Linguistics: Public Presenation

s.t. bischoff at
Thu Jun 20 16:29:25 UTC 2013

Hello all,

Last week I asked for ideas for a public presentation at our local science
center that I will be giving on linguistics and language. Thanks to
everyone that provided suggests. Below are some ideas that came up and
links to resources I have used in the past that I think serve to illustrate
the different ideas.

(1) The McGurk effect -- which can be used to demonstrate a number of
things, e.g. how speech sounds are physical objects, issues of production
and perception, auditory illusions

(2) Phonetics Flash Animation -- which can be used to demonstrate what an
accent is, how speech sounds are produced, and the physiology of language

(3) The Fair Housing PSA based on John Baugh's research -- can be used to
explore our attitudes about language and how often those are subconscious
and reflect our attitudes not about language but about speakers...this can
be used to move into the standard non-standard issue...

(4) Labov's Do you speak American clip on the N. Cities vowel shift --
demonstrates how languages change etc.

(5) WALS Chapter 81: Order of subject, object, verb --- illustrates
language diversity and language structure

(6) UNESCO Endangered Languages --- explores issues of human rights,
language endangerment

There are also a number of great clips of speakers discussing the plight of
their languages...all quite moving.

(7) Animal communication --- the public seems very interested in this issue
and there has been some interesting research comparing humans and birds
using fmri and other *cool* technology that people seem to enjoy
seeing...there is also Slobodchikoff's work on Prarie Dogs...and of course
dolphins... (dolphins) (PBS *Bird Brains*
first or last half) (Prairie dogs)

(8) The stroop effect --- illustrates again how there is more to language
than we assume, raises issues of perception, provides insights into the

Additionally, some folks sent exercises that participants can do to explore
their knowledge of language and language use. One, for example, illustrates
how speakers *know* how to construct tag questions, which in turn reveals
patterns in language use.

Thanks all, if you have other ideas or thoughts I'd still appreciate
hearing from you.


More information about the Funknet mailing list