Featuring LL Programmer: Lwin Moe!

This week, we’re putting in the spot light a key person at LINGUIST List, the  glue that holds us all together: our programmer Lwin Moe! Of course, we editors review all your submissions and make sure the wheels of LINGUIST List are in motion, but without Lwin, those wheels would be pretty rusty – we couldn’t do a thing!

Did you know that the LINGUIST List website was coded from scratch over the years since the 90’s by some Linguistics students? (some of our history can be found here: http://linguistlist.org/about.cfm#history) That just tells you how much hard work Lwin puts into maintaining and updating our website and listserv – and all kinds of other projects hosted here at the LINGUIST List!

Visit Lwin’s home town in Burma and read a few words from him to you:

Dear LINGUIST List subscribers,

I would humbly ask for your support to help run LINGUIST List. Please donate at https://funddrive.linguistlist.org/donate

The LINGUIST team works hard all year round to send you edited and timely information on conferences, jobs and all things linguistic. Right before the Fund Drive 2017 started back in March, I was up until 2 AM because of a problem in automatically sending out LINGLITE (our daily summary) when we switched the LINGUIST server from the old machine to a new and faster one. LINGLITE was sent out twice, and the content was all messed up. It happened for two days in a row even though the content was fine when we manually triggered to send it out. We later found out that it was due to a known issue in the server software we used. Incidents like this remind us that there are humans behind the smooth and professional operation for LL.

Our student editors work diligently to make sure that subscribers receive high quality content every day. Please help us so we can continue to provide this valuable service to the linguistic community worldwide. Your donations, no matter how small, matter for us to survive. Please help us run this operation! Remember, this donation will benefit you also by allowing us to continue serving you.

Here is the link to donate if you would like to do so:
https://funddrive.linguistlist.org/donate

Thank you,
Lwin Moe

Fun Fact: Easy Abs Edition

Fun Fact: Easy Abs Edition

Hey everyone!

This is Kenneth again. I’m here to let you know about Easy Abs. This area of the LINGUIST List ties in with my last Fun Fact on Conferences and Calls for papers.

Easy Abs is a FREE and user friendly service for conference organizers to set up the abstract submission process. You can create a new conference in Easy Abs or view a list of current conferences in Easy Abs by visiting http://linguistlist.org/confservices/EasyAbs/index.cfm.

Lwin Moe, our programmer and systems expert, works to make sure that the experience is smooth and conference organizers have what they need. He also works to fix any problems should they arise.

We are only able to offer this as a free service due to contributions from people like you. Feel free to show your appreciation at https://funddrive.linguistlist.org.

Thank you!

Incredible Parrot Speech Decoded As 300 Years Old English Dialect -April fool’s :)

We’re sure you’ve caught our April Fool’s day spoof 🙂 If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to take the time for this entertaining read! (and don’t forget that our Fund Drive is still running for two more weeks: http://funddrive.linguistlist.org/)

 

Puerto Lempira, Honduras —- Shrouded in mystery and dense rain forest, the region known as La Mosquitia In south-eastern Honduras is one of the largest and least explored wilderness areas in Central America. It adjoins the Caribbean Sea to the east; its Caribbean shore constitutes part of the Mosquito Coast, which was something of a pirate haven during the Golden Age of Caribbean Piracy in the 17th and early 18th centuries.

Recently, aerial surveys have revealed for the first time untouched ruins left by a mysterious and yet unnamed civilization. The latest archeological team to venture into La Mosquitia is a joint Honduran-American expedition led by Dr. Rebecca Webb of Penrose University. Dr. Webb’s team is now excavating a site that appears to have been a significant pre-Columbian urban center.

La Mosquitia provides an ideal habitat for many species, including an astonishing number of bird species and subsubspecies. One of these is the Yellow-Naped Amazon parrot, which is renowned for its ability to mimic human speech.

