Towards a better linguistics environment (TABLE)


Fall Colloquium Series, TABLE: Toward a Better Linguistics Environment (Mondays at 3pm): A colloquium series which aims to give space to socially and theoretically important topics which are historically neglected within the fields of linguistics and language studies. Speakers will touch on topics including language and gender, language and race, signed language, language and ability, decolonizing linguistics, and social justice pedagogy. While a primary goal of this series is to generate ideas for GSIs and faculty to incorporate directly into their teaching and research, this talk series will be of interest to the general public and all are welcome.


Mondays 3:10PM-5:00PM


Hybrid format (in-person in Dwinelle 370 and via Zoom)


If you wish to join via Zoom, please register with this  Zoom registration link

If you attend the talks in-person from room 370 Dwinelle, please register with this Google form


Emily Remirez, Ernesto Gutiérrez Topete, Dakota Robinson, Julia Nee, Phuong Khuu, and Raksit Lau-Preechathammarach

Upcoming Schedule


How to ask the gender question

Dr. Kirby Conrod (University of Washington)

Colloquium | October 4 | 3:10-5 p.m. | [Virtual presentation] 370 Dwinelle Hall and via Zoom

Abstract:  A critical approach to methodology in linguistics research should include continuous examination of how demographic information is collected and operationalized. This presentation will give recommendations for strategies to avoid when designing research around gender and/or sex to avoid cissexist or transphobic bias. The presentation reviews several quantitative and qualitative approaches to sex and gender data in linguistics, and examines benefits and drawbacks of each.

Dr. Kirby Conrod (they/them)

Dr. Kirby Conrod received their BA in Linguistics and Literature at UC Santa Cruz, and their MA and PhD in Linguistics at the University of Washington. Their dissertation, Pronouns Raising and Emerging, is a sociosyntactic analysis of a change in progress around the specific use of singular they. Their recent work focuses on nonbinary pronouns and other sociolinguistic approaches to morphosyntax. They are a visiting assistant professor at Swarthmore College. 


Linguistics, blindness, and braille: Deconstructing sight-centric assumptions and promoting diversity in teaching and research

Prof. Robert Englebretson (Rice University)

Colloquium | October 11 | 3:10-5 p.m. | [In-person presentation] 370 Dwinelle Hall and via Zoom

Abstract: This talk focuses on blindness as a source of diversity in linguistics teaching and research. I will highlight how enhancing the accessibility of our field enables greater participation, which then feeds back into broader and more diverse research perspectives. I will begin by discussing my work on IPA Braille (Englebretson 2009), which sought to improve general access to our field for blind students and professionals. I will then turn to a discussion of braille as a tactile writing system, and what the unique aspects of (English) braille orthography contribute to the cognitive and reading sciences (e.g. Fischer-Baum and Englebretson 2016). I will conclude with a brief introduction to an ongoing federally-funded multi-disciplinary research project that seeks to address some of the potential barriers to braille literacy (Fischer-Baum, Englebretson, and Holbrook).

Englebretson, Robert. 2009. “An overview of IPA Braille: an updated tactile representation of the International Phonetic Alphabet.” Journal of the International Phonetic Association 39 (1): 67-86.
Fischer-Baum, Simon and Robert Englebretson. 2016. “Orthographic units in the absence of visual processing: Evidence from sublexical structure in braille.” Cognition, 153, 161-174.
Fischer-Baum, Simon, Robert Englebretson, and Cay Holbrook. Institute for Education Sciences, AWARD NUMBER R324A190093. “Exploring the Knowledge, Skills, and Strategies Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments Need to Effectively Teach Braille Reading and Writing”

ProfRobert Englebretson (he/him)

Robert Englebretson is currently the chair of the Linguistics Department at Rice University,
where he teaches courses in morphosyntax, discourse, and grammar in social interaction. He
earned his Ph.D. in Linguistics in 2000from the University of California Santa Barbara. His earlier
researchinterests focused primarily on how language use motivates and constrains language form;
stance and identity; discourse and grammar; and interactional linguisticsHe has done fieldwork
in Indonesia, and has authored a book and several articles on Colloquial Indonesian grammar.

