Author: Joshua Sims

Book Discounts from our Supporting Publishers

EXCLUSIVE OFFERS!! Big discounts on Linguistics books!

Every week, all year long, The LINGUIST List delivers to you announcements about cutting-edge publications in the field of linguistics from the world’s top publishers. Now, during our annual fund drive, several of our supporting publishers are offering exclusive discounts for our gracious donors and dedicated readers. This is the perfect time to start (or continue) building your library with top-notch linguistics-related books. The following discounts are only being offered for a limited time so don’t miss this opportunity!

**Multilingual Matters is pleased to offer 30% off your purchase when you use the discount code MEMBER30.**

**From Wiley: Please use discount code HSS20 for 20% off Wiley linguistics books. This code will be valid until October 31, 2021.**

**Cambridge Scholars Publishing is offering 23 of their top linguistics titles at a 40% discount! Just use the discount code LINGLIST40 to save big on the following books:

The Influence of Spanish on the English Language since 1801: A Lexical Investigation

100 Years of Conference Interpreting: A Legacy

Naming, Identity and Tourism

From Glosses to Dictionaries: The Beginnings of Lexicography

Dictionary of Education and Assessment in Translation and Interpreting Studies (TIS)

Translation or Transcreation? Discourses, Texts and Visuals

Meaning-Focused Materials for Language Learning

From Theory to Mysticism: The Unclarity of the Notion ‘Object’ in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

Metonymy and Word-Formation: Their Interactions and Complementation

Identity and Translation Trouble

Non-Professional Subtitling

Forensic Communication in Theory and Practice: A Study of Discourse Analysis and Transcription

Being Bilingual in Borinquen: Student Voices from the University of Puerto Rico

Taking Stance in English as a Lingua Franca: Managing Interpersonal Relations in Academic Lectures

Empirical Approaches to Cognitive Linguistics: Analyzing Real-Life Data

Bilingualism and Minority Languages in Europe: Current Trends and Developments

The Journeys of Besieged Languages

Conceptualizing Evolution Education: A Corpus-Based Analysis of US Press Discourse

Terminological Approaches in the European Context

Language for Specific Purposes: Research and Translation across Cultures and Media

Form, Meaning and Function in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics

Translation across Time and Space

Practice and Theory for Materials Development in L2 Learning

A huge thank you to our supporting publishers for their ever-enduring support and to you, our readers, for being here with us. The LINGUIST List community is what it is because of each of you! If you would like to contribute to this community by supporting The LINGUIST List, we kindly ask that you consider donating to our fund drive. Without donations from our readers, we would be wholly unable to exist; your donations allow us to maintain our servers, cover our expenses, and pay our dedicated editors who ensure that you receive the linguistics information that you need. Every dollar matters! To donate, use this link:

With sincere gratitude,

Your LINGUIST List team

Staff Letter: Lauren Perkins

Hello, fellow linguists!


My name is Lauren Perkins, and I recently took over as the Managing Editor, Careers Editor, and Social Media Lead. I review and post job ads and notices of opportunities for student support and internships. I’m also responsible for helping to manage our social media presence, as well as ensuring that our internal processes run smoothly. I wear a lot of hats, but I really enjoy helping people find opportunities to further their linguistic careers! Getting to interact with fellow linguists from around the world via email is always a plus as well.

I’ve worked with LINGUIST List since January of 2020, having previously served as Calls & Conferences Editor. I’m beginning my third year in the General Linguistics PhD program here at Indiana University. Currently, I’m interested in syntax, psycholinguistics, and construction grammar. Of particular interest are ways that we can connect current syntactic theory with developments in neuro- and psycholinguistics and cognitive science, hopefully providing a bridge between the theoretical and the functional. I’m also really enjoying my Field Methods class this semester, where we are working with a native speaker of Lutuv, a Tibeto-Burman language.

In my spare time, I love spending time with my husband, Sam, and our cat, B. We like relaxing at home and drinking tea, or having friends over for game nights. I also enjoy kickboxing, practicing calligraphy and embroidery, and reading novels.

