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Featured Linguist: Eric Campbell

LINGUIST List Fund Drive 2015

Featured Linguist: Eric Campbell (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Featured Linguist: Eric Campbell (March 2015-1)

Featured Linguist: Eric Campbell

 

My journey to becoming a linguist was a circuitous one, taking me first through music, into engineering, then back to music, and finally landing in linguistics. I suppose it began when I was nine years old and I got my first (toy) drum kit for Christmas. I really took to playing the drums, and two years later I got my first real drum set. In high school in Dearborn, Michigan (U.S.), I enjoyed most subjects, but math and science were the ones that came most naturally for me. So, not knowing what else to do, I applied to and then enrolled in the nearby College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. In the meantime, a few friends and I had formed a band, and we began writing music and playing live shows in Detroit and Chicago, inspired by the blissed-out shoegazer rock coming out of England at the time.

At the age of twenty, I realized that I didn’t really want to become an engineer. I had caught the travel bug, and after an eye-opening cross-country road trip to California, I bought my first motorcycle and a tent, and I rode out to San Francisco for a fresh start. Some former bandmates followed shortly after, and we formed a new band, Transient Waves. We built a budget recording studio in our basement, and recorded our first album. This obviously didn’t pay the rent, or anything else for that matter, so I supported myself by waiting tables in restaurants and working in coffee shops. I became friends with many coworkers from Mexico and Central America, and to keep our minds stimulated while cooking and serving pasta in North Beach, we began teaching each other our native languages. That was where my interest in language began.

Several years later, and after two more albums in two more cities, Virginia Beach and Philadelphia, I returned to Michigan. I missed the excitement of the university setting, but not knowing what I wanted to study, I opted to sample many topics in the local Washtenaw Community College, from philosophy, to history, to auto mechanics. What grabbed my interest most was Spanish language and literature. I wanted to build upon my restaurant Spanish and learn the nuts and bolts of how the grammar worked and how it differed from Iberia to Mexico to Argentina, and how it differed from English. With this in mind, I re-enrolled at the University of Michigan and declared a Spanish major.

Since I enjoyed exploring Spanish grammar so much, I took some introductory linguistics courses, and I knew pretty quickly that that was my primary field. One of those first classes was Language and History, inspiringly taught by Bill Baxter. In that class I thought for the first time that I wanted to be a professor some day. A short while later, Sally Thomason allowed me to enroll in her graduate class in historical linguistics. In that class I decided I was going to go to graduate school in linguistics. Sally also connected me with some of her graduate students, and I was a research assistant for Nancy Pérez, making lexical databases of Matlatzinca and Ocuilteco, Otomanguean languages of Mexico, from colonial era and modern sources.

I applied to graduate schools, and I was most drawn to the University of Texas, where there is a vibrant community of faculty and students documenting and researching indigenous languages of Latin America, including speakers of such languages. In my application, my numbers were good, but my statements were relatively weak because I only had a vague idea that I wanted to do historical linguistics and perhaps work on Mayan Hieroglyphic writing. Fortunately, Texas took a chance on me, and near the end of my first year in the program, Hilaria and Emiliana Cruz, graduate students and speakers of San Juan Quiahije Chatino, another Otomanguean language of Oaxaca, Mexico, invited me join their Chatino Language Documentation Project, along with Tony Woodbury. Thus, my initial linguistic research was done in collaboration with native speakers and community members, and that will always remain an important part of my work.

Featured Linguist: Eric Campbell (March 2015-2)

Chatino Language Documentation Project members in Oaxaca City, April 2008 Left to right: Alma Delia Cruz Candelario, Eric Campbell, Emiliana Cruz, Gabriel Cruz Peralta, Tranquilino Cavero Ramírez, Tony Woodbury, Hilaria Cruz, Margarita González Hernández

 

The Chatino group proposed that I work on the divergent, outlying, and little-studied Chatino variety of Zenzontepec. What a great opportunity this was, so I accepted the invitation and made preliminary plans to travel with them to Mexico in the summer of 2007. I learned that Terry Kaufman and John Justeson had included the language in their lexicographic Project for the Documentation of the Languages of Mesoamerica (PDLMA), so I contacted Terry to see what further plans he had, if any, regarding the language. I was surprised and thrilled when that communication turned into an invitation to join the PDLMA and take over the work on the Zenzontepec Chatino lexical database that Troi Carleton had begun, pending an interview with Kaufman and Justeson over tacos during the next Maya Meetings in Austin, and assisted by recommendations from Nora England, Tony Woodbury, and Sally Thomason.

Making a dictionary isn’t typically the way one starts working on a new language, but it suited me well for several reasons. First of all, I’m interested in all levels of linguistic structure and how all of the pieces fit together. To create and check entries in the database I had to first figure out the basics of the segmental phonology, some morphology, basic syntax to identify grammatical classes, how the lexicon is organized into semantic domains, and ethnographic and cultural information associated with the forms. Second, I learned a lot about the language, and about Mesoamerica in general, during that first summer, and I had plenty of data for my M.A. thesis, an analysis of the morphology and phonology of verbal aspect/mood inflection. I didn’t break through the tone system until the second summer. Finally, and importantly, I formed a bond that will last forever with Tranquilino Cavero Ramírez, the Chatino speaker hired by the PDLMA to work with me.

In my third year of graduate school, I was awarded a documentation grant from the ELDP, and began assembling a small team of native speakers to record a corpus of varied genres of language-in-use in the community. With this support, Tranquilino Cavero Ramírez, Flor Cruz Ortiz and I transcribed, translated, and archived the texts, and from these and supplementary data, I am writing a grammar of Zenzontepec Chatino.

Featured Linguist: Eric Campbell (March 2015-3)

Esteban Ruíz Ramírez speaking to Eric Campbell and Tranquilino Cavero Ramírez about traditional plant medicine in El Jicaral, Zenzontepec, Oaxaca, Mexico, Feb. 2010

 

Since 2012, during the summers I have been involved in workshops for speakers of Otomanguean languages, in coordination with a team of linguists from Mexico and the U.S. It is an exciting time in Oaxaca because there is a growing support for this kind of work and a growing interest in learning linguistics on the part of community members. Unfortunately, many of the languages are endangered, but many still have young speakers. These speakers have some skills in digital technologies now, and because of this there is great opportunity to enhance the maintenance and understanding of these languages.

Now, I’m (very pleased to be!) back in California. I’m in my first year as a faculty member in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. It’s an invigorating intellectual environment where people approach language from various perspectives that all share a focus on understanding language in use, in almost every corner of the globe. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where in this story I became a linguist, but at some point these experiences all shaped me into a person who seeks to understand how languages work, how people use them, how they got to be the way they are, how they are similar to one another, and how they differ. Finally, a crucial factor to my becoming a linguist has been the enduring support of my parents and my wife, without whom I never would have made it through graduate school or gotten here.

