Some ideas for festive reading, viewing and listening…

From staff in the Department of English Language and Linguistics

We asked our lecturers what they would recommend for budding linguists to get stuck into over Christmas, and here’s what they came up with:

Laura Bailey, Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics, says:
The long-awaited Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch was published earlier this year, so if you haven’t got your greasy mitts on a copy yet, now’s your chance. Gretchen dives deep into internet linguistics with the most informed but accessible take on this you’re likely to see.

Podcast fans should have a listen to The Vocal Fries, about linguistic discrimination from linguists Carrie Gillan and Megan Figueroa, who will ‘teach you how not to be an accidental jerk’.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on the Twitter hashtag #woty in early January, when the American Dialect Society announce their Word Of The Year. There’s always a really fascinating discussion around what should and shouldn’t win – and why.

David Hornsby, Senior Lecturer in French and Linguistics, says:
Amy Adams is great in everything but particularly in the thought-provoking movie Arrival, of 2016. Have a watch, then look up ‘Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis’ straight afterwards….

Christina Kim, Lecturer in Linguistics, picks the same film, so it must be a good one!
The film Arrival was a real joy to watch – linguists were consulted on the script, so there were scenes in the film all of us recognised from our own lives explaining linguistic principles to students. I would really recommend the novella that Arrival was based on: Story of Your Life by science fiction writer Ted Chiang. You can find it in a short story collection called Stories of Your Life and Others, which has other great stories touching on subjects like neural plasticity and artificial intelligence.

Jeremy Scott, Senior Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics, recommends:
I’d recommend the film Arrival. It’s about the efforts of a linguist to decipher an alien language, and raises interesting questions about the Saphir-Whorf Hypothesis: the notion that the language we speak to some extent determines how our brains work, including the ways in which we conceptualise the world.

Here’s a link to a fascinating review of a lecture given by the main academic consultant for the film, Jessica Coon, by some boring bloke from the University of Kent!

Amalia Arvaniti, Professor of Linguistics, recommends:
Mary Beard’s Women & Power: A Manifesto. This is a short book that deals with how history has treated powerful women and discusses also how language has been used to keep women in their place.

Caroline Criado’s book Invisible Women. It deals with a number of topics (from language to protective vests worn by police officers) showing how women are overlooked as a population in a number of ways (witness the recently aborted all-women spacewalk because the female astronauts did not have suitable suits designed for their bodies). This is a much longer book that Beard’s manifesto, but it is a highly readable book. It is also available as an audio book.


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