Month: March 2012

Publications Manager Danniella Hornby Explains the True Meaning of Fund Drive

I first joined The LINGUIST List as an intern in the summer of 2010,
and often heard the other students and employees trade horror stories
of “Fund Drive” and how difficult and exhausting it can be. They all
worked so hard and wanted to find new and creative ways of encouraging
people to support the work that they loved to do; work that benefits
everyone in the linguistics community. At the time, I didn’t
understand what Fund Drive was or why it was so important. But now –
two years and countless LINGUIST projects later – I walk into the
office every day and I understand. Please give something to support
our organization today:

The LINGUIST List has provided me with experience and skills and
allowed me to work alongside the most motivated and hardworking
students I could imagine. But most significantly, it has opened my
eyes to the importance – and necessity – of free and accessible

I missed my opportunity to write to you during the 2010 Fund Drive –
if I had, I would have said that I hoped you would consider supporting
a fantastic organization, because working on grant projects and
editing Ask-a-Linguist questions had already opened my eyes to what a
valuable resource the LINGUIST List is. Last year, I wrote to you as a
bright new graduate student and a new editor of Journal Calls, and
hoped that you would feel my excitement at having returned to
LINGUIST. This year, as the Publications Manager at LINGUIST, I write
to you in the hopes that you will appreciate what a valuable training
ground LINGUIST is and how dedicated we are to what we do.

I know that when my time at LINGUIST and at EMU comes to a close,
there will be new interns and new graduate assistants who are eager to
step up and continue the work that we all do and love at LINGUIST
List. By donating to the fund drive, you can help ensure that, each
year, students will continue to have this opportunity.

Danniella Hornby
Publications Manager

Linguist of the Day: Martin Haspelmath!

We’re delighted to announce that our latest Linguist of the Day is Martin Haspelmath!  Dr. Haspelmath is best known for his work in comparative syntax, morphology, language contact, and linguistic universals.  His tale begins:

I find biographies of people, and especially of linguists, a fascinating subject, and I think it’s a wonderful idea to ask linguists how they got into the field. But my own story does not really contain any surprising elements, at least at the beginning: I got fascinated by languages early on, beginning with a Spanish course on the West German radio (“Vamos a España,” a very easy course in 20 lessons of 15 minutes each, geared to tourists) that I listened to when I was 14 years old…

Does Dr. Haspelmath’s story contain surprising elements after the beginning?  You bet!  Read on at the Hall of Heroes…

Upcoming Language Mapping Workshop: An Introduction to the LL-MAP Scholar’s Workbench

The Institute for Language Information and Technology (ILIT) at Eastern Michigan University invites any interested students and faculty for a mapping tutorial on April 13, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. in Halle Library Room 111. This tutorial will introduce the LL-MAP database and provide a hands-on demonstration of the LL-MAP Scholar’s Workbench.

LL-MAP (Language and Location: A Map Accessibility Project, is a database of maps with geospatially-referenced information about existing languages.  LL-MAP also includes a user-friendly online interface which organizes linguistic, geographic and social sciences information into customizable map layers.  Scholars and students can use the newly-updated database interface to query and compare language maps, draw new hypotheses about language, layer different maps together, and even share a map on Facebook!

Another feature of LL-MAP that has recently been released is the Scholar’s Workbench.  In this workspace, scholars can upload their own data or use existing datasets to create new maps showing their hypotheses about linguistic phenomena. In this workshop, we will be demonstrating the possibilities of this dynamic and user-friendly uploading facility. In a hands-on demonstration, participants will go through the process of turning data into a language map by uploading a data set as well as styling and describing it.

Registration is free but space is limited. Please go to the following web address to register:

For questions, contact Amy Brunett ([email protected]).

April 13, 2012, 11 AM –1 PM
Halle Library, EMU, Room 111

About the LL-MAP database…..11:00-11:15
How the Scholar’s Workbench works…..11:15-11:30
The Uploader in action: Hands-on demo…..11:30-12:30

Voices from LSA 2012

At January’s LSA meeting, we invited visitors to our office hours to record vlogs (an adorable portmanteau of video + blog, for those new to the term) describing what they like about LINGUIST List.  Several folks were kind enough to sit down and record some video testimonials.  A few choice quotes:

“I just want to give a shout out to LINGUIST List for all they’ve done to help facilitate linguistic communication within the field.”  -Gary Holton, Alaska Native Language Center

“It’s really useful as a discipline to have a clearinghouse of all this information.  A lot of other disciplines don’t have that… I’m really glad LINGUIST List exists.”  -Stephanie Morse, University of California, Santa Barbara

“Do you want to find out what people are talking about in linguistics?  You can go to LINGUIST List. It’s a great resource.  It’s made a huge difference for me.”  -Marianna Di Paolo, Center for American Indian Languages

“I look at LINGUIST List every single day.  It’s my link to the world of linguistics.” -Julia James, Independent Researcher 

We’d love to hear from other users! Send us your videos with accolades, suggestions, or general comments about LINGUIST, and we’ll feature them on the blog and Facebook!

Linguist of the Day: Jean Berko Gleason!

Here at LL Headquarters, there are a lot of wugs to be seen.  Homemade wug clocks.  Wug magnets.  Wug mugs (say it ten times fast).  Even a couple of wug tattoos.  The adorable little mascot of language acquisition studies is a beloved staple around here.

That is partly why we are so delighted to feature as our Linguist of the Day Dr. Jean Berko Gleason, who in addition to the Wug Test has done a great deal of amazing work in the field of psycholinguistics.  She shares with LINGUIST readers the story of how she came to be a linguist, excerpted here:

“The languages, and the literature we read, The Wild Duck in Norwegian, for instance, and parts of the Mahabharata in Sanskrit were absorbing, but they were not really what I was looking for. Quite by happenstance, I enrolled during my senior year in a new course called the Psychology of Speech and Communication, taught by a young assistant professor named Roger Brown, who had recently arrived from the University of Michigan.  The lectures were a revelation, beautifully organized, and full of startling ideas…”

Read more at the Hall of Heroes!

