language links, linguistic anthropology

Language links 11/23

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


This might be the most fun thing I’ve read in a while: a linguistic analysis of the musical Hamilton.

What do Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have in common? A New York accent. In truth, the article is more about New York conversational culture than accent per se, and it does a good job of explaining it.

A few weeks ago, the U.S. census bureau released their report on language use in the U.S. There are some issues with it — for example, it’s not shocking that they found over 350 languages spoken when they code for 382 languages. If they were actually looking for every language spoken in the U.S., we’d be looking at something like 1,000. (The biggest gap is their insistence on not counting American Sign Language, which is really shocking.)

On the President’s language. The last paragraph is a linguistic goldmine of derivatives of a common vulgarity.

Charts about swearing. (h/t Strong Language)

Some cute charts defining words “phonetically.” (h/t Language Log)
What’s especially funny about these, to me, is that most of them assume a dialect of English that I don’t actually speak. Basically, New England, a chunk of Pennsylvania, and the entire American West don’t differentiate the vowel sounds in “cot” and “caught.” Say ’em out loud and see if they sound the same to you, or not.

(When I taught undergraduates, I used to point out that I speak a very vowel-intensive American dialect. Not only do I say “cot” and “caught” differently, I also have a three-way split between “merry,” “marry,” and “Mary.”)

Twitter can be used for dialectology research!

An exhaustive (?) list of words and phrases that are vulgar in one language but not another. Navigate to “real life” for a TON. (h/t Isaac Wolkerstorfer.)

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