I’m extremely thankful for my job at the LINGUIST List, and thankful for donors like you that make it possible. Not only does working at the LINGUIST List provide a fascinating insight into current opportunities in linguistics, as well as flexible hours (imperative for a graduate school schedule), but it also provides me with enormous financial peace of mind. Graduate school here in the US is quite expensive, and I would definitely not be able to achieve my dream of becoming a professional linguist without the tuition remission that my work at the LINGUIST List provides me with. My work at LINGUIST List was a particular silver lining during the months of quarantine, as I was able to continue my work remotely and thus also continue taking remote classes. Despite the events of 2020, I am still on-track to finish my program on time. The ability to continue working despite a global pandemic is a privilege I don’t take lightly, and I am very grateful to all of you who made that possible through your generosity.

So, a huge thank you to all of our donors, particularly those who have supported us year after year. You are our silver lining, both because you’ve supported us through this crisis and because you continue to inspire us with your tenacity and dedication to continue your work despite everything. We look forward to continuing to support you for many more years! If you enjoy the resources the LINGUIST List offers and are financially able, please consider donating to this year’s Fund Drive. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my story, and I look forward to connecting with you via email the next time you submit a job, support, or internship, or over social media!




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A Day in the Life of a LINGUIST List Editor

I have now just arrived to my desk at the LINGUIST List office, let’s get to work!


First let’s take care of some emails. It looks like we have someone interested in a book announcement, this is great! Sending out a book announcement will allow them to reach an incredibly large audience of wonderful linguists! I will be sure to send them information on becoming a supporting publisher, and all the great benefits that come along with doing so. I hope they will be interested


Next, it’s a new month, meaning new reviewers have been hand selected to review books announced here at LINGUIST List. Let’s make sure our publishers know where to send their books. I will go right ahead and send them the reviewer information. Not to worry, if they need any additional information to make the delivery, I will be happy to help.


Now it’s time to send out our new Available for Review (AFR) list. I better get this out quick, I know our reviewers are eager to choose a new book! After carefully generating the new list of books that have been announced this past month, it’s time to send it off. Have fun selecting everybody!


Now let’s send out some book announcements. It’s my job to make sure every single book is relevant to our outstanding community. It looks like these books qualify, let’s get to editing and send them out! I will take careful attention to check that these books are published and currently available, that each hyperlink is functional, that the topic is linguistically relevant, and that the description is clean and readable. After hand-editing each book, they are ready to go! Let’s send them out to the community. I hope these books will be of interest to our readers!


Now for my final task. It’s time for me to describe my daily tasks at the LINGUIST List. 


Where should I start?


Fund Drive Lottery Week 3

Week 3 of the annual LINGUIST List Fund Drive Lottery!

This year, our supporting publishers have been extraordinarily generous and are offering up more prizes than ever before. Last week alone we gave away 8 prizes of journal subscriptions and books. This week we are coming at you with even more to give away.

To enter into this week’s drawing, donate to our fund drive sometime between now and Friday, October 8. Prizes change each week so check back every week to see what’s up for grabs.

**One donation = one entry into the drawing. To donate, click this link:**


From Cambridge University Press:

Jones — Viral Discourse (

Description: This Element consists of ten short pieces written by prominent discourse analysts in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each piece focuses on a different aspect of the pandemic, from the debate over wearing face masks to the metaphors used by politicians and journalists in different countries to talk about the virus. Each of the pieces also makes use of a different approach to analysing discourse (e.g. Critical Discourse Analysis, Genre Analysis, Corpus Assisted Discourse Analysis) and demonstrates how that approach can be applied to a small set of data. The aim of the Element is to show how the range of tools available to discourse analysts can be brought to bear on a pressing, ‘real-world’ problem, and how discourse analysis can contribute to formulating ‘real-world’ solutions to the problem.

