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Love travels through the body. When the love is between people, what this means is obvious enough. When the love is between a person and a text, what this means, to me, at least, is that the transl…
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Linguists have spent three years poring over audio to study the way Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks, Time reports. But rather than focus on the content of her words, NYU linguistics professor emeritus John Victor Singler and researchers Nathan LaFave and Allison Shapp analyzed the change in Ginsburg's accent between 1970 and the early '90s, up to present day. In her earlier speech, Ginsburg's New York accent — her 'thought vowels' and 'R-vocalizations' — is less pronounced. As time goes on, even accounting for her aging voice, Ginsburg's Brooklyn accent creeps back into the way she talks.
What the researchers discovered could give important insight not just into Ginsburg's speech development, but into the complicated social, political, and linguistic shifts in the way each and every one of us pronounces words, even if said words are as non-threatening as 'coffee.'
[The linguists'] theory, reported here for the first time, is that 'conscious or not,' the lawyer was doing something everyone does, what is known in linguistics as accommodation: adapting our ways of communicating depending on who we're talking to. Accommodating can be done through word choice, pronunciation, even gestures. A common example would be when someone returns to the town where they grew up and their accent comes roaring back as they talk to friends and family who sound that way, too.
[…] Noting that Ginsburg moved to Washington, D.C., in 1980, the linguists argue that the sounds of her youth have come back in part because one of the most powerful women in America doesn't have to fret so much about what people think these days. 'Justice Ginsburg no longer needs to worry about whether she seems threatening to the Court,' they write in a working paper. 'She is the Court.' [Time]
'Everybody actually has more than one accent,' linguist David Crystal added for Time. 'Everybody modifies their accent. Some people are so proud of a particular point of origin that they try their damnedest not to modify their voice, but this pressure to accommodate, as it's called, is in everybody.' Compare Ginsburg's speech below, and read a full report of the study in Time. Jeva Lange
A new study of the Supreme Court Justice’s accent says something about the way we all talk
This study investigates the variable use of New York City (NYC) dialect features by Brooklyn-born Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court, both from her time as a lawyer arguing cases before the Court in the 1970s and as a Justice hearing cases from the bench from 1993 onward. Our data comes from digitized recordings of Supreme Court cases available at The Oyez Project (www.oyez.org). The immensity of the Oyez Project’s corpus and its public availability provide us with tokens all along Ginsburg’s timeline at the Court. We look at THOUGHT vowels (N=556) and postvocalic /r/ (N=3304) with reference to their NYC variants, i.e., THOUGHT-raising and r-vocalization. While Ginsburg moved to Washington from NYC in 1980 and has remained there, her data at the endpoint of our study (2011–2012) shows a greater use of NYC vernacular features than was true of the data at the beginning (1972). Mixed-effects regression models using both linguistic and social predictors would seem to point to the importance of chronology for both features: for THOUGHT-raising, the best-fit model makes a binary temporal distinction, between the “Lawyer” years of the 1970’s and the “Justice” years from the 1993 to the 2011 terms. We refer to Communication Accommodation Theory (Giles, N. Coupland and J. Coupland 1991; Giles and Gasiorek 2013) to frame our explanation for what we see as Ginsburg’s reduced use of raised thought in the 1970’s. For r-vocalization, there is again a fundamentally binary distinction, with the year 2000 as the point of division. The forces that motivate this greater use of vocalized-r after 2000 are much less obvious than those behind the Lawyer v. Justice opposition that we propose for THOUGHT-raising. We weigh competing and somewhat contradictory explanations for Ginsburg’s increased use of r-vocalization.
It's a captivating idea: build an interstellar ark, fill it with people, flora, and fauna of every kind, and set your course for a distant star. The concept is not only science fiction gold, it's been the subject of many scientific studies and proposals. By building a ship that can accommodate multiple generations of human beings (a generation ship), humans could colonize the known universe.
They all originate from one language, Latin. Yet, the Romance languages differ in grammar and structure from classical Latin. How?
Even though the Spanish language is the most widespread in Mexico, there are many other indigenous (native) languages spoken in the country to this day.
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The restoration of an 18th century manuscript of liturgical choir songs written in the Abenaki language will be an important resource for language revitalization efforts in Odanak, Que.