Sometimes what I read tells me what to write about. Other times the hints come from what I watch. This time it’s both. First I read a line in Richard Pryor’s autobiography Pryor Convictions with this mighty stack of intensifying negatives:
Don’t never tell nobody not to use no double negativesFebruary 27, 2023
44 Comments | dialect, grammar, language, language history, linguistics, pragmatics, speech, syntax, usage, writing | Tagged: ambiguity, descriptivism, dialect, double negatives, grammar, language, language history, language myths, linguistics, misnegation, multiple negation, negation, negative concord, Otto Jespersen, politics of language, pragmatics, prescriptivism, Richard Pryor, sociolinguistics, speech, standardized English, syntax, usage, usage myths, writing | Permalink
Posted by Stan Carey
Book review: Abby Kaplan: ‘Women Talk More than Men: And Other Myths about Language Explained’August 14, 2016
Humans are highly prone to cognitive bias. We habitually make bad judgements and draw unreasonable inferences from the available facts. These tendencies lead to many myths that persist in popular culture, and our beliefs about language show the power, prevalence, and persistence of such myths.
We may believe, for instance, that dialects are substandard English, or that texting harms teenagers’ literacy, or that women talk more than men. This last myth gives the name to an excellent new book of popular linguistics by Abby Kaplan, a linguistics professor at University of Utah: Women Talk More than Men: And Other Myths about Language Explained. Cambridge University Press kindly sent me a copy for review.
The book has 11 chapters, one myth per chapter. Each is structured logically, like a textbook, starting with an overview of popular ideas about a topic, comparing them with what linguists have found, and finishing with a conclusion, summary, bibliography, and so on. The bulk comprises a careful case study aiming to resolve a key question: Can animals talk to us? Are some languages more beautiful than others?
18 Comments | book reviews, books, language, linguistics, science | Tagged: Abby Kaplan, bilingual, book review, books, Cambridge University Press, language, language myths, linguistics, reading, research, science, social science | Permalink
Posted by Stan Carey