Simple Mistake

So if you’re a young and ambitious literary scholar, you could do worse than to learn something about modern psychology and linguistics, especially those concepts and techniques that can easily be applied to texts.

sayeth Liberman, who, as we already know, has the literary sensibility of that mug of coffee right there. And yes, it can be done. Doesn’t mean it should be. I can take a dump on my computer right now. Doesn’t mean I should. Simple Mistake.

Tiresome

Zwicky @ the Language Log is tired of the same ol’ sexism masquerading as science. This time it’s about the New Scientist cover story:

Oh, spit! Here we go again, with reports of previous studies of anatomical and neurological differences (critiqued in a long series of postings here) interpreted as establishing categorical differences between the sexes and so echoing “common knowledge” in a crude way. I haven’t the heart to reflect on yet another chapter in this story.

Cool

I’m very much looking forward to seeing the fruits of this call for papers.

If you’re a student of postmodern poetics or psycholinguistics, I post this note to save you some trouble, and to ask for a favor.

You’re a writer, a poet, or a student of language. You realize that contemporary poetry and poetics bear at least *some* resemblance to the speech of people who are institutionalized. I consider our friends who are institutionalized a rich trove of linguistic treasure that is ripe for appreciation, meditation, and analysis, and the study of which lies within ethical boundaries to boot.

But good luck finding transcriptions of schizophrenic speech online, or in print media, for that matter. Human subjects guidelines posted by federal funding agencies virtually guarantee that the raw content of interest to you is *absolutely and irrevocably inaccessible*. Trust me. I have tried.

But based on my (limited) experience, you will find a trove of data in articles about aphasia. I have had limited success (akin to the Bush/Cheney administration’s limited success in Iraq and Afghanistan [and where the f*** is Osama Bin Laden, BTW??]) in finding transcriptions of aphasic speech in print media, at least. The data I have been able to find has *enriched* my understanding of contemporary writing.

I humbly issue a call for submissions of data, summaries, abstracts, links, purged emails, conference papers, audio recordings, or papers, from linguists, psycholinguists, students of poetics, psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists. What data can you share that demonstrates a robust link between contemporary poetry and the thought patterns of our friends who are institutionalized?

Monkish

Poser @ the language log notes an interesting omission

On June 24, 1826 Thomas Jefferson wrote, in a letter to Roger C. Weightman:

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.

Yesterday, in an Independence Day speech at Monticello, President Bush quoted Jefferson’s letter as follows:

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be — to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all — the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.

Fun with Etymology

This @ the language log is hilarious

Adrian Morgan pointed out to me a Usenet comment in which someone says of some course of action that it “can hardly be a sane policy for anyone who is not evincing signs of heading distinctly dagenham”. In this context dagenham is apparently to be taken as a synonym for “insane”, by a rather devious etymological route. Dagenham is a town in Essex, England. On the District Line of the London Underground, Dagenham is three stops beyond the town of Barking (after Barking are Upney, Becontree, Dagenham Heathway, and Dagenham East). To be barking mad is to be crazy; and being dagenham is therefore being three steps beyond barking.

Loaded

Shuy @ language log

The latest development is that a number of courts in the US are now forbidding lawyers and witnesses to use certain words during trials. Words like “rape,” “victim,” “crime scene,” “killer,” “murder,” “drunk,” “homicide,” “embezzle,” “fraud,” and “robbery” are now not allowed in some courtrooms. Language engineering like this usually has a social or political basis. In this case it’s more a problem of trying to treat the accuser and the accused fairly. District Attorneys want to keep on using words like these as they prosecute alleged criminals, while some defense attorneys claim that using such words violates the presumption of innocence that has been held dear by the legal system. They call the forbidden words, “loaded terms.”