About Chris Cummins

NBN Episodes hosted by Chris:

Kees van Deemter, "Computational Models of Referring: A Study in Cognitive Science" (MIT Press, 2016)

June 22, 2017

Computational Models of Referring

Kees van Deemter
Hosted by Chris Cummins

Sometimes we have to depend on philosophy to explain to us why something apparently simple is in fact extremely complicated. The way we use referring …

Dovid Katz, "Yiddish and Power" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

January 18, 2017

Yiddish and Power

Dovid Katz
Hosted by Chris Cummins

As described by Dovid Katz, Yiddish is an extraordinarily multifaceted language: a language that is at once acclaimed as sacred and dismissed as defic…

Ingrid Piller, "Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice: An Introduction to Applied Sociolinguistics" (Oxford UP, 2016)

August 3, 2016

Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice

Ingrid Piller
Hosted by Chris Cummins

According to the blurb, Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice: An Introduction to Applied Sociolinguistics (Oxford University Press, 2016) "explores…

Prakash Mondal, "Language, Mind and Computation" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

February 17, 2016

Language, Mind and Computation

Prakash Mondal
Hosted by Chris Cummins

My instinct as a researcher is usually to shy away from confrontation about foundational issues in the philosophy of language, which is probably why I…

Geoffrey Sampson, "Writing Systems" (Equinox, 2015)

November 8, 2015

Writing Systems (2nd Edition)

Geoffrey Sampson
Hosted by Chris Cummins

It's not always been clear how the study of written language fits into linguistics. As a relatively recent historical development, it's tempting to se…

Colin McGinn, "Philosophy of Language: the Classics Explained" (MIT Press, 2015)

May 28, 2015

Philosophy of Language

Colin McGinn
Hosted by Chris Cummins

I must admit that my relationship to philosophy of language is a bit like my relationship to classic literature: I tend to admire it from afar, and re…

Pieter Seuren, "From Whorf to Montague: Explorations in the Theory of Language" (Oxford UP, 2013)

March 18, 2015

From Whorf to Montague

Pieter Seuren
Hosted by Chris Cummins

A colleague once told me that people in linguistics could be divided into two groups: sheep and snipers. I'm not sure whether this is a proper dichoto…

Thom Scott-Phillips, "Speaking Our Minds" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

December 13, 2014

Speaking Our Minds

Thom Scott-Phillips
Hosted by Chris Cummins

I hope I'm not being species-centric when I say that the emergence of human language is a big deal. John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary rate it as o…

Ruth Finnegan, "Communicating: the Multiple Modes of Human Communication" (Routledge, 2014)

September 14, 2014


Ruth Finnegan
Hosted by Chris Cummins

The name of the New Books in Language channel might hint at a disciplinary bias towards "language". So in some sense Ruth Finnegan's Communicating: th…

Julia Sallabank, "Attitudes to Endangered Languages: Identities and Policies" (Cambridge UP, 2013)

August 10, 2014

Attitudes to Endangered Languages

Julia Sallabank
Hosted by Chris Cummins

As linguists, we're wont to get protective about languages, whether we see them as data points in a typological analysis or a mass of different ways o…

John H. McWhorter, "The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language" (Oxford UP, 2014)

July 18, 2014

The Language Hoax

John H. McWhorter
Hosted by Chris Cummins

The idea that the language we speak influences the way we think - sometimes referred to as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis - has had an interesting history…

Peter Gardenfors, "The Geometry of Meaning: Semantics Based on Conceptual Spaces" (MIT Press, 2014)

June 9, 2014

The Geometry of Meaning

Peter Gardenfors
Hosted by Chris Cummins

A conceptual space sounds like a rather nebulous thing, and basing a semantics on conceptual spaces sounds similarly nebulous. In The Geometry of Mean…

Vershawn Young et al., "Other People's English" (Teacher's College Press, 2013)

April 15, 2014

Other People's English

Vershawn Young, Rusty Barrett, Y'Shanda Young-Rivera, and Kim Brian Lovejoy
Hosted by Chris Cummins

