Public Linguistics Presentation Q
jrubba at calpoly.edu
Sat Jun 15 01:00:52 UTC 2013
I always say to my students that I use "rule" to mean "pattern," a statement that describes a regularity. The rules we write down when we do native-speaker tests are just descriptions of something we have in our minds that guides our formation of utterances. Surely in an introductory session there is no need to go further than that.
I do a fun "you know more about English grammar than you know you know" exercise, with tag questions -- they require about 7 rules to construct. If you're interested, I'll send it to you. I do it on the first or second day of class. It starts with a plain sentence, then that sentence with a tag. Then I give them puzzle-piece terminology: SUBJ AUX PRO NEG rest of sentence, and attach those to the example sentence. Then they construct tags for given sentences, and then answer questions: "What did you look at in the base sentence to decide which PRO to use?", etc. I begin with sentences that have AUX. Then I move to sentences without AUX, then we do be. At each point I have them test the rules by trying out other tags: "Mikey fed the dog, fed he?" And ask which rule is violated.
I also find that a lot of students like morphology problems. I start my morphology unit with a Swahili problem, and make sure they use lists to find the morphemes (they always just want to eyeball it). I think I took the problem from the SIL problem book, but maybe not. I can send that, too, if you like.
I think the most important message linguists have to get across to the general public is that "nonstandard" ≠ "substandard." So much harm comes from this absurd idea, and it can be prevented via a public education campaign. My students generally report, on exit surveys, that this is the most important bit of information they got from my class, and they vow never to judge someone based on their language again. Don't know if it really sticks, but it's gratifying at that moment. Trouble is, I can't think of a fun way to present that idea that won't make them all feel like closet racists. Maybe doing something with matched-guise tests. My students are always impressed with John Baugh's story about calling up landlords about an apartment, using AAE half the time and St E half the time. Only the SE class rendered a meaningful response rate.
I'd love to know what you do in the end, and how it turns out.
Dr. Johanna Rubba, Professor, Linguistics
Linguistics Minor Advisor
Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo
Dept. Tel 805.756.2596
E-mail: jrubba at calpoly.edu
"Justice is what love looks like in public."
- Cornel West
On Jun 12, 2013, at 10:35 AM, Mike Cahill <mike_cahill at sil.org> wrote:
> Two possible phonetics demos that show people they're pronouncing things they didn't know about.
> 1) Aspiration - take a piece of paper, firmly press it to your forehead with a finger so most of it covers your face. Then say (vigorously) "pool". It will puff out, showing the aspirated P. Then say "spool." Not as much of a puff out. Hey, we pronounce <p> two ways! This works for most people. Best to have the [pu] word initially, since it will give more of a noticeable puff.
> 2) English has nasalized vowels, like French! Well, sort of. Place your thumb and forefinger lightly against both your nostrils, and say "green." You'll notice a vibration - air is coming out your nose. Then do the same thing saying "greed." No vibration, no nasal vowel.
> Have fun with the demo. I'd like to hear what you end up doing.
> Mike Cahill
> -----Original Message-----
> From: funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu [mailto:funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu] On Behalf Of Daniel Hieber
> Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 11:51 AM
> To: s.t. bischoff
> Cc: Funknet
> Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] Public Linguistics Presentation Q
> I once pulled out my digital recorder at my parents' home, and recorded them saying their primary vowels, showed them the spectrograms, then quickly mapped their formants in a vowel space and showed them the resulting chart. It took all of maybe 20 minutes. I was surprised to find that they thought this was the coolest thing ever, and were extremely impressed. In particular, they liked that you could see the intonation contours on Praat, and see the difference between questions and declaratives. Also that you could see the difference between male and female pitch.
> Anything where people get to analyze their own speech in some way seems like it would go over well. Perhaps polling the audience about dialectal differences.
> On Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 12:22 PM, s.t. bischoff <bischoff.st at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Hello all,
>> I've been asked to participate in a program called "Lunch with a Scientist"
>> at our local science center. The program organizer has provided me
>> with a request for a brief description of what I will be presenting:
>> I. *a brief description of what the day/program will entail. For those
>> professors new to the program, please remember that a hands-on
>> approach is what we’re trying for. That could be an activity, or lots
>> of really cool
>> The presentation/activity will be about 60 minutes. I have some ideas,
>> but was curious if anyone had suggestions or might have actually done
>> something like this before. Participants will include folks from the
>> community, adults and children.
>> Thanks in advance,
> Omnis habet sua dona dies.
> ~ Martial
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