Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting 2019

Friday (January 4th) – Saturday (January 5th), members of the UVM Linguistics Club traveled to New York City to attend the 2019 Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting. The conference was held at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel. The group stayed in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Members of the UVM Linguistics Club visit the Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting 2019, located in New York City.

Members of the UVM Linguistics Club visit the Linguistic Society of America 2019 Annual Meeting, located in New York City. Front (left to right): Polina Chetnikova, Emma Roach, Emily Delgadillo. Back (left to right): Shannon Foley, Rain Storer, Thea Leavens, Nathan Davis. Not pictured: Addie Beach, Chris Nagorniak.


  • UVM Linguistics Director, Julie Roberts, presented research on the Vermont dialect: Isabelle Strong (Dartmouth College), Julie Roberts (University of Vermont): Is there anything left of the traditional Vermont dialect? A study of Vermont’s last frontier.
  • American Dialect Society 2018 Word of the Year: tender-age shelter, a term used in a euphemistic fashion referring to the government-run detention centers that have housed the children of asylum seekers at the U.S./Mexico border.
  • Friday evening the group went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Manhattan, where they spotted actor/comedian Jason Sudeikis.
  • The group attended John McWhorter (Columbia University): Minstrel or grammar?: Invariant am as a living feature of AAVE.
  • Members Emily Delgadillo and Emma Roach got lucky when spinning the conference prize wheel. Emily won free registration for the 2020 meeting in New Orleans, and Emma won a free 1-year Linguistic Society of America membership.

Other Favorites:

  • Suttera Samonte (University of California, Irvine), Gregory Scontras (University of California, Irvine): Adjective ordering in Tagolog: a cross-linguistic comparison of subjectivity based-preferences
  • Sali A. Tagliamonte (University of Toronto), Bridget Jankowski (University of Toronto): Grammatical convergence or microvariation? Subject doubling in English in a French dominant town
  • Catherine Davies (University of Alabama): Epithetic nicknames as insults directed at Trump by online citizen-satirists
  • Olena Fomenko (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv): Ukraine or the Ukraine? The power of naming and national identity
  • Emily Clem (University of California, Berkeley): The cyclic nature of Agree: maximal projections as probes
  • Chantal Gratton (Stanford University): Negotiating gender and power through the situated control of vocal pitch
  • Jenelle Thomas (University of Oxford): Interpretation and linguistic malpractice in the 18th century Louisiana courtroom
  • Itxaso Rodriguez-Ordóñez (Southern Illinois University Carbondale): ‘New speakers’ of Basque, language contact and social meaning

One Member’s Reflections on the Trip:

LSA 93rd Annual Conference, NYC

5 January 2019

Drove out Friday morning. Saratoga Springs pit stop.

Brooklyn airbnb, traffic.

Subway rides on the way back to the airbnb on the first night. Chris and I spoke in French (and a bit of Spanish) all night and especially on the ride home. Mind you, I have never met this person before yet we were able to click instantly because of only one commonality – our desire to speak French. The bad grammar, the mistakes when trying to speak another tongue, it’s all part of what it means to be human, we all just want to interact and understand people whom are unlike ourselves. But this is only a small part of the linguistic algorithm.

If you could imagine just the concept of Linguistics as a 3-dimensional object with many facets on it, such as a polyhedron or diamond, it would be easier to understand that learning languages, and exploring cultures and people, is just a small part of the entity of what Linguistics actually is.

The Linguistics Society of America’s 93rd conference was inconceivable in many ways. For those that did attend, this place was a gathering of scientists, of writers, poets, and métiers of all kinds who link the fundamentals of basic human connection by their artwork, excerpts, and research.

While listening to John McWhorter speak about the use of ‘am’ in African American English, who knew that writers such as Zora Neale Hurston was a so-called “primal linguist” herself, because she was one of the few people who were consciously aware of the AAE dialects from the South spreading into places such as Harlem, NYC? The fact that people as early as the 20th century were starting to talk about linguistics is fascinating; those who ended up attending this talk found out that the use of the conjugated verb ‘am’ with 3rd person pronouns such as “he,” “she” and “they” was possibly used in small pockets of the rural deep South among native speakers of the AAE dialect, who could have used these verb forms as late as the 1980’s. This was hypothesized by McWhorter due to physical written evidence he found from 1940.

The interdisciplinary facets are one of the most important aspects of linguistics because there are so many types of different areas that linguistics can be studied in addition to, with examples pertaining to historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and computational linguistics just to name a few.

– Polina Chetnikova

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