Ben Zimmer, a linguist who wears many hats, has posted language coverage of the Egyptian revolution on two different websites this week.
First, as a regular contributor to they NY Time’s On Language column, he has provided this analysis of the language used in protest signs:
These are interesting analyses; the role of languages like English and Chinese on the world stage provides us with an interesting opportunity to discuss the political implications of language choices with our students.
However, another opportunity that we should consider exploring with our students is the use of internet memes. Dr. Liza Potts (Old Dominion University) and her graduate student Angela Harrison are currently conducting scholarly analyses of such memes. In addition to the practical applications (what business doesn’t want to know how to create a catchy slogan), these memes offer us an opportunity to look at traditional demographic variables (age, sex, race, etc.) vs. network analyses (are people with certain interests in the web more likely to gravitate to one meme over another?). This is a very new field of study, so the opportunities for social science research are almost limitless.