Monday, November 16, 2015

Nominations for 2016 Schedule for Great Books KC

Nominations for 2016 Schedule for Great Books KC

Re-reading books we have read before
A selection from the Bible
Acts of the Apostles 
The Book of Ruth  
A selection from the Greeks
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho – a translation by Anne Carson
The Simile of the Sun, The Analogy of the Divided Line, The Allegory of the Cave. From the Republic of Plato  (Also qualifies as a "re-read")

A selection from Shakespeare
Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 
Twelfth Night; or; What You Will (Also qualifies as a "re-read")

A work of poetry
Annie Allen by Gwendolyn Brooks  
Annabel Lee and/or The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe  

A non-Western selection
 Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin   
The Quran (Also qualifies as a "re-read") 

A selection by a female author
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Out of Africa by Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen)   
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin 
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell by the three Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Anne, and Emily 

A recent (1900-1965) selection
Herzog by Saul Bellow (1964)  
Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life by Thomas Wolfe (1929)   
The Sense of Beauty by George Santayana   (1896)
The Sun Also Rises by Earnest Hemmingway (1926)

A shorter work
Waiting for Godot  by Samuel Beckett (128 pages)  
 Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (80 pages) 
The Vicar of Wakefield by Goldsmith (144 pages)   
Language and Myth by Ernst Cassirer (128 pages)  
Three Philosophical Poets by George Santayana   (110 pages)
Utopia by Thomas More (85 pages)  
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (80 pages)  
Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus  (80 pages)   

A Long Work (for June, July & August)
Cantos, by Ezra Pound  (also qualifies as poetry) (896 pages)
Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy, by Sigrid Undset (1,168 pages)
The Wreath
The Wife
The Cross   
No Particular Category
An Essay On Man: An Introduction to Human Culture by Ernst Cassirer (250 pages)


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Vowel Formation Chart

Lecture 24

Lecture 24 -- Summary Outline
Language and Society: What Your Speech Says about You
By Valerie Fridland

The Changing Face of Linguistic Diversity

People are often interested in two questions related to the subject of
linguistics: (1) Are English dialects becoming more similar over time,
and (2) What effect does mass media have on language? It seems
obvious that the massive exporting of English and American pop culture must
be shaping the way people communicate in some fashion, but surprisingly,
these questions are understudied by theoretical linguists. In this lecture, we
will take a look at the opposing forces of convergence and divergence in
language, both at home and abroad. We’ll examine both the power and the
limitations of linguistic imperialism. And We’ll find out if the global reach
of popular media is, in fact, shaping the way English is spoken worldwide.

I. The Question of Convergence

A. Convergence can be as simple as borrowing vocabulary words or as
complex as acquiring new grammatical rules. It is much more likely
in the former case than the latter. For example, we have easily
picked up the words sake and sushi, but we don’t generally adopt
Japanese grammatical word order.

B. We can also discuss convergence in terms of decreasing numbers
of languages in the world overall or in terms of linguistic leveling
across regionally distinctive forms within a single language.

C. Adding to this complexity, language is driven toward divergence
in response to social pressures, such as gender, race, and class.
Cultural and social motivations often ch‘ive us to speak differently,
either because of geographic or social separation or a desire to set
ourselves apart.

D. Why might we want to converge or diverge linguistically? In yotn'
own experience, do you pick up on certain styles of speaking when
the person you’re talking to is someone with whom you identify
strongly? Do you sometimes move to a formal, impersonal style
because you want to distance yourself from someone? These
questions point to the power of identity construction, which is
crucial to the issue of convergence.

II. Identity Construction

A. In an earlier lecture, we discussed a number of social factors, such
as migration, geography, ecology, and group reference, that help
to form and maintain dialects. Quite frequently, as we’ve seen,
language changes occur in ways that make speakers more distinct
from others. This leads to the recognition of specific dialects and, in
some cases, the birth of new languages. In fact, this is how English
came into existence in the first place.

B. Language divergence happens when speakers move away from each
other for economic, sociopolitical, or psychological reasons. Often,
this occurs simultaneously with a population shift, as in situations
involving colonization, migration, or war. Insofar as these same
pressures affect us today and into the future, it is unlikely that the
process of linguistic divergence will disappear altogether.

C. However, languages or language varieties also become more similar
over time. For example, the early settlement of the United States led
to increasing divergence from dialects in England. As the settlers in
the New World established social and cultural ties, a new koine was
formed-a new variety of language resulting from the mixture of
various language inputs. As a result of this New World koine, the
children of the early settlers began to speak more like one another
and less like those who stayed behind in the original homeland.

