A Generous Letter from the Great Trey Jones! (SpecGram)

In Generous Support of

The brilliant Trey Jones
Editor-in-Chief of the hilarious Speculative Grammarian

Almost a quarter of a century ago back in the stone age I alone created the brilliant new revolutionary field of subliminal linguistics. And while that brilliant idea may not appear to the ignorant masses to have gone anywhere, I have thanks to subliminal manipulation been quite successful nonetheless.

I originally subscribed to the LINGUIST List around that time, too—the ’90s were rad!. I used to read maybe skim LL messages the titles for sure on a machine the linguistics department falsely claimed was a computer hooked up to a 300 baud i.e., half my reading speed acoustic coupler! What a horrible time—we were surviving but not really living in some dystopian version of the future!

Here in the glorious present day, as the brilliant Editor-in-Chief i.e., the glorious leader, of the brilliantly hilarious Speculative Grammarian—the premier brilliant scholarly journal featuring research in the unfairly neglected but hilarious field of bitingly clever satirical linguistics—I appreciate how hard it is for my minions to wrangle interns (flog ’em!) and keep the lights on and the presses running. Oh, wait, the uppity interns inform me that they think they can correct me and that we don’t have presses anymore. How many ways and with what kind of sharp things can I flog them!

So, I have an inkling of all the hard work (so much flogging!) and dedication to building up your flogging arm that goes into running the brilliant LINGUIST List day in, day out, year after year—yeah, you should feel guilty. It wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of flogging the interns, pretending to care about the whiny editors, placating the diva programmers, and so much else the long-suffering moderators have to put up with. Or so I assume—if their staff is half as lazy as ours.

The brilliant LINGUIST List does so freakin’ much and provides so freakin’ much to the soon-to-be generous linguistics community—’cause them servers ain’t free. Give (give more!) generously (give more!) to show (give more!) your (give more!) support (give more!) for the LINGUIST List (give more!)!



Featured Linguist: Robert A. Coté

Featured Linguist: Robert A. Coté

I am not your typical linguist. In fact, my first degree is in meteorology with a minor in math! Despite this, I have always been fascinated with languages – most likely because I grew up in a multilingual environment: my father and his parents spoke Quebecois, my maternal grandmother spoke Pugliese, and my maternal grandfather spoke Neapolitan. Clearly, hearing people around me speak something other than English was normal for me from a very young age, but I never gave much thought to the rich sociolinguistic world in which I lived. I always enjoyed reading and writing as well, so it only seems natural to me that I became an applied linguist.

How I discovered the wonderful world of LINGUIST List is even more interesting. I had completed my PhD coursework, comprehensive exams, dissertation proposal, and data collection, and I was working full-time as an administrator at an English-medium college in the United Arab Emirates. Like many doctoral students, I had really grown tired of my research and had fallen out of interest with academia. One of my professors suggested I look into writing a book review, not only to read some current literature related to my area of research, but more importantly, to practice the type of writing required for a dissertation. This was probably the best advice I received in my entire 10-year doctoral process.

I was really excited the day my textbook arrived and immediately began to read and highlight. It was about a month before I started writing my review. After submitting it, I waited anxiously for feedback. When it arrived, most of it was positive, but it took three edits to get it published. I knew I could do better, so I requested another text. This time, the reading and writing went faster, and the feedback I received was more positive and required only two edits. Reading what the editor had to say about my review not only gave more me confidence, but it also pointed out where I needed to improve, which in turn allowed me to focus on specific aspects of my writing. By the time I completed my third book review, I didn’t require any edits! The entire process took me nearly two years. But now, I was ready to complete my dissertation. And believe me, it was no surprise when all three of my committee members gave me the same feedback: “Your dissertation was organized, enjoyable, and easy to read. You really have a great sense of audience.” I am absolutely certain that writing book reviews for LINGUIST List was the most important factor leading to this success.

Why am I telling you all this? Because now, I am returning the favor to LINGUIST List. I have reviewed and edited dozens of book reviews pro bono over the past few years. I want to give other reviewers, many of them non-native speakers of English and/or graduate students like I was, the same publishing and writing improvement opportunities that I was given several years ago. I believe anyone can become a good writer, and everyone can become a better writer. LINGUIST List allows people this chance. I am fortunate that I am in a position to donate my time to help others, and I hope that some of you reading this are in a position to donate your money to help LINGUIST List. This may sound a little forward of me, but I sincerely believe the few paid staff at LINGUIST List made me the writer I am today, and I am doing my best to help others with their writing. You just never know the impact that your donation, no matter how big or small, can have on someone, who in turn can help someone else.

