Author: Everett Green

A Personal Request to Linguists around the World

A PERSONAL REQUEST TO LINGUISTS AROUND THE WORLD
(A letter from one of our founding members)

Dear LINGUIST List Readers,

It is with sadness that I read that after six weeks LL currently still is far off from the target needed to maintain LL in the next year. And it is with sadness that I read only about 200 (!!!) out of ‘thousands of linguists’ decided to contribute to the fund-raising goal. It really is a sad state of affairs if people who actually benefit hugely by the information made available by LL do/did not consider making a very much needed contribution to maintaining one of the most important resources of our profession.

Without LL we as linguists would be lost. Where else will we find out about new publications (books, theses, etc) and planned conferences (a huge variety) internationally? You are quite right when you ask:

What would happen if LINGUIST List was not there tomorrow?
What would this mean for you and your colleagues, for your students?
What would this mean for the linguists in smaller institutions without big funding?
What would this mean for linguists in other countries?

As someone from far away (South Africa) I can confirm that the international part of my career of 42 years has been made possible by LL. LL enabled me to see which conferences I could attend (Europa, USA, Africa, Australasia, Asia, etc.), which conferences would suit my research better, who would attend these conferences (always a nice network opportunity), where I could apply for funding. Due to LL I could find out about important new publications in my fields of specialization. Therefore: without LL being a linguist in South Africa would have been a lot tougher then it already is due to the distance from other continents. As an example: because of LL I recently was able to virtually participate in a conference in Tbilisi, Georgia.

As I consider myself a ‘founding member’ of the LL (I had already started to use LL and its predecessor at the beginning – 1992 I think) I have the confidence to plead with linguists elsewhere in the world to consider making a contribution. If everyone of the “thousands of linguists” in the world (wherever they are) send the equivalent of $20-30 LL will have more than enough for the next year. And then everyone should make it an annual habit to contribute.

I especially want to urge linguists from Africa to wake up and contribute to an absolute worthy cause (it is very easy to do it by means of a credit card). In my own case I contributed $100 – which in SA rand is a lot of money due to the exchange rate. But I believe I have a professional obligation to keep the LL going as I personally benefited a lot from LL throughout my career. And because of me, many linguists in SA also benefited since I regularly forwarded relevant information to them.

Nowadays I am retired but I still check the mail from LL every day – and then I forward applicable information to younger linguists in my country. And I regularly see applicable publications which must be ordered and read, like recently with Normativity in Language and Linguistics (see https://benjamins.com/catalog/slcs.209#).

Therefore, to all linguists: Help LL to continue their mission (on our behalf!), i.e. ‘to connect linguists from different universities all over the world, different countries and different frameworks. Help them to continue telling us about the conferences we organize, the books we wrote (or are considering writing), new books in our fields, the vacancies we want to fill, the funding opportunities for students, the grants we can apply for, the ideas we want to share’.

PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO LL ON YOUR OWN BEHALF. YOU REALLY CANNOT EXPECT ALL THIS FOR FREE.

Kind regards from South Africa

Prof Wannie Carstens
Nowadays extra-ordinary professor in Afrikaans linguistics
North-West University
Potchefstroom South Africa

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Please support the LL editors and operation with a donation at:
https://funddrive.linguistlist.org/donate/

Rising Stars: Meet Hye Min Yoon!

Dear Linguist List Readers,

For this week’s rising star we have Hye Min Yoon, a senior at Emory College of Arts and Sciences in the Linguistics program. She’s been engaged in research since her sophomore year and as an undergrad is already submitting papers to journals as the first author. For one project, she is working on teaching Korean verbal honorific morphology through concept-based instruction to L2 and Heritage Language learners. For another she is working on the factors that influence the acquisition of Korean honorifics. On top of the aforementioned, she is a member of Emory’s Linguistic circle, is studying psycholinguistics, and is conducting an honors thesis on the effects of meditation and deep breathing on L2 learning. That’s a lot! There’s always more to add to the list of accomplishments when it comes to our Rising Stars so let’s get to her piece!

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The scientific study of language has opened a unique window into the brain and developed into an integral part of understanding the neurological processes and cognitive functioning of humans. In particular, the subfield of second language acquisition and its intersections with cognitive psychology and neuroscience have created the space for researchers to work together towards a future of better supporting learners of all backgrounds and experiences, by enhancing their cognition.

