language links, ling-anth links

Language links 8/13

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

(You may have noticed I missed last week — I was on vacation.)

A new report considers dominant narratives about Native Americans in the US. On the negative side, media helps perpetuate stereotypes about Native Americans — but on the bright side, media can also provide a corrective. And speaking of media and representation, the NYT takes a look at the casting of Crazy Rich Asians.

Technology has unforeseen effects on language. For example, Google maps is impacting the way neighborhood names spread.

Bless Sarah Shulist, who refutes a whole bunch of annoying claims that linguists have made about language in the last week or so: “These two stories … [are] both based in a view of ‘meaning’ that is about words and conventional ‘definitions’. This is a position that is really pervasive in Western contexts, reproduced in educational practice, and manifested in the relationship that people have to texts like dictionaries (note here that I don’t mean the goal of lexicographers themselves – the people who make dictionaries can be profoundly aware of the instability and complexity of the meanings that they try to reduce to a clear definition and a few example sentences – but rather to the way laypeople come to use the dictionary to tell them ‘what a word means’).”

Yet another piece that uses Sorry to Bother You and BlacKkKlansman as an excuse to review a bunch of linguistic research on the topic. I am so here for this.

Exciting academic publication of the week: ‘Fake News’ as Floating Signifier.


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