News and Events

"Familial Capital and the Education of Refugee-background Youth:  A Local Case Study with Global Implications", Shawna Shapiro, Assistant Professor of Writing and Linguistics, Friday, November 13, 2015, 12:15 RAJ Conference Room

Are you interested in Linguistics and curious about Computational Linguistics? Are you wondering what it’s like to be here during the summer? Need a paid job in the summer? We have some exciting news: During 8 weeks this summer, Prof. Florence Feiereisen (German and Linguistics) and Prof. Frank Swenton (Mathematics) will run a student-driven, collaborative program in Computational Linguistics. This is an opportunity for 4-6 students who are experienced or interested in Linguistics. Programming skills are preferred but not necessary for admission (if you are a strong student with no programming experience, we might ask you to sign up for a Computer Science course in the spring). This is a paid position (30 hours/week for 8 weeks; you’ll be housed on campus). We are funded by Middlebury’s Fund for Innovation.

 For more information, please see this flyer. An information session will be held on Wed November 11th, 2015 at Freeman International Center (Cook 2), but you can also submit an application per email to and (the deadline is Nov 25, 2015). Feel free to contact us with questions at any time.

'Language Matters'  A series of discussions on issues of language and linguistics

Screening of The Linguists, Thursday, November 19th, 4:30 - 5:30, Axinn 219

"The Linguists is a hilarious and poignant chronicle of two
scientists—David Harrison and Gregory Anderson—racing to
document languages on the verge of extinction. In Siberia, India, and Bolivia, the linguists confront head‐on the very forces silencing
languages: racism, humiliation, and violent economic unrest. David
and Greg's journey takes them deep into the heart of the cultures,
knowledge, and communities at risk when a language dies"

Refreshments will be served.

txt msgs r running languag


^lol,jk!! :)

Thursday, October 29th, 4:30 - 5:30, Axinn 219

The topic of the second episode of the Language Matters series is ‘internet language’ and ‘textspeak.’ Bring your internet language and textspeak experience and join us for an informal chat over cookies and drinks.

How Y'all, Youse and You Guys Talk, Thursday, October 15th, 4:30 - 5:30, Axinn 219

In our first discussion, we will talk about regional variation in American English. The title was taken from a New York Times quiz, which was the most visited NYT page in 2013. We will use that quiz as a starting point for our discussion.

Mark Balderston '15.5, independent scholar in linguistics, was among eight students who received a Kellogg Fellowship.  Mark will receive $5,000 to support travel and research for his project “Variation in Second Person Pronoun Use in Florianopolis, Brazil”.

2014-2015 Ana Martinez-Lage Lecture Series in Linguistics

Intertextuality, Historical Consciousness, and Virtual Geographies:  Chicano Rap Fan-Videos and Commentary on YouTube, Norma Mendoza-Denton, Friday, February 27, 2015, 4:15 - 5:30, Robert A. Jones '59 Conference Room

This talk addresses language and representation in YouTube Norteño and Sureño gangster rap fan videos and user comments. Mendoza-Denton shows how participants in the fan community employ ‘Mock Spanish’ to comment upon the language used by Mexican-descent gangs. She argues that a poetics of “hemispheric localism” is in play, and used to link the people and places associated with these YouTube performances to global spaces and histories.

Sex, Lies and Stereotypes, Do We Ask the Right Questions About Language and Gender?, Deborah Cameron, Thursday, October 30, 2014, Robert A. Jones '59 Conference Room

Identifying a new sociolinguistic variable:  The rural-urban divide in Zululand and the townships of Durban, South Africa, Toni Cook, Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 4:30 pm, The Orchard-Hillcrest 103

What are the linguistic implications of the social and cultural changes that have taken place in South Africa since the end of apartheid? This talk focuses on charting these changes though a particular process in the Zulu verb known as reduplication. Fieldwork conducted in South Africa reveals a variable distributed along familiar sociolinguistic lines, specifically urban vs. rural speakers. Beyond the current linguistic situation in the KwaZulu-Natal region in South Africa, this talk engages with the important methodological question: how do we move from the observation of raw data showing variation to interpreting how a variable is sociolinguistically stratified?