McIntosh, Mendoza-Denton — Language in the Trump Era (

Description: Early in his campaign, Donald Trump boasted that ‘I know words. I have the best words’, yet despite these assurances his speech style has sown conflict even as it has powered his meteoric rise. If the Trump era feels like a political crisis to many, it is also a linguistic one. Trump has repeatedly alarmed people around the world, while exciting his fan-base with his unprecedented rhetorical style, shock-tweeting, and weaponized words. Using many detailed examples, this fascinating and highly topical book reveals how Trump’s rallying cries, boasts, accusations, and mockery enlist many of his supporters into his alternate reality. From Trump’s relationship to the truth, to his use of gesture, to the anti-immigrant tenor of his language, it illuminates the less obvious mechanisms by which language in the Trump era has widened divisions along lines of class, gender, race, international relations, and even the sense of truth itself.

Sandoval, Denham — Thinking like a Linguist (

Description: This is an engaging introduction to the study of language for undergraduate or beginning graduate students, aimed especially at those who would like to continue further linguistic study. It introduces students to analytical thinking about language, but goes beyond existing texts to show what it means to think like a scientist about language, through the exploration of data and interactive problem sets. A key feature of this text is its flexibility. With its focus on foundational areas of linguistics and scientific analysis, it can be used in a variety of course types, with instructors using it alongside other information or texts as appropriate for their own courses of study. The text can also serve as a supplementary text in other related fields (Speech and Hearing Sciences, Psychology, Education, Computer Science, Anthropology, and others) to help learners in these areas better understand how linguists think about and work with language data. No prerequisites are necessary. While each chapter often references content from the others, the three central chapters on sound, structure, and meaning, may be used in any order.

From Wiley:

The Handbook of Psycholinguistics by Eva M. Fernández (Editor), Helen Smith Cairns (Editor) – 978-1-119-09652-8


The giveaways have only just begun! We have many more exciting offers coming your way this Fund Drive. Our supporting publishers share our vision and aim to bring linguists around the world together via the LINGUIST List.

We thank you for letting us be a part of your life and for your continued support! Every dollar donated is deeply appreciated.

With gratitude,

– Your LINGUIST List team

Challenge Update: Week 3

Dear LINGUIST List readers,


We are two weeks into the fund drive and the counter shows $9,371.00!


This is just over 23% of our goal this year! If we reach our fund-raising goal this year, $40,000, we will be able to fund approximately 2.5 months of our operations in 2022. The largest portion of our budget is to support our student editors, who thanks to your generosity will graduate without debt. Thanks to your generous support, we have remained independent and completely free to our readers for over 30 years. We want to thank all those who have already donated and encourage all of you in supporting our fund drive !


82 people have donated to the fund drive so far. We have over 20,000 subscribers, close to 60,000 unique visitors and over 10,000,000 page views per year on our web site. I am so happy that these 82 are part of our community. We owe them so much.


Thank you, syntax! Syntax leads in our discipline challenge with $1,405 donated so-far. Second place goes this week to sociolinguistics (hooray!) and third to pragmatics (hooray!). Applied Linguistics, General Linguistics and Language are all close behind. Colleagues, an individual donation can push your discipline to the top of our challenge!


The University of South Carolina has not given up the lead in the university challenge since the beginning of the fund drive! Cheers to the 10 generous donors who together donated $825. At this moment, no university seems to endanger the lead of the University of South Carolina. Temple University at Japan is still our number two, Arizona State University – number three. Five universities tie on the fourth place with $200 in donations each: University of Arizona, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of California, Santa Barbara, Carleton University and University of Amsterdam. Thank you!


The full list of our supporters this year can be found here:


Please donate, every amount counts! Thank you, linguistics!




