Fast and Furious: Linguistics Links

I’ve got linguistics links all over my computer (not saved systematically) for when I teach the intro to linguistics. That’s coming up next semester again.

I just got a new link and decided I should make a post and start throwing them in here.

Evolution of Word post:
That’s So Random: The Evolution of an Odd Word from NPR:

Random is a fighting word for young Spencer Thompson. The comedian posted a video to a Facebook page entitled I Hate When People Misuse the Word Random.

“The word random is the most misused word of our generation — by far,” he proclaims to a tittering audience of 20-somethings. “Like, girls will say, ‘Oh, God, I met this random on the way home.’ First of all, it’s not a noun.”

But these uses of the word are not incorrect, according to Jesse Sheidlower. He’s the elegant, purple-haired editor at large for the Oxford English Dictionary, which includes several definitions of the word random.

“It’s described as a colloquial term meaning peculiar, strange, nonsensical, unpredictable or inexplicable; unexpected,” he explains, before adding that random started as a noun in the 14th century, meaning “impetuosity, great speed, force or violence in riding, running, striking, et cetera, chiefly in the phrase ‘with great random.’ ”

Well, there’s a phrase that deserves resurrection. Sheidlower says that in the 17th century, random started to mean “lacking a definite purpose.”

Thanks to my colleague who sent it, Dr. Delony!

I also like this quote: “Perhaps unsurprisingly, nerds seized on random in the 1960s as slang.” Nerd power.

Notes from: The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell:

A post-game interview is a great way to ask players questions too complex for a simple survey sheet.
Note: Ask Chris, perhaps, about linguistics. And Leeanne.
Highlight: Have a script of questions ready when you interview people.
Note: Create this for individual classes AND gen questions

Notes on first day, that I tell them, but I think they forget.
Maybe I need to make a bigger deal out of it.

What is linguistics? Intro
Tools of analysis: sound system, morphology (word origins, morphemes), syntax, semantics
Do tiny practices so that the students will stay with the class. Did you know? Ideas to talk about:
Consonants and vowels— 5 minute segment on languages, kinds of gives examples
Use the Hawaiian.
First part of semester is based on these tools.
Why do we need these tools?
Complex discipline.
People need to have the same set of tools to describe whatever language they are working on.

Second half of semester:
Look at topics utilizing tools of analysis. This helps them use those tools.

Then we go into these notes:
Introduce What is Linguistics? Because it does a better job of describing the course.
Every English major has to take three hours of language: either linguistics or advanced grammar
They overlap in that there are morphology and syntax in both.

Majority of linguistics is about spoken language. So we are going to be emphasizing that.

Observers and recorders. That’s what we are going to be doing in class.

When you are using the phonetic alphabet, you have to HEAR what is actually pronounced, not SEE the word in your head. Most English students are good spellers, and good spellers tend to see the word when they think about the word, which is something that you will have to overcome to do linguistics.

Make sure to emphasize phonetics is NOT the same as phonics.
Phonetic alphabet, put up chart.
Have to get the students past the fear of looking silly.
Put your hand on your throat and make an s sound. Then a z sound. What is different? Then talk about voiced and voiceless. Use d and t. Make everyone look silly together.
When you do your homework, go in your room and shut the door. Tell your roommate you have to talk to yourself. You have to do this out loud.

Put your tongue right behind your teeth and then roll your tongue back until you almost choke yourself. Talk about what you feel. What are those? They matter for speech. Different sounds come different places.

Consonants = stopped sound

Do it (with the class, together). Show it (on a diagram).

University of Iowa
Phonetics: The Sounds of American English
Videos—shows an animation

Places of articulation and manner of articulation (look at these)
Narrowest area

Tell them we are going to be looking silly. All of us.

/i/ /I/ v

What’s your tongue doing?

Wordsmiths when you are done.
Playfulness of language and creativity of language

Bring your own examples…

Recursiveness of language = This is the House that Jack Built (book)

Language acquisition, order that children acquire phonemes→ Talk about names and 3 year olds and Joey (what would they say instead)
All languages use d, p…
Also the Explain Everything clip from James about jeeps.

Rule-governed (not haphazard… There was a descriptive grammar rule about what people do. Why did little kids call Joey Doey? Language that is rule-governed can be predicted—You don’t have to know every sentence in English in order to be able to say a sentence in English.)
Generating new words… to create a new word, using English phonetic rules: can start with an st- but can’t start with an ng- sound. Because it does not appear as an initial sound in English. But does in Vietnamese.

Sometimes the students get really upset because they have to learn information and a new procedure at the same time. Some of the test methodology is sufficiently different in linguistics… don’t want to get the methodology to throw them.
So the first RAT is on the syllabus. It’s a practice.

Give the practice exam before the real exam. They get to see how they are going to do the transcriptions… how they have to do the transcriptions, what I’m going to ask and how I’m going to ask it…

Stop students will breeze through it. Watch for mid-level students.
During the first half of the semester, the students hate the homework and hate the RATs. But by the end you will see how important it was and you will tell me to make sure the next class does it too.
May be left-brained for a group that are generally right-brained.
Much more of a social science. Think of linguistics more like a math class. Repetition of homework till you learn a new concept. Analytical component, until you get the rules, so you know how the rules work.
Study strategies for typical English class will not work here. Just do something very different. I know what you will need to do. That’s why I’m doing it this way. All homeworks are essential for the weekly RATs. The weekly RATs prepare for the midterm. It is not easy to catch up. You really have to stay on top of it.

Skills-based class. Memorize tons of stuff the first half of the semester. Till you think your head is going to explode. But it won’t. (Monty Python: can’t eat another bite)

Great clip on Youtube in The Pink Panther, Steve Martin is trying to learn an American accent. Trying to speak English with a French accent. This difficulty level –
Playing with the language. An American speaking English a French accent trying to fake learning an American accent. “I would like to buy a hamburger”

It’s not like History. You can’t read ahead. Don’t read ahead. You will get lost and you will waste your time. Don’t read ahead. Now if you want to read ahead.

Michaelsen: 3 tries, if you are sure it is true, put True true true
If you aren’t sure, put true true false

In teams, if the group is split, you can put different answers. Then someone will be right and someone will be wrong.

Need groups of 4 (ideal) or 5 (if necessary). NOT 3.

Also, Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, pages 192-201, is about status and how it impacts discussions.


Ha! And when I found those, I also found the book list for the December ordering that I started LAST YEAR but could not find this year. That was very helpful.

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