During the excavation’s third week, Dr. Webb noticed an intricately carved chunk of stone protruding from the rain-forest floor. She thought it might be a were-jaguar head and crouched down for a closer look it. Just then, completely out of the blue, she heard a parrot’s squawky voice say, “Thee bist a zon of a biscuit eater.” Or at least that’s how she transcribed it.
“The voice certainly gave me a start,” she said. “I looked up and saw a beautiful Yellow-Naped parrot perched on a branch not more than five meters away. I immediately scratched down a quasi-phonetic transcription of the vocalization, but I confess I didn’t understand what it meant. It did strike as sounding like human speech, however, and I was pretty confident that it ended with the words “of a biscuit eater”.

Soon other members of Dr. Webb’s team reported encounters with parrots whose vocalizations sounded incredibly like human speech. Some sounded almost like a strange form of English, but others were largely unintelligible, such as the following, as transcribed by members of the team: “Avast ye zee dogs” and “Veed the vizhez”.

Jessica Pollard, a student of Dr. Webb’s, had studied German and thus was able to recognize the word “bist” in Webb’s initial transcription as the 2nd-person singular form of the German verb “sein” (“to be”). It then occurred to her that the preceding word “thee” might be the archaic English 2nd-person pronoun, mostly because it would agree the verb in the grammatical category “person” if in little else.

Mystified, Dr. Webb decided to contact her friend Dr. Montague Hyde, a dialectologist at Kingsbridge College in the UK. When Webb told him about the parrots, Hyde was astounded and more than a little skeptical, but he nevertheless agreed to board a flight for Honduras the following day. Even as he took his seat on the plane, Hyde was beginning to form a hypothesis about the parrots’ vocalizations, but it seemed utterly ludicrous. He simply had to observe the phenomena with his own eyes and ears.

Once Prof. Hyde arrived at the site and heard the parrots for himself, his wild hypothesis was confirmed in short order. To his astonishment, the parrots’ vocalizations turned out to be very close to the English spoken in the county of Somerset, England around 300 years ago. That is, the parrots seemed to be exhibiting fossilized fragments of a centuries-old form of English.
Prof. Hyde notes certain key properties of the parrots’ vocalizations that led him to this amazing conclusion. According to Hyde, the clearest piece of evidence lies in the sounds z (and zh) and v. For example, when Hyde heard the parrots say, “Veed the vizhez,” he at once recognized it as the Somerset way of saying, “Feed the fishes,” since in Somerset English, the fricatives s and f become z and v, except when adjacent to another consonant.

Thus, “zee dogs” in “avast ye zee dogs” corresponds to “seadogs,” and “zon” in “Thee bist a zon of a biscuit eater“ corresponds to the modern Received Pronunciation “son”. According to Hyde, this voicing of fricatives in Somerset and surrounding counties is a very old phenomenon.

“One can find it Shakespeare, in fact,” Hyde observes. “For example, in King Lear, Act IV, Scene 6, the character Edgar affects a Somerset accent to disguise himself:

“Chill not let go, zir, without vurther ‘cagion.”

“The words ‘zir’ and ‘vurther,’” Hyde explains, “are supposed to be the Somerset forms of ‘sir’ and ‘further,’ respectively. ’Chill’ is in fact a contraction of a very Germanic 1st-person person ‘Ich’ and ‘will’. And ’’cagion’…I have no idea what ”cagion’ is.”

The occurrence of ‘Ich’ in King Lear reminds Hyde of the phrase “thee bist” in the initial vocalization: “Thee best a son of a biscuit eater.” Hyde says that “bist” is indeed is a relic of an earlier Germanic form of the verb ‘to be’. He adds that the form “thee” has long been used as a nominative pronoun in Somerset, even though “ye be” is today more common than “thee bist” for saying “you (sg) are.”

According to Hyde, to call someone a son of biscuit eater was a fairly common insult in the 17th and 18th centuries. He further expounds, “Though it may not sound particularly bad to our ears, it’s doesn’t sound particularly good either, does it? I mean, I think we can agree that it’s certainly not a compliment to call someone the progeny of a compulsive eater of biscuits.” Even so, Dr. Webb, didn’t seem to be especially offended upon learning what that first parrot had actually called her. “I’ve been called worse,” she said.