Robert Cote, PhD
Director, Writing Skills Improvement Program
College of Humanities
University of Arizona, Tucson


Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2017 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List needs your support!

Fun Fact: Conferences Edition

Hey everyone!

This is Kenneth again. One of our most popular posting areas is Conferences and Calls for Papers. I am the main editor who posts in this area. We receive submissions from conferences all over the world (just look at geoling.linguistlist.org to see for yourself). Each submission we get is edited and verified by one of our editors and then sent out over the listserv so that people like you can know about the conferences coming up in your subdiscipline. This area of the listserv is also very beneficial as a way for newer, more specialized conferences to get their information out there.
Here’s a heatmap of the number of submissions we receive for conferences each day!

Some of these are quickly filtered out as not linguistically relevant but most require time to edit everything. If you appreciate what we do, please donate at the Fund drive page . Thank you!

Meet Clare, Featured LL Staff of the week!

Clare started as an intern last summer at the LINGUIST List, and now also works as a LINGUIST List Editor! She is also the manager of this year’s Fund Drive. Clare comes from Speedway, Indianapolis (read her cool post about her home town here: http://funddrive.linguistlist.org/pages/ClareHarshey/). Here is a letter from her to you:

Dear LINGUIST Listers,

My name is Clare, and you may know me from the occasional list posting… or somewhat more-than-occasional email correspondence! I’m an editor for the LINGUIST List, and am now almost halfway through my MS in Computational Linguistics at Indiana University. I’m writing this letter today to tell you more about myself, in order to express how grateful I am, and how so many of us should be, that an organization like the LINGUIST List exists.

I started working at the LINGUIST List as a summer intern in May of 2016. Hearing back about the summer internship was incredibly exciting for me, and arriving here in person didn’t disappoint! As an intern, I spent my summer working on a Yiddish speech corpus, with the eventual goal of developing new speech and language technologies. Before long, I was able to take on some additional duties, like editing some Jobs, Supports and Reviews postings for the List. I was even able to attend the LSA annual meeting this year with some of my colleagues here, to represent our organization, learn, and meet other linguists.

I’m lucky to have experienced the many different facets of the LINGUIST List, and to have directly benefited from it. The work I do not only allows me to support my graduate studies, but it enriches me professionally and personally every single day. The only thing that makes this possible is the generosity of our readers. Your past donations have completely changed the course of my growth as a linguist, and your donations this year and in future years will do the same for many more students.

It may seem an exaggeration to say that you, personally, can make such a difference, especially if you can only make a small donation. But it’s completely true: you and the other 24,999 subscribers to our list now have the chance now to come together and continue to support new linguists, just like you have already supported me. You aren’t just donating to the LINGUIST List–you’re investing in the future of the field of linguistics.

Thank you for reading, and thank you again for your ongoing generosity. And if you haven’t already, please visit us at http://funddrive.linguistlist.org/ and consider showing your support today.

Clare Harshey

The game is still on!

The most recent edition of the GeoLing Scavenger Hunt has proven to be our most challenging yet! Because we have no winner yet, the deadline has been extended for another week, and we will reveal one hint for the final puzzle each day next week!

The puzzle will test your skills in geography and cryptography, and we are raising the stakes to provide an even better prize to the winners.

To play, you’ll need to go to GeoLing. To navigate the globe, click on the menu button in the upper left hand corner. You can select and unselect Local Events, Jobs, Conferences, and more to view them on the map. Game clues will be found in different locations on different kinds of pins.

The initial clue:

Featured Linguist San San Hnin Tun has taught on three continents, but she taught at one university for over two decades. You will find your next clue there!

Good luck!

Featured Linguist: Osamu Sawada

Featured Linguist: Osamu Sawada

I grew up in the family of linguists (my father is a linguist, my mother used to be a school teacher), so it is not a coincidence that I became a linguist. (My younger brother also became a linguist.) However, looking back, I see that there were several important turning points and experiences that lead me to the field of linguistics.

I was born and grew up in Japan, but when I was 10, I had the chance to spend a year in Boston with my family. There, we had many positive experiences interacting with people/students from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds. My brother and I went to a public school, and the atmosphere was one of respect for diversity. Thinking back now, this positive experience affects my stance as a scholar/teacher.

When I returned to Japan, however, the center of my daily life gradually shifted to tennis (soft tennis). In high school, I participated in national athletic meetings, and/but I neglected my school studies. I did, however, learn the importance of continuation and preparation through tennis.