Although Englebretson is a life-long braille reader, his interest in braille as a research topic
only began to emerge in 2006 when he was appointed to serve as the US representative to the
International Council on English Braille Committee on Linguistics and Foreign Languages. Under
the auspices of that organization, he revised and published a braille version of the IPA, to empower
better access to phonetics for blind and visually-impaired people working in language-related
fields. In November 2019, the Braille Authority of North America recognized Englebretson with
the Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award for his work on IPA Braille.

Also in 2019, a team of researchers including Englebretson, Simon Fischer-Baum (Rice
University) and Cay Holbrook (University of British Columbia) were awarded an Exploration
research grant from the Institute for Education Sciences (AWARD No. R324A190093) “Exploring
the Knowledge, Skills, and Strategies Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments Needto
Effectively Teach Braille Reading and Writing.”Englebretson’s current work seeks to bring braille
research squarely into the mainstream of the reading sciences, and to contribute to evidence-based
approaches to improving braille literacy.


Raciolinguistic Ideologies as Institutionaized Linguistic Racism

Kelly Elizabeth Wright (University of Michigan)

Colloquium | October 18 | 3:10-5 p.m. | [Virtual presentation] 370 Dwinelle Hall and via Zoom

Abstract: Raciolinguistic ideologies are said to conflate certain bodies with perceptions of linguistic deficiency. This talk - taking a historical, sociolinguistic framing - offers examples of linguistic racism across institutions as a means of underscoring the insidious and powerful nature of raciolinguistic ideologies and the long-term outcomes of their operation. We will begin with a primer on relevant bullet points of Black history in the US, focusing on citizenship and early language-based access restrictions. We will then use our knowledge of this shared social history - demonstrating how language and race operate as separate, yet intersectional, sociopolitical categories - to illustrate the operation of linguistic racism by considering several brief examples from across institutions. We will look most deeply at education and the law, interrogating the ways in which Standard language ideologies are expected and maintained in these arenas, and how violations of said expectations can work to negatively characterize or sometimes further oppress marginalized populations. I’ll preview for you my current research on ideological uptake and style shifting among Black professionals and judgments of Black professional speech which asks: what perceptual mechanisms help sustain these various linguistic oppressions? We will end by considering concrete steps we can take in our curricula and pedagogy which centralize linguistic justice goals, alongside the development of equitable and representative models of experimentation and accessible distribution of research findings in an increasingly fact phobic world.

Kelly Elizabeth Wright (she/her)

Kelly Elizabeth Wright (She/Her) is an experimental sociolinguist specializing in linguistic discrimination and its institutional outcomes. She identifies as a working class Black Biracial cis woman, an Afrolachian raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. Wright is a scholar-activist, working for linguistic justice outside the academy, and interdisciplinarity inside the academy. Currently, she is researching perceptions of professionalism. Her research also includes a machine learning study of lexical racialization in sports journalism and a sociophonetic study of linguistic profiling in the housing market. Wright is also an accomplished lexicographer. Her professional affiliations are:
  • Founding member of the North American Research Network in Historical Sociolinguistics
  • Founding member of Language Matters the University of Michigan Linguistic Diversity Initiative
  • Founding member of Linguistic Society of America Social Media Committee
  • Editor's Assistant for the journal Language
  • American Dialect Society New Words Committee
  • Oxford English Dictionary Researchers Advisory Group


Documenting the signed language use of the American Sign Language (ASL) communities as a Deaf linguist

Prof. Julie A. Hochgesang (Gallaudet University)

Colloquium | November 8 | 3:10-5 p.m. | [Virtual presentation] 370 Dwinelle Hall and via Zoom

AbstractIn this presentation I present my journey as a deaf linguist in North America and how experiences along the way have influenced my current theoretical preferences and practices in the work I do. These include having to push down feelings of rejection each time I read a generalist work on linguistics and finding no mention of signed language (especially when they are discussing “all human languages”); working on a dictionary project with Kenyan Sign Language users and considering how to make it theirs; thinking about how to textually represent a signed language that, like many others, have not been conventionally written down; and navigating how to document language use in today’s apocarevolutiondemic world in a project I’ve named from the ASL signs “document” “covid” - “O5S5”. Along the way, I muse on what it means to be inclusive and how tricky this is (e.g., for us “there’s no one way to be deaf”). And how important it is for our field and communities we work with to recognize and respect what should be a wide range of work reflecting what kind of lives are actually being lived and being meaningfully done by people living these lives. 

