Category: forensic linguistics

Episode 294: Trademarks and Slurs (featuring Simon Tam)

Freedom of expression is again in the news.

Simon Tam has won his case before the US Supreme Court, allowing him to trademark the name of his all-Asian rock band, the Slants. But this ruling opens the door to people who want to trademark other offensive names — or hold on to existing ones. Is that okay? How do we distinguish between reclamation and vilification?

Linguist Daniel Midgley talks it over with Simon Tam on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Kylie Sturgess


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Show notes

Abraham Lincoln’s Bixby Letter Mystery Finally Solved After 150 Years
http://www.newsweek.com/abraham-lincoln-bixby-letter-john-hay-jk-rowling-639788

Abe Lincoln mystery ‘almost certainly’ solved using technique that unmasked JK Rowling
https://phys.org/news/2017-07-abe-lincoln-mystery-technique-unmasked.html

Joe Nickell’s analysis
Google Books link

Great slides from Andrea Nini
https://niniandrea.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/lss_bixby.pdf

Paper: Attributing the Bixby Letter using n-gram tracing
https://www.dropbox.com/s/yifszl1aes2ovqx/BIXBY_FINAL.pdf?dl=0

The Slants’ Simon Tam Wins Supreme Court Case to Trademark Offensive Band Name
https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/06/the-slants-win-lawsuit-to-keep-offensive-name.html

Supreme Court: Rejecting trademarks that ‘disparage’ others violates the First Amendment
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-rejecting-trademarks-that-disparage-others-violates-the-first-amendment/2017/06/19/26a33ffa-23b3-11e7-a1b3-faff0034e2de_story.html

An indie rock band just cleared the way for the Washington Redskins to keep their racist name
https://qz.com/1009567/the-washington-redskins-could-keep-their-racist-name-thanks-to-a-supreme-court-ruling-over-an-asian-american-rock-band/

Rock band The Slants’ victory in court secures your rights
http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/19/opinions/free-speech-scotus-randazza-opinion/index.html

Listen to The Slants: The Band Who Must Not Be Named
http://www.theslants.com/album/the-band-who-must-not-be-named/

Seattle band Thunderpussy awaits Supreme Court ruling on controversial names
http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/northwest/thunderpussy-disparaging-or-empowering-seattle-band-awaits-us-supreme-court-ruling-on-controversial-names/

Facebook community standards under scrutiny as out and proud ‘dykes’ banned
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-06/facebook-banning-algorithims-block-lesbians-from-using-dyke/8676284

Richard Dawkins deplatformed at a book talk in Berkeley for “abusive speech” about Islam on Twitter
https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/richard-dawkins-deplatformed-at-a-book-talk-berkeley-for-abusive-speech-about-islam-on-twitter/

Richard Dawkins’ Open Letter to the People Who Canceled His Event
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/07/21/richard-dawkins-open-letter-to-the-people-who-canceled-his-event/

Organizations have the right to not invite Richard Dawkins — or me — to speak
https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2017/07/22/organizations-have-the-right-to-not-invite-richard-dawkins-or-me-to-speak/#ixzz4nnYh6vCg

‘Disinvite’ or ‘Uninvite’?
https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/disinvite-vs-uninvite


Show tunes

Find the tracks we play on the RTRFM webpage for this episode.

Image credit: Simon Tam

Episode 204: Shibboleths

A shibboleth can mark you as a insider… or an outsider.

Shibboleths can be words, phrases, or even sounds, but getting them wrong can lead to social or political exclusion, and in some cases, they can be fatal.

Linguist Daniel Midgley gives himself away on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Em Burrows


Show notes

Flat Adverbs Are Flat-Out Useful
http://www.dailywritingtips.com/flat-adverbs-are-flat-out-useful/

Banned words and flat adverbs
https://stancarey.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/banned-words-and-flat-adverbs/

Nando’s: ‘Eat interesting’
http://mumbrella.com.au/nandos-eat-interesting-89851

A complaint about Nando’s
https://www.facebook.com/nandosaus/posts/10151492978849843

Grammatically Incorrect Slogans
https://frtim.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/grammatically-incorrect-slogans/

Wikipedia: List of shibboleths
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_shibboleths

Disney Research creates method enabling dialogue replacement for automated video redubbing
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-04/dr-drc041715.php