Linguist of the Day: Mamoru Saito!

We are pleased to announce that Mamoru Saito is our newest Linguist of the Day!  Dr. Saito is renowned for his work with syntactic theory, comparative syntax, and the structure of Japanese; however, he wasn’t always a prominent syntactician.  Visit the Hall of Heroes to read his tale of how he found his way to linguistics; his story begins:


Mamoru Saito

My path to linguistics was probably a bit unusual. I was already 24 when I started studying linguistics in 1978. I was fortunate to receive three key pieces of advice that led me into the field.

I was stubborn, independent and in retrospect, stupid when I was a teenager in Japan. I pretty much ignored schoolwork and spent much of my time reading novels and philosophy books. That continued until I suddenly felt that there were more things I ought to know and that I wanted to be “taught.”

What were the three pieces of advice?  Read more and find out!

A Word from Lwin Moe, LL Programmer and All-Around Cool Dude

Dear LINGUIST List Subscribers,

I am Lwin Moe, a programmer here at LINGUIST List. I am originally from Burma, also known as Myanmar. I came to work at LINGUIST List as an intern two summers ago, and came back as a programmer after graduating from Indiana University. Before I tell you more about myself and how much I have learned about linguistics and technology through LINGUIST List, here is a link to donate if you will:

I learned about LINGUIST List while working at the Center for Research in Computational Linguistics in Bangkok ( I had to work with linguistic resources, particularly for Southeast Asia, and came across OLAC (Open Language Archives Community), of which LINGUIST List is a partner. I learned best practices for the digital archiving of language resources through OLAC and LINGUIST List.

While working in Bangkok, I also came to know great linguists from Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Australia, UK and USA because Bangkok seemed to be the hub of the region for linguists interested in Southeast Asian languages.

These linguists and LINGUIST List inspired me so much that I decided to come to Indiana University (IU) to study linguistics. While studying at IU’s Linguistics Department, I saw an announcement for an internship at LINGUIST List. I decided to apply and was accepted to work as an intern in the summer of 2010. I was involved in MultiTree project ( and several others.

I enjoyed working here and decided to come back after graduating from Indiana University in December, 2010. I was able to become a part of the LINGUIST List crew because of your support. I would like to take this opportunity to request a small donation from you to support what we do here. We would not be able to provide the linguistics community with these valuable resources if it were not for your generous support. Here is the link to donate:

Thank you,
Lwin Moe

LINGQUEST Saga, Chapter 2: The Data Graveyard

You voted with your donations, and you have made your voices heard: both the Tenuous Career Path and the Data Graveyard were appealing options for the next LINGQUEST story installment.  Roughly 45% of you chose the Tenuous Career Path, while about 55% voted to send our heroes to the Data Graveyard.  And so, this week, the Illocutionary Force find themselves headed south, where a ghastly scene awaits them….

Read Chapter 2 at the Saga page!

This week, you’ll be making the choice of which subfield’s representative is most fit to lead the Force into their next battle.  Will C-Commando, stalwart champion of Syntax, assume leadership of the Force?  Will Professor P!γαʂɮɜq proudly represent Phonetics and Phonology?  What about the Turing Myrmidon, heretofore silent scion of Computational Linguistics?  The choice is in your hands– donate now to vote for your subfield!

A Letter from LINGUIST Tech Hero Erica Wicks

Dear Subscribers,

I came to The LINGUIST List as a bright-eyed classicist straight out of undergrad. With an arsenal of Latin conjugations and Greek declensions and a fascination for language, I aimed to infiltrate the world of linguistics in graduate school. Well, my fascination and enthusiasm were certainly laudable, but to think that I was prepared to tackle the intricacies of X-bar and lambda calculus armed with aorist tense paradigms was laughable.

But, luckily, I have The LINGUIST List, an excellent online resource at my fingertips to help out whenever I have questions that need answering. And so do you! Please donate today to keep the site and listserv alive:

As a student worker at The LINGUIST List, I get daily hands-on experience with the world of linguistics, creating tools and providing a service for people like you. Among other opportunities, I help edit submissions to the LINGUIST List Notice Board, which is designed to help you find resources for personal linguistic research. You can check out or submit to our Notice Board by visiting:

The LINGUIST List has provided me with the resources I need to not just study in linguistics but to thrive in it. And these resources aren’t just available to me, but to all of you as well! So please help show your support for a group that is dedicated to supporting the pool of linguistic knowledge – even those who have just waded in – by donating today:

Erica Wicks

[Editor’s note: If you enjoy any of the Fund Drive pages, Erica is one of the primary people you can thank for making them functional and beautiful.  Without her insane levels of competence and dedication, our Fund Drive site would probably just be a text file, maybe with frames or terrible tables. Donate so we can keep paying people as smart and helpful as her to run our site!]

LINGUIST of the Day: Nikolaus Himmelmann!

We’re proud to announce that our second 2012 Linguist of the Day is Nikolaus Himmelmann!  Dr. Himmelmann is renowned for his work in language documentation, typology, Austronesian and Papuan languages, and more; his story begins:

Before getting to university, I had never heard of linguistics as an academic discipline and only found out about it during my first term, when I was studying English and law. As part of the English program, I had to take an introduction to (English) linguistics and another class on the linguistic analysis of texts (nowadays widely generally known as discourse analysis). And I was immediately hooked.

Read the rest of Dr. Himmelmann’s story at the Hall of Heroes!