 

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: Lisa Matthewson

LINGUIST List Fund Drive 2015

Featured Linguist: Lisa Matthewson (The University of British Columbia)

Featured Linguist: Lisa Matthewson (Mar 2015-2)

Featured Linguist: Lisa Matthewson

 

Tēnā koutou katoa – K’alhwá7al’ap – Simgigyat, sigidim haanaḵ’, ͟ganhl k’uba wilxsihlxw – Greetings to all of you! The first of these greetings is in Māori, reflecting my New Zealand heritage. It literally means something like ‘You all plural.’ The second is in St’át’imcets, the Salish language I have been working on since 1992, and literally says something like ‘You plural are apparently there.’ The third is in Gitksan, the Tsimshianic language I have been working on since 2010. However, Gitksan doesn’t really do greetings. To a friend, informally, one could just say ‘Nit! – literally the third person independent series 3 pronoun. But the words above are a traditional way to begin a speech, and translate as ‘Male chiefs, female chiefs, princes and princesses.’

Featured Linguist: Lisa Matthewson

Featured Linguist: Lisa Matthewson

Rather than telling my story in chronological order, I’d like to start with what happened to me just last Friday. I am currently researching discourse particles in Gitksan, and I was trying to test my hypothesis that the particle ist is used whenever the speaker is fully answering the current Question Under Discussion. In order to test this – following up on a suggestion by Norvin Richards – I was asking my consultant whether Gitksan versions of discourses like the following sound good, with ist in the second utterance:

A: I don’t want to know whether Bob came to the feast.
B: He came.

My consultant decided to teach me about his language that day by using the metaphor of how the passed-away Gitksan people would react. The really bad discourses had them spinning in their graves. Not-so-bad ones had them turning halfway; for some, they would just twitch their toes, and for the ones that were actually good, they rested peacefully. This may sound gruesome (and I felt bad that I was torturing them so much!), but he assured me it was just a metaphor and all in fun.

That, right there, is why I’m a fieldworker. I actually get paid to have this much fun.

As for how I got to be this lucky and have this amazing job, it began, I think, with my high school German teacher, Wilma McMillan. She was maybe not viewed as ‘cool’ by teenagers, but I loved her. She played with the language unrelentingly, and German class was never boring. I will never, ever forget that Nacht ‘night’ is a feminine noun, because Frau McMillan told us it was obvious: What do men think about at night? Women! (With my adult brain, I know that this is not only sexist but heterosexist. But still, I’ll never forget the gender of Nacht.) Similarly her explanation of the hard-to-translate word gespannt (anxious/excited, but not quite either of those) involved much enthusiastic body language and emotion. Impossible to forget.

Featured Linguist: Lisa Matthewson - Lillooet, British Columbia, Canada

Featured Linguist: Lisa Matthewson – Lillooet, British Columbia, Canada

But there was, in fact, a single defining moment that made me a linguist. I’ve told this story many times to friends and acquaintances. It was in my first linguistics lecture in my first year of university. Our professor, Ray Harlow, explained and proved that the ‘p’s in the words pit and spit are pronounced differently. What?! Seriously?! But they’re both p’s! How does my brain know that? How do I know to pronounce them differently, yet I hear them as the same? From that moment on, I never wanted to do anything else in my career but find out how language works.

Other defining moments stand out like snapshots along the way: a talk by Donna Starks during my undergraduate studies in New Zealand, about her fieldwork on Algonquian (‘Hmm, intriguing idea: one can go places and find out about interesting languages?’) … a talk by Max Cresswell around the same time (‘Why is he so obsessed with donkeys? I am confused, but yes, those are interesting sentences!’) … my MA supervisor, Laurie Bauer, telling me if I didn’t get a PhD and become a linguist he would eat his hat …

Then, my first meeting with a real Salish speaker, Mrs. Dorothy Ursaki, in a Field Methods class at UBC. I was terrified, but she was the sweetest, kindest lady, even if my first attempt at transcribing a pharyngeal had me hearing it as a nasalized back vowel. And of course, my first trip to St’át’imc territory. I was petrified again, because I couldn’t even pronounce the name of the language yet (it contains ejective lateral affricates), so how could I dare to work on it? I was so scared that I couldn’t even concentrate on the spectacular British Columbia scenery and resorted to my fall-back position, reading a book while we drove. Henry Davis laughed at me for that. But from my first day in St’át’imc territory, I was welcomed and I was hooked. We worked in the beginning with three remarkable women: Beverley Frank, Gertrude Ned, and Rose Whitley. They have all sadly passed away, but they were all passionate about their language, and they were all dear friends.

Since I have the floor right now, I’ll say a bit about my beliefs about linguistics. I believe that there are important and deep similarities across languages, and we should search for them in order to uncover what might be innate. There are also many important differences across languages – more than many believe, especially in the semantics. These differences should also urgently be worked on. Not all languages are like English. English does not equal ‘natural language’, and we shouldn’t assume that it does. (We can temporarily assume it does for the purpose of a null hypothesis, which we then attempt to falsify by scientific testing.) Endangered languages need to be researched by as many people as possible, and we also need to give our full support and help to revitalization and retention efforts.

Featured Linguist: Lisa Matthewson

Featured Linguist: Lisa Matthewson

This isn’t supposed to be an acknowledgments piece, but I want to mention that dozens of people have helped me have this job I am so lucky to have. Family, friends, teachers, mentors, consultants, colleagues, co-authors, students, postdocs, and funding sources – far too numerous to name. Oh, and of course, The Linguist List! (How else would I have found the relevant job postings?)

Kia ora – Kukwstum’ckál’ap – Ha’miiyaa – Thank you!

 

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Featured Linguist: Rachel Nordlinger

LINGUIST List Fund Drive 2015

Featured Linguist: Rachel Nordlinger (University of Melbourne)

Featured Linguist: Rachel Nordlinger with Theodora Narndu, Wadeye NT, 2010.

Featured Linguist: Rachel Nordlinger with Theodora Narndu, Wadeye NT, 2010.

At high school my favourite subject was French. So, when I finished high school I decided I would do Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne, and major in French. I didn’t really know what I would do after that, but probably I’d “join the diplomatic corps” — whatever that meant. It sounded exciting, and if it meant I could keep doing French then that would be fine. In my second year of Uni, I needed to pick up another subject and found a subject called ‘Linguistics’ in the handbook. I could pick it up in second year, it had no exam, and it even sounded like it would be useful for learning French, so I enrolled.

That decision changed my life. This was 1988 (I was only 5!), and two young newcomers had just taken over the linguistics program at Melbourne University — Mark Durie and Nick Evans. The classes were small, the teaching was inspiring, the other students were enthusiastic, and the whole program had a buzz of excitement around it. I had never come across anything as fascinating, and I quickly realized that with linguistics I could explore everything that I’d loved about learning French… but with respect to hundreds of languages, not just one! Before long I had dropped all my other subjects and was filling my degree up with as many linguistics subjects as I could.

One of those subjects was ‘Language in Aboriginal Australia’, a subject taught by Nick Evans (and, funnily enough, one that I now teach myself having inherited it when Nick moved to ANU a few years ago, although at the time I couldn’t have imagined that this is how it would pan out). In this subject we spent a few weeks learning about Bininj Gun-wok, a Gunwinyguan language from Arnhem land, based on Nick’s field notes and recordings. I was fascinated by the language structure, but even more by the process of discovery: the fun of being presented with completely unfamiliar language data and having to analyse it bit by bit in order to reveal the intricacies of the underlying system. Not to mention the excitement of cracking the code!

