LL Main

Meet Amanda Foster!

Dear LINGUIST List Subscribers,

Please join us in welcoming out newest LINGUIST editor, Amanda Foster!


Amanda Foster

Amanda just started working at LINGUIST list as an editor in October 2015. Born and raised in France, where she completed a B.A. in Linguistics and a B.A. in Philosophy in 2013 at the Sorbonne Universities, Paris, she moved in August 2015 to Bloomington, IN, to pursue a M.A. in General Linguistics at IU. What first called her to the study of Linguistics is her strong interest in under-resourced and endangered languages, and the interaction between languages and the world views that they carry. Apart from her  enthusiasm for learning about different cultures and languages, she spends her free time reading or playing board games, walking or hiking, and trying to learn the accordion!

Michael Abramov at LINGUIST List

This summer was a great one for collaborating with fellow scholars on our projects here at The LINGUIST List! Over the past few months, Michael Abramov accompanied Hilaria Cruz at our office to help with the transcription and time alignment for a Chatino corpus–an Otomanguean language found in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. For the past 15 years, he has worked as a librarian at the Austin Public Library in Texas. Though not a trained linguist, on occasion Michael assists Hilaria on her research in Chatino. Michael has studied Romance languages in the past and can speak Spanish and a little Italian.

Michael at LINGUIST List

Thank you, Michael, for all of your help this summer!

Summer 2015 Projects at The LINGUIST List

It has been a busy summer here at The LINGUIST List! Please take a moment to check out the projects that our 2015 summer interns and volunteers have been working on!

  Alec      Clara

Edvard Bikbaev

Edvard Bikbaev works on the GORILLA project at the LINGUIST List. To that end, he is creating and annotating the speech corpus for Russian, his native language. The speech corpus Edvard is involved with includes multiple annotated tiers and will be further used to train a forced aligner.  In addition, Edvard translates contents of the GORILLA website, and updates MultiTree with linguistic publications in Russian. Edvard plans to apply for a PhD program in Computations Linguistics and use the Russian speech corpus he has created at Linguist List for his

Alec Wolyniec

Alec spends most of his time at the LINGUIST List creating the official LINGUIST List Google Chrome App, which will soon provide easy access to the upcoming GeoLing map and other LINGUIST List resources. He is also in the process of writing a script that automatically collects language data from Wiktionary and other open-source databases, and has so far used the program to extend the LINGUIST List’s Yiddish lexicon.

Clara García Gómez

Clara is mainly involved in the GORILLA Project creating a speech corpus for Castilian Spanish, of which she is a native speaker. She is creating materials necessary for automatic alignment and transcription. She also works on the translation of parts of the website into Spanish and in some editing tasks for LINGUIST List. She is interested in the study of undocumented languages so she is happy to participate in GORILLA and hope to contribute to this project further after creating the corpus for Castilian Spanish.

Jacob Henry

Jacob has spent most of his time working on the LL-MAP project, a large collection of maps containing linguistic  and geographic information to be used by linguists, anthropologists, and other researchers.The LINGUIST List relocation Indiana University became an opportunity to relaunch and redesign the technologies. This has involved porting all of the data accumulated to new servers and testing various file formats to find the easiest to work with for our purposes. We’ve made some progress and ideally, we would be able to relaunch LL-MAP by the end of the summer.

Seyed Asghari

Seyed started working on Baharlu dialect of south Azeri Turkic language. It is a language that is being spoken in west Iran with the neighboring area of Persian, Kurdish, and Lori languages. He studied different writing styles used to produce the most suitable transcriptions. Moreover, he needed to study the standards of romanization of Baharlu Turkic. He worked on sample recordings, creating transcription, romanization, and translation.

During this work he has also started preparing a Baharlu-English dictionary that including original word, romanization, English translation and will be completed with other elements such as lemma, PoS and pronunciation information.

Petar Garžina

For the last two weeks, Petar has been mainly working on the Automatic Speech Recognition Project. Currently, he is working on the Croatian speech corpus and ASR. The first part of the project consists of making recordings and transcribing them. Along with building the corpus, he has been going through the documentation about Chrome Apps, and from the beginning of this week, he will start working alongside Alec on the LINGUIST List Chrome app. At the end of his internship, he would like to have a working Croatian Speech Recognizer, and an application that will ease the use of various LINGUIST List features.

