The November Issue

Dear GU Linguists,  

I hope this month’s edition of the Department Newsletter finds you enjoying a restful break full of food, friends, and family… and no thoughts of finals (yeah, right). In this November issue, you’ll hear from linguists like you, sharing their stories in and out of Poulton Hall.

In this issue, you’ll find:

  • Department Events and Announcements
  • A GU Linguist We Can All Be Thankful For
  • Student Profiles
  • Bringing Your Work to the Table
  • GU Linguists Talking Turkey
  • Faculty Profiles

I hope this issue gives you plenty of things to talk about when, between bites of turkey, your family asks (again), “now, what IS linguistics?”

Thank you for reading and as always, when you or someone you know in the department does something amazing, don’t hesitate to fill out this form or shoot me an email at

Your editor,

Emily Summers (MLC ’17)

[This month’s issue is brought to you by complementary schismogenesis]

The September Issue

Dear GU Linguists,

Just like that, our first weeks of the new semester have come and gone, but that means it’s time for the first issue of this year’s Linguistics Department Newsletter! I am honored to have the opportunity to share the stories of GU Linguists accomplishing incredible things in and out of Poulton Hall. As I take the helm, I want to first thank and congratulate last year’s editor, Kat Starcevic, for moving on from her role as newsletter editor to a full-time position at Maslansky. This month’s unofficial theme is LING 101: Introductions, so I’m offering you a chance to meet new people, expand your idea of what it means to be a linguist, and lay a foundation for an incredible year. In this ‘back to school’ edition, you’ll find:

Thank you for reading and as always, when you or someone you know in the department does something amazing, don’t hesitate to fill out this form or shoot me an email at

Your editor,

Emily Summers (MLC ’17)

[This month’s issue is brought to you by the bilabial trill]

Department Events and Announcements

In case you missed it, here’s a look at what’s been happening so far this semester.

  • Dr. Paul Portner presented an invited talk “The relation between verbal mood and sentence mood” at New Ideas in Semantics and Modeling at the EHESS in Paris, this September 7-8.

Portner Newsletter

  • GU Linguistics (applied concentration) alumna, Sarah Young was awarded the ACTFL Emma Marie Birkmaier award for best doctoral dissertation in 2016 for her qualitative work with four Central American immigrant women enrolled in a suburban DC adult ESL program.
  • The Linguistics Department’s Welcome Back Party brought new and familiar faces together for on September 8 for food and fun.  Welcome Party 1Welcome Party 3

You won’t want to miss these upcoming events!

    • Weekly GLSA Coffee Hours, every Thursday from 12:30 to 2:30pm in the department
    • October 26 meeting of InLab: Dr. Cynthia Gordon and Didem Ikizoglu will present “Asking for another” online: Membership categorization and identity construction on a food and nutrition discussion board.”
    • October 27 from 12:30-1:45pm  (ICC 204B): Guest Lecture by Dr. Maria Eugenia Merino Dickinson from University of Temuco in Chile on Narratives and Identities in the discourse of  Mapuche Indians in Santiago
    • October 27 from 6:30-8pmMLC Alumni Panel – Meet (or catch up!) with our successful MLC alumni Glenn Abastillas, Samanthan Musser, Amanda Tolbert, Holly Richardson, Matt Mermel and Kathryn Ticknor to see what’s possible after graduation! As this is an evening event, refreshments will be provided. Follow the MLC: (Facebook) and Twitter (Twitter).
    • October 28 from 2-3:15pm: The health discourse group will discuss ‘Narrative and Dementia’.
    • October 31: The deadline to submit abstracts to GURT 2017!
    • November 1 from 10:30am-1pm (Dubin Room  of Lauinger Library): The Initiative for Multilingual Studies (IMS) will be hosting a workshop on Amazon Mechanical Turk and Qualtrics.

New Faculty Faces

Luke Plonsky

Luke Plonsky NewsletterI couldn’t be happier to have joined the Department of Linguistics here at Georgetown. The path I took to get here has been a been a bit circuitous… I completed my PhD in 2011 at Michigan State, but since then, I’ve been at Northern Arizona University and University College London. I have also lived and/or taught at different times in Puerto Rico, The Netherlands, Spain, and elsewhere in the U.S.! But, I’ve enjoyed every step along the way!

My research and teaching interests both center on second language acquisition, language pedagogy, and research methods. Currently, the bulk of my agenda is concerned with an interest in improving the means by which research is conducted, reported, and interpreted. Much of my work has also been meta-analytic in nature. This semester, in fact, I am teaching a seminar on Research Synthesis and Meta-analysis; in the spring I will teach advanced statistics and a new course on Instrumentation, Data Collection, and Reproducibility in Linguistics, which will tie into Open Science movement gaining momentum in linguistics and elsewhere in the social and natural sciences.

Outside work, my wife (Pamela) and I have three kids: Mateo (7), Ruby (5), and Rose (3). They are a constant source of amazement (their linguistic histories also make them an interesting case study in L1/L2 development). We enjoy hiking, camping, cooking, taking pictures, fixing up our old (but new to us) house, and traveling. It’s a big world!

