well, I just finished a fairly complicated three week move from Australia to America and am safely installed in my v tumblr-esque apartment [don’t worry I won’t sully Speaking with photos]. so far, I have been laughed at for saying I’d be keen to do x in all seriousness, realised that Americans don’t know what an electric kettle is [presumably because of the tea situation?], found decent coffee [some], found awful coffee [abundant], gone to international graduate orientation to be told that Americans are informal [um, I get called love in Australia and ma’am here] and direct [immediately followed by a slide of phrases that don’t mean what they say], shifted my idea of what’s expensive to the local standard [big mistake, big mistake] and become entirely used to American English. well, at least the Californian kind. I’m loving it.

anyway, now that I’ve started grad school I expect I’ll be posting much more regularly since I now have a reason to procrastinate again (instead of earn money like last year). stay tuned.

Optimality Theory 101: Constraints > Rules



Okay, so here’s a crash course in Optimality Theory (or OT) for any confused linguistics or curious parties out there.

At it’s base, OT is essentially just an alternative way to view phonology. Instead of rules to figure out what is and is not ‘allowed’ in a language OT uses constraints and structures grammars as systems that map from the input to the output. The input is referred to the as underlying form whereas the output is the surface realization.  

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Another entry in Crowdsourced Linguistics! Yay! 

Sometimes people also use non-linguistics decision-making analogies to explain Optimality Theory: here’s a coffee-buying analogy via linguisticky, for example. I just realized that this analogy doesn’t link into the more formal layout of OT, with the tableaux and such, so I’m going to do that below. 

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reblogged before, but… too good.

(Source: itsvondell)





its odd how the tumblr linguistics community rarely discusses sign languages

Here’s something cool you may already have known: wiktionary has ASL. There is standardized orthography for it (left/right, names for common movements and hand positions, etc.)
Is that not awesome!?

Bilabialfricative makes a really good point, though. I reblogged that video about the restaurant in toronto, but it’s one of the only sign language things i’ve seen circulating. 

Oh and there was that thing about the deaf/blind kid whose parents set up a language to narrate the World Cup. But yeah, that’s pretty much it.

Don’t forget that Superlinguo did a great series of posts on Auslan (Australian Sign Language).

Here is a map based on Ethnologue data which more or less shows country size based on the number of indigenous languages still spoken there. As you can see, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Nigeria and Cameroon are blown way out of proportion, whereas countries like Korea and New Zealand almost disappear. It’s also nice to see Timor-Leste make an appearance on a global map, since it’s usually too small for anyone to notice.

I’d be interested to see a similar map for number of indigenous languages pre British/Spanish/Portuguese etc colonisation. Australia would be a lot bigger, as would the US, Canada, Argentina, Chile and others. This map isn’t just measuring linguistic diversity, but also how efficient colonisers were at wiping out languages (and people). Of course, since Ethnologue is mainly concerned with cataloging living languages, the data set isn’t as readily available.

Worldmapper actually has a whole series of language maps, showing where certain language speakers are throughout the world in the same way. Don’t look at it if you’re meant to be writing a paper or something - you could spend a lot of time there.

[As an aside, I’d like to point out (as usual) that Pacific central maps make much more sense just because there isn’t too much in the Atlantic Ocean. All these Euro-central maps end up chopping Pacific nations in half, which is really only obvious in this kind of map with poor Vanuatu. I mean, maybe we’d have to sever Greenland, but that somehow seems less mean.]

Anonymous said: i have no idea if you're still interested but with the "which English" quiz I (an Australian) got dialect: 1. New Zealand, 2. Welsh (UK), 3. Australian and languages: 1. English, 2. Swedish and 3. Chinese. :)

I sure am! I wonder why you got Welsh above Australian? Yet you still managed to get NZ first (as predicted). So you were definitely Australian sounding, they just always assume that to mean NZ, but you definitely had some quirks. Nice.

This kinda implies they are somehow distinguishing NZ and Australian in the quiz. I wonder how. So interesting!


in case anyone is interested, in order:

utility vehicle
bottle shop
bundaberg rum
cabernet sauvignon
methylated spirits
spaghetti bolognaise
garbage collector
boxed wine
poker machine
service station (gas station)
sick day
cigarette break
bottle of beer
can of beer
sweatpants/tracksuit pants

(Source: henrys-husbando)

Linguistics Resources Masterpost


I’m posting this behind a Read-More so that any and all updates to this list will be available no matter how many reblogs it gets, or if you store it in your drafts for future reference, or if you queue it and it comes out in 3 weeks; so no matter what the latest updates will be there.

Thank you so much to everyone who helped out so far. Please feel free to make suggestions (whether it’s the organization of the resources, or additional resources).

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Anonymous said: How did you know Linguistics was the right fit for you? I'm about to start studying it, but I'm nervous!

How exciting!

I didn’t know that linguistics was the right fit until I was well into it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do (and hadn’t even heard of linguistics), so I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts. I took History and Maths, and I loved languages so I decided to do a major in Spanish too and I had an extra class to fill and Introduction to the Study of Language sounded the most interesting. And I found it interesting, but about halfway through the course I realised it was the intersection of all my interests (intensely analytical, but with historical and sociological elements and fundamentally about people) and that I was pretty good at it. And that was that. I just kept taking classes, and explored options for honours and fieldwork (basically I wanted an excuse to travel) and research assistantships and it all seemed to fall into place. Mostly though, the great thing is is that linguistics is such a big field there’s so many options for ‘the right fit’.

Like, if you’re a mathsy patterns person then syntax or phonology are great, and if you’re a sciency measurements type then phonetics is perfect, and if you’re a history buff then obviously historical linguistics and if you just love words then you can be a lexicographer and if social sciences and why people do what they do is what interests you then sociolinguistics or psycholinguistics depending on what you mean by why or if you want to apply your ling skills to practical situations then language documentation/translation/language teaching/speech pathology or therapy/language policy. And of course if you like to travel do fieldwork! Basically I think that anyone who loves language can find a good fit in linguistics.

Don’t be nervous! Some parts are harder than others, but you’ll work out what you like and what you’re best at and then you get to specialise. Plus my experience is that linguists are mostly just really enthusiastic people who get really excited when someone else is also interested. It really is one of the friendliest fields. And remember: you always have options, not just in what you study, but also in what you do with that study, so don’t ever feel trapped.

Good luck :)