You have a very naughty salad Questions? Tyler Schnoebelen tylers at stanford
(Key to reading this deck now that it’s posted) • Most of the content is in the notes field. • Check out Appendix A for logistics and follow-up stuff that Lauren started the class off with • Appendix B has stuff we didn’t get to in class but is probably useful for reviewing
Animals of New Guinea • Ralph Bulmer went and studied the Karam of New Guinea. They have a number of animal categories (think, “mammal”, “fish”, “bird”, “pet”, etc). • Kobity • Yakt • Kayn • Kaj
The kobity is a category of its own • It’s a strange beast • Lives wild in the forest • Walks on two legs (doesn’t fly) • It’s furry • Lays eggs • Has wings • Has a heavy skull • When hunted, its blood shouldn’t be shed
Go ahead, try to tell me it’s a bird • It’s just absurd • It can’t fly • It’s really heavy • It can kill children and dogs • It can’t be hunted with arrows • It’s our cross-cousin • “The more Bulmer probes, the more elements are brought in by his informants that prevent the kobity from being a yakt.” (Latour 200)
From the prompt • “When pressed on their choices, my respondents actually pushed back, citing more detail and finding more features that support their gender assignment.” • Versus • “I asked WAY more than three people what gender my objects were, because I wasn't getting any answers beyond, "I don't know," "Male, I guess -- I don't know why," and, "I don't know... I really don't know.“”
What to do instead • You can learn a lot from perturbations • “The number of points linked, the strength and length of the linkage, the nature of the obstacles” (201-202). • In other words, examining a web of connections that join things together. • By denying a claim or shaking an association, we can see how things are joined together, “what holds tightly and what gives way easily, what is negotiable and what is not.”
Grammatical gender • Imagine there were some nice morphemes (little wordlets) for marking gender in English, so that we would say: • Frank manwent to the store • Manbig Frank is always mangoing to the store • Louise ladywent to the store • Ladybig Louise, she’s always ladygoing to the store • Thelady table is ladybig • Theman chair is manpetite
From other languages • French • Une petite boîte est arrivée de Paris (‘A small box has come from Paris’) • Old English • Seo brade lind waes tilu and hire lufod (‘That broad shield was good and I loved it/her’) • Zulu • umfana omkhulu (‘large boy’) • isihlahla esikhulu (‘large tree’)
Dyirbal groupings • Bayi: men, kangaroos, possums, bats, most snakes, most fishes, some birds, most insects, the moon, storms, rainbows, boomerangs, some spears, etc. • Balan: women, anything connected with water or fire, bandicoots, dogs, platypus, echidnae, some snakes, some fishes, most birds, fireflies, scorpions, crickets, the stars, shields, some spears, some trees, etc. • Balam: all edible fruit and the plants that bear them, tubers, ferns, honey, cigarettes, wine, cake. • Bala: parts of the body, meat, bees, wind, yam sticks, some spears, most trees, grass, mud, stones, noises, language, etc.
‘Penguin’ Dutch: Neuter Greek: Masculine Irish: Feminine
‘Wind’ Dutch: Masculine Greek: Masculine Irish: Feminine
‘Happiness’ Dutch: Neuter Greek: Feminine Irish: Feminine
‘Hammer’ 12 out of 13 Indo-European languages have ‘hammer’ in the masculine Just chance? Not arbitrary?
Why? • Hammers are active, mighty, associated with blacksmiths; all these things make them men • Alternatively, the answer written in to The Washington Post when it asked people to assign genders to English nouns • “male, because it hasn’t evolved much over the last 5,000 years, but it’s handy to have around”
The awful German language • (Can I get two volunteers?) • Gretchen: Wilhelm, where is the turnip? • Wilhelm: She has gone to the kitchen. • Gretchen: Where is the accomplished and beautiful English maiden? • Wilhelm: It has gone to the opera.
Where to look • Colors
Where to look • Colors • Time • Spatial orientation • Grammatical gender
Bugaboos in linguistic relativity • Are you only testing inside the language? • If you’re testing multiple languages, how do you know the translation is really the same? • Use bilinguals and keep the test language consistent? • If you’re judging thinking, can you rule out linguistic interference? • Have them count or something else while performing the task? • What strategies are participants going to use to answer your direct questions? • Can you be more covert?
Take-away • Since the test was in English, “The semantic representation of gender (once it has been established) is not language specific” (Boroditsky et al 2007: 69). • Why is this? • If ‘toaster’ is masculine, maybe you pull out ‘metallic’, ‘technological’; if it’s feminine, maybe you think ‘warmth’, ‘domesticity’, ‘nourishment’. • Here’s a place where the construction of gender is going on!
Gimme some adjectives about bridges German: Beautiful Elegant Fragile Peaceful Pretty Slender Spanish Big Dangerous Long Strong Sturdy Towering Now English speakers take those adjectives and say “+1=fem, -1=masc” (not knowing where the adjectives came from)
The power of grammatical gender • Tuma:Ta/Tama:Ta ‘tomato’ (fem.) • khya:r ‘cucumber’ (masc.)