Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Intrigue of New Words

Neologisms: A.S.S. Graduate-a long-winded person who has attended the "American Sidebartending School"; Part of the lingo used by journalists covering the O.J. Simpson Civil Trial! Big-eyed-Eating when not hungry; a form of greediness and eating because the food is there. Earwitness-Someone who hears the occurence of an incident and later reports it, where as an eyewitness would have seen the incident. Krunk-African American Vernacular for a combination of "funk" and "kool".

Creative Examples of Language: fit as a fiddle; sharp as a tack

"Play on Words"

Etymology: Many words come from the names of people, places, and events. The stories behind words is often fascinating, to say the least as well as a valuable inspiration in exploring the rich history of language and words. Let's look at couple of examples:

Nemesis-In today's world, if someone or something is referred to as our nemesis, we are led to believe that he or she will ultimately bring about our downfall or failure. Through ancient myth, however, Nemesis was actually a goddess whose primary function was to find and punish those guility of displaying any form of pride or disrespect to the gods! Apparently, no one escaped her wrath!

Bedlam-In today's world, St. Mary of Bethlehem's hospital located in London, England is renowned for its exemplary care and medical treatment. However, in its earlier days, it was known for its cruelty to patients, including many being in chains! You can only imagine the horror stories coming out of that place! As talk spread, the word "Bethlehem" was often pronounced incorrectly and , in time became known as St. Mary of Bedlam's hospital. Eventually, the word bedlam came to be described as a place of wild disorder!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Yet More

Here is a breezy summary of someof Marshall McLuhan's ideas about media determinism vis-a-vis our class today.

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Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan

The Mechanical Bride (1951)
The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1960)
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964)
The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967)

Technological Determinism

“The theory Marshall McLuhan advanced has been called technological determinism. As with any deterministic theory, the basic claim is that some single cause or phenomenon determines other aspects of life” (237).

Technological Determinism

“The theory of technological determinism states that technology – specifically, media – decisively shapes how individuals think, feel, and act and how societies organize themselves and operate” (238).

Media History

The Tribal Epoch
The Literate Epoch
The Print Epoch
The Electronic Epoch

Media History

Some characteristics of the tribal epoch:
Speech developed by homo-sapiens 20,000-40,000 years ago.
Orality, Aurality, and tactility
Narrative Storytelling
Immersion and Simultaneity
Cohesive Communities

Media History

Some characteristics of the literate epoch:
The invention of the alphabet in Greece, 1000 B.C.
Solitary Learning

Media History

Some characteristics of the print epoch:
The invention of the printing press in Germany, 1450 AD.
Everything that was mentioned for the literate epoch, but on a larger scale.
Fragmented communities.
The emergence of the middle-class.

Media History

Some characteristics of the electronic epoch:
Revival of Oralality/Aurality and Tactility.
The “global village.”

The Medium is the…

The medium is the message.
The medium determines the content of communication.
The medium is the massage.
The medium has the power to manipulate our perceptions of the world.
The medium is the mass-age.
Mass communication has become the dominant form of interaction.

The Medium is the Message

Some examples of how messages are crafted to conform to the medium.
Film and TV action/violence.
Windows interface and “multitasking.”
The hypertext book.
TOOL audio recording: “Die Eier Von Satan”

Media: Hot and Cool

Hot Media “are those that include relatively complete sensory data. Thus, a person doesn’t need to fill in a lot of information to understand the message” (242).
Cool Media, on the other hand, demand involvement from individuals” (242).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blog Journal Entry - Lisa

Etymology: How is this different from a definition? An etymology both tells us where a word came from (ex. another language) and what it used to mean. Let's look at the word disaster. It is defined as "an occurrence causing widespread destruction and distress; a catastrophe or grave misfortune." However, the etymology of the word disaster goes back to a time when others blamed great misfortunes or disasters on the influence of the stars. When looking back to the word's origon, its Latin root word "astrum" is similar to "astronomy." The negative Latin prefix "dis" (apart) with the root word "astrum" suggested that a disaster could be traced to a star or a planet! This is now considered obsolete, according to the dictionary.

Neologisms: Andropause or Viropause-the end of virility or menopause; Audiophile-someone who collects audio and media paraphenilia; Blading-the act of rollerblading or skating; cords-clothing made of corduroy; Date Rape-forced sexual intercourse after a date or social encounter; Ebonics-Black English Vernacular; Moto-enthusiasm or energy toward goals and motivation; Further-Fetched-More extreme than far-fetched; Ginormous-big-cross between gigantic and enormous; IMHO-Acronym for "In My Humble Opinion"; Late Plate-meal eaten after regular dinner;

Creative Examples of Language: raining cats and dogs; old flame


Due dates for the 2 storytelling analysis assignments:

1. Conversational storytelling. Due March 24
2. Formal storytelling. Due April 21.

You can submit them early if you prefer. However, I would like your analysis to apply the rubric we are still in the process of defining.javascript:void(0)

linguistic disciplines

Of the many distinct branches of linguistic study, Interactional Sociolinguistics appears to have the closest relevance to our inquiry. Deborah Tannen's and Richard Baumann's works should give us more insight. What do you think?


Last week, we ranged over the readings from Crystal and discussed some possible areas of consideration for our effort to create a grammar of storytelling. Mi Ryoung suggested that we call this branch of study "Story Linguistics." As I look over the question I think I can begin to bring it into more focus.

First: we are looking at a dynamic process, a behavior we call storytelling. That makes it a possible subset of narrative. Stories are narratives, but we are specifically looking at the storytelling event (narrative in action.)

Second: our assignments are to record and analyze a conversational storytelling event and a formal storytelling event. For this reason, let us focus our concerns more on the storytelling event of the present time and somewhat less on the larger historical continuum.

