Top posts from 7 years of All Things Linguistic

Cross-posted from All Things Linguistic

It’s my seven year blogiversary! Wow! Let’s celebrate by looking back at some of my favourite posts from the past year:

Wired Resident Linguist column

I started a column about internet linguistics at Wired this year! Here are my columns so far:

Internet linguistics

Other linguistics

Things about languages

Memes and humour

Linguistics jobs

Lists and how to

Lingthusiasm

We had another year of Lingthusiasm episodes!

  1. What words sound spiky across languages? Interview with Suzy Styles
  2. This, that, and the other thing – Determiners
  3. When nothing means something
  4. Making books and tools speak Chatino – Interview with Hilaria Cruz
  5. Every word is a real word
  6. Why do C and G come in hard and soft versions? Palatalization
  7. Words for family relationships – Kinship terms
  8. How languages influence each other – Interview with Hannah Gibson on Swahili, Rangi, and Bantu languages
  9. The verb is the coat rack that the rest of the sentence hangs on
  10. Why do we gesture when we talk?
  11. Pop culture in Cook Islands Māori – Interview with Ake Nicholas
  12. You heard about it but I was there – Evidentials

And another year of Lingthusiasm bonus episodes:

  1. Forensic linguistics
  2. Homonyms, homophones, and homographs
  3. Emoji, Gesture, and the International Congress of Linguists – behind the scenes on the linguistics conference circuit
  4. Hyperforeignisms
  5. Bringing up bilingual babies
  6. What’s it really like at academic conferences?
  7. Q&A about old words, ears, Australian English, and more
  8. Naming people (and especially babies)
  9. How the internet is making English better (liveshow from Melbourne)
  10. Adapting your language to other people
  11. How do radio announcers know how to pronounce all the names? With guest Tiger Webb
  12. Talking with dogs, horses, ravens, dolphins, bees, and other animals

We also released more Lingthusiasm merch: scarves with tree diagrams and esoteric symbols on them, all the scarf designs as notebooks and mugsSpace Babies, and linguist baby onesies!

Book: Because Internet

Many exciting announcements related to Because Internet, my book in defence of internet language, happened this year!

  1. The book is heading into copyedits!
  2. BECAUSE INTERNET is available for preorder!
  3. Galleys of BECAUSE INTERNET are arriving with reviewers
  4. An early review of BECAUSE INTERNET (“me reading this was basically galaxy brain”)
  5. Thoughts from reading the audiobook of Because Internet: on pronouncing gif, lol, and keysmash

Because Internet will be coming out on July 23 — that’s only 2 months away! You can make it appear as a delightful surprise for your future self (and signal to the publisher that people are interested in linguistics so they should print lots of copies) by preordering it here.


Haven’t been with me this whole time? You can see my favourite posts of year oneyear twoyear threeyear fouryear five, and year six. For shorter updates, follow me on twitter as a person or as my blog, or for a monthly newsletter with highlights, subscribe at my website.

April 2019: Coding in English and new Because Internet cover photos

My latest article for Wired is: Coding is for everyone — as long as you speak English. (I also made a Glitch remix of the first website for it). Here’s a quote from the article:

In theory, you can make a programming language out of any symbols. The computer doesn’t care. The computer is already running an invisible program (a compiler) to translate your IF orinto the 1s and 0s that it functions in, and it would function just as effectively if we used a potato emoji 🥔 to stand for IF and the obscure 15th century Cyrillic symbol multiocular O ꙮ to stand for. The fact that programming languages often resemble English words like body or if is a convenient accommodation for our puny human meatbrains, which are much better at remembering commands that look like words we already know.

But only some of us already know the words of these commands: those of us who speak English.

This month’s Lingthusiasm main episode was an interview with Ake Nicholas about making pop culture resources to get kids excited about Cook Islands Māori (transcript), and the bonus episode was about how radio announcers know how to pronounce all the names (an interview with Tiger Webb from our Sydney liveshow).

In news about my book, an early review of Because Internet said that “me reading this was basically galaxy brain” (<3) and I was quoted in this article in The Cut, talking about the importance of linguistic styleshifting.

I started getting ready to record the Because Internet audiobook (which I’m doing myself!), updated my cover photo to include the book and got an idea for how to sign people’s copies. I also compiled my best memes and behind-the-scenes bits about Because Internet so far into a convenient twitter moment.

In other books (specifically lingfic), I tweeted assorted thoughts about the linguistic worldbuilding in The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and its sequels (thread).

Somehow I got namechecked in the hovertext of an SMBC comic, so that’s a lifegoal accomplished that I never knew I had.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s image is one of my fancy new social media cover photos featuring Because Internet!

BecauseInternet_FacebookCover_cropped

March 2019: Gesture video for Lingthusiasm, #BAHfest, and BECAUSE INTERNET in the mail

I gave a humorous speech at the Bad Ad-hoc Hypothesis fest (BAHfest MIT) about the very logical (!) reasons to make English spelling less logical. I’m told that there will be video eventually — for now, my slides are here.

