A Letter from Featured Staff Clare Harshey

Clare Harshey, LINGUIST List Editor (and amateur IndyCar driver)

Dear LINGUIST Listers,

My name is Clare, and if you’ve contacted us recently about a job, support, internship or book review, we’ve probably met through email! Those are the areas I manage for the LINGUIST List as one of our Student Editors. I’m writing you today to tell you about who I am, what I do, and why I believe the LINGUIST List deserves your support!

I’ve worked at the LINGUIST List for almost two years, but I first started as an summer intern in 2016. Being selected for that opportunity was one of the most exciting experiences of my life, and I spent the summer working on our Yiddish Speech Corpus, learning a lot of new software and new methodologies. At the end of the summer I was able to take on new responsibilities, eventually leading to my position as an editor today.

During the two years I’ve been here, I’ve worked toward an MS in Computational Linguistics (with any luck, I’ll be graduating a month from now!). The LINGUIST List provided support throughout my degree, as it has throughout the years for many student employees. Not only have I benefited from this financial support, but I’ve also grown professionally here, being in a unique position to contact a wide range of linguists and language enthusiasts around the world!

One thing that might surprise a visitor to the LINGUIST List is just how small our office is! Aside from our moderators, there are only a handful of students who run the day-to-day operations of the list. We have four editors, and together we edit and publish about 6,000 issues per year. We also have three programmers, who together maintain our website, database, and develop our new website. We are all graduate students with ambitious schedules, but we are all in the office every day of the week, fielding new submissions, reader questions, technical problems, and anything else that may pop up. We even handle quite a bit of work at night, on weekends and on most holidays!

On any given day in the office, I will post any new jobs, support or internship announcements, communicating with their submitters about any content-related concerns. I want to make sure that every issue goes out with all the accurate information a reader would need. I will also edit reviews submissions and communicate with our reviews team about the many ins and outs of the reviews process: book requests, ordering reviews copies from the publishers, finding missing reviews copies, and much more! Most days, we also have one or more meetings in the office to discuss problems that have come up and progress toward new goals. The editors often work closely with our programmers to address technical problems, and we are all very familiar with each others’ work, so we can be flexible and continue to post as usual in any circumstance.

We often get comments from colleagues in other fields about how useful the LINGUIST List is, and how they wish their field had a similar resource. The truth is, our operation IS very unique, with an extremely small team making high quality information available, for everyone, for free! We’re all linguists, too, so we’re passionate about what we do. But we could not do it without the support of our readers.

When you support the LINGUIST List, you’re supporting the students who are able to get their degree by working here. But not just that–you’re supporting open access to valuable information; you’re supporting the careers of young linguists who need resources like ours to find their first job or their first conference; you’re supporting the future of an institution that has been, in turn, supporting linguists for almost 30 years.

Thanks for reading, and thanks again for your generosity through the years. I am sincerely grateful, and so are my colleagues! If you haven’t already, please visit us at our Fund Drive homepage and consider showing your support today.

Sincerely,

Clare Harshey

Rising Stars: Meet Maja Ina Ruparčič!

Dear Readers,

For several years, we have featured linguists with established careers and interesting stories to tell. This year, we will also be highlighting “Rising Stars” throughout our Fund Drive, undergraduates who were nominated by their mentors for their exceptional interest in linguistics and eager participation in the global community of language researchers.

Selected nominees were asked to share their view of the field of linguistics: what topics they see emerging as important or especially interesting, what role they see the field filling in the coming decades, and how they plan to contribute. We hope you will enjoy the perspectives of these students, who represent the bright future of our field.

Today we are happy to share the words of Maja Ina Ruparčič, a second-year undergraduate at the University of Ljubljana. She is most interested in syntax, semantics, and contrastive analysis. Her independent research includes survey- and corpus-based inquiry into the expression “it is (high) time” and speakers’ choice of the verbal expression following.

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We Odd Wugs

As David Crystal so eloquently put it at a conference I attended recently, ‘we linguists are sad people.’ A quote that resonated with me, for like Professor Crystal, I too have spent many an hour digging through dictionaries and corpora for reasons that might appear trivial to the average individual. As a second-year undergraduate currently pursuing my studies at the University of Ljubljana, I have had the chance to immerse myself in the world of language, literature, and research with special focus on English and French. Considering the wide array of possibilities that a linguistics related major offers, I find it challenging to choose a clear-cut path that fully echoes my interests, which might, like language, evolve over time and away from my current predisposition for theory.

Crystal himself can be considered one of the revolutionaries that have popularised linguistics as a scientific field and, to a certain extent, helped mollify the rigid prescriptivist perception of modern language change. For this reason, I suspect future trends will chiefly relate to its practical usefulness rather than theory – a phenomenon neatly illustrating the interplay between the call for utility and its influence on the rapidly changing society. I am not surprised by the flourishing status of fields such as computational linguistics, sociolinguistics, intercultural communication, and (foreign) language acquisition. These echo the current political and economic situations all around the globe. Our world is changing more rapidly than ever before, and language has had to accommodate to its needs; the demand for a politically correct, inclusive language, as well as new word formations due to the emergence of social networks and technological advances are just some examples of this phenomenon. Moreover, the process of globalisation has established the supremacy of English in all areas, often at the expense of impoverishing weaker languages, which makes the preservation and investigation of endangered tongues one of the quintessential tasks for any future linguist.

Despite the many strata of applied linguistics being so en vogue and necessary at present, my own fields of interest mainly (but not exclusively) cover theoretical studies. Although I will readily admit the value and necessity of applicability, this somehow represents too utilitarian an approach to language study for my liking. An overly traditionalist attitude, perhaps; but even we odd birds must exist to ruminate on the philosophical and other abstract aspects of language that, so it seems sometimes, do not excite my peers all that much. More specifically, I like to delve into the realms of syntax, semantics, and contrastive analysis (examining structural differences and similarities between English, French, and my native Slovene, for instance). My university courses often provide me with food for thought when it comes to examining language variation, language attitudes, and various sorts of analyses – I have, for example, been intrigued into writing a short paper on language change addressing the verbal form after the expression ‘it is (high) time’, which was immensely entertaining and something I can see myself doing time and again.

Although I doubt translation, sociolinguistics, fieldwork, and similar practical, hands-on areas of linguistics should fall into my primary scope of interests, I do not intend to neglect them in my research work altogether, but will rather attempt to link the two evoked spheres of language study in the years to come. Building on the knowledge I acquire at university, I hope to learn through my own contributions as well (including but not necessarily limited to paper writing and participating at student conferences).