Here are the terms we have been throwing around, loosely organized into categories:

I. Gesture/ Attitude / Body Language
II. Sound / Phonetics / Phonemes
III. Phrase / Clause / Sentence / Image / Idea
IV. Involvement / Grooming / Strokes
V. Lexicon / Plumage / Elegance / Eloquence / Dialect

The following should come under scrutiny, though we have not yet discussed them:

VI. Syntax / Spelling
VII. Context

Friday, February 20, 2009

Storytelling analysis

The following comes out of Interactional Sociolinguistics and is well-suited to our storytelling analysis:

Dell Hymes's SPEAKING Model

Sociolinguist Dell Hymes developed the following model to promote the analysis of discourse as a series of speech events and speech acts within a cultural context. It uses the first letters of terms for speech components; the categories are so productive and powerful in analysis that you can use this model to analyze many different kinds of discourse. Mr. McGowan patricularly enjoys applying this model to storytelling.

Setting and Scene
"Setting refers to the time and place of a speech act and, in general, to the physical circumstances" (Hymes 55).The living room in the grandparents' home might be a setting for a family story.
Scene is the "psychological setting" or "cultural definition" of a scene, including characteristics such as range of formality and sense of play or seriousness (Hymes 55-56). The family story may be told at a reunion celebrating the grandparents' anniversary. At times, the family would be festive and playful; at other times, serious and commemorative.

Speaker and audience. Linguists will make distinctions within these categories; for example, the audience can be distinguished as addressees and other hearers (Hymes 54 & 56). At the family reunion, an aunt might tell a story to the young female relatives, but males, although not addressed, might also hear the narrative.

Purposes, goals, and outcomes (Hymes 56-57). The aunt may tell a story about the grandmother to entertain the audience, teach the young women, and honor the grandmother.

Act Sequence
Form and order of the event. The aunt's story might begin as a response to a toast to the grandmother. The story's plot and development would have a sequence structured by the aunt. Possibly there would be a collaborative interruption during the telling. Finally, the group might applaud the tale and move onto another subject or activity.

Cues that establish the "tone, manner, or spirit" of the speech act (Hymes 57). The aunt might imitate the grandmother's voice and gestures in a playful way, or she might address the group in a serious voice emphasing the sincerity and respect of the praise the story expresses.

Forms and styles of speech (Hymes 58-60). The aunt might speak in a casual register with many dialect features or might use a more formal register and careful grammatical "standard" forms.

Social rules governing the event and the participants' actions and reaction. In a playful story by the aunt, the norms might allow many audience interruptions and collaboration, or possibly those interruptions might be limited to participation by older females. A serious, formal story by the aunt might call for attention to her and no interruptions as norms.

The kind of speech act or event; for our course, the kind of story. The aunt might tell a character anecdote about the grandmother for entertainment, but an exemplum as moral instruction. Different disciplines develop terms for kinds of speech acts, and speech communities sometimes have their own terms for types.

These terms can be applied to many kinds of discourse. Sometimes in a written discussion you might emphasize only two or three of the letters of the mnemonic. It provides a structure for you to perceive components.

Work Cited

Hymes, Dell. Foundations of Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1974.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Your Responses

Readings for Class #4: Crystal pages 1-15; 408-415


1. On page 1 of Crystal the author states "The world currently displays many signs of linguistic intolerance and tension." Give an example of the above.

From Mary: Working in health care, I have had many colleagues whose first language was something other than English.  For example, at my last job I worked with several people from Ethiopia.  There was a periodically resurrected policy that only English should be spoken at work.  In conversation I would see/hear my coworkers from Ethiopia talking to each other in their native tongue.  For them it was a way to keep connected to their culture and their language.  Their children were growing up speaking and knowing in two languages.  I never felt excluded or threatened in any way; I knew that if a situation arose that needed my help, such as when a patient was sent out to the ER, a common language, English, would get the job done.  (And the potlucks were great.)

From Mi Ryoung :One example I can think of is ‘linguistic stratification and isolation between languages.’ Once English becomes a worldwide language, it rapidly governs other languages in the world in terms of its use and popularity. In my country, English is a foreign language. I see people go crazy about English. Our government tries to conduct an immersion approach (i.e., teach all subjects in English at school) regardless of peoples’ attitude toward it. Parents try to send their young children abroad. As a result, families are apart for long years. The mother tongue loses their power and is slowly governed by English. I am afraid that English may govern our body and mind in the end. The power of the language results in severe stratification between the rich and the poor. Mastering English is very expensive. Another example is that there is a strong misconception about learning languages in the USA. Parents prevent their children from learning their native language. They misunderstand that their children may have a trouble in acquiring English because of their native language. The funny thing happens in the world because of the power of English.

From Lisa: Crystal gives examples of linguistic intolerance and tension including the language riots of India or Belgium, or the road signs of Wales or northern Spain. Digging more deeply, the linguistic intolerance and tension are also painfully apparent in our educational system’s lack of motivation in its reluctance to move away from the traditional and unrelenting linguistic practices that have been drilled into our students forever, it seems. This, of course leads to discussion of correct or incorrect usage of language in society. Do we preserve the purity of language without also delving into its persuasive and mystical capabilities? As the debate continues, Crystal leads us into the “relationship between language and thought.”

From Kenneth: The world currently displays many signs of linguistic intolerance and tension for example such as in the language riots of India or Belgium, and in the disfigured road signs of Wales or northern Spain; but they are present in more subtle ways, in the unmotivated preservation of traditional purist linguistic practices in many schools, and in the regular flow of complaints on the world’s radio channels and in the press about other people’s usage.

From Jui-tseng:The linguists have different theories. Some tried to find rules of the language usage. As an ESL speaker, I made grammar mistakes all the time. People may think I am not well educated. For example, in Chinese we say “I tomorrow morning and my sister together go to school.” This sentence would be consider wrong here in America. Vise versa, Some foreigners speak Chinese in the English “grammar”. It doesn’t sound right to us.

2. On page 7 the author states "A belief that some languages are intrinsically superior to others is widespread, but it has no basis in linguistic fact."

Regarding this point,
A. what is the derivation of the imperative to 'speak the King's English'?

