Sounds like Greek to me

Al Haraka alharaka at
Fri Dec 12 14:10:04 UTC 2008

Damien and Robert,

I am by no means an expert, with my last linguistics courses over a year 

Nonetheless, I thought professors in sociolinguistics referred to this 
subset as "linguistic topology."  I am not sure if it is an independent 
field of study or a hobby among really esoteric linguists.  However, I 
took a class with Arabic professors on Contrastive (Linguistic) Analysis 
(or whatever fancy name they had doctored), and the discussion of 
people's impressions on different dialects, the difficulty in learning 
other languages, was studied under those respective headings.

I am not sure that helps.  Someone can correct me if they wish.


Damien Hall wrote:
> Robert asked about linguists' work on folk perceptions of foreign 
> languages. Miriam said:
>> I believe that Dennis Preston has done substantial work on 'folk 
>> linguistics.'
> He has indeed, but as far as I'm aware all his work under that rubric 
> has been on American dialectology: eg the words that people use to 
> describe others' dialects ('nasal', 'Southern twang', etc), and the fact 
> that listeners are able to place American accents on a North-South 
> continuum with a remarkable degree of precision (when played sentences 
> spoken by ten speakers, given a map with a North-South line of ten 
> places on it, and asked to match speaker with place). I'm not aware of 
> any work Dennis has done on folk perceptions of foreign languages, 
> though that, of course, doesn't mean to say that he hasn't done any!
> Nevertheless, the question sounds like one that people in educational 
> linguistics might well have some tips on. There's a list you cuold ask, 
> accessible here:
> All the best
> Damien

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