Category: semantics

Episode 287: What Is a Sandwich?

What exactly is a sandwich?

The question is tearing the internet apart. Is a hot dog a sandwich? What about a burrito? But how do we even know what a sandwich is? Or anything else?

We have an answer, but it’s going to take us through some weird semantic territory on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Carly Laden


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Show notes

Stephen Fry on God | The Meaning Of Life | RTÉ One

Stephen Fry faces blasphemy probe after God comments
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39830447

Police launch blasphemy probe against Stephen Fry for calling ‘God’ monstrous
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/05/06/police-launch-blasphemy-probe-against-stephen-fry-for-calling-god-monstrous/

BHA defends its patron Stephen Fry in face of Irish blasphemy probe
https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/06/bha-defends-its-patron-stephen-fry-in-face-of-irish-blasphemy-probe/

Swearing Makes You Stronger And Increases Stamina, Study Finds
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/swearing-stronger-more-stamina-strength-study-swear-words-university-keele-a7718981.html

Strong language: swearing makes you stronger, psychologists confirm
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/may/05/strong-language-swearing-makes-you-stronger-psychologists-confirm

Seebs, is a hotdog a sandwich?
http://glossylalia.tumblr.com/post/151262613501/seebs-is-a-hotdog-a-sandwich-i-mean-its-got-the

The sandwich alignment chart that’s tearing the internet apart
http://mashable.com/2017/05/03/sandwich-chart-hot-dog/

Kylie’s approach
Sorry, Merriam-Webster, but Hot Dogs Are Not Sandwiches
http://www.arrantpedantry.com/2016/06/15/sorry-merriam-webster-but-hot-dogs-are-not-sandwiches/

Cups and glasses: learning that boundaries are vague
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-child-language/article/cups-and-glasses-learning-that-boundaries-are-vague/4DE33B9F26DB68DB3FACBEB69DBB304B

Labov’s cups, mugs, glasses, and jugs
Google Books link

Family Resemblance in Wittgenstein
http://www.philosophy-index.com/wittgenstein/family-resemblance/

Wittgenstein: Language-games and Family Resemblance
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wittgenstein/#LangGameFamiRese

From Statistics to Meaning: Infants’ Acquisition of Lexical Categories
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865606/

Twelve-Month-Old Infants Benefit From Prior Experience in Statistical Learning
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2967014/

Agate Rooms (Agate Chamber or Cold Baths)
http://saint-petersburg.guide/pushkin/agate-rooms-(agate-chamber-or-cold-baths)

A linguistic prejudice called native-speakerism (annoying ads)
https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/news/politics-of-grammar/a-linguistic-prejudice-called-native-speakerism/180756.html

Relevant Reddit thread
https://www.reddit.com/r/linguistics/comments/69j8ya/a_linguistic_prejudice_called_nativespeakerism/

Native and Nonnative Teachers of L2 Pronunciation: Effects on Learner Performance (paywall)
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/tesq.272/full

TEFL Equity Advocates
https://teflequityadvocates.com

Stephen Fry blasphemy probe dropped after gardaí fail to find ‘substantial number of outraged people’
http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/stephen-fry-blasphemy-probe-dropped-after-garda-fail-to-find-substantial-number-of-outraged-people-35692915.html


Show tunes

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

Image credit: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C-wyhyfXYAALcbz.jpg

Episode 265: Universal Grammar 2 (featuring Dan Everett and Lynne Murphy)

The biggest idea in linguistics is back on the table.

Is there such a thing as the Universal Grammar? Do you have to have a human brain to learn language, or is learning a language just like learning anything else? And are one man’s insights into Amazonian languages sufficient to demolish this theoretical edifice?

Linguists Dan Everett and Lynne Murphy talk to Daniel, Ben, and Kylie on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Dylan Websdane


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Patreon extras for this episode

Interview with Dan Everett 2016-10-07 (complete)

Cutting Room Floor 265: Universal Grammar 2

265: Universal Grammar 2 (featuring Dan Everett and Lynne Murphy) [128kbps] (for everyone)


Show notes

Warning: Bad linguistics alert

‘Th’ sound to vanish from English language by 2066 because of multiculturalism, say linguists
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/09/28/th-sound-to-vanish-from-english-language-by-2066-because-of-mult/

Here’s how the English language could sound incredibly different in 50 years
http://www.sciencealert.com/the-english-language-could-sound-incredibly-different-in-50-years-study-finds

Our accents are under threat: dialects may die as computers strip the beauty from language
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/dialect-english-regional-accents