From Mary:The spread of British colonialism and British English dominating the airwaves.  It was the language of people in positions of power and educated at prestigious schools.  It was more "the language of power and influence, than any linguistic quality.

From Mi Ryoung :The purpose of speaking “King’s English” (i.e., English speech or usage that is considered standard or accepted; Received Standard English) is a way to settle down English. English has radically been changed in terms of its vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation in the early history. In order to prevent the language from changing due to many factors, the imperative to speak “king’s English” is encouraged and justified. This effort makes English settle down in a way. For the imperative to speak King’s English, however, people may wonder which dialect is the standard. Interestingly, if you go to the east, New Yorkers says that “their dialect is the standard and people in the USA should use it.” If you go to the middle, you will be heard that their English is the standard. The similar phenomenon can be observed in the west and even in the south. It still keeps controversial. Regardless of the effort to speak “King’s English”, language does change. No one blocks it. Considering individual and dialectal variation in speech, language change is very natural.

From Lisa: The importance of speaking the “King’s English” obviously reflects our British ancestors settling in the new world and the “proper usage” of speaking as well as their prestige and political influence, But, as with all languages, the United States has many dialects. British and American English is no exception. Speaking “cockney” British dialect, for example, would not carry the prestige of speaking the King’s English. In America, alone, we can travel from one part of the country to another and encounter distinguishable differences in dialect along the way.

From Kenneth:It is often that the language evaluation is tied to questions of national identity. This is an example of what Johann Herder said; ‘Has a nation anything more precious than the language of its fathers?’

From Jui-tseng: I think England was a powerful country and it had a highly developed culture. It also had good economics. So it was considered a royal language. Some of my European friends prefer British English. In Taiwan, Taiwanese was suppressed for a long time by the old government.

B. why are some words consider crude or profane while others correct or respectable? For example, compare the use of "shit" v. the use of "feces".

From Mary:Some words are taboo; it is usually words connected to sex, supernatural, excrement and death.  Euphemisms, or using a roundabout expression are ways of avoiding the offending word.   There are many words for excrement; feces is a clinical expression, as is stool, among many others, and I would fall back on those, figuratively, only when the situation required such language.  My preference is "shit" or "poop."  Shit has become an expression that includes more than merely excrement, as in "Oh, shit!" - something is wrong.  I know enough about appropriate use of language (usually) to make the better choice.  One story I tell comes from India and describes a dog walking among the people listening to a lengthy recitation of the Ramayana.  A man who wasn't particularly interested in the story lay sleeping on the ground when the dog came by and pissed into the open mouth of the sleeping man.  For some audiences, I change "pissed" to "kicked some dirt"  when I feel the word "pissed" would offend the audience so that that would be the only thing they remembered about the story.  Some words ignite emotions.  I remember listening to A Prairie Home Companion when Garrison Keillor had a very young child and many of his jokes were often scatological.  Barack Obama's use of the expression,"I screwed up," has generated plenty of talk on CNN (the sensation station).  I expect that some people have been offended.  Personally, I find it an acceptable way of saying he should have checked into that appointment more thoroughly.  I'm sure this is the way many in Washington speak behind the doors but less so publicly.

From Mi Ryoung :It depends on several aspects. First, where does the word come from (i.e., its root)? If the words come from either Latin or France, they are considered elegant and respectable. Second, who do the words use (i.e., social class)? It refers to the classes between low and high. For instance, no one from high class will use the word “shit”. Third, when or what kind of situation is the word used (i.e., context)? Depending on these three, the status of the word can be determined. The word “shit” comes from Old English, is used by low class, and is frequently used as slang when fighting or cursing. In contrast, the word “feces” comes from Latin, is used by normal class, and is frequently used in normal conversation.

From Lisa: The question of distinguishing respectable words from profane words is a dichotomy into itself! Many of us, through our Christian upbringings have been taught that it is sinful to take the Lord’s name in vain. The blasphemous words are also referred to as swear words. On the other hand, with words like “shit” and “feces”, there is no particular association with Christianity or the Bible. Could it all be in the intention of the telling of the word itself? What about proper words that have evolved into swear words? This can be tied in to the previous discussion of correct speaking or the usage of language being linked to prestige or social class. I believe that we, ourselves decide what is and is not profanity!

From Kenneth:Some words such as “shit” v the use of “feces” are much different in how you use the words in sentences. For example when we hit our finger with a hammer or drop something valuable we most likely will say “shit” or other profound language that we have been taught or learned is a bad word and we don’t want our children to hear them but when we talk about the word “feces” it is used in a way to describe what is left after a animal such as our pets, dogs or cats and horses leave behind when they poop. It describes a “thing” like the baby got feces on their face, etc. Even when I was born back in the early 1950’s calling me “dumb” was okay it was accepted in those days to describe that I was deaf but if that word is used today wow better watch out… haha.

From Jui-tseng: It depends on how people use the word in their daily life and slayings. Then we are associated to the meaning of the word. My dictionary says the first meaning of shit is a swear word and the second meaning is solid waste matter from the bowels.(I thought it’s bowl and I kept thinking what bowl, which bowl?) There are several idioms which do not sound nice at all: beat the shit out of Sb, in deep shit, not give a shit and when the shit hits the fan. Feces mean (formal) solid waste material that leaves the body through the ANUS. There is no any idioms about it.
According to the books some words are taboos in the culture which are not said at all.
I discussed with a classmate about women’s body image in another class. The interesting thing is he said all other names-headlights, pumpkin…..(which I have never learned before) for breasts but he would not say the word-breasts.

