linguistic anthropology

Linguistics and “the smell test”

In the last few days, the President of the United States fired the sitting Director of the FBI, who was in the middle of an active investigation against him. And lots of folks are saying this firing “doesn’t pass the smell test.” And a linguistic analysis can help us understand why: taking a close look at the President’s letter reveals his logic.

Note: in the day or so between I started writing this post and finished it, it’s already obsolete from a news perspective, since the President has shifted his rationale. Among the things that have happened since then: the press secretary hid in the bushes “stood alongside tall hedges in the darkness.” But from the perspective of learning about language, it’s still kind of fun.

 

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anthropology

The ethnographer as guest

Ethnographic and interview methods are, by their nature, interactive. But that means researchers have to account for a unique variable: themselves.

Even physicists complain about the observer’s paradox — the act of observing changes the thing being observed. And it’s only truer when the thing being observed is not a thing but a person.

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