When the opportunity came at the beginning of my fourth year to do some fieldwork on the Australian language Bilinarra, I nervously took it.

That first fieldtrip was at once terrifying and exhilarating; it was without doubt the most challenging and the most mind-blowing experience I had ever had. I was a white middle class city girl spending 6 weeks on a remote cattle station (Victoria River Downs) in the middle of the Northern Territory of Australia. The Bilinarra people lived on an excision next to one of the station’s outposts (called Pigeon Hole). Pigeon Hole outstation was a collection of about 15 houses/buildings with a big fence down the middle separating the Aboriginal community from the station workers. I quickly worked out that I felt far more at home on the ‘Aboriginal’ side of the fence, where the Bilinarra community welcomed me with warmth, affection and humour. I also discovered how hard linguistic analysis in the field is!! The two senior Bilinarra men – Hector and Anzac, with their cheeky grins and cattle station Kriol, took it upon themselves to introduce this young city slicker to the Bilinarra language and culture, while I sat in a stunned silence not understanding a single word of it. After a few frantic phone calls to Nick Evans from the outback radio in the station house (“(sobbing) I can’t even understand their translations, let alone their Bilinarra. Over and out.”) I realised that I just had to keep the tape recorder running, and let it happen organically, in its own time.

Featured Linguist: Rachel Nordlinger with Heather Wilson and kids, Elliott NT, 1991.

Featured Linguist: Rachel Nordlinger with Heather Wilson and kids, Elliott NT, 1991.

I ended up learning a lot more on that first field trip than just Bilinarra and Kriol. I developed a deep love for the indigenous people of Australia, and their languages and cultures. I loved their open, warm acceptance of me and my naivety, their pride in their language and their country, and their willingness to share it all with a complete stranger. I loved the way they laughed affectionately at me when my tongue couldn’t handle the shape of the Bilinarra sounds, and their cheers of delight when I spontaneously uttered a grammatical sentence. I loved the nights in the bush, and the dancing, and the beautiful scenery. And I loved the intellectual challenge of taking a language from an uninterpretable sequence of sounds and slowly unearthing its intricacies and logic. I knew then I was hooked.

After working with the Wambaya community while completing my Masters degree, I decided to go to Stanford University to do a PhD. I wanted to take all my descriptive experience and Australian language data, and use it to learn about morphosyntactic theory. At Stanford, I was like a kid in a candy store — so many amazing linguists and so much to learn! I loved it. My time at Stanford expanded my horizons in so many directions, but it also reinforced for me how interesting Australian languages are. In 2004 I took up a position at the University of Melbourne, back where I’d started. I’m now Director of the Research Unit for Indigenous Language, and one of the Chief Investigators in our newly established ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language.

Featured Linguist: Rachel Nordlinger

Featured Linguist: Rachel Nordlinger

My research continues to follow these two strands: the documentation and description of Australian languages, and their analysis within formal morphosyntactic theory. I still find fieldwork to be the hardest and most fascinating part of my job, and value its crucial role in reminding me that the language is grounded in a community of speakers, for whom language is inextricably connected with family, culture and making cups of tea.

 

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Featured Linguist: Itziar Laka

LINGUIST List Fund Drive 2015

Featured Linguist: Itziar Laka

Featured Linguist Itziar Laka (Lekeitio)

Itziar Laka (Lekeitio, Biscay, Basque Country)

As a child, I always thought I would grow up to be the kind of biologist that goes to Africa to film wild animals. Either that, or a novelist. Becoming a linguist was not part of the landscape, since I had no notion then of what a linguist did. However, I grew up in a place and a time where language was a constant and relentless issue: the dictator Francisco Franco was alive, his regime in full force.

There were many stories that had language at their heart when I grew up, too many to tell here. There was for instance the story of how grandmother Damiana, my fathers mum, had spent a night in jail because she had been caught speaking Basque in the streets of Bilbao to an acquaintance who came from her village and could not speak Spanish. That night in jail left a mark that never went away. On my mother’s side, there were books hidden first, then burnt, forbidden books whose crime was the language they were written in.

Even my school was clandestine and forbidden, it did not have a fixed location. We left in the morning with a book and a folding chair, to the home of whoever’s turn it was. Then, for a week or so, the folding chairs would unfold in your living room and that would be school. I cannot thank enough the brave  unassuming women who taught us. They were truly risking it all in their quiet, humble, daily work. It is hard to explain what it is like to have your language forbidden. It definitely makes you very aware of it.

Time went on, and while I kept dreaming of the documentaries I’d film in the Savanna, or the fantastic novels I would write, Franco’s regime weakened: the clandestine nomadic school became a building, I was in high school now. A Latin teacher who constantly screwed up sentence analysis is my first memory of syntax, but not a good one. Language seemed just plain uninteresting. Then a new teacher came to school and brought a book that described parts of Basque grammar using phrase-structure rules and transformations. This was it for me. That was the coolest thing I had ever set eyes on: it worked! It predicted! It was like clockwork! I became fascinated, argued with the teacher, worked at home to find the best answer to the unsolved parts of the puzzle. The author of that book, Patxi Goenaga, would later be a professor and then a colleague. That was it for me, I would study language.

As an undergraduate, I was very lucky. The University of the Basque Country had just opened, and highly motivated people came to teach, full of ideals. Among them there was Koldo Mitxelena, a historical linguist and true scholar who attracted young enthusiastic professors. I was very lucky because instead of “being taught”, I was shown how one should “find out”. These were times of change and excitement. But I was living a double life: officially I was a philologist, studying the effects of purism in Basque literature; secretly, I kept reading (better say trying to read) books by Noam Chomsky, the man who made the amazing claim that language was in our heads. Finally, my secret early passion for generative grammar bloomed, and this happened by sheer luck again: a new professor named Pello Salaburu came to teach during the last semester of my last year. All the piled up questions could finally be asked. Salaburu asked me would I like to go to MIT? That was more than I had ever dared to dream.

Featured Linguist: Itziar Laka with Irene de la Cruz-Pavía at her PhD graduation (UPV/EHU)

Featured Linguist: Itziar Laka with Irene de la Cruz-Pavía at her PhD graduation (UPV/EHU)

Boston, the linguistics department and MIT itself was like living in another, very distant planet from what I had known. It opened my mind in ways that would not haven been possible otherwise. The first year was so hard that I would come home and sit in front of the TV exhausted: they would talk so I could continue learning English, but no one expected me to reply. Mastering the language was hard, I could not for the life of me understand what all these people were saying. I learned to follow body movements so I could nod if someone spoke with a nodding attitude, and shake my head when I perceived a head shaking. I was hilarious to my classmates, of course, confusing words and playing a kind natural Pictionary all day long. But in the end I learned a little, I worked harder than I thought it was possible and finished a dissertation on negation. Graduate time at MIT is full of stories and memories, impossible to tell them here and now: friendship, love, conversations, personal transformation, discoveries, awakenings…

Featured Linguist: Itziar Laka (TV Interview)

Featured Linguist: Itziar Laka (TV Interview)

Once I graduated, I still felt I knew too little to go back home. I joined the linguistics department at the University of Rochester, where I could extend my omnivorous curiosity to psycholinguistics and other areas of cognitive science. I had wonderful colleagues like Tom Bever, Elissa Newport, Greg Carlson, and graduate students who were bright and motivated friends from whom I learned a lot. I spent five wonderful years at the University of Rochester; then I decided it was time to go back and give back. Either I went back then, after nine years in the US, or I would never do it.