Nathan Schneider

Nathan Schneider Newsletter

I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, but I come to Georgetown from Edinburgh, Scotland, where I spent 2 years as a postdoc. I suppose I was drawn to Georgetown by a combination of three things: the appetite for developing interdisciplinary computational linguistics on campus, the spectacular location, and the strong sense of community I felt when I visited here.

I went to UC Berkeley for undergrad, where I impressed classmates with my cot/caught vowel distinction, and am a proud alum of the Society for Linguistics Undergraduate Students (SLUgS)! My Ph.D. is from Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute.

I am broadly interested in computational linguistics and natural language processing, developing language technologies that are useful and that give us insights into how language works. More specifically, I am interested in semantics; the nexus of lexicon and grammar; corpus annotation; and machine learning for language. I’ve worked on English, Hebrew, and Arabic, and am generally interested in developing linguistic representations and analyzers that can be applied in multiple languages and genres. For details, stop by my office to chat or take a gander my website).This semester, I am teaching Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, a graduate course cross-listed with Computer Science.
Outside of the department, I enjoy playing violin; baking (or more precisely, eating) desserts; and rewatching episodes of The West Wing, which I hope has in some way prepared me for life in DC.

2016 GLSA Officer Introductions  

If you haven’t met your 2016 Graduate Linguistic Student Association (GLSA) Officers, now’s your chance! Between classes and planning incredible events for the department, the officers sat down and answered a few questions to help you get to know them better…and one question to show off the creativity of our fearless leaders in the face of hypothetical situations. Don’t forget to follow the GLSA on Twitter (@GULinguists) to stay up to date on upcoming events!

Adrienne Isaac, President

Adrienne Isaac Newsletter

Where are you from?

I am from Los Angeles, California.

What program are you in and what are your research interests?

I’m in the PhD program in sociolinguistics. My research focuses on interactions involving individuals who have neurological or psychiatric disorders that affect social cognition and communicative behavior. I investigate disorganized speech and deficits in the interpretation of utterances and conversational contexts. I pay particular attention to the organization of interactions and the various resources (verbal and non-verbal) that participants utilize.

What do you do in your free time… if you have any?

In my non-work time, I do a lot of indoor cycling and think about Thai food and Sprinkles cupcakes.

What are you most looking forward to doing as an officer this year?

I am looking forward to all of the events, especially the ones involving cross-concentration dialogue.

*During your first 100 days in office, you announce a plan to crack down on late K Cup payments. How will you deter people from committing this heinous crime?*

If students submit a delayed K-cup payment, they (all of them together) will be responsible for capturing the Poulton Hall Grad Lounge mouse.

Mark Visonà, Social Chair

Mark Visona Newsletter

Where are you from?

Although I’m originally from Colorado, I spent the last few years before entering the program in Cairo, Egypt, and Kuwait City, Kuwait.

What program are you in and what are your research interests?

I’m a second year doctoral student in the sociolinguistics concentration. My main research interests are in perceptual dialectology, how expatriates negotiate identity through language, and the role of speech acts in Arabic social media and in emergency phone call discourse.

What do you do in your free time… if you have any?

I blog about pasta and linguistics (check out the blog here), write daily, and undertake various accidentally-yet-luckily romantic outings with my girlfriend.

What are you most looking forward to doing as an officer this year?

I’m looking forward to getting more people to attend GLSA social events, especially hosting a monthly “folk linguistics” happy hour! But I’m really excited about our kayaking trip on the Potomac, coming the first weekend in October!

*Ping runs into your weekly officer meeting, and elatedly announces that, due to an anonymous Georgetown alumni donation (maybe Bill Clinton, maybe not), the next GLSA event’s budget is $1,000,000. What social event do you plan?*

I would fly in the leading figures from each of the main linguistics fields (Chomsky, Labov, Long, etc.) and rent out the entire Pinstripes on M Street, so the GLSA members could spend a day bowling and hanging out with them in a “GU Linguistics Bowling Roundtable.”

Ping-Hsuan Wang

Ping Newsletter

Where are you from?

I am from Taipei, the most populated city in Taiwan, where I adopted a fast-paced lifestyle.

What program are you in and what are your research interests?

I’m Ping and I’m a second-year MLCer. I’m interested in narrative analysis in various settings and I’m currently working on a thesis about immigrants’ coming-out stories and a conference paper on storytelling in presidential debate.

What do you like to do in your free time… if you have any?

In my free time (hypothetically speaking), I practice yoga, share food pics on Instagram, and water the dying plants on my windowsill, all of which are therapeutic in a mind-calming way.

*In a pinch, the GLSA could run a fundraiser in which members of the Georgetown community could hire linguists to…*

[Below I shall change the speaker production (Goffman, 1981) and speak as an animator.]
Linguistics Fundraiser: More intimate dating, less intimidating: As a social media addict and a user of multiple dating apps myself, I think a goal that I share with many other people is better online communication and a smooth transition to offline interactions. This is where linguists step in! By quantitatively coding the linguistic features (e.g. discourse markers) and qualitatively analyzing the discursive patterns in your chat, we can design a perfect plan for your date depending on the speech communities you’re in, provide insightful tips on how to speak with the right verbal cues based on your conversational styles, or simply talk you out of seeing this person at all.

*Indicates the initiation of a play frame (Bateson 1972).