3. On page 7 the author states the impossibility of rating the linguistic or aesthetic excellence of language. However, if it is possible for rating the quality of the storytelling event, what measures can you suggest? (consider Locke's remarks re: "verbal plumage")

From Mary:Locke describes "verbal plumage" as "the mastery of a broad range of words and phrases, many of them outside the more limited repertoire of their audience."  Applying this concept to a storytelling festival would have the tellers elevating the language and tone above that of everyday speech, but still accessible to the audience.  The storytellers would be those who spoke with the knowledge of the deliciousness of language.  A use of metaphors and clear images.  Rhythmic speech, attention to the sounds of language.  A delivery style that offers variety of dynamics and pacing; language consciously chosen to  tell the story and that match the physicality of the storyteller.  This leaves the stage open to a variety of storytelling styles.   I think rating the quality of a festival is very subjective but here's my attempt:  A demographic cross-section of tellers who, as a whole, offer those qualities listed above.

From Mi Ryoung :Rating the quality of the storytelling event can vary from person to person. As a non-native speaker of English, I want to describe my own measures. First, one should have a clear and delicate pronunciation. Of course, I like to hear various dialects but the problem is that I don’t get it. Once I don’t get it, I cannot obtain anything from the event. Second, concerning the content of a story, it would be good to include some dramatic plot, humor and wit. Listening a story for more than 10 minutes often makes me bored. Third, some interaction (i.e., grooming behavior) between a teller and listener is necessary. Fourth, appropriate body gestures during the story are highly recommended.

From Lisa: As Locke tells us, even in oral cultures rank or popularity is also inadvertently involved in the storyteller’s “magic” with his or her audience. The “verbal plumage”, in my interpretation, shows the proficiency and mastery of the storyteller’s use of language as well as gesture through the spoken word. Would this create a state of status among tellers? Yes, I think theoretically it would indeed….sparring with words, so to speak!

From Kenneth:In the quality of the storytelling event know the word origin that you feel are important to storytelling-etymologies. When telling your story what does the words really mean or tell. Language derivation of change of core meaning-history of words.

From Jui-tseng: Although we cannot rate language, Locke pointed out that in oral cultures rank is earned by dazzling the assembled listeners and by attracting more. Good talkers do this with verbal plumage-mastery of a broad range of words and phrases. Nowadays leaders, businessmen and politicians are good talkers. In storytelling, different storytellers have different styles. Some are more oral and some are more literal. A good storyteller should have good stories, good intonation and skills. Elizabeth said “Sing to their heart, not their ears.” To me, it’s new. The most important thing is you have to enjoy the stories. There is a connection between the storyteller and the audience. I enjoy the stories when I can understand and feel the storyteller is in the story.

4. In Plato's "Cratylus" the title character, Cratylus, states: "I believe, Socrates, the true account of the matter to be, that a power more than human gave things their first names, and that the names which are thus given are necessarily their true names."

A. How does this compare with Eve's actions in the short story "She Unnames Them"?

From Mary:Cratylus believed there was an intrinsic relationship between words and things; there is a correct name for everything.  LeGuin writes that names created a barrier between animals and herself.  Without names, she experienced the animals as smells, tactile sensations, primal feelings.  Taking away the name changed the nature of the relationship.

From Mi Ryoung :Suppose if there are no names in the world, it will be a chaos. I cannot imagine what happens in the world. This can be read by the article “She unnames them”. Once a thing is given a name, it is clear what it is. A power can be a god or an Adam. In the bible, Adam gave everything its name. Both cratylus’ saying and Eve’s actions implied that there must be “names.” Along with names, things can carry their identities and personalities.

From Lisa: In “She Unnames Them”, Guin alludes to unnaming all creatures as a way of becoming closer to them and who they really are. Names are compared to an invisible barrier which can impede our feelings and reactions to others. Does this affect the way we treat and feel about others? From a stereotypical perspective, I would agree. In other words, by not knowing someone’s name, are we more open to who they are and not what they are labeled as being? Intriguing.

From Kenneth:Cratylus was stating that a higher being other than humans gave names to things and object and therefore what is given in a name is true to what it is such as, a tree is a tree, a rock is a rock so that is their true name as given. Which I see Eve is taking the names and changing them to fit into that time period.

From Jui-tseng: According to Wikipedia, Cratylus thought the creator of words uses letters containing certain sounds to express the essence of a word’s subject. There is a letter that is best for soft things, one for liquid things, and so on. He comments, "This would be the most perfect state of language. In Chinese some words (characters) are pronounced according to the objects’ sound. In “She Unnames them” names are not created according to the origins of the objects. They can be changed if everyone agrees with it. We had a famous dialogue between two ancient philosophers discussing “when a white horse is not a horse.” Check out if you are interested. It’s quite interesting.

B. How does the imposition of a name affect our ability to know a thing?

From Mary:Knowing the name of an animal does not include knowing the animal, and as LeGuin stated, it might be a barrier to knowing.  However, naming is important for communication as in the piece, Master of Masters, where without common understanding of names, the master's house would have gone up in flames.

From Mi Ryoung :Without naming things, it will be very hard to remember a single thing for a long term. It is always vague and not clear. For instance, in your class, I could not translate the term “grooming” or “stroke” into my language. This made it hard to follow your lecture after all. With naming, it is possible to retain knowledge about things for a long term.

From Lisa: Before becoming known as linguistics, Saussure’s idea of a language system included “langue” as the broader conception of language which was more than a system of names and “parole” as a simply graphic or vocal manifestation of a sound or utterance. Saussure is also regarded by many as being the creator of modern structuralism, which includes the use of “ langue” and “parole”.

From Kenneth:All things that has a named is also what we see as a symbol. Every time we see a picture without words we know what it is because it is the symbol of what we had learned to associate it with a name, like we talked about in class such as the word French fries is the American term while in Ireland when they see the same picture of French fries they see chips.

From Jui-tseng: Without names, it’s very difficult to know what we are talking about. We can have better understanding when there are names for things although there may be some stereotypes in certain names.

5. What was the study of language called before it was named 'linguistics'?

From All: philology

6. Which of Sauserre's concepts, Diachrony or Synchrony, is most relevant to our search for a grammar for storytelling? Why?

From Mary:I think they are both relevant; Diachrony because language is a continually changing medium and storytelling may reach back to older language use in some cases, and Synchrony as storytelling is immersed in the whole of language.

