So! This January was my first time at the Linguistic Society of America’s annual meeting. It was also my first attempt at being academicute, because one cannot go to an academic conference wearing circus tights (which comprise 70% of my wardrobe). Regarding conference-wear, the rule of thumb seems to be: start boring, add a scarf. Also: messenger bag.
This was also my first conference ever – not just in linguistics. I was lucky to have gotten a lot of advice before I went, especially about not trying to do everything. I did, however, try to do a little bit of a lot of things. This trip was primarily a fact-finding mission to help me determine what sub-field I will go into.
Upon returning to the East Coast, I mentioned to a many-time attendee that it seemed like everyone in the pragmatics room was having a good time, while the morphologists down the hall were tearing each other a new morpheme.* “So you picked up on that,” the other person responded. Prior to the conference, it had not occurred to me that the culture of a sub-field might influence what I ultimately study. Now, it has become a consideration. So there’s that.
– All of my best conversations happened in and around elevators.
– The Word of the Year vote was a ton of fun. So was the Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon.
– I was able to sneak in a trip to First Unitarian Church of Portland with a UU friend from Philadelphia, who was also in town for LSA. Coming from a small and close-knit congregation, it was interesting to see what a thousand-member church looks like, and what a thousand-member church can do.
* Caveat: I have now spent a cumulative 30 minutes in the company of morphologists, which is admittedly far too little time to make a broad statement on the friendliness of their culture. And for all I know, at their next session the friendly pragmaticists might have made a blood-sacrifice on Searle Memorial Sacrificial Altar of everyone in the room without tenure. More investigation is needed.