Cross-posted from All Things Linguistic.
I started 2015 as usual at the Linguistic Society of America annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, where I talked about the linguistic community on Tumblr on the Popularizing Linguistics via Social Media panel. I was also a mentor at a linguistics careers networking event, ran the first linguistics Wikipedia editathon, and livetweeted on #lsa2015.
In December, I announced that I’m writing a book on internet language for Riverhead (Penguin). Details are still to come, but I’m excited to finally be able to talk about this project I’ve been working on all year!
I wrote three articles for The Toast, on internet sarcasm, the linguistics of ship names (how names like Johnlock and Brittana and Dramione get put together), and revisiting the classic handbook of cutting-edge nineties internet language, Wired Style.
In February, I ended my writing and editing for Slate’s Lexicon Valley, and in March I started writing a series on internet language for Mental Floss. Here are some of my favourite pieces for Mental Floss:
- Why is it that you can’t even but you never find that you CAN even?
- Will We All Speak Emoji “Language” In A Couple Years? (spoiler: no)
- Are Incomplete Sentences a New Thing, Or?
- Why the pronunciation of GIF really can go either way
- Smol: the new social media word that’s like “small” but cuter
- There are two kinds of hashtags, index and commentary
- 15 interesting things you can do with capital letters
- What does “cheeky” mean?
- This is the best new way of asking questions, y/y?
- “You” versus “u” as a formality distinction
I started writing for Dictionary.com (Can an inhaled word mean something?) and for Quartz, about how young women have been linguistic disruptors ever since Shakespeare and nominating singular “they” for Word of the Year 2015 – we’ll see how it goes when I’m at the official American Dialect Society vote in January!
I continued writing for Strong Language, the sweary blog about swearing, about how the new voice transcription feature in Google Docs censors some swear words (which got picked up by a lot of news outlets: Wired, Gawker, The Register, Fusion, The Daily Dot, and Business Insider), and two posts about expletive infixation, on why you can’t say “abso-jesus-lutely” or “abso-hallelujah-lutely“.
I did a lot of interviews this year, especially about internet language. Highlights:
- Death by Internet Hyperbole (Literally Dying over this Column) (New York Times)
- On the tears of joy emoji as Oxford’s Word of the Year (WIRED)
- What is indie pop voice? (Buzzfeed)
- Did Bob Dylan Invent Millennial Catchphrase “I Can’t Even”? (The Atlantic) and Bob Dylan used “can’t even” (Slate)
- At the super bowl of linguistics, may the best word win (New York Times)
- A quote from my Lexicon Valley post about haplology made it into an example citation for Merriam-Webster and the M-W word of the day
- That Way We’re All Talking Now (Matter – see also these follow-up comments)
- no capitalization is funnier (Huffington Post)
- Internet language lexicon (Gizmodo)
- On emoji for: the Canadian Press, which appeared in CTVnews, Metro, and many other newspapers in Canada), for The Fader, and for CNET, plus a few tweets about emoji that got quoted on News.Com.Au.
I was on NPR Youth Radio and All Tech Considered on emoji, and the Kojo Nnamdi Show on internet dialects?, plus two national Drive programs, in Canada (CBC), talking about emoji and Australia (ABC), talking about language on Twitter.
All Things Linguistic made Bab.la’s list of Top 25 Language Professionals Blogs.
My articles appeared on several roundup lists of best posts, including my grammar of shipping piece on The Toast’s 2015 list, and my grammar of doge and syntax of fuck pieces on The Electric Typewriter’s 2014+2015 list.
Including both Wikimedia-sponsored and non-sponsored grants, I ran 10 #lingwiki editathons in 2015, in which over 200 Wikipedia articles were created or edited by over 200 linguists.
