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(Socio-) Phonetics in the news

The Fresh Air interview of David Thorpe and Susan Sankin makes me look forward to Thorpe’s film, “Do I Sound Gay?” But Sankin’s suggestions that women and young people’s speech is pathological leads me to re-read Robin Lakoff, Deborah Cameron, and Nelson Flores.

Shifting your deictic center

In this guest post Anna Marie Trester, Director of the MA in Language and Communication (MLC) at Georgetown University, explains how the linguistic theory of deictics can help job seekers think about themselves from potential employers’ points of view.

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.

Variation in inflectional morphology

“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.

Wikipedia and the Academy

Barbara Johnstone (2011) “Making Pittsburghese” and Timothy Messer-Kruse (2012) “The ‘undue weight’ of truth on Wikipedia” present very different views of scholar’s experiences with Wikipedia. Johnstone’s evaluation is mostly positive, while Messer-Kruse’s is quite negative.

Year-end Roundup

In lieu of an inaugural posting as the in-coming digital content editor (it’s coming next year, I promise), enjoy this year-end roundup of ling-anth related stories.