Laurie Bauer (ed.)
Summary: A set of short articles about language myths. Some great, some weak, but good overall.
Score: 60 / 100
Some myths are boring, some are interesting, witty. I rate books according to an amount of underlining (highlighting on Kindle) and here the amount is rather below my average.
- Introduction, Laurie Bauer, Peter Trudgill
- linguists have not been good about informing the general public about language.
- influental linguists: Claude Hagege, William Labov
- We are agred tha most views about the superiority of on elanguage or dialect over another have social and historical rather than genuinely linguistic origins.
- Myth 1: The Meanings of Words Should Not be Allowed to Vary or Change, Peter Trudgill
- Five hundred years ago, all English speakers used to pronounce the k in knee.
- Emotive words tend to change more rapidly by losing some of their force, so that awful, which originally meant inspiring awe now means very bad
- Myth 2: Some Languages are Just Not Good Enough, Ray Harlow
- English is the language of international air traffic, business communication, scientific publication and the lingua franca of tourism
- People will often transfer to a language or dialect their oponions of the poeple whose language or dialect it is
- Myth 3: The Media are Ruining English, Jean Aitchison
- object of communication: to understand and be understood
- Orwell to journalists: If its possible to cut out a word, cut it out Never use a long word where a short will do Never use a passive if you can use an active Avoid foreign and technical words Never use a metaphor you’ve seen in print Break these rules to avoid something outlandish
- Myth 4: French is a Logical Langauge, Anthony Lodge
- 1647 the father of all French purist grammarians - Claude Favre de Vaugelas
- Svete Pinker: mentalese ~ pure, languaeg-free thought
- Myth 5: ENglish Spelling is Kattastroffik
- minute steak: has to be interpreted y the reader either a very small steak or one cooked for a minute
- schwa (from Hebrew) as in _a_bout
- Myth 6: Women Talk Too Much, Janet Holmes
- Indeed, there is a Japanese character which constst of three instances of the character for the contept woman and which translates as noisy
- Classroom research suggests that more talk is associated with higher social status or power
- Women it seems are willing to talk more in relaxed social contexts, epseically where the talk functions to develop and maintain social relationships
- Myth 7: Some languages are harder than others
- We learn the grammar of our native language before we start scholl, but we work on our vocabulary as long as we live.
- modern dictionaries for En, Ger and other languages contain approx. 100,000 words
- European languages with a written language history going back a thousand years or more have more complicated orthographies than lgnuages which have only recently been reduced to writing.
- Of all the languages of the world, Hawaiian has one of the simplest sound systems
- Vietnamese is extrmely analytic and Greenlandic is extremely synthetic.
- …children always learn a more analytic version of their native languages first, inflectional and derivational suffixes are learned later on.
- …pidgin languages from around the world are typically analytic
- Maori is one – allow only one adjective to modify a noun at a time
- Myth 8: Children can’t speak or write properly any more
- Myth 9: In the Appalachians they speak like Shakespeare
- mainstream sociaety because it is the latter which usually chooses what is to be vbalued and what is not
- Myth 10: Some languages have no grammar
- shplernk is not a possible word in English
- All known human languages distinguish at least nouns and verbs
- Maori have different pronouns for we when it means you the listener and me the speaker and when it means me the speaker and someone else, like my mother
- Myth 11: Italian is beautiful, german is ugly
- Finding from Italy also echo the inclination for children to like non-standard speech until they spend time in the school system
- Studies have even shown that speakers of prestige language forms are judged more andsome and physically attractive!
- …views about the beauty and ugliness of languages and dialects are build on cultural norms, pressures and social connotations.
- Myth 12: Bad grammar is slovenly
- Myth 13: Black children are verbally deprived
- When tape-recorder speech samples of working-class African-American and working-class Anglo-American are played, listeners identify with reasobable accuracy whether the speakers are black or white (about 80% of the time in most listener test based on relatively brief passagfes of natural speech).
- Regardless of the model, all children acquiring language have a basic language system by the age of five or six, with minor refinements taking place for another five or six years.
- She in the house. Languages like Russian, Thai and many others use such constructions, since the verb in these kings of construction turns out to be redundant.
- Myth 14: Double negatives are illogical
- Ambiguity may be more of a problem in writing, but a large body of research has shown that in any case negatives occur far more often in spoken language than written language.
- If there is anythin illogival about double negatives then it is peoples reactions to them: some hate them, some love them, some like Murray both hate and love them; some people laught at them whilst others, like the BBC correspondents, are appalled.
- Myth 15: TV makes people sound the same
- there is no evidence for television or the other popular media disseminating or influencing sound changes or grammatical innovations
- Myth 16: You shouln’t say it is me because me is accusative
- What is called beauty in a languag is more accurately seen as a reflection of the prestige of its speakers.
- Myth 17 They speak really bad english down south and in New York city
- Linguist know that language variety does not correlate with intelligience or competence.
- as any linguist will assert, if you speak a human language, you must speak some dialect of it
- Myth 18: Some languages are spoken more quickly than others
- Chinese have very few words of more than one or two syllables.
- although counting syllables is likely to be a much more reliable way of comparing different languages for speaking rate than counting words, we should bear in mind that different languages do not use syllables with more than three or four sounds, while others allow sylllables of many more sounds.
- English, classe as stress-timed) and French or Spanish (classed as syllable-timed), and it usually seems that syllable-timed speech sounds fater than strees-timed to speakersof stress-timed languages.
- Myth 19: Aborigines speak aprimitive language
- Consider the sentence The m an saw the turtle on the beach. Who is on the beach - the man, the turtle or both? Kayardild expresses each of these meanings differently - where it is the turtle on te beach, the associative suffix -nurru is added to ngarn- beach, and the resultant ngarnnurru receives a further -ya to link it clearly to the object, giving dangkaa bangaya kurrija ngarnnurryuya (or any other of the 4 x 3 x 2 possible word ordering).
- Mayali from Western Arnhem Land is a polysynthetic language that builds up highly complex verbs atble to express a complete sentence, such as ngabanmarneyawoyhwarrgahganjginjeng I cooked the wrong meat for them again which can be broken down in to nga I, ban- them, marne- for, yawoyh- again, warrgah- wronly directed action, ganj- meat, ginje- cook and -ng past tense.
- Myth 20: Everyone has an accent except me
- we feel that we don’t have an accent because of the weight of experience that tells us that we are the best possible example of the norm.
- Myth 21: America is ruining english language
- English English vs. e.g. Czech English
- in some ways present-day American is more conservative, that is, closer to the common original standard than is present-day British.
first published: 2014-05-01
last modified: 2023-01-21
last modified: 2023-01-21