Author: Damir Cavar

LINGUIST List on Amazon Echo / via Alexa

Dear linguists,

Alexa (Amazon Echo) just got a new Flash Briefing channel. You can add The LINGUIST List Flash Briefing with your Alexa app to your Amazon Echo (Dot) or Tap. The new settings will allow you to select most recent postings or the newest postings in any of the LINGUIST areas (e.g. Books, Calls, Conferences, Disc, Diss, FYI, Internships, Jobs, Media, Qs, Reviews, Software, Summer schools, Sums, Support, TOC).

Once you added The LINGUIST List Flash Briefing to your Echo, you can activate the LINGUIST List postings with “What’s new?” or other commands.

We will add more functionalities to Alexa and extend these functionalities to Cortana and Google Home/Assistant.

Have fun with that!

Your LINGUIST List Team


GeoLing shows linguistic events and institutions on a global map

The LINGUIST List has added a new service to its set of web applications: GeoLing

GeoLing allows you to submit announcements of local linguistic events. See for details the HOWTO page of GeoLing.

It also allows you to view all active conference, job, and summer school announcements that are submitted to LINGUIST List on a global map.

In addition to these exciting new functionalities, GeoLing also displays on a global map all linguistic institutions, programs, organizations, even office addresses that were submitted to LINGUIST List.

GeoLing can link to your institutional online calendar and read all local events from it automatically so that you do not have to update the events on GeoLing manually. GeoLing also understands emails with attached addresses in the vCards format, iCalendar or vCal event data submitted to it via email from your favorite contact management software or app, or your PIM or organizer. You will find more details on the HOWTO pages of GeoLing.

LINGUIST List can host online calendars for your institution and link them to GeoLing. Please let us know, if you are interested in this service.

The interface will allow you in the next version to display selected events. For example, you should be able to display all events that are related to “Optimality Theory”, or to “Syntax” of “Slavic languages”. You should be able to find all “theoretical syntax” jobs, or jobs related to “Natural Language Processing”, “Speech Recognition”, “Pragmatics”, “Translation”. There is a limited search facility implemented already. We are working on more improvements.
The displayed information about the events will allow you soon to “add the event to my calendar” or “add the address to my address book” on mobile devices like tablets or smart phones. We are working on that.


We hope you like this new service.

Your LINGUIST List Team


LINGUIST List Internships 2016

Dear linguists, colleagues, students,

LINGUIST List will host another internship program during summer 2016. See for details the announcement on LINGUIST List.

Please keep in mind that the dates of the core internship program are flexible and can be adapted to suite the summer break period of different systems, countries, and continents. Please contact us to discuss particular arrangements that you might need.

We would be happy to assist you with applications for supplemental funding and stipends. Various countries and educational or research organizations offer support opportunities to students. Please consider contacting your advisor and local University administration about funding opportunities and let us know how we could help you with the application.


Your LINGUIST List Team


LINGUIST List at the LSA 2016

Please join us for the LINGUIST List office hours at the LSA 2016 Annual Meeting:

date: Friday, 8th of January 2016

time: 6-7 PM

location: George Washington University room

We will talk about the launch of:

  • GeoLing, a GIS-based linguistic information system (linguistic information on a global map).
  • GORILLA, a service that links language documentation, linguistic research with corpus linguistics, computational linguistics, and natural language processing, corpus development, speech and language technology engineering.

and many other LINGUIST List related things.

Please join us!

This year LINGUIST List will not host a booth in the exhibition area, but we are happy to meet with you during the LSA 2016 annual meeting. Please email us or call us to make meeting arrangements.

See you at the LSA 2016 annual meeting!

Your LINGUIST List Team


Fund Drive 2015 is Over! Thank You to All of Our Supporters!

Dear LINGUIST List Subscribers, Supporters and Friends,

Fund Drive 2015 has come to a close, and we would like to thank everyone who made a donation—big or small—for their generosity! This Fund Drive was no small effort, and we appreciate all of the support that we received from
nearly 700 donors!

