language links, ling-anth links

Language links 2/27

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


In the age of Trump, euphemism is dead. “While ‘Call people what they want to be called’ is a good rule for writing about those who are marginalized, it becomes dangerous when it reinforces the power of those doing the marginalizing,” writes Sarah Grey.

The New York Times repeats common misconceptions about discourse markers, despite using three of them correctly in a headline. Thirty-odd linguists (including me) wrote them a letter about it, and I’ve responded more fully on this blog.

As someone who wrote my MA thesis, long ago, on food and language, I was particularly excited to see this article about the use of inclusive and compassionate language around food, particularly around food items whose names include terms that are otherwise derogatory.

A beautiful reflection on how conversations about race play out in personal relationships.

On ethnography as activism.

In my case, I speak and write fiction in Zapotec, and to give you an idea of how that language is structured I will use the example of the many metaphors in our everyday speech that are based on the word heart. There is the greeting ‘Nza nzo laxoa?‘ (‘How is your heart?’, which corresponds to ‘How are you?’). There are ways of describing moods: ‘nabil nzo laxond‘ (‘my heart is sad’), and ‘nalee nzo laxond‘ (‘my heart is happy’). There are also expressions that go deeper, such as ‘Na kap nak la, na nzod rend laxoa‘ (‘You feel nothing, there is no blood in your heart’).
Pergentino José Ruiz

Suzanne Wertheim’s “Ask the Conversation Doctor” series is always a good read. In Episode 3, she talks about what to do when your communication style and your boss’s communication style don’t match.

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