Archive for the ‘Media’ Category.

Scam alert or how to make a lot of money really quickly

Felicity Meakins writes…

Just recently I was on Amazon, when I came across two potentially interesting books:

At first I berated myself for having never noticed these books before, let alone the authors. Surely these were important volumes that I should have referenced! However a little further investigation revealed a scam that grew bigger (and actually more impressive) as I dug deeper.

I first became suspicious when I recognised some of the wording of the abstract of the first book. Sure enough, the entire abstract was a word-for-word copy of the Wikipedia entry on mixed languages. A loud excited outburst from me drew Myf Turpin into the fray. We had a look at the Alphascript publishing website only to find that ALL of their books were edited by Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome and John McBrewster, with topics ranging from Japanese mythology and Franco-Belgium comics to cloud seeding and swine flu! And when I say “ALL of their books”, I mean all 1006 books. Who were these prolific authors?!

When we googled their names, we found a number of scam alerts, so we are certainly not the first to notice them. Unfortunately the University of Queensland library was drawn in for five books’ worth on topics including abalone and Mayan civilisations. Indeed, as Alphascript publishing proudly announce on their webpage, most of the major book distributors, including Amazon, list their books.

One can’t help being secretly impressed with the size of the scam. Most of the books are sold for AU$40.00. UQ Library would have spent around AU$200 on their books, and there is a good chance too that many other university libraries did the same before realising it was all a scam. In a single year, Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome and John McBrewster probably had enough in the bank to buy an small island and disappear.

Aside from being impressed (or gobsmacked), it is probably worth checking your university library and alerting them to the scam, and letting other prospective buyers know if you come across their books on book seller pages.

Languages in the News (from RNLD’s Felicity Houwen)

After the recent LIP discussion about languages in the popular media we decided to take a look at the way indigenous and endangered languages are represented in the press. Looking through the articles listed on the Languages in the News page on RNLD’s website ( we focused on how Indigenous languages are represented, and what kind of themes, languages, and locations gain media attention. This will be useful in planning how we can better use the media in the future. Here is an overview of the Languages in the News 2011. Continue reading ‘Languages in the News (from RNLD’s Felicity Houwen)’ »

Linguistics in the popular media: a LIP discussion

Lauren Gawne recaps last night’s Linguistics in the Pub, a monthly informal gathering of linguists in Melbourne to discuss topical areas in our field.

This month’s Linguistics in the Pub meet-up in Melbourne focused on a topic relevant not only to those involved in language documentation but to all linguists – How can we engage the general public in what we do. Although the discussion was ostensibly lead by Ruth Singer and myself, everyone was able to bring their experiences to the discussion and this summary includes the wisdom of all those who attended, and even someone who didn’t.

We started out by looking at communicating with the public using the blogosphere. Blogging has been a useful tool for academics looking to reach a broader audience due to the relatively small overhead compared to other forms of media and the general voraciousness of the internet-reading public. We started off by discussing the more general linguistics blogs out there. While those such as Language Log and Johnson have large readerships they do focus heavily on English, and largely on debates around English usage and pedantry. Fully (Sic) in Australia has a much broader and inclusive focus and should be used more by linguists who wish to share their work in a way that is inclusive, accessible but not ‘dumbed down.’

Continue reading ‘Linguistics in the popular media: a LIP discussion’ »