But where and from whom did these parrots acquire these words and expressions? According to Hyde, the source can be none other than the West-Country pirates who terrorized the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy (roughly 1650 to 1730). “The parrots’ vocabulary, phonetics, and idioms match this context perfectly,” Hyde says. “The southwestern counties at that time produced a lot of sailors—-a lot of sailors, including pirates.”

Sarah Bradford, a parrot specialist at the Honduran Zoological Society speculates that some 300 years ago, a pirate—-let us call him Edward—-adopted a certain Yellow-Naped Amazon parrot named Polly. Edward, having hailed from Somerset in England, spoke in the Somerset dialect. According to Bradford, yellow-naped parrots happen to be excellent “talkers”, second only to the African Grey parrot in their ability to mimic human speech. Edward’s pet parrot no doubt learned to replicate many colorful expressions.

Now, while parrots are famously long-lived, pirates aren’t, so Polly probably outlived Edward. After Edward died, perhaps on or just off the Mosquito Coast, Polly would have probably flown off into the jungle of La Mosquitia and found a mate. He would have taught his young and perhaps also his mate the words and phrases he learned during his life as a piratical pet.

Bradford further speculates that the descendants of Polly could have continued to transmit these vocalization from generation to generation. She explains that to parrots, the precise mimicking of a vocalization is more important than the vocalization’s semantic content, so perhaps parrots are better able to replicate a vocalization from generation to generation than humans. Remember also that the lifespan of a Yellow-Naped Amazon parrot is 60-80 years. Such long lives would help bridge the gap between 300 years ago and the present.

Author: Tony Meyer

Travel the globe with us once again!

Dear LINGUIST Listers,

Happy Friday! Now that it’s the weekend, you may think you have the chance to sit back and relax… but think again, because the next edition of the Great LINGUIST Treasure Hunt is here! So grab your passport, your walking shoes, and your travel-size toothbrush, and head to the LINGUIST List International Virtual Airport!

This game involves travelling the (virtual) globe with us and testing your linguistics wits. Everyone who completes the treasure hunt will be entered to win a very exciting prize: a copy of “The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics,” published by everyone’s favorite journal of satirical linguistics, Speculative Grammarian!

To play, you need to go to GeoLing, our online interactive map interface. You can find the navigation buttons by clicking the menu button in the upper left corner. Select and unselect Local Events, Jobs, Conferences and more to view them on the map. Game clues will be found in different locations on different kinds of pins.

To get you started, here’s the first clue:

Visit the March 2017 issue of Speculative Grammarian. In one of the “Linguimericks” in this issue, a scenic location on an island nation is mentioned. Find this spot on GeoLing for the next clue!

Buena suerte, mirary soa e, and yoo dara o: may the best linguist win!

-Your LL Team

Fun Fact: Easy Abs Edition

Hey everyone!

This is Kenneth again. I’m here to let you know about Easy Abs. This area of the LINGUIST List ties in with my last Fun Fact on Conferences and Calls for papers.

Easy Abs is a FREE and user friendly service for conference organizers to set up the abstract submission process. You can create a new conference in Easy Abs or view a list of current conferences in Easy Abs by visiting http://linguistlist.org/confservices/EasyAbs/index.cfm .

Lwin Moe, our programmer and systems expert, works to make sure that the experience is smooth and conference organizers have what they need. He also works to fix any problems should they arise.

We are only able to offer this as a free service due to contributions from people like you. Feel free to show your appreciation at funddrive.linguistlist.org. Thank you!

5th Lottery: Raising the stakes, 3 prizes to win!

Dear Subscribers,

We’ve just done the draw for the 4th Lottery, which ended yesterday! Our first prize was won by Gerardo Augusto Lorenzino from Temple University, PA, USA, who won two prizes, by donating to our cause.  Thank you again, and Congratulations!

We’re now pleased to announce the opening of our 5th lottery – the Second to Last Lottery!! If you haven’t tried your chance yet, this is one of your last chances to win a book donated by our supporting publishers!

