Back to school linguistics resources roundup

Taking (or teaching) an introductory linguistics class this semester? Here’s a handy resource post that you can save and come back to. Or, wish you could take intro linguistics? This might be the next best thing. 

General resources

Phonetics & Phonology 

Morphology & Syntax

Semantics & Pragmatics

Teaching resources 


Once you’ve taken a few linguistics courses, you may also want to consult how to explain linguistics to your friends and family, my linguistics jobs series, and my extensive archive of linguist humour. And hey – if you haven’t taken any linguistics but you’ve got an elective slot open, why not give it a try? 


hey anyone who is interested in linguistics and wants to know more should totally watch Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? 

It’s a Chomskyan perspective, yeah, but it’s important to see all sides of the argument. 

The reason I am mentioning it is that I just found out that it’s available on Netflix, so it is more accessible for a lot of people.

Another cool movie for people who have an interest in the field but don’t really know much about what’s up is The Linguists

anonymous asked:

im interested in majoring in linguistics, but im not so sure, do you have any advice? Also, i'd love to hear why you chose this major too :)

Before you declare a major in anything, you should make sure you know you like it. Or if not like it, that you can do it. That’s primary. Next is the knowledge that you can always change your mind, and that it’s okay to do so. Finally, you should major in linguistics because it’s awesome and useful!

Check out allthingslinguistic’s protolinguist series, the LSA’s page on what linguistics is and is used for, and LinguistList’s student portal. These resources should help you figure out if linguistics is something you want to do. Even if you don’t want to “become a linguist”, though, linguistics is great for careers in lots of fields (therapy, general ed, history, english, world languages, writing, sociology, anthropology, computer science, among others).

I got into linguistics in an unusual way. I have always been interested in language and science, but I didn’t know linguistics was a thing until high school choir class. We learned the International Phonetic Alphabet to learn to pronounce lyrics in other languages. It was at that point I learned that there was an entire field dedicated to the study of how humans use language to communicate. Initially, I was interested in sounds — how we produce, understand, and modulate them. That’s since morphed into an interest in how sound influences the way we understand sentence-length utterances that might have very complex or ambiguous structures.

These days, I haven’t been posting much because I’m trying to finish my dissertation soon and I’ve been applying to jobs and a whole lot of other stuff… but don’t worry! I am still here and still going to keep wuglife alive (especially after I’ve defended!!).

Happy holidays and a happy New Year to all you linguists, protolinguists, scientists and scholars!!!


Morphological Typology (illustrations from SpecGram)

Descriptions adapted from The Lingua File

Analytic languages: also known as isolating languages because they’re composed of isolated, or free, morphemes. Free morphemes can be words on their own, such as cat or happy. Languages that are purely analytic in structure don’t use any prefixes or suffixes, ever. However, it’s rare to find a language that is purely analytic or synthetic since most languages have characteristics of both. Morphological typology is like a spectrum in which languages fit in somewhere from analytic to polysynthetic (a subtype of synthetic languages we’ll get to in a moment). Mandarin Chinese and Vietnamese are good examples of analytic languages. […] English, on the other hand, is one of the most analytic Indo-European languages, but is still usually classified as a synthetic language. […]

Types of synthetic language (i.e. languages that have prefixes/suffixes): 

Agglutinating Languages:With these languages, morphemes within words are usually clearly recognizable in a way that makes it easy to tell where the morpheme boundaries are. Their affixes usually only have a single meaning. Turkish,Korean, Hungarian, Japanese, and Finnish are all in this group.

Fusional Languages: Similar to agglutinating languages, except that the morpheme boundaries are much more difficult to discern. Affixes are often fused with the stems, and can have multiple meanings. A prime example of a fusional language is Spanish, especially when it comes to verbs. In the wordhablo "I speak", the -o morpheme tells us that we’re dealing with a subject that is singular, first person, and in the present tense. It’s difficult to find a morpheme that means “speak”, however, since habl- is not a morpheme. Fusional languages can be tricky!

Polysynthetic Languages: These languages are undoubtedly some of the most difficult to learn. They often have verbs that can express the entirety of a typical sentence in English, which they do by incorporating nouns into verbs forms. For example, the Sora language of India has one word that means “I will catch a tiger”. Many Native American languages are polysynthetic.

Resources: Linguistics

Theses aren’t all actually resources. I’m just going through my favorites folders and pasting the links. (I have a lot of favorites so I organized them into folders. There’s Ling, Interesting Things, and Python (the programming language). Within Ling, there’s Linguistics and Languages, and some pages that relate to both. Within Linguistics are just pages, but within Languages, I’ve got the folders: Multiple Langs, Español, Deutsch, Suomi, Magyar, Chinese, Other Langs (ones I only have one website for), and Scripts.)

