Language: hip-hop

Hip-hop and linguistics: you ain’t heard no research like it. Calgary linguist Daryn Howe investigates Black vernacular in hip-hop lyrics. Jeff Long, the GWUM[1], was the hip-hop fan here. The message: Black speech has lots of ain’t.

I was sitting on the bus this week idly eavesdropping on conversations and just could not understand the boys behind me, who were conversing in their particular northeast London urban Black/chav patois that I assume is an “in-group” dialect and meant to be unintelligible to me. It succeeded. It succeeded so well that I thought one of them was replying in French to his mate. I could make out a few words, but my ear honestly thought the pronounciation was Gallic. When I listened harder it became apparent it was the aforementioned dialect, but really? Couldn’t understand for the life of me.

[1] Grunt-Work Undergraduate Minion. We’ve all been there.

Edited to add:  I wondered about the possible offensiveness of my phrase “northeast London urban Black/chav patois”, but I can’t really think of a better way to put it. It’s not exclusively Black. It’s not exclusively a class thing, either, and chav is the nearest I can come up with.

Darwin Correspondence

The Writings of Charles Darwin on the Web is an amazing resource which allows you to search the texts–including, at an offshoot site, some of his correspondence! When I was writing my honours dissertation I had to stop myself reading the letters obsessively, seeing if I could glean some overlooked insight about language buried in amongst the natural history anecdotes and Darwin’s bleating about his poor health.

This letter (reference only) to his sister Caroline was a great find. In it, Charles used the hypothetical age of the Indo-European languages, and their differences from Chinese to agree with Herschel that yes, the earth must indeed be older than 6000 years as argued by the Bible.
I also love this one (below) that CD wrote to Thomas Henry Huxley. I confess to being a bit of a Huxley fan myself, but their mutual admiration society makes me smile…

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Links

Found today while adding sites to the Link List at the side:

PhyloTaxis, a nifty visualisation thing, that gathers science news headlines and turns them into this geometric flash array.

Surname Profiler. A UCL GIS project which produces a spatial map of the frequency of your surname in the UK. The wonders of GIS! My surname increased in frequency quite dramatically in the last century, and according to this, is pretty much confined to English and (in a minor way) Irish persons – which makes sense, given that Ireland is where my dad’s father’s family are from.

The different categories at visualcomplexity have fascinating topics. I like this one: London Connections, which is a spatial representation of a social network of one person in London.

Am well impressed with the bloggers at ScienceBlogs. Am assuming that joining the hosting service requires some sort of proof of science blogging, which I should get further underway with before knocking on the door.