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The Leadership Podcast

The Leadership Podcast

Why do we do this?

We interview great leaders, review the books they read, and speak with highly influential authors who study them.

How we do this?

#1 We interview great leaders.
#2 We review the books great leaders read and write.
#3 We have fun!

May 17, 2023

Linguistics professor, Valerie Fridland, explores the evolution of language and offers insights on how we can use it more effectively in the workplace. From the use of filled pauses and uptalk to the gender-based biases that affect language perception, Valerie provides a fascinating look at the role of language in our lives. Also discussed are the benefits of embracing language evolution, and how it can improve communication and connection in our personal and professional lives.

Key Takeaways

[01:11] Valerie Fridland, a linguistics professor and author of "Like, literally, Dude: Arguing For Good In Bad English," challenges the notion of "correct" language and encourages us to embrace language evolution. Her personal experience as a parent highlights the importance of understanding language in the real world.

[03:51] Valerie talks about speech patterns and language usage, including uptalk and discourse markers. People have specific likes and dislikes when it comes to language, including certain words or phrases that they find annoying or grating. However, many of these preferences are actually based on regional dialects or historical linguistic changes and may not be as important or incorrect as people think.

[14:38] Valerie talks about how filled pauses, such as "ums" and "uhs," which are typically considered to be bad public speaking habits, are actually beneficial for speakers and listeners. 

[20:10] Men and women process language similarly, but societal expectations and cultural models can influence the types of language they prefer. Young women are often the initiators and spreaders of language change. Different linguistic styles exist, but it's not about gender, it's about individual preference and social roles. 

[25:14] Valerie also discusses the differences in language and style between generations, genders, and ethnic groups, and how these differences can affect communication in the workplace. While it's okay to have a preferred style of communication, it's also important to come to a compromise and be open to new ideas.

[35:19] Tips from Valerie that we can implement to make our workplaces more inclusive of everyone linguistically. Leaders should be aware of their own language biases and avoid making assumptions based on linguistic characteristics such as voice pitch or discourse markers. By being more inclusive of diverse linguistic styles, leaders can create a more welcoming and productive workplace for everyone.

[39:19] While social media and other forms of communication may be disseminating information faster than ever before, the actual changes in language are relatively slow compared to historical changes. Additionally, Valerie discusses and gives examples of how the speed at which we speak and the perceived charisma of a speaker is a complex interplay of various factors, including speech rate, pitch, intonation patterns, and the use of vocal fry. Varying the tempo and intonational variability can contribute to charismatic speech. 

[47:04] Closing quote: Remember, slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands, and goes to work. — Carl Sandberg


Quotable Quotes

"Language is a window into our minds and how our minds work."

"Language is constantly changing and evolving, and it's a really fascinating thing to study."

"We can learn a lot about our society and how we view things through our language."

"The social beliefs we have about language and the linguistic reality are completely opposite."

"Filled pauses, or 'UMS' and 'UZ,' are actually a superpower for speakers and listeners."

"UMS are signals of hard cognitive effort, and they help us process complex information."

"UMS also signals to listeners that we're not done speaking and helps with turn-taking."

"Language is a tool that we use to convey our thoughts and emotions, and it's important to understand how it works."

"Language is not just about communication, it's also about identity and how we perceive ourselves and others."

"Candor has to be in different contexts for different reasons."

“Language is fun, and amazing. Language is a connection and communication. And sometimes we forget that we're not there to be perfect speakers, we're there to be connected speakers. So focus on connection and communication. You can't go wrong.”

“Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands, and goes to work.” Carl Sandberg


Resources Mentioned