Featured Linguist: Michał B. Paradowski

It is a great pleasure to be able to contribute to the Fund Drive for the LINGUIST List, a resource which I have relied on since my MA years, and now during each inaugural seminar meeting encourage students to subscribe to.
My adventure with linguistics officially began with my filing an application to the University of Warsaw’s Institute of English Studies. While up to that point my neighborhood and classrooms could not have been more monolingual and homogenous, I had always been drawn to other languages, even down to deciphering the mysterious ingredients and descriptions printed on foreign food packaging, or checking out translators’ footnotes/endnotes in novels.
My choice of courses at university zeroed in on Theoretical and Applied Linguistics. At the time, I also did a semester of teaching English as a foreign language in my former high school, getting many ideas from my observations of the classroom. I subsequently undertook a PhD under the supervision of Romuald Gozdawa-Gołębiowski, inspired by and expanding upon his Interface Model of comparative/contrastive ISLA. I was assigned to teach Generative Syntax 101, developing activities on the systemic and systematic mechanics of the English language. It was gratifying to see the students grasp the subject matter and ace the final exam, even those who were repeating the class. Parallel to the syntax classes, in my fresher year I again taught full-time at my old high school, which permitted gathering data for my dissertation. In the subsequent years, I focused on writing, with gainful employment restricted to the classes at the university and working as an ELT consultant for television, and a food and wine critic. Though the last of these may appear to be unrelated to linguistics, it will turn out to have more than merely anecdotal significance.
As it happened, after having won several culinary competitions and met the chefs, I interned in the kitchens of Warsaw’s hotels. While there, one of the U.S. chains asked me to help with a series of bilingual cookbooks they were planning to publish. My task was to translate, proofread and edit the content contributed by Polish chefs or other nonnative speakers of English. This assignment required familiarity with not only specialized lexis, but also the preferred structures and discourse conventions of American recipes. I approached the task by compiling a reference corpus, utilizing pre-edited and standardized recipes from a popular cookery software solution. Altogether, four bilingual cookbooks were published, but the process also led to the compilation of enough novel linguistic material to merit a couple of conference presentations and a Q1-listed journal paper. My internship at the Sheraton also paid off in a more tangible form: the contract included a clause whereby I could return to the pastry kitchen to bake a dessert for my PhD viva: a sponge base with roasted hazelnuts, followed by a layer of dark chocolate mousse, stewed Williams pear under a layer of Bourbon vanilla crème, and topped with matching glaze. I prepared the torte the day before the public defense and stored it overnight in the walk-in fridge. Then on the morning of the viva I carried it across the square to our institute, concealed it under the table (the formal green drapery was finally useful), and later served it to the committee and the guests in the audience. It was the icing on the cake, so to speak, of the various activities during my PhD days.
As in any journey, there were many other steps that fell into place naturally. One regret is an unrealized one-year Fulbright Research Grant to go to the Department of Second Language Studies, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa to work under the guidance of Bonnie Schwartz and Bob Bley-Vroman. For personal reasons, it was necessary for me to relinquish the grant and complete the dissertation ahead of time. However, an opportunity to briefly visit that department came one year later, when it hosted the Second Language Research Forum.
After graduating from the PhD program, I took a position as an assistant professor at the University of Warsaw’s Institute of Applied Linguistics. My enjoyment of teaching, learning, research, and interacting with other scholars also led me to look for opportunities to participate in inspiring conferences, which additionally permit catching up with old friends and making new ones in the field. Invitations to give guest lectures, workshops and public outreach talks have provided stimulating forums for exchanging ideas and insights with new audiences, thus far in over 30 countries.
A serendipitous accident in these wanderings took place one September day quite close to home, when walking past the old university library I stumbled upon an announcement for a workshop on language simulations. I walked in and spoke to the organizers, who graciously let me participate. It soon became clear why there had been no notice of the event at my institute: it was being organized and attended almost exclusively by physicists. I managed to understand the gist of most of the presentations, and began to ponder why linguists were not tackling the same research questions and instead seemed to be abandoning the field by walkover. One of my strengths has always been finding points of overlap and connection among different phenomena and disciplines, and a year later I got accepted to a summer school in complexity science organized by Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen and Kim Christensen from Imperial College London’s Department of Mathematics, and then to the European Conference on Complex Systems, thanks to the generosity of the late Dietrich Stauffer. Insights gained from subsequent events and readings led to two successful grant proposals applying the methodology and tools of complexity science to language phenomena. One, a small project carried out together with Łukasz Jonak, investigated the social diffusion of linguistic innovation in a microblogging site. A larger, current project financed by the National Science Centre of Poland and carried out in collaboration with six colleagues uses the tools of computational Social Network Analysis (SNA) to investigate how communication among participants in intensive immersive L2 courses influences their progress. While the importance of social networks has been recognized in the SLA community, especially among study abroad researchers, those works have typically tended to only consider learners’ egocentric networks – without obtaining equivalent reciprocal information – and have predominantly focused on communication with native speakers of the target language. The novelty of our approach lies in filling the gap by reconstructing (maximally) complete, directional weighted graphs of communication among the learners, as well as using a range of computational metrics, measures and algorithms that have been a staple in contemporary network science, though not in L2 research, despite their great utility. The first papers from the project can already be accessed at We are currently seeking collaborators, so if anyone reading this is aware of intensive language courses being offered in this or next academic year, please share the information and get in touch with us – some remuneration is foreseen, as well as the potential for joint publications.
