New Books In Language



Interviews with Scholars of Language about their New Books


  • Jing Tsu, "Kingdom of Characters: The Language Revolution That Made China Modern" (Riverhead Books, 2022)

    24/03/2022 Duración: 38min

    Tens of thousands of characters. Countless homonyms. Mutually unintelligible dialects across an entire country. This is what faced the Chinese thinkers, inventors and technicians who had to figure out how to standardize, translate, and adapt the Chinese language for a new country, and for new technologies. Professor Jing Tsu’s Kingdom of Characters: The Language Revolution that Made China Modern (Riverhead Books, 2022) tells the stories of those who worked to transform Chinese for the 20th century. In this interview, Jing and I talk about thinkers and technicians: those who toiled to make the Chinese language work for typewriters, telegraphs, and other important technologies. Jing Tsu is the John M. Schiff Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature and Chair of the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale. She specializes in Chinese literature, history, and culture from the nineteenth century to the present, and received her doctorate in Chinese studies from Harvard. A Guggenhei

  • N. J. Enfield, "Language Vs. Reality: Why Language Is Good for Lawyers and Bad for Scientists" (MIT Press, 2022)

    23/03/2022 Duración: 01h08min

    Nick Enfield’s book, Language vs. Reality: Why Language is Good for Lawyers and Bad for Scientists (MIT Press, 2022), argues that language is primarily for social coordination, not precisely transferring thoughts from one person to another. Drawing on empirical research, Enfield shows that human lexicons the world over are far more coarse-grained than our perceptual faculties. Yet, at the same time, languages vary in the structure and sophistication of their representations. This means that, for instance, how different languages carve up the world influences not only how their speakers talk about the world, but also how they think about it. The book explores a range of linguistic phenomena, from lexical diversity to linguistic framing to the effects of narrative. As a result of understanding how language shapes our understanding of reality, Enfield argues that we can make more informed—and more ethical—decisions about our own language use, as individuals and communities. Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professo

  • Eliza Jane Smith, "Literary Slumming: Slang and Class in Nineteenth-Century France" (Lexington Books, 2021)

    04/03/2022 Duración: 47min

    Eliza Jane Smith's Literary Slumming: Slang and Class in Nineteenth-Century France (Lexington Books, 2021) applies a sociolinguistic approach to the representation of slang in French literature and dictionaries to reveal the ways in which upper-class writers, lexicographers, literary critics, and bourgeois readers participated in a sociolinguistic concept the author refers to as "literary slumming", or the appropriation of lower-class and criminal language and culture. Through an analysis of spoken and embodied manifestations of the anti-language of slang in the works of Eugène François Vidocq, Honoré de Balzac, Eugène Sue, Victor Hugo, the Goncourt Brothers, and Émile Zola, Literary Slumming argues that the nineteenth-century French literary discourse on slang led to the emergence of this sociolinguistic phenomenon that prioritised lower-class and criminal life and culture in a way that ultimately expanded class boundaries and increased visibility and agency for minorities within the public sphere. Pallavi J

  • Dennis Duncan, "Index, a History of The: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age" (W.W. Norton, 2022)

    02/03/2022 Duración: 01h03min

    Most of us give little thought to the back of the book--it's just where you go to look things up. But as Dennis Duncan reveals in Index, a History of The: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age (W.W. Norton & Company, 2022), hiding in plain sight is an unlikely realm of ambition and obsession, sparring and politicking, pleasure and play. In the pages of the index, we might find Butchers, to be avoided, or Cows that sh-te Fire, or even catch Calvin in his chamber with a Nonne. Here, for the first time, is the secret world of the index: an unsung but extraordinary everyday tool, with an illustrious but little-known past. Charting its curious path from the monasteries and universities of thirteenth-century Europe to Silicon Valley in the twenty-first, Duncan uncovers how it has saved heretics from the stake, kept politicians from high office, and made us all into the readers we are today. We follow it through German print shops and Enlightenment coffee houses, novelists' living rooms a

  • Mary Norris, "Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen" (Norton, 2020)

    22/02/2022 Duración: 01h51s

    Mary Norris, The New Yorker's Comma Queen and best-selling author of Between You & Me, has had a lifelong love affair with words. In Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen (Norton, 2020), she delivers a delightful paean to the art of self-expression through accounts of her solo adventures in the land of olive trees and ouzo. Along the way, Norris explains how the alphabet originated in Greece, makes the case for Athena as a feminist icon, and reveals the surprising ways in which Greek helped form English. Greek to Me is filled with Norris's memorable encounters with Greek words, Greek gods, Greek wine--and more than a few Greek men. William Domnarski is a longtime lawyer who before and during has been a literary guy, with a Ph.D. in English. He's written five books on judges, lawyers, and courts, two with Oxford, one with Illinois, one with Michigan, and one with the American Bar Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member! http

  • Tony Veale, "Your Wit Is My Command: Building AIs with a Sense of Humor" (MIT Press, 2021)

    16/02/2022 Duración: 01h05min

    For fans of computers and comedy alike, an accessible and entertaining look into how we can use artificial intelligence to make smart machines funny. Most robots and smart devices are not known for their joke-telling abilities. And yet, as computer scientist Tony Veale explains in Your Wit Is My Command (MIT Press, 2021), machines are not inherently unfunny; they are just programmed that way. By examining the mechanisms of humor and jokes—how jokes actually works—Veale shows that computers can be built with a sense of humor, capable not only of producing a joke but also of appreciating one. Along the way, he explores the humor-generating capacities of fictional robots ranging from B-9 in Lost in Space to TARS in Interstellar, maps out possible scenarios for developing witty robots, and investigates such aspects of humor as puns, sarcasm, and offensiveness. In order for robots to be funny, Veale explains, we need to analyze humor computationally. Using artificial intelligence (AI), Veale shows that joke gener

  • Language Bias: The Last Back Door of Discrimination in America?

    27/01/2022 Duración: 57min

    Hear Dr. Rosina Lippi-Green talk about some of her shocking findings on language discrimination and bias on campus. Lippi-Green and Avi discuss her book English with an Accent: Language, Ideology and Discrimination in the US (Routledge, 2011) and what the academic community can do to be more inclusive of scholars with different levels of English. We also discuss Rosina's transition from researcher to popular novelist. Avi Staiman is the founder and CEO of Academic Language Experts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

  • Nigel A. Caplan, "Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers" (U Michigan Press, 2019)

    26/01/2022 Duración: 01h39min

    Listen to this interview of Nigel Caplan, Associate Professor at the English Language Institute, University of Delaware. We talk generically. Nigel Caplan : "And this sort of brings us to an important point about knowledge and expertise in a discipline. The great genre scholar Doreen Starke-Meyerring said that academic writing tends to be transparent to experts in the discipline, and they forget how opaque it is to novices. So, if you study engineering, biology, philosophy, whatever it is, and you're immersed in that world all the time, it's very easy to believe that that is the only way of writing, because that's the only type of writing you have done for decades. And it quickly becomes, 'Well, that's obviously good writing.' And the idea is, 'Anything else is bad writing.' But experts don't realize what we see as English teachers, especially as teachers in English for Academic Purposes, where we work with students across the disciplines — what we see is that each discipline does have its own way of creating

  • Matthew C. Watson, "Afterlives of Affect: Science, Religion, and an Edgewalker’s Spirit" (Duke UP, 2020)

    21/01/2022 Duración: 01h03min

    In Afterlives of Affect: Science, Religion, and an Edgewalker’s Spirit (Duke UP, 2020), Matthew C. Watson considers the life and work of artist and Mayanist scholar Linda Schele (1942-1998) as a point of departure for what he calls an excitable anthropology. As part of a small collective of scholars who devised the first compelling arguments that Maya hieroglyphs were a fully grammatical writing system, Schele popularized the decipherment of hieroglyphs by developing narratives of Maya politics and religion in popular books and public workshops. In this experimental, person-centered ethnography, Watson shows how Schele’s sense of joyous discovery and affective engagement with research led her to traverse and disrupt borders between religion, science, art, life, death, and history. While acknowledging critiques of Schele’s work and the idea of discovery more generally, Watson contends that affect and wonder should lie at the heart of any reflexive anthropology. With this singular examination of Schele and the

  • N. J. Enfield, "The Languages of Mainland Southeast Asia" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

    14/01/2022 Duración: 42min

    Mainland Southeast Asia is one of the most fascinating and complex cultural and linguistic areas in the world. This book provides a rich and comprehensive survey of the history and core systems and subsystems of the languages of this fascinating region. Drawing on his depth of expertise in mainland Southeast Asia, Enfield includes more than a thousand data examples from over a hundred languages from Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, bringing together a wealth of data and analysis that has not previously been available in one place. Chapters cover the many ways in which these languages both resemble each other, and differ from each other, and the diversity of the area's languages is highlighted, with a special emphasis on minority languages, which outnumber the national languages by nearly a hundred to one. The result is an authoritative treatment of a fascinating and important linguistic area. Like this interview? If so, you might also be interested in: Anjalee Cohen, Youth Cul