Every eager young linguist hopes to fill in the blanks, resolve the controversies, and bring about a revolutionary breakthrough – and it can be discouraging to discover how much information is yet to be acquired in order to make relevant contributions. My personal inclination for theory should not be regarded as an appeal for a backward step to the glorification of it and the neglect of practical use; instead, odd wugs such as myself could bring young, fresh ideas into the community to re-evaluate the unsolved problems and suggest innovative answers.

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If you have a student who you believe is a “Rising Star” in linguistics, we would love to hear about them! We are still accepting nominations for exceptional young linguists. Please see the call for nominations for more information.

If you have not yet–please visit our Fund Drive page 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.

Gratefully,
The LINGUIST List Team

 

A History of Pop Culture ConLangs Part III: Dothraki, Valyrian, and How Language Becomes Its World (And People)

Welcome to part III of our series on fictional constructed languages, which is part of this year’s Fund Drive theme, linguistics and pop culture. ConLangs—and we do mean languages constructed for creative fiction, not languages like Esperanto designed for the real world—have contributed to popular culture in rich and varied and sometimes really weird ways. We started with Part I, which briefly covered J.R.R. Tolkien’s Quenya as one of the world’s first prominent creatively constructed language, focusing on the real-world linguistic influences. Part II got a little lengthier in an attempt to examine how creative linguists use phonology to create a range of human-like and non-human-like effects in the creation of “alien” languages for Science Fiction.

Now welcome to Part III, where we’ll try to cover some of the aspects of the world’s newest wave of influential ConLangs, specifically focusing on what we think is probably today’s most popular ConLangs, Dothraki and Valyrian and the role of languages and multilingualism in fictional worlds.

This blog is dark and full of spoilers!

Very minor spoilers from old seasons but STILL.

Still with us? Okay.

Dothraki and Valyrian are the show’s most prominent ConLangs, and both of them are used by one of the series’ main protagonists, Daenerys Targaryen, who has a lot of titles.
George R. R. Martin’s fantasy books do not have a usable language in them, despite the many other ways in which the epic series takes its cues from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien (either by means of inevitable cultural assimilation that happens with such influential works as Lord of the Rings, or by intentional subversion.) A few Dothraki words, like Khal and its feminine variant Khaleesi, did, however, appear in the books and provide the base for linguist David J. Peterson’s development of the language. Peterson not only worked with the existing words and utterances from the books, but developed the language to be easily pronounceable for the actors—it had to sound convincingly foreign to a primarily English-speaking audience, but also sound natural and fluent in the mouths of mostly L1 English speakers. The Language Creation Society, of which Peterson is a member, now has a page devoted to Dothraki.

Daenerys Targaryen is a multilingual, multidimensional character (with really good hair) played by Emelia Clarke

In terms of phonology, the most salient element of a ConLang to the audience, we find some interesting features. Those stops, nasals, and laterals that would be alveolar in English are instead dental—a small adjustment that for most of the audience may invoke the sound of Spanish. Peterson did include very un-English-like phonemes, like a uvular stop, and a velar fricative, and there is both an alveolar stop and a trill (but no English-like rhotic!) This phonological make-up is probably what prompted Peterson himself to describe Dothraki in an interview as evoking both Spanish and Arabic.

Aspirated stops may occur but not contrastively, and there’s geminates of just about every consonant, including geminate fricatives like /xx/ and /θθ/. That one is really smart, in my opinion—typologically rare, (especially as a geminate!) but still no challenge for the actors. Peterson also took phonological rules into account, devising, for example, regular place assimilation among vowels under the influence of neighboring consonants. Honestly, spoken Dothraki just sounds really cool.

It’s also an interesting point of comparison with Klingon—probably both fictional cultures can be said to be based on some of the same literary and pop-cultural tropes, and they manifest in some of the same ways. I’d be willing to bet any fictional language invented by English-speakers for an English-speaking audience intended for use by warlike cultures has velar fricatives in it; I don’t know why and it’s only a casual observation. (Quick! I need a sociolinguist to survey ConLangs phonology for velar fricatives.) Perhaps that sound strikes English speakers as sufficiently foreign and sufficiently “guttural,” (but still sufficiently pronounceable) for use in a language intended to come off as harsh and powerful. But Dothraki is very much a human language and it has a pleasantly even consonant space—no weird, alien gaps like we found in Klingon.

Jason Momoa plays Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo (with really good hair,) and reportedly can still speak some Dothraki

Dothraki’s syntax is equally rich and interesting. It’s a highly inflectional language with five cases, including nominative, accusative, genitive, allative, and ablative, as well as three tenses and two different imperatives. (The Dothraki and a very imperative people.)
And there’s an archaic participle. There’s actually a lot of thought put into the diachrony of Dothraki, including archaic spellings that reflect older pronunciations—Dothraki has no bilabial stops (they’ve lenited to labiodental fricatives) but some words, particularly names, are still spelled with Romanize p and b or bh. The regular irregularities produced by diachrony are one of the most persuasive and inventive aspects of fictional languages to me, because it means the creator imagined a history for his language. Like the world it exists in, there’s more to Dothraki than a snapshot of its synchrony. It creates the impression that this world and its languages have existed for a long time before now, not just as stories.

But this has already gotten long! Let’s talk about Valyrian so we can talk about Daenerys so we can talk about the rest!

High Valyrian was also developed by David J. Peterson, and the first thing I learned about it when reading for this blog post was that it has derivative variants. Peterson is no slouch. (Also the variants are mentioned in the books.) Valyrian has plenty of phonological overlap with Dothraki as one would expect, and also, joyously, contact phenomena—Dothraki loanwords have resulted in the introduction of those fantastic Dothraki fricatives /x/ and /θ/ mentioned earlier. The phonological inventory of Valyrian is larger in general than that of Dothraki, with a full series of labials (except /f/, basically), including nasals, a full series of alveolars including contrastive voiced and voiceless trills (cool), all the way back to uvulars and glottals. The vowel system involves six major vowels /i e o a u y/ (Dothraki had four, /i e o a/ not including the allophonic alternations), and contrastive vowel length. Like Dothraki, Valyrian has a well-thought-out diachrony, and the front rounded series /y/ and /y:/ in High Valyrian are no longer pronounced as such in its descendant variants. Like Latin, High Valyrian no longer has native speakers in Essos and Westeros, although Daenerys does call it her “mother tongue,” before ordering her dragons to roast a guy. In Astapori Valyrian (one of the variants), the length contrast in vowels in gone.

Valyrian has four grammatical numbers—singular, plural, paucal, and collective—eight noun classes, and four grammatical genders. According to Peterson, who talks about Valyrian grammar in this exceedingly interesting discussion on Dothraki.com, the genders are called vēzenkor qogror “solar class”, hūrenkor qogror “lunar class” tegōñor qogror “terrestrial class” embōñor qogror “aquatic class,” and most animate nouns wind up in the solar or lunar genders while others wind up in the aquatic and terrestrial genders—the names of the genders are prototypical members of each. He described gender as phonologically predictable generally, but also being influenced by the derivational properties of the Bantu languages.

There is an enormous amount more that can be said about the very complex and fascinating structure of Valyrian, and it’s one of the most developed fictional ConLangs we have ever seen. But I really want to get to how these languages interact with the worlds and the people they are used by because that is, after all, what makes language come alive.
Like J.R.R. Tolkien, Peterson designed his languages with a view to the people who would be speaking them, their world, their history, their philosophy. The depth of their complexity and the sense of history and development and change over time is what makes them feel like lived-in languages for real people. Daenerys Targaryen, one of the main protagonists, ends up using both of them, as well as the Westeros common language (English, functionally.) As a member of the ruling class (well, sort of, her family has been ousted at the beginning of the series), Daenerys is educated in Valyrian, but for her, it’s more than that—she’s descended from the rulers of Old Valyria and regards Valyrian as her mother tongue (in season 3, episode 4, an Astapori Valyrian speaking slaver insults her in Valyrian while conducting a deal with her, only to have her declare herself and her lineage, and, as previously mentioned, command her dragons to barbecue him. He deserved it.) She also teaches her dragons to respond to commands like “dracarys!” which means “dragonfire,”  (Or, more pragmatically, “barbecue him!”) pronounced beautifully by Emilia Clarke.

Daenerys’s character arc is paralleled by her achievements in multilingualism. Emilia Clarke had to learn multiple ConLangs for the show

Daenerys identifies with the language of her heritage, which is also the language of her name, and that’s interesting to me. Language plays a part, not only in the plot (as mentioned above) but in the characterization of the people who carry out the plot, and none more than Daenerys. She goes through a lot during the course of her story, not least of which is being married off to the Dothraki Khal Drogo as part of a political move. As her character develops, she learns to cope with the extreme distress and trauma of her life, becomes more and more empowered, and begins acquiring the Dothraki language. While still regarding Valyrian as her language. Her process of acculturation within the Dothraki is a major part of her arc, and is portrayed in the books and TV show alongside her becoming more and more fluent in Dothraki. By the current point in both the show and the books, she’s one of the most powerful political players, most realized and human characters, and fluently multilingual. She’s a perfect example of the way that language can add depth to a fictional character as much as it adds depth to a fictional world.

Today, ConLanging, casual and professional, is more popular than ever. If you follow Steve the Vagabond and Silly Linguist on social media (and you should, for a good laugh) you will have seen snippets of Atlaans, a Germanic-based ConLang invented as the mother-tongue for an alternate linguistic history of the world (check it out here!) There’s plenty of alternate-history ConLangs, but I have already promised that ConLangs intended for the real world are not my subject here… except if you create an alternate history language that is also part of a work of fiction.

 

Video games are in on the ConLang game now.
Get it? Game?
I’ll show myself out.

Having already talked at length about books, movies, and TV shows, I think it’s time to bring up the latest world-building venture that involves ConLanging: video games. Far Cry Primal, by Ubisoft, released in 2016 and involves a ConLang called “Wenja,” developed by University of Kentucky assistant professors Andrew and Brenna Byrd, which is spoken by the inhabitants of a prehistoric world from thousands of years ago. Indo-Europeanist Andrew Byrd described Wenja as like Proto-PIE, something that might have been used thousands of years before PIE is hypothesized to have been spoken. Not much is said in the interview about the mechanics of Wenja, except that it had to have been pretty much imagined, and they developed a very robust vocabulary that could easily suffice for a real-world language-user. But the language, according to its creators, didn’t feel alive until Brenna Byrd began teaching it to the actors. Who began using it and practicing it among themselves, and inventing cries and greetings to fit in the game. Andrew and Brenna Byrd managed to find the meeting place between a totally fictional language for a totally fictional world and a hypothetical language that could have existed in the real world, which is amazing on its own. But it wasn’t until it was deployed among real speakers that it was electrified to life.

The lightning is speakers.

What I think is important about ConLangs, specifically fictional ones, and the reason I am so interested in them, is what they represent. ConLangs created to fill the lives and form the expressions of fictional people who live in imagined worlds, are in a way representative of how we imagine our relationship with language in the real world. That gets reflected in the way that fictional languages can become integral both to their worlds and to their speakers’ identities. They come to life in the hands of real speakers, and carry with them a sense of the history that has led the world and its people, even up to individuals like the initially-unassuming Daenerys.

As everyone knows, there’s a lot of trouble in the world. But it’s not all trouble out there, and it’s worth thinking about that today more than ever, creators are invested in talking about what it means to communicate with each other. What it means for peoples and cultures and individuals to cross and recross language boundaries. They are invested in creating rich and diverse worlds full of people who have their own individual and cultural relationships with the very concept of human communication.

And that’s pretty neat.

 

Well, this has been way longer than we ever intended it to be. There’s too much interesting stuff to talk about with language, and it turned out there were a lot more fictional languages than I ever could have covered!

If you enjoyed this series, please support us here at the LINGUIST List by donating here! This series was written as part of our Fund Drive’s focus on language and linguistics in media and pop culture. We work hard to help provide a space for linguistic resources. Thanks so much for being with us all these years!

–Sarah Robinson, Publications Editor
on behalf of the LINGUIST List team

Optimality Theory: the Future of the Justice System?

by Anthony Meyer
Linguistics News Correspondent

Small claims court is no joke. Just ask the interior muralist who desperately needs the return of her security deposit to buy supplies for her next project. Or the couple whose prize toy poodle was impregnated by the neighbor’s Cane Corso. Or the wretch who chipped a tooth when he bit into a burrito that had a rock in it. And yet for no one is small claims court less amusing than the judge who presides over it.