It was in a rounin period, ‘a preparation period between schools’ that I studied in a responsible way with a true spirit of inquiry. I became interested in the grammars of English and Old Japanese. After being accepted into Waseda University, I continued playing tennis, but at the same time, I took various linguistics courses, including syntax, pragmatics, and functional linguistics. Although I also earned a teacher’s license, I felt that I wanted to study linguistics further, and I decided to enter graduate school.

One important turning point for me as a researcher was encountering scalar phenomenon. When I was a MA student, I had a chance to read Fillmore et al.’s (1988) paper on let alone (e.g., He couldn’t even eat Tempura, let alone Sushi). I found it very interesting that this small expression is relevant to many interesting linguistic phenomena, such as scalarity, comparison, polarity sensitivity, focus, information structure, ellipsis, etc. Looking at various related scalar phenomenon, I also gradually felt that very interesting things were happening in the field of formal semantics in the abroad, although it was still an unknown world to me.

It was miracle and very fortunate for me that I was able to study at the Ph.D. program of the University of Chicago (2005‒2010). The atmosphere of the department of linguistics was great; faculty members, students, and researchers were enthusiastic, energetic, and warm-hearted. Although I focused on formal semantics and pragmatics, I was also exposed to many other fields of linguistics, including morphology, syntax, phonetics, phonology, socio-historical linguistics, etc. There were many workshops, colloquiums, and discussion groups, and I was able to interact with various renowned scholars and colleagues/friends in a collaborative way.

In my dissertation, I focused on the pragmatic aspects of scalar modifiers and considered the similarities and differences between semantic scalar meaning and pragmatic scalar meaning in terms of the semantics/pragmatics interface. For example, in Japanese the minimizer chotto ‘a bit’ can not only measure an object or event at the semantic level, but it can also weaken the degree of imposition of the speech act at the pragmatic level (not-at-issue level). The committee members were Chris Kennedy (chair), Anastasia Giannakidou, Karlos Arregi, and Chris Potts, and I had extremely thought-provoking and valuable discussions with them. The experiences I had at the Ph.D. program have been my backbone as a researcher/teacher.

After earning a Ph.D., I was fortunate to conduct research at Kyoto University as a JSPS postdoc, and since the fall of 2010, I have been teaching and conducting research at Mie University. It took some time to get used to the Japanese university systems, but thanks to the support of my colleagues, I feel that I am creating a basis as a scholar and a teacher. At Mie, I co-organized various linguistics workshops/conferences with my colleagues, and I have also had opportunities to co-organize various international/domestic workshops outside the university, including local workshops such as the modality workshop and the semantics workshop in Tokai. These venues have been important for activating research.

Looking back at my past, I realize I have received much help and support from many people— my parents, family, teachers, colleagues, friends. Although I am still a developing scholar, I would like to try my best to become a full-fledged linguist. Society is changing rapidly (both globally and locally), and I feel that the study of linguistics (and the humanities in general) is becoming more and more important. Although I have focused on theoretical linguistics, I would also like to think about how linguistics in general and my research in particular can contribute to society.


Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2017 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List needs your support!

Opening of the 4th LINGUIST List Lottery!

Dear Readers,

We have a winner for our 3rd lottery! Congratulations to the winner of a double prize: one book of your choice from the Multilingual Matters online catalog and a free subscription to the Journal: Anthropological Linguistics, published by University of Nebraska Press!

We’re now pleased to announce the FOURTH Lottery of the season! Last week we had one winner of two prizes… but this week, we have TWO draws, and one the winners get TWO prizes!

1st prize: Knowledge about Language, Book 6 of the Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd Edition, published by Springer AND a free subscription to the Journal of Anthropological Linguistics, published by the University of Nebraska Press

2nd prize: the Book of your Choice from Multilingual Matters! http://www.multilingual-matters.com/

Enter the Lottery here: http://funddrive.linguistlist.org/donate/ From your amount, each 10 dollar buys you a raffle ticket!

Thanks for your support, and good luck!

Fun Fact: Query Edition – or how you can use the LINGUIST List for your own research

Hey everyone,

The Query submission area, while lower in submissions than Jobs, Conferences and Books, is another valuable area of the LINGUIST List. The Query section allows linguists like you to ask research questions and seek participation in studies. This region of the LINGUIST List directly impacts the research that you do.

We asked our Query submitters about the relevancy of the responses they received to their research. We had 29 responses. 86% said that the responses they received were directly relevant to their research.