- How-to slides: bit.ly/lingwiki (also in French and Spanish)
- Report on the first (January) editathon (at the LSA)
- March report (online)
- May report (at the CLA)
- July report (at Lingstitute)
- October report (at NELS and NWAV)
- My grant application and grant report for Wikimedia
- I co-created a wug-tastic linguistics stub sorting guide with Emily Temple-Wood
Speaking & Conferences
- I talked about the linguistic community on Tumblr on the Popularizing Linguistics via Social Media panel at the LSA in January. (Slides at allthingslinguistic.com/TumblinguistsSlides)
- I gave a lightning talk called “Language is Open Source” at AdaCamp Montreal in April, a conference for women in open source and open culture. You can read the full text here. I also facilitated a round-table session about linguistics at AdaCamp — turns out there are a quite a lot of former linguists in tech!
- I attended Polyglot Conference in New York City in October, which I’ve storified the livetweets from.
- I gave a talk about how to explain linguistics to a general audience, doing linguistics outreach, and linguistics jobs at the University of Ottawa in November. (Slides at bit.ly/explainling-uottawa)
- My SXSW panel with SwiftKey about the linguistics of emoji was accepted, so I’ll be speaking in Austin, Texas in March 2016.
I collaborated on four LingVids videos with Caroline Andrews, Josh Levy, and Leland Paul Kusmer, which went up in March-June:
- Are sentences more like a bracelet or a mobile?
- What “wanna” tells us about how sentences fit together
- Structural ambiguity
- How do reflexive pronouns get interpreted?
I co-wrote five Language Files videos with Tom Scott, which went up in May and June:
- Crash blossoms and being drunk: Ambiguity
- Why computers suck at translation
- Why can’t adults learn languages like children?
- Long and short words: Language typology
- What counts as a word?
All Things Linguistic got a new theme in January, with a big header image featuring a photo I took of the linguistics section at the Montague Bookmill. Here are some of my favourite posts of the year, loosely organized by category:
Language and Society
- On uptalk: “Young women shouldn’t have to talk like men to be taken seriously”
- “Like” is not randomly inserted into discourse…
- xkcd on quotative like
- Drunk speech and stoned speech
- Cutting-edge Pig Latin linguistics research
- Toni Morrison and William Labov on African American English
- Benefits of indigenous language learning
- Conjugating singular they
- Newish pronouns in other languages
- Habitual be in African American English
- If pronouns are a closed class, how is it that people are inventing new ones?
- Zero copula in African American English and other languages
- Aboriginal language rights in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report
- Backlash about criticizing “just”
- The problem with “economically useful” as a reason for language learning
- “No problem” vs “you’re welcome”
- What if we talked about monolingual white children the way we talk about low-income children of colour?
- On “sounding gay”
- New Zealand syntax in Lovely Little Losers
- Myth-busting about sign languages
- Deaf interpreters
- How voice recognition systems discriminate against people with accents
- Signily, an ASL keyboard app
- Indigenous languages, literacy, and the myth of the “unwritten language”
- Toggle Talk: codeswitching in the classroom
- Rising Voices / Hótȟaŋiŋpi, a documentary about revitalizing the Lakota language
- A lazy dog was involved in a jumping-related incident with a quick brown fox
- Yaasss, yusss, yisss and vowel chain shifts
- Phoreus: a new font for the Cherokee syllabary
- “You” is plural, unless thou dost speak to an unfamiliar person.
- People who swear more have a bigger vocabulary
- The long, incredibly torturous, and fascinating process of creating a Chinese font
- Realistic translation of ancient writing in film
- The weird science of naming new products
- Vintage, pun-filled covers from Chicago linguistics “festivals”
- A gif showing how we might process garden path sentences
- To what extent is music language?
- A detailed explanation of Negative Polarity Items and Downwards Entailment, using Mean Girls references
- Gorgeous photos of an IPA Scrabble set from the Yale Undergraduate Linguistics Society
- Variation in the English indefinite article, a (pre-)April Fools post
- Why the English progressive is interesting
- What might the English language look like in the year 3000?
- Linguistic effects of polyjuice potion
- From cooing to babbling in American Sign Language (video)
- Sign languages and telicity
- Free Choice Items
- Review of “Sleep Furiously” (a mobile game inspired by “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously”)
- How much do children understand about time-related words like “minute”?
