Category: language and the law

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 155: The Language of Denialism (featuring Kylie Sturgess)

How do you convince others of your views when the facts are overwhelmingly against you?

If you’re one of the many hoaxers, cranks, and denialists out there, you use language. What rhetorical tactics do they rely on, and how can you spot them?

Skeptic Kylie Sturgess joins Daniel and Ben in the studio on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with James Hall


Show notes

A device that will try to decode dog thoughts.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/checking-the-claim-this-device-would-allow-dogs-to-talk-like-humans-180949895/?no-ist
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/no-more-woof

‘Far Side’ cartoon: What dogs really say.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GqtGgbvgjsA/T1jOSuHvSGI/AAAAAAAABC4/4yy1fceJiXk/s1600/what+dogs+really+say,+from+The+Far+Side+by+Gary+Larson.jpg

Kylie Sturgess: Token Skeptic
http://tokenskeptic.org

Token Skeptic blog
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tokenskeptic/

The AVN changes its name to include ‘skeptic’
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-11/nsw-anti-vaccination-group-changes-its-name-after-complaints/5312910

Here are some of their tactics.
http://www.danbuzzard.net/journal/anti-vaxxers-resort-to-vandalism.html

Anti-vaxxers are bringing back diseases that were once under control.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/13/thanks-anti-vaxxers-you-just-brought-back-measles-in-nyc.html

How anti-vax is being challenged on many fronts in Australia (not just the business of skeptics!)
http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/retreating_to_the_church_of_anti-vaccination/

Here are some ideas for how to communicate climate change.
http://talkingclimate.org/guides/language-words-phrases/

Here’s a plain-language guide to climate change
http://nas-sites.org/americasclimatechoices/events/a-discussion-on-climate-change-evidence-and-causes/

How to estimate the risk involved in climate change
http://news.discovery.com/earth/global-warming/understanding-the-probabilities-of-climate-science-130929.htm

‘Warmist’
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Warmist

Kylie’s interview on GM foods with Dr Ashley Ng
http://tokenskeptic.org/2012/10/04/one-hundred-and-thirty-nine-on-the-seralini-affair-and-gm-foods-interview-with-dr-ashley-ng/

Skeptical Science: Rebutting climate change denialists’ arguments
https://www.skepticalscience.com

Linguistically modified foods? How language shapes our perception of GMs.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/food-matters/2013/09/25/linguistically-modified-foods-how-language-may-shape-perception-of-gms/

“Fear and Politics” by Carmen Lawrence
http://scribepublications.com.au/books-authors/title/fear-and-politics/

The Rod Lambert’s interview mentioned near the end of the interview
http://theconversation.com/facts-wont-beat-the-climate-deniers-using-their-tactics-will-24074

Tape measure? How about a ‘roll of inches’?
http://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/1zon1v/my_russian_wife_was_trying_to_say_tape_measure/
http://cheezburger.com/212229


Show tunes

‘Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine’ by the White Stripes
from the album Elephant

‘Do You Believe Her?’ by the Raveonettes
from the album Whip It On

Episode 18: App

Apple has apps. It even has an App Store.

But now Microsoft has challenged Apple’s attempt to trademark “App Store”, and Amazon wants to have its own Appstore. Is that allowed? Companies get to trademark words and terms they invent, but what happens when those words enter the public lexicon?

UWA linguist Daniel Midgley gets proprietary on this week’s Talk the Talk.


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Show notes

Microsoft v Apple
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2382968,00.asp
http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2011/03/trademark

Apple v Microsoft
http://www.itnews.com.au/News/249911,apple-hits-back-in-app-store-trademark-row.aspx
http://www.techeye.net/business/apple-and-microsoft-hire-cunning-linguists-over-app-store

Apple v Amazon
http://www.engadget.com/2011/03/21/apple-sues-amazon-for-app-store-trademark-infringement/

Linguists are getting involved
http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/microsoft-and-apple-hire-linguists-to-dispute-app-store-claim/
http://socialbarrel.com/apple-and-microsoft-%E2%80%9Capp-store%E2%80%9D-war-becomes-battle-between-linguists/5586/
http://www.techeye.net/business/apple-and-microsoft-hire-cunning-linguists-over-app-store

Apple sure has a lot of trademarks
http://www.apple.com/legal/trademark/appletmlist.html

“App” is 2010 ADS Word of the Year
http://www.americandialect.org/index.php/amerdial/app_voted_2010_word_of_the_year_by_the_american_dialect_society/

About genericide
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genericized_trademark
http://www.dailywritingtips.com/are-you-guilty-of-genericide/
http://www.rinkworks.com/words/eponyms.shtml

Courts are turning to linguists for an increasing number of cases
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/03/the-corpus-in-the-court-like-lexis-on-steroids/72054/%20

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