Six videos about language

Rather than wait for the next linkfest to share these videos about language – there’s no telling when that would happen – I thought I’d bundle them all together. Most are bite-sized.

First up is Arika Okrent, whose book on conlangs has featured on Sentence first a few times. Her YouTube page has a growing selection of clips on various aspects of language, their charm enhanced by animation from Sean O’Neill. Here’s a recent one on animal sounds in different languages:

At The Ling Space, Moti Lieberman and team are prolific makers of entertaining videos aimed at people learning linguistics or interested in it. The Ling Space Tumblr blog supplements the videos with further discussion. This one is on the anatomy of the human voice:

Tony Zhou’s excellent Every Frame a Painting channel is about film-making. In August 2014 he made one about an emerging convention of presenting text messages in TV and film:

Macmillan Dictionary (for whom I write a regular column) is doing a series called Real Vocabulary that looks at disputed uses of certain words. They’re presented by language-teaching expert Scott Thornbury. In this one he discusses a newish use of the verb grow:

Kory Stamper of Merriam-Webster gave a fine talk last year about what happens when new words spread, why English is like a river, and how dictionaries fit in:

Finally, at the Linguistic Society of America’s recent annual meeting, John Rickford spoke about social attitudes to vernacular speech and linguistic prejudice against minority dialects. It’s comparatively long and detailed, but well worth it if you have the time and interest:

17 Responses to Six videos about language

  1. Moti says:

    Thanks for the very kind recommendation, Stan! It’s quite a good company to be in here. And I’m always happy for the reminder that you (and others) find our project useful. ^_^

  2. Vinetta Bell says:

    Thanks, Stan! I thoroughly enjoyed the first five videos and look forward to watching the sixth one, when time permits.

  3. Barb Knowles says:

    I just found your blog through “Discover” on WordPress. I’m a linguistics nerd and am already in love with your blog. I laughed out loud with the “Why Do Animals Make Different Sounds in Different Languages” video. I teach English as a New Language in a high school in NY State. My students will ask me why owls in NY make a different sound than owls in Latin America. “Buho” vs “Whooo”. It’s hard to get out of your own mindset.
    Part 2 of this long comment is that I’m learning Kichwa, an indigenous language, as well as an official language, of Ecuador. It is endangered, and mainly because it is, and has been disrespected by the colonial anti-indigenous powers. Kichwa is associated with poverty and being “backwards,” much as we in the US view “hillbillies.” Giving it the official language status has not swayed the public to embrace this other language and culture. I’m fascinated with this topic and am about to watch the Linguistic Society of America’s video.
    I’m very happy to have found your site.

    • Stan Carey says:

      Thanks for your very kind comment, Barb, and welcome to Sentence first. You’re right about mindsets; I’m reminded of Leary’s phrase ‘reality tunnels’ for the narrow, subjective worldviews and perceptions we each develop.
      In Ireland, the Irish language was similarly associated with poverty and backwardness for a time; that’s not the case any more, but the language will struggle to survive in the long term. I wish you well with Kichwa, and am sure you’ll appreciate Rickford’s talk.

    • Michael Vnuk says:

      As I understand it, there are many different species of owls, often with distinctive and characteristic calls. Therefore it is not surprising that people from different areas describe their calls in different ways, as they may be listening to different owls. What one needs to do is to find the same type of owl and see how different languages describe its call. Then the process would be similar to comparing pigs and dogs and cats across the various languages.

  4. The first vid was impressive. I had a realization after watching it because I have mingled with some Koreans, and have talked about animal sounds. At first it’s funny to hear the sounds of their animals which are, “kul-kul” for pig and “mang-mang” for dog.
    Then I realized it’s because of the language which really affects the animal sound that we give.

  5. astraya says:

    I’ve been making my way through the Ling Space since Gretchen at All Things Linguistics mentioned it. Disciplined viewing quickly turns to aimless browsing because Youtube keeps ‘recommending’ other videos.

  6. Arika Okrent says:

    Thanks, Stan! The question of representing texting in film is really interesting and that has great examples. I might post about that one (hat tip to you)

  7. Haley says:

    Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed the video by Arika Okrent! I always wondered why animals sound so differently in different languages and the explanation is actually so logic

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