September 2019: Book events in Toronto and Seattle, XOXO in Portland, and New York Times Op-Ed From the Future

I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times (my first time writing there instead of being quoted!), from the perspective of 200 years in the future when people have nostalgia for the good old days of quaint emoji. Here’s one part that I liked (longer excerpt here).

The early 21st century was also a golden era for linguistic innovation related to using indirect constructed dialogue to convey actions and mental states. In speech, this era saw the rise of “be like” and in writing, the “me:” and *does something* conventions. (And I’m like, how did people even communicate their internal monologues without these?? also me: *shakes head* yeah I have no idea.)

We now take these linguistic resources for granted, but at the time they represented a significant advancement in modeling complex emotions and other internal conditions on behalf of oneself and other people. Imagine being limited to the previous generation of dialogue tags, which attempted to slice everything into sharp distinctions between “said,” “felt” and “thought.”

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. (Also, which unhyphenated compound word from the early 23rd century are you?)

I also did quite a lot of travel!

Torontobook event in conversation with Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics fame), featuring a packed house with many old friends at The Ossington with Flying Booksn.

PortlandXOXO fest where I held a language meetup for the second time, introducing people to the excellent word game called Contact, left some signed copies at Powells, and gave many Because Internet stickers to people!

Seattle – two talks about the book, one internally for Textio in the afternoon, and one in the evening for the public with the Seattle Review of Books and Elliott Bay Books.

The third Language Files video in my recent collaboration with Tom Scott and Molly Ruhl went up, this time about the language sounds that could exist, but don’t (the forbidden grey boxes of the International Phonetic Alphabet).

The main episode of Lingthusiasm was a bilingual video episode interviewing linguist Dr Lynn Hou about her research on signed languages in natural contexts, including ASL on youtube and Chatino Sign Language, in ASL and English. The bonus episode was a behind-the-scenes look at the writing process for Because Internet. Watch the video episode here:

My keynote talk about internet linguistics at the CoEDL Summer School in Canberra, Australia last year went online. I also switched this monthly newsletter from Mailchimp to Substack (existing subscribers were already migrated, and you can still view it online at gretchenmcculloch.com/news, but if you’d like to get an email when I write a new post like this, you can sign up here).

I spent a week at a friend’s cottage by a lake for a much-needed respite, where I wasn’t on the internet much but did enjoy JY Yang’s Tensorate series :)

Long list of media from this month:

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Here’s a photo of me and Ryan North just before our event in Toronto, featuring the really excellent sign based on Because Internet that The Ossington made for us!

because internet event ossington toronto gretchen mcculloch ryan north.jpg

September 2018: #XOXOfest, copyedits, Space Babies, and a stuffed wuglet

I started the month at XOXO, an experimental festival for independent artists and creators who work on the internet. I’ve been hearing about XOXO for years now, and it was amazing to finally get to go! I ran a language meetup there, which filled the whole empty midafternoon restaurant we had it in (massive thanks to everyone who came!), and got to hang out with old friends, internet friends who felt like old friends but I’d actually never met before irl, and new friends! Here are a couple tweet-shaped highlights: on getting more poets into AI, on making an impact, on interwoven narrative structure, on an emoji-fueled Barrett’s Privateers singalong, and art of both the human and the generated kind.)

I then spent most of the rest of the month working on copyedits for my book on internet language! Still not much to say officially, but here’s…a…tantalizing…hint… and here’s a thread about my favourite copyediting word, stet.

The main episode of Lingthusiasm was an interview with Dr Hilaria Cruz about Making books and tools speak Chatino (transcript) and the bonus episode was about words that are kinda-sorta English and kinda-sorta belonging to other languages, aka hyperforeignisms.

We also released the official Space Babies art which we commissioned based on a popular moment in a couple early episodes of Lingthusiasm, about the languages of space. Honestly just go look it it, it’s so cute! (It’s available in physical form as an art board, stickers, shirts, phone cases, and scarves.) Plus a few more new merch items, like baby onesies that say NOT JUDGING YOUR GRAMMAR, JUST ACQUIRING IT (to go with the existing merch for grownups that says NOT JUDGING YOUR GRAMMAR, JUST ANALYSING IT), more colours of IPA scarves, and by popular demand, IPA ties!

Tickets are now on sale for the Lingthusiasm liveshow in Melbourne on Friday, 16th November 2018 at 6:30pm plus a second liveshow in Sydney on Monday, 12th November 2018 at 8pm. Both shows are going to be about how the internet is making English better, and include a patron meetup before each show and general meetup/hanging out time afterwards. I’m so excited to meet everyone!

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This month’s image is my new art from XOXO! Two bot-generated scarves in the background by Kate Compton, sunset postcards by Lucy Bellwood, and a stuffed wuglet I commissioned from Becky Margraf.

stuffed wuglet and art

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?

