linguistic anthropology

The semiotics of mansplaining

Q: Where does a mansplainer get his water?
A: From a well, actually.

You probably don’t need me to explain the joke, but just in case: the stereotypical mansplainer begins every sentence with Well, actually. At this point, we all share an association with those two words: they introduce (often-minor) correction delivered with a maximal dose of condescension.

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language links, ling-anth links

Language links 8/14: language limericks and women in STEM

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

Drop everything and read Merriam-Webster’s amazing usage limericks. My favorite (with a teeny-tiny edit for the sake of scansion):

If you’re a stickler for grammar, prepare
to be irked by the singular their
Tho it seems a mistake
The position we take
Is if the word’s in use we don’t care

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inclusive language, methods

The bonuses of singular ‘they’: anonymity and bias avoidance

I love singular ‘they’. Back in 2016, the American Dialect Society named it word of the year. And we all use it all the time. But that’s not why I’m so excited about it right now. I’m excited because it can help researchers, particularly if they’re working with qualitative data and thus with very small samples.

How so? Singular ‘they’ can help us anonymize our data.

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“The turn of the century”

I had to read the following paragraph three times to understand it: “There’s been interest in neural networks and analog computation and more statistical, as opposed to algorithmic, computing since at least the early 1940s, but the dominant paradigm by far was the algorithmic, rule-based paradigm— that is, up until about the turn of the century.” (Source)

That’s right, folks — people are using “the turn of the century” to mean the turn of the twenty-first century. I can’t articulate fully why I find this so strange, but I do.