2020 Year in Review

Hello!

2020 wasn't the year anyone was expecting, and I did much less travel than in previous years. But, while I was social distancing at home like everyone else, I did at least keep doing enjoyable linguistics things: Crash Course Linguistics videos went from early planning stages to nearly complete, Because Internet came out in paperback, and my podcast Lingthusiasm launched two other projects to contribute to the pop linguistics ecosystem: LingComm Grants and Mutual Intelligibility.

Because Internet

Because Internet, my book about internet language which hit the NYT bestseller list last year, came out in paperback this year! Links to get it in all of the formats, including how to get signed copies.

Here are some photos of the new paperback edition, same bright yellow cover, now with 10x more nice quotes from people. I also wrote an old-school reflexive blog post about what it's like to hit the final milestone in a book journey that began in 2014.

Crash Course Linguistics

I worked on these 16 fun intro linguistics videos, 10-12 minutes long each, along with a large team, including linguists Lauren Gawne and Jessi Grieser, host Taylor Behnke, the animation team at Thought Cafe, and of course the production team at Crash Course itself. Writing the scripts ended up being our first lockdown project in the spring, and then reviewing the filmed and animated episodes for accuracy a second lockdown project in the fall. The final few videos will be appearing in early 2021 -- you can watch them all at this playlist.

Other Writing

Wired Resident Linguist column:

Language Files videos, with Tom Scott and Molly Ruhl:

Lingthusiasm

My fourth year of producing a podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics with Lauren Gawne! Regular episodes:

  1. Making machines learn language - Interview with Janelle Shane

  2. This time it gets tense - the grammar of time

  3. What makes a language easy? It's a hard question

  4. The grammar of singular they - Interview with Kirby Conrod

  5. Schwa, the most versatile English vowel

  6. Tracing languages back before recorded history

  7. Hey, no problem, bye! The social dance of phatics

  8. The happy fun big adjective episode

  9. Who you are in high school, linguistically speaking - Interview with Shivonne Gates

  10. How translators approach a text

  11. Climbing the sonority mountain from A to P

  12. Small talk, big deal

And 12 bonus episodes, with thanks to our patrons for keeping the show sustainable:

  1. What might English be like in a couple hundred years?

  2. Generating a Lingthusiasm episode using a neural net

  3. Teaching linguistics to yourself and other people

  4. When letters have colours and time is a braid - The linguistics of synesthesia

  5. A myriad of numbers - Counting systems across languages

  6. Doing linguistics with kids

  7. Tones, drums, and whistles - linguistics and music

  8. LingComm on a budget (plus the Lingthusiasm origin story)

  9. The quick brown pangram jumps over the lazy dog

  10. The most esteemed honorifics episode

  11. Crash Course Linguistics behind the scenes with Jessi Grieser

  12. Q&A with lexicographer Emily Brewster of Merriam-Webster

We started a Lingthusiasm Discord server, a place for people who are enthusiastic about linguistics to find each other and talk! And we released new schwa-themed merch with the (admittedly aspirational these days) slogan Never Stressed.

Lingthusiasm also sponsored two other projects this year: LingComm Grants and Mutual Intelligibility.

LingComm Grants - We gave out four $500 grants to up-and-coming linguistics communications projects. Thank you again to everyone who applied, and do check out the projects of the winners of the 2020 LingComm Grants.

Mutual Intelligibility - A newsletter to connect linguistics instructors with existing linguistics resources suitable for teaching online in a bite-sized, easy-to-digest fashion, with considerable help from the editing and organizational skills of Liz McCullough.

I also compiled a list of my favourite blog posts, twitter threads, media, book recs, and talks from this year, which substack informs me is too long for email, so for the full list see the 2020 Year in Review post on my website.

Thanks for coming along, and see you in 2021. It’s an arbitrary threshold, but I still hope it’s a bit better.

Gretchen