Cross-posted from All Things Linguistic.
It’s my eight year blogiversary! Wow! Let’s celebrate by looking back at some of my favourite posts from the past year:
My book about internet language came out in July 2019. Here are a few of my favourite blog posts about it:
- Because Internet hit the New York Times bestseller list its first week out
- that classic tumblr flowing jungle river post is now cited in a real book, like an actual paper book
- Linguistics jobs: interview with an internet linguist
- A very special leather-bound edition of Because Internet that my publisher had made just for me, in celebration of my book becoming a bestseller!
- A sample of me reading the Because Internet audiobook (previous thread about recording it)
- I now have a speaking reel, if you’re wondering what it’s like when I’m giving a talk about internet linguistics
- Someone dressed up as my book for Halloween!
I also did over 200 media interviews for the book, but I’ve already summarized those on my 2019 year in review post.
Wired Resident Linguist column
I kept writing my Ideas column for Wired, which included these articles:
- Fans are better than tech at organizing information online (about the Archive of Our Own)
- The meaning of all caps — in texting and in life (excerpt from Because Internet)
- New emoji are so boring — but they don’t have to be
- Boomerspeak is now available for your parodying pleasure
- We Learned to Write the Way We Talk (New York Times Op Ed)
- How Can You Appreciate 23rd-Century English? Look Back 200 Years (New York Times Op-Eds From the Future – I was very proud that this op-ed got me no fewer than five (5!) entries in New New York Times, a twitter account that tracks words that appear in the New York Times for the first time.)
- We Will Have Meme Folklorists (New York Magazine)
- How to use irony on the internet (Wall Street Journal)
- The Big Idea: Writing towards the future (John Scalzi’s Whatever)
- I also co-wrote an academic article with Lauren Gawne, Emoji as Digital Gestures in the journal Language@Internet [Open Access], for which Lauren wrote an accessible summary version for The Conversation.
Surprising internet crossovers
After 7 years of blogging, I thought I had pretty much figured out which sections go in this yearly summary post. But for year 8, I’ve found myself needing to add a delightful new one.
- I’m in an xkcd hovertext (about ok vs okay)
- Lingthusiasm’s tote bags are in an SMBC comic
- Because Internet is on the official tumblr books blog and tumblr’s twitter account
- A Because Internet cameo on the official Steak Umm brand account
- A Because Internet fact featured in the QI twitter account
We celebrated our third year of making Lingthusiasm, a podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics! This year we were recommended by Buzzfeed (!!), which called Lingthusiasm “joyously nerdy”.
The most exciting Lingthusiasm episodes this year were the ones where our guests helped me and Lauren Gawne push the boundaries of what a podcast typically is: this video episode in ASL and English interviewing Lynn Hou about her research on signed languages in real-world contexts and the one where Janelle Shane used a neural net to generate fake Lingthusiasm quotes based on our existing transcripts, and then we performed the best ones out loud (see also Janelle’s blog post about making this).
Here’s all twelve regular monthly Lingthusiasm episodes:
- Why spelling is hard – but also hard to change
- Emoji are Gesture Because Internet
- Putting sounds into syllables is like putting toppings on a burger
- Villages, gifs, and children – Interview with Lynn Hou on signed languages in real-world contexts (also a video episode!)
- Smell words, both real and invented
- Many ways to talk about many things – Plurals, duals, and more
- How to rebalance a lopsided conversation
- Making machines learn language – Interview with Janelle Shane
- This time it gets tense – the grammar of time
- What makes a language easy? It’s a hard question
- The grammar of singular they – Interview with Kirby Conrod
- Schwa, the most versatile English vowel
And the twelve monthly bonus episodes:
- North, left, or towards the sea? With guest Alice Gaby
- Words from your family – Familects!
- Welcome aboard the metaphor train!
- Behind the scenes on Because Internet (Q&A)
- Jobs, locations, family, and invention – Surnames
- Reading fiction like a linguist
- The sounds of sheep, earthquakes, and ice cream – Onomatopoeia
- What might English be like in a couple hundred years?
- Generating a Lingthusiasm episode using a neural net
- Teaching linguistics to yourself and other people
- When letters have colours and time is a braid – The linguistics of synesthesia
- A myriad of numbers – Counting systems across languages
We also started a Discord community that’s enthusiastic about linguistics, to solve the problem of “Your podcast got me (back) into linguistics, but now I don’t have people to fan out about language with! Where do I make lingthusiastic friends?”
Finally, we released more Lingthusiasm merch: schwa pins and more that say Never Stressed, greeting cards that say “thanks” or “congrats” on them in IPA; the pun-tastic “glottal bottle” and liquids for your liquids bottle/mug; and shirts/mugs/bags that say Linguistic “Correctness” is just a lie from Big Grammar to Sell More Grammars. (See photos of all the Lingthusiasm merch here.)