Prof. Julie A. Hochgesang (she/they)

Julie A. Hochgesang (/ˈhoʊkˌsæŋ/) is an associate professor of Linguistics at Gallaudet University. She is a Deaf linguist who works on documentation of signed languages, ethics of working with signed language communities and making linguistics accessible to the communities.  She has contributed to ongoing efforts to create accessible collections for the ASL communities such as the Sign Language Annotation, Archiving and Sharing project which led to the creation of ASL Signbank, a publicly accessible website of signs linked to ID glosses to be used for annotation of ASL video datasets. Her most recent ASL documentation projects include the “Motivated Look at Indicating Verbs in ASL (MoLo” and “Gallaudet University Documentation of ASL (GUDA)”.  She also consults with Deaf communities on documentation projects like the Philadelphia Signs projectand Haitian Sign Language Documentation Project (LSHDoP).


Decolonizing Linguistics

Prof. Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi)

Colloquium | November 15 | 3:10-5 p.m. | [Virtual presentation] 370 Dwinelle Hall and via Zoom

Prof. Linda Tuhiwai Smith (she/her)

Linda Tuhiwai Smith, of Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou, Tuhourangi, is currently a Distinguished Professor at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. She is a researcher, mentor, supervisor, writer and educator. Linda is renowned for her work in Indigenous Māori education, Decolonising Methodologies and Kaupapa Māori. Linda has been part of the movement that established Māori schools known as Kura Kaupapa Māori and tribal institutions known as Wānanga. She has held a number of Professorial positions at both the University of Waikato and the University of Auckland. She is a member of the Waitangi Tribunal. Linda has been recognised for her work as a leading Maori scholar and educationalist. She is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, received the Prime Ministers Lifetime Achievement Award for Education and awarded a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. She was recently elected as an Honorary International Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Linda is known for her ground breaking book Decolonising Methodologies Research and Indigenous Peoples first published in 1998 and the third edition was published in 2021.


Teaching linguistics for social transformation

Dr. Anna Bax (California State University, Long Beach)

Colloquium | November 22 | 3:10-5 p.m. | [In-person presentation] 370 Dwinelle Hall and via Zoom

Abstract: In this presentation, I show how linguistics pedagogy can function as a “liberatory practice” (bell hooks) and pathway toward social transformation, especially for students who are themselves linguistically minoritized. I begin by outlining some lessons learned from my initial pedagogical training in sociolinguistic justice during my 5 years spent teaching in UC Santa Barbara’s SKILLS (School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society) program, including the limits of an individualistic “error-correction”/“mythbusting” approach to linguistics education. We will then discuss an undergraduate Language and Social Justice course that I taught for the first time in Fall 2020, at a moment when students (and I) were reeling from multiple overlapping social crises. I recount the decision-making process behind my choice to redesign the course around the linguistic aspects of these ongoing crises: language access and healthcare for d/Deaf communities and users of minoritized spoken languages during COVID; the linguistic components of police brutality against Black and Indigenous communities, d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, and non-English speakers; and the roles of media discourse and metaphor theory in the rise of far-right populism, among others. By bringing linguistics scholarship into conversation with topics not typically discussed in a linguistics classroom, such as transformative justice and abolitionism, mutual aid, and direct action, the course is structured to guide students away from despair towards activism and social change. I conclude by laying out several necessary considerations for those interested in incorporating a social justice approach in their own linguistics pedagogy, including ways to weave these issues throughout the linguistics curriculum.

Dr. Anna Bax (she/her)

Anna Bax is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at California State University, Long Beach. She received her PhD in Linguistics from UC Santa Barbara in 2020. She studies language and identity with Tu’un Savi (Mixtec)-speaking communities in California, with a particular focus on language ideologies, dialect contact, and multilingual youth identity and language maintenance practices in a context of rapid language shift. She has also worked on community-led language reclamation, documentation, and maintenance projects. She regularly teaches an upper-division Language and Social Justice course at CSULB and previously spent several years teaching a sociolinguistic justice-based curriculum to high school and community college students through UCSB’s School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society (SKILLS) program.