I have found it immensely motivating and inspiring to be able to learn about and straddle different disciplines, exchange ideas and work alongside skilled colleagues who bring different competencies to the table. For instance, my projects so far have benefitted from collaboration with a sociologist, psychologists, an anthropologist and ethnographer, computer scientists, a physicist, an epidemiologist, and education researchers. The interdisciplinary character of the research has expanded the scope of its outreach – by now our work has been presented in theoretical and applied linguistics/SLS/TESOL and related departments and conferences, as well as those focused on fields as diverse as education, psychology, sociology, mathematics, statistics, physics, complex systems and networks, robotics, and artificial intelligence.
The theme of this year’s LL Fund Drive is “silver linings”, and it would be impossible to speak of these without mentioning the COVID-19 pandemic. Apart from the countless human tragedies it has brought, it has meant introducing broad-based changes to teaching and research. In my own case, on the former front the protracted duration of working in the distance mode has been a bit daunting. While academic life had attracted me with its prospect of face-to-face interactions with students and colleagues, the pandemic has meant 1.5 years of talking to the computer screen (with the exception of a few invited mask-to-mask teaching stints abroad during brief re-openings). I have greatly missed daily interactions with friends, colleagues, and students. A major upset was the Presidential Proclamation, thwarting a planned lecture trip to the U.S. this year. One of the many things the pandemic has taught me is to take nothing for granted – and to be resourceful.
On the research side, the project of one of my PhD students suffered in particular: Agnieszka has been investigating how Polish speakers with Down’s syndrome process and comprehend different types of simple vs complex clauses. The study had been planned with in-person sessions in order to ensure a consistent protocol and to accompany the comprehension and reaction-time experiments with tests carried out under the supervision of a qualified psychologist. With the target participants being a vulnerable population, this was no longer possible to carry out during the pandemic, so the study needed to be modified, converted to an online format, and resubmitted to the IRB.
My main study-abroad grant project expectedly also ground to a halt. However, in early March of 2020, even before the school closures were announced in Poland, I was already thinking about the need to investigate how language teachers and learners would cope with this unprecedented and hurried transition to emergency remote instruction. Over the next five weeks, with the help of PhD student and psychology graduate Magda, a comprehensive, custom-made survey was developed and approved by IRB. In addition to the original surveys for language teachers and learners, we elaborated versions for instructors and students in linguistics and related fields, as well as for educators in non-language subjects. Though the questionnaire included 400+ items and would sometimes take upwards of 45 minutes to complete, we endeavored to see the stakeholders as human beings rather than merely in their instructors’ or students’ hats. The approach paid off: responses came in from nearly 9,000 participants from 118 countries (many of them recruited with the help of the LINGUIST List). So far, the data analyses have yielded six papers (shared at, which have merely scratched the surface of this massive dataset. Further analyses are forthcoming; we have also been joined by expert colleagues from other institutions and are looking forward to exciting collaborations.
The shift to the online delivery of language instruction has also opened up opportunities for investigating if and how brick-and-mortar classroom research topics have changed under distance learning. A grant project implemented by Magda and me will investigate the role of grit and complementary personality factors in L2 courses being offered online. (If the readers know someone who is or has just finished learning a second/foreign language online – or face-to-face, for that matter, as there is a corresponding version of the survey – please feel free to share the link to the study:; it has already obtained IRB approval.)
On the academic front, other pandemic-related changes have brought greater opportunities for participating in conferences, seminars, workshops and lectures close and far. It has become easier to move between sessions, or even between events. (Of course, the social component is missing, and events held on the other side of the world require staying up at odd hours.) Apart from open events, I have also been fortunate to join the SLS Colloquia at Indiana University-Bloomington (thanks for keeping me on the roster, Mike!), which I had missed since my sabbatical, the CSTAT Workshops at Michigan State (thanks, Kiyo and Marianne!), as well as advanced data analysis and visualization courses offered by the Institute of English Studies at our own university (thanks, Agnieszka, Karolina, and Breno!). This year also brought several invitations to give keynote talks, lectures, and workshops at events and in places that would have been hard to reach otherwise, especially during the academic year. Another outcome during these months has been the (sometimes reluctant) realization by administrative bodies that many council board meetings and other formalities can be successfully arranged online.
While the future may currently seem a bit less predictable (though life has never been exactly otherwise), at least two things seem certain: first, it is important to not only set goals, but also try to enjoy the path along the way. Second, linguistics is such a fascinating and ever-growing field that it will never keep us bored. I trust that the LINGUIST List will soon be filled again with new, exciting face-to-face events. If this is your wish as well, every donation to the Fund Drive helps keep this invaluable resource running smoothly.

