Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Becky

The Language Log Blog just announced the winner of the Goropius Becanus Prize. More accurately, Jeff Nunberg announced it on Fresh Air. The award goes to a person or organization that has "outstanding contributions to linguistic misinformation.

I'd have to agree that this is a very good choice. I found the assertions that I heard in her radio interview on Radio Times to be just someone trying to cash in on stereotypes in disregard to actual scientific studies. For the sake of convenience here are the search results for articles talking about the "scientist" on the LLB.

The fact that she got so much attention and that actual linguistic research doesn't get too much of love is probably due to the preference for sound bite research that affirms stereotypes. The Northern City Vowel Shift didn't exactly burn up the phone lines on the radio. Still people have an interest in the sideshows of linguistics and science, researchers just have to do a better job of bringing people into the real show. A couple of letters to the editor or some such to say, "that was interesting load of crap but the true research is even more fascinating." I mean the fact that most studies show men talk just as much or more than women raises a number of interesting questions about gender roles and power. The stereotypes are not only wrong but pretty boring.

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