From Mi Ryoung :Before I answer question #6, I want to clarify myself about the definition of the grammar of storytelling. The grammar is defined as a system of linguistic elements and rules. Linguistic elements refer to syntax, phonetics, phonology, semantics, and pragmatics. Rules of language are descriptive rather than prescriptive. Based upon this definition, I would like to answer your question.

Both approaches are necessary to study the grammar of storytelling. It totally depends on what you want to investigate and what kinds of interests you have. After you make up you mind, you can decides which way, either synchronic or diachronic, you follow. For instance, if you want to see how the communities of storytelling have been organized, you should have both approaches. You should see when the community was built from a diachronic (i.e., historical) view and how it is going from a synchronic view. If you want to investigate the current styles of storytellers, you should go with a synchronic approach.

The two concepts are not separate one from another if you look at the grammar of storytelling. Depending on a specific project, either one should be seriously considered to follow.

From Lisa: I am inclined towards Synchrony being more relevant in our search for a grammar of storytelling as it looks more closely at the changes in language over a period of time.

From Kenneth: In Sauserre’s concepts , Diachrony or Synchrony. I believe that synchrony is the most relevant to our research for a grammar for storytelling because when we tell our stories we tell them as a living whole, existing as a ‘state’ at a particular moment in time. It is the historical path the language has traveled.

From Jui-tseng: Diachrony sees language as a continually changing medium and Synchrony sees it as a living whole, existing as a ‘state’ at a particular moment in time. Storytelling should be both. It not only has to know the changes of the language but also the existing language in order to perform the storytelling well.

7. Which of the grammars that have emerged since the 1960's (Crystal page 413) has relevance to our search for a grammar for storytelling? Why?

From Mary:Not real sure here, but I think maybe Functional grammar and Realistic grammar.  Functional grammar because this is a more practical view of language as social interaction.  Social interaction may be part of storytelling.  Realistic grammar because the patterns of language should be real to the context of the story.

From Mi Ryoung :I do not get the point of your question. The answer can vary depending on which part of the grammar of storytelling is focused on investigating. If someone wants to focus on the meaning of storytelling (i.e., semantics), he may go with Montague Grammar.

To my knowledge, the grammars on page 413 are out of date. No linguist is interested in using any of them anymore because of the rise of new grammar or theories such as minimalist theory in syntax, optimality framework in phonetics and phonology, situational semantics and so on.

If I should choose one to answer your question, I go with Functional Grammar. Functional Grammar (FG) is a general theory of the organization of natural language. This theory adopts a pragmatic view of language as social interaction. Storytelling involves people, stories, and interaction. It is, however, depended on what linguistic elements you want to analyze. If you want to focus on the meaning of storytelling between tellers and the audience, you probably should dig out a Semantics theory such as Montague Grammar and Situational Semantics. If you want to examine the structure of storytelling, you should study Case grammar, Relational Grammar, X-Bar theory, and Generalized Phrase structure Grammar. In order to analyze the storytelling event, you should first decide what specific linguistic elements you are interested in and then you should find an appropriate linguistic theory or grammar to analyze the facts.

From Lisa: In the 1960’s, Chomsky’s distinction between someone’s knowledge of language and the actual use of the language in real scenarios which was somewhat parallel to Saussure’s theory of “langue” and “parole”. Thus began the emergence of linguistics in understanding the human mind. Our knowledge often comes from our everyday lives and experiences. What a better venue for the success of storytelling?

From Kenneth:In all the grammars that has emerged since the 1960’s the most or best one that I see that is most relevance to our search for a grammar for storytelling is the realistic grammar. I chose this one because weather our stories are true or not, every story we tell or hear from others the story or stories should be ‘psychologically real’ meaning that the story has a pattern that is related to the psychological factors that underline linguistic behavior, such as comprehension and memory.

From Jui-tseng: I think it’s functional grammar because it discusses about social interaction.

8. Which of the Interdisciplinary Fields of Linguistics (Crystal page 418) has relevance to our search for a grammar for storytelling? Why?

From Mary:Educational linguistics for the work of storytelling and literacy.  Ethnolinguistics as it applies to story work and story listening with other cultures.  Geographical linguistics for understanding regional dialects.  Neurolinguistics for the way that language impacts the nervous system.  Psycholinguistics as it is important for the telling as well as the listening.

From Mi Ryoung :It is very hard to tell because storytelling incorporates different parts of many disciplines. It needs to create another interdisciplinary field called “story linguistics”. The related areas can be more than one. Since both Anthrophological linguistics and Ethnolinguistics are closely related to human race and society, it would be appropriate because stories are born by human race. There is an area of discourse analysis under pragmatics. It would be the appropriate one to study storytelling since it concerns conversational styles and implications between speakers. Storytelling can be sort of a conversation between tellers and listeners. Sociolinguistics might be the one since the storytelling event is closely related to a culture and society. Under Sociolinguistics, such factors as gender, age, class, and race are taken into account. As an example, we can study about what gender is more interested in listening or telling stories. Taking the factor “Race” into consideration, we may study why storytelling events are very different between races. It is popular among Americans but not among Asians.

From Lisa: As an educator, I am desiring to say that EVERY interdisciplinary field would be beneficial in our search for the grammar of storytelling. As a storytelling follower, I would lean towards the interdisciplinary fields of anthropological linguistics, ethnolinguistics, geographical linguistics, philosophical linguistics, and sociolinguistics.

From Kenneth:In the list of interdisciplinary fields I feel that the ‘anthropological linguistics’ is relevant to our search for storytelling because it is the study of language variation and the use in relation to cultural patterns and beliefs of the human race, as investigated using the theories and methods of anthropology. Just in our class alone you will see a variety of culture some from Asian country, a disable student, and different in ages. We even have students from many parts of the United States from the Valley to the Mountains regions. We have a great environment in our class of rich stories to be told of how we live in our culture of times from past to present full of theories of how we live in the human race and in our own cultural.