Building on the current literature, my greatest curiosity stems from the relations between psychophysiology and second language acquisition. My research questions include the role of sleep-dependent memory consolidation in language learning, the effect of slow, deep breathing and oxygen saturation on students’ focus and attention in the foreign language classroom, and the efficacy of cardiorespiratory synchronization in facilitating hippocampal improvement when acquiring a second language.

Currently, I am working to bridge these interdisciplinary research gaps under the guidance of my incredible mentor professors through my B.A. honors thesis, in which I analyze the impact of short-term abdominal breath-control on second language word learning. Through this empirical study, I am hoping to explore the cost-free method of breath-control that could potentially strengthen not only students in the foreign language classroom but also those in classrooms of diverse areas of study, empowering learners of different ages across the world and particularly those who are disadvantaged and may not have had equal opportunities to enhance their cognition.

The greater picture of my research interests addresses the relationship between well-being and academic performance. Especially given the recent circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have reported increased levels of anxiety and depression and difficulty in concentrating on their academic work. I believe that groundbreaking approaches to cultivating psychophysiological well-being that can generalize to education as a whole can be examined through the empirical study of second language acquisition, given recent research with findings that demonstrate practical methods, such as mindful breathing, to lower foreign language anxiety as a starting point.

The study of linguistics constantly drives me to ask research questions which I hope to pursue by embarking on a Ph.D. program in second language acquisition following my undergraduate career. I hope to further contribute to the field of linguistics and its interwoven disciplines by eventually becoming a research professor, and I look forward to collaborating with scholars from different fields for the rest of my life.

However, what excites me the most is that the field of linguistics, to say the least, is a tool of empowerment to change the future of education—and I am so beyond grateful to be able to find my identity within it.

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If you have not yet– please visit our Fund Drive page (https://funddrive.linguistlist.org) to learn more about us and why we need your help! The LINGUIST List relies on your generous donations to continue its support of linguists around the world.

Our sincere thanks,
— The LL Team

 

Staff Letter: Everett Green

Hello Linguist Listers,

My name is Everett Green, and after a bit of shuffling around of our roles here at the LINGUIST List, I am once again the calls and conferences editor. I also handle all of the smaller submission areas (i.e. FYI’s, Software, Media, Discussions, etc.)

I’m a dual PhD in computational linguistics and cognitive science at our host institution Indiana University and between the two majors I have been able to research everything from evolutionary algorithms and animal population dynamics to abusive language detection in online spaces. Specifying my interests has not been easy but over time I think I have settled into the idea that I would like to help improve (or create) tools that assist other researchers in doing their jobs more efficiently. There are many ways to do this so I still have my work cut out for me but none of what I have done so far would have been possible without the immense support that the LINGUIST List has given me.

Having worked here for 4 years as of this past May, I have seen a lot of discourse in the linguistics community and I’m happy to have facilitated so many researchers in meeting one another and exchanging great ideas. As has been mentioned before, this exchange of ideas also benefits us as editors working here at the LINGUIST List since we are exposed to some of these exchanges and thus learn a lot through osmosis. Also, as we progress through our education with the help of the LINGUIST List, we are eventually able to contribute to the community as researchers ourselves (some of us already are). As a result, your donations not only enable us as students to continue our own education but they also enhance the LINGUIST List’s ability to connect researchers like yourselves with one another across international boundaries.

Covid has been hard on many of us mentally and financially so thank you for helping keep our community alive through your contributions.

Best wishes,
Everett Green

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If you have not yet– please visit our Fund Drive page (https://funddrive.linguistlist.org) to learn more about us and why we need your help! The LINGUIST List relies on your generous donations to continue its support of linguists around the world.

Our sincere thanks,
— The LL Team

Rising Stars: Meet Sean Foley!

Dear Linguist List Readers,

For this week’s rising star we have Sean Foley who is a 2nd year MA student making waves in the linguistics department at UNC Chapel Hill. According to his professors, when he entered the program he already had the level of fieldwork experience and participation in professional activities expected of a PhD student. Sean recently presented a paper on “The acoustics of apical vowels in two endangered Ngwi languages” at the annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society and another on “naruo: an endangered Ngwi language spoken in Yunnan, China” at the International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. This is all on top of the fact that he’s shown the ability to learn and apply new theoretical concepts in his studies very quickly. As usual, Sean’s list of accomplishments is too long for this preamble so here is his piece…

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There are a number of areas within linguistics that I am particularly excited about. First, as once stated by linguist Mark Liberman, we are in the midst of the “golden age of speech and language science”. Advances in tools such as forced aligners, automatic phonetic measurement, and computational modelling currently allow speech scientists the ability to more easily parse through large speech corpora and derive acoustic measurements. These emerging technologies have led to the birth of what is being termed “corpus phonetics”, which, as a young subfield of linguistics, has the potential to lead to major advancements in the phonetics-phonology interface and phonetic/phonological theory in general.

