Aphasia: A blog post by All Things Linguistic

The human brain has two hemispheres. In most people, the left hemisphere governs language.  We know this because in 1861, the physician Paul Broca studied a patient who lost the ability to use all but a single word: “tan.” During a postmortem study of that patient’s brain, Broca discovered a large lesion in the left hemisphere, now known as “Broca’s area.” Scientists today believe that Broca’s area is responsible in part for naming objects and coordinating the muscles involved in speech. Behind Broca’s area is Wernicke’s area, near the auditory cortex. That’s where the brain attaches meaning to speech sounds. Damage to Wernicke’s area impairs the brain’s ability to comprehend language. Aphasia is caused by injury to one or both of these specialized language areas.

– Gretchen McCulloch

Read more here.

New report shows gender ratios for linguistics PhDs are coming into greater balance

The 2016 Annual Report on the State of Linguistics in Higher Education provides data and information on careers in linguistics, trends in linguistic teaching positions, gender and ethnicity breakdowns within linguistics, and topics of specialization in linguistic programs, among other areas. The Annual Report, the fourth to be released by the LSA, features data provided by linguistics departments and programs throughout North America, federal government surveys, the American Academy, the LSA’s internal membership directory, and data on gender collected by LSA’s Committee on the Status of Women in Linguistics (COSWL) from 50 select institutions.

Read a summary of the report’s findings here.

This Week in Podcasts…

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, but, this week, I’ve listened to two phenomenal podcasts that I wanted to share.

To start with, The World in Words has put together a really fascinating exploration on Trump, looking at how his name has been translated across different languages and communities, including ASL. You can find it here:
https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-01-16/translating-trump.

Next, I’m completely late to the game on this one, but Lingthusiasm has taken a look at sci-fi/linguistics geekfest film “Arrival”, investigating the theories behind the film and how linguists helped to develop the script and look of the film. It is a geekily phenomenal listen that can be found here:
http://lingthusiasm.com/post/154520817516/lingthusiasm-episode-3-arrival-of-the-linguists.

Check them out!

So, what are your pronouns?

This morning, I listened to an incredibly fascinating podcast by The World in Words about pronouns. It’s not really an issue that I’ve considered before beyond the recent trend in using the gender neutral “they” to refer to someone of an unspecified gender, but it’s really opened my eyes to the importance and power that pronouns have in expressing someone’s identity.

I’d highly recommend giving it a listen. You can find it here on The World in Words website.

Gender Talk

Recent research by linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer has investigated the language used in Disney movies, paying particular attention to what female characters are complemented on and how often women speak in comparison to their male counterparts.

It is a fascinating piece of research that explores the whole corpus of Disney films from the classic, renaissance and new age eras, and raises some interesting questions not only about the way female characters are presented in Disney films, but, also, how we should study these portrayals.