In the fall of 2014, Murray T. Nevelson was serving his second term as a small claims judge, or magisterial district judge, as they are known in Pennsylvania. Now, magisterial district judges are elected to terms of six years. Judge Nevelson was then not even halfway through his current term. This was a particularly low point in Judge Nevelson’s legal career. “I was stuck in the doldrums,” he told me in a recent interview. “My sails had gone limp.”

Judge Nevelson presided over one of the three magisterial district courts located in Harlow County, Pennsylvania. In 2014, more than 6,000 new small-claims cases were filed in his district court alone, which is about 22 new cases each business day. “And more unwanted poodle pregnancies than I would care to hear about in ten lifetimes,” Judge Nevelson said, exhibiting a judge’s knack for putting things into perspective.

But everything changed for the judge in single evening not long after Thanksgiving, 2014. He was sitting in his office, resting his head on papers strewn across the surface of his desk when his nephew, Elliot Nevelson, barged in, laptop in hand. He had something astounding to show his uncle. He wanted to demonstrate a computer program that he had been working on, a program he had named “OptimalJustice.” It would prove to be the judge’s salvation.

Elliot Nevelson was then a linguistics major at Dartford College. He started working on OptimalJustice as a project for a seminar on computational linguistics. Elliot’s inspiration for OptimalJustice was a linguistic theory called Optimality Theory (OT).

It is widely accepted in linguistics, particularly in phonology, that every surface form is associated with an underlying form. For example, the underlying /teIp+z/ ‘tapes’ surfaces as [teIps]. According to OT, the “optimal” surface form is selected by a set of constraints/ in a sort of “survival of the fittest” fashion. That is, an optimal form such as [teIps] emerges only after the constraints have eliminated all other potential candidates, candidates like *[teIpz] (the asterisk meaning something like “the following is prohibited.”) The crucial constraint in this case is *Obs[-voi]Sib[+voi], which is to say, “A voiceless obstruent (Obs[-voi]) cannot be immediately followed by a voiced sibilant (Sib[+voi]).” Crucially, this constraint must outrank the constraint FAITHFULNESS, which prohibits any alteration to the underlying form. Thus, the ranking constraints is important.

Now, in order to create OptimalJustice, Elliot had to come with non-linguistic constraints, in particular constraints relevant to small claims court (or magisterial district court). But how did one come up with constraints? Should he just make them up–conjure them from thin air? He decided to try to extract them automatically from text. He gathered digitized records of his uncle’s court decision. He also–well, how shall we put this–procured access to the judge’s personal diary, a massive Microsoft Word document. The diary entries supplemented the court records with information of a more personal nature.

Elliot used natural language processing tools, such as a part-of-speech tagger and syntactic parser to extract the constraints, ending up with nearly 2000. Some examples are the following:

*POOR:PAY: Anyone who is poor must not pay any money to the opposing side. One violation mark for each $150 such a person pays.
*DEFENDANT: Defendants are banned. One violation mark if party in question is the defendant.
*PLAINTIFF: Plaintiffs are banned. One violation mark if the party in question is the plaintiff.
*BURRITO: Burritos are banned. One violation mark per burrito.
*NO-LIPGLOSS: (“Don’t wipe off that lip gloss!”) Not to wear lip gloss is prohibited. One violation mark for a complete absence of lip gloss
*LIPGLOSS: (“Wipe off that lip gloss!”) To wear lip gloss is prohibited. One violation mark for presence of lip gloss.
*TATTOOS: (“Hide your tats!”) Tattoos are banned. One violation mark per tattoo.
*NO-TATTOOS: (“Don’t hide your tats!”) The absence of tattoos in banned. One violation mark for a complete lack of tattoos.
*NO-LIPGLOSS&*NO-TATTOOS: (“Lip gloss and tats go great together!”) The simultaneous absence of lip gloss and tattoos is prohibited. The violation of the conjoined constraint incurs a single violation mark (not two). It what follows, we shall sometimes abbreviate this constraint as *NLG&*NT.

Elliot was kind enough to sit down with me and explain these constraints. However, he was careful to point out there are in fact thousands of constraints. and that it is the interaction of many constraints that yields the subtlest and most interesting effects. Note that the asterisk in the above constraints is a kind of negation. Also, one keeps track of individual violation in order to break ties if necessary.

The constraint *POOR:PAY serves to mitigate against other constraints that might work to make a poor person pay a burdensome amount of money. It outranks *DEFENDANT, for instance. *PLAINTIFF also outranks *DEFENDANT, which, according to Elliot, represents the plaintiff’s burden of proof, although he allows that it could stem from his uncle’s sour attitude toward plaintiffs, whom he sees as instigators and the source of much of his misery. *BURRITO is one of Elliot’s personal favorites. “Burritos are always bad news in small claims court,” he said.

We see the influence of the judge’s diary in the constraints pertaining to lip gloss and tattoos. “My uncle seems to have a thing for lip gloss,” Elliot observed with a grimace when we turned to these constraints. “The most notable constraint in this group is *NO-LIPGLOSS&*NO-TATTOOS [i.e., *NLG&*NT], which is actually a complex constraint, namely, the conjunction of the atomic constraints *NO-LIPGLOSS and *NO-TATTOOS.”

But still more interesting is the ranking of the constraints in this group, which is detailed below in (1-3). Note that the symbol “>>” means “outranks.”

(1) A := *NO-LIPGLOSS >> *LIPGLOSS
(2) B := *TATTOOS >> *NO-TATTOOS
(3) *NO-LIPGLOSS&*NO-TATTOOS >> B

Subranking A in (1) can be paraphrased as “Wear lip gloss,” and subranking B in (2) “Hide your tattoos!” Now, in (3) the conjunction constraint *NLG&*NT outranks B. (3) can thus be paraphrased as “Don’t hide your tattoos if you’re wearing lip gloss!” I asked Elliot what we thought of all this. He sighed and said, “My uncle is a complicated man.”

The above rankings constitute a tiny sample of OptimalJustice’s globally optimally constraint rankings, a ranking of nearly 2000 constraints. The globally optimally ranking is the one that most accurately models the judge’s decision-making process, i.e., the one that most consistently replicates the judge’s past decisions. Elliot used a machine learning algorithm to find the optimal ranking from among the innumerable possible rankings. Once the constraint ranking was computed, OptimalJustice was essentially ready to go. Elliot took it to Judge Nevelson’s office that very evening–that fateful evening not long after Thanksgiving, 2014.