Michał B. Paradowski
Institute of Applied Linguistics,
University of Warsaw

Silver Linings: Active Rest

As a student during the pandemic, I can’t say that I enjoyed virtual classes as much as I enjoy in-person classes. I felt that, in my context, it led to much less peer-to-peer interaction, something that I sorely missed. And, doing all of my coursework from home made me feel a bit stir-crazy. It was this cooped-up feeling that led to one of my silver linings; during the pandemic, I developed a love for walking outdoors. 

Pre-pandemic, I had walked to school some days, but these had been hurried walks filled with plans and worries about the day ahead. During the pandemic, I learned to ramble around my neighborhood, admiring my neighbors’ gardens and occasionally meeting their cats. Just puttering around with no particular destination allowed my mind to relax and wander freely, and I found that after these walks, I was much more able to focus and work efficiently than I had been before them. In short, I had learned the difference between what I think of as ‘active’ and ‘passive’ rest.

My walks to school pre-pandemic were passive rest. I wasn’t working on anything, but I also wasn’t allowing myself to relax. My brain was still going a mile a minute. My walks during the pandemic, however, were restorative and peaceful. Not only was I not working, but I was also actively re-charging both mentally and emotionally. 

Despite living in a culture that seems to view busyness as a badge of honor, I’m coming to realize that down time (or, ‘active rest’) is essential, particularly in an academic setting. Allowing my mind to wander makes space for creative ideas to bloom, and cuts down on feelings of burnout during stressful seasons. Of course, none of these ideas are new or original; the past 18 months just gave me a personal lesson in them. In the future, I hope to continue my practice of walking the neighborhood several times a week. 

Do you have a practice or habit that you picked up during the pandemic and hope to continue in the ‘new normal’? Or, is there a way that you and your colleagues managed to keep up your work despite all obstacles? If so, we’d love to hear about it! You can send your Silver Lining stories or comments to [email protected] to be shared with fellow LINGUIST List readers during this year’s Fund Drive. 

Many thanks to everyone who has already contributed to our Fund Drive – we could not exist without the support of our readers! If you haven’t yet contributed, please consider doing so if you are able. Any amount is highly appreciated and allows us to continue the LINGUIST List for another year! 



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Fun Fact: What is GPT-3 all about?

Hello fellow linguists! Billy here—today’s fun fact is about GPT-3! My goal is to pull back the curtain on this mystery (or at least give it a slight tug).

What is this GPT-3? GPT-3 stands for third generation Generative Pre-trained Transformer. I won’t blame you if at first the name leads you to envision a Chomskyan Optimus Prime visiting the local gym.

Let’s break this down.

Generative here means that some text is inputted, and the model will generate some output. The output is based on probability predictions for how likely a sequence of words is to appear. For example, “I like eating apples” is more probable than “I like eating cars” (unless perhaps we are talking about Megatron).

Pre-trained means that this model has been exposed previously to large amounts of text (almost 45 terabytes!) in order to refine its calculations (i.e. adjusting weights within the neural network). This model is unsupervised, which means that it looks at large amounts of data and forms its own representation of patterns without human intervention.