From Jui-tseng: It looks like the sociolinguists and because storytellers need to know the interaction between language and the structure and functioning of society.

9. What concepts that we have touched upon to date should be included in our grammar for storytelling?

From Mary:The arc of a story - a beginning, middle and and end.  Semantics and syntax.  Etymology.  Paralinguistic aspects of telling a story.  Social grooming of storyteller and audience.  Sounds of words and rhythms of delivery.

From Mi Ryoung :Concepts that I can think of are “grooming behavior”, “Recognition hunger”, “stroke economy” and “synchronic behavior”. The grammar of storytelling is closely related with these concepts you explained in class. Grooming behavior refers to not only physically touching but also verbal touching. Storytellers need to touch listeners’ mind throughout their stories. There is also a stroking behavior. For instance, the audience can be impressed by a teller’s stroke. There needs to be an exchange between a teller and listener. Recognition hunger refers to the behavior that one person carries a curiosity and warmth to another. Synchronic behavior tells us that there is a cooperative behavior, calling responses, and shared experience in the storytelling event. The concepts should be included in the grammar of storytelling.

From Lisa: This is not a question that I believe I currently have an answer to. Language and words are universal to not only who we are, what we are called, and what knowledge and communication we can impart but are also conducive to other elements or intonations including pitch, voice, surprise, and irony….to name a few. In other words, everything is relevant to our quest for the grammar of storytelling. It all means something.

From Kenneth:One concept that should be included in our grammar for storytelling is the functional of how we use the role of language that plays on how we communicate or express our ideas, attitudes in a particular social situations such as religious, beliefs, or ideas. Even how we tell the stories in historical times or present.

From Jui-tseng: It looks like the sociolinguists and because storytellers need to know the interaction between language and the structure and functioning of society.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Class 4

We will conduct our 4th class via internet. Please consider the following and submit your responses directly to me via email at I will post your responses once I have received them all.
NOTE: You will be marked "absent" from class if you have not responded by 5pm on Tuesday, February 10.

Readings for Class #4: Crystal pages 1-15; 408-415


1. On page 1 of Crystal the author states "The world currently displays many signs of linguistic intolerance and tension." Give an example of the above.

2. On page 7 the author states "A belief that some languages are intrinsically superior to others is widespread, but it has no basis in linguistic fact."

Regarding this point,
A. what is the derivation of the imperative to 'speak the King's English'? and
B. why are some words consider crude or profane while others correct or respectable? For example, compare the use of "shit" v. the use of "feces".

3. On page 7 the author states the impossibility of rating the linguistic or aesthetic excellence of language. However, if it is possible for rating the quality of the storytelling event, what measures can you suggest? (consider Locke's remarks re: "verbal plumage")

4. In Plato's "Cratylus" the title character, Cratylus, states: "I believe, Socrates, the true account of the matter to be, that a power more than human gave things their first names, and that the names which are thus given are necessarily their true names."

A. How does this compare with Eve's actions in the short story "She Unnames Them"?
B. How does the imposition of a name affect our ability to know a thing?

5. What was the study of language called before it was named 'linguistics'?

6. Which of Sauserre's concepts, Diachrony or Synchrony, is most relevant to our search for a grammar for storytelling? Why?

7. Which of the grammars that have emerged since the 1960's (Crystal page 413) has relevance to our search for a grammar for storytelling? Why?

8. Which of the Interdisciplinary Fields of Linguistics (Crystal page 418) has relevance to our search for a grammar for storytelling? Why?

9. What concepts that we have touched upon to date should be included in our grammar for storytelling?

Class 3

Absent: Leslie Conduff

We began with an exercise of telling what was outside our classroom door. We went on to discuss the readings from Crystal and Locke. Class discourse explored the concepts of "grooming" "strokes" "status" "rank" and the ability to use language in a special way so as to achieve status or provide strokes. Please post your notes on this discussion and the manner in which these concepts inform our developing inquiry into a grammar for storytelling.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Brain Research Re: Language as V.R.

I have long maintained that "Storytelling is the Original Virtual Reality." Now science supports my statement. Listen UP! NPR "Reading Creates 'Simulations' In Minds"

Monday, February 2, 2009

Snowing on a Monday

To say that I am enjoying my internet search for linguistic sites and goodies to share would be an understatement! Try out these two sites. The readings for this week were eye-opening. Often being on the other side of teaching writing...I sometimes feel confined by content used in the classroom. Very anxious to embrace linguistics.



The Gift of Words!

Story Listening Opportunities

Recorded performances:
First, we have a very wide variety of recorded storytelling performances. They are available in the office located in Warf Pickel Room 205A. The office hours are posted on the door. The room is open most every day after about 8:30 am, but we can make special arrangements and accommodate most and schedule. Just let me know.

Live performances:
The TaleTellers will perform at a variety of venues and audiences. We will post the final schedule as soon as possible. Taletellers will perform on the last Thursday of each month at the Acoustic Coffeehouse. We will at several schools this year, please see the schedule.

The Jonesborough Storytellers Guild meets on Tuesday nights at the Cranberry Thistle at 7:00pm. This is a public storytelling performance and recording is forbidden, unless you have previous permission from the individual storyteller. If you want to attend a Tuesday performance and record a teller, please contact me and I will see if the specific teller is willing to allow a recording.

We have several students performing their respective “My Finest Hour” shows. Laura Zuehsow performs on Wednesday February 11; David H. Claunch and Marjorie Shaefer February 13 at 7:00. Please contact the individual tellers for the details about their performances.