To raise the stakes a little, this week there will be THREE draws! For every 10 dollars donated, you get a chance to win one of the three following prizes:

– Language Testing and Assessment (Book 7 of the Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd Edition: Elana Shohamy Ed.)

– Your choice of a free book from Multilingual Matters: http://www.multilingual-matters.com

– A free 1 year subscription to all ebooks published by Morgan & Claypool Publishers: http://www.morganclaypool.com/

What a chance! Don’t miss another second to enter for a prize – while supporting the LINGUIST List!

Thanks,

The LINGUIST List team

A Generous Letter from the Great Trey Jones! (SpecGram)

In Generous Support of
the LINGUIST List

The brilliant Trey Jones
Editor-in-Chief of the hilarious Speculative Grammarian

Almost a quarter of a century ago back in the stone age I alone created the brilliant new revolutionary field of subliminal linguistics. And while that brilliant idea may not appear to the ignorant masses to have gone anywhere, I have thanks to subliminal manipulation been quite successful nonetheless.

I originally subscribed to the LINGUIST List around that time, too—the ’90s were rad!. I used to read maybe skim LL messages the titles for sure on a machine the linguistics department falsely claimed was a computer hooked up to a 300 baud i.e., half my reading speed acoustic coupler! What a horrible time—we were surviving but not really living in some dystopian version of the future!

Here in the glorious present day, as the brilliant Editor-in-Chief i.e., the glorious leader, of the brilliantly hilarious Speculative Grammarian—the premier brilliant scholarly journal featuring research in the unfairly neglected but hilarious field of bitingly clever satirical linguistics—I appreciate how hard it is for my minions to wrangle interns (flog ’em!) and keep the lights on and the presses running. Oh, wait, the uppity interns inform me that they think they can correct me and that we don’t have presses anymore. How many ways and with what kind of sharp things can I flog them!

So, I have an inkling of all the hard work (so much flogging!) and dedication to building up your flogging arm that goes into running the brilliant LINGUIST List day in, day out, year after year—yeah, you should feel guilty. It wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of flogging the interns, pretending to care about the whiny editors, placating the diva programmers, and so much else the long-suffering moderators have to put up with. Or so I assume—if their staff is half as lazy as ours.

The brilliant LINGUIST List does so freakin’ much and provides so freakin’ much to the soon-to-be generous linguistics community—’cause them servers ain’t free. Give (give more!) generously (give more!) to show (give more!) your (give more!) support (give more!) for the LINGUIST List (give more!)!

http://funddrive.linguistlist.org/

 

Featured Linguist: Robert A. Coté

Featured Linguist: Robert A. Coté

I am not your typical linguist. In fact, my first degree is in meteorology with a minor in math! Despite this, I have always been fascinated with languages – most likely because I grew up in a multilingual environment: my father and his parents spoke Quebecois, my maternal grandmother spoke Pugliese, and my maternal grandfather spoke Neapolitan. Clearly, hearing people around me speak something other than English was normal for me from a very young age, but I never gave much thought to the rich sociolinguistic world in which I lived. I always enjoyed reading and writing as well, so it only seems natural to me that I became an applied linguist.

How I discovered the wonderful world of LINGUIST List is even more interesting. I had completed my PhD coursework, comprehensive exams, dissertation proposal, and data collection, and I was working full-time as an administrator at an English-medium college in the United Arab Emirates. Like many doctoral students, I had really grown tired of my research and had fallen out of interest with academia. One of my professors suggested I look into writing a book review, not only to read some current literature related to my area of research, but more importantly, to practice the type of writing required for a dissertation. This was probably the best advice I received in my entire 10-year doctoral process.

I was really excited the day my textbook arrived and immediately began to read and highlight. It was about a month before I started writing my review. After submitting it, I waited anxiously for feedback. When it arrived, most of it was positive, but it took three edits to get it published. I knew I could do better, so I requested another text. This time, the reading and writing went faster, and the feedback I received was more positive and required only two edits. Reading what the editor had to say about my review not only gave more me confidence, but it also pointed out where I needed to improve, which in turn allowed me to focus on specific aspects of my writing. By the time I completed my third book review, I didn’t require any edits! The entire process took me nearly two years. But now, I was ready to complete my dissertation. And believe me, it was no surprise when all three of my committee members gave me the same feedback: “Your dissertation was organized, enjoyable, and easy to read. You really have a great sense of audience.” I am absolutely certain that writing book reviews for LINGUIST List was the most important factor leading to this success.

