2015 Year in Review

Cross-posted from All Things Linguistic

I started 2015 as usual at the Linguistic Society of America annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, where I talked about the linguistic community on Tumblr on the Popularizing Linguistics via Social Media panel. I was also a mentor at a linguistics careers networking event, ran the first linguistics Wikipedia editathon, and livetweeted on #lsa2015.

Book announcement

In December, I announced that I’m writing a book on internet language for Riverhead (Penguin). Details are still to come, but I’m excited to finally be able to talk about this project I’ve been working on all year!

Online Writing

I wrote three articles for The Toast, on internet sarcasmthe linguistics of ship names (how names like Johnlock and Brittana and Dramione get put together), and revisiting the classic handbook of cutting-edge nineties internet language, Wired Style.

In February, I ended my writing and editing for Slate’s Lexicon Valley, and in March I started writing a series on internet language for Mental Floss. Here are some of my favourite pieces for Mental Floss:

I started writing for Dictionary.com (Can an inhaled word mean something?) and for Quartz, about how young women have been linguistic disruptors ever since Shakespeare and nominating singular “they” for Word of the Year 2015 – we’ll see how it goes when I’m at the official American Dialect Society vote in January!

I continued writing for Strong Language, the sweary blog about swearing, about how the new voice transcription feature in Google Docs censors some swear words (which got picked up by a lot of news outlets: Wired, Gawker, The Register, Fusion, The Daily Dot, and Business Insider), and two posts about expletive infixation, on why you can’t say “abso-jesus-lutely” or “abso-hallelujah-lutely“.

Interviews

I did a lot of interviews this year, especially about internet language. Highlights:

Radio:

I was on NPR Youth Radio and All Tech Considered on emoji, and the Kojo Nnamdi Show on internet dialects?, plus two national Drive programs, in Canada (CBC), talking about emoji and Australia (ABC), talking about language on Twitter.

Lists:

All Things Linguistic made Bab.la’s list of Top 25 Language Professionals Blogs.

My articles appeared on several roundup lists of best posts, including my grammar of shipping piece on The Toast’s 2015 list, and my grammar of doge and syntax of fuck pieces on The Electric Typewriter’s 2014+2015 list.

I was profiled in Unravel Magazine about popularizing linguistics and writing about internet language.

#lingwiki

Including both Wikimedia-sponsored and non-sponsored grants, I ran 10 #lingwiki editathons in 2015, in which over 200 Wikipedia articles were created or edited by over 200 linguists.

Speaking & Conferences

Videos

I collaborated on four LingVids videos with Caroline Andrews, Josh Levy, and Leland Paul Kusmer, which went up in March-June:

I co-wrote five Language Files videos with Tom Scott, which went up in May and June:

Top Posts

All Things Linguistic got a new theme in January, with a big header image featuring a photo I took of the linguistics section at the Montague Bookmill. Here are some of my favourite posts of the year, loosely organized by category:

Language and Society

Linguistic Fun

Internet Language

Roundups and Advice posts

Book reviews

Meetups

We had a tumblinguist meetup at the LSA annual meeting in January and at Lingstitute in July (here’s a picture of our hands with wugs drawn on them from the lingstitute meetup).

At the end of August, I started a linguistics meetup group, Linguists@Montréal, loosely inspired by Linguistics in the Pub, and we met up twice a month thereafter. If you’re a linguist living in or visiting Montreal, feel free to join the Facebook group or check it out to see if there’s an event happening when you’re around!

In January, I’m heading to the LSA annual meeting, this year in Washington DC, where I’ll be livetweeting on #lsa2016, attending the Word of the Year vote #woty15, and running an editathon. New this year, I’ll also be doing media relations for the LSA at the meeting, so you can catch me on the LSA’s official Twitter account in addition to my own. (And, of course, in person — do feel free to say hi if you know me from the internet!) I’ll also be sticking around afterwards to give a talk at Georgetown about explaining linguistics.