Re: grooming and "stroking"

from Games People Play by Eric Berne

THE theory of social intercourse, which has been outlined at some length in Transnational Analysis may be summarized as follows. Spitz has found that infants deprived of handling over a long period will tend at length to sink into an irreversible decline and are prone to succumb eventually to intercurrent disease. In effect, this means that what he calls emotional deprivation can have a fatal outcome. These observations give rise to the idea of stimulus-hunger, and indicate that the most favored forms of stimuli are those provided by physical intimacy, a conclusion not hard to accept on the basis of everyday experience. An allied phenomenon is seen in grown-ups subjected to sensory deprivation. Experimentally, such deprivation may call forth a transient psychosis, or at least give rise to temporary mental disturbances. In the past, social and sensory deprivation is noted to have had similar effects in individuals condemned to long periods of solitary imprisonment. Indeed, solitary confinement is one of the punishments most dreaded even by prisoners hardened to physical brutality, and is now a notorious procedure for inducing political compliance. (Conversely, the best of the known weapons against compliance is social organization.) On that biological side, it is probable that emotional and sensory deprivation tends to bring about or encourage organic changes. If the reticular activating system8 of the brain stem is not sufficiently stimulated, degenerative changes in the nerve cells may follow, at least indirectly. This may be a secondary effect due to poor nutrition, but the poor nutrition itself may be a product of apathy, as in infants suffering from marasmus. Hence a biological chain may he postulated leading from emotional and sensory deprivation through apathy to degenerative changes and death. In this sense, stimulus-hunger has the same relationship to survival of the human organism as food-hunger. Indeed, not only biologically but also psychologically and socially, stimulus-hunger in many ways parallels the hunger for food. Such terms as malnutrition, satiation, gourmet, gourmand, faddist, ascetic, culinary arts, and good cook are easily transferred from the field of nutrition to the field of sensation. Overstuffing has its parallel in overstimulation. In both spheres, under ordinary conditions where ample supplies are available and a diversified menu is possible, choices will be heavily influenced by an individual's idiosyncrasies. It is possible that some or many of these idiosyncrasies are constitutionally determined, but this is irrelevant to the problems at issue here. The social psychiatrist's concern in the matter is with what happens after the infant is separated from his mother. in the normal course of growth. What has been said so far may be summarized by the "colloquialism":7 "If you are not stroked, your spinal cord will shrivel up." Hence, after the period of close intimacy with the mother is over, the individual for the rest of his life is confronted with a dilemma upon whose horns his destiny and survival are continually being tossed. One born is the social, psychological and biological forces which stand in the way of continued physical intimacy in the infant style; the other is his perpetual striving for its attainment. Under most conditions he will compromise. He learns to do with more subtle, even symbolic, forms of handling, until the merest nod of recognition may serve the purpose to some extent, although his original craving for physical contact may remain unabated. This process of compromise may be called by various terms, such as sublimation; but whatever it is called, the result is a partial transformation of the infantile stimulus-hunger into something which may be termed recognition-hunger. As the complexities of compromise increase, each person becomes more and more individual in his quest for recognition, and it is these differentia which lend variety to social intercourse and which determine the individual's destiny. A movie actor may require hundreds of strokes each week from anonymous and undifferentiated admirers to keep his spinal cord from shriveling, while a scientist may keep physically and mentally healthy on one stroke a year from a respected master. "Stroking" may be used as a general term for intimate physical contact; in practice it may take various forms. Some people literally stroke an infant; others hug or pat it, while some people pinch it playfully or flip it with a fingertip. These all have their analogues in conversation, so that it seems one might predict how an individual would handle a baby by listening to him talk. By an extension of meaning, "stroking" may be employed colloquially to denote any act implying recognition of another's presence. Hence a stroke may be used as the fundamental unit of social action. An exchange of strokes constitutes a transaction, which is the unit of social intercourse. As far as the theory of games is concerned, the principle which emerges here is that any social intercourse whatever has a biological advantage over no intercourse at all. This has been experimentally demonstrated in the case of rats through some remarkable experiments by S. Levine 8 in which not only physical, mental and emotional development but also the biochemistry of the brain and even resistance to leukemia were favorably affected by handling. The significant feature of these experiments was that gentle handling and painful electric shocks were equally effective in promoting the health of the animals.

In Re: UP

UP is often used as a "directional metaphor." See Lakoff & Johnson "Metaphors We Live By" for some great insight as to how metaphors function in daily speech. See below for some fun with directional metaphors from William Safire:

January 8, 1995

ON LANGUAGE; Don't Go South, Young Man

IN THE TV SERIES "MURDER, SHE Wrote," the character played by Angela Lansbury was accosted by a police lieutenant about a suspect she was helping: "When I sent some guys over to your place to pick him up," the cop complained, "he'd gone south."

In the opposite direction, Adam Sandler wrote in Variety that the recent video release of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" had sold more than 17 million copies and "generated north of $300 million in retail sales."

Now both ways: when The Washington Post's media shoofly, Howard Kurtz, hoped that ratings of the O. J. Simpson trial would "go south," Dan Rather on "48 Hours" on CBS responded, "The ratings were going north, not south."

Rather knows how to handle a compass: North is up, South is down. (I capitalize the directions, though not southern or southward.) Obviously, up is good news, down is bad. But this metaphor, now omnidirectional on television, has deeper roots than it seems. According to Fred Cassidy, editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE): "Evidently a part of American Indian (Sioux) belief included go south = to die. The sense of deterioration is not far off."

The inspiring Professor Cassidy, now 87 and still only on the letter "O" -- he and his University of Wisconsin team are working as fast as they can -- directed me to Mitford M. Mathews's Dictionary of Americanisms. In that 1951 lexicon, a 1746 citation, from David Brainerd's journal, about an aged Delaware Indian's opinion that the soul departing the body "would go southward" was elucidated in a Harper's Magazine article in 1894: "The Dakota tribes believe that the soul, driven out of the body, journeys off to the south, and 'to go south' is, among the Sioux, the favorite euphemism for death."

A sexual sense was added by whites who followed the American aboriginals. In the 1955 Broadway musical "Silk Stockings," based on the movie "Ninotchka," Cole Porter wrote, "I'd love to make a tour of you"; stops on this lyrical tour included "The eyes, the arms, the mouth of you/ The East, West, North and the South of you." On the surface, an innocent lyric, and never banned from the airwaves; still, when Don Ameche sang the word South, the sexual innuendo about the nether parts of the body was unmistakable.

