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Linguistic anthropology roundup #6

Speculative Grammarian tackles fieldwork

The Speculative Grammarian is a parody academic journal that describes itself as “the premier scholarly journal featuring research in the neglected field of satirical linguistics.”

I will admit that I seldom read SpecGram, as fans call it, since I don’t really enjoy its brand of humor, generally very dry, deadpan satire of academic writing and more specifically the discourse of descriptive and theoretical linguistics. This month, however, three different acquaintances commended the latest “Special Fieldwork Issue”.

On the principle of de gustibus non est disputandum and as your humble conduit, I present links to Speculative Grammarian’s Special Fieldwork Issue 1 (April 2010) and Special Fieldwork Issue 2 (May 2010). I did get a good chuckle from Elwin Ransom’s piece, “On the Applicability of Recent Theoretical Advances in Linguistics to the Practice of Fieldwork.” And really, what more can I demand for the price of my subscription?

The Simpsons question my life choice

Speaking of humor, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at this YouTube video: “The Simpsons – Comments about PhDs and Grad Students.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation responds to Arizona’s immigration bill

Last month Arizona passed the “Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” a controversial but popular law involving local police in immigration law by making it a misdemeanor to be in Arizona without carrying immigration papers. Many commentators responded at that time by drawing or recalling cartoons of Native Americans viewing Europeans as illegal immigrants.

Although the law does not officially go into effect until July, some local media outlets and several blogs have suggested that Native Americans as well as US-born Latinos are already being detained or harassed in Arizona, an apparent reversal of those cartoons.

Now the Muscogee (Creek) Nation is discussing a resolution that would condemn the Arizona law. A bill being discussed by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation legislative committee would declare that the tribe “opposes laws and policies that unfairly target minorities and supports other tribal nations that challenge these bills.” It also urges the state of Oklahoma, where the Creek Nation is located, to refrain from passing similar laws. Oklahoma House Bill 1804 would empower state and local police to enforce immigration law, similar to the Arizona law. It would also deny state services to people without proper documents.

Other tribal governments oppose the Arizona law.

In a similar note, Indian Country Today reports that many Native American governments, including the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, have opposed Arizona’s immigration enforcement law. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona and representatives of various tribes urged the Arizona legislature not to pass the bill, and are now apprising federal officials of their concerns.

In contrast, and despite the breadth of coverage of protests against the law, the Pew Research Center found broad support for the Arizona law, especially among older Americans. Most respondents (59%) approve of the Arizona law; 74% of respondents over 65 years of age report approval, compared to just 45% of those under thirty.

Unilateral hearing loss hurts language development

Science Daily reports on work by Judith Lieu and colleagues on the effects of unilateral hearing loss (loss of hearing in one ear) on language development and school success. According to Lieu, “For many years, pediatricians and educators thought that as long as children have one normal hearing ear, their speech and language would develop normally.” In work to be published in Pediatrics, Lieu and her coauthors argue that children with hearing loss in one ear — a condition that effects approximately one in twenty children — show lower scores on tests of oral language ability. The study does not show whether such hearing loss is similarly correlated with overall educational achievement.