Rising Stars: Meet Carlotta Hübener

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 Carlotta Hübener, a senior at the University of Hamburg. She is most interested in morphology and syntax, having written her BA thesis on the German linking element -s- and its role in disambiguating compounds.

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Carlotta Hübener

The importance of language

Language has fascinated me ever since I started to talk; however, the immense importance of language did not become clear to me until I started my university studies. Human language is an incredibly valuable asset, particularly with regards to its cognitive, social, cultural and historical aspects. Language allows us to make inferences about how human thinking is organized. Syntactic regularities often reflect human priorities. A striking example of this is the influence of the animacy hierarchy in various grammatical areas. Frequently, animate or even human referents assume a special grammatical role, for example, they may be preferred to inanimate referents in syntactic orders. (Conventionalized) metaphors are another example for the interplay of language and cognition. It is believed that they reflect existing presumptions or human thinking, and vice versa, shape human perception.

My personal interest: Grammar

So far, my studies have been focused on grammar from a diachronic and a synchronic perspective. My particular interests are morphology and syntax, together with their interfaces. Empirical methods are indispensable to investigate these subjects. It is invigorating to learn more about the way people use linguistic structures, how they are modified over time and how people generalize over them or render them unproductive. In addition, linguistically doubtful cases are highly appealing to me as they often indicate language change, and point out limitations to the production and processing of language.

I would like, with my work, to contribute to bringing syntactic irregularities into sharper focus. In this way, new perspectives may be opened on linguistic phenomena which were previously neglected or even considered as fully discussed. It is really exciting to investigate how prototypically transitive scenarios are morphologically reflected. In my undergraduate thesis, I was able to show, with the use of a questionnaire, that the linking-s in newly coined German compounds has a disambiguating effect because it supports transitive interpretations.

Perspectives to linguistics

The ever-increasing production of written language data, such as online magazines, forum discussions, chats etc. will extend the possibilities of corpus linguistics. These empiric resources will allow researchers to use digital corpora more comprehensively than before. Advances in computational linguistics will hopefully allow automatic tagging systems to be improved. This will, in turn, simplify the processing of large amounts of linguistic data. Large and current corpora will allow the change in language to be recognized faster and to be described more accurately. This may also serve as a starting point to examine rare linguistic phenomena, which may otherwise have been overlooked.

Interactive end devices are, increasingly, becoming a part of daily life. Their use leads to an increasing demand on communication. The most immediate form of communication still is human language, hence, computational linguistics is increasingly being challenged to simplify natural man-machine communication, i.e. making it as easy as communicating with other humans. To this end, language must be represented digitally. Like that, digital avatars and machine-translation systems could be substantially improved.

As a whole, linguistic research and its subdisciplines encompass countless interesting possibilities. Surely, interdisciplinary research will become increasingly important for further progress. Science and particularly language belong to the general public. Access to current scientific results must be simplified. This includes digital provisioning of results as well as matching their formal complexity to the needs of the general public. Naturally, this should lead to an increasing exchange of ideas between researchers and the interested public. In this way, linguistics will continue to contribute to enlightenment and hinder potential misuse of the force of language as commonly found in hate speeches and fake news.

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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 it support of linguists around the world.

https://funddrive.linguistlist.org/

Gratefully,

The LINGUIST List Team

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, Mar 30.

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From Elsevier: 5 one-year subscriptions to an Elsevier linguistics journal of your choice! (https://www.elsevier.com/social-sciences/linguistics/linguistics-journals)

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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, Mar 29. 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

Fund Drive goal update: 20%!

Dear Readers,

We’re writing to thank you for your generosity so far in our Fund Drive: we have passed 20% of our goal! We have received donations from over 150 users, 77 universities, 30 countries, and linguists in a wide variety of subfields (currently led by Computational Linguistics, Sociolinguistics and Syntax)!

We are passionate about our role in the world-wide linguistics community, a role that we have played for 28 years. We now have 30 000+ users who range from fledgling linguistics students to distinguished, life-long contributors to the field, and we are proud to provide services that meet various needs for users all along that spectrum. Whether it’s a new job, a promising conference call, or a particularly interesting new book, we want to be the place you find it.

