Sounds like Greek to me

Robert Lawless robert.lawless at
Fri Dec 12 22:33:29 UTC 2008

Do you have a bibliography on folk linguistics that you can share?

Lynn Goldstein wrote:
> lgpolicy-list at writes:
>> On 12/12/08 12:05 PM, "Ann Anderson Evans" <[
>> fcp://,%236701280/Mailbox/
>> ]annevans123 at> wrote:
>> In Israel the Arabic I heard on the streets was not attractive to my ear,
>> to say the least, rough and guttural. Then one night I heard Arabic
>> poetry being read on the radio.  Talk about rich!
>> How do we operationalize value judgements like “rough, guttural, rich?”
>> These kinds of statements are totally subjective, and have no linguistic
>> (i.e., scientific) merit whatsoever. I suspect, though, that maybe what
>> was happening here was that the poetic reading style was probably very
>> different from the typical on the street interaction. I suspect that we
>> might make the same contrasting judgements about street vs. poetic
>> English. Think for example about taxi drivers arguing over a parking
>> space, versus someone reading from Whitman.
>> By the way, when I was in high school, I thought Spanish was the gods’
>> gift to humankind. Beautiful! So much so, that I majored in it as an
>> undergrad. Then, in grad school, I took Aymara and began learning about
>> how the Spanish had oppressed, exploited, and otherwise abused the Aymara
>> and other indigenous peoples in the Andes and elsewhere. Somehow, Spanish
>> didn’t sound so beautiful anymore...
>> Ron
> I am quite interested in folk linguistics and  I strongly believe that
> these types of statements and beliefs , while subjective, have great
> linguistic/scientific merit. Understanding and describing people's folk
> views  should be an essential part of linguistics.  
> I've been doing work in this area for while, and although I have not had
> the time to write much of it  up ( During the discussion of the Ebonics
> Resolution I examined 10 newspapers across the United States ,over a year
> period of time, looking at how the "folk", journalists, and  linguistics
> talked about the resolution; did poling of Californians as to how they
> voted for proposition 227, what they knew about the proposition, what they
> thought it would "do" and what the sources of knowledge and information
> were that informed their vote; and I have a published article  about 
> English Only as discussed in The New York Times, The Monterey Herald, and
> the San Francisco Chronicle). The results have been eye opening in terms
> of folk knowledge and views and the impact they have  on real life
> decisions such as the passing of prop 227 in California and in terms of
> how we (linguists) need to  learn how to talk to and with the folk if we
> want our own voices to be heard in crucial policy decisions.    I'm
> currently working on a project where I collected my sociolinguists
> students' ( in their first semester of our MA program) folk views across a
> wide variety of topics about language at the beginning of the course and
> at the end of the course. I'm examining what these views were, how they
> did or did not change,where these views came from, and what impact what we
> read and discuss in sociolinguistics have had on these views. 
> Folk Linguistics is an integral part of the graduate sociolinguistic
> course I teach , as I want my students to understand  the "folk" and their
> views  they will be working with as language teachers, language program
> administrators, language assessment specialists, policy makers,
> sociolinguists and so forth. As part of their work in this course they all
> undertake a folk linguistic study ( they've looked at folk  views of
> bilingual education, AAVE, prescription/description in language use, media
> treatments of language topics, how attitudes towards language varieties
> are strategically  portrayed in movies and in novels and so forth).
> They've come away with an appreciation for how folk views may differ from
> those held by linguists and importantly how they cannot be dismissed if we
> are to understand language and how it is used and the roles it plays in
> people's lives. 
> Lynn Goldstein
> Professor, TESOL and Applied Linguistics
> The Monterey Institute of International Studies 
> 460 Pierce Street
> Monterey, CA 93940
> (831) 647-4184
> lgoldstein at
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