Second, and along the same lines, corpus phonetics and advances in machine learning and natural language processing are beginning to form a bridge to one of the great challenges facing the field of linguistics – language endangerment. Documentation of the world’s linguistic diversity is undoubtedly urgent, considering that a majority of the world’s languages are endangered and may no longer be spoken in the next 50 years. Applying these computational  methods to language documentation has the tremendous potential to not only expedite the documentation process but to also bring more endangered languages into the digital realm. Furthermore, one linguist recently describe to me how he was using deep learning and automatic speech recognition (ASR) to aid in language documentation. What’s fascinating is that, as I understand it, this technology cannot only support these languages, but these languages can in turn aid in the development of ASR technology that has mainly been trained on majority languages.

Third, in connection to language documentation, an exciting development is how the laboratory phonology movement is starting to branch out into the field. More and more linguists have begun taking portable ultrasound machines into the field to get articulatory data on under documented languages, while others have begun to adapt speech perception experiments for the field. Couple these innovations with the areas above and what the future holds is widely  accessible speech corpora from a diverse array of languages, which include potentially not only acoustic data, but also articulatory data. As an aspiring phonetician, the three areas discussed  above are absolutely thrilling developments.

Personally, my plan is to continue my studies and enter a PhD program in linguistics. During this time, my goal is to combine laboratory phonology and fieldwork, with the premise that the description of endangered languages and phonological/phonetic theory inform one another. My hope is that such work can not only combat language endangerment, but can lead to progress in phonetic/phonological theory, while also leading to advancements in speech science technology.

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If you have not yet– please visit our Fund Drive page (https://funddrive.linguistlist.org) to learn more about us and why we need your help! The LINGUIST List relies on your generous donations to continue its support of linguists around the world.

Our sincere thanks,
— The LL Team

Risings Stars: Meet Janani Ramadurai!

Dear Linguist List Readers,

For this week’s rising star we have Janani Ramadurai who is in her senior year at the University of North Carolina where she is working on a Linguistics and Neuroscience double major along with a computer science minor. For her studies, she is interested in how children acquire language with and without cognitive deficits in different sociolinguistic environments. As with all of our Rising Stars, Janani’s list of achievements is long but to give you a preview, here are just a few… She is currently beginning her second year as the president of the Undergrad linguistics club, she has taken (and excelled at) several higher level classes aimed at graduate students, and she has conducted independent research with Professor Elika Bergelson at Duke. She presented this research at the Undergrad Research Symposium last spring! Impressive work, indeed. This preamble is getting long so let’s get to Janani’s piece.

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The field of linguistics is such a diverse and dynamic area of study, given that the languages we use are changing every single day! We have expanded our field to not only encompass different human languages but also different modes and even non-human forms of communication. Due to this rapid increase in physical and virtual dialogue, linguists have been given a new, seemingly infinite source of data from which to enhance the study of language.

Understanding how language is acquired and developed — whether that is spoken language, nonverbal communication, or AI interaction — is a topic that requires more exploration. I believe that, with today’s society undergoing monumental changes that will affect us for many years to come, such as advancements in technology and a wider variety of languages being taught to children, linguistics is rising to the forefront with regards to identifying productive and inclusive ways to raise future generations.

There are a multitude of questions that remain unanswered, with my research ranging from analyzing the validity of caretaker reports on child language comprehension to understanding the various social and environmental influences on language development. In order to keep up with technological advancements, we have now created a space to observe human interactions with artificial intelligence. When it comes to their child’s language development, it is important for parents to be aware of all the factors that play into an individual’s language acquisition.