Colloquium on Bilingualism, Friday March 7, 2014, 3:00 – 6:00 pm, Robert A. Jones ’59 Conference Room

The use of two or more languages by an individual or a community of speakers is a fairly common and intriguing phenomenon studied by linguists, psychologists, sociologists, neuroscientists, and other researchers. This colloquium provides several guest speakers and Middlebury faculty members with a chance to share their research in the field with the public by describing and analyzing various aspects of a bilingual experience. The main presentations will be followed by a round table discussion of bilingualism with the audience.

Dr. Gigi Luk, “Bilingualism as a Life Experience: Consequences on the Mind and Brain”

The human brain reorganizes itself according to one¹s life experience.  Brain plasticity is a term that describes the flexibility of the human brain in response to expectant development and divergent experiences.  Recent research has suggested that bilingualism is related to brain and behavioral plasticity.  Although bilingualism has been considered to be a language experience, the cognitive consequences of this experience extend beyond the linguistic domain.  In this presentation, I will address the behavioral and neural consequences of bilingual experience across the lifespan.  Furthermore, I will reinforce the idea that bilingualism offers opportunities to investigate the interaction between language experience and learning, such as reading difficulty in school-age children.

Dr. Miguel Simonet, “New Directions in Research on Bilingual Phonetics: The Impact of Language Activation”

People who learn a second language are likely to retain a nonnative accent even after years of practice. The characteristics of this accent are typically attributed to the first or native language of the speaker, so that the accents of learners who share a native language differ from native norms in systematic, predictable ways. This suggests that the native and nonnative language sound (sub)systems interact in the mind of bilinguals. All current theoretical models of bilingual speech behavior and second language phonetic learning include operationalizations of interlingual interactions. Yet, they all miss two very important aspects of linguistic behavior in general: (i) the structure of the mental lexicon (i.e., connections amongst words) affect speech production and perception, and (ii) transient, circumstantial events (i.e., patterns of lexical access) also impact speech behavior. Current theoretical models explain phonetic "interference" by positing interactions amongst sound categories, with no reference to the lexicon or the process of accessing words during communication. In this talk I present a series of studies that suggest that the degree of activation of lexical items, in a given situation, in the two languages of a bilingual are partially responsible for phonetic behavior, production in particular. I conclude with some suggestions for further research.

On Becoming a Translator, Daniel Kelley '08, Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 12:15pm in Axinn 232

A 2008 Middlebury College graduate, Daniel Kelley received his MA in Spanish/English Translation and Interpretation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2012. Daniel will talk about his academic training and career opportunities in the translation industry. Open to all students. Lunch from Noonie's available on a first come-first serve basis.

Gaming Translation: Leveraging Culture and Connections to Bring Japanese Games to the West, Alexander O. Smith, Monday, November 11, 2013 at 4:30pm in MBH 219

Alexander O. Smith is a Vermont native who has translated a wide variety of materials including Japanese novels, manga, song lyrics, anime scripts and various academic works. He is best known for his software localizations of Japanese video games. He lives in Kamakura Japan and operates his own contract localization business, Kajiya Productions, and is co-founder of a translation and publishing company, Bento Books.

A Conversation about Translation with Alfred Birnbaum, Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 6:00pm, RAJ Conference Room. Sushi will be provided.

Alfred Birnbaum has translated Haruki Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase, Dance, Dance, Dance, Hear the Wind Sing, Hard-Boilded Wonderland and the End of the World, Underground and other works, as well as works by Miyuki Miyabe, Natsuki Ikezwawa, and others. He has also translated numerous works on Japanese art and culture, and is the editor of Monkey Brain Sushi, a breakthrough collection of Japanese fiction published in 1991. He will be discussing Murakami,contemporary Japanese fiction, and his experiences as a translator.

