Oh, pants

January 21, 2016 No Comments Chad Nilep Folk Linguistics, In the news , ,

If a dog wore pants, would word meaning help us decide what they should look like? Using prototype theory and native speaker judgements, we find no clear, shared definition of the word ‘pants’. The results point to gradient understanding of meaning.

Update on the SLA Committee for Language and Social Justice

December 13, 2015 1 Comment Diego Arispe-Bazán (SLA Web Assistant) Announcements, In the news, JLA, Language and Social Justice, SLA

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 navineri@gmail.com or Robin Conley conleyr@marshall.edu to be added to the google group list. Recent posts about Language and Social Justice [Sports Mascots] 

Religious terrorism is sadly not unique

January 19, 2015 1 Comment Chad Nilep In the news , , ,

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.

Shock. Lehman shock.

November 25, 2014 3 Comments Chad Nilep In the news, Words , , , ,

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.

New SLA Anthropology News Column

October 18, 2013 No Comments Diego Arispe-Bazán (SLA Web Assistant) AAA, Announcements, In the news, JLA, SLA, SLA Section News

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. 

Arana: Good sociolinguistic conclusion despite questionable examples

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.

Where have all the numbers gone? (Or 1 + 99 = 53 + 47)

December 5, 2012 No Comments Chad Nilep Discourse, In the news , , ,

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.

Why preschool hasn’t saved the world

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).