2021 Year in Review
Linguistics posts, threads, and memes of this past year, in case you missed them
2021 was in many ways a very meta year: most of my writing projects were reflections on the social functions of various other projects I was working on. But those other projects were very interesting both to do and to reflect on, such as coordinating LingComm21: the first International Conference on Linguistics Communication, and redesigning the Lingthusiasm website. (Might they also reflect how under-socialized I got by a certain point in this pandemic? Hmmm.)
I was honoured to be the recipient of the Linguistics, Language, and the Public Award from the Linguistic Society of America in 2021. I put up my acceptance speech as a blog post.
Media and crossovers
How Linguistics Can Help You Learn a Language – I did a talk for Duolingo’s DuoCon
PUZZLE SPOILERS: A quote from Because Internet in the New York Times acrostic
Peeking face, palm up, and palm down – the emoji I proposed with Lauren Gawne and Jennifer Daniel are now officially in Unicode 14.0 and will be coming to your devices in the next few years
I’m quoted in a New York Times Wordplay piece about ending texts with a period.
Crash Course Linguistics
The final three videos of Crash Course Linguistics came out in 2021, although it was largely a 2020 project. Here’s the full list again so they’re all in once place, or you can watch them all at this playlist.
Each video also comes with a few companion links and exercises from Mutual Intelligibility and a list of all of the languages mentioned in Crash Course Linguistics is here. It was great working with the large teams on that project!
In our fifth year of Lingthusiasm, a podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics which I make with Lauren Gawne and our production team, we did some general sprucing up, including a new cover photo (now featuring a jacketless Because Internet), a new portrait drawing, and a new website (for which I wrote a long meta process post here). We also did our first virtual liveshow (as part of LingFest), introduced new bouba/kiki and what the fricative merch, and sent patrons a Lingthusiastic Sticker Pack. Here are the main episodes that came out this year:
And here are this year’s bonus episodes:
Conferences and Talks (all virtual unless noted)
I moderated a panel for the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL) on NLP Applications for Crisis Management and Emergency Situations.
Contestant on Webster’s War of the Words, a virtual quiz show fundraiser for the Noah Webster House, and also attended online conferences,
guest interview about internet language on That Word Chat (summarized in tweet form)
The Internet is Making English Better at Yale with Claire Bowern
Internet Linguistics and Memes as Internet Folklore with a student at the University of Oklahoma
Sotheby’s Level Up in Los Angeles (physical)
Virtual talk for some internal folks at YouTube
Rosemary Mosco Talks to Gretchen McCulloch about Pigeons, a book event at Argo Bookshop
LingComm and LingFest
In April, I co-organized a pair of new events related to linguistics communication: LingComm21, the first International Conference on Linguistics Communication, and LingFest, a fringe-festival-like program of online linguistics events aimed at a general audience, which contained a total of 12 events attended by a total of over 700 participants. One of those events was our first virtual Lingthusiasm liveshow: here’s a fun thread that I did about backchannels while we were getting ready for the show.
LingComm21 had just under 200 registrants, around 100 of which were formally part of the programming in some way. My opening remarks and closing remarks are here as blog posts, and see the #LingComm21 hashtag for highlights of what people noticed about the conference. We then wrote a 6-part blog post series on the conference as a case study in making online conferences more social, in hopes of helping other people who are interested in better virtual events.
Since this is already an incredibly long email, you can see the full list of my favourite blog posts, threads, and memes of this past year here.
Missed out on previous years? Here are the summary posts from 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. If you’d like to get a much shorter monthly highlights newsletter via email, with all sorts of interesting internet linguistics news, you can sign up for that at gretchenmcc.substack.com.
Thanks for coming along!