Posts tagged ‘linguistics’

20 February 2011

What if Derrida was wrong about Saussure?

This new book wins title of the year for me:

Russell Daylight (2011). What if Derrida was wrong about Saussure? Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

Daylight’s fine book on Derrida and Saussure is the first critique to seek to understand Derrida’s philosophical project while testing his reading of Saussure and exploring how the argument of the Course may, despite Derrida’s influential critique, contain resources for resisting his project and thinking differently about language and meaning.” (Jonathan Culler, Cornell University)

Between 1907 and 1911, Ferdinand de Saussure gave three series of lectures on the topic of general linguistics. After his death, these lecture notes were gathered together by his students and published as the Course in General Linguistics. And in the past one hundred years, there has been no more influential and divisive reading of Saussure than that of Jacques Derrida.

This book is an examination of Derrida’s philosophical reconstruction of Saussurean linguistics, of the paradigm shift from structuralism to post-structuralism, and of the consequences that continue to resonate in every field of the humanities today.

Despite the importance of Derrida’s critique of Saussure for cultural studies, philosophy, linguistics and literary theory, no comprehensive analysis has before been written. The magnitude of the task undertaken here makes this book an invaluable resource for those wishing to interrogate the encounter beyond appearances or received wisdom. In this process of a close reading, the following themes become sites of debate between Derrida and Saussure:

  • the originality of Saussure within the history of Western metaphysics
  • the relationship between speech and writing
  • the relationship between difference and difference
  • the intervention of time in structuralism
  • linguistic relativism and the role of the language user.

This long-overdue commentary also poses new questions to structuralism and post-structuralism, and opens up exciting new terrain in linguistic and political thought.

11 May 2010

Laughter in discourse

…some findings on my recent search for research articles on the use of laughter in meetings…

Janet Holmes. (2006). Sharing a laugh: Pragmatic aspects of humor and gender in the workplace. Journal of Pragmatics, 38(1): 26-50. (Abstract)

Humor serves a wide range of functions at work, one of which is to foster collegiality. An analysis of interactions in New Zealand workplaces showed that one of the most important functions of humor was the construction and maintenance of good relations with fellow workers. Such workplace collegiality is often constructed and maintained through extended sequences of humor. This paper examines some of the ways in which humor is used to construct collegial relations at work, with particular attention to the dimension of gender in the workplace.

Janet Holmes & Meredith Marra. (2002). Having a laugh at work: how humour contributes to workplace culture. Journal of Pragmatics, 34(12): 1683-1710. (Abstract)

Despite its frequency in everyday life, we know very little about the interactional characteristics of laughter. This paper explores some of the pragmatic features of laughter in conversation. Laughter is examined as: (1) a turn taking cue, (2) an instruction to hear, (3) a display of hearership, (4) an invitation to elaborate, and (5) a resource in affiliation.

Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal. (2006). Laughter in the Film The Third Man. Pragmatics 16(2&3): 305-327 (pdf)

Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal (2005). Laughter in Bill Clinton’s My Life (2004) Interviews. Pragmatics 15(2&3): 275-299 (pdf)

Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal (2004). Hillary Clinton’s Laughter in Media Interviews. Pragmatics 14(4): 463-478 (pdf)

Nick O’Donnell-Trujillo & Katherine Adams. (1983). Heheh in conversation: Some coordinating accomplishments of laughter. Western Journal of Communication, 47(2): 175 – 191.

Complete abstract: Despite its frequency in everyday life, we know very little about the interactional characteristics of laughter. This paper explores some of the pragmatic features of laughter in conversation. Laughter is examined as: (1) a turn taking cue, (2) an instruction to hear, (3) a display of hearership, (4) an invitation to elaborate, and (5) a resource in affiliation.

…image thanks to composed volcano...

18 April 2010

Language and culture

Question: What percent of languages in the world are primitive in the sense of not having a system of sounds, words, and sentences that can adequately communicate the content of culture?
Answer here on the second “flashcard”.

More tutorials on human communication by Dennis O’Neil.

27 February 2009

Transcription tools for discourse analysis

Blog of the day: Tom Van Hout on Aloxecorton recommends tools for transcribing audio and video data. Including one which links to the audio/video file. Just what I was looking for.

In discourse analysis, transcribing audio or video data is a necessary evil. In this process of entextualization and recontextualization, recordings become transcripts – the textual simulacra discourse analysts rely on to analyze what and how people ‘do things’ with language.

There are number of commercial transcription tools available but if you’re looking for a basic (Windows only) speech transcription utility, I recommend VoiceWalker (if it’s bells and whistles you want, try Transana). VoiceWalker was designed by University of California linguists John W. Du Bois and Mary Bucholtz and can be downloaded freely.

In addition, a somewhat more ambitious tool is SoundWriter. This (beta) software is designed to link a transcription to the audio source file, “to help the researcher hear and visualize relationships between utterances in conversational interaction”. Download for free here.

4 January 2009

Langwij

In a recent issue of ELT Journal, Vol 62(1), David Cristal comments on the linguistic phenomenon of texting (pdf). His commentary is introduced by two excellent poems by Norman Silver. This one is from Age, Sex, Location txt cafe. 2006.

langwij
langwij
is hi-ly infectious

children
the world ova
catch it
from parence
by word of mouth

the yung
r specially vulnerable
so care
shud b taken how langwij
is spread

symptoms include acute
goo-goo
& the equally serious ga-ga

if NE child
is infected with langwij
give em
3 Tspoons of txt
b4 bedtime
& ½ a tablet of verse
after every meal

See also David Crystal’s new book (2008) Txting: the Gr8 Db8. Oxford: Oxford University Press.