Why am I telling you all this? Because now, I am returning the favor to LINGUIST List. I have reviewed and edited dozens of book reviews pro bono over the past few years. I want to give other reviewers, many of them non-native speakers of English and/or graduate students like I was, the same publishing and writing improvement opportunities that I was given several years ago. I believe anyone can become a good writer, and everyone can become a better writer. LINGUIST List allows people this chance. I am fortunate that I am in a position to donate my time to help others, and I hope that some of you reading this are in a position to donate your money to help LINGUIST List. This may sound a little forward of me, but I sincerely believe the few paid staff at LINGUIST List made me the writer I am today, and I am doing my best to help others with their writing. You just never know the impact that your donation, no matter how big or small, can have on someone, who in turn can help someone else.

Robert Cote, PhD
Director, Writing Skills Improvement Program
College of Humanities
University of Arizona, Tucson

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Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2017 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List needs your support!

Fun Fact: Conferences Edition

Hey everyone!

This is Kenneth again. One of our most popular posting areas is Conferences and Calls for Papers. I am the main editor who posts in this area. We receive submissions from conferences all over the world (just look at geoling.linguistlist.org to see for yourself). Each submission we get is edited and verified by one of our editors and then sent out over the listserv so that people like you can know about the conferences coming up in your subdiscipline. This area of the listserv is also very beneficial as a way for newer, more specialized conferences to get their information out there.
Here’s a heatmap of the number of submissions we receive for conferences each day!

Some of these are quickly filtered out as not linguistically relevant but most require time to edit everything. If you appreciate what we do, please donate at the Fund drive page . Thank you!

Meet Clare, Featured LL Staff of the week!

Clare started as an intern last summer at the LINGUIST List, and now also works as a LINGUIST List Editor! She is also the manager of this year’s Fund Drive. Clare comes from Speedway, Indianapolis (read her cool post about her home town here: http://funddrive.linguistlist.org/pages/ClareHarshey/). Here is a letter from her to you:

Dear LINGUIST Listers,

My name is Clare, and you may know me from the occasional list posting… or somewhat more-than-occasional email correspondence! I’m an editor for the LINGUIST List, and am now almost halfway through my MS in Computational Linguistics at Indiana University. I’m writing this letter today to tell you more about myself, in order to express how grateful I am, and how so many of us should be, that an organization like the LINGUIST List exists.

I started working at the LINGUIST List as a summer intern in May of 2016. Hearing back about the summer internship was incredibly exciting for me, and arriving here in person didn’t disappoint! As an intern, I spent my summer working on a Yiddish speech corpus, with the eventual goal of developing new speech and language technologies. Before long, I was able to take on some additional duties, like editing some Jobs, Supports and Reviews postings for the List. I was even able to attend the LSA annual meeting this year with some of my colleagues here, to represent our organization, learn, and meet other linguists.

I’m lucky to have experienced the many different facets of the LINGUIST List, and to have directly benefited from it. The work I do not only allows me to support my graduate studies, but it enriches me professionally and personally every single day. The only thing that makes this possible is the generosity of our readers. Your past donations have completely changed the course of my growth as a linguist, and your donations this year and in future years will do the same for many more students.

It may seem an exaggeration to say that you, personally, can make such a difference, especially if you can only make a small donation. But it’s completely true: you and the other 24,999 subscribers to our list now have the chance now to come together and continue to support new linguists, just like you have already supported me. You aren’t just donating to the LINGUIST List–you’re investing in the future of the field of linguistics.

Thank you for reading, and thank you again for your ongoing generosity. And if you haven’t already, please visit us at http://funddrive.linguistlist.org/ and consider showing your support today.

Sincerely,
Clare Harshey