Curious about what I did and posted about in previous years? Check out my highlight posts from 2014 and 2013

November 2015: internet hyperbole in NYT, explaining linguistics, and linguistics in fiction

I’m quoted in this New York Times column about internet hyperbole.

I’m also quoted about emoji in articles for Think Progress and for 24 Hour Toronto. I wrote about lowkey for Mental Floss.

My lingwiki activities were mentioned in a blog post announcing the partnership between the Wikipedia Education Foundation and the Linguistic Society of America, which is a new initiative I’m excited to be a part of.

 

I did a talk at the University of Ottawa about explaining linguistics to a general audience, and how that relates to getting a job with linguistics. You can see the slides at bit.ly/explainling-uottawa plus a roundup about how to do linguistics outreach. I also posted an extensive list of pop linguistics books and lingfic.

Several interesting things about analyzing linguistics in stories:

I did a livetweet of Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai, which you can read in full here via Storify.

Last month’s livetweet of Carry On came to the attention of Rainbow Rowell herself, so you can see her response here:

 

And finally, while I can’t claim credit for this directly, when I saw Todd Snider on tweeting about the linguistics of Hamilton, I suggested that he make it into a Storify so that I could post it on All Things Linguistic, and the same Storify eventually came to the attention of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda himself.

Selected blog posts:

Here’s a photo I took of the linguistics section at the pun-tastically named bookstore Mona Lisait in Montreal.

mona lisait bookshelf

October 2015: SXSW accepted, Polyglot Conference, NELS & NWAV editathons, and storifies

My SXSW panel with SwiftKey about the linguistics of emoji was accepted!

I did three Wikipedia editathons, at NELS in Montreal, NWAV in Toronto, and at Queen’s in Kingston. Here’s a summary of all three editathons. The NELS editathon was my last under my Inspire grant from Wikimedia, and it also got picked up in Concordia’s news service which led to me doing an interview about it with CBC Homerun.

I attended Polyglot Conference in New York City, which I’ve storified the livetweets from. I also storified my livetweeting of Rainbow Rowell’s new book, Carry On, as well as a linguistic parody of Taylor Swift’s Blank Space that I wrote a while back.

Articles for Mental Floss:

I did interviews for a number of articles:

And several of my previous articles got picked up elsewhere:

Selected blog posts:

I took so many cute wugshots this month I couldn’t pick just one. Here’s a series of crocheted wugs which Concordia linguistics student Caitlin Stahl made and brought to NELS, a wug I drew on a children’s magnetic toy in a store in NYC, and a line of marching wugs from a blackboard in the University of Toronto linguistics department.

crocheted wugs wug toy wugboard

September 2015: Ship names, radio Drive interviews, swearing in GDocs, and Linguists@Montréal

I did two radio interviews this month, both of which happened to be national Drive programs, in Canada (CBC), talking about emoji and Australia (ABC), talking about language on twitter. You can listen online at their respective links.

I had a Toast article go up about the linguistics of ship names — how names like Johnlock and Brittana and Dramione get put together.

Articles for Mental Floss:

I wrote an article for Strong Language about how the new voice transcription feature in Google Docs is censoring some swear words, which got picked up by a lot of news outlets: Wired, Gawker, The Register, Fusion, The Daily Dot, and Business Insider.

One of my blog posts on All Things Linguistic, about “you’re welcome” versus “no problem” and phatic communication, got picked up by Buzzfeed and turned into a gif-post.  The Quartz article I wrote last month about young women’s speech also got picked up in an article at New York University.

I started a linguistics meetup group, Linguists@Montréal, loosely inspired by Linguistics in the Pub, and we had our first few inaugural events. If you’re a linguist living in or visiting Montreal, feel free to join the Facebook group or check it out to see if there’s an event happening when you’re around! (There will be a pub night the Thursday before NELS.)

