All posts tagged: Sociolinguistics

Emojis and Sociolinguistics

I wasn’t quite sure what to title this post, as with most others. I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about emojis over the last few days. I know that seems a bit silly, but I tend to notice differences in writing and speaking. Over analyzing is what I do. In addition, if I have learned one thing from the masters courses in sociolinguistics, it’s that the language we choose is paramount to who we are. Whether conscious or not, we decide how we want people to perceive us. And that’s what got me started on emojis. Emojis are funny entities. In one hand, they are old. I’m not sure they were called emojis back in the days of MSN, Yahoo, or ICQ, but they certainly existed on those systems. I even remember creating my own symbols when what I wanted wasn’t in existence. I used MS Paint to change the red rose to a white rose. Nevertheless, I think that the usage of emojis has evolved to a point of almost ubiquitous …

Trump’s "Spiritual" advisor.

Today was supposed to be a fun and relaxing day to not talk about serious issues. I was going to attempt to write a short story just to get my mind loosened and ready for homework. Then, I opened Facebook.  Normally, I read news that people post and don’t have a single reaction to whatever it is that is going on. I may feel bad for people out in the world, but I typically center myself  and try not to react without taking time to think about it. However, this time I couldn’t just let it go. What I am reading and verifying is straight out of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.  Basically, President Trump has a new-ish “spiritual” advisor. You know, like Jafar from the story of Aladdin. The same story where he uses his position and magical powers to exploit the sultan and gain more power. And for those of you who aren’t into Disney flicks that take stories and turn them into child friendly musicals, let’s just remember Rasputin. You know, the …

Reasons vs. Excuses

One of the most important things I have learned over the course of this year is the concept of the fundamental attribution error. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, here is a quick primer: The fundamental attribution error is when your biased against the actions of someone else; but when you perform the same or similar actions, you have reasoning and can justify them in your mind. The most frequent example this is can be found on roads all around the world. When another driver is doing something wrong or makes a mistake, you immediately call them a name or think of them as “just a bad driver.” However, when you make the exact same move, it’s because you were having a bad day or the sun was in your eyes. Sound familiar? Of course it does. We all do this: everyday.  So, why am I bringing it up? Finals. Finals. Finals. It’s nearing the end of the school year for much of the country and students are in high gear to get overdue …

Language Matters(Again!)

I am very disappointed in whomever is the social media editor of Human Rights Watch. For those of you who don’t know, Human Rights Watch or HRW is a non-government organization dedicated to the defense of all human rights. They do things like pressure governments to fix issues and make policies which protect the rights of people around the globe. Recently, I have noticed an increase of information regarding child marriage on the HRW Facebook page. This certainly is an issue and is an important issue to be brought to the attention of people world wide. However, the rhetorical tactics they are using are quite degrading. “The marriage of a 14 year old child is illegal in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iraq and South Sudan. However, it isn’t in Massachusetts.” This could certainly be interpreted, generously, as “Hey, these countries have a poor record for human rights. Yet, they don’t allow for childhood marriage. Why do we have this in the U.S.?” Sure, that is one way to look at it. However, the other way to look …

Grammar Police: Than vs. Then

Just as a preface, I love writing about this stuff. So if it seems like it’s one long tangent, it is. English spelling is full of little surprises in etymology that tend to become rabbit holes for me jump into. However, this time it was simply a hunch that brought me to the history and development of the words Than & Then. It all started with a quick glance of the comments section on a science-themed Facebook page when someone inevitably pointed out something that was “incorrect grammar.” In fact, there were probably five or six people who noticed the issue within a 30 second period. Here is an image of the original post: Notice the problem? Of course, people were falsely apologetic and passive aggressive about their grammar policing, but something just struck me as I was thinking about it. Spelling isn’t grammar. I mean sure we use the words differently and for different grammatical purposes, but we don’t differentiate the words when we are speaking. To me, that means that this isn’t about grammar, it’s …

Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and "fixing problems."

How we talk about certain topics can define how we feel about those topics and shape other’s views on the topic. This has been shown in many different ways, in many different contexts. Some examples; using the determiner “the” in front of a social identifier changes the tone in a negative way, saying “those people” instead of identifying an individual, or calling people a slur or biased name in general. These are all examples of how the language we use both shapes us and is shaped by our feelings and thoughts. Recently, the Boy Scouts of America decided to allow girls into their scouting programs. Along with this decision, they have decided to also change their name from Boy Scouts to Scouts. This has a lot of people in an uproar and claiming things like, “This is a liberal agenda,” or “Society is going downhill.” These statements are demonstrably false. As a former Scout leader, I can’t tell you how many parents I talked to, with myself included in this group, that wished that our daughters …

In God We Trust

So little time, so much to talk about. This one just sprung up, however, so I felt compelled to write sooner, rather than later, especially considering that it is currently in the MN state government system. For some reason, the Minnesota State Senate has decided to add an amendment to the education funding bill that would allow our nations motto “In God We Trust” onto our school walls. Their argument? It would add more faith to schools. Honestly, I kind of figured that it was a religious argument in the first place, but no matter what their argument is, the words themselves do a great job of alienating families who don’t share those same faith practices. In a post, which was supposed to drop today, but now has to wait, I am going to talk about how the language we use shapes our views and is shaped by our views. This is just another piece of evidence. When a source of authority, the government in this case, takes a side on religion and puts it …