Fables of Linguistics—The Para-Mimetic Tale of Poss -’s—The Tale Teller of Tollerton Town SpecGram Vol CLXXXV, No 2 Contents Good Enough for Folk Etymology—Part VI—A. Pocryphal & Verity du Bius

Questions to Ask After Any Linguistics Talk

Juan Point and Justin I. Dear

Academic conferences. You know you love themcatching up with your grad school cronies; checking proudly on the progress of your own former students; commiserating with that former colleague who (ouch!) didn’t get tenure and has moved on; checking publishers’ booths for books to have the library order; delivering your paper to a packed room (more or less). Endless mealtime discussions about the good old days and the hopelessly directionless state of the field; late nights at the hotel bar; late mornings at the buffet breakfast. It’s all good.

And then there are the actual sessions. You can only skip so many of them, having coffee with an old friend, before you start to feel just a mite guilty about using up funding for a potential TAship in your department and not actually attending any talks. So, with a sense of dreadful duty, you consult the program and find one that seems less than usually odious, and off you go!

In such circumstances, nobody expects you to really pay attention. We don’t. You’ve got friends to text, arranging where to meet during the next coffee break. You’ve got to correspond with your spouse about a plumbing problem back home. And those last two diagrams for your talk tomorrow are still just not quite right. Plus, the title of the talk you settled on was probably misleading and it has turned out to be either irrelevant or bad. Or both.

Nine times out of ten, the end of the talk comes and you find that you never really focused in. Maybe you tried and maybe you didn’t, but now the discussion period is upon you, and you may discover that you’re the most senior linguist in the venue. The impressionable are waitinghow will you inspire and impress them with your brilliant questions?

This article provides just what you need: Questions that will serve at the end of any talkno matter how little of the content you digestedto stimulate discussion and rescue your reputation in the eyes of your audience mates. Just cue up these questions on your phone before the conference and you’re set!

To suit your various needs, we’ve grouped the questions into various categories. If you have one from each list memorized, you’re good to go!

All purpose questions

Up to the minute (but not faddish) questions

Name dropping

Don’t forget to promote your own work!

Veiled insult


Fables of LinguisticsThe Para-Mimetic Tale of Poss -’sThe Tale Teller of Tollerton Town
Good Enough for Folk EtymologyPart VIA. Pocryphal & Verity du Bius
SpecGram Vol CLXXXV, No 2 Contents