language links, ling-anth links

Language links 10/9

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

A Canadian supermarket chain just rolled out indigenous language signage. It’s a brilliant move — it raises the prestige of the language, raises awareness for everyone, and provides an easy way to teach a little bit.

“You keep using that phrase (‘freedom of speech‘). I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Say it again, for the people in the back: grammar (and ‘grammar’) is political. “But what kind of grammar should be taught? The prescriptive kind doesn’t really work when you live in a world of change. It might be attractive to a certain kind of person because it symbolises an adherence to tradition and offers the possibility that change can be stopped or at least slowed down, but I don’t really buy that view. The problem with a prescriptive approach to grammar is often that it goes beyond what grammar really is (word classes, clauses, phrases and all that stuff) and into the policing of all forms of language – accents, dialects, slang and even body language and tone of voice.”

It’s the time of year where I spend way too much time looking at All Things Linguistic’s Halloween costume posts.

I just discovered the French government’s guide to egalitarian language. This is my pleasure reading this week, y’all. From the short list of recommendations (p. 66, translation mine & pretty loose — apologies for any errors; feel free to correct me in comments or by email and I’ll improve it):

“Make sure to have a comparable number of women and men

  • in images and videos;
  • as the object of any statement;
  • as event speakers, as well as their actual time talking;
  • represented in the names of streets, buildings, equipment, and rooms.”

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