In linguistics, we all happily and glibly affirm that there is no "better" or "worse" among languages (or dialects, or varieties), although we freely …

Alistair Knott, "Sensorimotor Cognition and Natural Language Syntax" (MIT Press, 2012)

January 28, 2014

Sensorimotor Cognition and Natural Language Syntax

Alistair Knott
Hosted by Chris Cummins

When big claims are made about neurolinguistics, there often seems to be a subtext that the latest findings will render traditional linguistics obsole…

David Bleich, "The Materiality of Language: Gender, Politics and the University" (Indiana UP, 2013)

November 7, 2013

The Materiality of Language

David Bleich
Hosted by Chris Cummins

David Bleich's book The Materiality of Language: Gender, Politics and the University (Indiana University Press, 2013) is described as a wide-ranging c…

Rodney H. Jones, "Health and Risk Communication: An Applied Linguistic Perspective" (Routledge, 2013)

September 25, 2013

Health and Risk Communication

Rodney H. Jones
Hosted by Chris Cummins

Scientists - and I claim to include myself in this category - sometimes seem to be disparaging about the ability of people in general to understand an…

Mikhail Kissine, "From Utterances to Speech Acts" (Cambridge UP, 2013)

September 14, 2013

From Utterances to Speech Acts

Mikhail Kissine
Hosted by Chris Cummins

The recognition of speech acts - classically, things like stating, requesting, promising, and so on - sometimes seems like a curiously neglected topic…

Anne Cutler, "Native Listening: Language Experience and the Recognition of Spoken Words" (MIT Press, 2012)

July 1, 2013

Native Listening

Anne Cutler
Hosted by Chris Cummins

One of the risks of a telephone interview is that the sound quality can be less than ideal, and sometimes there's no way around this and we just have …

Patrick Hanks, "Lexical Analysis: Norms and Exploitations" (MIT Press, 2013)

June 10, 2013

Lexical Analysis

Patrick Hanks
Hosted by Chris Cummins

It's tempting to think that lexicography can go on, untroubled by the concerns of theoretical linguistics, while the rest of us plunge into round afte…

Stephen Crain, "The Emergence of Meaning" (Cambridge UP, 2012)

May 30, 2013

The Emergence of Meaning

Stephen Crain
Hosted by Chris Cummins

It's not surprising that human language reflects and respects logical relations - logic, in some sense, 'works'. For linguists, this represents a pote…

Stephen E. Nadeau, "The Neural Architecture of Grammar" (MIT Press, 2012)

April 13, 2013

The Neural Architecture of Grammar

Stephen E. Nadeau
Hosted by Chris Cummins

Although there seems to be a trend towards linguistic theories getting more cognitively or neurally plausible, there doesn't seem to be an imminent pr…

Stanley Dubinsky and Chris Holcomb, "Understanding Language Through Humor" (Cambridge UP, 2011)

March 15, 2013

Understanding Language Through Humor

Stanley Dubinsky and Chris Holcomb
Hosted by Chris Cummins

A problem with doing linguistics is that once you start, it's kind of inescapable - you see it everywhere. At some point a few months back, I was watc…

Willem J. M. Levelt, "A History of Psycholinguistics: The Pre-Chomskyan Era" (Oxford UP, 2012)

February 19, 2013

A History of Psycholinguistics

Willem J. M. Levelt
Hosted by Chris Cummins

The only disappointment with A History of Psycholinguistics: The Pre-Chomskyan Era (Oxford UP, 2012) is that, as the subtitle says, the story it tells…

Nick J. Enfield, "The Anatomy of Meaning: Speech, Gesture, and Composite Utterances" (Cambridge UP, 2012)

January 16, 2013

The Anatomy of Meaning

Nick J. Enfield
Hosted by Chris Cummins

Linguists are apt to get excited when a language is identified that exhibits exotic properties, and gladly travel halfway round the world to document …