But to achieve that end, we need your help. Although we never charge our readers for the information we provide, our operation isn’t free. We rely on the generosity of our users to fund Graduate Assistants, programmers, summer interns, IT infrastructure, and so on. Without your donations, the LINGUIST List would simply not be possible.

If just 1 in 10 users would donate $10, we would reach our goal and end the Fund Drive TODAY. We could get back to doing what we do best: serving linguists around the globe. So please, if you haven’t yet––please visit our Fund Drive homepage to learn more about us, and why we need your donation.

Gratefully yours,
The LINGUIST List Team

A History of Pop-Culture ConLangs–Sindarin to Today

For this week’s spotlight on pop culture linguistics, we’ve decided to talk about the proud history and modern practice of constructing languages to fill fictional worlds—so don’t look out for Esperanto, or any other language constructed with the intention of filling the real world.

We’ll be handling ConLangs in a three-part series, because, well, we’re passionate about languages, fiction, and the role that language plays in the imaginative lives of people and cultures.

Part I: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Invention of Invention

Like many English-L1 linguists, the world of J.R.R. Tolkien was my first introduction to linguistics–and to ConLangs. My father read aloud to me from the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings when I was eight years old, and by the time I was fifteen I was attempting my own first constructed languages. (They were bad.)

Although J.R.R. Tolkien was not the first person to attempt constructing a language—that honor goes to the ancients, who constructed languages not for fictional speakers but for the purposes of philosophy, cross-linguistic communication, and aesthetics—his groundbreaking ConLangs can be credited with beginning the rich new era of 20th and 21st century language-creation. Tolkien was a philologist and a professor, who spent much of his time immersed in the same kinds of texts that linguists and philologists today work with, but his efforts at ConLanging began when he was only a child of 13 or 14 years. Elvish languages—of which there were several—and their accompanying writing systems were among the first things he imagined for his epic world-changing mythos. In fact, one could say he created his mythos to give a world to his languages, to give them native speakers and L2 speakers and pragmatics and conversations, to launch them into life, rather than creating his languages to populate and enrich his world.

His first Elvish language (though not his first ConLang) was called Quenya, which was inspired in the early stages by languages he was familiar with, in particular Finnish.

Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett in the movies, is a powerful Elvish woman, though not technically a queen, and a speaker of Tolkien’s ConLangs Sindarin and Quenya

He was so taken with Finnish that he immediately implemented features of Finnish grammar and phonology into his ConLang, to the extent that a hundred years after he began his work, I can still remember showing my friends a song in Finnish and having them comment, “that’s beautiful. It sounds like Elvish.”

According to one of his letters—dated 1964 and a large portion of which was published in now out-of-print issue 17 (2007) of Parma Eldalamberon, a fan magazine devoted to Tolkien’s ConLangs which has been involved since 1992 in the project of editing and compiling of Tolkien’s linguistic papers with the permission of his son, Christopher Tolkien—the influence of Finnish was initially considerably more extensive, but later trimmed significantly in what became Late Quenya. Elements he borrowed from Finnish and that remained in Late Quenya included syntax—lack of grammatical gender, and parts of the case system, including what appears to be the inessive case  with the ending -sse (rest in or at), and the inflectional ending -nna (movement toward) and -llo (movement away from), cases which were borrowed from Finnish, though I can’t say whether the actual phonological representation of them came from Finnish too or was invented by Tolkien to fill a grammatical category—and phonological, such as the absence of a voiced stop series, except in NC clusters in which the stop undergoes voicing assimilation toward the voicing setting of the preceding nasal. (Any Finnish speaking readers are welcome to comment on the case endings, which I had a hard time identifying! Are the case endings themselves borrowed, in your opinion? Edit: commenter Edouard Kloczko was happy to confirm that the cases are borrowed–Finnish adessive -lla becomes Quenya -llo, inessive -ssa becomes -sse.)

In another letter, this one found in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (2000, edited by Christopher Tolkien), he described Quenya as having many “phonoaesthetic” influences, including Finnish, Latin, and Greek.

