prestige are relative, and merely reflect social attitudes” is absolutely correct and well-known to linguistic anthropologists and other scholars of language. The particular speech patterns he analyses to support his conclusion – up-talk, like, and creak – are somewhat questionable, however.
In 2011 the American Dialect Society listed ‘the 99%’ among its Words of the Year. In 2012 ’47%’ became the new politically-charged number. These numbers are connected in a way that might not be obvious.
Mitt Romney was recorded declaring, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.” Because they pay no income tax, Romney suggested, 47% of Americans are dependent on government. This resembles a charge made in 2011 by conservative activists at the53.tumblr, which in turn was a response to the Occupy Wall Street-affiliated wearethe99percent.tumblr.
The inaugural SLA presidential panel entitled: Frontiers in Methodology in Linguistic Anthropology has been organized for Thursday evening from 7:30-9pm in Union Square 22. Charles Goodwin, Marjorie H. Goodwin, Brendan O’Connor, Susan Philips and Deborah Tannen will be discussing how current theoretical interests within our subdiscipline have influenced how we do fieldwork. We encourage all the membership to come together to discuss and debate the current state of methodologies in our discipline(s).
Radio programs have recently celebrated a “new understanding” of the importance of preschool for success later in life. Related knowledge has been part of academic discussion for decades, but has had relatively little effect on how education is organized. To contribute to public understanding, I summarize Shirley Brice Heath’s “What no bedtime story means” (1982).
A preliminary schedule for the American Anthropological Association’s 2012 Annual Meeting has been released. This schedule includes more that 50 linguistic and language-related panel sessions.
Applications for AAA Committee on Ethics small grants for ethics curricular materials are due 2 November 2012. A grant of between $200 and $1,000 is available.
In this guest post Martha Sif Karrebæk relates how her Journal of Linguistic Anthropology paper, “What’s in your lunchbox today?”, became a topic of discussion in Danish mass media.
The AAA Nominations Committee is seeking nominations for open positions on the 2013 AAA ballot. The deadline for nominations in Monday 1 October 2012.
Recently I have been re-reading James Thurber’s “Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Guide to English Usage”, a parody of Henry Watson Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage. The parody is built around a central conceit: that a language usage guide is equivalent to lifestyle or relationship advice. This is not merely a conceit around which to build a parody; it is also a fair assessment of what usage guides are used for.
“Variable or non-standard realizations of inflectional morphology in English” sounds rather dry and academic, but the placement of suffixes within compound words or phrases can sound surprising and even amusing. Arnold Zwicky and Mark Liberman recently noted unusual verb conjugation. Non-standard pronouns can be equally interesting.