To wrap up Fund Drive 2015, we would like to conclude with the results of our challenges:

– The Subfield Challenge

While phonology and syntax held the lead for the first half of the drive, it was computational linguistics that came out on top! Check out how the top five subfields ranked:

1. Computational Linguistics ($7,790)
2. Syntax ($6,121)
3. Sociolinguistics ($3,998)
4. Phonology ($3,129)
5. Semantics ($2,845)

– The University Challenge

Indiana University Bloomington and The University of Washington were in a stiff battle throughout the drive, but who ended up on top? Check out the results:

1. Indiana University Bloomington ($2,730)
2. University of Washington ($2,590)
3. Stanford University ($1,365)
4. North-West University, Potchefstroom and Vaal Triangle Campuses, South Africa ($820)
5. University of Arizona ($750)

– The Business Challenge

We also received some donations from a few very generous businesses:

1. Google Inc. ($4,000)
2. Microsoft Natural Language Group ($300)
3. IBM Watson ($150) and IBM Context Computing ($150)

We would also like to make a special mention of our Advisory Panel, whose efforts during our Advisors’ Challenge and all throughout the drive were invaluable. Not only were their donations vital to Fund Drive, but their willingness to spread the word and raise awareness brought great life to our efforts. We send them our sincerest thanks!

We are incredibly grateful for each and every donation that we received totaling $41,091.85, but we still did not come close to our goal of $79,000. Although Fund Drive 2015 is over, you can continue supporting us with one-time or recurrent donations by selecting The Linguist List Discretionary Fund (see the Instructions page):

Please consider making a donation to keep The LINGUIST List running the way you like it! LINGUIST List is dedicated to freely providing information and services to the linguistic community, and it’s through your support that we’re able to do it.

We thank you all for your support during Fund Drive 2015!

Best wishes,
The LINGUIST List Team

Featured Linguist: Ljuba Veselinova

LINGUIST List Fund Drive 2015

Featured Linguist: Ljuba Veselinova (Stockholm University)

Featured Linguist Ljuba Veselinova

Featured Linguist: Ljuba Veselinova

I came to LINGUIST List in 1994 as the first recipient of its graduate student fellowship funded by subscribers. Compared to its current size, the list was small back then (around 4000 subscribers). However, the work was exciting and there was this whole new universe to explore–I am talking, of course, about the internet. I was soon engulfed by UNIX, its shells, its mail and text utilities, especially emacs. It was scary to have to tell some of the people who figured as authors of my textbooks that they will need to edit parts of their messages. The mailing list function was a primary one at that time and the list was split between Eastern Michigan University and the University of Texas A & M. Those of us based in Michigan were connecting to a computer in Texas via a phone modem! I stayed with LINGUIST List thanks to the subscriber’s support until I finished my MA in 1997. By the time I was leaving, the subscriber numbers had soared to 10000 and counting; the mailing list had become just one of the functions LINGUIST performed, and a well organized website was in place. The first NSF funded infrastructure project was going on and there were several grant proposals in the making. Working for LINGUIST List had never been more promising.

In a way, it is actually wrong to ask me what I am doing after LINGUIST List because I never truly quit for real. While greater part of my time has been devoted to typology through my dissertation on suppletion in verb paradigms and my participation in the World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS), my interest in technology and LINGUIST is as alive as ever. After 1997, I kept coming back to Michigan for periods of time of varying length. Thanks to grants from the Swedish Institute I was able to come back in summer 1998 as well as in fall 1999; in summer 2000 I was partially funded by LINGUIST List NSF grant. My latest stay was on a Visiting Scientist position during the academic year 2005-6. I was planning on looking for other academic jobs in the US when the Swedish Research Council awarded me a four year long research funding. It is worth noting that one of the motivations for this reward as well as other grants I received was my international experience while working for the LINGUIST List.

Here in Stockholm, I have been focusing on the typology of negation in non-verbal and existential sentences. I also pursue studies on geographical information systems (GIS) on my own. Much of my research is geared towards uncovering patterns of variation but also patterns of unity in the languages of the world. For instance one striking example of a pervasive feature is the fact that most languages make a difference between the way they negate actions e.g. I don’t run and the way they negate existence/availability e.g. There is no beer (in the fridge). There are also languages such as Turkish where negation of states e.g. I am not sick differs from both the negation of actions and the negation of availability. As shown on the map below, special expressions in for the negation of existence are dominant in languages of the world; in fact there are a few, well delimited areas where the distinction between negation of actions and negation of availability is obliterated, Western Europe is one of them.

Negative Existentials (by Ljuba Veselinova)

Negative Existentials (by Ljuba Veselinova)

Seeing grammatical patterns in a spatial contexts is something that I will never get tired of. A live version of the map above, still in the making can be seen here:

The education I received at LINGUIST List came via many different channels: through direct instruction thanks to its founders, Prof. Helen Aristar-Dry and Prof. Anthony Aristar, who with their incredible resourcefullness and endless patience have been my mentors and friends for many years; then, just having to sit down and actually do the work was a great learning experience. What I learned from LINGUIST is reflected daily in my correspondence and professional contacts, in my organizing skills, in my knowledge and interest in technology and databases. LINGUIST List has grown from a mailing list with a linguistic profile to an organization and a school of its own kind. Finally, working at LINGUIST List gives you this incredible energy and actual belief that anything is possible and anything is within reach. You are in touch with the best of an incredibly diverse discipline. At the same time, you learn that you can do anything that you really believe in and really dream of: ballet dancing, playing the guitar, doing photographing or knitting — it’s all there, and it’s all yours. So maybe I will see you at the next conference, or maybe at Burning Man?

