Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

The 2024 Arnold Zwicky Award

November 22, 2023

From the Linguistic Society of America’s Secretariat this morning:

Arnold Zwicky Award: This award, given for the first time in 2021 [as the 2022 AZ Award], is intended to recognize the contributions of LGBTQ+ scholars in Linguistics and is named for Arnold Zwicky, the first [openly] LGBTQ+ President of the LSA. The Committee on LGBTQ+ [Z] Issues in Linguistics (COZIL) is pleased to announce that Professor Lal Zimman is the LSA’s 2024 Arnold Zwicky Award recipient [AZ: to be formally awarded at the 2024 LSA meeting in early January in New York City].

Lal Zimman, an Associate Professor of Linguistics at UC Santa Barbara, is recognized as a global leader in the area of trans linguistics. His research on trans language has had a significant impact on sociocultural linguistics, sociophonetics, inclusive pedagogy, and social justice- and community-based linguistics. Zimman has also been active in advocating for trans inclusion in the discipline and the academy, and he has been a mentor to many trans students. He now directs the Trans Research in Linguistics Lab (TRILL) at UCSB, which is dedicated not only to studying trans linguistics but also holistically supporting trans students and scholars.

Yes — a Z to a Z!


Hail to Heidi Harley

June 27, 2023

Old news, but then I’ve been out of the world at SUMC for some time and didn’t get this posted before the cascade of disasters:

Heidi Harley (Univ. of Arizona) has been nominated as president of the Linguistic Society of America (which means three years of service to the society, each year with its own responsibilities: as vice-president, president, and immediate past president).

I note further that Heidi (born 9/26/69) is now only 53, not some elder of the discipline, so this is an especially signal recognition of her achievements.

Facebookers will know HH especially from her postings about the linguistic and social development of her two young sons.


Houcks at WHS

June 10, 2023

… as some of the AMZ Fan Club (as Eleanor put it), in, omigod, October 2021, how could I have failed to post about this for almost two years? (note that everyone has a mask, temporarily off for the photo):

(#1) My cousin Eleanor (the youngest of my first-cousin cohort: Eleanor Severin Houck, daughter of Bertha Zwicky Severin); my cousin-in-law Dick Houck; and their son, my first cousin once removed Rich Houck — at Wilson High School in West Lawn PA

They are standing in front of my Distinguished Alumni plaque in the WHS Hall of Academic Fame — from, oh dear, almost 20 years ago; I gave a little talk then at the National Honor Society induction, a talk that included a brief encomium to my dad and how he coped with having such a “different” kid.


Just elected to the American Academy

April 19, 2023

… of Arts and Sciences, (at least) 7 scholars in linguistics and the language sciences — 6 women and one man:

— in Psychological Sciences, Leda Cosmides (UC Santa Barbara) and Virginia Valian (CUNY)

— in Education, Ofelia Garcia (CUNY)

— in Literature and Language Studies, Claire Bowern (Yale), Salikoko Mufwene (Chicago), Hazel Simmons-McDonald (Univ. of the West Indies), and Elizabeth Traugott (Stanford)


A toast to Liana Finck

April 8, 2023

… on the occasion of her being among the winners of 2023 fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, announced on 4/5. From the list:

in General Nonfiction: Liana Finck, Writer, Brooklyn, New York; Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of English, Barnard College

LF came to me first as the creator of extraordinary cartoons for The New Yorker magazine; there is a Page on this blog devoted to my postings about these cartoons. But there’s lots more, some of which I’ll cover below, in a somewhat haphazard look at her career. I’ll start with an appreciation of one of her NYer cartoons, in one of these postings, from 10/31/17: “Three kinds of cartoon”:

(#1) Liana Finck in the 5/8/17 New Yorker: two worlds intersect on the street

Christian evangelism meets recycling. To understand Finck’s cartoon … , you need to recognize the formula “Have you heard the good news?” as part of a routine of public evangelism, especially by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, going door to door or appealing to people in public places, including on the street. In an expanded form:

Have you heard the good news (about (our Lord) Jesus Christ)? (He is/has risen (from the grave).)

