Every so often we make seemingly small decisions that end up changing the course of our lives forever… For me, one such choice was taking an introductory linguistics class, which ultimately led to changing my major to Linguistics three years into an Industrial Design degree and launching me on a love affair that still consumes me to this day. I suspect that if you’re reading this blog, you too may be interested in linguistics, at least as far as it can aid your approach to mastering foreign languages. While a college degree in the subject can certainly help in this regard, the good news is that you can learn all the core principles you need from a small list of books, saving yourself four years and thousands of dollars! Read on to see the three linguistics books you need to understand how languages work, how they’re acquired, and how best to learn or teach them.
Interview with Jonty Yamisha: Circassian Language Activist, Accidental Polyglot & Founder of Optilingo
Jonty Yamisha is a language activist, an “accidental polyglot” in his own words, a “third-generation Circassian refugee,” and the founder of OptiLingo, an audio-based language app that uses “guided immersion” to help people reach fluency in foreign languages more quickly. We discuss the Circassian language and cultural history, how he’s raising his children bilingually, and how he “steals back” time for language learning amid his busy professional and family life.
I am pleased to welcome back my first repeat guest on the podcast: the author, teacher, and grammar guru Ellen Jovin. A lot has happened since our first chat over five years ago, including travels all over the United States discussing the inner workings of English grammar with passing strangers at her “Grammar Table,” and a new book for English learners called “English At Work: Find and Fix Your Mistakes in Business English as a Foreign Language.”
Gretchen McCulloch is an internet linguist, the “Resident Linguist” at WIRED Magazine (Best. Title. Ever!), the co-host of the Lingthusiasm podcast, and the author of the new book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, a smart, loving, pun-filled look at the evolution of language in the internet age.
Every few months it seems, another article or blog post comes out making sensationalist claims like “Texting is destroying our language!” and “Kids today don’t know how to write anymore thanks to texting and emoji!” In this great TED Talk, linguist John McWhorter makes the case for why texting does not mean the death of good writing skills, and even shares some positive linguistic and cultural aspects of this new communication medium.
“Linguistic discrimination”, also known as “linguicism”, is one of the darkest corners of sociolinguistics, but also one of the most fascinating. Though it’s a complex and highly controversial topic, in simple terms, linguicism is defined as: The unfair treatment of an individual based on their native language, dialect, accent, vocabulary, word choice, syntax, etc. Sadly, this form of discrimination can be found in every corner of the globe. As I’ve traveled the world—and even different pockets of my home country—I have witnessed countless cases of people being treated better or worse based on their native tongue or regional dialect.