Lauren Gawne and I also started working on several other projects in the pop linguistics ecosystem online:
- LingComm Grants – grants to help the next generation of linguistics communication projects get started, which we were able to expand from one grant to four thanks to the support of our patrons. Grantees to be announced in upcoming months!
- Mutual Intelligibility – a newsletter summarizing existing linguistics resources on specific topics to help instructors moving their courses online, including shorter 3 Links posts and longer Resource Guides
- Linguistics Crash Course – a series of intro linguistics videos in collaboration with the educational youtube channel Crash Course and linguist Jessi Grieser, to appear later in 2020
Blog posts, generally
- An analysis of the meaning behind different kinds of screenshots
- Bridging the internet’s digital language divide
- Scots language on twitter and How Twitter is helping the Scots language thrive in the 21st century
- Wikipedia is helping keep Welsh alive online
- Voicemail and voice chat
- How grammatical systems cause machine translation mismatches
- The complicated decisions that come with digitizing indigenous languages
- The Bender Rule: why it matters to name the language(s) we study, even when it’s English
- Duolingo and smaller languages: useful, but also complicated
- Smartphone keyboard support for under-represented languages
- An article about efforts to translate internet resources into Kaqchikel and other indigenous languages
Linguistics memes and humour
- Are your teens secretly texting about languages using ISO-639-3 codes?
- “linguist with questions” as the goose in Untitled Goose Game
- Linguistics takes on the Roses are red meme
- académie française: you can’t just make up new words willy-nilly like that!!! linguists: haha language machine go brrrr
- Bohemian Rhapsody but linguistics
- Falkland Islands – new favourite example of pronunciation ambiguity from TikTok
- Last Christmas / I gave you a chart
- Good King Wenceslo / Good King Wenceslas
- xkcd: vowel alignment chart
- two wugs social distancing
- Gricean Humour: how did you find your meal?
- Which Indo-European Subfamily are you? (the Buzzfeed quiz we didn’t know we needed)
- Guides for teaching or self-teaching the International Phonetic Alphabet
- Lox: the English word that hasn’t changed in sound or meaning in 8000 years
- Why parrots can talk like humans
- To B or not to B – Sir Patrick Stewart on Sesame Street
- The chicken/poultry cow/beef animal/food loanword phenomenon also exists in isiXhosa
- No, that dog on instagram can’t really talk
- Watching a “language” develop when kids can’t speak to each other
- These students speak perfect Spanglish — and now they’re learning to own it
- Interpretation/translation, subtitles, and a speech by Korean director Bong Joon-ho
- Comparative evolution of Cuneiform, Egyptian, and Chinese characters
- Grammatical gender in Greek and Latin is more complex than most people think
- Indigenous languages of Taiwan are regaining prominence
- This is not a joke: a baby was named Diot Coke in 1379
- Things that should happen in a sci fi story with a universal translator
- A linguist on what Baby Yoda’s first words might be
- When people move their hands and arms while using their voices, listeners are able to hear it
Linguistics jobs (mostly by Lauren Gawne)
- learning scientist at Duolingo
- communications specialist
- product manager
- software engineer
- marketing content specialist
- community radio outreach coordinator
- exhibition content manager at Planet Word, an upcoming language museum
- transcriptionist (for Lingthusiasm and other linguistics podcasts)
- A parody post about linguistics jobs: wug farmer
- New grad school advice post: do I need to have done a linguistics major to apply for linguistics grad school?
Creative linguistics creations
- A very linguistic wedding cake
- Cookies decorated with IPA symbols
- Linguistics Halloween costumes/pumpkins
- Wug fingernail art
- Happy Purim from two wugs!
Language Files videos
I collaborated with Tom Scott and Molly Ruhl on a series of short youtube videos about linguistics.
- why typing like this is sometimes okay.
- Why “No Problem” can seem rude: Phatic expressions
- The language sounds that could exist, but don’t
- Can the words you read change your behaviour?
- Why do we move our hands when we talk?
- The sentences computers can’t understand, but humans can
- Abso-b████y-lutely: Expletive Infixation
- The hidden rules of conversation (Gricean maxims)
A series on Weird Internet Careers
A reflection on how starting All Things Linguistic back in 2012 was the seed that led to all of the interesting and exciting things I’m doing now, including writing articles, writing a book, and doing the podcast — and how to approach trying to do something similar.
- Part I – What is a Weird Internet Career?
- Part II – How I Built a Weird Internet Career as an Internet Linguist
- Part III – How to start a Weird Internet Career
- Part IV – How to make money doing a Weird Internet Career
- Part V – What can a Weird Internet Career look like?
- Part VI – Is it too late for me to start my Weird Internet Career?
- Part VII – How to level up your Weird Internet Career
Haven’t been with me this whole time? You can see my favourite posts of year one, year two, year three, year four, year five, year six and year seven.
For shorter updates, follow me on twitter as a person, as my blog, or as the podcast, or for a monthly newsletter with highlights, subscribe on substack.