(“Phonoaesthetic” is an excellent word and we should keep it.)

The Tengwar is an Elvish script that were influenced by Satari, a script invented by in-universe linguist Rumil

As Tolkien’s ConLangs developed, he developed the world if Middle Earth around them, to accommodate a diachronic vision that included contact-induced language change, diachronic shifting in phonology and semantics. Tolkien even got metascholastic and included a scholarly tradition of philology among the Elves themselves. There were Elvish linguists in his world! Like Rúmil the Elvish philologist who was the invented inventor of one of Tolkien’s invented scripts, Sarati—’later Tengwar’. Tolkien created other scripts like Cirth, Quenyatic, and Gondolinic Runes. There were even families of related languages with shared ancestral roots, and eventually it all led to the world’s first Mythopoeia. The man, the myth-maker, and pop culture’s first ConLanger.

Tune in soon for Part II of our ConLang Series: How Human is Alien Language? Science Fiction, Klingon, and Language

What are your favorite ConLangs, and Conlangers? Are there any you’d like to see us talk about? Have you ever constructed one, or been hired to construct one? Tell us about it in the comments! Send us your favorite examples! And don’t forget to donate to support the LINGUIST List! We are so grateful for your support over the last three decades–you keep us afloat!

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

Rising Stars: Meet Victoria Melgarejo

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 excited to share the perspective of Victoria Melgarejo, a senior at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has conducted several research projects on bilingual classroom interaction, code-switching on television, and language attitudes of monolingual and bilingual Latinx persons.

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Victoria Melgarejo

We are constantly immersed in language whether we notice it or not. It is present in everything from conversations, to signs, text, and speeches. As linguists we love to think about the language that surrounds us as we go about our lives. Today, with the rise in the use of social media platforms, I can see the field of linguistics growing and expanding to focus on online discourse. With millions of people making a footprint online it is interesting and exciting to understand the different linguistic varieties and linguistic practices that take place in this platform. Different communities of practice utilize language online in unique and exciting ways, and I see this becoming a hot area of interest in the near future. Younger generations are utilizing social media platforms for activism, to spread information, and to build communities. This is largely new, as just a couple years ago this was not the case. As youth in America become more and more politically active online, I believe that focusing on online youth political discourse will be an exciting area of study.

Linguists are often conversing about language; however, it is imperative that we analyze language and its ties to the larger social issues. I first became interested in research in linguistics when I began reading about linguistics as a tool to deconstruct and help fight some of the social issues of our times. I was able to use my research to highlight and raise awareness to some of the problems in our society that I felt needed to be discussed more.

Therefore, I believe it is important that we teach our students about linguistic diversity in our classrooms, and as a society, that we learn to appreciate diversity. I envision linguistics and language studies taking a more active role socio-politically to solve current and future problems. I can see linguists taking a central role on national debates because it is our duty to analyze language in all different forms and contexts in order to advocate for sociolinguistic justice. We need to denounce discrimination and injustices because this is how we as linguists can contribute to improving our society.

Reading literature in the field of linguistics has allowed me to see where research has focused and what needs to be researched more. I have conducted research on translanguaging in the classroom, linguistic representation of Latinxs in media and currently on the linguistic attitudes, biases, and insecurities of bilingual and English-dominant Latinxs. My goal is to continue my education this fall by pursuing a Ph.D. in Education in the Race, Inequalities, and Language in Education program (RILE) at Stanford University. I plan to keep contributing to the field of linguistics and in the community of researchers by continuing my research in sociocultural linguistics. I am interested in bilingualism and English Language Learners and I am passionate to conduct innovative research in the way language is used in the classroom to improve classroom participation and student achievement. My dream is to become a full-time professor and researcher.

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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 it support of linguists around the world.

An Upset in the Subfield Challenge!

Hello again linguists and supporters! Check out our most recent challenge rankings to find out where your university or subfield stands!