The Judge was blown away. “It was me, but better.” he said. “I was amazed.” Throughout the remainder of the judge’s term, OptimalJustice allowed him to zone out for most of the day. “I no longer had to think about poodles, burritos, or anything else that I didn’t want to think about.” He still had to be appear in the courtroom, but OptimalJustice was with him at all times to do his thinking for him.

Elliot set up microphones to record the sound of the courtroom proceedings. Judge Nevelson himself captured the requisite visual data, using his smartphone to take photographs of both the plaintiff and defendant. Elliot incorporated into OptimalJustice an image processing program capable of recognizing lip gloss at an accuracy of 97 percent accuracy.

With the help of his nephew’s program, Judge Nevelson sailed through the rest of that second term. He is now happily retired. I asked him there were ever any complaints pertaining to his using OptimalJustice. “None to my knowledge,” he said. “I don’t think anyone ever caught on. They may have found my cell-phone photography a little strange at first. But then again, maybe not. Nowadays people are always taking pictures of each other. No, if anything, OptimalJustice was an improvement. It was a more consistent version of me. And there’s something about consistency that just resonates with folks.”

The younger Nevelson aced his computational linguistics seminar. OptimalJustice was a big hit. His professor’s only criticism was that OptimalJustice’s domain was too narrow, as it was basically a Judge Murray T. Nevelson automaton. But according to Elliot, this can easily be remedied by expanding OptimalJustice’s training corpus, i.e., by training it on decisions from more judges. “There is boundless room for improvement, but it will never be perfect,” said Elliot. “One of my uncle’s favorite sayings is, ‘Everything is imperfect, but the law is really imperfect.’” While perfect justice may indeed be unattainable, Elliot Nevelson’s ingenious work may just have put optimal justice within reach.

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Happy April Fool’s Day from your LINGUIST List team! Don’t forget to visit us at our Fund Drive homepage to help us reach our goal!

Fun Fact: Jobs Edition

The jobs area of the LINGUIST List is a place for companies and universities to post job announcements. This is one of the busiest areas of the listserv. Over 10,000 jobs have been submitted over the LINGUIST List to date. Clare is our primary editor tackling this task with support from Sarah. This week’s fun fact is going to shed a little light on the variety of submissions we receive.

As I’m sure you know, linguistics touches on a large number of other fields.
Linguists are doing linguistics in jobs all around the world, interacting with people working in other disciplines daily. This is apparent by the job submissions we receive.

The graph below shows the 32 top department names for job submissions along with how many jobs these departments submit to us. This was created by querying our database for the top 50 most common and then manually combining ones that were the same (e.g. Department of Linguistics and Linguistics Department were both changed into Linguistics).

That’s quite a spread in different areas you all are working in!

Maybe you’re someone who found a job by using the LINGUIST List or maybe you fund the right candidate because of posting with us. If you appreciate the work that we do to bring job postings to you, please consider donating at the funddrive page.

Fund Drive 2018: Donate by Next Friday to Win a Prize!

Dear LINGUIST List Colleagues,

Today we are rolling out another bundle of books and journal subscription prizes for this weekend, one of which you can win if you donate to the LINGUIST List Fund Drive before Friday, Apr 6.

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From Springer:

A hardback copy of “English Medium Instruction in Higher Education in Asia-Pacific” edited by Ben Fenton-Smith, Pamela Humphreys and Ian Walkinshaw (http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319519746) AND 4 issues of the Language Policy journal (volume 16 issues 1- 4)

A hardback copy of “Contrastive Analysis of Discourse-pragmatic Aspects of Linguistic Genres” edited by Karin Aijmer and Diana Lewis (http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319545547) AND 4 issues of the journal Language Resources and Evaluation (volume 51 issues 1 – 4)

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Again, to win any of these fantastic prizes from this coming week’s prize bundle, you can donate to enter your name into the drawing until midnight on Thursday, Apr 5. For every $10 you donate, your name will be entered into the lottery to win. Donate by the link below:

http://funddrive.linguistlist.org/donate/

In addition to the one-time donations to our Fund Drive, you can also become a recurring donor and support LINGUIST List on a long-term basis. Find out how by following this link:

https://linguistlist.org/issues/26/26-2068.html

And as always, if you cannot donate monetarily, you can help us out in other ways, such as liking, sharing, and retweeting our Fund Drive posts on social media. If you like the LINGUIST List and have benefited from our free service, tell your friends about the LINGUIST List and our Fund Drive. Every little bit of support is appreciated!

There will be many more great prizes from our supporting publishers in the coming month, so stay tuned to our social media pages to hear about more prizes that you can win. Thanks and good luck!

Linguistically yours,
The LINGUIST List Crew

Easy Abs: Serving Linguists around the World

Dear Readers,

Earlier in the Fund Drive, we shared some interesting statistics about EasyAbs, the free service we provide for conference organizers. In the last ten years, over 1,300 conferences have used EasyAbs, with over 75,000 abstracts submitted in that time!

Today we would like to share with you the testimonials of real-life conference organizers who used EasyAbs to make their job, well, a little easier! We want to keep providing this valuable service in years to come, so please, if you haven’t already, visit our Fund Drive homepage. We need your help to reach our goal in order to fund EasyAbs and continue to support conference organizers like those below:

 

We used EasyAbs to manage the submissions and reviews of abstracts for the Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference, 2016. We were under funding constraints for the conference, so having this freely available service was extremely helpful. EasyAbs was, indeed, easy to use, for those who submitted abstracts, for the reviewers, and for us as we prepared the conference program. EasyAbs streamlined the review process significantly. We are grateful that The Linguist List provides this wonderful service.

– Mary Grantham O’Brien, University of Calgary; Tracey Derwing, University of Alberta & Simon Fraser University.

I was pleased with my experience using EasyAbs for managing abstract review. The website is easy to interact with and the folks at LINGUIST List were prompt and helpful whenever I had questions about the site. I will certainly use it again.

– Samson Lotven, Indiana University

I’ve found EasyAbs to be an enormously useful tool when organising conferences. Being able to manage the various aspects of abstract reviewing on one site has made the process very efficient. I’m grateful to the LinguistList for offering us the service without charge.

– Beth Hume, University of Canterbury

It is very useful for a conference organizer to be able to widely advertise an upcoming event on Linguist List. Just a simple e-mail to the editors will do to spread the news to the linguistics community. The EasyAbs service deserves its name because it makes it really easy to organize the practicalities around conference abstracts, both for organizers and participants.

