Legendary linguist John Gumperz passed away recently, and leaves behind a body of work that changed linguistic study as we know it.

Gumperz was a pioneer of the burgeoning field of interactional sociolinguistics, and it explains how we understand each other — or misunderstand each other — across cultures.

Linguist Daniel Midgley gets social on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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John Gumperz was someone whose work I remember reading waaaaay back in my Linguistics study, back when I first became aware of sociolinguistics. Since he’s passed away, I thought it would be good to take a look at what he started. Interactional sociolinguistics, metaphorical code-switching — it’s all here.

The most interesting part about this podcast for me was how easy it was for Ben and me to come up with examples of all of the above. It’s just a part of our lives. Very relevant. See if you don’t agree.


Show notes

John Gumperz’s Wikipedia page
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_J._Gumperz

The New York Times obit, with the gravy story!
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/education/john-j-gumperz-linguist-of-cultural-interchange-dies-at-91.html?ref=languageandlanguages&_r=0

Ben Zimmer’s tribute on Language Log
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4546

and one from the Atlantic
http://m.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2013/04/john-j-gumperz-who-mapped-infrastructure-spoken-language-dies-91/5179/

Metaphorical code-switching
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphorical_code-switching

NPR’s article
http://www.npr.org/2013/04/03/176166674/linguist-did-pioneering-work-on-discourse-across-cultural-boundaries

Watch a bit of Crosstalk with John Gumperz. (RealPlayer, though. Ugh.)
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ANTH/emeritus/gumperz/gumptalk.html


Show tunes

‘Nicotine and Gravy’ by Beck
from the album Midnite Vultures

‘Too Nice to Talk To’ by the English Beat
from the album What Is Beat?