Fund Drive

Amazon Smile: 10x Donation Rate!

Hello Linguist Listers!

We just wanted to let you know that Amazon Smile is currently running a limited time promotion by offering 10x the usual donation rate. If you haven’t signed up for Amazon Smile already, just know that it doesn’t cost you a thing and helps us out any time you make purchases on So if you had any online shopping that you were planning to do, then you can help us out by doing it on Amazon before November 2 since the promotion only lasts through then. Thanks again for all of your contributions to the linguistics community.


The LINGUIST List Team

Check it out


Dear LINGUIST List readers,

We are currently at less than a day until the end of the 2018 Fund Drive! These past few months have been interesting, to say the least, for all of us at the LINGUIST List. Brainstorming, researching, and writing all of our content for the Fund Drive has pushed us to re-examine the movies we watch, the music we listen to, and the larger pop culture movements to which we all belong to one extent or another. We also enjoyed all the comments we received from you, our readers, in response to these pop culture pieces. While the topic of this year’s Fund Drive was certainly a lot of fun for us to explore, we are unfortunately out of time.

As we have mentioned before, the 2018 LINGUIST List Fund Drive will be closing on October 1st, 2018 at 11:59 PM. This is your last chance to show your support for the LINGUIST List! You can currently donate as little as one (1) US dollar to help us come just a little bit closer to our goal before we end the Fund Drive for the year. Thanks again for all of the support.

Linguistically yours,

The LINGUIST List Team

A Penultimate Fund Drive Message

Dear colleagues,

with your help within the last 6 days we moved from 84% to 90% of our goal. We have also heard from many of you. Thank you!

While we are wrapping up please consider this – don’t take LINGUIST List for granted. We exist and take care of your daily dose of linguistic news because of you and only as long as you support us. We do not want to exclude anybody, we do not want to leave anybody behind the pay-wall but we can continue only if we can pay our bills. Help us, be a part of the community. As little as $1 makes a difference – since there are so many of us.

– Malgosia

Fund Drive Closing Tomorrow – 1 Day Left!

Hello Linguist Listers,

We are down to one full day (and some change) left in our fund drive and we need your help more than ever to continue offering our services to you and everyone who is a part of the linguistics community. As mentioned in our earlier post, this is our longest running and least successful fund drive so your support has never been more critical for our operations.

More people have been donating as we approach the end of the fund drive. If you’re still planning to donate, now is your last chance to be a contributor to the community! If you have already donated to us, then we thank you again from the bottom of our hearts. We hope that your weekend is going well!


The LINGUIST List Team

A Message from One of our Hard-working Interns – 3 Days Left!

Hello again LINGUIST List subscribers,

We’ve only got 3 days left and we’re almost to the 90% mark. We are currently sitting at 88.73% so we’re very close. If you’ve been considering making a donation but you’ve been putting it off, now is a great time to help us push through to another milestone in the Fund Drive. You will be helping the Linguistics community and, if you’re a subscriber, you’ll be helping yourself as well. In the meantime, here is a quick message from our hard-working intern, Julian Dietrich:

As September is coming to a close, so is LINGUIST List’s fund drive. With only 3 days remaining, we need your help now more than ever. With a one-time donation of as little as $1, you can help the LINGUIST List continue its day-to-day operations. A lot of work goes into maintaining our website and bringing you content to enjoy, and we rely on our yearly fund drives to make that happen. Please make a donation today!


Julian and the LINGUIST List Team

Fund Drive Closing Soon – 4 Days Left!

Hello Linguist Listers,

Thank you again to everyone who has donated during this last week of the fund drive.

We only have 4 days left to make it to our goal so please help us to continue supporting the Linguistics Community by donating whatever amount that you can! As mentioned in our earlier posts, we have lowered the minimum donation to $1 and have seen a number of our beloved readers take advantage of that. We truly appreciate it.

We are also still working on that shiny new website so your donation dollars will allow us not only to continue functioning but also to make some substantial improvements to your browsing experience when you are on the website. Lastly, if you can’t make a donation, you can always support us with amazon smile. It doesn’t cost you a dime and still helps us out.

Thanks for staying with us.


The LINGUIST List Team

A Word (Cloud) from our Readers – 5 Days Left!

Dear LINGUIST List readers,

We love our readers! We’ve created a word cloud using all the comments submitted to us by our donors for the 2018 Fund Drive. It’s always encouraging to hear from the community we serve, and truly all of us at the LINGUIST List thank YOU! We hope to continue to deliver relevant, up-to-date information to our readers for many years to come.