- “All the lonely Starbucks lovers / They’ll tell you I’m absurd / But I got a blank space baby / And it’s a function word” (Storified)
- Garden path sentence shirts
- A linguistic biscuit (cookie) map of the languages of Australia
- Why “Baltimore” and “Voldemort” sound basically the same in Spanish
- The linguistics of the “pop-punk voice”
- The bizarre syntax of “sexiest man alive”
- /jeb!/ signs
- “And the other is a jellyfish” – on the jellyfish alternative
- Sexy linguistics costumes (comic)
- Someone dressed up as the Linguistics Gothic meme for Halloween
- A forensic linguist who used to be a member of the Sha Na Na
- /ju doʊnt tʃuz lɪŋˈɡwɪstɪks lɪŋˈɡwɪstɪks tʃuzəz ju/
- Teaching phonetics using lollipops
- An example of count/mass nouns from the Simpsons
- Hwaet, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer in Anglo-Saxon
- Deck the Vowels: A collaborative tumblinguistmas carol
- The new shortest science paper is in linguistics
- Delicious-looking wug cookies for the linguistics baked goods file
- “And she was like O_O” – Animation of reported speech on Twitter
- Internet slang and American Sign Language
- Ending phrases with a comma: a preliminary investigation
- e.e. cummblr (tumblr postmodernism)
- Linguistics-related meme posts: the signs as linguists (sequel), Linguistics Gothic,the sn- libfix, Language Gothic and Google Translate breadsticks meme
- Tweeting with an accent
- I can’t even / well I never
- IPA emoji
- Particles in Ancient Greek (and modern slang)
- A semantic map of emoji
- BroT3, cinnamon roll, abbrevs
- 21 things a twitter favourite can mean
- The fascinatng…frustrating…fascinating history of autocorrect
- xkcd: No “I” in “team”
- Generational differences in having a vivid sense of typographical register
- xkcd on I could care less
- How people use tags on tumblr
- What was it like before emojis? Analysis of a 💯 tweet
- “p” as an abbreviation for “pretty”
- Your fave is problematic: adjectives
- A thesis about tumblr language
- “Hashtag” in spoken English
Roundups and Advice posts
- Differences between teaching, pop linguistics, and pop science
- Career advice: Linguistics + X
- How to type IPA on your phone (Android and iOS)
- I finished my linguistics in Cabin Pressure series, with a post on the final episode, Zurich
- Will learning a second language help me learn linguistics?
- How to have a conversation about language differences without being a prescriptivist
- How much linguistics background do you need to major in linguistics? (Not much)
- About my blog’s icon
- Linguistics jobs resource roundup
- Resource post for high school teachers who want to do linguistics activities with their classes
- Roundup of my favourite posts from the third year of All Things Linguistic
- Writing about linguistics & fandom (roundup)
- 20 linguistics blogs that I recommend following
- Linguistic approaches to language learning: link roundup
- Back-to-school link roundup
- Extensive list of pop linguistics books and lingfic
- Roundup about how to do linguistics outreach
- The Art of Language Invention by David J. Peterson
- The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
- Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (with commentary from Rainbow Rowell herself)
We had a tumblinguist meetup at the LSA annual meeting in January and at Lingstitute in July (here’s a picture of our hands with wugs drawn on them from the lingstitute meetup).
At the end of August, I started a linguistics meetup group, Linguists@Montréal, loosely inspired by Linguistics in the Pub, and we met up twice a month thereafter. If you’re a linguist living in or visiting Montreal, feel free to join the Facebook group or check it out to see if there’s an event happening when you’re around!
In January, I’m heading to the LSA annual meeting, this year in Washington DC, where I’ll be livetweeting on #lsa2016, attending the Word of the Year vote #woty15, and running an editathon. New this year, I’ll also be doing media relations for the LSA at the meeting, so you can catch me on the LSA’s official Twitter account in addition to my own. (And, of course, in person — do feel free to say hi if you know me from the internet!) I’ll also be sticking around afterwards to give a talk at Georgetown about explaining linguistics.