It’s the end of the frog and toad for regional slang, says report
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/sep/29/its-the-end-of-the-frog-and-toad-for-regional-slang-says-report

XKCD:

Better linguistics alert

Researchers are using an app to crowdsource how the English language has changed
http://qz.com/694906/researchers-are-using-an-app-to-crowdsource-how-the-english-language-has-changed/

How do you say ‘scone’? English regional accents decline as ‘southern’ accent becomes widespread
http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/how-do-you-say-scone-english-regional-accents-decline-as-southern-accent-becomes-widespread-11364064620130

How London has killed off elements of local dialects across England – in seven maps
https://www.indy100.com/article/how-london-has-killed-off-elements-of-local-dialects-across-englandin-seven-maps–ZJxofkDwH7Z

New Scientist: The Electric Kool-Aid language test
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2108618-the-electric-kool-aid-language-test/

Dan Everett: Who’s afraid of the big bad Wolfe? Apparently everyone.
https://daneverettbooks.com/whos-afraid-of-the-big-bad-wolfe-apparently-everyone/

Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html

A banner day for profanity
https://stronglang.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/a-banner-day-for-profanity/

An Oxford linguist on the dangers of dismissing comments about sexual assault as “locker-room talk”
http://qz.com/807395/donald-trump-oxford-linguist-deborah-cameron-explains-the-dangers-of-dismissing-comments-about-sexual-assault-as-locker-room-talk/

“Locker room” language encourages rape culture, even if it stays private
http://qz.com/806386/donald-trumps-lewd-access-hollywood-video-locker-room-language-encourages-rape-culture/

Lynne Murphy on Twitter: @lynneguist
https://twitter.com/lynneguist

Lynne’s blog: Separated by a Common Language
https://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com.au

Linguistics explains why Trump sounds racist when he says “the” African Americans
http://qz.com/806174/second-presidential-debate-linguistics-explains-why-donald-trump-sounds-racist-when-he-says-the-african-americans/

Everything that was said at the second Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton debate, highlighted
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/09/everything-that-was-said-at-the-second-donald-trump-vs-hillary-clinton-debate-highlighted/

“open mic” and “on the mic”


Show tunes

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

Image credit: http://www.chronicle.com/img/photos/biz/photo_19711_portrait_wide.jpg

Episode 244: Brain Thesaurus (featuring David J. Peterson)

Where’s the language in your brain? Researchers have constructed a kind of brain atlas, showing the patterns of neural activation when we hear words.

And Klingon is at the centre of a legal battle. Can a language be under copyright — even if it’s a constructed one?

David J. Peterson, language creator for Game of Thrones, talks to Daniel, Kylie, and Ben on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Kylie Sturgess


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All of our patrons can now hear the entire interview with David J. Peterson — the version that was too long for radio.

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Show notes

Language Creation Society press release
http://conlang.org/axanar/

The amicus brief (PDF)
https://popehat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/035-1-Brief-of-Amicus-Curiae.pdf

Brief aims to convince court that Klingon’s a real language – in Klingon
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article74873867.html

Star Trek’s Klingon Language Is At The Center Of A Bizarre Legal Fight
http://uproxx.com/gammasquad/klingon-lawsuit/

KlingonWiki: Axanar Lawsuit
http://www.klingonwiki.net/En/AxanarLawsuit

Speech means using both sides of brain
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140115132635.htm

Dogs Process Speech the Same Way as Humans
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/dogs-process-speech-the-same-way-as-humans

A brand new ‘atlas’ shows where different ideas live in our brains
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/04/28/a-brand-new-atlas-shows-where-different-ideas-live-in-our-brains/

Neuroscientists create ‘atlas’ showing how words are organised in the brain
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/apr/27/brain-atlas-showing-how-words-are-organised-neuroscience

This giant ‘brain dictionary’ reveals where your mind stores thousands of words
http://www.sciencealert.com/this-giant-brain-dictionary-reveals-where-your-mind-stores-thousands-of-words

Brain’s ‘thesaurus’ mapped to help decode inner thoughts
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-04/uoc–bm042616.php

What Is Biohacking?
http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/what-is-biohacking/

Body-hackers: the people who turn themselves into cyborgs
http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2015/aug/14/body-hackers-the-people-who-turn-themselves-into-cyborgs

Bodyhackers are all around you, they’re called women
http://fusion.net/story/294770/women-body-hackers/


Show tunes

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

Image credit: https://youtu.be/k61nJkx5aDQ

Episode 201: The First Language

What was the first language, and what was it like?

