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

Abe Lincoln mystery ‘almost certainly’ solved using technique that unmasked JK Rowling

Joe Nickell’s analysis
Google Books link

Great slides from Andrea Nini

Paper: Attributing the Bixby Letter using n-gram tracing

The Slants’ Simon Tam Wins Supreme Court Case to Trademark Offensive Band Name

Supreme Court: Rejecting trademarks that ‘disparage’ others violates the First Amendment

An indie rock band just cleared the way for the Washington Redskins to keep their racist name

Rock band The Slants’ victory in court secures your rights

Listen to The Slants: The Band Who Must Not Be Named

Seattle band Thunderpussy awaits Supreme Court ruling on controversial names

Facebook community standards under scrutiny as out and proud ‘dykes’ banned

Richard Dawkins deplatformed at a book talk in Berkeley for “abusive speech” about Islam on Twitter

Richard Dawkins’ Open Letter to the People Who Canceled His Event

Organizations have the right to not invite Richard Dawkins — or me — to speak

‘Disinvite’ or ‘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.

‘Far Side’ cartoon: What dogs really say.,+from+The+Far+Side+by+Gary+Larson.jpg

Kylie Sturgess: Token Skeptic

Token Skeptic blog

The AVN changes its name to include ‘skeptic’

Here are some of their tactics.

Anti-vaxxers are bringing back diseases that were once under control.

How anti-vax is being challenged on many fronts in Australia (not just the business of skeptics!)

Here are some ideas for how to communicate climate change.

Here’s a plain-language guide to climate change

How to estimate the risk involved in climate change


Kylie’s interview on GM foods with Dr Ashley Ng

Skeptical Science: Rebutting climate change denialists’ arguments

Linguistically modified foods? How language shapes our perception of GMs.

“Fear and Politics” by Carmen Lawrence

The Rod Lambert’s interview mentioned near the end of the interview

Tape measure? How about a ‘roll of inches’?

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,2817,2382968,00.asp

Apple v Microsoft,apple-hits-back-in-app-store-trademark-row.aspx

Apple v Amazon

Linguists are getting involved

Apple sure has a lot of trademarks

“App” is 2010 ADS Word of the Year

About genericide

Courts are turning to linguists for an increasing number of cases

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