This month’s Lingthusiasm episode was about why we gesture when we talk, and we also made it available as our very first video episode so you can see the gestures! Many thanks to our Patreon supporters who enabled us to experiment with video! The bonus episode was Do you adjust the way you talk to match other people? Linguistic Accommodation with special guest our producer Claire Gawne.

I was quoted in articles about the xx email signoff in the New York Times, about the origin of the word “emoji” in Science Friday (NPR), and about business speak and corporate jargon for the BBC.

I was a guest on Spirits Podcast, a boozy podcast about myths and legends, talking about names and folklore! I also judged A Word A Day’s 25th anniversary pangram contest (the winner? “Emoji having been popularized, texts acquire wacky faces.”)

I livetweeted my thoughts on The Raven Tower, a new novel by Ann Leckie that has many cool linguistic worldbuilding elements!

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is of an advance copy of BECAUSE INTERNET arriving at reviewers, along with a printed-out tweet on the package!

because internet with envelope tweet

February 2019: Predictive text meme in Wired and galleys of Because Internet

My latest Wired article is about the appeal of the predictive text meme: we’ve gone from Damn You Autocorrect to treating the strip of three predicted words as a sort of wacky but charming oracle. Plus: I’ve officially got a Wired author sketch now!

I was also quoted in the Huffington Post about how we use okay vs ok vs k in workplace communication and profiled in Stylist France magazine (print, in French).

In Because Internet news, I tweeted some novelty brand twitter accounts about my book, and some of them actually replied! I also made an emoji version of the Because Internet cover ✨, and there’s now a Goodreads page for Because Internet and for me as an author, if you’d like to register your interest in structured data format!

The latest Lingthusiasm main episode was about a new metaphor for verbs and sentences: the verb is the coat rack which the rest of the sentence hangs on (transcript). I also did a lingcomm meta thread about how we go about making a “technical topic explained in a nontechnical way” episode like this. The bonus episode was about how the internet is making English better — it’s a live recording from our Melbourne show, so you can feel like you’re in a friendly group of lingthusiasts from the comfort of your own couch!

I also updated my website, including a shiny new theme, a more detailed page for the book, a bio page, and an updated contact page.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is of a bound galley copy of BECAUSE INTERNET — the first time I got to see my book looking like a real book! The inside still has some minor typos and other revisions, but this is the version that will be sent out to reviewers so that reviews can come out at the same time as the book in July.

because internet galley in front of a plant.jpg

January 2019: Emoji kids, book cards, and #LSA2019

I wrote an article for Wired about preliterate kids texting with emoji. Plus, some bonus adorable examples that didn’t fit in the article.

I wrote an update post about how my book on internet language is going! The book now has a publicist, Shailyn Tavella and you can email her at stavella@prh.com for questions about review copies and interviews.

I also dropped by the fancy new Riverhead office in the Penguin building, made a few comments about Unicode and capitalization, and did a late-stage book editing pass involving reading the whole book out loud to myself which made me feel like David Attenborough.

At the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (this year in New York City), I judged the 5 Minute Linguist competition (video of all the talks here) and did a lingwiki Wikipedia editathon with a focus on underrepresented language articles for the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages. Threads from the LSA about bimodal (signed/spoken) bilingualismlinguistics high school teachers, and the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages (kickoff events).

The main episode of Lingthusiasm was an interview with Hannah Gibson about language contact and Bantu languages, and the bonus episode was about naming people (and especially babies). Plus: when I found out that my cohost was embarking on a new longitudinal language acquisition project, there was only one gift I could give her.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s image is the stack of cards with my book’s cover on them that I got from my publisher to give out at the LSA. If you see me at a conference between now and when BECAUSE INTERNET is out, I’m happy to give you one too! Or stop by Argo Bookshop if you’re in Montreal to get a card and/or preorder a signed copy.

because internet book cards.jpg

December 2018: BECAUSE INTERNET preorders, Adelaide, Spain, and the most phonetic restaurant name

The preorder link for my book went up this month! You can now preorder Because Internet as a delightful surprise for your future self and to let the publisher know that people are interested in internet linguistics, either online by following the links here or by contacting your local indie bookstore. (Want a hint of what’s inside? Today in Things I Tell My Copyeditor: “stet, this is a Unicode joke”)

The Lingthusiasm main episode was about words for family relationships, or kinship terms, and the bonus episode was a behind the scenes Q&A episode where we answered your questions about the shape of the ear, very old words, and more. (The Q&A is also available as a special video episode for patrons!)

I finished my trip to Australia with a visit to Adelaide for the annual meeting of the Australian Linguistic Society, where I did a workshop on linguistics communication (#lingcomm).

I then ended the year in Spain!

I started a personal/professional instagram account, so if your instagram feed needs more linguistics in it, you can now follow @gretchen.mcculloch there.

I posted my year in review blog post on All Things Linguistic (and a tongue-in-cheek year in review tweet).