Financial reporters took up the compass metaphor to enliven their language about the direction of the stock market. "The markets headed south today" is an all-too-frequent usage in finance. Lou Dobbs of the CNN program "Moneyline" tells me, "While I've heard many analysts and market gurus talk about stocks going south, I've never heard anyone say a market is going north."

At least the directional metaphor of North (up, good news) and South (down, bad news) is clear. For example, when there is good statistical news on the jobless or inflation fronts, and those figures drop, you do not hear "Unemployment figures and inflation rates are headed south." Thus, the metaphoric meaning of "headed South" is not so much "downward" as "bad news."

That clarity cannot be claimed by uphill and downhill. "Your column and the crossword puzzle get my week off to a civilized start," Patricia Patricelli of Boston writes. "Usually it's all downhill from there. (Or is it uphill? I've never really understood that expression. Going downhill is easier, but it sounds negative to me, i.e., sinking, down in the depths.)"

It's all downhill from here. Does that mean "From now on, it's easy -- no more struggling uphill" or does it mean "This is as good as it gets, and now we're headed for the pits"?

"I always thought that if someone were going downhill, that signified deterioration," Steve Conn of New York writes, "whereas uphill meant getting better. Tell me: should we prefer to go uphill or downhill?"

Allan Metcalf of the American Dialect Society notes that "Downhill has been going figuratively downhill since the O.E.D.'s first record of its use, in 1591: 'Th' Icie down-Hils of this slippery Life.' Whether we weep or rejoice in any particular instance depends on whither the icy downhills lead -- to a decline, or to an Olympic skiing record."

John Algeo, the neologist of American Speech, points to the two-way working of the metaphor: "If one thinks that the top of the hill is the place to be, then going downhill is declining. But if one thinks about effort, then an uphill struggle is bad, and coasting downhill is good. The difference is between metaphorical place ('up' good, 'down' bad) and metaphorical effort to move on an inclined plane ('uphill' hard, 'downhill' easy)."

Though the first use of downhill, about the slippery life, was pejorative, a more famous use -- by Daniel Defoe in his 1719 "Robinson Crusoe" -- was upbeat: "a very short cut, and all down-hill," which was quicker and easier for the castaway and his man Friday than the long way uphill. "Perhaps a human tendency to look on the dark side favors the pejorative sense," Professor Algeo says. "Metaphorically, both work."

But they work at semantic cross-purposes. The hills are alive with the sound of confusion. My advice: forget the hill metaphor and try something nautical: smooth sailing and rough sailing, or if you go for the icy slopes, easy sledding or hard sledding. Ban the hills; if you want bad news, go South. I Wrote It Myself

President Clinton has taken to running down his speech writers in public, boasting about rejecting prepared remarks and doing the writing himself; this is to show that what he says comes from the Real Him. I suspect that these lines are written by speech writers falling on their pens, mightier than their swords.

In Mr. Clinton's pre-Christmas "Middle Class Bill of Rights" speech (bottomed on Nixon's "Economic Bill of Rights" statement, which we stole from F.D.R.), I was pleased to hear his pickup of the "government that is leaner, not meaner" phrase; was ambivalent about his "raise their children" (purists differentiate between raising cattle and rearing children, and in formal speech that distinction should be made, but Mr. Clinton, even when wearing a dark suit in the Oval Office, prefers the folksy), but was stunned, stunned (one cut above "shocked, shocked") by "Some people do take advantage of the rest of us by . . . flaunting our immigration laws."

To flaunt means "to show off, to parade ostentatiously"; the verb the President meant was flout, "to disregard contemptuously, to mock or scoff at." Even kids raised with the laid-back Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage are told that mistaking flout for flaunt is "a genuine error" and, by confusing these verbs, "you do run the risk of giving some of your listeners the mistaken impression that they are smarter than you are."

Words, words, words

happygeek Inside Edge - IT News, Analysis and Opinion
Jul 8th, 2006, 5:15 pm
The latest Merriam-Webster's dictionary update has ruffled a few feathers online. Not for the inclusion of Manga (noun: a Japanese comic book or graphic novel) nor ringtone (noun: the sound made by a cell phone to signal an incoming call) or even supersize (transitive verb: to increase considerably the size, amount, or extent of.)

Could it possibly be mouse potato (noun: a person who spends a great deal of time using a computer) or himbo (noun: and attractive but vacuous man?). Nope, then surely unibrow (noun: a single continuous brow resulting from the growing together of eyebrows) or even soul patch (noun: a small growth of beard under a man's lower lip) must be the cause?

Heck, even spyware (noun: software that is installed in a computer without the user's knowledge and transmits information about the user's computer activities over the Internet) and avian influenza (noun: a highly variable mild to fulminant influenza of birds that is caused by strains of the influenza A virus which may mutate and be transmitted to other vertebrates -- called also bird flu) hasn’t got anyone slightly excited.

Of the 100 new words that have been added to the 2006 update of America’s first and best-selling dictionary, the one that’s attracting all the online attention is google (verb: to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web.)

It remains to be seen whether Google will behave like a drama queen (noun: a person given to often excessively emotional performances or reactions) considering it has frowned on people using google as a verb in print. Indeed, as is often the way with brands protecting their trademarks, Google has positively discouraged such usage. Well now they can’t because it’s official. So can I just say that I google every day and often advise others to go google. As an Englishman I must point out that our very own Oxford English Dictionary made the Google (upper case though) verb inclusion last month with a very similar definition.

Google does have something of a genuine concern, in as far as the inclusion of google as a verb does push it ever closer to becoming part of the general lexicon, and that would mean exclusion from legal protection for the trademark. The fact that Merriam-Webster's chose a lower case google, rather than the upper case OED usage, will ease the concern a tad. But perhaps the days when you can go google at Yahoo! are closer than we might think?