Grammar is in the news this week, as Sufjan Stevens takes Miley Cyrus to task on her language usage.

And a school in the UK is banning slang.

What motivates these grammar grouches? And are their criticisms spot on, or all wet?

Linguist Daniel Midgley scans the headlines on this episode of Talk the Talk.


Listen to this episode

Or subscribe via iTunes
Click here for more options: How to listen to Talk the Talk


At the top of the show: Sufjan Stevens has burst into the War on Miley with… grammar? Is this appropriate?

In our second half: a UK school has banned certain words in an effort to raise the tone of the language students use. Hair-brained scheme, or quite reasonable, really? Since I’m a linguist and Ben’s a teacher, you can bet we’ll have some strong views.

And hey, Ben even brought a song. Good one, too; I hadn’t heard of Aesop Rock. You can probably count on him bringing a few more in.


Show notes

Farsi doesn’t have gendered pronouns. Who knew?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_grammar#Pronouns

Sufjan Stevens jumps into the Miley fray. I don’t think we can call it a ‘gate’ yet.
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/sufjan-stevens-and-sinead-oconnor-send-new-open-letters-to-miley-cyrus-8881904.html
http://au.eonline.com/news/469952/miley-cyrus-receives-more-open-letters-from-sinead-o-connor-and-sufjan-stevens

There’s actually an interesting discussion to be had here, as second- and third-wave feminists clash
http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/10/08/miley-cyrus-sin%C3%A9ad-o%E2%80%99connor-and-future-feminism

But you wouldn’t know it from Stevens’ pointless and incoherent rant about grammar.
http://sufjan.com/post/64008392202/dear-miley-i-cant-stop-listening-to-getitright
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/14/sufjan-stevens-miley-cyrus_n_4096651.html

A VICE copy editor goes to town on it.
http://assets.vice.com/content-images/contentimage/117650/sufjan-track-changes-big.jpg

Lay and lie are not really a problem.
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000877.html

Historically, they’re quite close. Right-click one of the Google Ngram lines to collapse them.
Link

So Faulkner got it right after all.
http://m.theweek.com/article.php?id=251254

A UK school has banned certain slang words.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-24522809
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2459502/Harris-Academy-London-bans-slang.html

They’ve banned ain’t
http://www.answers.com/topic/ain-t

bare
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bare

and extra.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=extra

Higgs extols ‘blue-sky research’.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24436781
http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/thesword/2010/05/we-need-to-protect-blue-sky-re.html

Quantum mechanics was blue-sky science once, too.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=everyday-quantum-physics


Show tunes

‘Jacksonville’ by Sufjan Stevens
from the album Illinoise

‘Big Bang’ by Aesop Rock
from the album Float