Clifford Symposium, Translation in a Global Community: Theory and Practice, September 2013 (cosponsored by the Linguistics Program)

"David Edgar in Conversation: Foreign Language and Translation in Pentecost", David Edgar

"Making Maigret New - Keynote Address", David Bellos

"Translation Studies: An (Inter)Discipline Comes of Age", Panelists: Rosemary Arrojo, Professor of Comparative Literature, SUNY Binghamton; María Sierra Córdoba Serrano, Assistant Professor, MIIS; Beverley Curran, Professor of Translation Studies, International Christian University, Tokyo;  Minhua Liu*, Associate Professor, MIIS; and Paul Losensky, Associate Professor of Central Eurasian Studies, Indiana University. Moderated by Karin Hanta (Middlebury College)

"Simultaneous Interpretation Hands-On, Professors Barry Olsen and Jacolyn Harmer Translation as a Career: Experiences in the Field", Panelists: Susan Harris, editorial director of Words without Borders; Stephen Jensen, Japanese-English technical translator in sustainability; Julie Johnson, professor of interpreting at MIIS; and Chad Post, publisher of Open Letter Book, University of Rochester. Moderated by Barry Slaughter Olsen, Assistant Professor, Translation and Conference Interpretation (MIIS).

"Lexilalia: On Translating a Dictionary of Untranslatable Terms - Keynote Address", Emily Apter

"The “Mystery” of Translation: Global Cultural Flows", Panelists: Nehad Heliel, literary translator and director of the Middlebury School in Alexandria, Egypt; Carrie Reed, translator of classical Chinese literature and professor of Chinese at Middlebury; and Yumiko Yanagisawa, Swedish-Japanese and English-Japanese translator and feminist activist. This panel will be moderated by Stephen Snyder, Kawashima Professor of Japanese Studies, Middlebury College.

"T&I 2.0: The Next Generation of Translation and Interpreting", Barry Olsen, Max Troyer and Julie Johnson, moderated by Jacolyn Harmer

"Feminist Translation: A Political Act", Rosemary Arrojo, Emily Apter, and Yumiko Yanagisawa

"(Re)Writers: Translating Poetry and Fiction", Ahmad Almallha, Timothy Billings, Michael Katz, Stephen Snyder and Paul Losensky (Indiana University). Moderated by Nina Wieda, Assistant Professor of Russian, Middlebury College.

"Consecutive Interpretation Workshop", Jacolyn Harmer (MIIS) and Karin Hanta (Middlebury College)

"Translingual Beats & Rhymes"

Language Works: An Introduction to Linguistics, a Faculty Speaker Series Presented by the Linguistics Program, 2012-2013

“The So-called Japanese Subject Marker”, Masako Hoye

“Swahilistas in Mexico City: the Problem of Performing Language Ideology in African Studies”, Jamie Thomas

“On the Acquisition of Events and Prepositions”, Gustavo Freire

"Doing Linguistic Field Research in Indigenous Communities in Latin America", Dr. Antje Muntendam (Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands)

"Storytelling in the Language Classroom: What Learners' Swahili-language Stories Tell us About Conformity and Resistance in Dar es Salaam", Jamie Thomas

“Voices from the “ESL Ghetto”: Racial Identity, Imagined Community, and Educational Critique among Refugee/Immigrant Youth”, Shawna Shapiro

Language and Technology, a Linguistics Symposium, March 2012

Introduction, Aline Germain-Rutherford

"Learning to Simplify English Using Wikipedia", David Kauchak

"Measuring Happiness: Social Media as a Laboratory", Chris Danforth

"Mind Files and Androids: A LifeNaut Project Update", Bruce Duncan (The Terasem Movement Foundation) and Bina48 (android)