Does it still exist? And out of all the languages on earth today, which one is the oldest?

These are tricky questions, and linguists have tricky answers. Linguist Daniel Midgley goes back to basics on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Jane Hebiton


Show notes

What Part of “No, Totally” Don’t You Understand?
http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/what-part-of-no-totally-dont-you-understand

No, Yes, Definitely: On The Rise Of ‘No, Totally’ As Linguistic Quirk
http://www.npr.org/2015/04/12/399210557/the-rise-of-the-no-totally-linguistic-phenomenon

How to Say ‘Yes’ (by Not Saying ‘Yes’)
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/04/how-to-say-yes-by-not-saying-yes/390129/

People in Northern Sweden have the world’s weirdest way of saying ‘yes’
http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/people-in-northern-sweden-have-the-worlds-weirdest-way-of-saying-yes/story-fnq2oad4-1227187456841

Russian-language version of Apple personal assistant Siri gives ‘homophobic’ responses to questions about gay people
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3040346/Russian-language-version-Apple-s-Siri-gives-homophobic-responses-questions-gay-people.html

“In Soviet Russia Siri questions you”

Until yesterday, Russian Siri was giving out homophobic replies
http://www.theverge.com/2015/4/15/8420763/apple-russian-siri-homophobic-replies

Apple fixes ‘homophobic’ Russian Siri: ‘This emotion should be considered negative’
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/16/apple-fixes-homophobic-russian-siri-emotion-should/

Russia’s Apple monument dismantled after Tim Cook comes out as gay
http://www.digitalspy.com.au/tech/news/a607640/russias-apple-monument-dismantled-after-tim-cook-comes-out-as-gay.html#~paaNX4QTTVCTl0

Barbara Klein Moss: The Search For The First Language
A good rundown of ideas about early language
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-klein-moss/the-search-for-the-first-_b_7011208.html

Another one: The first chapter of God’s Sacred Tongue: Hebrew and the American Imagination by Shalom L. Goldman
http://uncpress.unc.edu/browse/page/372

There was some idle talk about making Hebrew the official language of the USA.
http://www.languagepolicy.net/archives/LLPT1.htm
http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/officialamerican/banenglish/

The Ten Lost Tribes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Lost_Tribes

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, borrowed the Hebrew origin story for his work of fiction, The Book of Mormon.
http://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/places/related-articles/mormon-scripture-and-the-lost-tribes-of-israel.aspx

Smith also speculated that the Ten Lost Tribes lived at the North Pole. In a kind of hollow.
http://mormonthink.com/QUOTES/losttribes.htm

This ties right into the ‘Hollow Earth’ theory that was also going around at the time. Smith picked up on a lot of stuff that was going around.
http://www.unmuseum.org/hollow.htm

RationalWiki: Sanskrit is not the first language
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Sanskrit

Nutty stuff from The Vedic Foundation: Sanskrit was the first language, and it’s never changed. Warning: crackpottery.
http://www.thevedicfoundation.org/valuable_resources/Sanskrit-The_Mother_of_All_Languages_partI.htm

MIT Press Release: The rapid rise of human language
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-03/miot-trr033115.php

The paper: The precedence of syntax in the rapid emergence of human language in evolution as defined by the integration hypothesis
http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00271/full

New paper suggests speech developed in a now-familiar form
http://phys.org/news/2015-03-paper-speech-now-familiar.html

Early humans did not mumble and grunt: Language ‘developed rapidly’
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/early-humans-did-not-mumble-grunt-language-developed-rapidly-1494573

The authors think it all comes down to Merge.
We Got Merge: Noam Chomsky on the Cognitive Function that Made Language Evolve
http://www.brainpickings.org/2012/06/20/noam-chomsky-the-science-language/

Linguist List, Ask a Linguist: What’s the oldest language?
http://linguistlist.org/ask-ling/oldest.cfm

Percy Sledge: Soul singer’s link to cricket’s sledging
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-15/percy-sledge-soul-singer-link-to-cricket-sledging/6393694

World Wide Words: Sledging
http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-sle1.htm


Show tunes

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

Image credit: http://phys.org/news/2015-03-paper-speech-now-familiar.html

Episode 192: Linguistic Movies

It’s Oscars time, and the film about Alan Turing “The Imitation Game” is in contention for best picture.

But that’s not the only language movie out there — there are plenty of cinematic delights to quench your passion for linguistic film.

