February 2023: LingComm23 and liveshow

This month was the second International Conference on Linguistics Communication, #LingComm2023. I was extremely delighted to not be on the organizing committee this time and to get to participate in the excellent panels and posters and meetups organized by Laura Wagner and the rest of this year’s organizing committee. They did ask me to give the opening keynote, which I’ve posted the text of as a blog post. Here’s a little bit from it:

People who are readers read more than one book a year — and they read way more than one article. People who like podcasts listen to more than one podcast. People who like video subscribe to more than one account. People who like museums go to more than one museum. When I look at topics like pop history and pop science, god, they have SO MANY books and podcasts and scicomm accounts and museums and documentaries. This is my 30 year goal, that linguistics has a thriving ecosystem of so many ways that people can engage with it. 

Our competition isn’t each other, it’s all the other things people could be doing with their time and not even necessarily enjoying them. It’s doomscrolling, it’s aimlessly opening Netflix, it’s playing silly little games on your phone. 

The goal of doing lingcomm isn’t about ego, in trying to make one person into a celebrity. Frankly, I just think there are far more efficient ways of trying to become rich and famous. You know, have you considered making some weird food videos? Maybe having a weird looking pet and posting photos of it? I think those do pretty well. And like, I know we could all be getting more attention right now if we were willing to spout hot takes about how Insert Group Here are ruining language. We’re here because we’ve chosen not to do that. We’re here because we’ve chosen service to the harder path, the ethical path, the more rewarding path, of feeding people with language information that liberates them, that challenges them, rather than the easy path of stoking their insecurities and validating their prejudices. 

I hope that one of the things that the lingcomm conference becomes known for over the next 30 years is as a place to find collaborators to join you in this ethos of serving the public with lingcomm, whether that’s students excitedly hatching ideas with each other like I did in my friend’s car, or journalists and linguists connecting with each other to publish really great news stories, or more established projects finally meeting other people in their niche and thinking about how they could collaborate. 

What we can accomplish in 30 years of lingcomm: Opening keynote of #LingComm23

The main episode of Lingthusiasm was about How kids learn language in Singapore – Interview with Woon Fei Ting. The bonus episode was Singapore, New Zealand, and a favourite linguistics paper – 2023 Year Ahead Chat. We also did a liveshow through the Lingthusiasm patron Discord server about language and gender with special guest Dr. Kirby Conrod.

Selected tweets:

Blog posts:

Here’s my little Gather avatar standing at a booth containing a miniature Because Internet at #LingComm23!

Image of virtual Lingcomm booth for Gretchen McCulloch. Blue background that mimics carpet and a blue square with pixel chairs and table. Displays QR codes and Because Internet and an avatar of Gretchen.