[Ads-l] Media request (Business Insider) about language and nature

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 24 16:51:57 EDT 2018


The reporter's example concerns regional differences. He presents the
interesting thesis that the name "firefly" is favored in regions with
wildfires and "lightning bug" is favored in regions with
lightning-strikes.

The reporters asks:
> Do any other examples come to mind of the environment seeming
> to dictate what we call something?

Terms created via onomatopoeia are closely connected to the physical
(auditory) environment. The terms vary based on language and region.
Is it possible that some of the variation occurs because the sounds
are different in different regions?

The sounds made by a rooster are represented in many ways. Here is a
non-academic webpage on the topic. ( I do not know if it is accurate):

Cock-A-Doodle-Doo: Dialects of the Rooster
http://www.bootstrappin.com/2008/10/cock-a-doodle-doo-dialects-of-the-rooster/

There are different types of roosters. Do they make different sounds
and are the sounds correlated with the words constructed via
onomatopoeia in matching regions?

Consider the sounds made while laughing. If these sounds vary between
cultures and regions then one may ask whether these different sounds
correlate with the words constructed via onomatopoeia in matching
regions.

I am not a linguist, and I do not know if research of this type has
been conducted. If this topic has been explored then it may provide
examples of interest to the journalist.

Garson


On Tue, Jul 24, 2018 at 3:49 PM, Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com> wrote:
> Note that the example given by the reporter is a striking correlation:  In parts of the country where there is relatively more risk from wildfires, bioluminescent winged beetles are known as “fireflies,” while in parts of the country where there is relatively more risk from lightning, they are known as “lightning bugs.”  This could, of course, be coincidence, but it also seems reasonable that people are subconsciously reminded of the locally more prominent risk when referring to these insects, though neither fire nor lightning is involved in any way.
>
> I don’t think the reporter is asking about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, though no doubt he would be interested in it if it is relevant in some way.
>
>
> John Baker
>
>
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Galen Buttitta
> Sent: Tuesday 24 July 2018 3:08 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: Media request (Business Insider) about language and nature
>
> External Email - Think Before You Click
>
>
> Does he mean Sapir-Whorf or is he asking about social/societal aspects (E.G. “slim Jim”, “lazy Susan”, “Watergate”)?
>
>> On Jul 24, 2018, at 11:16, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at MST.EDU> wrote:
>>
>> This morning I received the request below from Mark Abadi of
>>
>> Business Insider, and with his permission I now forward it to
>>
>> ads-l. Can anyone on our listserv provide him any information?
>>
>>
>> In a follow-up message he clarified:
>>
>> Essentially, my questions are:
>> - In what ways does the natural world influence our language, on a
>> dialectal level to specific words and phrases?
>> - Do any other examples come to mind of the environment seeming to
>> dictate what we call something?
>> - Why is it important to know about the interplay between language
>> and nature?
>>
>> I'm sure any assistance would be very gratefully received.
>>
>> Gerald Cohen
>>
>>
>> ________________________________
>> From: Mark Abadi <mabadi at businessinsider.com>
>> Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2018 9:29 AM
>> To: Cohen, Gerald Leonard
>> Subject: Request for comment on a dialect map — Business Insider
>>
>> Hi there Gerald, I'm a reporter with Business Insider, and one of my areas of coverage is language and linguistics.
>>
>> A recent tweet<https://twitter.com/Chasin_Jason/status/1018209864416362497<https://twitter.com/Chasin_Jason/status/1018209864416362497>> from meteorology researcher Jason Keeler caught my attention — he compared a map of where Americans use the terms "firefly" vs. "lightning bug" to a map showing wildfire and lightning-strike activity in the USA. Interestingly, there is strong overlap between wildfire country and 'firefly' country, as well as lightning country and 'lightning bug' country.
>>
>> I wanted to use Keeler's tweet to explore the interplay between language and nature, and wanted to know if you could offer a comment on the map. Basically, I'd like to ask about the ways the natural world has influenced our language, perhaps with some other specific examples, and what we can learn from them.
>>
>> Would you be available for a brief phone chat, no more than five or six minutes, sometime today? Let me know and we can figure out a time that works. Alternatively, if you know have someone in mind who you think is well-suited for a topic like this, feel free to send them my way. Hope to hear from you!
>>
>> Best,
>>
>>
>> Mark Abadi
>>
>> Strategy reporter
>>
>>
>> [https://docs.google.com/uc?export=download&id=1Sn9T_3XgKeR6F-qeusXInzzUfdaFEk_m&revid=0B_22AlI77aExWVVkMzFWczF3L0c4T0hKcFoxdU52amg2bUdRPQ<https://docs.google.com/uc?export=download&id=1Sn9T_3XgKeR6F-qeusXInzzUfdaFEk_m&revid=0B_22AlI77aExWVVkMzFWczF3L0c4T0hKcFoxdU52amg2bUdRPQ>]
>>
>> An Insider Inc. Publication
>>
>>
>> C: 980-253-2849
>>
>> One Liberty Plaza, 8th FL, New York, NY 10006
>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org<http://www.americandialect.org>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org<http://www.americandialect.org>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list