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.
The phrase, “women and children” to mean non-combatants killed by war strikes me as somewhat outdated. Non-combatants are not necessarily women or children, and women and children are not necessarily non-combatant. The phrase might risk a mis-recognition of the nature of political violence and its victims.
The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer says conservative Evangelical Christians view President Obama as “the avatar of godless socialism”. Do American Christian conservatives use ‘socialist’ to mean ‘insufficiently religious’? If so, their usage parallels that of Osama bin Laden.
Record fans insist that the plural of ‘vinyl’ to mean “a vinyl record” is the zero-plural ‘vinyl’. This irregular form serves as a shibboleth for audiophiles. Since the form was regular (‘vinyls’) during the 1960s, I conjecture that the irregular form must have arisen relatively recently.
Chad Nilep reflects on work with Akiyo Cantrell to analyze reports from the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and its aftermath. Evacuees from Fukushima face discrimination based on vague fears of radioactivity or other danger. Nilep expresses hope that academic work can make a positive contribution to recovery.
Lauren Collister, a Ph.D. candidate in sociolinguistics at the University of Pittsburgh, describes how digital ethnography deepened her understanding of multimodal communication within a team of World of Warcraft game players. Players use text, voice-over-IP talk, and face-to-face talk to accomplish distinct functions.
NPR’s Morning Edition and the Sunlight Foundation suggest that congressional speech-making is becoming less sophisticated. The presentation appears to validate conventional wisdom that American politics has taken an anti-intellectual turn of late, but the story shows flawed methods coupled with confirmation bias.
The 2013 LSA Linguistic Institute is currently soliciting proposals for workshops and conferences. If you’ve been thinking about a workshop you’d like to create, this would be a great opportunity.