the ‘-’ in ‘uh-oh’

Doing that ling thing to get the ling bling.

Sep 26

Linguistics Conferences


If you’re writing an honours thesis, doing a research project/independent study, or even are just interested in meeting other linguists, why not check out a local linguistics conference or two!

(This year I am finally making the “go to conferences” post with lots of time in advance to get a project up and running: many undergrad conferences take place in December-April and have deadlines sometime in the fall or winter.)

I want to especially encourage undergraduate conference-going because I think grad students and so on are more likely to already hear about conferences and know people who are going to them (although depending on your advisor it may still be worth looking some up). 

Even if you haven’t finished your project yet, you can get comments on a work in progress, or just come and watch things and meet people (but seriously, submit something if you can, it’s worth a try). For smaller conferences, registration is often just enough to cover food, and you can ask the organizers about staying with local students, so your expenses can be quite minimal. Sometimes you can even get travel funding from your own department, especially if you’re presenting (ask a prof, even if you don’t see it advertised anywhere). Audiences of fellow students are generally very positive and non-intimidating, so it’s a good way to get some practice talking about academic things, get a line on your CV or grad school application, and make some ling-friends.  

I even remember a high school student who came to McCCLU one year just because they wanted to learn more about linguistics and meet people. 

Both Linguist List and the LSA (Linguistic Society of America) maintain lists of international conferences organized by date, and I’m aware of a few undergrad-specific conferences (McCCLU - Montreal, TULCon - Toronto, GLEEFUL - Michigan, Harvard colloquium, Cornell colloquium). I’m not sure if they’re current, but I’ve also heard of OCLU in Ottawa, SCULC in southern California, and a rotating conference hosted by ULAB - Undergrad Linguistics Association of Britain. The current websites may not be live yet, but you can look them up from last year to get a sense of timing, and this gives you plenty of time to work on a project. 

I think there are also many student-focussed conferences for both grad students and undergrads, although grad students can of course apply for the general conferences as well! (Heck, I went to one as an undergrad, and while I didn’t present, I met a couple undergrads there with posters.)

Edited to add, from comments: Arizona Linguistics Circle (which is soon, October 3-5!), Minnesota Undergraduate Linguistics Symposium, HULLS (Hunter Undergraduate Linguistics and Language Studies, in New York).

And from more googling (“linguistics student conference” plus ctrl+F for “student” and “undergrad” on this list from LinguistList (note that if you’re viewing this post after September 2014, do double-check because conference calls continue to come out): University of Central OklahomaUniversity of Texas (Arlington), Penn State, Tri-College (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore), East Carolina University, North-West (British Columbia/Washington State)

Outside North America: Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi), Arctic University of NorwayConSOLE (European, rotating, this year in Paris), Austria (rotating, this year in Salzburg), Moscow, Slovenia

If one of these conferences isn’t convenient: try googling the name of your region or major cities/universities near you with the words student linguistics conference, and you may find something! Many smaller linguistics student conferences aren’t very well-advertised and may not make it onto major lists like LinguistList every year, so if you find evidence of a conference near you from a previous year, try contacting the previous organizer(s) or department to see if it’s happening again. 

Can anyone contribute to a list of other undergrad or student-friendly linguistics conferences, especially in locations that aren’t already well-represented here?


Second language acquisition is so cool and right now my contact languages book talks about German learners of English creating words like  ill-car “ambulance” (from Krankenwagen lit. ‘sick-car’) and alp-dream “nightmare” (Alptraum lit. ‘alp(?)-dream’).

you might say they mis-calque-ulated. 

Sep 21

hello, yes, i would like my official job title to be morpheme master.


The “c” was added in words like “scent,” “science,” etc., to make them more like Latin words like “scissor” (which is spelled that way because its pre-Latin roots were pronounced with a hard “k” sound), mostly in the 1600’s.  It was originally spelled without the “c.”

So that’s my case for regarding the “c” as the silent letter in “scent.”

Sep 16

Teenagers are literally just tryna be trendy and follow historical patterns of language change, but prescriptivists think they’re dumb and don’t want to give them jobs


English language and literature, University of South Carolina

"Literally" speaking: Youth language, prescriptivism, and ideology

The ubiquitous forms of address for women ‘Mrs’ and ‘Miss’ are both abbreviations of ‘mistress’. Although mistress is a term with a multiplicity of meanings, in early modern England the mistress most commonly designated the female equivalent of master–that is, a person with capital who directed servants or apprentices.

Prior to the mid eighteenth century, there was only Mrs (or Mris, Ms, or other forms of abbreviation). Mrs was applied to any adult woman who merited the social distinction, without any marital connotation. Miss was reserved for young girls until the mid eighteenth century. Even when adult single women started to use Miss, Mrs still designated a social or business standing, and not the status of being married, until at least the mid nineteenth century.

This article demonstrates the changes in nomenclature over time, explains why Mrs was never used to accord older single women the same status as a married woman, and argues that the distinctions are important to economic and social historians.

Abstract from Mistresses and Marriage: or, a Short History of the Mrs, also known as the most interesting article I’ve read all day.

Full text is available here, but if you remember one thing, how about that Jane Austen in 1811 is the earliest citation that the author can find for the “Mrs Man” form, e.g. “Mrs John Dashwood”? 

(via allthingslinguistic)

Sep 11



so i read a review of steven pinker’s style guide book, and apparently it’s still very prescriptivist even though pinker talks about how he is a descriptivist.

like pinker supports distinguishing between who and whom and is against singular data.


"I’m a descriptivist except I support obsolete and pedantic prescriptivist rules that no one except obsolete and pedantic humans use"

so i read a review of steven pinker’s style guide book, and apparently it’s still very prescriptivist even though pinker talks about how he is a descriptivist.

like pinker supports distinguishing between who and whom and is against singular data.


Sep 4


My favourite translator said that when she was an ambassador for Hungary she took all these Japanese politicians on a tour and she was trying to circumtranslate ‘merry go round’ cause she didn’t know the Japanese word for it by calling it a ‘horse tornado for children’ and they had no blessed idea what she was saying and she finally started running in circles going up and down and they go ‘ohhhhh, in Japan we call those ‘merry-go-rounds’”

(via didyoudrinkmygingerale)

“I want to be a famous enough linguist Noam Comsky considers me one of his enemies.” overheard

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