In the Subfield Challenge:
Computation linguistics still remains in the lead for the time being, with $1465!
In second place, Syntax follows closely with $1065.
Sociolinguistics has outstretched Semantics, replacing it in third with $1030 (and coming dangerous close to replacing Syntax too!)
View Full Ranking

In the University Challenge:
Stanford University leads–for the time being–with $1370 from a total of 20 donors!
University of Washington is even closer than before, with $1160 from 11 donors.
Arizona State University with $500 from only 1 donor!
View Full Ranking

Region Challenge:
North American has increased its lead 78 donors, now outstretching Europe by more than double!
Europe comes in second with 35 donors–for now! Can Europe upset North America?
Asia is in third with 8 donors.
We’re so grateful for our donors from all over the world!
View Full Ranking

Country Challenge:
The US remains in the lead with 74 donors!
Germany is in second with 11 donors.
Austria comes up third with 5 donors.
View Full Ranking

We’re grateful for your support and participation. Three cheers to our donors, who’ve been behind us for nearly three decades.
–The LL Team

Fund Drive 2018: Reminder! Donate to Win a Publisher Prize

Dear LINGUIST List Subscribers and Colleagues,

In case you missed the announcement last Friday, we are running another publisher prize giveaway this week. If you donate before this Friday, March 23, you will get the chance one of these prizes:

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From Equinox Publishing: One Year Free Online Linguistics Package, including full access to their Linguistic Title List (all current and digitised back issues)! (https://www.equinoxpub.com)

From Brill:
– 2 one-year subscriptions to their journal Cognitive Semantics (http://www.brill.com/products/journal/cognitive-semantics)
– 2 prizes of a choice of 5 volumes from their Distinguished Lectures in Cognitive Linguistics (DLCL) series (http://www.brill.com/products/series/distinguished-lectures-cognitive-linguistics)

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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, Mar 22. 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

Fund Drive Fun Fact: Easy Abs

Hey everyone,

Kenneth here again with a Fun Fact for all of you. This week, we’re directing a lot of our content towards EasyAbs. EasyAbs is a free service we provide for conference organizers that helps make the process of receiving and reviewing abstracts, well…Easy!

We have a large number of testimonials coming out later in the week that we collected last year from happy conference organizers. I’m here to provide some numbers (and graphs) for you all.

Since 2008, we have had 1,259 conferences use this service. That’s not counting the meetings that were deleted by the organizers. Over 75,356 abstracts were submitted to these conferences!

We had 136 conferences with deadlines last year and 7,686 abstracts were submitted last year as well.

Something that I thought might be interesting to look at is the number of abstract submissions per conference. I’ve created the graph below to display this. The top graph indicates the number of abstract submissions we received during a year while the bottom graph indicates the number of meetings held during this same year. The middle graph displays the ratio of abstracts to meetings for a given year.

While last year saw less meetings than typical, this looks like it’s normal fluctuations from year to year. However, the number of abstract submissions appears to be dropping. At first glance, it looks like now is the time to submit an abstract! However, these stats are distorted somewhat by the distribution of abstracts among conferences.

Here’s a histogram showing the distribution of how many abstracts each conference received. As you can see, this looks somewhat Zipfian with very high outliers.

This is probably a case where it would be better to look at median instead of mean since the Zipfian distribution has very high outliers. These high outliers could severely affect the abstract submission count (e.g. if just one 1000 submission outlier was missing from a year, the ratio of abstracts to conferences would lower a lot). However, significance tests are a little too serious for Fun Facts don’t you think?

EasyAbs is important to a lot of people as the 1,259 conferences that used this service indicate. If you appreciate EasyAbs or any of the other services the LINGUIST List provides, please consider a contribution to our annual fund drive campaign. It’s going on now!

You can donate by visiting funddrive.linguistlist.org . Thank you!

Rising Stars: Meet Michelle Michimani Leyva

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 thoughts of Michelle Michimani Leyva, a senior at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. She is majoring in both English-Communication Arts and Spanish, and is especially interested in applying her knowledge of lexicology to advertising and reaching minority Spanish-speaking populations. You can learn more about her research on her portfolio.