Featured Linguist Itziar Laka

Featured Linguist: Itziar Laka

I went back to the University of the Basque Country in 1996, after a visiting period in Holland (NIAS and Utrecht) for which I will always be grateful. Going back home, the first years were tough: small daughter to raise, heaviest teaching load with the subjects no one wanted to teach… hard work, time and patience slowly changed things bit by bit and today I am a full professor and I direct a research group where we combine theoretical linguistics with the experimental methods of psycholinguistics, to study language and bilingualism. You can find out more about us here:

http://www.ehu.eus/HEB/

Featured Linguist: Itziar Laka's Research Group

Featured Linguist: Itziar Laka’s Research Group

The linguistic landscape I grew up in has totally changed: Basque and Spanish are both official languages, and Basque is present in the media, schools, university, government… I teach in English, Spanish and Basque, a big distance away from the imposed monolingualism of my childhood times. I strongly believe linguists are important people. Our research can help us know more about how languages can coexist in peace, both in mind and in society, increasing justice and human well being across the globe.

 

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: Kleanthes K. Grohmann

LINGUIST List Fund Drive 2015

Featured Linguist: Kleanthes K. Grohmann

Kleanthes K. Grohmann

University of Cyprus & Cyprus Acquisition Team

(kleanthi@ucy.ac.cy)

Born and raised in Herford, Ostwestfalen, with Greek roots, I left for university at age 21 after the usual, school (9 years of torture) and alternative civilian service (13 months back then). I found salvation in beautiful Wales where I enrolled for a BA (Hons) in Linguistics at the University of North Wales, Bangor (Bangor University nowadays). As it happened, of all courses listed in the catalogue, Linguistics was the only subject I didn’t have much of an opinion about (like, “I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do that”) — in fact, I didn’t even know what it was. Good start. Little did I know that this process of elimination would shape my future (i.e. current) life. (Well, truth be told, I had a wonderful Ancient Greek and Philosophy teacher in high school who got me started thinking about Indo-European language families and relations, but that was about it.)

Kleanthes K. Grohmann

Featured Linguist: Kleanthes K. Grohmann

After getting hooked on generative grammar (with many thanks to my excellent teachers Ian Roberts, Bob Borsley, and Anna Roussou!), I concentrated on theoretical linguistics, spent an Erasmus exchange semester at the Université de Genève (taking courses with Liliane Haegeman, Luigi Rizzi, Ur Shlonsky, Adriana Belletti, and others), and graduated in July 1996 with an Honors Thesis on scrambling and weak pronouns in German. With a BA in my pocket and a lot of hope in my heart, I enrolled for doctoral studies in the Department of Linguistics’ graduate program at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Kleanthes K. Grohmann

Featured Linguist: Kleanthes K. Grohmann

Studying with brilliant teachers such as Juan Uriagereka, David Lightfoot, Paul Pietroski, Stephen Crain, and many others — not to forget my fantastic supervisor Norbert Hornstein — I first achieved candidacy with my main generals papers on superiority and was then awarded a PhD in December 2000 for my thesis on anti-locality in grammar. In the meantime, I had my first experiences at international conferences, attended the GLOW Summer School in Thermi, Lesvos (Greece), started Punks in Science with my dear friend Jeff Parrott (a project we unfortunately had to give up a few years ago), and made contact with the great people at ZAS in Berlin. Thanks to Ewald Lang, I landed my first job there, in January 2001. That was short-lived, however, since, thanks to the efforts of my now close friend Joachim Sabel, I was offered the first postdoctoral position in syntax at the Graduiertenkolleg Satzarten in Frankfurt, then coordinated by Günther Grewendorf.

Kleanthes K. Grohmann

Featured Linguist: Kleanthes K. Grohmann

After a good year there, a semester at the Institut für Linguistik: Anglistik in Stuttgart (thanks to Artemis Alexiadou), and two semesters at the Englisches Seminar in Cologne (thanks to Jon Erickson), I was hired by the then Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Cyprus in 2003. In my first year, I was a Visiting Lecturer in the fall and Visiting Assistant Professor in the spring semester, subsequently hired as full-time academic faculty at the rank of Assistant Professor in 2004 in the then restructured Department of English Studies. In this period, I brought to life and nourished the GACL workshop series, a student-oriented workshop where our under- and post-graduate students presented their work in a relaxed atmosphere with some famous colleagues from abroad. I also organized the by now infamous InterPhases conference (“definitely the biggest conference on Phase Theory and Interfaces ever held, which brought together some 200 linguists in Nicosia to exchange ideas on various issues regarding these topics”; see http://linguistlist.org/issues/21/21-1718.html). It featured several invited speakers (Richard Kayne, Howard Lasnik, and Gereon Müller) and Noam Chomsky for the keynote address, who also received an honorary doctorate from UCY at the occasion.

During these years, I also founded the free online journal Biolinguistics with Cedric Boeckx in 2007 (now with a new Biolinguistics Blog, set up by Bridget Samuels and other Biolinguistics Task Team members and even a Facebook group), carried out my first UCY-internally funded research project on minimalism (2007–2009), for which I compiled a glossary of key concepts and definitions with the help of my research assistant Christos Vlachos, and participated in COST Action A33 on language development in 5-year-olds coordinated by Uli Sauerland (2006–2010). Subsequently, I developed an ever-growing interest in Cypriot Greek and its development, especially first language acquisition in typically developing and language-impaired children.

With the creation of the Cyprus Acquisition Team in 2009, I ventured deeper into this world and later participated in COST Action IS0804 on bilingual SLI (2009–2013), coordinated by Sharon Armon-Lotem, for which I also served as Dissemination Officer. My next grant was another UCY-funded research project, Gen-CHILD (2010–2012). The Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation then funded two further projects of mine. One was a Young Researcher’s project on the L1 Acquisition of Pronominal Object Clitics in Cypriot Greek, for which I coordinated research by Theoni Neokleous who at the time pursued a PhD at the University of Cambridge, and a big project on SLI, on the Early Identification and Assessment of Preschool Children with Specific Language Impairment in Cyprus.

At the moment we’re working on a small research project funded by the Leventis Foundation through the University of Cyprus in which we created an adaptation to Cyprus and collect data for the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories, with the postdoctoral researcher Loukia Taxitari. Another postdoctoral researcher, Christiana Christodoulou, landed a prestigious Marie Curie Career Integration Grant under my supervision for a project investigating language abilities in Greek Cypriot children with Down Syndrome (in comparison to typically language-developing children).

