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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: One size fits all? Dialectometry in a small clan-based indigenous society
Author: James N. Stanford
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Dartmouth College
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: Sui
Abstract: In many societies, dialectometry has revealed strong correlations between geographic distances and dialect differences (e.g., Gooskens, 2005; Heeringa & Nerbonne, 2001; Nerbonne, 2009, 2010). But what happens when dialectometry is applied to a small, clan-based society such as the indigenous Sui people of rural southwest China? The Sui results show a strong correlation between dialect difference and geographic distance, thus supporting Nerbonne and Kleiweg's (2007) Fundamental Dialectological Postulate. A new culturally specific computation, “rice paddy distance,” also provides a strong correlation with dialect differences. However, the study finds that some dialectometry patterns of larger societies are not “compressible” into small societies such as Sui. Clan exogamy also poses challenges for dialectometry. Nonetheless, the overall results show that basic principles of dialect variation in space can be generalized cross-culturally, even across very different cultures. This paper also suggests a “lower limit” for dialectology, that is, the smallest distance where regional dialectology may be relevant, all other things being equal.


This article appears IN Language Variation and Change Vol. 24, Issue 2.

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