Addendum: Bilingualism isn’t just for white kids

This week we chat with Dr. Abby Bajuniemi about Heritage language speakers. Dr. Bajuniemi has a PhD in Hispanic linguistics from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She is a former professor who has worked directly with heritage language speakers and we were thrilled to have her on the show.

Dr. Bajuniemi shared some resources with us that you might find helpful/educational, whether or not you work directly with heritage language speakers.

Dr. Bajuniemi especially recommends the work of Dr. Kim Potowski, Professor of Hispanic linguistics. Dr. Potowski has a list of helpful resources.

Make sure to check out Dr. Bajuniemi’s website for more information on her work. You can also find her on twitter @AbsP. Finally, she has a book coming out in 2019! It’s on designing and researching natural language interactions for digital products, with a focus on sociolinguistics/sociophonetics/conversation analysis and ethics of working with language. When more information is available, you can find it here.

And please remember that labels are complicated and messy and “heritage language speaker” will have different connotations for different people and those connotations are dependent on a myriad of historical and personal factors. But we should all remember that bilingualism isn’t just for white kids and everyone’s language is valid and important.

Happy New Year!


Addendum 31: Bat Signals

If you listened to our episode about bat communication, you might want to read the actual science behind animals and animal communication. (And don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode!)



Episode 31: Todos/Todas/Todes Addendum

In our latest episode, we chat with Dr. Santiago Kalinowski, the Director of the Linguistics Department at the Argentinian Academy of Letters. We get into the topic of lenguaje inclusivo/inclusive language in Spanish.

Spanish is a “morphologically rich” language… That is to say, unlike English, nouns encode grammatical gender–masculine and feminine–so, any modifying adjectives or articles must conform to the noun’s grammatical gender.

Mesa = a feminine noun that takes a feminine article, la

La mesa = the table.

And adjectives conform to mesa’s feminine gender:

La mesa bonita = the pretty table

But what about with people?

If there were a group of 12 women, 3 non-binary folks, and 2 men, you have to use the masculine ‘default’ to say “They are students”:

Ellos son estudiantes. (Ellas is the feminine plural, but can only be used if everyone in the group is female/female-identified.)

Lenguaje inclusivo, in part, is using a THIRD option, the new Elles. Or todes, or bonites. Non-binary gender? No problem.

Here is the video of the amazing young girl who tells her teacher what’s up.

Here is the video of the protester using lenguaje inclusivo, like a boss.

Since we talked with Santiago, I’ve seen so many articles about ‘Latinx’, here are a couple: Love it? Hate it? ‘Latinx’ points to the future and ‘Latinx’: An offense to the Spanish language or a nod to inclusion?

Santiago also shared some information with us, which I will share here.

For further reference, you can check any of the following links to interviews and articles written by me or where I’ve been quoted:

  1. First take on the issue
  2. Shorter version of the same article published as op ed in an actual media outlet (that I could translate to English if necessary)
  3. Interview in that same outlet (with two video clips).
  4. Piece in the fairly popular magazine “Noticias”, where I’m one of the sources.
  5. Full length video (1 hour and 40 minutes) of the debate that was held at the Institute of Linguistics of the University of Buenos Aires where I intervened.

Finally, remember these wise words: “I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t necessarily need to be a lawyer to defend others’ rights.”


Episode 29: Neaux French Left Behind/Bonus 9 Addendum

If you listened to our episode about varieties of French in Louisiana, you might have some questions. And if you listened to our bonus, you might have even more (unless you know a lot about French). (And don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode!)

How many people speak Louisiana Creole? fewer than 10k

How many speak Louisiana regional French? probably around 150k

Why does it matter if French is no longer spoken in LA? Because it matters to the people of LA.

What were the differences between Louisiana Creole and Louisiana Regional French mentioned by Dr. Dajko?

She mentioned a few that weren’t totally clearcut:

  1. The high front rounded vowel (/y/) is usually unrounded in Louisiana Creole, less so in Louisiana Regional French (/y/ → /i/) so tu ‘you (sg)’ /ty/ becomes /ti/ (although, it also seems to have become /to/, which is nice and confusing)
  2. post-vocalic r (/ʁ/) is more often dropped in creole (like Boston or London r-lessness, where ‘car’ is pronounced ‘cah’): bonjour becomes bonjou

She mentioned more that were better diagnostics:

  1. There’s no gender marking in Louisiana Creole; gender maintained in Louisiana Regional French
  2. The pronominal systems are different. Louisiana Regional French has a system much closer to standard French. For example, moi became mo in Louisiana Creole, and it is used in subject position (moi, je + verb became mo + verb).

Mo té kourí ô Villaj.

I past travel to village

“I went to Lafayette.”

  1. In French, there is a process called liaison, where a consonant is only pronounced when the following word is vowel-initial. For example, les tables [letabl] (~lay tahbl) (no /z/) ‘the tables’ vs. les ouiseaux [lezwazo] (~lay zwahzoh) (/z/ shows up) ‘the birds’. In many creoles (and Michif), the /z/ gets reanalyzed as part of the noun. So ouiseau ‘bird’ often becomes zwazo. For example, in Michif, the word for ‘egg’ oeuf got borrowed as zaf (where the /z/ comes from the liaison from the article les). Same with ‘tree’ arbre, which becomes zarb. In Mauritian Creole (another French creole), ‘almond’ is zamann (the /z/ comes from liaison originally. In Louisiana Creole, the word for ‘bird’ is zozo. Louisiana Regional French maintains a more regularized liaison process.
  2. The article follows the noun in Louisiana Creole: maison la instead of la maison. This is also common in French creoles (and likely isn’t a reversal, but comes from a different morpheme).
  3. In possession, Louisiana Creole uses gagner ‘to win’ for ‘to have’ (as do some other varieties of French). Louisiana Regional French uses avoir ‘to have’. She provided us with a test sentence to distinguish between the two varieties:

I have 5 dollars = mo gen senk pyas (Louisiana Creole) vs. j’ai cinq pias (Louisiana Regional French)

(senk pyas sounds exactly the same as cinq pias, so the only differences are the pronouns mo vs. j’ and gen (from gagner) vs. ai (from avoir).)


Episode 28: Means Doesn’t Rhyme with New Orleans Addendum

In episode 28, “Means Doesn’t Rhyme with New Orleans”, we talk with Lisa Sprowls, PhD student at Tulane University about New Orleans English(es), especially Yat and the Garden District dialects, and speakers perception of New Orleans dialects.

There were a few jargon-y bits so here’s more info:

Continue reading “Episode 28: Means Doesn’t Rhyme with New Orleans Addendum”

Episode 24: Don’t Mind the Gap Addendum

In episode 24 “Don’t Mind the Gap”, we speak with Dr. Nelson Flores, Associate Professor of Educational Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, about the so-called 30 million word gap.

Here is a good starter post about the topic by Dr. Flores on his blog, Educational Linguist. And here is Dr. Flores’ latest blog post, post- Sperry et al. article.

Continue reading “Episode 24: Don’t Mind the Gap Addendum”

Episode 20: Calling London Addendum

If you enjoyed our latest episode with Issa Wurie from the Young Free and Coupled podcast, you might want to learn a little bit more about South London grime music and slang. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can find it here.

Here are some artists Issa mentioned:

And Issa provided us with a link for more South London slang.