Much of this work is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary, including people from theoretical and applied linguistics, psycho- and neurolinguistics, developmental and cognitive psychology, statistical research methodology, and speech–language pathology. The great thing about this kind of research is that one never runs out of collaborators — or ideas!

I was awarded tenure at UCY in November 2009 and am currently Associate Professor in the Department of English Studies, up for my final promotion as we speak. Since then, I have served, among other things, as Chair (= Head of Department), elected member of the University Senate, and (currently) Vice-Dean of the School of Humanities.

These days, my main activities revolve around research related to activities within and beyond, but always inspired by, CAT (http://www.research.biolinguistics.eu/CAT): socio-syntax of language acquisition and development, comparative bilingualism, multilingual development in typical, atypical, and impaired children — and all of that with a biolinguistic angle. Speaking of which, check out the cool journal: it’s free, it’s open access, and it’s becoming better every year! Biolinguistics can be accessed through http://www.biolinguistics.eu and doesn’t even require registration. We can also be found on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BIOLINGUISTICS.Journal) — and very soon on Twitter with lots of additional social media activities.

Last but not least: And keep reading my daily news bulletin of the past two decades: Linguist List!  :-)

The LINGUIST List Operation

Dear LINGUIST List supporters,

Many of you have heard that the LINGUIST List relocated from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti to Indiana University in Bloomington in 2014. Please allow us to summarize what this relocation involved.

In spring 2014 we started cleaning out the former space of LINGUIST List and the Institute for Language Information and Technology (ILIT) at EMU and planning the relocation to Indiana University. Some team members decided to join us in the relocation and continue their work and lives at the new location. Unfortunately, not everybody could join us. Our editors Uliana and Danuta continue to support LINGUIST List remotely, but decided to stay in Michigan.

As you can imagine, the LINGUIST List operation involves a significant amount of technology and equipment. The servers that the LINGUIST List was using in Michigan supported among others the following systems:

It was clear that it would not be possible to relocate the hardware (7 servers of varying age and capacity) and the other equipment. One of the problems we were facing was that policies and restrictions at our new hosting institution would not allow us to operate the respective servers there. It also quickly became clear that the LINGUIST List would not have the funds to pay the expensive licenses for commercial software, e.g. LISTSERV, Adobe ColdFusion, or Oracle database server at the new location.

Many of our online linguistic tools (e.g. LEGO, GOLD, etc.) were developed long ago, with funds from research grants, using now outdated software, with systems running untouched for years on outdated infrastructure, written in programming languages that have been overhauled ever since and so on. As in any research environment with IT-systems and software, as soon as the software is ready and installed, the environment, programming language, and systems are outdated and need updates. For many systems, we were facing the situation that they could not be updated at all anymore, since they relied on components that were removed from modern Linux distributions years ago, because the programming languages and libraries they used were not even available anymore (in the required version).

All these issues together posed a serious problem. LINGUIST had no resources to fund new servers or the redevelopment and adaptation of the software and applications. No research funding agency could be approached in such a short time to help find a solution and preserve the data and applications. LINGUIST had no funds for a basic IT-infrastructure, or the mentioned commercial software licenses for the existing infrastructure and organization. On the other hand, the basics to run an operation like LINGUIST and all the projects and online applications were missing. The infrastructure demands are huge, e.g. a large digital storage space and quite high computational power to cope with the amount of data are needed, to serve millions of access requests every day, handle large amounts of data transfer, etc. On the other hand, the labor necessary to handle the setup, installation, administration, programming and data management was just overwhelming and immense. We had no funds to support any external IT-person to help us with the launch of the systems and services.

As you can imagine, in addition to these problems, there was no available solution to get help with these technical problems. There was not even time to ask for help, to start a new fund drive, or explain to willing helpers and volunteers what needs to be done, and how one could help us. As we were running out of funds, we were running out of time. We were already in over our heads.

Just before the move there were two significant steps that we took. We asked companies for help. We approached Google with an application to grant us free access to their applications and services as a Charitable Non-Profit organization. They approved us. Our problems with data storage, operational email and management tools were solved. We approached GitHub and Bitbucket to grant us free access to their services to manage our code-base for all the systems and software development projects that we had, and quite many we had… Since Bitbucket approved our application first, we decided to go with their service. We are grateful that Google and Bitbucket decided to support us and significantly reduce the workload that we had. Software development with the help of services like GitHub or Bitbucket is significantly easier and faster. We have a very good versioning system now, and collaboration between team members and external helpers is much, much better.

Since various policies at the new institution do not allow us to operate our own list- or email-server within the hosting institution’s intranet, we had to set up the necessary servers outside of the institution through commercial means. We also had to find fast and easy solutions for the LINGUIST List website and various other services to minimize the downtime during the move as much as possible. We have chosen to use Amazon EC2 and A2 Hosting virtual servers for that. These virtual server instances have significant advantages, but they also come with a price-tag. The price for the virtual servers is still lower than investing in new hardware, server hosting at any location, and hardware maintenance and administration costs. We estimate the LINGUIST List saves significantly on operational costs with the new infrastructure. In addition to that, the virtual server infrastructure opens up new flexible solutions. Any server instance can be backed up as an image, that we can download and even run in a virtualization software tool on our desktop machines. The new management tools for tablets for example offer an easy and neat administration interface. It has the touch of Star Trek to open up the tablet and add a new CPU or more memory to the servers, reboot the machine from a mobile phone, and so on.

The LINGUIST List team decided to stick with Linux as the operating system for all servers. We also decided to use only open source and free software for everything from now on. The database was replaced by PostgreSQL. The LISTSERV system was replaced by Mailman. Adobe ColdFusion was replaced with the open source and free Railo system. All operating systems were replaced by free and open Debian-based Linux systems. Even the desktop systems for the editors, developers and managers were replaced by Linux PCs. Our development environment is based on Vim, Eclipse, and other open and free tools. We have to confess, we make use of PyCharm (the free and community, or student and faculty edition, thanks to JetBRAINS for providing those free of charge).

The changes from a commercial database software to an open source one, or the switch from Adobe ColdFusion to Railo, do not just mean no licensing fees and therefore savings. They actually came with an incredible investment upfront. Most of the code, all SQL database commands and code sequences, the ColdFusion code – essentially everything had to be checked and rewritten. This could not be done in a month, two months or half a year. Given the aforementioned problems with hardware, outdated software, and other finance and time problems, this was just a very bad move. We cannot switch at the same time the running systems to free and open ones. Well, we can, and we did. Since we had to invest in updating the systems anyway, we thought that we can also rewrite and change everything and make the move to Open and Free. We have rewritten so much of the old vintage LINGUIST List website, it is an entirely new system in the back-end. We paid for the switch from commercial and expensive software to free and open source systems with our free time. We invested our weekends, nights, and holidays in the port and the relocation. More than once we had reached a point of total frustration, of physical and mental exhaustion, where no more coffee or sugar resources would help. Can you imagine? At the same time, we had to run the operations, continue editing, posting, talk to colleagues who want to make changes of postings, job ads, conference announcements, and also rent trucks for the relocation, commute back and forth for negotiations, checking out new housing and office spaces etc. May to August 2014 were the wildest months of our lives.

