Two of my favourite linguabloggers, Lauren Gawne of Superlinguo and Gretchen McCulloch of All Things Linguistic, have teamed up to create a podcast called Lingthusiasm – so named because they’re enthusiastic about linguistics. If you share this enthusiasm and interest, you’re sure to enjoy their new show.
So far there are three episodes: on languages constructed to expedite world peace, and why they’re destined to fail; on the many types and functions of pronouns; and on the fine sci-fi film Arrival (2016), whose protagonist is a linguist encountering an alien language. At 30–35 minutes long, discussions stray into related topics without losing sight of the main current.
All the shows to date have been fun and illuminating, and I’m looking forward to hearing what they talk about next. Lauren and Gretchen know their stuff, have an easy rapport, and are skilled at pitching linguistic concepts to a general audience. I also like the mix of Australian and Canadian dialects.
You can tune in to Lingthusiasm on Tumblr, iTunes, Soundcloud, Facebook, YouTube, and so on, or you can use this RSS feed to download mp3s directly, as I’ve been doing. Happy listening!
Regarding languages constructed to expedite world peace: S.I. Hayakawa believed (but did he really believe?) that removing words like /hate/ from the national vocabulary would put an end to the emotion itself. (It seems to me that view overlooked other languages and the expletives and epithets they might have.) Hayakawa’s view on this point was probably contemporary with C.K. Ogden’s Basic English. The work of both men in this regard forecast language planning and present-day correctitude.
I think it was something about that era, including but not limited to the existential effects of war. Alfred Korzybski’s Science and Sanity and Stuart Chase’s The Tyranny of Words were popular around the same time (1930s) and warned of the subtle moral consequences of using or not using certain words and linguistic constructions.
Is Australian a dialect? I wouldn’t have said so, but it falls within the first few definitions of dialect that I read. Of course, Lauren sounds perfectly normal to me.
An Australian on a broadcast once said there are 23 different Australian accents. He didn’t enlarge on the statement, but
it’s an island-continent with room for diversity.
I’d always supposed that mainstream Australian derived from the English sub-speech of the south-east and London, and general N. American speech from the English West Country; and that it was a matter of seaports and their development, in the west first
and in the Thames Estuary later.
Cf. Spain and the port of Cadiz in regard to South American Spanish, and St. Malo in France in regard to Quebec French. The sailors from St. Malo voyaged far, they gave their name to Les Malouines in the South Atlantic, or British Falkland Islands. “Geography is destiny”, someone said.
Language atlases identify the many versions of English spoken in the U.S., but, I should think, balk at explaining how they diverged and developed so differently. And of course there are
so many versions of S. American Spanish and of Canadian French. A Guatemalan I asked on that point said he could easily differentiate among Hispanic nationalities from speech.
Marcel Marceau, the mime and linguist (!), demonstrated marvelously well the difference between the staccato of Iberia and the lilt of Mexico.
In a very broad sense ‘Australian’ is a dialect, hence my simplification; more accurately it’s a large group of more or less related dialects, the number depending on how you categorise them. The same applies to Ireland: I often refer to the Irish dialect (or accent), for convenience, but the description belies the country’s great linguistic variety.
To linguists, dialect is a value-neutral term: the way I and people around me speak is my dialect, and the way you and people around you speak is yours. Consequently, everyone speaks a dialect, and none are better or worse than any other except for particular purposes.
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