This list will consist of that which lies within the Linguistics folder

Hey look it’s a picture!

Okay yeah here we go: and - Just to remind me to go through allthingslinguistic’s protolinguist tags every so often so I can absorb the knowledge - I HAVE TO MAKE SURE I SIGN UP ONCE POSSIBLE. It’s a national competition about linguistics - If you don’t know what this is, I’m so glad you do now. It’s kinda like The Onion for linguistics? - Just some flash cards about phonetics - I’ve heard that this is the program linguistics use for phonetics. I plan on checking it out when I actually understand phonetics XD - I think this is like a syllabus? Or something of that nature. It’s got information tho. Probably something better for proto-linguists. Actually all of this is better for proto-linguists. Except maybe SpecGram - Read the first paragraph; that explains it pretty well. - HOLY CATS IT’S PRETTY MUCH THE BEST EVER. It lets you compare languages internationally with grammar structures and phonetic things and such sorry I’m bad at explaining - Not really linguistics, but very cool nonetheless. It only uses one vowel per chapter, and has some other stuff at the end :D - Like WALS but for phonotactics - Seen lots of praise for this series - FREE INTRO TO LING BOOK? YES PLEASE - Linguistics programs in USA schools - Classic papers for proto-linguists - I discovered WikiBooks recently It’s really cool, and I like the way it’s formatted.

There’s Linguistics!

Next up: Languages (Yes, all of the stuff I’ve got there)

sooooooper psyched for naclo tomorrow! i dont even care that im not going to do v. well, im just excited for a chance to do linguistics puzzles for 3 hours nonstop on a *school*day* eeee

that is if i dont stare at the time limit, stare at my paper, stare at the geniuses around me, and melt into a puddle on the ground

What is language? 8 myths about language and linguistics

What is language?

Language is an arbitrary, conventionalized association between a symbol and a meaning: there’s no necessary connection between the meaning of a word and how it’s represented in language (spoken, signed, or written). This idea comes from Saussure.

If there was a necessary connection between symbol and meaning, we would expect there to be only one possible language. Even for domains where there’s a closer link, such as onomatopoeia and the first words that a baby speaks (often mama, baba, papa, dada since these are easy to articulate), there are still differences cross-linguistically. And for other words, such as dog, chien, perro, languages differ even more.

The conventionalization criterion distinguishes language from other, non-linguistic forms of communication, such as body language and gesture. Two monolingual speakers of English are equally likely to produce similar or dissimilar gestures in describing a given situation (such as a ball rolling down a hill) as a monolingual speaker of English and a monolingual speaker of another spoken language, but two speakers of ASL will produce signs to describe that situation in a way that are systematically similar to each other and different from another sign language such as BSL. 

What is grammar?

Keep reading

Sometimes you forget that people don’t realize that b and p aren’t completely different letters

Someone was giving a short presentation in a speech class on Hangeul and I thought I would listen in so I could try to hear the pronunciation a bit better (like I know the value of each letter in theory but in practice I find the straight bar on the bottom and the inward pointing vertical bar (I think eu and eo/uh respectively?? idk transcription is weird) difficult to say and distinguish between each other. Anyways, this was a completely lay crowd, and even the presenter (who is very good at English but came more recently than others from Korea) had some trouble presenting the concepts. So when she was trying to explain the fact that you transcribe one letter as p and another as b, the b also sounds kinda more like a p (this is because the one transcribed as p is actually aspirated), the entire class was SOOO confused because how could p and b be alike??? 

and i just sat there trying to restrain myself from teaching them about wugs

sunmuffin42  asked:

Hello! I wanted to take part in that quiz/survey thing for BLIP in Singapore that you posted about, and I saw it was only for those above 18. Why is that?

University projects involving human participants require the approval of an ethics body. When the activity involves listening to some recordings and clicking on some icons it may seem a bit silly that this is restricted to people over 18 - but ethics panels are usually cautious and working with ‘children and minors’ often requires a great deal more additional work on behalf of the researcher to demonstrate that the research won’t harm anyone, and parental consent is often required - which is obviously very hard on the internet.

I know this is seems unfair to protolinguists and junior psychologists - I mentioned your disappointment to the BLIP crew and they’re going to keep it in mind when building their next set of experiments. At the end of the day it’s up to the university ethics board!

We posted about the BLIP experiments here - a few of them are still running if anyone (over 18) wants to participate.

How to remember the IPA consonant chart

Here are some ways of remembering what all the English consonants are in the International Phonetic Alphabet. (Looking for how to remember vowels?)