My interest in sociolinguistics, language acquisition, and cognitive science motivates me to fill in these gaps in our current literature. Since technology is growing to play such a huge role in our everyday lives, I anticipate that we will begin to rely more on AI to help our children cultivate their language development skills. Computational linguists as well as individuals specializing in cognitive science and language acquisition will be at the forefront of this campaign, helping us figure out how to capitalize on our interactions with AI in order to enhance our language. But our involvement with artificial intelligence is only part of the story: I hope to learn more about how we interact with each other and apply that knowledge to aid children from different backgrounds in developing their language skills. I believe that the current research I am involved in — which looks at the influence that the social environment of a child has on their language comprehension and production — is the first step to understanding this bigger picture.

In addition to contributing to the research regarding language acquisition, I plan on receiving a Master’s degree in Linguistics at UNC before gaining some work experience and eventually earning a PhD in Neuroscience or Cognitive Science. I hope to pursue a career in research and academia and have the opportunity to share my work and experience with others as invested in language acquisition and development as me!

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If you have not yet– please visit our Fund Drive page (https://funddrive.linguistlist.org) to learn more about us and why we need your help! The LINGUIST List relies on your generous donations to continue its support of linguists around the world.

Our sincere thanks,
— The LL Team

 

Rising Stars: Meet Asya Yurchenko!

Dear Linguist List Readers,

For the first rising star of 2021 we have Asya Yurchenko, an MA student making her meteoric rise at Technische Universität Dresden. She has run and participated in a number of interesting experiments. These include creating a corpus of English in Indian newspapers (along with the web crawler necessary to attain the data) and working on a project on English in Madeira in cooperation with linguists from TU Dresden and TU Dortmund. She’s been involved in not just one but two joint publications accepted by high-profile journals in corpus linguistics and English linguistics. This is only a sliver of what Asya has accomplished and we expect to see great things from her in the future. For now, let’s get to her piece!

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One of the biggest strengths of linguistics, for me, is its multidisciplinary nature. Because of how central language is to the human experience, its connection to practically all areas of our lives cannot be understated. This makes cooperation between linguistics and other fields such as psychology, anthropology, neurobiology, law, social and forensic sciences as well as computer science a logical endeavor. In the future, I foresee these multidisciplinary ties becoming even stronger, with linguists being able to contribute even more to different fields where our expertise might be required. For instance, although the discipline of forensic linguistics is already thriving, with experts in the field constantly contributing important findings to the existing body of knowledge, I expect to see forensic linguists and other forensic experts working together more closely in the future on a variety of language-related elements of crime. Furthermore, I foresee linguists entering and contributing more to those areas of research which, at the moment, are still mainly considered to be the domain of computer science, such as Natural Language Processing, AI, human-machine interaction, etc.

Two areas from the sphere of computer science that I would like to see more linguists participate in are fake news detection and automatic text summarization. With the ongoing pandemic and the countless misinformation campaigns which have been disseminated since its outset, as well as with the rise of populist, social media-savvy politicians and insidious conspiracy theories, the need for effective fake news identification and labelling has never been greater. In my opinion, fake news detection is an incredibly important area of research on which linguists, computer scientists, forensic experts and psychologists alike can collaborate (hello again, multidisciplinarity!).

Automatic text summarization (ATS), to me, is another area of great relevance. With the enormous, ever-increasing volume of information we are confronted with every day, most of which we simply do not have the time to process, ATS has the task of making it significantly easier to handle. While the complex cognitive process of how humans summarize information is a fascinating subject of study in itself, a question ATS asks is how can we get a computer algorithm to approximate it in order to produce concise, meaningful summaries? Furthermore, with huge advancements having been made over the past decades on automatic summaries of news articles and scientific papers, ATS researchers are now turning their attention to other text genres, such as books, screenplays, opinion pieces, Twitter threads, as well as tasks like multi-document and user-guided summarizations. Such a wide variety of text types, approaches and methods makes this an incredible field for experimentation and (again!) collaboration for experts from different fields, most importantly linguistics and computer science. It is also something I can see myself contributing my unique perspective to in the future.

However the future of linguistics may look, I am sure that it will continue to be filled with innovation, experimentation and creativity, which are some of the qualities I cherish the most about the field. I will forever be grateful to my advisor and mentor Prof. Dr. Claudia Lange for fostering these qualities in her students by encouraging us to always think outside the box and come up with research ideas which are bold, original and exciting. And, most importantly, to have fun with our research! Without her encouragement, I do not see myself having ever attempted to quantify estrangement in the language of Futurama for ICAME or having created a verbal lie detection method for my master’s thesis using the British comedy show Would I Lie to You? as my research database. It is this opportunity to be creative and come up with unique ways of doing research that, for me, makes linguistics one of the most innovative sciences. As a research associate and PhD student-to-be, I look forward to fostering boundless experimentation and creativity in my own future students and imparting on them the value of unique ideas.