Gratefully yours,

The LINGUIST List Team

6 Days Left!

Dear LINGUIST List readers,

Hello! My name is Becca and I am one of the student editors at LINGUIST List. I am the Managing Editor and I am also responsible for posting jobs, supports, and internships. We are on the final leg of our fund drive, and we ask that every reader please donate $1 US, or as much as you can.

Your donations are not only important to me since I am able to pursue my PhD because of The LINGUIST List, but they are also imperative to the linguistics community as a whole. Thank you again for all of your support, everyone here at LINGUIST List is forever grateful to all of you. If you would like to help us to continue providing resources to the linguistic community, please visit our fund drive page and donate today.


Becca Morris

2018 Fund Drive Closing – $1 Donations Opening!

Dear LINGUIST Listers,

We, at the LINGUIST List, wish to thank all of you who have participated and donated during our 2018 Fund Drive. Without your gracious support, the LINGUIST List would cease to be and, with it, the global linguistics community would lose the network that ties linguists to each other and to universities, publishers, conferences, and language enthusiasts the world over; not to mention the loss of funding we, student editors, and our families would suffer. Thank you from all of us!

Now, though we are truly grateful for the financial support that many of you have given us this year and years gone by, we must face an unfortunate reality. The 2018 Fund Drive has been the longest running and least successful fund drive in our history. As I write this post today, 24 September, we are only at 85.53% of the $40,000 we had hoped to raise in order to continue operation and expand our new, much more elegant (and much less dated) website.

Though we are still far from our goal, our fund drive cannot go on indefinitely. Therefore, we will be closing our 2018 Fund Drive at 11:59 PM on Monday, 1 October, 2018.

That is only one week from the date of this post! We need YOUR help to make this fund drive a success! As such, we have officially lowered the minimum donation amount to $1. That is one U.S. Dollar! So for this final week of the 2018 Fund Drive, we are asking EVERYONE, those who have already donated and those who haven’t yet, to please donate at least $1 to continue LINGUIST List and allow it to expand into the future. If everyone who uses our site in a single day would donate this one dollar, we would be able to close the fund drive having reached our goal.

Please donate $1 dollar for The LINGUIST List, for the LL staff, for the LL community, for Linguistics as a discipline. As you are dedicated to help us, we are dedicated to continue to serve you for years to come.

Click here to donate:

Thank you all!

–The LINGUIST List staff

Universally Translating in Space

“The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like – and probably the oddest thing in the universe. It feeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain, the practical upshot of which is that if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language: the speech you hear decodes the brain wave matrix.”

The anatomy of a Babel fish

In other words, the Babel fish from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy translates the subconscious of the speaker into language the listener understands. It’s just one example of a universal translator in science fiction, where they’re often used by writers to get around the languages and dialect part of world building, but it’s personally one of my favorites. Unlike a mysterious box, device, or computer program, such as those used in Star Trek or Men in Black, which translates from speech to speech, the Babel fish doesn’t try to be realistic by today’s standards and thereby avoids many of the problems that make real time translators so difficult, if not impossible.

It didn’t take long after computers came into existence that researchers began trying to use them for machine translation. “This will be easy!”, they thought, conceptualizing simple word to word translation systems, and not realizing the maze of a problem they were getting themselves into. We have made a lot of progress in the decades since then, and some machine translators, such as google’s, can produce some passable translations between certain languages. (To the students reading this, they still won’t trick your language teacher, so don’t try.) Even so, there is a long way to go between where we are and universal translators, especially real time ones. Besides the typical major problems in MT such as idioms, word order, sparsity of data, and dealing with morphology in general, real time translators will have to process information they don’t have yet. Differences in sentence structure and word order between languages mean that a delay in speech to speech translation is inevitable, which makes realistic translators in movies/tv feel a bit too clunky.

This is why I’m such a fan of the Babel fish, and the Tardis’ translation matrix from Doctor Who for that matter, which also uses a type of telepathic field. They get around a lot of the issues we run into in MT simply by taking advantage of worldbuilding. Does it take some suspension of disbelief to accept a telepathic fish you stick in your ear which excretes translated speech? Sure, but it fits right in with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s universe and style, and instead of being just close enough to the truth to be irritating, it’s just crazy enough to think, hey, that just might work!

Thanks for reading! The Linguist List depends on donations from readers like you to continue providing resources and updates in the world of linguistics as well as to help fund the graduate students who run it. Please consider donating to our Fund Drive so that we can continue posting content for you.

Thanks again!

Your Linguist List team