A Mouth Full of Words: Visually Consistent Acoustic Redubbing
http://www.disneyresearch.com/publication/a-mouth-full-of-words-visually-consistent-acoustic-redubbing/

“MEDIEVAL LAND FUN-TIME WORLD” EXTENDED TRAILER — A Bad Lip Reading of Game of Thrones
https://youtu.be/5Krz-dyD-UQ

‘Shibboleth’ in the Old Testament
http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kemmer/Words/shibboleth

My blog post about ‘shibboleth’: Gospel Doctrine for the Godless
http://www.godlessdoctrine.com/2014/05/ot-lesson-19.html

Wikipedia: Frisian peasant rebellion
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arumer_Zwarte_Hoop

Wikipedia: Parsley Massacre
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsley_Massacre

Foucault That Noise: The Terror of Highbrow Mispronunciation
http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/02/foucault-that-noise-the-terror-of-highbrow-mispronunciation/385229/

List of shibboleth names by which the privileged judge their inferiors
http://lazenby.tumblr.com/post/109628210407/list-of-shibboleth-names

Slate: How Do You Pronounce “Bon Iver”?
http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/02/13/bon_iver_pronunciation_how_to_pronounce_the_name_of_the_grammy_winner.html

How To Pronounce 18 Indie Band Names
http://indie88.com/how-to-say-indie-band-names/

Turkish sex worker dialect Lubunca liberates, stigmatizes LGBT community
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/1/17/turkish-languagesexworkers.html

Lubunca and the History of Istanbul Slang
http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/15704/lubunca-and-the-history-of-istanbul-slang

The secret language of Turkey’s LGBT community
http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-01-14/world-full-secret-languages-one-used-turkeys-lgbt-community

Diana Eades: Applied linguistics and language analysis in asylum seeker cases (PDF)
http://refugeestudies.org/files/appliedlinguisticsandlanguage_182.pdf

Tim McNamara: 21st Century Shibboleth: Language tests, identity, and intergroup conflict
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10993-005-2886-0#page-1

Immigration by Shibboleth By Michael Erard
http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/November-December-2003/story_erad_novdec03.msp

Monika S. Schmid: Treacherous shibboleths: Language as an indicator of origin (PDF)
http://www.let.rug.nl/languageattrition/Papers/SchmidInaugural2011.pdf

More from Monika Schmid: Language as a passport
http://theforeigner.no/pages/columns/language-as-a-passport/

What’s the deal with Mx?
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2015/05/06/whats-the-deal-with-mx/

Wikipedia: Mx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mx_(title)

Mx flagged as possible title for transgender and other gender neutral people, according to Oxford English Dictionary
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-05/new-title-for-transgender-and-other-gender-neutral-people/6447256

Oxford English Dictionary could soon include gender-neutral title ‘Mx’
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/oxford-english-dictionary-soon-include-gender-neutral-title-mx/

When was the Mx gender-inclusive title created?
http://practicalandrogyny.com/2014/08/28/when-was-the-mx-gender-inclusive-title-created/

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


Show tunes

Find the tracks we play on the RTRFM webpage for this episode.

Image credit: http://www.thebricktestament.com/judges/42000_ephraimites_killed/jg12_06b.jpg

Episode 160: Evidence for Innateness?

Are we hard-wired for language?

New studies have found that infants (and even adults) seem predisposed to certain combinations of sounds and words. But is this evidence for innateness, or is there another explanation?

Linguist Daniel Midgley takes us into a great debate on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with James Hall


Show notes

Forensic linguistics has found a likely candidate for the author of a crucial Bitcoin document
http://eandt.theiet.org/news/2014/apr/bitcoin-author-revealed.cfm

It’s Nick Szabo
http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/04/16/nick_szabo_bitcoin_forensic_linguistics_analysis_from_suggests_he_wrote.html

An article in the Daily Mail that seems very certain that language is innate.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2600623/Language-biological-instinct-Babies-dont-learn-develop-speech-theyre-BORN-ability.html

Slightly better ones from Science Daily.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140408122316.htm
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401102126.htm

The article in PNAS
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/03/26/1318261111

About the sonority hierarchy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonority_hierarchy

Australian languages show different phonological tendencies than does Italian: VC as well as CV (PDF)
http://dspace.flinders.edu.au/jspui/bitstream/2328/14408/1/2004053859.pdf

