The Verbal Artistry of Julius Malema

LANGUAGE AND CULTURE The Verbal Artistry of Julius Malema From the Anthro News Blog Language and Culture Column. Guest Columnist Steven P. Black Steven P. Black, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University In November of 2011, political youth leader Julius Malema was suspended from the ruling party of South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC, once a primary force of organized resistance to the racist and oppressive governance known as Apartheid, refashioned itself with the guidance of Nelson Mandela into a party for non-racial government. Though the ANC is officially committed to non-racial democracy, not all of the party’s

Educating Tibetans in Tibetan?

A Fork in the Chinese Road: Educating Tibetans in Tibetan? Susan D. Blum December 23, 2011 Earlier this month a Tibetan monk set himself on fire. It was the twelfth incidence of Tibetan self-immolation by a monk or nun since March, according to unverified but plausible reports. These acts of desperation continue a long line of protests in China despite the Chinese government’s unyielding determination to keep Tibetans in line. What is called by protestors “cultural genocide” has many dimensions, not the least of which is language. When people’s religion, subsistence, and very language are attacked as unworthy, there are

Occupying Language

H. Samy Alim writing in the NY Times about “What if We Occupied Language?” When I flew out from the San Francisco airport last October, we crossed above the ports that Occupy Oakland helped shut down, and arrived in Germany to be met by traffic caused by Occupy Berlin protestors. But the movement has not only transformed public space, it has transformed the public discourse as well. Occupy. It is now nearly impossible to hear the word and not think of the Occupy movement. Even as distinguished an expert as the lexicographer and columnist Ben Zimmer admitted as much this

JLA “Racializing Discourses”

Journal of Linguistic Anthropology special issue, “Racializing Discourses,” now available online! Misty Jaffe and Paul Garrett are very pleased to announce the publication of the first-ever online issue of JLA. (Further information about JLA online issues is available here.) Guest-edited and with an introduction by Hilary Dick and Kristina Wirtz, this special themed issue includes articles by Kristina Wirtz (“Cuban Performances of Blackness as the Timeless Past Still Among Us”); Hilary Dick (“Making Immigrants Illegal in Small-Town USA”); Stanton Wortham, Elaine Allard, Kathy Lee & Katherine Mortimer (“Racialization in Payday Mugging Narratives”); Ryan Blanton (“Chronotopic Landscapes of Environmental Racism”); and

Marketing language abilities

April 15, 2011 No Comments Chad Nilep In the news, Language acquisition, Language and Political Economy

Recently some scholars in language acquisition and education have posted links on Facebook to the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (henceforth CCFC), which is asking the US Federal Trade Commission to stop the company Your Baby Can Read (YBCR) from advertising its products. According to CCFC, YBCR sells a system that promises to teach babies to read by watching DVD videos and using flash cards. I should say that all I know about YBCR, apart from what is alleged in the CCFC complaint, is what I’ve seen in their television commercials; I’ve never used or evaluated their products. CCFC

Increasing number of US students study ASL

According to an article in the New York Times, American Sign Language is now the fourth most-studied language among US college and university students. While enrollment in foreign-language courses generally has held steady or increased only modestly, enrollment in ASL courses increased more than sixteen percent between 2006 and 2009. Instructor Amy Ruth McGraw suggests that students may switch to ASL after struggling to learn other languages. But if the cause of their difficulty “was memorizing vocabulary and grammar,” McGraw points out, “this isn’t going to be any better.” For information on academic research of American Sign Language since the

Your own private griot

September 13, 2010 3 Comments kerim In the news, Language and Gender, Language and Political Economy

P. Kerim Friedman, NDHU In her now classic 1989 paper on language and political economy, Judith Irvine talked about situations where language doesn’t merely index political and economic relations in the way that accent is linked to class in Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” but where speech acts are themselves a form of political and economic economic activity. Her example is that of the Wolof griot “whose traditional profession involves special rhetorical and conversational duties such as persuasive speechmaking on a patron’s behalf, making entertaining conversation, transmitting messagesto the public, and performing the various genres of praise-singing.” She discusses how while not anyone can