You can help us keep this service going by supporting us at funddrive.linguistlist.org

Featured Linguist: Gillian Ramchand

Featured Linguist: Gillian Ramchand

My mother is from Scotland and my father is from Trinidad. When those two met in Edinburgh and had kids, they eventually ended up living in the Caribbean, first Jamaica and then Trinidad. The world was less connected then. I grew up in a tropical paradise, which I despised for its smallness and lack of connection to the world. I could not wait to get out. (Now I am much more appreciative). When I was 14 I wanted to be an Astrophysicist. My favourite book was a book on physics and philosophy and I spent many fruitless hours trying to get my head around quantum mechanics. I’m sure I must have been unbearable. I applied to universities in the Big World outside and got funding to go to MIT for my undergraduate education where I double majored in Math and Philosophy. The MIT decision was a turning point— it could have been very easily another university and another path. I remember filling out the forms to accept Princeton, and waking up at six am to retrieve the envelope so that my mother wouldn’t mail it, and replacing it with the envelope accepting MIT instead. If I hadn’t gone to MIT, I would not have taken my first linguistics class as an undergrad in the philosophy programme. It was with Sylain Bromberger, and I remember my epiphany moment. He put the following sentence up on the board `The girl saw the boy with the telescope’, and drew two different structures corresponding to the two different meanings. That just exploded in my head. Ever since then, I have been obsessed with the syntax-semantics interface and particularly structural meaning.

While I was an MIT undergraduate, I joined the incoming graduate class and took classes with Ken Hale, Richard Larson and Jim Higginbotham who were my first teachers and inspiration. I am also embarrassed, but grateful to Noam Chomsky for agreeing to do an independent study with a cocky undergraduate on Burzio’s generalization, when I was so green and naïve it hurts to remember it.

I went to Stanford to do my PhD. I turned down MIT for grad school because my boyfriend at the time had been admitted to Berkeley for a PhD in English Literature, and then eventually also Stanford. It turned out to be a good choice since I got a wider exposure to different theories of grammar than I would have got otherwise and I was constantly on the back foot to justify my own approach to things, as opposed to being part of a dominant paradigm. I think it taught me to think more openly and critically, and reinforced my dislike of being a member of a club, any club. I also met my great linguistic friend, colleague and collaborator Miriam Butt who even now keeps me up to speed with the latest doings in LFG and computational things. Stanford is also the place where I met K.P. Mohanan and started my lifelong work and interest in South Asian languages, particularly Bengali. Mo never let you relax. He pushed you to always question, and think things through from first principles, and never to accept dogma or sloppy thinking.

Another pivotal moment during grad school was going to Edinburgh one summer to learn Scottish Gaelic just because. What a great language! It inspired me with great challenges for problem solving when I was getting bogged down with theory internal concerns. Scottish Gaelic is still one of my very favourite languages.

My first job after my dissertation was at Oxford University, where I was hired by Jim Higginbotham as University lecturer in General Linguistics. I stayed there 10 years. Those were good years, and I learned a lot about teaching by teaching extremely smart people. I taught standard GB theory and began to feel very dissatisfied with it, and dissatisfied with the lack of progress being made on interface issues. After a bit of a lull in motivation, where I did a lot of Scottish Gaelic singing, I started to get interested in linguistic theory again thanks to newly found colleagues and linguistic buddies David Adger and Peter Svenonius whose enthusiasm for syntax made me realise that there was exciting and brilliant new work out there and that I wanted to be part of that conversation.

For me, the great thing about linguistic research is the constant dialectic between the empirical and the theoretical. Maybe that is the same in any science, but in linguistic theory it feels as though those interrelations and feedback loops are at a degree of granularity to be perceived and appreciated on the practical day to day level rather than at an institutional or historical scales. Linguistics is unique for the richness and continuous stimulation of its data, dripping from almost any language you bother to look at carefully for more than two seconds, and which is accessible to anyone without fancy equipment or big counting devices. On the theory side, I like symbolic elegance and simplicity and I like the fact that we are in a field where most things have not been figured out yet. I also like the fact that language is so deeply connected to human minds and how we think as a species. The human brain is the final frontier for science, and linguistic theory is going to have big part to play in helping to figure that stuff out.

I joined the Linguistics department at the University of Tromsø in 2004 when they became a national centre of excellence, CASTL. This was another pivotal moment. I am extremely happy that I ended up in Norway, a country that I knew nothing about and would never have thought of emigrating to, but which now has become my home: beautiful landscape, a mature and humane democracy, with equal measures of equality and freedom. And the linguistics is not so bad either. I have the freedom to do my research, and pursue my own ideas about things. I still work at the syntax-semantics interface, and I still don’t belong to any club.


Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2017 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List needs your support!