In particular, organizing the Nordic Prosody XII conference 2016 I enjoyed the quick and smooth help from the list’s conference support!”

– Wilm van Dommelen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

We have used EasyAbs for our last two international conferences at Lancaster University. It works very smoothly, and has been ideal for our needs in dealing with quite large numbers of submissions and the subsequent review process. We are really grateful for the provision of such an effective system made available to the linguist list, and beyond, and we profoundly hope that it continues to be a service to academics in our community – we’d like to use it again for our next meeting!

– Padraic Monaghan, Lancaster University

We have used EasyAbs for several conferences now and we would use it again. EasyAbs is a great tool, easy to handle and free, which might be especially important for the organisers of smaller conferences such as ours.

EasyAbs is perfectly integrated with the LinguistList conference services which helped us along the entire way from conference announcement to the call for papers and the whole abstract submission and review process, to finally announcing our programme on LinguistList. What’s particularly useful about EasyAbs is that organisers and reviewers have independent access to the abstracts and you can easily organise double-blind reviewing by assigning and e-mailing reviewers etc. You can send Accept/Reject mails directly from the facility and it even offers sample letters (which may help especially when you aren’t a native speaker of English).

We think EasyAbs is a great service to the linguistics community. We would recommend it to anyone organising a small- to medium-size conference.

– Andrea Ender and Irmtraud Kaiser, Universität Salzburg

I really recommend EasyAbs. It is an easy to use platform and the support is great. It has made it much easier for us to upload and review abstracts for our conference.

– Julia Miller, president of AustraLex

The Arabic Linguistics Society has benefited tremendously from the Linguist List’s free EasyAbs tool in vetting abstracts for its annual symposia. The system is user-friendly for the conference organizers, the authors, and the reviewers. This takes, without a doubt, a lot of labor behind the scenes at the Linguist List, and for that, we are truly grateful.

– Hamid Ouali (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Executive Director of the Arabic Linguistics Society

Easy Abs is a unique facility offered byLinguistList. From the very first moment I undertook the organization of an international conference and judging by the clear and neat way LinguistList’s website is organized, I trusted Easy Abs for a smooth conference program outcome. Easy Abs facilitates abstracts uploading and the process of reviewers’ selection, accelerates the review and notification process, as well as the final program organization. All in all, Easy Abs helps even the most hopeless conference (or event) organizer become the greater conference (or event) host! Try it!

– Marina Tzakosta, University of Crete

Rising Stars: Meet Becca Peterson

Dear Readers,

For several years, we have featured linguists with established careers and interesting stories to tell. This year, we will also be highlighting “Rising Stars” throughout our Fund Drive, undergraduates who were nominated by their mentors for their exceptional interest in linguistics and eager participation in the global community of language researchers.

Selected nominees were asked to share their view of the field of linguistics: what topics they see emerging as important or especially interesting, what role they see the field filling in the coming decades, and how they plan to contribute. We hope you will enjoy the perspectives of these students, who represent the bright future of our field.

Today, we are featuring Becca Peterson, a sophomore at Northeastern Illinois University with a special interest in sociolinguistics and language attitudes. She is the author of the award-winning short play “Talking the Talk,” whose story hinges on “socioeconomic, racial, class, and regional communication disconnects (and connections) among four speakers of differing varieties of American English.”

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There are already numerous linguistic shifts and notions of awareness in terms of political correctness that pertain to the English language. We see this awareness when we think about the heightened awareness of gender as a non-binary entity of the human condition and the increased use of gender neutral pronouns. Many people are practicing these linguistic changes based on their own value of inclusivity that in turn shape language. In decades to come, my conjecture would be that a normalization of gender-neutral pronouns will occur not only in English but in some other languages as well.

A linguistic ‘hot topic’ that I personally would like to see emerge is how sexism is ingrained into the English language, both colloquial and formal. In the media and in casual conversations, it is often normalized to refer to women using animalistic terms such as ‘chicks’ and ‘bitches,’ or infantilizing terms like ‘doll.’ We often hear of both men and women being referred to by the term ‘bitch’ when that person exhibits a particular state of emotionality; but having emotion is a human characteristic and not one exclusively of women. However, people use the term in a derogatory sense to shame men and women for displaying emotion by using a strictly female term, as ‘bitch’ refers to a female dog. Many times, also, women’s occupational titles include their gender – such as with the terms ‘actress’ or ‘waitress’ – which seems to me irrelevant to a woman’s ability to hold and excel in any occupation. I do not believe that it is at all necessary to make the distinction that the person holding the job is a woman.

Another topic in linguistics that I feel is very important is the dismantling of the idea that certain dialects are considered to be more standard or have greater prestige compared to others. Dialects, regardless of which, have a structure and certain logic to them that makes each unique and conveys a sense of identity about the speakers of that dialect. There is no ‘standard’ English dialect, and believing that there is such a thing perpetuates stigmas against speakers of other varieties. Prescriptivist attitudes of language emerged in order to separate social groups and assign a greater value to individuals who learned, wrote, and spoke using prescriptive grammar. I would like to see this fallacy that speakers of certain varieties are inherently uneducated fall off and for a more descriptive view of English grammar to be accepted, particularly in academic environments where students’ adherence to prescriptive grammar is often held to a greater importance than students’ ideas and creative accomplishments.

As a creative writer myself, I attempted to bring this destigmatization of so-called ‘non-standard’ dialects to light in a play that I wrote called “Talking the Talk.” In the play, there are two characters in a hospital waiting room, one who speaks African-American English dialect and one who speaks a variety of Appalachian English. While both characters speak the same language, they have trouble communicating with and understanding one another due to their dialectical differences, particularly in terms of the slang they use. At the end of the play, the doctor’s character, who speaks in some highfalutin medical jargon, is introduced to give the impression that she is highly educated, but then she ends up making some very miniscule grammar mistakes that prescriptivists would criticize. I think the meshing of these three characters in the end conveys my point that dialect is not an indication of education or prestige.

I am an aspiring English teacher and I am fortunate to be able to work in an environment where these conversations about language are relevant. Having an awareness of how language might convey certain values is important, and the great thing about the English discourse is that if the language we use does not match our own values, we can modify our language use and in turn shape the language. Languages naturally evolve in order to reflect the people who speak it as well as their morals and values, so the power is not in the language itself but in the speakers of the language. I intend to instill in my students a sense of awareness and mindfulness regarding language.