Many of you have experienced some glitches and broken or dysfunctional pages. We are sorry for that. Given the short time for relocation and the switch of the paradigms and systems, we were not able to test upfront before bringing up and making it live, but rather had to use user feedback to fix issues as they occurred. We transferred the lists to the new Mailman system. This has caused some of the deactivated accounts to be activated again. Colleagues and subscribers started getting mails and were quite surprised to receive the full LINGUIST list email collection every day; some were even angry with us. We are sorry for causing you this inconvenience, but there was no other way for us to transfer the list server mails, archives and subscriptions to the new system.

The team at LINGUIST List was massively reduced. Only Malgosia, Lwin, and Damir relocated from Michigan to Indiana, together with three GAs, Andrew, Sara, and Anna. The relocation meant not only a relocation of families, children, and households, it also meant the relocation of resources, the acquisition of equipment, the setting up of a new office space for the operation, and also the cleaning up the old one. The team did an incredible job. Within just 6 months all that was accomplished, and the operation of LINGUIST List was interrupted just for some hours and minutes. Many people did not realize that. Many in fact feared that this endeavor will fail, that it was basically impossible to achieve all this in such a short time.

We are lucky that IU provided us with a nice building to restart our operations. We were able to acquire a few PCs to start working again and we got some furniture from surplus to equip a meeting room and basic office space. We have a coffee machine again in the office, and things have calmed down somewhat. We sleep again, and life has some rhythm again. There is still a lot of work, a lot to do, and a lot we need to arrange and organize.

In the meantime we can report that:

  • The LINGUIST List website is up and running, faster and more stable than before, not only the newly written ‘vintage website’ with the new PostgreSQL database and Railo ColdFusion engine, but also the new website, which we could not continue developing since spring 2014 (based on Django and Python) because of the move.
  • EMELD is up and running, with some minor issues to fix from time to time. The code has been transfered from Adobe ColdFusion and Oracle to Railo and PostgreSQL.
  • The list server is back and all the archives and other functionalities are up, hosting not just LINGUIST and LINGLITE, but also many other lists that some of you might be subscribed to. We are now using the GNU open source server Mailman.
  • LEGO is up, with some issues that we still need to fix. This site was written in PHP and specific extensions and libraries. It uses in the backend the Apache Solr indexing engine running on a Tomcat server. This was a lot of work, to reinstall it and set it up. Some minor issues need to be fixed that have to do with the Solr communication in searches.
  • GOLD is up and running. It was also written in PHP using the Zend framework. We had to port old code to new server and software environments.
  • MultiTree is up, both the new and the old site. The old system still needs to be fixed, and the new one that was developed using Django and D3js needs some more development. The old system was written in one of the early Ruby on Rails versions. The port to the more recent Railo versions was quite complex.
  • OLAC is connected again, thanks to the help of many colleagues, e.g. Gary Simons, Steven Bird and others.
  • ODIN is up, and needs some minor corrections.
  • LL-Map is installed and needs to be activated again. Soon we should have the system and the connections up again, and all the polygons and maps available for browsing and search, linked to MultiTree, even LEGO and GOLD etc. There are new ways to contribute own maps and information now.
  • Etc.

There is still a lot to do. Most of the transfer has been accomplished. We did everything we could to preserve the data, port the applications, make the new site and operations more sustainable, cheaper, more open, and robust.

We are all set for a new start. After 25 years of the LINGUIST List, the technology and environment is again up to date, ready for the next 25 years.

Many of you know, the LINGUIST List has a very low operational budget. It did operate at its financial limits since spring 2013, without a fund drive in 2013, and a limited fund drive in 2014. LINGUIST started in the new location without any significant funds, just with the help and support of its hosting institution, the team, and some supporters.

The team and the operation now need your help. We depend on the Fund Drive 2015 to be able to continue with normal operations during the summer 2015, and during the next academic year. Graduate assistantships do not cover the summer. Although IU supports us with two fully covered GAs, and two partially covered ones (in addition to all the other support that we get from IU and the Department of Linguistics), we need to cover the summer months by paying editors. We also need more person-power to cover the next academic year.

Please consider helping LINGUIST List to continue its operations and donate during the 2015 Fund Drive.

The LINGUIST List Team

Featured Linguist: Picus Sizhi Ding

Picus Sizhi Ding

 

The LINGUIST List Fund Drive 2015Please donate!

 

丁思志

我在90年代初踏足语言学领域,自认是与‘语言学家名单’一起成长的语言学者之一。 当我第一次听闻这个组织,它正是以电邮形式运作,那种兴奋的感觉跟我发现语言学是一门学科不遑多让。

出生于仰光的一个福建家庭,我早年的婴孩生活是在一个兼具闽南语和缅甸语的双语环境里度过的。那时候在东南亚的海外华人坚守祖先的语言,把它看作自己身份认同不可或缺的一部分。 后来,我家搬到澳门,伴我成长的语言变成是粤语和闽南语。那个年代英语是澳门大部分学校教的唯一一门外语。大概是升读初一的时候,我开始对国语/普通话产生兴趣,主要是通过听诸如邓丽君的流行歌曲接触到国语发音。在高中的最后一年,澳门电台推出了一个学习初级葡萄牙语的小节目,出于好奇,我学了一点点。 回想起来,原来自己对语言一直有着浓厚的兴趣。 这就是为什么当我看见北美大学长长的本科专业名单上出现‘语言学’这个专业时,我马上决定我要主修语言学。 由于各种的原因,我在美国、加拿大和澳大利亚都留下了留学的足迹,但在我的‘游学’生涯中,我的主修专业始终如一。 就这样,我分别从三个不同的国家取得了本科、硕士和博士学位,全都是语言学。

在南伊利诺伊大学本科毕业那年,我给Usha Lakshmanan教授任教的句法课写了一篇有关普通话的把字句的论文。顺理成章,硕士论文我也继续往这个题目下功夫,但我觉得研究自己熟悉的语言似乎太过容易。我开始有了日后攻读博士要研究、描述少数民族语言的想法;毕竟这是锻炼、造就一个全方位的语言学家的有效方法。我把这个想法告诉了我在西蒙·弗雷泽大学的导师Nancy Hedberg教授,她非常好人,把R. M. W. Dixon教授写的《寻觅原住民语言——田野工作者的回忆录》借了给我。 最终,我在1994年去了澳大利亚国立大学,准备把我的博士研究放在一个不为人熟知的语言上。我知道太平洋地区是澳国大的科研焦点,我对自己要研究的语言保持着开放的态度。 事实证明,校方没有要求我去描写波利尼西亚或澳大利亚的语言; 相反,我要研究的语言完全取决于我。

早在199212月,我从不列颠哥伦比亚大学的亚洲图书馆借了三本中国大陆出版的少数民族语言简志,供我圣诞期间阅读​​。 其中一本就是《普米语简志》,它是三本书中给我留下最深印象的一本。 这是我第一次听闻普米族和普米语。我对普米语的同部位复辅音做了一些分析,所以,这个藏缅语几乎是我首选的研究对象。但最大的问题是我不认识任何普米族,我甚至从未去过云南。我幸运地在澳国大找到了一个昆明人,而他的父亲又是当年云南省民族学院的教授。