Transformer is the neural-network architecture of the model. This applies special techniques (such as attention and self-attention) to optimize these calculations.

But what about linguistics?

A linguist understanding the rich complexity of language may not be satisfied with representing such intricacy with linear algebra. Hybrid approaches (coined as neuro-symbolic) use these neural network architectures along with traditional symbolic approaches (human written rules) to incorporate deeper semantic reasoning over language.

What do you think? What do you make of GPT-3? How can the complexity of language be captured in a computer? We would love to hear your opinions, no matter how technical your background!

Thanks for reading,


Linguist List Student Moderator

PS: If you would to like to dive deeper into the technical aspects of GPT-3, I highly recommend checking out Jay Alammar’s detailed explanation here:

Featured Linguist: Bernard Comrie

My home town of Sunderland, in the northeast of England, was perhaps not the most propitious birth place for one whose interests were to encompass worldwide language diversity. Even less so the villages to the north of Sunderland where I grew up, and where hardly a foreign word was heard. It was, however, a good laboratory for lower-level diversity, at the dialect level. For don’t, the people to the north said divn’t [‘dɪvnt], while we said dinnot [‘dɪnət], and the folks to the south of Sunderland still used the thou series of second person singular pronouns. And I had an added source of linguistic diversity: a Jamaican father. While he never exposed us to Jamaican Creole, his English was still full of Jamaicanisms. His warning cry Mind you fall! (= Mind you don’t fall! in “mainstream” English) still rings in my ears. But whatever their source, the seeds of more exotic linguistic interest were sown, and at age 7 I duly told my mother that I wanted to learn French. My mother had “school French”, and she did everything to encourage my strange interest, even taking me on vacation to France a year later at a time when foreign vacations were by no means the norm in our social milieu. My first week immersed in a foreign language environment! I’m not sure that my parents ever really understood what drives me as a linguist. And certainly nothing is guaranteed to bring a tenured full professor of linguistics more rapidly down to earth than when their mother says So when are you going to get a real job? But they always offered me their fullest support.

At grammar school (≈ junior high school + high school) I took all the language offerings available, and even increased my oddity from the perspective of my peers by taking evening classes in Russian at the local community college. I also took advantage of the burgeoning possibilities of school trips to the European continent. I think that over the years I borrowed all the admittedly restricted set of foreign language textbooks from Sunderland library, and also started my own collection – one Teach Yourself language course (in those days just a book, with grammar and translation exercises) conveniently cost one week’s pocket money. But then came the real revelation, when the library started getting books about a subject called linguistics.  I already knew what I wanted to be: a linguist! Incidentally, it was also in grammar school that I undertook my first typological project, though I wouldn’t have known to name it that at the time. The Classics teacher had just introduced the Ancient Greek rule whereby a neuter plural subject requires singular verb agreement, and mused whether any other languages had a similar rule. I took that as a personal challenge and scoured the grammars available to me to draw up a list of comparable phenomena. With hindsight, the sample was ludicrously small and biased, and my results were certainly not a publishable article, but I had cut my typological teeth.

My undergraduate and graduate years at Cambridge were a mix of advanced language study (French, German, Russian), historical linguistics, and what was then a rather new academic subject in Britain, namely (general) linguistics. In my student days the last was largely generative grammar of the day, though I always had my mind on cross-linguistic variation, and soon after completing my doctoral dissertation I moved definitively toward linguistic typology. I’ll fast forward through the rest of my career to leave time for the present, but suffice it to say that I have doggedly pursued the view that understanding Language means understanding languages, that the linguist has to take cross-linguistic diversity seriously. And needless to say, I have been pleased to see more and more subfields of linguistics and approaches to language embracing this ideal. The phenomena that have interested me have been primarily syntactic, with some excursions into morphology and semantics (and even beyond), with recurring interests being relative clauses, valence and voice, and alignment – I consider my first meeting with the phenomenon of ergativity to be one of the truly transformative events of my life. Throughout this time and across the world, I have been blessed with teachers, colleagues, and students (these are not always discrete categories) who have provided an environment that has cherished my approach to language. In addition, I have had the opportunity to work with members of indigenous communities who have broadened not only my understanding of language but also my outlook on life. My great hope for the future: that indigenous communities will be empowered to study their own languages.

