Author Topic: Fun linguistics activities  (Read 4881 times)

Offline Corybobory

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Fun linguistics activities
« on: February 08, 2014, 03:09:26 PM »
I'm looking for some fun activities that can be done with a class of 10-15 people, with a linguistics theme.  On phonetics, grammar, etc, but can be done with people who don't have any formal linguistics training.

Can anyone recall doing a fun group activity in their linguistics class that was engaging and interesting?
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Offline ibarrere

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Re: Fun linguistics activities
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2014, 03:52:31 PM »
I always find that an illustration of the difference between allophones of a phoneme in one's native language blows people away. Since people are so used to glossing over those differences it can be interesting to point them out in an obvious way (the whole putting your hand in front of your mouth and saying pin and spin to show the difference between aspirated and unaspirated stops, etc). I'm not sure what the purpose of these exercises is, but that might be a start.
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Offline Daniel

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Re: Fun linguistics activities
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2014, 04:46:55 PM »
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Offline jkpate

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Re: Fun linguistics activities
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2014, 06:27:16 PM »
Maybe you could make palatograms and linguograms in small groups? How old are the students?
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Offline freknu

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Re: Fun linguistics activities
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2014, 07:30:36 PM »
Phonetic change.

Sit everyone in a ring, and select someone to start the game. The starting person pronounces an English word. Every next person must repeat the pronunciation of the previous person, and then add one small change — don't give them any help on this, they must come up with the change on their own.

Let the word go around a few times and see how quickly and how much it changes. A very interactive illustration of phonetic change.

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Offline Corybobory

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Re: Fun linguistics activities
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2014, 12:57:18 AM »
^Ooooh, I like that...

The people are adults, probably many retired.  It's for a class on language evolution that I'm designing, but I'm looking for inspiration on more group activities I can incorporate so it's not so lecture/discussion based.

Anything that gets people out of their seats?
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Offline lx

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Re: Fun linguistics activities
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2014, 12:38:22 PM »
Something I've just thought of is taking a sample of words that have undergone a lot of semantic change. So, all the bread-and-butter names for woman and difference like 'silly' meaning blessed and then young. You could have them act out small roles where they get to call each other all sorts of stupid names (but in a serious sense). You would have people addressing people as "Lord", but get them to say the etymological sense, "the one who guards the loaves". It'd be really stupid and funny, but informative. They'd probably have a bit of a laugh but definitely walk away with some deep realisation that so many things in English are obviously changing. Having retirees refer to each other as 'wench' when the script needs to address a small, female character. You could easy get a good range of 20 words and put something simple together. Having it a bit silly, tongue-in-cheek, but still bringing that look of, "Did it really use to mean that? I never knew." My experience is that older people love etymological facts and as long as you have the basic process of how these words changed and the system of amelioration or pejoration as an explanation, it could turn out to be fun for them.

So you could work with words such as lord, wench, knight (boy), bastard (illegitimate/not pure) etc. There's always the reference to "William the Bastard", which was never meant as an insult. You could play on it with characters asking them to pass the "bastard cheese" or something, cheese that's not quite pure or whatever. I'd actually like to see a bunch of people doing an activity like that.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 12:41:38 PM by lx »