The Language of Superman

What does a language sound like when it only exists in written symbols? The producers of this summer’s blockbuster Superman movie, Man of Steel , ran into this problem when it comes to the native language of Krypton, the fictional and faraway planet where Superman was born. So they turned to the Okanagan Valley, where University of […]

Language Politics in South Africa

Anthropologist and linguist Dr Mark Turin travels to South Africa to get to grips with the country’s complex language politics and policies. Until the mid 1990s, there were just two official languages, English and Afrikaans, while other indigenous African languages were sidelined. Today the situation is different, with eleven official languages recognized by the Constitution […]

Family Life in the USA

Elinor Ochs’ latest research on child-rearing practices among middle class US families receives wide spread media attention: Anthropologist Elinor Ochs and her colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles have studied family life as far away as Samoa and the Peruvian Amazon region, but for the last decade they have focused on a society […]

James Ferguson and NY Fashion Week?

With NY Fashion Week well underway, New York Magazine’s fashion section, The Cut, posted online an article contemplating the mysteries of fashion language – citing anthropologist James Ferguson and sociolinguist Penny Eckert in the process. A sample: “Such abstract language reminded [Eckert] of the work of anthropologist James Ferguson, who studies urban life in the […]

Language Extinction

Cultural anthropologist Wade Davis has investigated zombies in Haiti, lived with tribes in the Amazon and Andes, and explored vanishing indigenous cultures from Borneo to east Africa. He has been the inspiration for three episodes of the television series The X Files. […] He said that every two weeks, somewhere in the world, an elder died […]