January 2023 picks

As this happens to be the first article on my website… Welcome! I am already preparing a few articles on language and the power of stories, but in the meantime let me introduce you to my monthly ‘picks’ series. You can also find out more about me on this page.

Every month, I will publish a selection of my favourite content published in the last thirty (one) days, be it articles, podcasts, books, movies, academic papers…. All revolving around language and/or social change. Here are my top picks for January 2023.

Janet Thorne’s ‘Let’s Change The Story’, an article for Reach Volunteering on the importance of narratives depicting human beings as compassionate rather than selfish. “We are surrounded by messages telling us that we are selfish (…) but they mislead us: the evidence is that most people actually care deeply about each other.” Why is this important? When we tell stories of solidarity, it encourages people to act (for instance vote or volunteer) and discuss important issues with others (like climate change or social inequalities); It makes us feel less alienated, and more hopeful that change is possible.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s latest report on Poverty in the United Kingdom. It highlights that 1 in 5 people are living in poverty in the country… But also that poverty can and should be addressed. “This means examining the building blocks of social and economic systems (…) to see how these can be made to work in the interests of poorer households so that there is a positive vision beyond simply getting through the current recession.” Understanding that we need a long-term vision that looks at how we can redesign the systems that trap people in poverty is the first step towards solving the issue.

Linghtusiasm, a monthly podcast about linguistics, released its January episode on Language Names. The hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne explain how languages are named and why this is important. And why sometimes the name that outsiders call the language is completely different from the name given by those who speak it. This podcast helps better understand how languages and society interact, even if you are not already familiar with linguistics. Highly recommend!

To perfectly start the new year, check out the New York Times’7-Day Happiness Challenge’. It is based on the premise that relationships are “a crucial element of living a good life” (see: Harvard Study of Adult Development). The series of articles helps assess and build stronger relationships through tips backed by research and personal stories.

An interesting release this month is the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s project around Family Justice. The highly restricted laws around reporting family court cases are slowly changing, and this new project helps better understand why it matters and how it is shifting. When the proceedings are kept private, it prevents a public understanding of the family court system and does not allow for enough calls for change. These new laws are a positive step towards the possibility of writing stories about what is happening in family courts.

The new video series from the FrameWorks Institute, ‘Fast Frames’, explores how certain messages can make communication more effective. The Institute uses empirical research into how we say things, what are the effects on the audience and how this can help bring about social change. There are already five episodes to check out on their Youtube channel.

Last but not leat, my favourite book this month is She Said, The true story of a Weinstein scandal by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. It was not released in January 2023… But it is my current read and has been adapted into a movie recently (that I highly recommend as well). The book details the two New York Times journalists’ investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct that helped lead to his conviction. It also tells the stories of so many women, and how powerful those stories can be when joined together.