我的田野调查中最难忘的经历之一是1995年的元旦除夕。我赶着要从县城返回普米村寨,便冲忙地登上了一辆正要启动的面包车。车子拐了一个弯、继续往跟以前不同的方向驶去 之后,我就觉得有点不对劲,问了身边的乘客我才知道面包车要前往一个我未到过的村庄,但那里有几户普米人家。 有了这个信息,我才稍稍松了一口气,我可以试着找一户普米人家帮忙。就在村子的大街上有一户普米族,我便进去了。用我有限的普米语告诉人家我的普米名字。结果,主人家热情地接待我。 但这跟我的普米语没有关系;恰好他是一个我认识的普米老人的弟弟。 真是太巧了! 另一个冒险的经历发生在2005年三月初。我随着一个家住四川木里、川滇交界地区的普米‘韩规’ 在山区长途跋涉超过12个小时。 当夜幕开始降临的时候,我看见一个大黑影跃过一条小溪。 我以为是豹子,但韩规告诉我那是一头熊,而这一区的熊是素食的,就像熊猫。 之后,他叫我呆在那里,天快要黑了,他先赶回家,然后再让人来接我。 在漆黑中,我看到前方微弱的光点;于是我举步维艰地走向村落,膝盖疼痛,鞋子全湿(高山覆盖着积雪)。 一个小时左右以后,韩规的儿子拉着一匹马把我接走。

我在中国的田野工作充满了挫折、喜悦,还有一点危险和幸运。在我第一次到云南进行研究之前,我有幸遇到了La Trobe大学的David Bradley(大卫·布莱德利)教授,而之后的几个月实地考察期间,我又在昆明遇见了他。 然而,我田野工作所取得的成果全赖于艰苦奋斗。 这些田野工作经历是我人生的缩影。 值得高兴的是,我能够随着自己的兴趣去研究中国这片语言多样性程度极高、但又被严重低估的土地上(这可能是当今语言学家最少研究的地区)的少数民族语言。从描写语言学到语言纪录和保护,中国,尤其是包括台湾地区的南中国,有着许多吸引田野语言学家到来的东西。

 

Read the English version of the letter.

 

Fund Drive 2015

Dear Colleagues, Linguist List supporters, linguistics and language lovers,

It is March 6th and high time for snow and winter to disappear. At our headquarters at Indiana University we fervently await the arrival of the new season of the year – the Fund Drive Season. Please come and check our festive Fund Drive web page:

http://funddrive.linguistlist.org/

Apart from the opportunity to donate, our Fund Drive site offers all kind of entertainment. As every year, we have for you prizes to win, games to play, stories to read, and songs to listen to– and maybe sing along with. So, visit our site, contribute with linguistic jokes, poems, and other works of art, and generally enjoy the season for supporting LINGUIST List.

Why should you donate? The answer is – because only a part of our operational costs are covered by our host institution. The rest we have to earn through advertising or receive from donations. We try to keep site advertising to a minimum, though, as our administrative costs continue to rise, we have added a few ads to take some of the financial burden off of subscribers.

This year our goal is to collect $79,000.00 for our editors and the programming support. You are not donating for your own interest alone – LINGUIST List is read worldwide, by professionals but also students and language enthusiasts who otherwise would have much more limited access to linguistic contents, especially for financial reasons.

LINGUIST List is and will remain free to the subscribers. Please support us to continue our service.

This year is important for LINGUIST List. It is the first year at the new location, at Indiana University. Apart from the beauty of the campus, we enjoy in Bloomington an exceptionally rich linguistic environment – rich in terms of colleague-linguists, language programs, languages spoken on the campus, and language resources. We envision that this rich linguistic environment will nurture LINGUIST List and our associated projects, and result in improved and enriched service to you. However, the relocation was a complex and logistically challenging endeavor, followed by months of re-launching, re-programming, and re-designing. Last year was draining for the LL financially, and also difficult in terms of work and effort we had to invest into the relocation. If you appreciate what we do please consider supporting us financially this year again – we need it more than ever.

2015 is important for us for yet another reason. In December, LINGUIST List will turn 25, quite an age for a mailing list. While at the University of Western Australia, on Thursday, December 13th, 1990, Anthony Aristar sent a message about the formation of LINGUIST to some colleagues. You can read the
message here:

http://linguistlist.org/issues/1/1-0.html

Helen Aristar-Dry and Anthony Aristar ended their message with this paragraph:

“Let us say in ending that making a list of this kind a success depends crucially on initiating an ongoing dialogue between participants. Once this dialogue has been properly begun, the list acquires a life of its own, and little further effort is required to maintain its existence. To this end, we earnestly ask you all to begin contributing, and aid therefore in the continuance of LINGUIST.”

They were more than right in that the list acquired a life of its own. It was serving the linguistic community for almost 25 years now. Yet they were wrong about the “little further effort” to maintain its existence. They are surely very aware of that now. It requires a lot of effort by the team of student editors and programmers to provide a moderated mailing list with human editing services and post-publishing support for corrections, changes, and updates to posted information. This human touch makes LL unique, efficient, and reliable. It offers an interactive service with a team of dedicated linguistics students, learning about the academic scene and the linguistics profession, learning about running a list and a complex website, about posting on social media platforms, organizing fund drives, and also doing linguistic research. It has been a pleasure to have the LINGUIST List crew around, to be part of their efforts.

We are glad that LINGUIST is reaching silver status now. With technological progress in the last decades, the LINGUIST List has evolved into much more than a mailing list, and it will continue to evolve in order to offer what our supporters need. We hope to lay the groundwork for reaching gold in the next 25 years. The fund drive is necessary to help the LINGUIST List Team to achieve this goal. Please help us with this effort! Please donate!

Malgosia and Damir

LINGUIST List updated the list-server

Dear LINGUIST List subscribers,

LINGUIST List uses as list server software a system called Mailman.  You can read about Mailman on its main homepage.

Having received a number of questions about the list server, we have decided to put this brief overview together.

Our Lists

As you may know, in addition to LINGUIST and LINGLITE, we host and mirror a number of mailing lists.  You can view the list of all lists at the underlying link here.

The two lists that LINGUIST List maintains are:

  • LINGUIST
    • sends out an email every time one of our editors approves a posting that was submitted to LINGUIST List from its users
    • it can be configured for every individual subscriber account to deliver a daily digest with the full email content
  • LINGLITE
    • sends out one daily email with a list of issue titles and links to the full issues on the LINGUIST List website

Subscribing

To subscribe to one of these two lists, click ‘Subscribe‘ at the bottom of the left menu bar on the LINGUIST List homepage.  Select the list that you want to subscribe to on the subscription webpage.  This will take you to the subscription page for the list of either LINGUIST or LINGLITE.  To subscribe, fill out the ‘Subscribing to [list name]’ section.  Note that unlike our former software for mailing lists, Mailman requires subscriptions to have a password associated with them.