Linguist Daniel Midgley goes to the movies on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Em Burrows


Show notes

¿Qué? Siri destroys Cortana and Google Now on language accuracy http://www.cultofmac.com/312335/que-siri-destroys-cortana-google-now-language-accuracy/

Check out the Hedonometer
http://hedonometer.org/index.html?from=2012-08-26&to=2015-02-27

The Mathematicians Trying to Prove that Every Language Is Inherently Positive
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-mathematicians-trying-to-prove-that-every-language-is-inherently-positive

The paper: Human language reveals a universal positivity bias
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/02/04/1411678112

EYE-GOUGINGLY BAD REPORTING ALERT

ScienceAlert: Spanish is the happiest language, Chinese the most balanced, new study reveals
http://www.sciencealert.com/spanish-is-the-happiest-language-chinese-is-the-most-balanced-new-study-reveals

ScienceMag: Spanish is the happiest language; Chinese, not so much
http://news.sciencemag.org/social-sciences/2015/02/spanish-happiest-language-chinese-not-so-much?rss=1

ABC Science: Language proves we’re all optimists at heart
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/02/10/4176587.htm

USA Today: Spanish is the happiest language
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/02/14/spanish-will-make-you-smile/23411681/

END OF ALERT

The sunny side always looks up
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/04/03/3972149.htm

The Poem That Passed the Turing Test
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-poem-that-passed-the-turing-test

From the programmer’s blog
https://rpiai.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/turing-test-passed-using-computer-generated-poetry/

The Imitation Game (2014): is it history, drama or myth?
https://theconversation.com/the-imitation-game-is-it-history-drama-or-myth-35849

The coin toss scene from ‘No Country for Old Men’.
WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLCL6OYbSTw
Script: http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/2009/03/great-scene-no-country-for-old-men.html

Roger Ebert reviews ‘Nell’.
http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/nell-1994

And a similar film: The Wild Child
http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-wild-child-1970

WATCH: The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlrP2IR58es

About Gregorio Cortez
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorio_Cortez

More about The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez
http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/235288%7C235313/The-Ballad-of-Gregorio-Cortez.html

Windtalkers (2002)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0245562/

Navajo Code Talkers
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_talker#Navajo_code_talkers

WATCH: Singin’ in the Rain (1952): “Moses Supposes”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tciT9bmCMq8

WATCH: My Fair Lady (1964)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2TH8jOxVoM

Here are even more linguistically significant films
http://linguistlist.org/issues/16/16-1639.html

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) quotes
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2015381/quotes

And more:
https://stancarey.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/films-of-linguistic-interest/

Nut rage
http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/02/12/one-year-in-prison-for-korean-air-heiress-whose-tantrum-over-macadamia-nuts-delayed-flight/

Wikipedia: Nut rage incident
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nut_rage_incident

Desk rage
http://rigorousintuition.ca/board2/viewtopic.php?t=19387&p=201740

Lollipop rage
http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/worldwidewords/2006-May/000377.html

Word rage on Language Log
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1573

V for Vendetta speech
https://storyspeaker.wordpress.com/2007/06/04/v-for-vendetta-v’s-introductory-speech-and-remember-remember-poem/


Show tunes

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

Image credit: http://static.rogerebert.com/redactor_assets/pictures/546b701f592cb06568000199/hr_The_Imitation_Game_2.jpg

Episode 188: The Language Myth (featuring Vyvyan Evans)

How do children learn language so quickly?

For decades, the prevailing view has been that they’re born with it. But a new breed of linguists is overturning this view with evidence from human evolution, cognition, and actual children.

Among these researchers is Dr Vyvyan Evans, author of a new book The Language Myth. Vyv speaks with Daniel Midgley on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Kylie Sturgess


Show notes

Google adds Irish to list of Gmail options
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/12/11/irish-minority-languages.html

You can learn Irish on Duolingo
https://www.duolingo.com/comment/4277962

10 Reasons Why Irish Is an Absolutely Awesome Language
http://multikulti.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/10-reasons-why-irish-is-an-absolutely-awesome-language/

The publication page for “The Language Myth: Why Language Is Not an Instinct”. Also in paperback.
http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/languages-linguistics/cognitive-linguistics/language-myth-why-language-not-instinct#contentsTabAnchor

Vyvyan Evans explains why there is no language instinct.
http://aeon.co/magazine/culture/there-is-no-language-instinct/

Semantic satiation semantic satiation semantic satiation
http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/Semantic-Satiation.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_satiation


Show tunes

‘Birthday Beat’ by Shlomo
from the album Shlomoshun Redux

‘Knock Knock Knock’ by Spoon
from the album They Want My Soul

Image credit: http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2014/11/into-the-intro-the-language-myth/

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