language links, ling-anth links

Language links 4/10

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


A beautiful article about forgetting your first language.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ideas about language are really just ideas about speakers, not ideas about sounds or words. The proof’s in the way we respond to /x/ — it’s a sound that people associate with Arabic and German and think of as harsh, but it’s just as common if not more so in French and Spanish. And yet…

The Oxford Dictionaries just put out a glossary of Trumpian vocabulary you didn’t know you needed. Words included: snowflake, gaggle, surrogate, recuse, alternative facts, misdirection play,

On the racism and misogyny behind “cuck.”

“…Isn’t it about time we stopped assuming the linguistic patterns of women and young people are destructive and should change?” —Chi Luu. (As a bonus, this article does quote me, but it would be spectacular even if it didn’t.)

A series of increasingly infuriating gender bias riddles from McSweeney’s.

The micro-level of interaction reproduces and recreates macro-level social inequality. Interruptions provide a particularly clear example, particularly this study on interruptions in the Supreme Court. The power imbalances are always deniable in the individual interruption — perhaps you’re just particularly impatient or excited — but the patterns they add up to are much, much harder to deny.

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