  • Keith Kahn-Harris, "The Babel Message: A Love Letter to Language" (Icon Books, 2021)

    07/01/2022 Duración: 49min

    A thrilling journey deep into the heart of language, from a rather unexpected starting point. Keith Kahn-Harris is a man obsessed with something seemingly trivial – the warning message found inside Kinder Surprise eggs: "WARNING, read and keep: Toy not suitable for children under 3 years. Small parts might be swallowed or inhaled." On a tiny sheet of paper, this message is translated into dozens of languages – the world boiled down to a multilingual essence. Inspired by this, the author asks: what makes 'a language'? With the help of the international community of language geeks, he shows us what the message looks like in Ancient Sumerian, Zulu, Cornish, Klingon – and many more. Along the way he considers why Hungarian writing looks angry, how to make up your own language, and the meaning of the heavy metal umlaut. Overturning the Babel myth, he argues that the messy diversity of language shouldn't be a source of conflict, but of collective wonder. The Babel Message: A Love Letter to Language (Icon Books, 202

  • Exploring Science Literacy and Public Engagement with Science

    31/12/2021 Duración: 48min

    Listen to this interview of Ayelet Baram-Tsabari. We talk about the accessibility of science using Google to scholars and students in languages beyond English and how scholars can de-jargonize their research to ensure increase their reach. Avi Staiman is the founder and CEO of Academic Language Experts Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

  • From Linear A to Linear B: Suggestive Continuity

    29/12/2021 Duración: 01h54min

    In this episode, Howard Burton talks with Ester Salgarella, Junior Research Fellow at St John's College, University of Cambridge, about her groundbreaking work on the intriguing relationship between Linear A and Linear B and its consequent sociohistorical implications. Howard Burton is the founder of Ideas Roadshow and host of the Ideas Roadshow Podcast. He can be reached at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

  • Joyce W. Nutta, "English Learners at Home and at School: Stories and Strategies" (Harvard Education Press, 2021)

    28/12/2021 Duración: 01h10min

    This episode of the New Books in Education features English Learners at Home and at School: Stories and Strategies (Harvard Education Press, 2021), by Joyce Nutta. Published in 2021 by the Harvard Education Press, English Learners at Home and at School sheds light on the lived experience of English Learners and their families through presenting six research-based and carefully crafted non-fictional stories. Each of the stories centers on an English learner’s immigration and educational journey. Nutta’s inspiring writing offers rich and detailed portraits of these immigrant children and youths, who walked diverse life paths and strived to become proficient English speakers while adapting to their new life in the United States. The book highlights factors in families, schools and communities that contribute to the success of minoritized English Learner students. It also examines and suggests educational strategies that can scaffold English learners’ academic success, such as including establishing dual-language

  • Sarah and Larry Nannery, "What to Say Next: Successful Communication in Work, Life, and Love with Autism Spectrum Disorder" (Tiller Press, 2021)

    23/12/2021 Duración: 36min

    Today I talked to Sarah and Larry Nannery about their new book What to Say Next: Successful Communication in Work, Life, and Love with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Tiller Press, 2021). What’s it like to live a life where there’s a time delay as you process what others are saying, what it might mean, and how you feel in response? Sarah Nannery knows that experience intimately, gaining in ability over the years to navigate everything from office politics to her personal life more adeptly given her ASD Brain. As a “neurotypical brain” person, her husband Larry Nannery adds his “two-cents” perspective here in terms of observing and helping Sarah and himself navigate their experiences together. Highlights of this conversation include: what internalization means to Sarah in coping with being “bottled up inside” more than perhaps most people, and how one makes a “conversational sandwich” as a way of handling small talk when it looms large as a challenge. Sarah Nannery is the director of development for Autism Initiativ

  • Sher Wells-Jensen on the Pitfalls of Linguistics

    23/12/2021 Duración: 01h19min

    In this episode of How To Be Wrong we talk with Dr. Sher Wells-Jensen, a professor of linguistics at Bowling Green State University and an expert in xenolinguistics or the study of how alien languages might work. It’s a wide-ranging conversation that explores issues related to humility and language, disability, music, and even the study of astrobiology and extraterrestrial intelligence. John W. Traphagan, Ph.D. is Professor and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor in the Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