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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

January 2018: Language in the public ear: linguistics podcasts and radio panel at LSA

I organized a panel called Language in the Public Ear: Linguistics Outreach via Podcasts and Radio at the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. Here’s a description of the panel from the LSA program:

The number of Americans who listen to podcasts has doubled since 2013, and a growing number of these podcasts are about linguistics. Being able to download an episode to your phone or computer, listen to it anywhere (often while doing something else with your hands), and even pause and come back to it, has created a surge in the popularity of audio. While language is often a popular topic on general interest shows, there are now enough dedicated linguistics podcasts that we’ve put together a whole panel of them for the first time in LSA history. This panel brings together the hosts of both well-established and up-and-coming linguistics podcasts, which combined reach hundreds of thousands of listeners around the world.

Although a few speakers ran into weather issues and had to send in their contributions remotely, it all came together in the end! Here’s a link to all the podcasts, in order of appearance, with cohosts who weren’t present in parentheses:

We were also excited to have at the panel The Vocal Fries (Megan Figueroa and Carrie Gillon) which didn’t even exist when we were putting the panel together. It’s great to see the linguistics podcast sphere continue to grow! If you’re looking for more language podcast recommendations, do check out the other podcasts on this list!

Many thanks to everyone who attended the panel and especially to those who livetweeted #LinguisticEar, asked questions, and came up to chat with us! Here’s some more panel recap.

Also at the LSA, I organized a linguistics Wikipedia editathon with Lauren Collister, who’s an excellent new addition to the lingwiki team, in a rather epic room, and stepped in at the last minute to co-host the Five Minute Linguist competition with Lane Greene of the Economist, in addition to our previously scheduled judging, due to weather issues again. You can watch a video of all the Five Minute Linguist talks here.

Still at the LSA, we took a group photo of lingthusiasts wearing IPA scarves and reached $1000/month on Patreon while Lauren Gawne and I were in the same place, so we got celebratory ice cream!

The Lingthusiasm main episode was about learning parts of words: morphemes and the wug test. Here’s a thread about wugs and linguistic in-jokes. The bonus was an interview with Daniel Midgley of Talk the Talk about how “We are all linguistic geniuses”. We also did an interview with The Vocal Fries about Canadian and Australian Englishes.

I posted my 2017 Year in Review post, with links to the highlights of what I’ve been doing and reading about linguistics. I was also in Superlinguo’s 2017 year in review.

Planning for creating an AP Linguistics course continues: Here’s a thread on how you can help and a blog post version. The LSA is now also offering free membership to K-12 students and teachers.

I did an interview on the origins of “doggo” for Wired.

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I went into two bookstores while I was in Salt Lake City to check out their linguistics sections. One was shelved next to “etiquette” and the other next to “witchcraft.” There are two kinds of linguists…

linguistics bookshelfie salt lake city etiquette witchcraft

December 2017: Full-length bonus episodes and 100k listens on Lingthusiasm

This month’s Lingthusiasm episode was #15: Talking and thinking about time and the bonus was the Q&A from our liveshow in Montreal. We have dubbed it the liveshow Q and eh because the first question is about Canadian “eh” but we also answer other questions!

Thanks to everyone who supported Lingthusiasm’s anniversary by recommending the show: full length bonus episodes started this month! We also announced that we’re adding a new goal to the Patreon: to commission art of a memorable part of Lingthusiasm and make it available for listeners!

We’ve been enjoying seeing pictures of everyone’s IPA scarves and NOT JUDGING YOUR GRAMMAR, JUST ANALYSING IT items on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr! We’re planning a group photo with everyone wearing linguistics merch at the LSA conference in Salt Lake City, just before the Word of the Year vote. We’re also going to compile a collage of everyone’s photos that get sent in!

I was also quoted in this Vox explainer of the Mr. Brightside meme.

I posted my 2017 highlights post on All Things Linguistic if you want a glimpse back on the year.

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This month’s featured image is all three colours of IPA scarf, red, navy, and olive, together at last!

Maker:S,Date:2017-8-23,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve
Three scarves with International Phonetic Alphabet pattern in white letters on red, navy, olive

October 2017: NYC trip, first Lingthusiasm interview, and Linguist Halloween

I went to New York City for a planning meeting of the Planet Word Advisory Board and to meet with my publisher. The details of both are top secret for now but will be really exciting once I can talk about them!

Lingthusiasm aired our very first interview episode: What Does it Mean to Sound Black? Intonation and Identity Interview with Nicole Holliday (transcript). The bonus episode was a recording of our Montreal impromptu liveshow about like, um, hark, and other discourse markers, so you can check that out on Patreon if you want to feel like you’re right there in a room of friendly Lingthusiasts!

We also ran a review and recommend campaign in order to reach 100k listens by our anniversary episode in November, so if you needed an excuse to start listening, get caught up, or recommend the podcast to anyone who needs some fun linguistics in their life, now would be a great time! (Since this post is going up a bit later than usual, I can say that we did in fact meet that goal and that you may also want to know about these IPA scarves now, rather than waiting until their official appearance in November’s news post!)

I did an interview with the Macquarie Dictionary podcast on doggo, and I was quoted in several blog posts on the Oxford Dictionaries blog, about doggo speak, birbspeak, and the history of animal meme lects.

I also updated my two linguistics grad school advice posts: Part I and Part II, and there was a Linguistics Jobs interview about a project manager a language tech company.

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This month’s featured images are some fun sketches I drew of schwa dressing up for Halloween (schwa-lloween), because, after all, it’s the spookiest vowel.