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If you have a student who you believe is a “Rising Star” in linguistics, we would love to hear about them! We are still accepting nominations for exceptional young linguists. Please see the call for nominations for more information: https://linguistlist.org/issues/29/29-831.html

If you have not yet–please visit our Fund Drive page 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.

https://funddrive.linguistlist.org/

Gratefully,
The LINGUIST List Team

Featured Linguist: Dafydd Gibbon

Dafydd Gibbon

Looking back over many decades of passion for linguistics and phonetics, it turns out that there are not as many steps as one might think from a first degree in literature and philology, emphasising structural, hermeneutic and biographical methods, and thorough acquaintance with the history of the Germanic languages from Indo-European to the 20th century, to research on computational language documentation and computational phonetics, particularly prosody, on the other.

For example, the rhymes and metrical patterns of lyrical poetry have been a source of metaphors for terminology in phonology (for example ‘metre’, ‘metrical phonology’, ‘iambic’ and ‘trochaic’ stress patterns, ‘rhyme’, ‘anacrusis’) for a long time. And not only do the deep-to-surface rules of generative and post-generative phonologies tend to mirror many of the sound change rules of philology, the ‘Junggrammatiker’ of the late 19th and early 20th century were no slouches when it came to formal descriptive precision. Ferdinand de Saussure, too, our semiotically oriented structural linguistic grandfather figure, was most well-known in his time for his work on Indo-European vowels and laryngeals. Leonard Bloomfield worked in remarkable transdisciplinary environments: from philological studies in Göttingen to cooperation with expat Vienna logician Rudolf Carnap in Chicago, whose background in the Vienna circle of logicians and linguists links up with the Prague school of linguistics, particularly Trubetzkoy’s logical theory of binary oppositions, and thus, via Roman Jakobson, linguist and literary scholar, with late 20th century Bostonian linguistics. Optimality Theory, too, is a practical application of set-constraining ‘generate and test’ pattern matching search algorithms in computational linguistics and artificial intelligence.

The symbiosis of hermeneutic literary studies, logic and speech analysis which these scholars practised has inspired me in different ways during my linguistic career, leading to a synthesis of Hallidayan and Chomskyan views of language as a finite stack of ranks from discourse to the speech sound, together with semantic-pragmatic and prosodic-phonetic interpretations at each rank (Rank-Interpretation Theory).

The interdisciplinary environment at Bielefeld University and lengthy involvement in international projects (especially SAM, EAGLES, VerbMobil, DoBeS, E-MELD), as well as appointments in several African countries, in India and in China, has created many opportunities to meet and work on these topics with stimulating colleagues of many persuasions in many corners of the world (yes, the world is a polyhedron in my computational cosmology) and to indulge my interests in literature (check my #haiku tweets and choupub ebooks) and music (check tumblr) with colleagues and students, as well as notching up a current total of 114 co-authors, Erdös #4 and (particularly proud of these) awards for linguistic and phonetic cooperations with Ivory Coast and Nigeria. Naturally I’m looking forward to many more such transdisciplinary and transcultural cooperations with fruitful interchanges of data, description, documentation and computation, and – most of all! – to the ever rewarding interactions with speakers of fascinating languages, the real sources of our dedication to language and speech.

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Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2018 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List needs your support!

A History of ConLangs, Part II: How Human is Alien Language? Science Fiction, Klingon, and Language

Part II: How Human is Alien Language? Science Fiction, Klingon, and Language

This year’s Fund Drive theme is linguistics and pop culture, and to that end, we’re running a short 3-part series about Constructed Languages, one of Pop Culture’s most enduring linguistic artifacts. Part I dealt with the early years of creative language construction, focusing mainly on the man who started it all–J.R.R. Tolkien, philologist and mythos-maker. Part II deals with Fantasy’s daring cousin, Science Fiction, and the role played by ConLangs in the creation of science-oriented narrative and philosophy.

From my first college years, when I told people that I was studying linguistics, I always got those inevitable questions. Question One is obviously, “how many languages do you speak?” but of course, the follow-up is always: “what kinds of jobs are there for linguists?” My answers vary, but usually land somewhere near “Linguist IS a job.” Nevertheless, people are often curious if I am interested in working for Hollywood–in training actors in dialectology, or in working on inventing languages for the movies. There’s a reason for that question, and the reason is Klingon.

Klingon is probably the most famous Science Fiction ConLang. It started as a fictional language for the use of aliens in Star Trek, and has become a pop culture phenomenon unlike any other. You can find Klingon on DuoLingo. I kid you not.

Klingon is mentioned in the TV Show version of Star Trek, but is not spoken on screen until Star Trek: the motion picture (1979). At the time, Klingon was not a ConLang but essentially alien-sounds without deliberate form. From there it was developed, regularized, and built up until it could be used for actual communication. It was officially described by Marc Okrand in 1985, who designed it starting from the sounds made up by James Doohan (the actor who plays Scotty) for the first lines of Klingon dialogue.

Mark Lenard, who played Klingon Captain of the battlecruiser IKS Amar, pronounced the first Klingon Words on screen–which were made up by James Doohan

Klingon’s most interesting features, in my opinion, are phonological. Because it was designed to sound “alien,” Klingon has many typologically rare and marked features. It had to be possible for a human vocal tract to produce, so it couldn’t reach the Alien heights of Arrival’s incomprehensible alien sounds, which do not notably resemble human language at all, in terms of strangeness to the human ear. Nevertheless a wide range of places of articulation, with unexpected unevenness suffice to make Klingon rather typologically unusual. There is only one sibilant, but there are plenty of voiced and voiceless fricatives and stops–so far, not so strange. (It was designed to sound “guttural,” so there are a collection of “guttural”-sounding fricatives and affricates.) Uvulars include stops and affricates. In terms of uneven phoneme sets, Klingon includes voiceless aspirated alveolar stops like English… but the voiced alternate is retroflex. In Klingon, there is a voiced labiodental fricative, but no voiceless alternate. To my mind, this is a smart strategy–by definition and nature, no speech sound, no matter how typologically marked, is “alien,” and any alien ConLang designed to be spoken by human actors must be composed out of speech sounds. So the creators, namely Marc Okrand, decided to use the phonological paradigm itself alongside the selection of phonemes. The gaps in the phoneme set do more to make the language strange than the presence of typologically marked sounds. The strangeness of Klingon is, so to speak, more in its phonological negative space than its positive space. According to Okrand, this is very much intentional–he used the phonological space to create a sound system that deliberately violates the normal phonological patterns and tendencies of human language.

But hey, I’m no Klingon expert. Let’s let Marc Okrand, who is also responsible for creating Star Trek‘s Vulcan language, tell us about it. Check it out:

 

 

Like Tolkien’s Elvish, Klingon became the first of a new genre. Where Tolkien invented fantasy languages deliberate crafted to have the realistic features of human language, to have diachronies and dialects and variants and contact-phenomena, Science Fiction ConLangs are more often created to sound as unlike human language as possible. To that end, a focus on phonology makes sense. Unusual syntactic features or semantic features may be present in your SciFi Conlang, but who’s going to notice them, or find them strange? Klingon has grammar, morphology, syllable structure, and other complexities, but beyond the writing system and phonology, most listeners will never know what makes the language complex. Nevertheless, as evidenced by DuoLingo, the language has a popular following and is one of pop culture’s most widely spoken, widely studied, and well-beloved ConLangs. But it’s far from the only one. I love Star Wars, and it would be a mistake to totally leave out mention of the language use of the Star Wars franchise, such as its constructed script Aurebesh, but Klingon’s far-reaching influence is too important to the history of ConLangs, and truly deserves the space.

Milo James Thatch, Movie Linguist(ish), played by Michael J. Fox. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t remember the plot of this movie, but I do remember loving this guy.

Other SciFi ConLangs include Barsoomian, from 2012’s John Carter of Mars, and Goa’uld, the fictional language of Stargate, SG1. Marc Okrand also developed Atlantian for the Disney movie Atlantis: the Lost Empire, which is not like the other SciFi ConLangs mentioned here in that it was developed for a Science Fiction movie, but to be spoken by human characters, not aliens.

Dr. Daniel Jackson, Movie Linguist, played by Michael Shanks, has the dubious honor of being probably Tumblr’s favorite linguist. Pretty sure he’s the same archetype as Milo Thatch?

The nature of your SciFi language will vary based on your needs. Are your aliens human-like, or are they cosmically impossible beings from beyond perception? How much is the audience meant to identify with them and empathize with them, and is your ConLang meant to act as a barrier or an aide in creating empathy? As previously mentioned, the language at the center of 2017’s Arrival is essentially so alien it cannot be comprehended by humans and the main character Louise Banks must find a way to work around the spoken language (she focuses on the set of circular ideograms which were invented for the movie and which are primarily aesthetic in nature). The creators of the film and its language are welcome to correct me on this, but to my knowledge the ideographic writing system used in the movie is not actually a usable ConLang.

However, in James Cameron’s Avatar, the alien language is designed for a decidedly human-like alien people, the Na’vi. Suitably, Na’vi is not designed with the same strategy as Klingon. James Cameron himself started the work on Na’vi language early in his conception of the project. However, the bulk of the ConLanging work was done by Paul Frommer of USC Marshall School of Business and Edward Finegan of University of Southern California. Cameron’s initial list of words were reportedly phonologically similar to Polynesian languages, and the linguists worked from there to develop sets of phonologies with different features–among them a tonal system, a system with ejectives, and one with contrasting vowel lengths. Notably, these may sound strange or “exotic” to the English-speaking world, but are nonetheless not like Klingon’s mismatch of alveolars with its retroflex voiced alternate. Tonal systems and length-contrasts are certainly not typologically rare! The phonological choices–and again, phonology is going to be the most or even only salient feature of a ConLang to the majority of the audience–invoke human speech and there is nothing about Na’vi that sounds to my ear especially “otherworldly.” But that’s the point. The language in Avatar is like its people–essentially human, and designed to be empathetic to a human audience. I can’t say for sure whether this was Frommer and Finegan’s goal in the design of Na’vi, but I think it’s fair to say linguistic realism was important. There’s no emphasis on creating a language that sounds impossible to humans, and instead a realistic language is designed–but in the case of language, “realistic” means “human-like.” Language is also meant to be a feature of the movie’s world, (same goes for Klingon), not the primary object of investigation.

Neytiri, alien bilingual, played and motion-captured by Zoë Saldana. The Na’vi were designed to feel realistic and human-like.

And that brings us back to 2017, and our most recent intersection of speculative fiction and language. Arrival won’t get much space here because its language is not a ConLang (as far as I know) in the truest sense, but I would be remiss if I didn’t bring the subject of SciFi and Language to bear upon the inspiration for the Fund Drive theme: the unusually great year for language in the movies that was 2017. (At least something was great about 2017, right?) In Arrival, the goal is the opposite of Klingon or Na’vi–the language of the Heptapods is not usable to humans, and the language barrier is among the chief obstacles of the movie. It’s not human-like, it’s not easy to empathize with, it’s not even pronounceable. The movie makes language, in a strange way, both its primary protagonist and its primary antagonist. Instead of defeating the antagonist, Louise Banks, the movie’s linguist-hero, overcomes her own struggles to understand it, by using the unique approach of a linguist to the subject of language; she both uses language to achieve empathy with the Other and overcomes the barriers of language by understanding it. And that’s pretty cool, if you ask me.

Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams, is probably Hollywood’s most realistic Linguist.

Please feel welcome to add your thoughts–did you ever design a ConLang for SciFi? Tell me about it! Do you know more about the ones under discussion here and want to share your knowledge? Did I leave anything out, or make any errors? Are there any less famous SciFi ConLangs that deserve more attention?

Most importantly, of course, don’t forget to Click Here donate to the LINGUIST List! We’re at just over 20% of our goal. We’re here to facilitate the worldwide conversation between linguists and to provide invaluable resources to the linguistic community. The LINGUIST List not only provides and manages enormous amounts of data and resources for academic linguists, but supports young researchers who otherwise would not be able to fund their studies.

(Speaking of young researchers, keep an eye out for our next featured undergraduate in the Rising Stars series we are running for this year’s Fund Drive, which spotlights remarkable students nominated by you, the subscribers and supporters of LL! Our last spotlighted student was Carlotta Hübener at the University of Hamburg.)

The third and final part of the ConLangs series will deal with the latest wave of ConLangs, including Dothraki and Valyrian. See you next time!

–Sarah Robsinson, Publications Editor
on behalf of the LINGUIST List team