How Words WorkGAMBIER, Ohio (February 7, 2008) The way farmers talk speaks volumes about their lives and the changing face of American agriculture.
"The Language of Farming: Language Variety and Social Change in a Dairying Community" will be discussed at 11:10 a.m. Feb. 12 by Mary Rose, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Linguistics at Ohio State University. The lecture is free and open to the public in the Olin Auditorium in Olin Library on the Kenyon campus.
Rose studied the parlance of dairy farmers in a small Wisconsin town where dairy farming has been a mainstay for more than a hundred years. The use of words reflects the intertwined life histories of the farmers and the role farming plays in shaping the identity of the community.
"Language differences help us to convey to others who we are and how we wish to be seen," Rose said. "They help us interpret the social world around us.
"What is generally true is that important social differences at a given time, and social changes over time, will often be marked by language patterns in the community, regardless of the population density or type of economy," she said.
In her study, Rose found a pattern of using "d" instead of "th" in words like "this," "that" and "though," as well as differences in the use of vowels. "Taken together, all of the linguistic differences over the whole community mean that local people could probably guess a lot about a person just from hearing them talk for about three seconds."
Rose will explore the meaning behind the words in a discussion for a general audience. "I study this stuff not just because I think it's important," she said, "but because I also think it's incredibly cool."
The lecture is sponsored by the Kenyon Rural Life Center.