Showing posts from March, 2015

Free online introductory course in linguistics - sign up now

Go get your first taste of linguistics with this nice new free online course! There's a new course on coursera (online platform for good free distance courses) in linguistics! The course is led by prof Marc van Oostendorp and is called "Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics"*. It's from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and very interesting!

It takes 5 weeks of 4-6 hours per week, it's free (no fees anywhere), all material and readings are provided online for free and in general it looks like a very well organised and interesting introductory course. The course will also feature videos from informants speaking foreign languages which you will analyse! If there was ever a good opportunity to try out a little bit of linguistics for the first time - this is the one!

As all y'all probably know there are also linguistics lectures that you can watch online. For example: the NativLang-channel, Ling Space,MIT linguistics, videos from th…

Linguistic Diversity should be in Gapminder

I think that data on linguistic diversity should be in the amazing online tool Gapminder. Gapminder aims to spread a fact-based world-view on matters concerning social, economic and environmental development at local, national and global levels. I believe that data on linguistic diversity has a place in that discussion and can be included relatively easily. I'd like to ask for your assistance in spreading the word so that this might happen, please do so by sharing this post or this link.

There is a brilliant project called Gapminder that aims to make statistics about the development of our world more accessible. They are fighting against ignorance and trying to bring hard facts into world political discussions on economy, health, birth rates, gender biases in education and much more. They've made tons of educational and fun videos, see them here and you yourself can also play around with tons of interesting stats here. It's easy and extremely interesting. Warning: might o…

Free online lectures on language evolution by Russell Gray

Every year the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and the Radboud University of Nijmegen invite one or several prominent scholars to give a series of talks on a current topic of their research. This is a great way to learn about important contemporary research in linguistics and the cognitive sciences. I just realised that I had not informed you about the fact that one can now find free online videos of these lectures online. In particular, I'd like to recommend last year's talk, which was on language evolution, a hot topic that I think will interest many readers of this blog.

In 2014, they invited Russell Gray and he gave three talks on the topic of

No Miracles! A Darwinian view of the evolution of cognition, language and culture In this lecture series Professor Gray argues that the research fields of animal cognition, language evolution and cultural evolution have all been blighted by special pleading and a tendency to invoke miraculous leaps. He further argues that a…

National rounds of linguistic olympiads


If you're in secondary school you can participate in linguistic olympiads. It's a great way to get a first taste of what linguistics is like. Secondary school can also be called "high school", "gymnasie" "college" etc depending on where you live.

This years international contest takes place in Bulgaria - land of roses. I've been to the international olympiads as the team leader for Sweden since 2008, when it was actually also in Bulgaria. I highly recommend participating, you'll learn lots and meet great people!

Down below are some useful links, follow them to learn more about the arrangements of each country. These are the countries that I know are hosting contests this year, there's even more here.

Some of the countries have already had their first national rounds, but some have not yet. If you got any questions, contact the IOL here. If you're not a student of secondary school, spread this onwards so that it might reach st…

#lingwiki in Canberra and the world

This is an announcement specific to Canberra-based linguists, but as #lingwiki is an online event you too can participate independent of where in this world of ours you live. You can participate online by editing linguistics stubs and articles on wikipedia during the weekend 28-29 of March, use the tag #lingwiki on social media and tell us what you did here. Read more here!

Over 320 million people access Wikipedia every month, there are 69,189 active editors and 287 language versions of the encyclopaedia. It is one of the first places people go to for knowledge. There are over 1,400 linguistics articles needing editing (stubs), many of those articles on non-WEIRD languages. Let's try and make wikipedia better, and spread linguistics to more people.

Interested in improving articles on linguistics on wikipedia and hang out with other linguists? Living in Canberra? Come join in a collaborative editing session.

What: collaborative editing session of linguistics on wikipedia Why: contribut…

Ask A Linguist is back!

Linguist Lists service "Ask A Linguist" is back! Go there an ask any question you want, it's like Stack Overflow but for linguistics.

Linguist List is an US based International organisations of linguists. They have lots of important mailing lists that we use to keep track of what's a-happening, the great GOLD project of linguistic terminologyMultiTree (database of lots of hypothesis of language families)a directory where you can find linguists from all over the world and much more. They've just moved offices and lots of their services are getting make-overs

You can also ask questions to the researchers of the Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics and see things that they've explained here, also, you can always write to us here too.