  • Brigid O'Keeffe, "Esperanto and Languages of Internationalism in Revolutionary Russia" (Bloomsbury, 2021)

    16/12/2021 Duración: 01h44s

    Hoping to unite all of humankind and revolutionize the world, Ludwik Zamenhof launched a new international language called Esperanto from late imperial Russia in 1887. Ordinary men and women in Russia and all over the world soon transformed Esperanto into a global movement. Esperanto and Languages of Internationalism in Revolutionary Russia (Bloomsbury, 2021) traces the history and legacy of this effort: from Esperanto's roots in the social turmoil of the pre-revolutionary Pale of Settlement; to its links to socialist internationalism and Comintern bids for world revolution; and, finally, to the demise of the Soviet Esperanto movement in the increasingly xenophobic Stalinist 1930s. In doing so, this book reveals how Esperanto - and global language politics more broadly - shaped revolutionary and early Soviet Russia. Based on extensive archival materials, Brigid O'Keeffe's book provides the first in-depth exploration of Esperanto at grassroots level and sheds new light on a hitherto overlooked area of Russian

  • Chun-Yi Peng, "Mediatized Taiwanese Mandarin: Popular Culture, Masculinity, and Social Perceptions" (Springer, 2021)

    15/12/2021 Duración: 01h06min

    Mediatized Taiwanese Mandarin: Popular Culture, Masculinity, and Social Perceptions (Springer, 2021) explores how language ideologies have emerged for gangtaiqiang through a combination of indexical and ideological processes in televised media. Gangtaiqiang (Hong Kong-Taiwan accent), a socially recognizable form of mediatized Taiwanese Mandarin, has become a stereotype for many Chinese mainlanders who have little real-life interaction with Taiwanese people. Using both qualitative and quantitative approaches, the author examines how Chinese millennials perceive gangtaiqiang by focusing on the following questions: 1) the role of televised media in the formation of language attitudes, and 2) how shifting gender ideologies are performed and embodied such attitudes. This book presents empirical evidence to argue that gangtaiqiang should, in fact, be conceptualized as a mediatized variety of Mandarin, rather than the actual speech of people in Hong Kong or Taiwan. The analyses in this book point to an emerging real

  • Cinthia Gannett and John Brereton, "Traditions of Eloquence: The Jesuits and Modern Rhetorical Studies" (Fordham UP, 2016)

    14/12/2021 Duración: 01h05min

    Traditions of Eloquence: The Jesuits and Modern Rhetorical Studies (Fordham UP, 2016) explores the important ways Jesuits have employed rhetoric, the ancient art of persuasion and the current art of communications, from the sixteenth century to the present. Much of the history of how Jesuit traditions contributed to the development of rhetorical theory and pedagogy has been lost, effaced, or dispersed. As a result, those interested in Jesuit education and higher education in the United States, as well as scholars and teachers of rhetoric, are often unaware of this living 450-year-old tradition. Written by highly regarded scholars of rhetoric, composition, education, philosophy, and history, many based at Jesuit colleges and universities, the essays in this volume explore the tradition of Jesuit rhetorical education-that is, constructing "a more usable past" and a viable future for eloquentia perfecta, the Jesuits' chief aim for the liberal arts. Intended to foster eloquence across the curriculum and into the

  • Andrew Piper, "Can We Be Wrong? The Problem of Textual Evidence in a Time of Data" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    14/12/2021 Duración: 46min

    Can We Be Wrong? The Problem of Textual Evidence in a Time of Data (Cambridge UP, 2020) by Andrew Piper tackles the problem of generalization with respect to text-based evidence in the field of literary studies. When working with texts, how can we move, reliably and credibly, from individual observations to more general beliefs about the world? The onset of computational methods has highlighted major shortcomings of traditional approaches to texts when it comes to working with small samples of evidence. This Cambridge Element combines a machine learning-based approach to detect the prevalence and nature of generalization across tens of thousands of sentences from different disciplines alongside a robust discussion of potential solutions to the problem of the generalizability of textual evidence. It exemplifies the way mixed methods can be used in complementary fashion to develop nuanced, evidence-based arguments about complex disciplinary issues in a data-driven research environment. Andrew Piper is Professor

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