Selected blog posts on All Things Linguistic:

Upcoming: I’m going to three conferences in October, Polyglot Conference in New York City, NELS in Montreal, and NWAV in Toronto. Details here, but I’ll be livetweeting using the hashtags: #pcnyc15, #nels46, and #nwav44 if you’d like to follow along!

Here’s a bookshelfie I took at Powell’s in Hyde Park when I was in Chicago in July, with some fancy filters:

linguistics bookshelf powells bw

August 2015: SXSW proposal, language disruptors, vintage internet slang, back-to-school link roundup & linguistics + X

I’ve started working with SwiftKey, a mobile keyboard app company, on analyzing some of their extensive data on how people use emoji. We’ve got a panel proposal up for South by Southwest Interactive which you can see more details about and vote for, if you’re so inclined.

I wrote my first piece for Quartz, about how young women have been disrupting language ever since Shakespeare, and it got picked up by the Smithsonian Magazine.

I revisited the classic handbook of cutting-edge 90s internet language, Wired Style and wrote about its retro internet slang and how I became a descriptivist for The Toast and then explored further vintage slang from it in a follow-up on Mental Floss. I also wrote for Mental Floss about the two kinds of hashtags, index and commentary.

I livetweeted my thoughts about an advance copy of David J. Peterson’s The Art of Language Invention, which I’ve summed up in a Storify (with sneak peeks of the book).

I published a back-to-school link round up on All Things Linguistic, as well as a career advice post, Linguistics + X.

Selected blog posts:

Here’s a picture of my paper copy of Wired Style that I hunted down secondhand since it’s now out of print. wired style

July 2015: Lingstitute, four #lingwiki editathons, and stub sorting

In July 2015, I attended the month-long LSA summer institute (aka lingstitute) at the University of Chicago. My primary purpose there was to run four, weekly editathons to improve linguistics-related articles on Wikipedia. There were a total of 76 participants and 50 articles improved in 5 languages — for more details, see the report here. Many thanks to everyone involved!

We also had a tumblinguist meetup at lingstitute, and here’s a picture of our hands with wugs drawn on them. I livetweeted many other lingstitute events, which can be found on twitter. Plus, a lingstitute-inspired survey about what your favourite vowel is.

Shortly before lingstitute, Emily Temple-Wood (Wikipedia User:Keilana) and I created a wug-tastic linguistics stub sorting guide, for those who may be interested in contributing to linguistics-related articles on Wikipedia but don’t know much about linguistics — and it’s already seen some use at the editathons!

Articles:

Selected blog posts:

I took this picture at the Seminary Co-op bookstore at UChicago. The linguistics and Marxism sections are right next to each other — I was told it’s so that all the Chomsky can be together.

seminary coop bookshelf linguistics+marxism

June 2015: Bab.la Top 25 blogs, Internet sarcasm on The Toast, emoji interviews & more videos

All Things Linguistic made Bab.la’s list of Top 25 Language Professionals Blogs.

I’m back on The Toast, writing about internet sarcasm. I also started writing for Dictionary.com – my first article was about ingressives: Can an inhaled word mean something? 

Articles for Mental Floss:

I’m quoted in this article on emoji by the Canadian Press, which appeared in CTVnews, Metro, and many other newspapers in Canada. I also did radio interviews about emoji for ABC (Perth, Australia) and CKTB 610 (Niagara, Canada), although I don’t think they’re online yet.

The three remaining videos that I co-wrote with Tom Scott went up:

The fourth video in LingVids went up, about reflexive pronouns and anaphora:

Selected blog posts:

In July, I’m heading to the LSA summer institute in Chicago where I’ll be running four linguistics Wikipedia editathons, on Wednesday afternoons. Follow the #lingstitute hashtag for general updates and the #lingwiki hashtag for the editathons — and feel free to participate from online!

