The Language Feed - February 13, 2006

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Feb 13 16:45:01 UTC 2006

The Language Feed
February 13, 2006

This issue and archives can be read on the web at


Author explores the language of mothers and daughters
Seattle Post Intelligencer, February 13
It can start with a throwaway remark -- something as simple as "I
usually slice the tomatoes lengthwise." Or a seemingly harmless
question: "Do you like wearing your hair that long?" Suddenly the air
crackles with tension, and a warm exchange between loved ones boils over
into mutual accusation.

Language software speaks to learners
Seattle Times, February 11
In the era B.C., Before Computers, erstwhile language students who
wanted to learn French or Spanish — never mind Farsi or Swahili — did
best to move to Paris or Barcelona. The idea was immersion: Steep
yourself in the culture, and in situations where speaking the "foreign"
language badly was far better, and more necessary, than not speaking it
at all.

Spreading the (English) word
Globe and Mail, February 12
It's a mighty milestone for something that's 1,500 years old and shows
no sign of old age. Some time this year, the English language will gain
its millionth word. At least that's the calculation of Paul Payack, a
Harvard-educated executive and language lover who says English has
reached precisely 986,120 words and counting.

Using iPods in language classes
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 10
Students in Spanish and French-language courses at Moorestown Friends
School use iPods and voice recorders to practice their speaking skills,
critique their pronunciations and keep records of their language
studies. Students in Rob Buscaglia's Spanish classes provided these
examples of the work they have been doing with the iPods.

University adds Arabic language curriculum
Oregon Daily Emerald, February 9
The University has recently announced the addition of a new program in
the field of Arabic language, set to begin next fall. The Arabic program
is the first part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ plan to add four
new languages to the University’s curriculum. The other three are
Portuguese, Korean and Swahili.

Foreign language enrollment bucks national trend
The Daily Vanguard, February 8
Despite a noted descent nationwide in foreign language education,
Portland State’s enrollment in such programs is growing. Dr. Sandra
Rosengrant, department chair of Foreign Languages and Literature, said
she finds this gratifying.

Researchers link language to color and perception of reality
Chicago Maroon, February 7
Language can actually influence how a person perceives the world, at
least in one hemisphere of the brain, according to recent research
published by Terry Regier, University of Chicago associate professor of
psychology. Last month, Rieger, alongside co-authors Aubrey Gilbert,
Richard Ivry, and Paul Kay at the University of California-Berkeley,
published a paper called “Whorf Hypothesis is Supported in the Right
Visual Field but not in the Left,” in the journal Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences.

Are We Taking Away the Culture When We Alter the Language?
American Chronicle, February 1
As an African American educational assistant, I’ve encountered students
with a shared background as well as those from a multitude of
backgrounds. I’m the only African American educator where I teach, and
I’m also centered in a city where the social-economic level is low and
the culture extremely diverse. There is an opportunity to experience a
vast amount of language variations.

Linguistic profiling: The sound of your voice may determine if you get
that apartment or not
Washington University in St. Louis, February 2
Many Americans can guess a caller's ethnic background from their first
hello on the telephone. However, the inventor of the term "linguistic
profiling" has found in a current study that when a voice sounds
African-American or Mexican-American, racial discrimination may follow.

Peter Ladefoged, 80, Linguist Who Was Immersed in Speech, Is Dead
New York Times, February 8
Peter Ladefoged, an internationally renowned linguist who spent his life
blissfully awash in the whistles, murmurs, pops, clicks and trills that
make up the world's spoken languages, died on Jan. 24 in London.
Professor Ladefoged, who was returning to his home in Aliso Viejo,
Calif., from fieldwork in India, was 80.


This week's cool site: Flocabulary ( sent to
me by Blake Harrison. This site is about a product that helps teach
vocabulary using educational hip-hop. I think that's pretty cool.

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