Zac Branson

Zac has been working primarily on the front and back end of Geoling which can be found at geoling.linguistlist.org. Zac has additionally contributed to the Gorilla project (gorilla.linguistlist.org) including the development of resources to be provided by Gorilla.

Hilaria Cruz at LINGUIST List

We at the LINGUIST List are always happy to collaborate with fellow scholars on our projects. We were lucky to host Dr. Hilaria Cruz, a researcher and speaker of Chatino, for a week while she worked on creating a spoken corpus of the language for an ongoing project. If you’re interested in collaborating on spoken corpora with us, please contact us!

Dr. Cruz at LINGUIST List

Hilaria Cruz is a linguist and a native speaker of San Juan Quiahije (SJQ) Chatino, an endangered Zapotecan language, spoken in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. She has been documenting and revitalizing the Chatino languages since 2003. Hilaria founded the Chatino Language Documentation Project (CLDP) together with her sister Emiliana Cruz (now an assistant professor at UMass Amherst), and their advisor Tony Woodbury of The University of Texas at Austin.

The CLDP aims to carry out linguistic documentation projects and research integrating the advancement of linguistic science with the wishes of the Chatino people to promote and honor their language. During the course of Hilaria’s fieldwork on Chatino, she has personally collected and archived more than one hundred hours of audio recordings of naturalistic speech in formal and informal settings.

Hilaria earned her Ph.D. in linguistics in 2014 at the University of Texas at Austin. The dissertation entitled “Linguistic Poetics and Rhetoric of Eastern Chatino of San Juan Quiahije,” analyzes the poetic patterns of SJQ discourse.

Hilaria is currently working on a project with LINGUIST List to create tools for speech recognition in SJQ Chatino. Beginning in the fall of 2015 Hilaria will be a Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Kentucky. There Hilaria will investigate, the Chatino concepts of death in four Eastern Chatino communities. They are Santa Maria Yolotepec (YOL), Santa Maria Amialtepec (AMIA) and San Juan Quiahije (SJQ) and San Marcos Zacatepec (ZAC).  Hilaria’s research interests include Chatino poetics and verbal art, language revitalization, and automatic speech recognition in Chatino.

A Visitor to LINGUIST List

In the normal course of running The LINGUIST List, we are occasionally lucky enough to receive visitors. Last week, Dr. Francis M. Tyers, a post doc in computational linguistics at The University of Tromsø stopped by the office to discuss various computational projects. Dr. Tyers is in town collaborating with local linguists as well enjoying the abundant sunlight – surely a treat coming from the Arctic Circle!

Dr. Tyers (center) with Andrew Lamont (left) and Jonathan Washington (right)

Dr. Tyers has been involved in the field of machine translation for nine years, he completed his PhD at the Universitat d’Alacant, and now works as a postdoctoral researcher at UiT Norgga árktalaš universitehta. He has published over 30 articles related to machine translation and computational linguistics. He is secretary of both the ISCA SIG on Speech and Language Technology for Minority Languages (SaLTMiL) and the Apertium project. His research interests include finite-state morphological analysis, rule-based disambiguation and machine translation for marginalised and lesser-resourced languages. He is currently in Bloomington working on dependency parsing for Kazakh.

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

2015 Summer Interns and Volunteers

We at LINGUIST List are delighted this summer to open our doors to the 2015 Summer Interns! If you are interested in becoming an intern, be on the look-out for our application cycle to open again next spring. In the mean time, there are other ways to get involved here at LINGUIST List. Just contact us for more information.

Take a look below to meet the newest members of the LINGUIST List:

Seyed Asghari

Seyed Amir Hossein Asghari is a doctoral candidate in the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures department at the University of Indiana, Bloomington. He has been the project manager for the first Persian-Albanian Dictionary (2010) and co-author of Persian-Albania and English conversation (2008).

He is currently working at Baharli South Azeri Turkish of Iran at Linguistic List.

