Cross-posted from All Things Linguistic.
What a year! I finished my MA in linguistics at McGill at the end of 2013, so in 2014 I started writing linguistics for a general audience full time. By comparison, here’s 2013’s (much shorter!) highlights post.
I started the year at the LSA in Minneapolis, where “because x” — which I’d written several posts about — was voted Word of the Year for 2013.
I wrote A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Doge. Wow. It was my second article for The Toast and currently has nearly 50k shares (wow.) Related: the article summarized as a doge image, the second generation of internet language, Dogeblanca, French doge, wuge, and my interview with the BBC.
Further Toast pieces included:
- A Linguist Explains What Old-School British Accents Sounded Like
- A Linguist On the Story of Gendered Pronouns
- A Linguist Explains the Syntax of Fuck
In the spring, I became the editor of Slate’s language blog, Lexicon Valley. Here are a few of the posts that I wrote (full list here).
- The Linguistics of Beatboxing
- Why Didn’t “Fetch” Happen?
- Why does Henry Higgins teach Eliza Doolittle to speak like a posh lady, instead of her teaching him to speak like a Cockney flowerseller?
- Happy 25th Birthday to LOL
- What Does “She” in Science Fiction Tell Us About Language on Earth?
- Look at all these ducks there are at least ten.
- 7 Ways to Fake-Pronounce Any Foreign Language
- Ikea’s Bookbook and more contrastive focus reduplication
- Why do pirates talk like that?
- The five different /t/ sounds in English, demonstrated with internet memes
I also had the privilege of working with many great writers on Lexicon Valley. It’s hard to pick, but here are a few posts by other people. (See also this summary of top Lexicon Valley posts from 2014.)
- Why are Opera Singers Hard to Understand?
- Vocal Fry: Can We Just Stop Telling Young Women They’re Speaking Wrong?
- What Ghostbusters Tells us About the Hidden Rules of Conversation
- Why Swearing is Just Like Saying “Please”
- Alcohol Really Does Make you Better at a Foreign Language (Sometimes)
- What tense do you use to talk about time travel?
I continued writing for Grammar Girl, and also started writing for The Week and Schwa Fire. Selected posts:
- The Language of Poetry
- How Canadians Really Pronounce “About”
- Scopal Ambiguity: Messing With Words To Make Things Funny
- Fun With Crash Blossoms
- The linguistic lessons of Pig Latin
- The problem with positive answers to negative questions
I wrote several series of blog posts:
- Ling Camp summary posts (resources on teaching linguistics with 9-14 year olds)
- Crowdsourced Linguistics
- How To Draw Syntax Trees (including this step-by-step guide with gifs)
- Linguistics in Cabin Pressure
- Linguistics Jobs series (perpetually ongoing)
- I also wrote a guide to getting started with Algonquianist terminology for the blog at migmaq.org.
I wrote several individual advice posts:
- How to explain linguistics to your friends and family this holidays season
- Advice for writing pop linguistics articles
- Who are the science communicators for linguistics?
- How to make it easier for people to livetweet your talk
- On writing an IB extended essay in linguistics (follow-up)
- List of undergraduate and student-friendly linguistics conferences
- List of summer language and linguistics programs
- What is language? 8 myths about language and linguistics
Notable posts on language and society:
- Who should have access to linguistic data?
- Pronouncing the apostrophe in Lupita Nyong’o
- Teaching codeswitching in the classroom
- What it means for a language to be “revived”
- In defence of “unnecessary” words
- On inventing nonbinary pronouns
- Who can save Ayapaneco?
- Practice with pronouns
- Black ASL
- On non-aboriginal people learning aboriginal languages
- Language revitalization and technology
- Codeswitching isn’t a deficit
- Languages don’t die; they’re killed
On language, the internet, pop culture, and fan-guistics:
- The grammar of ship
- Use of strikethrough
- Why do we get confused about you and me? (With an example from The Autobiography of Jane Eyre)
- Comments from the creator of Parseltongue
- Cather + Wren = Catherine? Fangirl and the pin/pen merger(plus follow-up comments from Rainbow Rowell)
- Wikipedia articles that can be sung to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song
- The origin of exclamation!compounds
- Ella Minnow Pea, a linguistically excellent novel
- The (former) sociolinguistics of Facebook statuses
- “Feels” has existed since at least 1782
- Linguistics Georg-ian
- The ___ fandom
- Signed magic in Harry Potter
- Translating Sherlock and its effects on shipping
- A linguist walks into a bar
- Fear and loathing of the English passive
- How Latin became the Romance languages
- IPA 2048
- How does overtone singing work phonetically?
- Highly implausible vowel inventories
- A maximal projection walks into a v bar…
- Minced oaths in various languages
- How do you rhyme in a sign language?
- How texting makes you a better writer
In the “linguists gonna ling” category, I became part of the group blog Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. In addition to the LSA annual meeting, I gave a keynote on internet syntax at McCCLU and attended SULA, NWAV, and NELS.
At a meta-blog level, I celebrated my two-year blogiversary and 1000th post on All Things Linguistic, and wrote an FAQ. I also started publishing monthly summary posts of my linguistic activities, blog-related and not, on my personal website, so you can check those out if you’re worried about missing anything major.
Upcoming: I’ll be starting next year as usual at the Linguistic Society of America annual meeting in Portland, Oregon in early January, where you can catch me on the Popularizing Linguistics via Social Media panel, at a linguistics careers networking event, running a Wikipedia Editathon, and of course generally in the hallways and on #lsa2015. I’m bringing my copy of linguistsagainsthumanity and I hear there may be a few other ling-games brought, so feel free to bring any games you have and/or join us (probably in the lobby or other common area) if you see people playing!