You also need to recognize the two characters in the cartoon as plastic water bottles — not at all difficult — and — more difficult — also recognize the symbol


as a symbol of recycling, and in addition understand that “recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects” (Wikipedia). That is, in recycling, material metaphorically dies (when it is discarded) and then, if recycled, is reborn — metaphorically rises from the dead.

If you’ve got all that, you can appreciate the cleverness in having evangelical water bottles spreading the good news about how water bottles have been resurrected (via the miracle of recycling).

About LF. A portrait of the artist (born 1986):

(#3) photo: Ilya S. Savenok

Meanwhile, some details of her work on her home page. Among her projects is an advice column, Dear Pepper, maintained on her Instagram page. A recent notice from her there:


And then the books.

— from on A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York by Liana Finck (Ecco paperback, 2014); publisher’s blurb:

In an illustrative style that is a thrilling mash-up of Art Spiegelman’s deft emotionality, Roz Chast’s hilarious neuroses, and the magical spirit of Marc Chagall, A Bintel Brief is Liana Finck’s evocative, elegiac love letter to the turn-of-the-century Jewish immigrants who transformed New York City and America itself.

A Bintel Brief “A Bundle of Letters” — was the enormously popular advice column of The Forward, the widely read Yiddish language newspaper begun in 1906 New York. Written by a diverse community of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, these letters spoke to the daily heartbreaks and comedies of their new lives, capturing the hope, isolation, and confusion of assimilation.

Drawn from these letters — selected and adapted by Liana Finck and brought to life in her appealing two-color illustrations — A Bintel Brief is a tour of Lower East Side New York, and includes an imaginative conversation with the Yiddish “Dear Abby,” Abraham Cahan, The Forward’s legendary editor and creator of the Bintel Brief column.

From premarital sex to family politics to struggles with jobs and money, A Bintel Brief is an enlightening look at a segment of America’s rich cultural past that offers fresh insights for our own lives as well.

— on Passing for Human: A Graphic Memoir by Liana Finck (Penguin Random House, 2018), the publisher’s blurb from their site:

In this achingly beautiful graphic memoir, Liana Finck goes in search of that thing she has lost — her shadow, she calls it, but one might also think of it as the “otherness” or “strangeness” that has defined her since birth, that part of her that has always made her feel as though she is living in exile from the world. In Passing for Human, Finck is on a quest for self-understanding and self-acceptance, and along the way she seeks to answer some eternal questions: What makes us whole? What parts of ourselves do we hide or ignore or chase away — because they’re embarrassing, or inconvenient, or just plain weird — and at what cost?

Passing for Human is what Finck calls “a neurological coming-of-age story” — one in which, through her childhood, human connection proved elusive and her most enduring relationships were with plants and rocks and imaginary friends; in which her mother was an artist whose creative life had been stifled by an unhappy first marriage and a deeply sexist society that seemed expressly designed to snuff out creativity in women; in which her father was a doctor who struggled in secret with the guilt of having passed his own form of otherness on to his daughter; and in which, as an adult, Finck finally finds her shadow again — and, with it, her true self.

Melancholy and funny, personal and surreal, Passing for Human is a profound exploration of identity by one of the most talented young comic artists working today. Part magical odyssey, part feminist creation myth, this memoir is, most of all, an extraordinary, moving meditation on what it means to be an artist and a woman grappling with the desire to pass for human.

— Excuse Me: Cartoons, Complaints, and Notes to Self  by Liana Finck (Penguin Random House, 2019): over 500 cartoons from Instagram and The New Yorker

— on Let There Be Light: The Real Story of Her Creation by Liana Finck (Penguin Random House, 2022), the publisher’s blurb from their site:

(#5) The book cover

In this ambitious and transcendent graphic novel, Liana Finck turns her keen eye to none other than the Old Testament, reimagining the story of Genesis with God as a woman, Abraham as a resident of New York City, and Rebekah as a robot, among many other delightful twists. In Finck’s retelling, the millennia-old stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob and Esau haunt the pages like familiar but partially forgotten nursery rhymes ― transmuted by time but still deeply resonant. With her trademark insightfulness, wry humor, and supple, moving visual style, Finck accentuates the latent sweetness and timeless wisdom of the original text, infusing it with wit and whimsy while retaining every ounce of its spiritual heft.