Zac Branson


Zac recently completed his second year in the PhD program in the Department of Linguistics at Indiana University. He is pursuing coursework for an M.A. in Linguistics and an M.S. in Computational Linguistics. Zac’s research interests include the documentation of understudied and endangered languages, and the development of computational tools to aid such documentation.

Petar Garzina

Petar comes from Zadar, Croatia where he is currently finishing an MA at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Zadar. His fields of interest are computational linguistics, particularly natural language processing, and authorship attribution. During his free time he regularly works out (crossfit), when the weather is nice he also spear fishes and when the weather is bad he likes to watch a good movie, or play online video games.

Jacob Henry

Jacob is currently an intern at the LINGUIST List for summer 2015. His main projects include the relaunch of the LL-Map website as well as assisting with the launch of the GORILLA site. He’s originally from Muncie, Indiana and in 2011 he became a student at the University of Oklahoma where he’s currently pursuing a BA in French and General Linguistics. His particular academic interests lie in sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, and typology. He has also done research in various periods of French literature, as well as interning in a microbiology lab.


Umida Khikmatillaeva



Umida started volunteering for the Linguist List in the Spring of 2015. During 2012-2014 she worked at IU for the Turkish Flagship Program; her task was creating Turkish to Uzbek Bridge project materials. Prior to this program, she worked at the Center for Turkic and Iranian Lexicography and Dialectology (CTILD). Together with her colleagues, they created an Uzbek-English online dictionary. She has been working for IU since 1996 and taught Intermediate level Uzbek at Summer Workshop in Slavic, East European and Central Asian Languages (SWEESL) till 2003, then she coordinated Advanced Uzbek Program (Summer Overseas Program) in Samarkand in 2004.


Levi King

Levi joined LINGUIST List as a volunteer for the summer of 2015, where he’s contributing to the GORILLA project and related speech recognition work. He’s currently a Ph.D. student in Computational Linguistics (CL) at Indiana University, where he previously got a dual M.A. in CL (Department of Linguistics) and Applied Linguistics & TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages; Department of Second Language Studies). While his CL interests run the gamut, he’s particularly interested in applying natural language processing to the automatic content analysis of non-native speaker language, and more broadly, the analysis of “noisy” language data in general. In his free time, he enjoys live music, board and video games, trivia, pottery and comic books.

Alec Wolyniec

Photo on 6-22-15 at 7.20 PM #2

Alec is an intern at the LINGUIST List for the summer of 2015. His work includes assisting with the development of the LL-Map website, updating databases to be used in the development of Automatic Speech Recognition technologies, and creating algorithms to scrape language data from Wiktionary and other websites. Originally from the suburbs of New York City, he is currently a student at Emory University in Atlanta, where he is pursuing a BS in Computer Science and a secondary major in Linguistics. In his spare time, Alec enjoys jazz music, reading, basketball, and board games.

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: Monica Macaulay

Featured Linguist: Monica Macaulay

Featured Linguist: Monica Macaulay

So, you know how most kids want to be firefighters, or doctors, or scientists when they grow up?  When I was a kid I wanted to be a librarian.  Yes, I was the biggest nerd in the world.  It was just that I loved to read and I loved to organize things, so organizing books sounded really good.  I also played Scrabble with my mom, and we would look words up in her immense “Shorter Oxford English Dictionary,” which we regarded as the authority on all matters language-related.

When I was 15 we moved to Santiago, Chile.  My mother was thrilled because her children were going to learn to speak a second language.  So, being 15, I decided I wasn’t going to learn it.  Unfortunately, I did, despite my best efforts.  So I spent about six months hiding it from my parents until it just got too hard to pretend.  We were there for a year and a half.  By the end of our time there my Spanish was so good I could fool people into thinking I was Chilean.  It’s been downhill ever since.

I graduated in Chile from Santiago College – that was my high school – a girl’s school with the motto “for finer womanhood.”  I was 16 and it made perfect sense to me that since I had graduated from high school I was an adult.  So I took off overland with my boyfriend and spent three months traveling through South America.  My parents, of course, were absolutely horrified.  It was quite an adventure and I did live to tell about it.  Then the boyfriend and I moved to Prescott, AZ, where we attended a hippy college for a while.  Next up, San Francisco, where I went to art school.  (Of course.)  We lived on a houseboat in Sausalito.  I finally dumped art school (no talent, just a love of art supplies) and the BF, and moved to Berkeley.

