language links, linguistic anthropology

Language links 11/16/15

Every Monday, I share some of what I’ve been reading in the past week.


A history of racial categories: the U.S. census has used a whole bunch of different terms for racial groups since 1790.

Some of the sounds of our languages may be connected to the landscape.

Ross Perlin pointed me to a beautiful profile of Madeline Kripke, perhaps the world’s foremost dictionary collector:

Kripke has dictionaries that–as a fan of them myself–I’d never imagined existed, ranging from a four-century-old tome that looks like some ancient book of spells to miniature dictionaries small as postage stamps kept in lockets that double as magnifying glasses.

This popular article does a good job of compiling a handful of important studies about gender and conversational floor: Women get interrupted more than men, and men’s interruptions are more likely to be floor-taking than supportive. Not only do men talk more in meetings, they’re also more likely to be published and even retweeted.

I’m both a descriptivist — that is, someone who describes how language is used rather than prescribing how it should be used — and an editor. Stan Carey writes about his experience reconciling the two.

Sweet! Linguistics can help suss out academic fraud!

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