D. Likewise, the emergence of a standard language in the face of
many regionalized or local varieties often has a homogenizing
effect to some degree on the local varieties themselves. Thus, in
our own history, colonists began to see their land not as isolated
settlements but as a united band of colonies in opposition to the
British government. This recognition of greater similarity across
groups brought greater linguistic convergence. In other words,
regionalisms, though still present, became part of a larger, more
recognizable “American” dialect-bringing with it symbolic unity.

E. Sometimes this linguistic standardization occurs not just at the
national level but also at the international level. The expansion of
a nation economically, politically, or militarily can establish that
language as an international linguistic model. In modem times,
this process of standardization has certainly intensified with our
increased global connectedness and reliance on CMC.

III. The Global Expansion of English

A. Over the last century, English has spread rapidly around the globe
in its role as a language of diplomacy, economy, and entertainment.
For those speaking a less economically or socially advantageous
language, there is something to be gained by teaching their children
English or adopting English as a second language themselves.
With such widespread adoption of English, we certainly seem to be
converging toward a smaller set of dominant languages.

B. At the same time, this expansion gives birth to new and diverging
dialects of English. Many world Englishes have now moved
beyond being just second languages. They have become thriving
separate dialects, in some cases, with a native speaker base of
their own. This is true in Singapore, West Africa, Hong Kong, and
the Philippines.

C. The key to the development of world English has been contact-
situations in which two or more groups of speakers are forced
to interact and communicate with each other. This contact alone
establishes a new form of language, particularly when members of
one group must acquire a language to meet a dominant group’s needs.

D. In the case of English, indigenous language speakers adopted
the variety brought to their land by British colonizers, starting in
the l6“‘ century. Over time, these varieties developed uniquely to
represent the cultural and linguistic diversity of those speaking it.

E. Though it may seem that the colonizer simply instills a dominant
linguistic code, it is rare that the experience of the linguistic groups
involved is that rigid and fixed. Instead, though the language may
be imposed by a politically and economically dominant group, it is
altered and shaped by the experiences of the indigenous population.
Of course, it is here that English takes on the role of the “killer”
language-when it begins to encroach on the domains of the
indigenous language that preceded it.

F. Although such spread of English is often taken as evidence of
increasing linguistic homogenization, that is far from true.

1. Over time, the English of another land comes to represent the
social and cultural aspects of those speakers in the same way
that Southern speech in the United States has come to represent
a different history and way of life in the South. It is from this
perspective that we seem to fear English’s globalization-not
because of a fear of homogenization, but because English
becomes something else to someone else.

2. The dark side of this convergence is that it typically results in
the death of some languages, particularly those that don’t have
a large number of speakers.

G. Even granting the serious nature of this phenomenon, we should
remember the forces of linguistic divergence. As English becomes
more widespread, speakers become proficient at creating global
varieties that come to represent group identity.

IV. The Effects of Mass Media

A. If we think of linguistic movement toward similar vocabulary,
or “Iexis,” as being a meaningful type of convergence, then we
can certainly say that movies, television, and online media are
promoting convergence around English forms. For the most part,
though, linguistic change beyond new vocabulary requires true
social engagement and interaction.

B. Despite extensive contact with mainstream varieties, the social cost
of convergence still outweighs the potential benefits. Thus, in every
major city of the United States, ethnic varieties are alive and well.
This suggests that we are far from convergence toward a single
variety of English, despite mass media and increasing mobility.

C. Of course, we still find evidence of convergence. Although ethnic
varieties retain their distinction from mainstream English, it’s
often true that this distinction is now maintained by fewer, more
recognizable features, rather than by a large collection of linguistic
characteristics. This process, in which fewer but salient features do
the work of social identification, is called linguistic focusing.

D. We also find that changes in U.S. migratory patterns have affected
what were once salient ecological differences among American
dialects. For example, over the last century, rural dialects have
atrophied Migration to cities has created both dialect contact and
a motivation for speakers of rural dialects to shift toward more
standard forms. Research suggests that similar dialect leveling is
occurring in Great Britain.

E. To some degree, changes in modern speech can be traced to
exposure to pop culture and the media. The most obvious examples
here include the spread of vocabulary items or phrases. What else
does our mass media export?

1. In general, research has found little support for the idea that
grammatical and phonological patterns are diffused via media
Picking up an isolated pronunciation of a word is not unusual,
but deeper levels of linguistic influence require peer group
interaction and local rewards for using new forms.

2. There is limited evidence, however, that popular media might
be able to spread some phonological alternations. This is
true only if the media norm plays into a linguistic and social
ideology that already exists in the target community. In other
words, some research suggests that exposure to norms already
familiar and accessible at some level within a community can
be assisted by modeling in pop culture.

V. Linguistic Unity?

A. As we’ve discussed, there is a consistent trend toward linguistic
leveling across a number of regional dialects. However, there is
also ample evidence of divergence.