Flight-picture by Ljuba Veselinova

These days I am happy to send my students there as the LINGUIST List experience is immensely beneficial to anyone who is going to pursue a career in linguistics and/or language technology. It is also my turn to chip in the supporting pot and once again thank the subscribers for all the contributions that made my stay with LINGUIST possible. At the same time, I would like to extend a plea for a continued support for the LINGUIST List and its current moderators, Malgorzata E. Cavar and Damir Cavar, who carried out its move to a new site and continue to work tirelessly to maintain it as an extremely vigorous and creative environment where many students have found expression for their talents and actually become linguists.

Featured Linguist: Ljuba Veselinova

Featured Linguist: Ljuba Veselinova


Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2015 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List really needs your support!

Featured Linguist: Joseph C. Salmons

LINGUIST List Fund Drive 2015

Featured Linguist: Joe Salmons (University of Wisconsin – Madison)

Featured Linguist: Joe Salmons

Featured Linguist: Joe Salmons


‘Featured linguist’ blurbs used to directly address the question ‘how did I become a linguist?’. Every single day I think about that, how lucky I am to be a linguist and one doing what I’m doing.

Growing up mostly just outside Kings Mountain, North Carolina, from first grade into college I was a really weak student and came close to dropping out of high school. But I graduated and stumbled into the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and into Philosophy and Foreign Languages, departments with amazing profs who worked hard to help me along. About halfway through, things clicked, especially in the philosophy and history of science, and I just worked on learning languages, especially German. Philosophy courses didn’t yield big answers but I learned something about how to approach problems. The German program made it possible for me to go to Germany one summer, my first trip ever outside the southeastern U.S. Both things were life changers.

To understand the historical underpinnings of some of the exciting stuff in philosophy, I went to get an MA in German at the University of Texas at Austin. Here again, things clicked because of a professor and a subject. Learning languages was fun, but there were weird things going on, say, where German word forms did and didn’t have umlaut or which nouns took which gender. I took the required course in the history of the German language with Edgar C. Polomé; every session answered those kinds of questions and things I hadn’t known enough to wonder about. I could never quite figure out the rules for how to think and argue in literature classes, but this was familiar turf: Figuring out generalizations about data. And even if Karl Verner and Hermann Paul weren’t always presented in terms of hypothesis testing and theory building, it was easy to see a science developing and advancing.

I learned from Edgar for the rest of his life. Most of my History of German: What the past reveals about today’s language was directly shaped or inspired by Edgar, but it’s his insistence on trying to see the big picture, language structure integrated into history and society, that drove the writing of that book.

Edgar C. Polomé, cher maître

Edgar C. Polomé, cher maître

After grad school, I got a job at Purdue University, where I soon met Monica Macaulay, another featured linguist in this fund drive. She changed my life completely, not just because we came to spend all our time together, but because she knew mountains of stuff about linguistics. Before long we’d co-authored our first article, the classic “Offensive Rock Band Names: A Linguistic Taxonomy” (Maledicta 10.81–99, 1989). From her and others, I saw that understanding language change demanded understanding linguistic theories and thinking about problems beyond just sound change. I’m still trying to do that.

And Monica and I got married. I played bass and guitar in a lot of bands in those years, including with the Nailbiters, Mobile Home and Carnival Desires but mostly with Rusty Cow recording artists, Phrogs, who rocked the wedding.

Not our greatest hits, but some songs some people liked.

Not our greatest hits, but some songs some people liked.

When the chance came to move to Wisconsin, where Monica had grown up, we jumped. That the great Germanist Rob Howell was (and still is) here was key and the history of Wisconsin linguistics is irresistible —people like Frederic Cassidy, Einar Haugen, Eduard Prokosch, Morris Swadesh, W. Freeman Twaddell and others taught here and W.P. Lehmann, Robert D. King, Dennis Preston and others studied here. Lester W.J. Seifert — universally called ‘Smoky’ — has come to exemplify Wisconsin linguistics for me. He taught an amazing range of courses in and far beyond Germanic linguistics but also taught German language on Wisconsin Public Television and travelled the state to talk to community groups about language, in addition to making early recordings of heritage German across eastern Wisconsin. He didn’t just teach and research, he engaged the state in what he was doing and why it mattered.