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is from Adelaide, where a group of linguists naturally chose to have dinner at the restaurant with the most, er, phonetic name.

phonatic restaurant adelaide

 

November 2018: Book title (BECAUSE INTERNET), Lingthusiasm liveshows, PatreCon, CoEDL, and more Australia talks

My book about internet language officially has a title and publication date! Look for BECAUSE INTERNET: UNDERSTANDING THE NEW RULES OF LANGUAGE in July 2019, and you can put your email address here if you want to get a link when it’s available.

My second Wired column went up: Why do some mid-sized languages, like Swedish, have extensive internet resources, while others with the same or larger speaker populations do not?

I’ve spent most of this month in Australia! (I did stop by PatreCon, a conference for Patreon creators, on my way.) Here’s a thread of linguistic reflections on being a Canadian in Australia.

We did our long-anticipated Lingthusiasm liveshows in Sydney and Melbourne! It was amazing to meet so many old and new fans of the show and compare notes on Australianisms, Canadianisms, and how people talk on the internet. The liveshow recording will be up in a few months for the rest of the world.

The main Lingthusiasm episode was about why C and G come in hard and soft versions, and more about palatal sounds, and the bonus episode was an inside view into academic conferences and how to have a good time at them. The Lingthusiasm merch is now finalized for the season, so you can order it for the holidays with confidence!

I also went to Canberra for the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL) Summer School, where I gave a public lecture on internet linguistics and taught a class on linguistics communication (see course notes and readings on the @LingComm twitter account). A few tweets from talks, plus threads about the Linguistics Roadshow and linguistics escape rooms.

I also did talks at University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, and Monash University, and radio interviews on ABC Melbourne and ABC Canberra.

I also did a short thread about An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is a shot of the table where Lauren Gawne and I were preparing for the Lingthusiasm liveshow, complete with Real Australian Flat Whites! table lingthusiasm liveshow prep flat whites melbourne.jpg

October 2018: Wired Resident Linguist, Scintillation, #AoIR2018, and Lingthusiasm’s second anniversary

I’ve started writing a Resident Linguist column for Wired! My first article is about Voldemorting, birdsite, The Cheeto, and other ways of hiding words in plain sight online.

I was in this video on NBC about teen slang and this article about “ish” in work emails.

I attended Scintillation, where I was on panels about linguistic worldbuilding and the future of English in science fiction, and the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conferences, both in Montreal.

The Lingthusiasm main episode was about how Every word is a real word and the bonus episode was about bringing up bilingual babies. (Lingthusiasm is now also officially on Spotify.)

It’s our second anniversary of Lingthusiasm! To celebrate, we’re trying to help the show reach more people by encouraging current listeners to give us a shoutout on social media. Here’s a helpful roundup post with links to all the current episodes that you can share, and we’ll thank everyone who recommends us in a special anniversary post!

I livetweeted the linguistics bits from the new book HOW TO INVENT EVERYTHING as well as a short thread about linguistics aspects of Salt Fat Acid Heat.

Many great linguistics Halloween costumes.

At the end of the month, I head to PatreCon and Australia! Here’s my Australia conferences and talks schedule.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s image is the new Space Baby art from Lingthusiasm, which is available as a poster, art print, scarf, stickers and more!

space babies bookshelfie

July 2018: Book heading into copyedits and EmojiCon in NYC

My book on internet language is now heading into copyedits and will be out sometime in mid-2019! I wrote a blog post about the latest stage of the writing process and I’ve been tweeting periodically about it as well. If you want to be the first to find out when there’s more news available, you can put your email address here and I’ll make sure you don’t miss anything.

I gave a talk about Emoji as Gesture at the second EmojiCon, in Brooklyn (see livetweets at #emojicon18), and went to Dartmouth for a workshop on Automatic Speech Recognition for Endangered Languages. I also met up with a bunch of interesting people while I was in the NYC and Boston areas and went to EmojiLand, a surprisingly deep musical about emoji!

This month’s Lingthusiasm main episode was about This, That, and The Other Thing – Determiners and the bonus episode was about words that look or sound the same and the cool sentences we can make from them, featuring The Buffalo Buffalo sentence and more.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is the sign of the excellently-named restaurant j’eat jet? (Did you eat yet?) in Brooklyn, near the venue for EmojiCon.

j'eat jet restaurant sign.jpg

June 2018: #Emoji2018 in San Francisco and multiple exclamation marks!!!

I went to the Emoji2018 workshop at Stanford and presented a paper by me and Lauren Gawne on Emoji Grammar as Beat Gestures – livetweets here, including threads of talks by Tyler Schnoebelen, Susan Herring, and a panel, and read our paper/check out our slides here.

I was in this Wired article about Emoji2018 and this Atlantic article about Multiple exclamation marks in internet speak!!!

The main Lingthusiasm episode was What words sound spiky across languages? Interview with Suzy Styles and the bonus was about Forensic Linguistics. We also made the IPA scarves available in rainbow, by popular request!

I also did a crossover episode with a podcast called Wah Wonders Why, about What if there was no moon?

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is the language section at Book Passage from when I was in San Francisco for Emoji2018.  Maker:S,Date:2017-11-21,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y