Archive for Announcements


It's here. Not the car battery, and not another one of the movies, but the First DIHARD Speech Diarization Challenge and the associated Interspeech 2018 special session.

As discussed in "My summer" 6/22/2017, I spent a couple of months last summer in Pittsburgh working with a couple of dozen other people on a workshop project with the title "Enhancement and analysis of conversational speech", whose primary focus was automatic diarization: determination of who spoke when.

The opening and closing presentations for this workshop are available here — see also "Too cool to care", 8/12/2017, and Bergelson et al., "Enhancement and analysis of conversational speech: JSALT 2017", ICASSP 2018.

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Tangut workshop at Yale

On the weekend of January 19-20, 2018, there was a Tangut Workshop at Yale University.  Organized by Valerie Hansen and sponsored by the Yale Council of East Asian Studies, this was an intense, exciting learning experience for the 35 or so people who were in the room most of the time.

Many readers may be scratching their heads and asking, "Tangut?  What's that?  And why should we at Language Log be concerned with it?"

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There is No Racial Justice Without Linguistic Justice

Today we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

One of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes come from a speech he delivered at a retreat attended by staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in South Carolina, one year before he was assassinated:

“We have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights, an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. We have been in a reform movement… But after Selma and the voting rights bill, we moved into a new era, which must be the era of revolution. We must recognize that we can't solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power… this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together… you can't really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order.” (King 1967)

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ADS Word of the Year is "fake news"

The people have spoken. At the American Dialect Society annual meeting in Salt Lake City (held in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America), the 2017 Word of the Year has been selected, and it's fake news. (Yes, yes, we all know that's technically two words, just like dumpster fire, the choice for 2016. The "word of the year" can be a lexicalized phrase: see my response to Geoff Pullum on this point back in 2011.)

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New Year's Reflections and Resolutions

As we enter the second half of the 15th year since we started Language Log, we've been reflecting on the past and planning for the future.

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LLOG outage this weekend

Language Log will be off the air for a while this weekend, due to building-wide electrical repairs.


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Congratulations to Zhou Yu

One of the Forbes "30 under 30" for science — Zhou Yu:

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Help our spam journal to a healthy grow

I continue to be astonished by the sheer volume of the junk email I get from spam journals and organizers of spamferences, and by the linguistic ineptitude of the unprincipled responsible parties. I have been getting dozens per month, for a year or more: journal announcements, calls for papers, requests for conference attendance, subscription information, and invitations to editorial boards. Today I got a prestige invitation that began thus:

After careful evaluation and reading your article published in Journal of Logic, Language and Information entitled “On the Mathematical Foundations of", we decided to send you this invitation.

Clearly the careful evaluation and reading did not enable them to get to the end of my title (it does not end in of). And what was the invitation?

In light of your remarkable achievements in Critical Care, we would like to invite you to join the Editorial Board of Journal of Nursing.

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The vocabulary of sharp implements in Xinjiang

Public notification posted in villages of Makit County (Màigàití xiàn 麦盖提县; Mәkit nah̡iyisi / Мәкит наһийиси مەكىت ناھىيىسى) near Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR):


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Talk like a pirate

It's Talk Like A Pirate Day again, but I've got nothing to add to our past coverage:

"R!", 11/03/2003
"Type like a pirate day", 9/9/2004
"R!?", 9/19/2005
"Type like a pirate", 9/18/2006
"Pirate R as I-R-eland", 9/20/2006
"Powarrr law", 9/20/2006
"Post like a pirate", 9/19/2007
"R", 9/9/2008
"Said the Pirate King, Aaarrrf", 9/27/2010
"R R R", 9/19/2012


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Hurricane naming policy change

I think it's becoming clear that alternating male and female personal names to individuate Atlantic tropical cyclones is not a good idea. These storms are becoming far too nasty. Calling a storm "Harvey" makes it sound like your friendly uncle who always comes over on the Fourth of July and flirts with your mom. And "Irma" sounds like a dancer that he once knew when he was in Berlin. Science tells us that these devastating meteorological events are probably going to get worse in coming years. (Ann Coulter says that as a potential cause of increased violence in hurricanes, climate change is less plausible than God's anger at Houston for having elected a lesbian mayor; but let's face it, Ann Coulter is a few bricks short of a full intellectual hod.) Hurricanes need uglier names. You can't get Miami to evacuate by telling people that "Irma" is coming.

Accordingly, next year the National Hurricane Center is planning to name tropical cyclonic storms and hurricanes after unpleasant diseases and medical conditions. Think about it. The state governor tells you a hurricane named Dracunculiasis is coming down on you, you're gonna start packing the station wagon. So as the season progresses, the following will be the named storms in 2018.

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Literally bigger than the phone book

The Edinburgh Festival season has begun. There are more than half a dozen independently run and temporally overlapping festivals, depending on what you want to count. But the biggest of all of them is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the entire world (I admitted in a Lingua Franca post to my love of the lowbrow humor of the comedy shows). I've often told people that the catalog of shows is bigger than the phone book for an average city — a claim that will be uninterpretable to many, since most of us hardly ever see telephone directories now. But I would hate for you to think that I spoke loosely. Let's get quantitative. Edinburgh does still have a phone book, published by BT (formerly British Telecom). It covers not just the city of Edinburgh but the whole Lothian county in which it sits. And the new edition just arrived. So I have the Edinburgh and Lothian phone book on the table before me, beside the Edinburgh Festival Fringe catalog. I have compared them. I have numbers.

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Steven Bird's new job



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