A 1949 article from a Milwaukee newspaper about Smoky Seifert’s work. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. In Wisconsin, Smoky is central to understanding immigrant bilingualism.

A 1949 article from a Milwaukee newspaper about Smoky Seifert’s work. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. In Wisconsin, Smoky is central to understanding immigrant bilingualism.

With time, it became possible to follow in Smoky’s (and others’) footsteps. Tom Purnell and then Eric Raimy joined the faculty and we started the Wisconsin Englishes Project (, doing research, teaching and doing outreach using regional language and dialect as a hook.

The Wisconsin Englishes Project team (Tom, me, Eric), Wisconsin Public Television studios.

The Wisconsin Englishes Project team (Tom, me, Eric), Wisconsin Public Television studios.

We’re still trying to understand language in its full context, from the social setting to cognition. That work has offered incredible opportunities, like editing Diachronica and working with the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, both rich collaborations with new chances to learn.

To be able to do these things with the students and colleagues I collaborate with is humbling but it’s also a pure joy and easy pleasure.

Getting off the bike after riding last summer from Whitefish, Montana to Madison with Phil Macaulay.

Getting off the bike after riding last summer from Whitefish, Montana to Madison with Phil Macaulay.

What a trip, and it’s not over.

For more than five years, Monica and Anja Wanner, Rajiv Rao and I had the privilege of editing book reviews for LINGUIST. We saw up close how hard the LINGUIST staff and especially students work to provide us all with so many resources. Those resources wouldn’t have replaced all the support I got from so many generous people along the way, but they sure do supplement that kind of support. Step up and support LINGUIST.




Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2015 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List really needs your support!


The LINGUIST List Events in March

Dear Colleagues, Subscribers, and Supporters,

While we are all very much engaged in managing the normal operations of The LINGUIST List and running the 2015 Fund Drive, Heike Zinsmeister, a linguist and colleague from the University of Hamburg in Germany, visited our office in Bloomington at Indiana University.

Heike Zinsmeister visiting LINGUIST List at Indiana University (March 2015)

Heike Zinsmeister visiting LINGUIST List at Indiana University (March 2015)

Should you be on the IU campus in Bloomington, we would love to meet you. Please come and see us!

Please consider supporting LINGUIST List with a donation during the fund drive.

The LINGUIST List Team!


Fund Drive and The LINGUIST List Team 2015

Dear Colleagues, Subscribers, and Supporters,

Perhaps you were wondering, who are these people at LINGUIST List at Indiana University running the operation, posting your submissions, maintaining EasyAbs, correcting and changing conference announcements. Here is a picture of some of the students, programmers, and managers of the LINGUIST List Team at Indiana University:

Some members of the Linguist List Crew (March 2015)

Some members of the Linguist List Crew (March 2015)

These are some of the people who volunteer, work hourly, are graduate assistants, or full time employees at LINGUIST List. There are many more of supporters, student and faculty editors on the IU campus and at other locations.

Everybody at LINGUIST List is convinced that the service that LINGUIST offers to the international community is important and should be continued. It is a service for the international linguistic community, operated by members of the international linguistic community, and supported and funded by the same community. It is independent. It is free from corporate or market pressure. It is full of enthusiastic lovers of languages and linguistics.

To be able to continue the service, LINGUIST needs your support. Some of the people in the picture above need financial support to be able to support the LINGUIST List operation. We ask you to support the work of the student editors with a donation during the 2015 fund drive.

You do not have to support our office puppy, we got enough supply for her:

The LINGUIST List Office Puppy

The LINGUIST List Office Puppy

She is very modest and does not need much more than the love and care of all office members:



However, the everyday operations of LINGUIST are costly. We pay for the servers to run mailing lists, not just the two lists that LINGUIST List manages, but also numerous other lists for the global linguistic community. The website for the LINGUIST List, as well as some websites for other organizations and projects are hosted by The LINGUIST List. LINGUIST has to pay for the traffic and maintenance of the servers, the storage space and the computer hosting. While LINGUIST is mainly run by graduate assistants who receive a stipend during the semesters, the summer time LINGUIST has to pay students hourly to continue working as editors. Without their help, LINGUIST cannot function.

The Fund Drive 2015 is asking for donations to cover these costs to fund the operation of LINGUIST List and support the editing students. Please consider donating to The LINGUIST List on the fund drive website.

Thank you!

Your LINGUIST List Team