The basics: a clickable IPA chart, an interactive cross-section of the human vocal tract, and the IPA consonants for English in a chart:  

I strongly recommend learning the IPA symbols at the same time as you learn their position on the charts. The charts are designed like that for a reason and they’ll help you remember which sounds are similar to each other and where they’re pronounced in the mouth. Why? Because the chart is a really stylized representation of where in the mouth the sounds are pronounced, as you can see in the rough diagram below. (The vowel chart is similar but a bit less stylized.)

The point is that the leftmost columns of the consonant chart are at the front of the mouth (the lips), and then as the columns go rightward, the sounds go toward the back of the mouth and down into the throat. The rows from top to bottom, very broadly speaking, go in order from the most amount of mouth closure to the least amount of mouth closure.*

*Very broadly speaking, especially because different courses sometimes rearrange the rows around the middle of the chart. This is a mnemonic, not an absolute rule. 

A great way to practise the IPA symbols with the chart is to get a blank diagram and practise writing the symbols in, preferably with keywords for the ones that don’t look like their intuitive English sounds so that you remember what they sound like. (The consonant chart is easier than the vowel chart, because some of the consonants have the sound you’d expect from English, while virtually none of the vowel symbols correspond to their intuitive English sounds haha just kidding there’s no such thing as an intuitive English vowel sound-letter correspondence, English vowels are completely messed up.)

Here is an IPA consonant chart for English with keywords for the symbols that don’t have their typical English sounds: 

I’ve capitalized the “s” in “casual” to emphasize that the relevant sound is in the middle of the word, since English words that begin with ʒ are very rare. I’ve also used “Johan” as the keyword for /j/ as a mnemonic that the “j” is pronounced like in German, i.e. like the “y” in “yellow”. Feel free to use “yellow” as a keyword instead, if you’d rather have English words for all of them. I’ve put /w/ in parentheses as a reminder that it goes in TWO columns, both bilabial and velar, since it is pronounced with constriction at both the lips and the velum. “Church” and “judge” are bonus keywords because they have their relevant sounds twice. 

Here is an IPA consonant chart with keywords for all the symbols, even those that do have their typical English sounds, if you prefer it. The keywords aren’t particularly meaningful but I tried to pick common words that had the sound at both the beginning and end, where feasible. 

Here is an IPA consonant chart with the names that are commonly used for the special symbols that aren’t referred to by their common English letter names, for example if spelling a transcription out loud: 

Note that /ɹ/ looks like a special symbol but doesn’t have a particular name in common use. If necessary, you could use “upside down r” or perhaps “turned r”. Also note that “eth” as a name is itself pronounced with a voiced “th”.

Here is a blank IPA consonant chart with the non-English sounds greyed out, so you can practise filling in all the white boxes: 

Here is the same blank IPA consonant chart but with the names of all the columns removed, for advanced practice:  

For the most advanced-level practice, draw out the IPA charts including headers with no clues at all, on a blank sheet of paper or whiteboard. Say the sounds out loud as you go. And then move on to vowels!

Keep reading

So some people see other people get excited about stuff like linguistics and science and reading and geography, and people see these learning addicts and think to themselves “what. why. that’s super wweeeeird. like calm down about that thing that you like” and they think to themselves that learning addicts are kinda crazy.
but learning addicts are the best kind of people because they care so much about the things and they want /you/ to care about the thing too. and that’s the only reason they tell you anything about the thing. because learning addicts just want you to know how fucking cool it is.
i wish learning wasn’t weird in a young-person social community
because then everyone would feel okay with wanting to learn and nerding out and how cool would that be
so cool


It’s just so true.

This came up when I was talking about how I really enjoy watching Minute Physics episodes in Spanish because they’re just really cool and wow.

How to remember the IPA vowel chart

The IPA vowel chart is a thing of beauty, a joy forever, and sometimes a bit of a pain to learn. Here are some ways of remembering what all the English vowels are in the International Phonetic Alphabet. (Looking for how to remember consonants?)

The basics: a clickable IPA chart and an interactive cross-section of the human vocal tract. 

I strongly recommend learning IPA symbols at the same time as you learn their position on the charts. The charts are designed like that for a reason and they’ll help you remember which sounds are similar to each other and where they’re pronounced in the mouth. Why? Because the chart is a really stylized representation of where in the mouth the sounds are pronounced, as you can see in the diagram below. (The consonant chart is similar but even more stylized.)

A great way to practise the IPA symbols with the chart is to get a blank diagram (here’s one) and practise writing the symbols in, preferably with keywords so that you remember what they sound like. If you’ve studied Spanish or Italian, it may help to note that the “normal” looking vowels correspond to their sounds in Spanish/Italian.

How do you pick your keywords? There are a couple options. 

Keep reading