Accessing Your Subscription

In Mailman you can access your subscription settings yourself and change various options online.  You are fully in control of your subscriptions.  You can pause them, unsubscribe and alter settings like daily digest or full email delivery mode.  If you open the subscription page (LINGUIST or LINGLITE) you can click on ‘Unsubscribe or edit options‘ at the bottom of the page, which will take you to a new configuration page.

If you know your password for the list server and your particular subscription, put in your email and the password in the interface and click ‘login‘ to get to the account management page.

If you do not know your password, simply enter your email address and click on ‘Remind‘.  If you are subscribed with this email address, you will receive a password in your email inbox immediately.  If you do not receive any feedback from the list server in reasonable time, it might be that you are subscribed with a different email address.  See below in the next section for instructions how to identify the email address with which you subscribed to the list.

The settings for your account for the LINGUIST list offer different options: we are often asked about the Digest Mode and the Topic Filters.  When Digest Mode is set to On, subscribers receive one email a day containing the full text of every email that was sent out over LINGUIST.  When Digest Mode is set to Off, subscribers receive each email separately as they are sent out over LINGUIST.  Every message LINGUIST sends out is tagged by its topic area (jobs, calls for papers, books, etc.).  If you prefer only to receive messages from certain areas, just select those areas under ‘Which topic categories would you like to subscribe to?‘.

Unsubscribing

To unsubscribe, go to the LINGUIST List subscription page, select the list from which you intend to unsubscribe to get to the list subscription and management page.  At the bottom of the page click on the button ‘Unsubscribe or edit options‘.  In the new form type your email address in the field on top of the form.  You do not need to provide a password.  Simply click on ‘Unsubscribe‘ and check your inbox for a confirmation mail from the list server.  Confirm your subscription by either clicking on the provided confirmation link, or by following the alternative confirmation instructions in the email.

If you do not get a confirmation mail in reasonable time, it might be that

  • the confirmation email ended up in your spam mail folder, or that
  • you provided the wrong email address for unsubscription

This could be either due to a typo, or you might be using an alias of the real email address at the institution that provides you the email service.  It might be the case that you have moved from one institution or domain to another.  You email might be forwarded to the new address that you use now.

If you do not remember the email address with which you subscribed to the list, you should look at the detailed email header of one of the mails that you received from the LINGUIST List server.  Your email software should provide a function to display the detailed header for an email.  Most email software will provide a menu entry in the main menu or in the right-click context menu for this function.  In common email software like Outlook, Apple Mail, or Thunderbird you will find menu entries or options on right-click to display the full email header.  The email header should contain the full list of the path that the email took through the internet, as well as various other fields.  The most important field for your analysis will be the ‘To:‘-field.  This might be another email address that gets forwarded to your current email address, or it could be an alias of the email address that you currently use.

Use this specific email to submit an unsubscribe request in the above described way.

As long as you are receiving emails from the list server, you should be able to identify the email address from the header.  If you cannot identify the initial recipient address, consider consulting your local IT-personnel or a colleague or friend.  You might even have an option to save an email as a text file on your computer and open it up in a text editor to see the detailed email header.

There are various online instructions for different email client software to display full email headers:

You will find many more information sources by searching online.

Frequently Asked Questions

‘I can’t find my subscription.’ / ‘I unsubscribed and I am still receiving emails.’

More often than not, the email one thinks is subscribed to a mailing list isn’t.  If your subscription has been active a long time, it’s possible that your subscription is actually under a different email address that forwards to your current address.  This is especially problematic for academic email addresses where the domain is likely to change over the years (e.g. @linguistics.school.edu becoming @school.ling.edu).

In order to identify the email address with which you are subscribed, you need to display the full email header of an email that you received from the mailing list.

See the section Unsubscribing above for more details and solutions related to problems with the unsubscribe process.

‘I’m not receiving any emails.’

First things first, make sure your emails are going to your spam folder (especially if you use Yahoo!).  If LINGUIST emails are being tagged as spam, be sure to remove them from from your spam folder so your email client learns that they are not spam.  If this doesn’t solve the problem, try adding us to your contacts.

‘I have been unsubscribed due to excessive bounces.’

This seems to be an issue with some Yahoo domains, but in particular with services that make use of the Trend Micro spam filter on their mail servers.  The list server is configured to automatically unsubscribe or stop mailing to accounts that bounce too many times the LINGUIST List emails (LINGUIST and LINGLITE, but also other lists that we host).  This is crucial to avoid unnecessary internet data traffic and also unnecessary data transmission costs to closed accounts or non-responsive servers.  New configurations of some Yahoo email servers seem to cause problems to many mailing lists, even ours.  Our list server has been configured to fully comply with the Yahoo requirements and specifications.  If you are unsubscribed automatically, you will receive an email about that.  Either follow the instructions to subscribe again, or consider changing the email service provider to avoid future automatic unsubscriptions.

If your IT-service (some Universities are affected) is a customer of Trend Micro (your IT-team will know), they should urge them to remove the LINGUIST List listserv from their “Bad” list.  Their filters list our list server as “Bad” (status Jan. and Feb. 2015), as you can see here.  We tried many times to communicate with them to remove our server from this list, unfortunately without success, not even with a single response to our request.  They are the only service that lists our server as spam or bad.  IT-services that make use of their technology will bounce emails from LINGUIST or LINGLITE and the subscribers will be automatically removed from the subscription list after a certain number of bounces.  If this happens to you, contact your IT-team at your institution and inform them about the situation.  Activate your account again with the list (by following the instructions in the unsubscribe email notification, or by simply resubscribing again) and consider changing the email service provider, if you get unsubscribed again.  We do not seem to have issues with any of the free or commercial providers in general (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo at yahoo.com, hotmail.com etc.).

If you have problems with the described processes or any additional question or issue, feel free to contact us.

Your LINGUIST List Team

Updates and new site

Dear LINGUIST readers,

the Linguist List site has been transferred to a new server and background technology. The entire software base of the site has changed, from the server operating system, the web server itself, and background data storage, all is wrapped and dressed now in new bits and bytes, running on up-to-date hardware, connected with high bandwidth.

The main goal for us – justifying the investment in such a challenging migration – was to improve the user experience, the stability and robustness of the service, and the future maintenance processes. The current state brings immediate advantages to you and the entire development, management, and editing team at LINGUIST.

As you can imagine, the site had to be rewritten, reconfigured, and to a great extend reprogrammed from scratch. This is always a source of errors and bugs, even though we perform a deep quality control processes constantly. We may, and surely do miss serious flaws and issues with browsers and systems that we did not recognize earlier. Thus, if you encounter issues with the site, please do let us know about those. We are working intensively to remove and minimize the number of bugs and improve the user experience. After the complete migration to the new server, we are now facing many small problems and issues with the site and code. Some of our readers already pointed out problems. Thank you all for that! We really appreciate your help and all hints about pages or tools that are not working correctly. Thank you all for your time and effort to help the entire linguistic community and us to improve the website and mailing services of LINGUIST.

You can mail us your comments, suggestions, questions, requests, and error reports to linguist, errors, damir, malgosia, lwin or the other editors at linguistlist.org.

Thank you for your support!

Malgosia and Damir