Here’s a picture of the linguistics section at the Montague Bookmill, which was originally where I took the cover photo I use everywhere and which I revisited a while back:

montague bookmill linguistics shelf redux

May 2015: Emoji interviews, 3rd blogiversary, Language Files videos, and CLA #lingwiki

I did several interviews on emoji this month: for Youth Radio on NPR, for The Fader, and for CNET, plus a few tweets about emoji that got quoted on News.Com.Au:

emoji language tweet

I organized the third #lingwiki editathon at the annual meeting of the Canadian Linguistics Association / Association canadienne de linguistique (ACL|CLA). We had 32 participants who edited a total of 43 articles – you can see the full report here. Many thanks to the sponsors, Wikimedia and the ACL|CLA, and of course to all the participants.

I launched a series of linguistics videos with YouTuber Tom Scott. We co-wrote five videos as a third season of his Language Files series — the first two went up in May, and the next three will go up in June.

The third video in LingVids, my previous collaborative videos project, also went up this month.

Articles for Mental Floss: Does this sentence sound incomplete, or?“You” versus “u” as a formality distinction, and 15 ways to laugh online.

It was my third blogiversary on All Things Linguistic, so I posted a roundup of my favourite posts from the past year. Selected blog posts from this month:

And finally, here’s a photo of the linguistics section in Strand Books, from when I visited New York City this month. I’m especially pleased that they have separate sections for linguistics and etymology!

strand bookshelf

April 2015: Wikimedia #lingwiki grant, language is open source talk, resources for high school teachers, and IPA Scrabble

IPA Scrabble set

I received a grant from Wikimedia to fund the upcoming #lingwiki editathons in May (at the CLA in Ottawa), July (at the LSA summer institute in July), and October (at NELS in Montreal). You can see the grant information here: Linguistics Editathon series: Improving female linguists’ participation and representation on Wikipedia. The grant was funded through Wikimedia’s Inspire campaign to improve the gender gap in Wikipedia editing, which was a great fit considering that a lot of fantastic female linguists have participated in previous lingwikis, and many articles about notable female linguists have already been added. I’m excited to see more articles in that area as well as our other two categories of under-documented languages and linguistics stubs improved in the three upcoming lingwikis.

I gave a lightning talk called “Language is Open Source” at AdaCamp Montreal, a conference for women in open source and open culture. You can read the full text here. I also facilitated a round-table session about linguistics at AdaCamp — turns out there are a quite a lot of former linguists in tech!

I wrote two articles for Mental Floss:

I compiled a resource post for high school teachers who want to do linguistics activities with their classes. Feel free to share with any high school teachers in your life!

The second episode of Ling Vids came out, on what “wanna” tells us about how sentences fit together:

Selected blog posts:

I also posted some gorgeous photos of an IPA Scrabble set that the Yale Undergraduate Linguistics Society made (see all the pictures here):

IPA Scrabble set
IPA Scrabble picture courtesy of YULS

March 2015: internet language on Mental Floss & interviews, second #lingwiki, LingVids

In March I started writing a new series on internet language for Mental Floss. My first post takes a look at your ability to even: Is “even” turning into a verb? Why is it so hard to “can even”?

I also did interviews for two articles on internet language: That Way We’re All Talking Now on Matter (follow-up comments here) and no capitalization is funnier on HuffPost Books.

I organized the second #lingwiki Wikipedia editathon, for which the central event took place online via the Twitter hashtag, but with in-person satellite editathons in Singapore (organized by Lauren Gawne), Canberra (organized by Hedvig Skirgard) and Madrid (organized by Manuel Alcántara Pia). A total of 24 participants from four continents participated, creating or improving 54 articles in 7 languages. Full details here, including a list of all articles edited. I also attended and helped facilitate at my local Art+Feminism editathon earlier in the month.

I jointly launched a new collaborative project, Ling Vids, a series of videos about linguistics. You can watch the first video below, on whether a sentence is more like a bracelet or a mobile:

Selected posts from All Things Linguistic