5 exciting linguistics conferences/workshops to keep an eye on this year

Hello everyone, time for some tips on exciting things going on right now in linguistics. I made a tag, currentlinguisticresearch for posts on this blog on all matters new linguistic research (that we find exciting). I think it's interesting for language enthusiasts, future students and current students just starting out to get information about current trends and themes in linguistic research instead of only the well-known basics and general overviews. Judging from readership and sharing, these kinds of posts also seem to be most popular, which makes me very happy.

If you're looking for other blogs by active researchers writing about current research, I highly recommend subscribing to Diversity Linguistics Comment and Replicated Typo.

It is good to know what the field is actually up to right now - both so that you know what is going on if you want to pursue a career in it, but also because it is inspirational and motivating for those times when you might be feeling bit down -…

On the previous post on language endangerment - comment and response

The previous post that was on language endangerment got a lot of spread on tumblr (and elsewhere it would seem). Please note that I made some edits to the text early on, the latest version of any post can always be found on the blog on blogspot.

There was one comment by Language village that I thought I'd respond to.

Why? Why must we think of ourselves (our “linguist selves”) as scientists and not something else? Why not humanists? or philosophers? or— especially in the case of language endangerment— advocates?

Why must we be scientists and not advocates? A language in itself— the thing that is endangered, that is devalued, that is crucial to cultural identity— cannot speak for itself. While the native speakers of a language certainly have “first access” to defending their language, is it right to give them sole access? Do regular— non-linguist— speakers have the training, the background, the experience necessary to advocate for their own language? Often they do not. Is it responsi…

On Language Endangerment, once more

A certain James Harbeck, author, designer, editor and blogger, has recently written a text on The Week Magazine on language endangerment and preservation where he really stresses the agency of the communities - which is highly appreciated. Go read it, it's very good.

We've talked about this issue earlier on this blog, I'll attempt at making a brief summary of points expressed here and elsewhere that I believe to be true and relevant to the issue. I am not entirely happy with the previous point, I hope I'll improve with this one.

At least 2,447 out of 7,102 languages of the world are endangered.  There are more statistics counting in different ways, for the purposes of this matter here just know that most languages are under threat and we are facing one of the largest extinctions of languages ever. This is a loss of human diversity and cultural identity. This is bad. In many cases it is a continuation of colonial ideas that the western majority culture is "better&qu…

"Le Petit Prince" as a paralleltext has just become even more interesting

We've talked here before about researching the diversity of the worlds languages through parallel corpora, and I provided a little list of some interesting items in this respect (also found below). Basically the idea is that by comparing text that are very similar to each other in meaning we can find differences and similarities of lexicon an structure without having to consult descriptions of the languages (which for example involve a lot of interpretation). This is not a perfect method, but it can serve as a complement and answer some interesting questions that cannot be solved by descriptions only.

In that list one can find "Le Petit Prince" by Antoine von de Saint-Exupéry which has been translated into at least 216 languages. We are much pleased to inform you that the latest addition to that list of translations of "Le Petit Prince" is into Casamance Creole [pov, upper1455]. Casamance Creole is a contact language spoken in southern Senegal and has gotten t…

A new book on temperature in the languages of the world is firing up cross-linguistic research into semantics

There has just come out a new edited volume on words of temperature in the languages of the world. It is edited by Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm of Stockholm University and features many prominent scholars of current research into linguistic diversity. The volume deals with at least 35 languages (most likely more but I cannot count carefully right now).

Did you know that Ojibwe [ojg] (Algonquian language of Canada) differentiates between temperature as perceived by tactile touch, ambient and inner personal experience? Or that in Bardi [bcj] (Nyulnyulan language of Northern Australia) temperature terms are not used metaphorically, as opposed to European languages where for example a warm person is a friendly and generous person etc.

Abstract of the entire edited volume
The volume is the first comprehensive typological study of the conceptualisation of temperature in languages as reflected in their systems of central temperature terms (hot, cold, to freeze, etc.). The key issues addressed here …

Centre for Dynamics of Language in Australia launches full website!

Judging from the statistics of which posts gets most read and spread, it would seem that y'all are really interested in updates on current exciting research (the most read post is this list of some new exciting research projects that have just started).

Well, then I guess you'd be excited to learn that one of the research projects of that post, the newly started ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, has got a a flashy nice new website with lots of information. 

The centre is a collaboration between Univeristy of Queensland, University of Western Sydney, University of Melbourne and the Australian National Univeristy (ANU) in Canberra. There are other associated bodies of research too.
In november last year ANU made a very nice video about the centre, featuring the two directors Nicholas Evans and Jane Simpsons. It's very inspirational, watch it!

This all ties in very well with the recent discussions on the grand challenges of linguistics. I'd once agai…