Core Committee Established The SLA Committee for Language and Social Justice has now established its core committee, and is proud to welcome the new core committee members, Susan Blum and Hilary Dick. The Society for Linguistic Anthropology thanks Daniel Suslak and Patricia Baquedano-Lopez for their service on the LSJ committee. They have helped make the work for the LSJ Committee more visible and relevant to current debates and issues of social discrimination. If you are interested in participating in LSJ initiatives and campaigns, please contact Netta Avineri firstname.lastname@example.org or Robin Conley email@example.com to be added to the google group list. Recent posts about Language and Social Justice [Sports Mascots]
Word choice played an important role in Japan and South Korea’s agreement to support one another’s applications for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage listing. Japan’s Foreign Minister told reporters that ‘forced to work’ does not mean ‘coerced labor’. But that depends on what “mean” means.
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.
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.
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.
The Society for Linguistic Anthropology’s column in Anthropology News has been updated with an article by Christopher Ball, Alejandro Paz, and Michael Silverstein, entitled, “Teleologies of Structuralism.” Click here to read the article.
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.
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).
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.
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.