Linguistics: Public Presenation

Mike Cahill mike_cahill at
Thu Jun 20 17:12:52 UTC 2013

Wow. Lots of potential. 

On the animal communication topic, there's a tendency for a fair number of people to look at animals as almost ready to write Shakespeare. Stephen Anderson's book "Doctor Dolittle's Delusion" is a good overview of what birds, bees, and apes can and cannot do, and how animal communication differs from human language. 


-----Original Message-----
From: funknet-bounces at [mailto:funknet-bounces at] On Behalf Of s.t. bischoff
Sent: Thursday, June 20, 2013 11:29 AM
To: LINGUA at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU; lingua at; Funknet
Subject: [FUNKNET] Linguistics: Public Presenation

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 mind/brain...

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.


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