November 2019: Emoji stats, speaking reel, Crash Course announcement, and Weird Internet Careers

I wrote a very deep-dive article about the growing pains of the new emoji approval process at Unicode for Wired, featuring a graph that I’m very proud of: New emoji are so boring — but they don’t have to be.

If you’ve been unenthused about the emoji of recent years, you’re not alone. A flashlight? A toolbox? A fire extinguisher? A tin can? Who even uses these?

The emoji set to appear on your phone next year are similarly dismal. A screwdriver, a toothbrush, a bell pepper—seriously, what is this, a shopping center? When you think of emoji, you don’t think of a laundry list of random objects. You think of iconic, sometimes weird, expressive faces, like the face with tears of joy, the thinking face, the angry devil, the smiling pile of poo, and the see-no-evil monkey, plus classic symbols like the thumbs-up and the heart. But the latest batch includes just three new faces and one new hand shape, compared with 49 new objects, from a roller skate and a rock to a plunger.

The reason for this slide into irrelevance? The Unicode Consortium—the organization in charge of determining which symbols our devices are supposed to recognize—has increasingly been measuring the wrong thing in the process of approving new emoji.

I also wrote a very short piece for New York Magazine’s Futures issue (print) about memes and cultural references: In the future, we will have meme folklorists.

I now have a speaking reel online! If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like when I’m giving a talk about internet linguistics, you can now watch a short demo video, also embedded below. To book me to talk at your conference or company, please see the instructions on my contact page.

I’m very excited to announce that there’s going to be a Crash Course Linguistics minicourse on youtube in 2020! I’m even more excited to say that I’m involved, along with the excellent linguists Lauren Gawne and Jessi Grieser.

linguistics crash course graphic

I guess we’re heading towards the end of the year, because the “top books of 2019” lists have started to appear, and Because Internet is on some of them!

Because Internet also made it to the semifinals of the Goodreads Choice Awards despite not having been in the previous round, because apparently enough people wrote it in! I’m stunned and honoured.

Other notable media included being interviewed on the Ezra Klein Show and having a review go up in Ars Technica. (Full list of all media this month below.)

It was our three-year anniversary for Lingthusiasm! A thread of which lingthusiasm episode you might want to start with, and a few choice quotes that people liked: evidentials in Tibetan languages, the French circumflex, and language is an open source project.

The main episode of Lingthusiasm was about the many ways of talking about many things: plurals, duals, and more and the bonus episode was about reading fiction like a linguist and our favourite lingfic book recs. We’ve also been very much enjoying seeing all of the Lingthusiasm merch that people are getting this month, especially the new lingthusiastic socks and BIG GRAMMAR tshirts, and the perennially popular baby onesies.

I updated my FAQ to include a bit about how to get started writing a book, and also started writing a retrospective series on Weird Internet Careers.

I love hearing about all your Because Internet gifting plans! (So far, popular giftees include parents and teenagers!)

If you want to get signed/personalized copies of Because Internet, you can order those through Argo Bookshop in Montreal and I’m happy to personalize them to whatever name you like, just indicate it in the “notes” field on checkout! (Signing is free, but shipping is at your own expense.) Argo recommends ordering by December 10 if you want the book to arrive internationally by December 25, if you’re within Canada you can order as late as Dec 12. You can also, of course, get regular non-signed copies of Because Internet everywhere books are sold.

National Print/Top Online:

Newsletters & Podcasts:

Local:

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s featured image is already above, an advance glimpse of the graphics from the planned Linguistics Crash Course!

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March 2017: #SXSW Words panel, #ICLDC5 #lingwiki, Princeton talk, Lingthusiasm Patreon

Many talks and travel in March! I began the month in Hawai’i, where I ran several lingwiki editathons at the International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (#icldc5) and also got to attend the Hilo Field Study and learn about Hawaiian language revitalization.

I then headed directly to South by Southwest, where I moderated a panel called Word Curation: Dictionaries, Tech and the Future with Erin McKean (Wordnik), Jane Solomon (Dictionary.com), and Ben Zimmer (Wall Street Journal).  We also stayed in a house together and played word games, and Erin, Jane, and I judged an emoji spelling bee organized by Jenny 8 Lee and other people from EmojiCon.

While the conferences themselves were very different, fortunately the weather in Hawai’i and Texas was very similar – warm and sometimes rainy!

My final talk of the month was at the Princeton linguistics department, where I gave a colloquium talk entitled How I Became An Internet Linguist. I also livetweeted Kory Stamper’s new book, Word by Word, and then got to hang out with her and several other cool lexicography people in NYC on the way to Princeton.

In the meantime, I was quoted in two articles in the New York Times, on Snapchat and phatic communication by Farhad Manjoo and on The communicative function of emoji (Gaymoji) in Grindr by Guy Trebay. The first episode of Lingthusiasm was also featured in NY Mag’s Science of Us and on #SciFriLive (Science Friday on NPR).

The sixth episode of Lingthusiasm came out, about the International Phonetic Alphabet. Listen to the episode on SoundCloud (or wherever you get your podcasts), read the transcript, or check out the links in the shownotes. My cohost Lauren Gawne and I also launched a Patreon to help keep the podcast growing, with a bonus episode about swearing and a video featuring a cameo from our producer.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s featured image is from playing word games at the words house at SXSW. This particular game is known as Codenames and it was great fun.

sxsw word game

2014 Year in Review

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:

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).

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.)

I continued writing for Grammar Girl, and also started writing for The Week and Schwa Fire. Selected posts:

I did an interview with Steven Pinker and reviewed his recent book The Sense of Style

I wrote several series of blog posts:

I wrote several individual advice posts:

Notable posts on language and society:

On language, the internet, pop culture, and fan-guistics:

General interest:

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!

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 bit.ly/lingwiki 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.