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Michelle Michimani Leyva

The role of language in cultural identity is often overlooked. However, acknowledging the connections between cultural and linguistic identities contributes to a fuller understanding of societies. Deepening our understanding of linguistics helps prevent miscommunication between dialects, fosters a sense of belonging through common linguistic features, and counteracts stigmas associated with variations between dialects. Knowledge of linguistic identities helps us understand communities and individuals better and helps us accept and cherish our unique linguistic attributes.

As an advertiser and linguist, I hope that the intersection of these fields emerges as a “hot topic.” Linguistics has been explored in media, but its application to advertising specifically has not been explored in as much depth. Advertising is about communicating, whether it is through art or through its copy; but if advertisement’s main point is to create a customized ad specific to a target audience, why is copy language so generalized? I am personally interested in the topic of using Spanish dialects in copy since Spanish has a vast lexical bank throughout its many dialects. During my internship as media planner at Wavemaker (formally known as MEC) in New York City, I was able to see the advertising industry’s push for placing the right advertisement in front of the right person. However, there seems to be an oversight on the affect linguistics has on an advertisements’ performance. For example, in 2004 Hershey partnered with Thalia Sodi to create a “Hispanic inspired” candy line. The new candy bar was called “Cajeta Elegancita.” “Cajeta” in Mexico is defined as a caramel sauce made of goat’s milk, but in Argentina, “cajeta” is a slang term used to describe a part of the female anatomy. Linguistic knowledge helps optimize creative advertising and branding, and it helps advertisers craft ads that resonate with various audiences. Gloria Anzaldúa wrote, “Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity.” Being able to portray various linguistic identities in advertising would help remediate the issues of non-representation and misrepresentation of minorities in advertising.

This year, I finished my research study, Lexical Variation in Spanish Speakers, and presented it at the Third International Conference on Heritage/Community Languages in the University of California, Los Angeles. My research surveyed the lexical bank of Spanish speakers in the United States and compared the results to the lexical bank provided in five 1st and 2nd year Spanish textbooks for college students. The results of my research indicated that Spanish heritage speakers lexical bank varied significantly from standard Spanish. My conclusion focused on the lexical variety in Spanish speakers and the stigmas among variations that are not the norma culta or standard Spanish.

While I work in the advertising field, I hope to contribute to linguistics research by completing an extension of my study. In this future research, I would like to examine lexical variation in Spanish speakers and its application to Spanish advertising. Through my research and my work, I hope to create awareness of the importance of linguistics features that makes language so unique. Eventually I would like to attend graduate school for linguistics and dream of creating my own multi-cultural advertising agency that embodies linguistics in advertising in order to represent the beautiful diversity in 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.

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 it support of linguists around the world.

Fund Drive Challenges Update

Welcome to another week of the LINGUIST List Fund Drive Challenge!

In the Subfield Challenge:
Computation linguistics remains in the lead with $1390!
In second place, Syntax follows closely with $1050.
Semantics comes in third with $865.
The Subfield Challenge is neck-and-neck all down the ranking, by the way–Historical Linguistics can displace Applied Linguistics with only $52, and Phonetics is only $15 behind Psycholinguistics! Check out the complete list below.
View Full Ranking

In the University Challenge:
Stanford University leads–for the time being–with $1350 from a total of 16 donors!
Washington University proudly encroaches with $1085 from 9 donors.
Arizona State University with $500 from only 1 donor!
This challenge is also close, with fourth and fifth place hotly contested–Temple University remains in fourth with $300, and fifth goes to University of California, Santa Barbara–but University of Oslo and The Ohio State University are tied and only $25 behind UC Santa Barbara! Take a look at the full ranking to see where your university stands.
View Full Ranking

Region Challenge:
North American maintains a strong lead with 69 donors–but don’t get too comfortable with that lead!
Europe comes in second with 35 donors.
Asia is in third with 7 donors.
We’re so grateful for our donors from all over the world!
View Full Ranking

Country Challenge:
The US remains in the lead–for now!–with 66 American donors.
Germany is in second with 11 donors.
Austria comes up third with 5 donors.
View Full Ranking

As always, we are grateful to our supporters and followers for everything they have done to support us. Thanks for being there with us for the last 28 years!
–The LL Team