Learning can begin very early.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-26/unborn-babies-learn-sounds-of-speech3a-study/4541788
http://www.counselheal.com/articles/4097/20130226/premature-babies-decipher-sounds-syllables.htm

The ‘shoes blue’ experiment. With an opinion by Chomsky.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25334-born-to-chat-humans-may-have-innate-language-instinct.html#.U1Ie9V5sPnk

Banning ‘Nazi’ in Israel
http://forward.com/articles/190783/israel-proposes-bill-to-outlaw-use-of-the-word-naz/
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.568845
http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2014/3/24/will-israel-make-use-of-nazi-slurs-and-symbols-punishable-by-law#.U09jNF5sPnk


Show tunes

‘Bubble Baby’ by Clouds
from the album Favourites

‘Cry! Baby!’ by Bibio
from the album Ambivalence Avenue

Episode 129: Light Warlpiri

With so many dying languages in the world, it’s good to see new languages being born.

A brand new language has been discovered in the Northern Territory. It’s Light Warlpiri, and while it seems to combine English with the Australian language Warlpiri, it has grammatical rules that are entirely its own. What’s it like, and does it have a future?

Linguist Daniel Midgley gets into the mix on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Big news for this week’s show: A new Australian language invented by children. It’s not a pidgin. It’s not a creole. What is it? It’s a mixed language. What’s the difference?

So many questions! Why don’t you listen to the podcast, and follow the links on our Show Notes page. Then you’ll know all about it.

There’s a bit about linguistic forensics, and the upcoming ‘Dinner with Ben and Daniel’ to benefit RTRFM’s Radiothon. So exciting!

Oh, and one more thing — the day I feared has arrived. From doing so many shows with me, Ben has learned about as much about linguistics as I know. Check out his entirely accurate knowledge of the difference between pidgins and creoles. That’s fantastic, but also bad because I need him to ask the non-linguist questions (“So what’s a phoneme?” and so on). Then I give the answers. If he knows everything, what am I going to say? I’d better study harder and learn more.


Show notes

Forensic linguistics unmasks J.K. Rowling as author of well-reviewed novel
http://entertainment.time.com/2013/07/15/j-k-rowlings-secret-a-forensic-linguist-explains-how-he-figured-it-out/

And you can download JGAAP, the software used to unravel the mystery.
http://evllabs.com/jgaap/w/index.php/Main_Page#Downloads

Light Warlpiri: a new language spoken by under-35s in a remote community
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/science/linguist-finds-a-language-in-its-infancy.html?hp&_r=2&
http://www.smh.com.au/national/children-invent-new-language-in-remote-nt-community-20130716-2q1k6.html

Dr O’Shannessy’s paper (PDF)
http://www.linguisticsociety.org/files/archived-documents/Lg_J13_v89_O’Shannessy.pdf

The research goes back a ways. Here’s a 2005 paper in the AJL. (Paywall)
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07268600500110472#.Uejjyj6600N

Watch a video of the Monster Story in LW. (Warning: Contains monster.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4glr5gDon7g

Here’s a video of Professor Alan Dench discussing Light Warlpiri on television
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ejn4ARg_R7M

A bit about the Warlpiri language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warlpiri_language

A bit about Australian Kriol
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Kriol_language


Show tunes

‘Photon’ by Pantha du Prince and the Bell Laboratory
from the album Elements of Light

‘New Seeds’ by Boards of Canada
from the album Tomorrow’s Harvest

Episode 31: Who Wrote the Bible?

Scholars have long supposed that certain books of the Bible were written by a number of different authors.

Now a team of language researchers is using computers to determine Bible authorship, and they’re coming up with some surprising findings. Can text give an author’s identity away? How can computers determine who wrote what?

UWA linguist Daniel Midgley tells the story on this week’s Talk the Talk.


Listen to this episode

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Show notes

A good intro:
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/jazz/52100667-183/bible-software-text-author.html.csp?page=1

The ACL paper. Pretty readable, but mostly for hardcores. (PDF)
http://www.aclweb.org/anthology/P/P11/P11-1136.pdf

A really good series from the Straight Dope team about Bible authorship
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1985/who-wrote-the-bible-part-1

And something from the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible about discrepancies
http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/accounts.html

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