Language News: Courtney Martin at TED -and- Thinkmap on the words of “Feminism”

Today is International Women’s Day, and many sites on the web are honoring the day.  Here are two important links:

1) TED has released a new video from their speaker series.  Courtney Martin, responsible for the blog Feministing, discusses her own initial aversion to the term “feminist” and how that changed as she got older.  In terms of linguistics, it’s a good opportunity to talk about the difference between denotations (women who want equal rights) and connotations (women who wear Birkenstocks).

Courtney Martin: Reinventing feminism | Video on

Courtney offers good advice for all young people: “Growing up is about aiming to succeed wildly and being fulfilled by failing really well.”  Listen to this woman talk, and take note of what women’s language can be.

2) Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus also offers a great entry in their blog:

Feminism vocabulary (for International Women’s Day)

Their list of words related to this day include “feminist” itself, which has been a lighting rod throughout its history, and a range of other terms in context which describe the movement.  The list is sure to inspire teachers with lessons which touch on this day (and the rest of Women’s History month).

You can also check out the LingEducator Classroom Activities entry for International Women’s Day for a guide to starting a science project on the gender based language differences in your classroom.


About LingEducator

Dr. Jaclyn Ocumpaugh received a PhD for her dissertation on regional variation in the acoustics of Mexican American English (Michigan State University, East Lansing). Before that, she received an MA in English/Linguistics from North Carolina State University for her work on the acoustics of /r/--a sound which is highly variable in the English language. Her passion, however, has always been to understand the social implications of language variation. In addition to her work in acoustic sociophonetics, she has worked with rape trial analysis, developed cognitive methods for understanding discourse level variation between men and women, and created sophisticated tools for teaching future educators about the kinds of dialect variation they will find in the classroom. She has taught classes in English, Linguistics, and Education at Old Dominion University, William & Mary, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan College. She is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is helping to develop models of student engagement in the classroom. She also consults in the private sector.
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