Featured Linguist: Lauren Gawne

Dear Linguist List Readers,

This week, we are pleased to present Professor Lauren Gawne as part of our Featured Linguists series!

Professor Lauren Gawne

Early next year my blog Superlinguo will turn 10, which means I’ve been blogging about linguistics for almost a third of LINGUIST List’s life. I’ve been a subscriber to LINGUIST List a little longer than that, having signed up at the start of graduate school in 2009, something I now encourage my own grad students to do. One of the delightful things about blogging for almost as long as I’ve been a full-time linguist is that the blog now acts as an external memory device; I wrote a detailed post about how I got into linguistics back in 2012. I came to linguistics by luck, but I have stayed because language is endlessly interesting, and because linguists are an enthusiastic bunch.

I’ve been passionate about sharing linguistics with wider audiences since my graduate days because I want more people to have the opportunity to approach language like linguists, without having to accidentally end up in an intro course because their friend suggested it. When I started Lingthusiasm, a podcast that is enthusiastic about linguistics, with Gretchen McCulloch in 2016, we wanted to capture the joyful nerdiness you find in conference corridor chats whenever a group of linguists assemble, in a format that’s fun and engaging no matter how much you already know about linguistics. Gretchen and I also want to see more linguistics communication in the world, which is why we launched the LingComm grants in 2020, and share curated linguistics communication projects that are useful for teaching with through the Mutual Intelligibility newsletter.

My research interests all stem from an expansive approach to linguistics – I do language documentation and description work with Tibetic language communities in Nepal, but I’m also interested in co-speech gesture, and I’ve written about language on the internet, including a paper on the linguistics of LOLcats with Jill Vaughan and how emoji act as digital gestures with Gretchen McCulloch. I’m not just interested in how language works, but also how linguists work – which is why I’ve helped run Linguistics in the Pub in Melbourne on-and-off over the last decade, and why I’ve enjoyed working with the Linguistics Data Interest Group of the Research Data Alliance to publish the Austin Principles of Data Citation in Linguistics and the Tromsø Recommendations for Citation of Research Data in Linguistics.

If there is one thing I hope for the future of linguistics as a field, it would be that we do a better job of keeping those who studied linguistics feeling connected to the discipline, and welcoming people who might never have thought linguistics was for them. For the last five years I’ve been running monthly interviews with people who have studied linguistics and gone on to careers in a wide range of fields. Regardless of whether their work relates to linguistics topic-wise, each person mentions the analytical and communication skills they gained through studying linguistics. We train far more linguists than there will ever be academic linguistics jobs for–as someone who is still precariously employed almost eight years after graduating, I feel this all too keenly. We therefore have an obligation to be more explicit in teaching our students how the skills they are learning are relevant to a wide range of life paths, and to celebrate the idea that being a linguist is more than just an industry title.

Lauren Gawne
Lecturer, Department of Languages and Linguistics
La Trobe University
Melbourne, Australia

email: [email protected]
twitter: @superlinguo

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All the best,
–the LL Team

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