1. Earlier, for example, we saw a number of vowel changes
affecting the regional dialects of American English. This is
in contrast to what we might expect given accessibility and
contact patterns.

2. In addition, vowel patterns in Englishes worldwide, such as
New Zealand English and varieties of Southern British English,
are also showing divergent vowel systems. Such tendencies
suggest that at the level of phonology, there is not a great deal
of convergence overall.

B. We also have found no evidence that access to mass media has
introduced much beyond vocabulary worldwide. In other words,
social interaction remains the primary means through which
language changes. Limited social engagement, such as that typically
found among speakers of different global English varieties, limits
the degree to which language converges toward shared nouns.

C. Most importantly, though, the belief that we are headed toward
linguistic convergence doesn’t take into account the fact that
linguistic diversity serves an important role. Dialects are about
communicating identity as much as about communicating facts.

D. Throughout this course, we have seen how much our language
differs depending on who is using it and who we are talking to.
Clearly, these influences will not lessen or fade away soon.
Language, as long as it is part and parcel of social identity, will
remain a flexible and evolving tool to reflect our differences, as
well as our similarities.

Lecture 8

Lecture 8 --  Summary Outline
Language and Society: What Your Speech Says about You
By Valerie Fridland

Your Shifty Vowels

Almost all major dialects of American English are undergoing massive
changes in their vowels. These changes differ from region to region
nd among ethnic and age groups in different regions. Because most
of the people we talk to speak the same dialect we do, we notice differences
only when they are unusual to us. These latest vowel shifts are not the first to
affect English, but they certainly represent some of the most striking changes
to our speech in quite some time. Perhaps most surprisingly, American
speech is becoming less similar, not more similar, regionally. In this lecture,
we’ll explore how vowel articulation comes to mark social differences, and
we’ll learn about vowel production.

I. Modern Vowel Shifts

A. Linguists have been studying vowel movements, often referred
to as vowel shows, since isolated vowel changes were first noted
in the 1970s. However, the extensive and interrelated shifts that
we currently recognize in U.S. dialects were not really identified
until the early 1990s as interrelated shift patterns. We also find that
Canada is being affected by vowel shifts that are different than
those in the United States.

B. We often think of regionally diagnostic terms or words as the main
markers of where a person is from-such terms as “y’alI” versus
“youse guys” or “soda” versus “pop.” However, vowel pronunciation
actually plays a more extensive role in making someone sound
like a Southerner, Westerner, or Northerner than we tend to think.
Despite this, we are rarely able to articulate exactly what the
differences in vowel sounds are.

C. Although speech samples from speakers in different parts of the
country sound different, pinpointing specifically what differs
among them is difficult. You might notice a particular word or two
that stand out as distinctive, but it isn’t the word that’s different; it’s
the way the vowels in it sound.

D. Obvious markers of region, such as y’aII or totally rad, make a
clear social claim Vowel sounds, in contrast, are typically below
the level of conscious awareness. Changes in vowel sounds are not
usually even noticed by those shifting them. Eventually, when we
meet people outside of our dialect region that don’t shift in the same
way, we may notice that they pronounce their vowels strangely,
but we probably don’t realize that they are thinking the same thing
about us.

E. Vowel shifts can progress rapidly across age, gender, and regional
groups without meeting the social roadblocks that many more
obvious language differences meet. For example, you don’t usually
hear people comment on the way someone else pronounces his or
her vowels, but the substitution of /v/ for /th/ or the deletion of an
/r/ (as in “brovah” instead of “brother”) is often seen as salient.

II. Vowel Articulation

A. Why is it that vowel articulation is so much more subtle yet makes
such a difference?

1.  Vowel sounds are produced along somewhat of a continuum
in the mouth. There are fuzzy areas between what constitutes
different vowel qualities for speakers in different regions.

2. We can make an iw/ sound (as in cat) either raised (“ce-aet”)
or retracted (“cuht”) but still have someone understand that we
are saying cat. We then start to identify this subtle variation
with social distinctions.

3. For example, if Great Aunt Mary says “caht” while our
children say “ce-act,” this distinction may come to signal
age differences when we hear it, even though we may not
recognize it consciously. Yet again, we see how language-in
this case, vowel articulation-subtly indicates and reinforces
social categories-in this case, old versus young.

B. ln contrast to other speech sounds, vowels vary quite a bit, and
this variation provides us with an effective yet still linguistically
comprehensible way to recognize social differences.

1. Though there is some variation in how they are produced,
consonants are less variable than vowels. In general, to
make a consonant sound, you have to hit specific targets in a
particular way.

