Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Popular linguistics online

I've been popularizing linguistics for more than three years on a Hungarian site Nyelv és Tudomány 'Language and Science'. I think this site offers ideal opportunities for discussing several language-related topics such as educational policies, minority rights, exotic cultures, games, IT gadgets, translation softwares or even methods in scientific research. Since I live in Finland, nowadays I especially like a series on Finnish popular culture: with my wife, we usually listen to the songs (for example Jukka Poika's) and learn a lot from the lyrics, its translation and the explanations provided by the authors.

Nyelv és Tudomány –

How do you feel in this room?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm really interested in linguistic landscape. I'm always curious about what symbols and texts mean in our environment, e.g. in the interior of our homes, schools, offices or on the façade of various buildings. However, not only texts and images but the arrangement of the furniture and every other property of the spatial organization can be relevant and meaningful. That's why I was very happy when I got an invitation to a seminar which targeted university students from Serbia who study mathematics and physics. This seminar, led by Kristóf Fenyvesi, focused on the connections between visual culture, mathematics and education.

Friday, 16 May 2014

People use words they reject

Reflecting on language is part of our everyday life. It happens that you share and comment a joke because you found it very funny. Contrarily, you may want to tell a case when somebody hurt you with words. These are informal and personal cases: you meet people you regularly meet and share your life with them. However, speaking about language-related experiences also has its institutionalized forms. Teachers sometimes ask students to tell about their communication habits in order to formulate a “grammar rule”.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Words on the fence

I'm interested in the linguistic landscape of towns, schools and other institutions. Words on walls, fences, windows and other surfaces tell a lot about a community's life. What languages are used? What images, symbols are used in order to build and strengthen a group identity? The topic is quite hot in minority settings where a community often has to fight for the right of using their own language and symbols. It's not by accident that when we organized a conference on linguistic landscape at my previous workplace, the papers were mainly about the visual use of Hungarian in the neighboring countries of Hungary.