Sit. Stay. Parse.

Here’s the newest news piece addressing the age-old language vs. communication question. Do animals possess language, or are they just good, to varying degrees, at communicating with each other? Bees dance, birds sing, primates sign. What does it all mean??

From a standpoint of linguistics, we need more evidence that animal communication possesses what we consider the unique properties of human language, like recursivity, productivity, and segmentation. New research like we see here about Chaser the border collie does contribute to what we know about language (read: human language), but a word of caution. As the article says: “The experiment’s relevance to language is likely to be a matter of dispute.”

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Andrew Cuomo’s New York accent: An act of political identification?

Check out this short piece on Andrew Cuomo, New York State’s newly-elected governor. I was interviewed for this article, and as you can see my quotes seem to indicate that I think Mr. Cuomo is targeting a particular audience with his accent. In fact, what I told the reporter is that we all adjust the way we speak (accommodate) depending on our audience. While it may at first seem surprising that a politician has a fairly strong accent (as Cuomo does – classic NYC), I mentioned that he most probably finds it valuable to sound like a New Yorker being a New York politician. I don’t see this as conscious or manipulative, but rather a common fact of linguistic usage.
Also: I don’t buy the korea/caree(r) bit! There’s no data beyond anecdote to support it. I also don’t think there are borough accents in NYCE, but stayed tuned for some data on that!

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Call for Papers: GLEEFUL

Lakes Expo for Experimental and Formal Undergraduate Linguistics
, April 23, 2011

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Linguistics Department Holiday Party

A fun time was had by all at the home of our host and department chair, Matt Pearson.

A very happy holidays from our White Elephant/Mean Santa participants! From left: Svitlanal Antonyuk-Yudina, me with THE BEST PRESENT EVER; Anna Seymour,  Sam Seagaard, Jenny Calvert-Warren, Makenzie Barron, Tovee Rowley, Katherine Wu, Ruth Linehan, and Nina Umont

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