41 minutes | Mar 18, 2021

54: How linguists figure out the grammar of a language

If you go to the linguistics section of a big library, you may find some shelves containing thick, dusty grammars of various languages. But grammars, like dictionaries, don’t just appear out of nowhere -- they’re made by people, and those people bring their own interests and priorities to the process. In this episode, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the process of figuring out the structure of a language and writing it down -- making a kind of book called a descriptive grammar. We also talk about differences in grammar-writing traditions in the history of India, Europe, and China, and how the structures of Sanskrit, Latin, and Old Chinese influenced the kinds of things that their early grammarians noticed about language. Announcements: We’re doing a virtual live show! It’s on April 24, 2021 and you can get access to it by becoming a patron of Lingthusiasm at any level. The Lingthusiasm liveshow is part of LingFest, a fringe-festival-like programme of independently organized online linguistics events for the week of April 24 to May 2. See the LingFest website for details as more events trickle in. https://lingcomm.org/lingfest/ The week before LingFest is LingComm21, the International Conference on Linguistics Communication. LingComm21 is a small, highly interactive, virtual conference that brings together lingcommers from a variety of levels and backgrounds, including linguists communicating with public audiences and communicators with a “beat” related to language. Find out more about LingComm21. https://lingcomm.org/conference/ This month’s bonus episode is about reduplication! Have you eaten salad-salad, drunk milk-milk, or read a book-book lately? Or are you thinking something more along the lines of "salad, schmalad! milk, schmilk! books, schmooks!"? In either case, you're producing reduplication! We look at different forms and meanings of reduplication across various languages through the World Atlas of Linguistic Structures, why it's not called just "duplication", and delve into English reduplication via a classic among entertaining linguistics papers, the Salad-Salad Paper. Join us on Patreon to get access to this and 48 other bonus episodes - as well as the upcoming liveshow! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Here are the links mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/646033422056292352/lingthusiasm-episode-54-how-linguists-figure-out
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