The COVID-19 pandemic in which we currently find ourselves is a tragedy, including for indigenous communities, and nothing that I will go on to say detracts from this. But for me, there have indeed been some silver linings. One has been the development of online lectures, which means both that I have been able to “attend” lectures that even in the best of times would have been geographically inaccessible to me, and also that I have been able to present my own ideas to international audiences, and even have them immortalized on YouTube. Another has been the opportunity – forced by necessity – to explore the range of scientific resources available on the internet, especially during the period when libraries were hermetically sealed and interlibrary loan inoperative. For instance, I am working on a project that requires me to identify basic color terms in a fixed set of Germanic, Slavic, and Romance languages. Under current circumstances, where was I going to find the relevant material for Wymysorys, an offshoot of German spoken in the small town of Wilamowice, Poland? Catalogs told me that an extensive dictionary was published in Poland in the 1930s, but imagine my joy when I discovered that an excellent photographic reproduction of the dictionary is available at Wikimedia Commons. And where was I going to find the color terms of Istro-Romanian, spoken by a few hundred people in a handful of villages on the Istrian peninsula in Croatia? Well, it turns out that an article on just this topic is available open access on the web site of the Slovenian journal Jezikoslovni zapiski. Does this mean that I will be avoiding the library when it reopens? Far from it. I already have a list of references that are not available online and that I will need to check via interlibrary loan once I have worked through the material I already have. And just as a library needs librarians to curate its holdings, so too the various internet sites that I have been exploiting also need to be curated – it is only too easy to take for granted that things are freely available on the internet while forgetting how much effort and cost is involved in keeping existing material accessible and making new material available.

Which brings me to the Linguist List. I can remember a time before there was the Linguist List, though those memories are getting vague. How did we cope in those days? Well, to be honest, we just did without a lot of information, or in some cases could get the information but only by time-consuming means of varying reliability. No ready list of conferences across different subfields and in different parts of the world; you basically found out about the conferences linked to societies you had joined and networks you had infiltrated, with the information circulating by snail mail. No ready list of new publications. If you had a question, you could ask the people around you, and you might send letters to a few others, but the thought of reaching thousands of people instantaneously was not even a dream. Now all of this and much more is available thanks to the Linguist List. But this easy accessibility has its danger: We start to take it for granted. It is only thanks to the hard work of the Linguist List team that this material is available, and curating this material does cost money. So please, donate what you can to the Linguist List. Every small amount helps. Each year I make sure that I make my own donation, secure in the knowledge that this sum is going to benefit our field in a way that would not have been imaginable just a few decades ago, but that now is indispensable.

Fund Drive Lottery: Week 2

WEEK 1 WINNERS HAVE BEEN SELECTED! Thank you to all who have donated!

The first week of our 2021 Fund Drive is in the books and we have drawn last week’s winners from the pool of our gracious donors. If your name is drawn you will be contacted by us to collect your prize.

To enter into this week’s drawing, donate to our fund drive sometime between now and Friday, October 1. Prizes change each week so check back every week to see what’s up for grabs.

**One donation = one entry into the drawing. To donate, click this link:**


From Cambridge University Press:

(1) A one year, online only subscription to any CUP linguistics journal (5 winners to be selected)

(2) A copy of the following books:

Stollznow — On the Offensive (

Bruhn/Schwieter — Introducing Linguistics (

From Wiley:

Applying Phonetics: Speech Science in Everyday Life by Murray J. Munro – 978-1-119-16454-8

Wiley is also offering 20% of Wiley linguistics books to all LINGUIST List users! Use the discount code HSS20 before October 31, 2021, to redeem this exclusive offer.


The giveaways have only just begun! We have many more exciting offers coming your way this Fund Drive. Our supporting publishers share our vision and aim to bring linguists around the world together via the LINGUIST List.

We thank you for letting us be a part of your life and for your continued support! Every dollar donated is deeply appreciated.

With gratitude,

– Your LINGUIST List team