Let There Be Light is proof that old stories can live forever, whether as ancient scripture or as a series of profound and enchanting cartoons. The Book of Genesis is about some of the most fundamental, eternally pertinent questions that we can ask: What does it mean to be human? What is the purpose of our lives? And how should we treat one another? The stories that attempt to answer these questions are an immediate link with the people who first told them. Unable to fathom the holiness and preciousness of that notion, or put it into words, Finck set out to depict it. The result is a true story of creation, rendered by one of our most innovative creators.

Finale. Finck’s quirky sense of humor on display in a NYer cartoon from 2/25/13 exploiting the characteristics of the Slinky toy and the habits of the salmon:


The LSA handbook ad caper

January 10, 2023

This is, again, supremely, a Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting, coming after several days of wildly painful and deeply unpleasant afflictions (I had some yogurt for breakfast, a few crackers with hummus for lunch, and will probably do the same for dinner tonight; I have hopes for better tomorrow); the details involve a stomach ulcer, body-wracking chills, industrial-strength narcolepsy, severe dyspnea on exertion, and flaming-sword osteoarthritis, all at once, and you really don’t want to hear about them. In the midst of all this, the LSA handbook ad caper.

It’s about this ad:


NCOD 2022

October 11, 2022

It’s National Coming Out Day, and everything’s happening at once. Well, it’s NCOD and that’s a big thing in my world. All the more because it’s the day my man Jacques and I chose to serve as a surrogate wedding anniversary; actually, Jacques reasoned his way to October 11th as the best of all possible days, and I saw that he was right.

About J&A Day and NCOD, with affection, silliness, and a certain amount of playful raunchiness, see what I wrote last year in “This day”, and enjoy the Robert Emery Smith photograph of husband-equivalents J&A in 1996:


Into this came, yesterday, the announcement from the Linguistic Society of America that Rusty Barrett had received the LSA’s Arnold Zwicky Award (for LGBTQ+ linguists); and then today the society’s COZIL LGBTQ+ History Month interview series for 2022, one of the three interviews being with me. Notes below.


Mayan language revitalization, hip hop, drag queens, and leathermen

October 10, 2022

Showing something of the range of Rusty Barrett’s academic work, on the occasion of his being awarded by the Linguistic Society of America. Today’s announcement:

(#1) The Zwicky Award recognizes LGBTQ+ linguists who have made significant contributions to the discipline, the society, or the wider LGBTQ+ community through scholarship, outreach, service, and/or teaching. … The prize is intended to recognize distinguished accomplishments by LGBTQ+ scholars, whether working directly on LGBTQ+ issues in language or not.


O Canada! The Zwicky news!

July 1, 2022

🐇 🐇 🐇 It’s Canada Day, 7/1, and this year’s appointments to the Order of Canada, announced yesterday, include philosopher, poet, musician, and political essayist Jan Zwicky.

The densest truths are home.
Liszt, Paganini, all the brilliant unreal
postures of intensity—nothing like
the dishes in the rack, heads raised
for the clear hot rinse, children
having their hair washed in the bath.
— from “Practising Bach” in Zwicky’s Forge, 2011


Good news from the halls of academe

November 2, 2021

I am putting aside for the moment today’s intended posting, on Tucson sunrises and well-endowed cactuses, to pass on this excellent news, which came to me from my department chair Chris Potts > the department this afternoon:

Please join me in congratulating Professor Vera Gribanova on winning the LSA’s 2022 C.L. Baker Award, which “recognizes excellence in research in the area of syntactic theory on the part of a scholar who is at the mid-point of a distinguished career.”

A wonderful honor for someone who is surely actually only barely even approaching the *mid-point* of their career!

First, some exchanges about the award; and then some about Vera.