Shifty Linguistics—John Cagey and Wiley-Kai O’Tae SpecGram Vol CXCIII, No 2 Contents Flatu-Linguistics—Gus T. ‘The Hurricane’ Wynd-Maker

Academic Conference Treasure Hunt

by The SpecGram Conference Interns

Conferences are an importantnay, essential!part of every academic (or academic hopeful)’s life. They offer excellent opportunities to network with peers and mentors, keep up with the latest developments in your field, get feedback on your own research, and build your résumé. Conferences are great! But...

They can also be deadly dull. To counteract the soporific, somniferous, and stupefacient effects of the worst sorts of conferences, the SpecGram Conference Interns have put together this little scavenger hunt to help you stay focused and alert! (And to help or friends and colleagues in all fields of academic endeavor who have to suffer through get to enjoy conferences, we’ve kept it generally discipline-agnostic.)

So print out this handy list and tally up your points as you go through your conference day.

+1 — if the keynote is given by a guy over the age of 50
— if he has a beard
— if the beard is grey
+2 — if the keynote is delivered by a woman
+4 — if the keynote is delivered by a person under the age of 35
+2 — if the keynote speaker massively butters up someone in the audience during their talk
+1 — for every speaker who has to skip slides because they’re running out of time
+2 — for every presentation that is so incomprehensible that no-one has a question
— if the chair of the session tries to rescue them with the question, “so what are the implications?”
+1 — for every instance of “Could you go back to the slide about X? No. Not that one. Maybe the one before? Or the one after. Or the one after that...”
+1 — for “Thank you very much for your very interesting presentation”
+1 — for “I have more of a comment than a question”
–1 — for every time someone uses the Q&A session to puff their own work
+2 — if the purpose of a question is to show off how much the questioner knows about the subject
+2 — if a poster is printed on 8.5x11/A4 sheets of paper taped together
+2 — if the “poster” is actually just a printout of an entire paper
+1 — if it takes more than half the length of the coffee break to make it through the line to get coffee
+1 — if there’s no coffee left by the time you get there
+5 — if you don’t see anyone who has lost their name tag by day three of the conference (but only +1 if the name tag is mandatory for admission to the conference space)
+2 — if there’s someone at the late registration desk trying to pay the registration fee in a different currency (or cryptocurrency)
–1 — if the conference swag is yet another bag
+2 — if you lose something valuable because you picked up the wrong identical bag
+1 — if the tours offered for the partner that you dragged along are way more interesting than anything in the conference program
+1 — if you skip a day to go on one of those tours
–5 — if the conference dinner is a vastly overpriced affair with mediocre food that has been sitting around too long
+5 — if you had the wisdom to skip it
–10 — for every grad student you meet who tells you they’re vegan
+10 — for any grad student who replies that they’re the Vegans’ eternal enemies the Altairians, and attacks them with a sword
+25 — if you reply, “Really? I didn’t know Vega had life-supporting planets!”
–100 — if, at a conference in Scotland, the conference dinner includes haggis
+50 — if the conference dinner is held at a winery and the waiters make sure you never see the bottom of your glass
–10 — if the conference is in the summer at a European university that doesn’t have air conditioning
–10 — if they shut off the fan because people can’t hear the speaker
–10 — if they shutter the windows because otherwise it’s not dark enough to see the slides
+2 — if the only people wearing a suit and tie are either over 65 or under 25
+1 — for each grad school contemporary you run into
–3 — for each grad school contemporary you run into who finished faster than you did
+2 — for each sighting of a scholar who was mentioned in your “history of linguistics” course in graduate school
+8 — for any talk that cites one of your publications (–10, though, if they disagree with you)
— for each person who addresses you as “Dr.” or “Professor” during the conference
+1½ — for each time a presenter mentions their Linux operating system
+12 — for each copy of Speculative Grammarian you see someone carrying

N.B.: Note that it is unsportingbut entirely in keeping with the spirit of the huntto bribe your grad students to perform actions that will increase your score! It is sadbut also often entirely effectiveto bribe them with food. Doubly so if you took, for example, the last pastry right before your student would have, just so you can turn around use it as such a bribe (+5).

Shifty LinguisticsJohn Cagey and Wiley-Kai O’Tae
Flatu-LinguisticsGus T. ‘The Hurricane’ Wynd-Maker
SpecGram Vol CXCIII, No 2 Contents