December 2014: Swearing, explaining linguistics, and more Cabin Pressure

I wrote an article on the syntax of fuck for The Toast, reviving the classic paper, “English Sentences Without Overt Grammatical Subject”. I also joined Strong Language, a new blog about the language of swearing, and wrote a post about this delightful bilingual sticker that I snapped a photo of in Montreal. The comments on both the original wordpress post and my subsequent cross-post to tumblr are very much worth it for further commentary.

Il est interdit de faire smashy-smash. It is forbidden to fuck shit up.
Il est interdit de faire smashy-smash.
It is forbidden to fuck shit up.

I made a link round-up with resources for how to explain linguistics to your friends and family this holiday season, which was resoundingly popular on facebook (perhaps from linguists hinting to their friends and family!)

I continued my blog series on the linguistic aspects of Cabin Pressure, which ultimately came to the attention of John Finnemore, who writes and acts in the show.

For Lexicon Valley highlights, see this list of the top posts of 2014.

Selected blog posts:

Upcoming: Wikipedia editathon and panel about popularizing linguistics online (I’m representing tumblr) at the Linguistic Society of America annual meeting in Portland, Oregon next week.

November 2014: Editathon slides, FAQ, Cabin Pressure, and early Christmas posts

A draft of my slides for the linguistics Wikipedia editathon is now online at and comments are welcome. This short url will allow participants to follow the slides at their own pace during the workshop, or indeed participate in the editathon from anywhere online during the weekend of the LSA annual meeting. More on the structure of the editathon here.

I made an FAQ for All Things Linguistic and a final part 8 to last month’s how to draw syntax trees series: A step-by-step guide to tree drawing, with gifs.

I started a blog series analyzing linguistic aspects of the BBC radio comedy Cabin Pressure:

Selected posts from Lexicon Valley:

Selected blog posts:

Note that I have departed from my usual practice and included some links from early December above, specifically the Christmas-related ones, because by the time the December summary post comes up in early January, they’ll be rather out of date.

September 2014: Interview with Steven Pinker, poetry, pop linguistics advice, and continuing editathon plans

In September, I interviewed Steven Pinker about his new book, The Sense of Style, for which I also wrote a review.

I wrote about how rhythmic differences in language affect their poetry for Schwa Fire, season 1, issue 3 (working title: “Why Shakespeare didn’t write haikus”). Normally Schwa Fire is by subscription, but this one is available for free, at least for now, so do check it out!

I also wrote advice for writing pop linguistics articles. It’s of general interest, but you should especially check it out if you’re planning on pitching to me for Lexicon Valley. And another advice post for going to undergrad and student-focussed conferences.

Two interviews with me are now online: one with Grammarist and another as part of a longer article by Kyle Chayka on doge and the future of meme culture, up at Matter.

Continuing with Wikipedia editathon plans: the announcement is now up on the LSA’s website. I’m also organizing an editathon to happen in Montreal this fall, as a sort of trial run for the bigger LSA one. Not much about this online yet, but everyone I’ve talked to so far has been very excited about it!

Highlights of my recent writing for Lexicon Valley:

Selected blog posts:

August 2014: Crowdsourced linguistics and plans for a Wikipedia editathon

In August, I organized a project on Crowdsourced Linguistics, to help bridge the gap between common questions people have about linguistics and linguists who can answer them. The three organizational posts with the plans and summary of the series are here:

I’d also like to highlight a few of the more in-depth explanations that people wrote:

As a result of the Crowdsourced Linguistics project, I’ve also begun working with the LSA to organize an editathon at the January 2015 Linguistics Society of America annual meeting, where linguists can learn how to edit Wikipedia and tackle a few of the many linguistics stubs. More details to follow as we work them out, but if you think you might be interested in helping out, do get in touch!

I also wrote about crash blossoms for Grammar Girl and marked my 1000th post on All Things Linguistic.

Highlights of my recent writing for Lexicon Valley:

Selected blog posts: