Thursday (Oct. 10) morning and early afternoon feature a series of workshop opportunities. Participants should plan to sign up for workshops during Early registration (at $20/workshop).

Workshop descriptions are shown below the table (click on a workshop to be brought to its description).

Morning workshops:
Workshop 1:
Variation off the beaten track: Expanding our understanding of social structures
(Barth, Schokkin, Travis, Lindsey & Stanford)
Workshop 2:
Creating interactive shiny dashboards to showcase sociolinguistic research: Seeing the forest and the trees
(Davidson, Roy, & Zsombok)
Workshop 3:
A roadmap for inclusion in sociocultural linguistics
(Charity Hudley, Zimman, Conner, Calhoun, Muwwakkil, miles-hercules, Keshav, & Garza)
Early afternoon workshops:
Workshop 4:
Experimental design in sociolinguistics
(Vaughn & Walker)
Workshop 5:
Mapping word frequencies on Twitter using R and Python
(Grieve & Jurgens)
Workshop 6:
Teaching variation: From the classroom into the field
(Becker & Hazen)
Workshop 7:
Bayesian modeling for linguistic researchers

Workshop descriptions

Workshop 1: Variation off the beaten track: Expanding our understanding of social structures

Danielle Barth (Australian National University & Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language), Dineke Schokkin (Australian National University & Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language), Catherine Travis, Kate Lindsey (Boston University), & James Stanford (Dartmouth College)

In recent years, there has been an increased interest in the intersection of documentary linguistics and sociolinguistics. This means that more and more sociolinguistic work is being done with non-Western communities, and more documentary linguists are incorporating variation and sociolinguistic patterning into their grammar writing and documentation.

In this workshop, we share our experiences of analyzing linguistic variation in under-documented languages, while trying to understand the effects of social structures both familiar and unfamiliar in Western communities as they play out in surprising ways. We present case studies from Papua New Guinea, China, and Vanuatu. How can we understand an under-studied social variable such as clan and how it interacts with community contact, alliances, social networks, and obligations? How might we reconceptualize age as a variable, which may have differing meaningful divisions from culture to culture, and may vary in the role it plays in innovation and diffusion?

We discuss some specific problems we have faced, which are not necessarily exclusive to those working in “exotic” locations, such as: difficulties in interpreting variation due to lack of anthropological and ethnographic background, data sparsity, the transcription bottleneck, unbalanced sampling, and challenges in reconciling variation and abstraction in describing linguistic structures. This workshop is aimed at both documentary linguists who are interested in looking at sociolinguistic variation in the languages they are working with, and at sociolinguists who have encountered similar issues in their own research. We present some of our solutions and will have a portion of the workshop dedicated to discussion with workshop participants for sharing their ideas and experience.

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Workshop 2: Creating interactive shiny dashboards to showcase sociolinguistic research: Seeing the forest and the trees

Justin Davidson (University of California, Berkeley), Joseph Roy (​University of Illinois​ ​at Urbana-Champaign), & Gyula Zsombok (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

This workshop is aimed at any sociolinguist with an interest in using shiny dashboards to allow other scholars and the public to more directly engage with and learn from their work. Several new tools have come online in the last few years to make data wrangling and reproducible research more accessible. The purpose of this workshop is to provide sociolinguists an overview of these open-source tools and show several worked examples of making sociolinguistic datasets interactive with R Shiny dashboards.

Three unique datasets, spanning multiple types of sociolinguistic data, are discussed in this workshop. The first dataset that is used is from a syntactic variable from historical linguistics. The second dataset is phonetically gradient data (approximately 3000 tokens) on Spanish lateral production (DV = normalized F2) from 30 speakers, stratified by sex (2 levels), language profile (3 levels), task type (casual vs. careful speech), and 2 linguistic factors (adjacent segment context and syllable position). The third dataset will use geolocated tweets to map lexical variation of borrowings in France and Quebec, with additional social information. Furthermore, we will learn how longitudinal time data spreading over 7 calendar years can be represented on interactive figures, where raw frequency counts will be complemented with statistical estimates for the observed time period.

Participants will leave with a set of open-source and freely available tools to make their data come alive. ​Some background in R, Rstudio and familiarity with ggplot2 is assumed. ​There will be a small hands-on activity as part of the workshop. Instructions for the installation of software and data used will be sent out to registered participants a week prior to the workshop. Data and code used for the workshop will be made available to participants.

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Workshop 3: A Roadmap for Inclusion in Sociocultural Linguistics

Anne H. Charity Hudley, Lal Zimman, Tracy Conner, Kendra Calhoun, Jamaal Muwwakkil, deandre miles-hercules, Maya Keshav, & Joyhanna Garza (University of California, Santa Barbara)

The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) is the highest ranked and highest resourced Minority Serving Institution in the world. Considering the designation as both an honor and a call to action, the UCSB Linguistics Department is making significant changes to its faculty and student recruitment, its undergraduate and graduate curriculum, and its research and outreach focus. Join faculty and graduate students from UCSB Linguistics for an interactive workshop designed to help you promote intersectional inclusion in your home department and at your home institution.

We will focus on methods and models used to engage people in linguistics from secondary school through emeritus status, and we will also share challenges that we’ve met along the way with a focus on both interdepartmental and institutional concerns. Our discussion will center around three programs that UCSB Linguistics has developed in recent years: School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society (SKILLS), UCSB-HBCU Scholars in Linguistics, and the Sneak Peek student recruitment event.

Founded in 2010, SKILLS is an interdisciplinary outreach program that brings together UCSB faculty, graduate and undergraduate students in Linguistics, Education, Chicanx/Latinx Studies, Sociology and other fields to collaborate with local high school students and teachers. In the program, graduate students design and teach dual-enrollment sociocultural linguistics courses, introducing topics such as language, race, and power; and prepare first-generation, college-bound students for university-level coursework. Undergraduate students earn credits as classroom mentors as they support teaching, connect with students, and share college advice. High school students receive college credit and conduct independent research projects, which they present at the end of the semester at UCSB, in a lively research fair. SKILLS connects UCSB to the community through mentorship, research, outreach, and instruction, modeling community-engaged participatory research.

The UCSB-HBCU Scholars in Linguistics Program is a multi-year program funded by the UC-HBCU Initiative and NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) that brings together faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students at UCSB, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and other colleges and universities around the U.S. Through summer research experiences at UC campuses and competitive funding for successful participants, the UC-HBCU Initiative aims to grow the relationship between UCs and HBCUs as a pathway to increase the number of Black graduate students at UCs. The summer program at UCSB teaches introductory linguistics courses, examines the role of language in social mobility through interviews and data analysis, and provides networking and mentorship opportunities to students; it aims to increase the diversity of students engaged in the linguistic sciences by involving undergraduates from a range of disciplinary backgrounds and students at institutions that do not offer linguistics as a major. Research findings from the program benefit students as well as the institutions they attend by providing information about the nature of the language and culture of Black college students, which has direct implications for teaching and mentoring.

Sneak Peek is a graduate recruitment event hosted by the Department of Linguistics for students from communities underrepresented in higher education. Participants are brought to UCSB, funded by the Department and the university’s Graduate Division, for a day of meetings, workshops, and social gatherings. Sneak Peek, which is held in late May, is designed to prepare applicants for the Fall admissions cycle with an in-depth workshop on preparing a successful graduate application, individual meetings with faculty and graduate students with shared research interests and/or community membership, a showcase of research by current graduate students, and a closed-door panel consisting of current graduate students from underrepresented communities. In the six years Sneak Peek has been running, Sneak Peek has become a successful avenue for recruiting highly competitive applicants to our graduate program.

We invite workshop participants to send us questions ahead of time as well as suggestions for topics and goals that you would particularly wish to address including but not limited to: faculty recruitment, student recruitment, curricular reform, addressing discrimination in your department, and addressing pushback against inclusion attempts.

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Workshop 4: Experimental design in sociolinguistics

Charlotte Vaughn (University of Oregon) & Abby Walker (Virginia Tech)

The decisions involved in designing an experiment closely follow from the research question(s) being asked, and have major consequences for the kinds of analysis that are appropriate and the nature of the conclusions that can be drawn from the results. This workshop gives attendees a chance to consider the implications of a range of design decisions (e.g., stimulus development, between vs. within-subjects, randomization) for experimental studies in sociolinguistics, with a particular focus on perception and social evaluation experiments.

This workshop is aimed at researchers considering or at the early stages of incorporating experiments into their research, or researchers who simply want to be able to understand and evaluate experimental work more confidently. Rather than giving one-size-fits-all advice, the workshop provides practice in asking the kinds of questions that will lead to a design that is best suited for answering the specific research question at hand. Although some practical matters of implementation are discussed (e.g., pros/cons of different software, tasks), the workshop emphasizes conceptual-level guidance.

After an orientation to the range of factors that experimenters should consider, the first part of the workshop will discuss the process of making various methodological choices, and observing the effects of those choices on the rest of the project. We will provide registered workshop participants the option to submit experiment ideas and questions in advance, and in the second part of the workshop we will workshop (as a verb) a selection of these as a group. Attendees are not required to submit their own projects for group workshopping; participants who do volunteer their project ideas for workshopping will gain personalized feedback on their own project, but all attendees will benefit from observing the process of considering the pros and cons of making various design decisions.

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Workshop 5: Mapping word frequencies on Twitter using R and Python

Jack Grieve (University of Birmingham) & David Jurgens (University of Michigan)

In this workshop we demonstrate how to map word frequencies on American Twitter in R and Python and discuss the relevance of this approach to the study of language variation and change.

In the first half of the workshop we go through the process of mapping word frequencies step-by-step. We first introduce a sample dataset, which consists of the relative frequencies of the top 10,000 words in a multi-billion word corpus of geolocated American Twitter collected between 2013-2014 measured across 3,076 counties in the contiguous United States (see Grieve et al. 2018). We then show how to load and map this dataset and how to conduct basic forms of global and local spatial analysis to help identify regional patterns in dialect maps. Although we provide parallel code in both Python and R, we focus primarily on implementation in R for this workshop.

In the second half of the workshop we consider the wider implications to dialectology and sociolinguistics of the analysis of word frequencies — an increasingly common approach in computational sociolinguistics (Nguyen et al., 2016). One of the fundamental methodological tenets of our field is the principle of accountability (Labov 1972), which requires that we not only identify all tokens of the form under analysis in a corpus, but all contexts where an equivalent variant form had been used in its place. Although the analysis of word frequencies violates this principle, we argue this approach offers new insights about regional lexical and grammatical variation that cannot be arrived at through the analysis of sociolinguistic alternation variables, which can be difficult to define above the levels of phonetics and phonology (Lavandera 1977).

All data and code will be shared with participants ahead of the session, making the workshop fully replicable. Although not necessary, participants are encouraged to bring a laptop with the data and code downloaded. [ Data and code are available at ]

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Workshop 6: Teaching Variation: From the Classroom into the Field

Kara Becker (Reed College) & Kirk Hazen (West Virginia University)

As Labov famously noted, we find linguists working in “the library, the bush, the closet, the laboratory, and the street” (Labov 1972: 99) — but how about the classroom? In this workshop, scholars present specific assignments they use to teach about language variation at the undergraduate or graduate levels. A crucial pedagogical challenge in teaching variation is helping students connect our sociolinguistic theories to real-world data, and many of us believe the only way to learn about language in use is to get out there and study it. Yet many concepts, phenomenon, and methods require a level of sophistication and training that can make creating accessible, empirical assignments challenging. This workshop provides practical advice for getting students out of the classroom and into the field, be it online, in the laboratory, or on the streets.

Four scholars will give brief presentations on activities they use in the classroom, reviewing the assignment, discussing how it fits into their syllabus, and describing benefits and drawbacks based on their practical experience:

  • Anne Charity Hudley – Community engagement midterm video assignment
  • Aaron Dinkin – Rapid and anonymous study: Responses to thanks
  • Shelome Gooden – Socioprosodic variation in a field project language
  • Minnie Quartey – Learning to corral data with CORAAL

All materials will be made available through a shared drive. In addition, attendees will be invited to share their own materials, with the final minutes of the workshop devoted to small group discussion, sharing, and brainstorming around teaching variation.

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Workshop 7: Bayesian modeling for linguistic researchers

Santiago Barreda (University of California, Davis)

This workshop will provide an introduction to Bayesian modelling for researchers in linguistics, including an outline of what makes a model “Bayesian”, some advantages of Bayesian modeling, and how to interpret Bayesian models reported in published articles. The intended audience for this workshop is researchers who are comfortable with multilevel (mixed-effects) models (e.g., lme4 in R), but may not be familiar with Bayesian approaches to these models. We will begin by contrasting Bayesian and frequentist estimation methods, and Bayesian inference to traditional methods based on null-hypothesis significance testing (e.g., p-values). We will then discuss the advantages to Bayesian approaches for the analysis of linguistic data, including the ability to build models with any number of “random” effects or slopes and the ability to easily build multilevel models for binomial, multinomial, and ordinal dependent variables. A Bayesian analysis (using JAGS in R) will be compared to an equivalent frequentist mixed-effects analysis using lme4, including a comparison of the outputs of these models and of the sorts of questions these models can (and can’t) help us answer. The code and data used for this analysis will be made available before the workshop so that participants can follow along if desired. Finally, we will outline some useful resources for those interested in learning to apply Bayesian models to their own data.

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