LINGUIST List 23.630

Tue Feb 07 2012

FYI: Linguists Outside Academia: A New Group

Editor for this issue: Brent Miller <>

Date: 06-Feb-2012
From: Dave Sayers <>
Subject: Linguists Outside Academia: A New Group
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Now this is the story all about how,my life got flipped turned upside down,and I'd like to take a minute just sit right there,I'll tell you how I became the moderator of a new group called LinguistsOutside Academia.

That's right, I just parodied the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to introduce anew academic group that I've made. That, my friends, is how I roll.

So, like, here's how it happened...

1. I realised that my chances of finding academic employment any timesoon were slim to nil at best; and rather than simply wither alone, Iwanted to share my misery with others. A problem shared is, after all, aproblem halved (unless you're the one who the problem is beingshared with, in which case you've just gained half a problem, but let'sleave that to one side).

2. I thought, hey, surely there are other people like me out there,jobless people with PhDs, still publishing and presenting their researchfor some reason, but without the tiniest chance of getting even thelowliest fixed-term part-time adjunct academic post with no prospectswhatsoever attached to it. Not even an email notifying me that I'd beenrejected! Er, I mean, notifying them that they'd been rejected...

3. I sent a nice email to a number of learned societies (emailsubscription lists) asking whether there existed any sort of group,association, sub-group, knitting circle, etc., for linguists like me, doingresearch but outside of academic settings. In order to create theimpression that I'm not entirely self-absorbed, I also included a secondrelevant category of people, those doing research for non-academicorganisations.

4. I received quite literally some responses. A few people pointed me toorganisations like BAAL, but while these sorts of organisations doaccommodate people outside academia (to varying degrees), that's notreally what they're all about. Other responses were from people likeme, people who share my pain! *sniff* There are like-minded rollingstones out there after all. In fact, these responses soon became themajority. More and more of my fellow academic stragglers and outcastscontacted me, calling out from scattered locations in the wilderness ofthe academic badlands. Bleary-eyed, running short on opportunity butnot on determination, weary from beating the path to countlessunobtainable jobs, speaking to numerous empty conference audiences,born back ceaselessly into utter obscurity, they spoke, through thedark shadows and foggy haze, to me....

5. All these people said they definitely wanted to be part of whatevergroup I was setting up. Hmm. At first I politely pointed out that I hadn'tactually offered to make any such thing; all I did was ask if it alreadyexisted. After a while I realised that I had, of course, inadvertentlyvolunteered myself. Perhaps I wanted this all along. Perhaps my thirstfor fame and influence has come to this: staking out my niche inacademic cyberspace, and becoming master of all I survey, king of myparticular hill. So be it.

6. I approached the good people at, asking if I couldcreate an email list for linguists doing research outside academia. Iexplained that the prospective members of such a group wereresearch-active, so this would fit jiscmail's criterion of relevance toacademia. But they said no! Meanies. Not only that, they even tried tohawk some second-rate paid alternative on me,,which they said could be mine for the low low price of £120 a year!!£120?? What do they think this is, the 1990s?? Well, after harrumphingand shaking my fists at my computer screen for quite some time, Idecided I didn't need their help anyway.

7. After considering a number of options, it came down to either aGoogle Group, or a knitting circle. It was a tough decision, but in theend I went for a Google Group -- much to the disappointment of mygrandmother, for whom the knitting circle held out the first hope thatthe two of us could finally share a leisure pursuit. Ho hum...

So, here it is -- and congratulations to all those who have made itthrough this rambling opus of a message (which I will soon be adding tomy list of publications):

Linguists Outside Academia is a Google Group, but you don't need aGmail address to join (almost all our signups have been Gmailaddresses). Any old email address will do, and it's much like registeringfor any other website. Your email address will act as a username forGoogle Groups, and you'll pick a separate password. For example, ifyour email address is dr.nobodycantab.net

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Page Updated: 07-Feb-2012