2. Vowels are a more relational kind of articulation. If you make
a vowel sound a bit higher or lower in the mouth compared
to someone else, it doesn’t matter so much as long as you are
making it distinct from other vowel sounds. This continuous
rather than clear-cut distinction between vowel sounds makes
it harder to recognize exactly how the sound is different unless
you are linguistically trained.

3. But these subtle differences that simply develop through
shared use by a regional or ethnic group are then identified
as social indicators. Again, as we’ve been exploring with
language development more generally, we see that our
speech is a result of both social and linguistic pressures that
are a reflection of where we come from and who we speak
with most.

III. Vowel Normalization and Social Differences

A. Vowels are essentially created by vibrations within the vocal tract;
thus, the size of the vocal tract makes a difference in terms of the
frequencies produced by the shaping of the airflow through it. The
process people use to understand another speaker’s vowels when
they sound different is vowel normalization.

1. Normalization processes seem to be most efficient when
there is talker familiarity. That means that the more you
hear a particular speaker, the quicker and more efficiently
you normalize his or her speech. This is the reason you
understand the speech of those you talk to most often more
readily than those with whom you may not have much
experience speaking.

2. Normalization may make it seem that variations in vowel
sounds are not very significant-because listeners are able
to accommodate for them. But when an entire group or
community starts to vary its vowel production in the same
way overtime, then the target for that vowel for children may
become shifted toward a new norm

3. The community as a hole changes in a linguistically patterned
way that opens up the opportunity for that shift to become a
marker of a particular social identity. Speakers outside that
community don’t shift consistently or at all toward the new
target, leading to a potentially socially significant difference
among groups of speakers.

B. Why might people start to produce a sound in a systematically
different way than they originally heard it? It seems that young
people are the critical link in introducing innovations into a
community’s speech.

1. Adolescence favors social forces beyond class, including
the need for autonomy and independence. These are forces
that are often not as relevant as we age. Although adults are
economically status conscious, teenagers are status conscious
based on other factors. Athletic ability, urbanness, coolness-
all these are critical during maturation, as is the need to express
separation from adult norms.

2. These factors, it seems, help drive vowel changes, among other
types of changes. We will explore more about language and
youth in a later lecture, but we typically End that it is younger
people who are most advanced in sound changes entering a

C. If several communities adopt new norms for vowel production
over time-and do so in different ways-we end up with socially
diagnostic vowels indicative of membership in those communities.
This is exactly what seems to be happening in regional U.S. dialects
today. At the same time, some of the new positions for other vowels
in American English seem to be in the process of dialect leveling,
or losing local differentiation.

D. Because the same vowel sounds reoccur in many of the words we
use, any shift in vowel pronunciation generally affects the way we
say all words containing that vowel sound. A shift in our vowels
can, thus, drastically change a language over time.

IV. Vowel Production

A. Most American dialects have about ll single vowel sounds and 3
main diphthongs, although this inventory varies a bit depending
on a speaker’s dialect and on what is counted as a separate
vowel sound. These sounds are made by moving the tongue
front and back and up and down and by rounding or spreading
the lips. These movements create different shapes in the mouth,
which in ttn‘n create different resonances in the airflow that we
hear as different vowel sounds. This is what linguists refer to as
vowel qualities.

B. When discussing how we make vowel sounds, we typically refer to
a number of concurrent factors: tongue position (front or back of the
tongue lifted high, mid, or low in the mouth), jaw position (opened
or closed), and lip position (rounded or spread). The movements
of the tongue and lips work together to essentially make a tube.
Air moving through vibrates at different resonances, depending
on the shape made with this tube. Different shapes create different
vowel sounds.

C. We can more easily understand how these elements work together
by thinking about how vowel sounds are produced in the mouth.
Linguists typically arrange vowels on a trapezoid-shaped chart.
Vowels produced at the front part of the mouth are represented on
the left of the chart (toward the hypothetical open part of the mouth),
and vowels produced at the back of the mouth are represented on
the right side of the chart. The charts below show the front and back
vowel subsystems.

D. Vowel shifting is part of the history of every language and results
in significant changes over time in the way sounds are pronounced.
Part of what makes vowel shifts have such an impact on the way
language systems develop is because of the interconnectedness of
the vowel space.

1. A change in the articulation of one vowel can encroach on the
way another vowel is produced. Or the movement of one vowel
can open up possibilities for another vowel sound to move into
the articulatory space it previously occupied.

2. This kind of simultaneous related shifting is called a vowel
chain shift, and such chain shifts can radically reorganize the
vowel space of a language or dialect. Indeed, such vowel shifts
result in the development of longstanding linguistic divergence
because they often affect which vowel categories are perceived
in a language.

E.As we know, English has shifted quite a bit over time-from its
Germanic vowel qualities to Old English, then to Middle English,
and finally to Modern English vowel categories. Now it seems as if
our vowels are shifting yet again.