Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Punctuation, Linguistics and Brain Fuzz

It is hard to write today. My mind is everywhere but where I sit. So I am going to take a chance and make some loose connections with language, linguistics and emoticons.

I read a post today written by Chandra on Punctuation Promiscuity  Now I'm not too bad with the exclamation points but the comma thing? Yes, I confess. 

But in my defense I want to say English is a living language and languages need a bit of chaos to help the new words come into being. I should do better about excessive punctuation.  After all, I was educated by School House Rock!


So after singing a few choruses of Interjections and Conjunction Junction  I got to thinking about how something I learned umpteen years ago still can be recalled from memory via language. How does language and the brain interact?

Dr. Ginger Campbell is the host of Brain Science Podcast. Dr. Campbell has a post on evolutionary linguistics as well as recording an interview with Professor Alice Gaby. Professor Gaby is a linguist at the University of California at Berkeley. She is speaking what linguistics is and how it relates to cognition. You can listen to the podcast on the site or download the mp3 into your media player.

In Los Angeles you have to be linguistically flexible; or you should be anyway. I think it helped as a kid that I was into Science Fiction and had a thing for Dr. Who (I started with the classic Tom Baker episodes). 

Love that man's voice. I might be a closet Anglophile. Anyway, it took a while to understand what the heck they were talking about. After reading Separated by A Common Language I'm patting myself on the back on how many British English terms I do understand.

Take one American woman living in the UK who just happens to be a linguist and you have your own personal tour guide on American and British English.  It sure would have helped with Red Dwarf.

 A Way With Words is a NPR program on the English language. Which, by the looks of things, is expanding. Folks are now asking if you put an emoticon at the end of the sentence on paper how do you punctuate it?

There is an answer but I have to dig up my one volume encyclopedia to understand part of the rational. Psst, the secret word is Logotype. Well I'm taking a temporary vow of silence because I got a lot of yakking to do this weekend.

The article also appeared on Blogher.com where I am a Contributing Editor.

1 comment:

  1. Without consulting a grammar book, the easiest way to know when to use a comma is the comma test: if you would naturally pause, then put a comma there. Commas are to keep the flow going, determine the emphasis, they are not to confound. Commas, I love them, for they cause me, and you, too, to go slowly as we read.
    Laura (using many commas at www.RebelliousThoughtsofaWoman.com)