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If you have not yet– please visit our Fund Drive page (https://funddrive.linguistlist.org) to learn more about us and why we need your help! The LINGUIST List relies on your generous donations to continue its support of linguists around the world.

Our sincere thanks,
— The LL Team

The First 2021 Challenges Update!

Hello LINGUIST Listers,

A big thanks to all of our early donators who have gotten us past the 10% mark. We are currently at 12.52% of our goal so with this challenge update we will take a look at who got us there.

In the subfield challenge, we have Syntax, one of our most prominent fields, in the lead with $645 donated. In second place we have Sociolinguistics with $500 donated and in third place we have $463 from Applied Linguistics. In 4th and 5th places we have Language Documentation at $400 and trailing only $2 behind we have General Linguistics at $398.

For the region challenge we have North America in 1st place with 49 donors. In second place we have Europe with 28 donors and in 3rd place we have Asia with 4 donors.

For the 3rd and often most competitive challenge we have the University Challenge. We will announce these in reverse order to to build a bit of suspense. In 5th place we have the Linguist List’s home school of Indiana University Bloomington with $115 donated. In 4th place we have the University of California, Santa Barbara with $200 donated. In 3rd place we have Carleton University, also with $200 donated. In 2nd place we have Arizona State University with a well-appreciated $250 and in 1st place we have…

*drum roll*

The University of South Carolina with a whopping $425 donated!

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far and if you haven’t donated, consider doing so to help your group get ahead before the next challenge update.

With gratitude,
— The LL Team

 

Holiday Recess

Dear Subscribers,

The LINGUIST List will be on its holiday recess from Friday December 18, 2020 until Monday January 4, 2021.

During that time, except for emergencies, we cannot guarantee to post issues. Although the website will be available, some pages may not be updated during that time.

Except for emergencies, submissions we receive after December 16, 2020 will most likely not be posted until after we return on January 4, 2021.

Anyone wishing to submit an emergency message, please enter ‘URGENT’ in the subject line of the submission and send an email notification to [email protected]

We wish you a happy and safe holiday season and a fruitful new year. Thank you for your continued support of The LINGUIST List!

Thank you,
– The LL Team

Cyber Monday Reminder: Shop via AmazonSmile to support LINGUIST List!

Dear Linguists,

If you’re planning on shopping on Amazon this Cyber Monday, you can support LINGUIST List at no extra cost by selecting the Elinguistics Foundation as your charity of choice via Amazon Smile!

It’s that easy: Shop for gifts at smile.amazon.com/ch/45-4211155  and Amazon will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchase value at no cost to you. This calendar year, LINGUIST List has received approx. $700 as of the beginning of November. You could increase this number easily at no cost to yourself. Simply choose us as your favorite charity!

On your first visit to smile.amazon.com, you need to select a charitable organization to receive donations. As LINGUIST List is just an internet creature, we use Elinguistics Foundation (a registered US 501(c)(3) public charitable organization with the legal address in Grosse Pointe, Michigan) to help us collect donations via Amazon Smile.  AmazonSmile will occasionally contact you about donation amounts disbursed to your chosen charity or about the program.

Make a difference this holiday. Choose us as your favorite charity!

…and of course, if you would like to make a direct donation you can still do so by visiting our fund drive website here: https://funddrive.linguistlist.org/donate/

Thank you from the LINGUIST List

Dear all,

We are wrapping up for this year! We have collected approximately $24,000 in donations from 43 countries! The winner in the University Challenge this year is Indiana University, with Wayne State University in second place, and the University of South Carolina in the third place. Special thanks go to the colleagues at the University of South Carolina, the institution with the highest number of individual supporters. In the Subfield Challenge, the winner is: Syntax!

Thank you all from the heart for your generous support. I hope this is as encouraging for you as it is for us here to be a part of this huge community and to participate in something of non-local importance.

If you did not have a chance to donate you can still do this; crowd funding remains open for your donations: https://crowdfunding.iu.edu/the-linguist-list

I want to wish you all a happy holiday season. Thank you!

Malgosia Cavar,
on behalf of The LINGUIST List team