written by Professor Bernard Spolsky
It’s great to be relevant! A few weeks after my sociolinguistic history of the Jewish people was published, a Reuters story highlighted a dispute between the visiting Pope Francis and the Israeli Prime Minister over the language spoken by Jesus (Reuter, 28 May 2014). “Jesus spoke Hebrew”, Netanyahu stated. “Aramaic”, responded the Pope. He almost certainly knew both Hebrew and Aramaic, and also Greek (and maybe a little Latin), I would have answered, as I did in one of the earliest studies that I published that marked my growing interest in the language of the Jews.
But this disagreement turns out to be only one the many examples of disputes that I found in my research. There are, I learned, . . . → Read More: Some unsolved questions about the languages of the Jews
By Ronald Batchelor
A most dominant factor in the use of language is register, or variety or level of language determined by the communicative situation in which the speaker/writer finds herself/ himself. In other words, the level of language we resort to depends, to a very large extent, on whether we are speaking with friends, which would attract a colloquial style, writing a letter, delivering a lecture involving a standard style, or writing a book frequently entailing a formal, elevated style of expression. Levels of language may therefore differ over a range from informal to formal, and are determined by four factors: sex, age, professional or social status, and intimacy. All these features affect, in varying degrees, the way we use language . . . → Read More: A note on Register, or Level of Language, in Spanish
Posted on behalf of Editors William Labov and Dennis Preston
Cambridge University Press is pleased to announce the launch of the new online-only Journal of Linguistic Geography (JLG). The journal’s goal is to open the flow of linguistic analysis using electronic formats (such as scalable maps and figures, searchable data sets, and embedded audio files) in a field that has long been blocked by technical factors. For all new subscribers, a comprehensive User Experience Guide provides an overview of the journal’s interactive capacities. Submissions to the journal are welcome and may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Queries are welcome, too.
The journal is an official publication of the International Conference on Methods in Dialectology. Editors Bill Labov (University of Pennsylvania) and Dennis R. Preston (Oklahoma . . . → Read More: Cambridge University Press announces launch of the Journal of Linguistic Geography
by Julie Tetel Andresen
Duke University, North Carolina
My favorite words in Romanian are those of Turkish origin. Because parts of present-day Romania were under Ottoman rule for a long time, it’s natural that Romanian would have lexical borrowings from Turkish. One is the word for tulip. Now, tulips are not native to Holland. They are native to Central Asia, and in the eighteenth century there was a craze for tulips at the Ottoman court, and images of tulips could be found on clothing and furniture, while real tulips flourished in gardens and parks. Still today the tulip is a symbol for Turkey. The English word ‘tulip’ comes from the Turkish word tulbend ‘turban’ because the flower resembles the shape of a turban. . . . → Read More: Romanian Words of Turkish Origin
by Professor Sali A. Tagliamonte
University of Toronto
Have you ever wondered about the weird ways of speaking of someone you know? In 1995, I moved to England from Canada, taking up a position at the University of York in Yorkshire. My colleagues came from all over Britain, the south, the north, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as other parts of Europe. The topic of dialect differences was in the air all the time as we compared our varieties of English. Surprisingly, despite the obvious phonological differences in my speech compared to all my colleagues, there were unexpected correspondences between myself and my Scots, Northern Irish and Northern English colleagues. In some cases, we had the same vowel merger . . . → Read More: A Layman’s Guide to “Roots of English”
A blog post by John L. Locke
It has long been known that men and women talk differently when conversing with members of the opposite sex. This has never been explained, but insights emerge from same-sex conversations where, free of the need to accommodate to each other, deeper differences between men and women readily bob to the surface.
In Duels and Duets, I claim that modern men and women talk differently because our male and female ancestors followed different evolutionary paths. Since men were selected to aggress and dominate, but could end up killing themselves, they needed a safer way of achieving their goals. Ritualized duels, using words instead of weapons, filled the bill. Verbal duels also provided a way for me . . . → Read More: Duels and Duets: Why Men and Women Talk So Differently
Written by Jeff Siegel
In Australia, the New South Wales state elections will be held on 26 March, and once again the American accent of the incumbent Premier, Kristina Keneally, has come into the news. Many of the issues discussed in the press and on blogs are reminiscent of the themes in my book, Second Dialect Acquisition.
Ms Keneally was born in Ohio to an Australian mother and an American father. She married an Australian, moved to Australia in 1994 and became a citizen in 2000. Although she now considers Australia her home and has only an Australian passport, she has not acquired Australian English. This is not surprising, since was 25 years old when she moved to Australia, and it . . . → Read More: Accent and dialect in Australian politics
Cambridge author Kim Potowski seeks to contribute to the appreciation and promotion of ethnolinguistic diversity in the United States:
Continue reading Language Diversity in the USA
“How does the language of developing African American English (AAE)-speaking children differ from that of their peers who are learning standard American English and other varieties of English? How does it differ from that of AAE-speaking adults in the same speech communities? Research on some topics in the study of the use AAE by adolescents and adults is well established; however, research on development and use of AAE by pre-school age children is limited. Language and the African American Child gives a linguistic description of patterns in the speech of developing AAE-speaking children who are growing up in small communities in the southern United States. As one of the few linguistic descriptions of child AAE, the book contributes to our understanding . . . → Read More: Language and the African American Child
“This is one of the first books to explore in depth the philosophical implications for religion, and by implication other areas of culture, of the new Rationalism tacit in cognitive psychology. Its approach to a renewed rationalism is Kantian in its underlying stance and develops a form of philosophical pragmatism based on Peirce. The book can be seen as a project which attempts to modernize and naturalize this historic tradition.
“Language and Religion is about the cognitive pragmatics of culture, with the world religions as the example. The term ”rationalism” is used in the sense of the claim that the architecture of the mind, with its innate mental representations, provides reliable knowledge independently of experience, knowledge which is a . . . → Read More: Language and Religion: A Journey into the Human Mind