Eventually I realized I might want to go to college (a real one), and that there was one in the town I lived in. So I applied and got into UC-Berkeley.  It took me 7 years to finish.  I kept dropping out to do things like hitch-hike through Mexico, but that’s another story.  Everyone in Mexico laughed at my Chilean accent so I quickly modified it.

I took random classes in college, just not sure what I wanted to do.  But then one day I saw a course listing for a class in the English department that I thought would help me with my crossword puzzles, an obsession at the time.  It turned out to be 1965-era Standard Theory, taught as gospel truth.  (This was the mid/late-70s.)  I was hooked.  And OH MY GOD at the end of the semester I discovered there was a whole department of this stuff.  That was it, I never looked back.  I had finally found the place where I could combine my love of words and my love of organizing things into systems.

Cut to grad school (still at Berkeley – who would want to leave that beautiful place?).  I was there in a phase where the only required course in the linguistics graduate program was a 2-semester sequence in field methods.  (This is how I managed to get a PhD and never take an actual phonology course!)  They were offering two sections the year I took it.  I knew one was going to use Vietnamese, and I said, no way, that’s a tone language, I’m not doing tone.  The other one turned out to be Mixtec.  Nuff said.

Despite the tone, I discovered I loved eliciting and analyzing data.  Eventually I did fieldwork in Mexico (and I’ve written about that elsewhere), and wrote my dissertation on the language.  After a year’s stint at George Mason University I wound up in the English department at Purdue University.  Indiana was a bit of a shock after 14 years in the Bay Area.  But I met my husband, Joe Salmons, there, and made a lot of good friends.

The year after I got tenure, though, we moved to Madison to take jobs at the University of Wisconsin.  I grew up in Madison, so it was quite strange to return home after all those years.  When we moved there I was just finishing up my grammar of Chalcatongo Mixtec, and it seemed like a good time to make a change.  Ever since hearing Amy Dahlstrom talk about Algonquian languages in graduate school I had had a bad case of Algonquian envy.  Wisconsin has five native languages which are still spoken, three of which are Algonquian.  I satisfied my Algonquian envy by starting to work on Menominee, and have continued that ever since.  There’s a steep learning curve for Algonquian linguistics, but it’s totally worth it.

A couple of interesting things have happened along the way, to me and to the profession.  I didn’t start out feeling like an Americanist – that is, I didn’t feel like I was one of those people who would characterize themselves as working on American Indian languages; I just happened to work on Mixtec (and also a California language called Karuk).  But that identity snuck up on me, and I definitely define myself as an Americanist now.  The other thing that has happened is that the field has undergone a radical transformation, and me along with it.  This is the recognition that the vast majority of the languages we work on are severely endangered, that our work with communities has as much value as our scholarly work, and that we need to take responsibility for helping communities out with language revitalization when and how they want us to.


Documentary and theoretical approaches coexist and enrich each other, and American Indian languages are in the thick of it.  When I was in graduate school it was pretty much unthinkable that people from the theory-dominant departments would do fieldwork – now it seems like most everybody does some.  And I find myself working with community members on dictionaries of Menominee and Potawatomi, something I never could have imagined myself doing when I was in grad school.  The benefits of these changes to the field are enormous, and I think we’re in a much healthier place as a discipline now.

From 2009 to 2014, Joe Salmons, Anja Wanner, Rajiv Rao, and I were the review editors for Linguist List.   It was a lot of work but we were proud of the quality (and quantity!) of the reviews we posted.  After stepping down from that, I became a co-editor of the Papers of the Algonquian Conference, and last January I became president of the Endangered Language Fund (http://www.endangeredlanguagefund.org/).  We give grants for small projects on endangered languages all over the world.

Just a footnote:  linguistics ruined Scrabble for me.  It’s just that pesky question of what counts as a word!  I mean, can you use “ish”?

Please support the Linguist List with a donation today.


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: http://arcg.is/1C2X3Bm

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 (http://csumc.wisc.edu/wep/), 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!