#ScientistsForFuture, #LinguistsForFuture, & #BloggingForFuture: Sustainable Conference Organisation, Event Management, and Stimulus Materials for #Linguistics and #Language Games

#FridaysForFuture. and #ScientistsForFuture have highlighted the fact that sustainability also concerns the daily practices of researchers. Given that I am currently not just a linguist, but also training to be a permaculture designer for sustainable systems, I thought I should make a #BloggingForFuture contribution and share some of the information I have found about sustainable conference organization, event  management, and stimulus materials. Below, I will also share some personal experiences related to research materials and outreach activities. You can also find some information about my new German/English blog on language play, and nature – and other relevant webpages and social media accounts.

Information about Conferences and Flights

There are also some resources in German:

These resources show that we can do a lot more than switching to video-conferencing and getting rid of plastic bottles, disposable cups, and paper copies for conference booklets Some of the ideas for sustainable events also enhance collaboration and education: I particularly like the idea of multi-hub worldwide events with simultaneous sites; and I have always found it very useful to combine conferences with workshops, tutorials, and other satellite events in an easily accessible location.

When it comes to the practical side, we can also learn from non-academic conferences. For instance, events organized by the “Essbare Stadt Köln” (edible city of Cologne) initiative do not just ban plastic cups and non-edible garnishes for food. They have opted for catering by a local food-rescuing company, with proper dishes and mugs, and tasty vegetarian or vegan food that would have been thrown away even though it is perfectly fine to eat – and delicious. And if you should find yourself in Germany and try to do some shopping for your departmental kitchen or a conference, you can make use of a list and map of all zero-waste shops that allow you to buy products without (plastic) packaging. So, there is no need to buy packaged coffee, tea, sugar or cookies. You can simply shop using the containers you already have. If you also want to offer fruit or a broader range of baked goods, Marktschwärmer initiatives in many cities allow you to buy local (and often organic) food online and pick it up from a central location.

Research Materials and Outreach Activities

If you think about academic events, you could also think about outreach events: Why not combine them with material creation, upcycling events and supporting your local public library? When I taught in Essex, my language games club worked together with the local repair cafe; and we occasionally had joint events in the public library, where we would make use of the sewing-machine support from the repair-cafe and create language games materials from old fabric, buttons, and other used materials. People would see us and drop by to get things repaired and ask about sewing and child language acquisition while the students learned useful skills. I am working towards establishing something like this in Cologne at the moment.


A “sew-in” with Essex Language Games Club and Chris Blomeley from Wivenhoe Repair-Reuse-Recycle | experimentalfieldlingusitics.wordpress.com

My personal addition to the lists of suggestions for conference organizers concerns ID-holders and plastic badges. If you or your department have a random collection of ID-card holders from past conferences that is too small to reuse for another event, you can also put them to use in your language elicitation and use local materials such as plants instead of spending endless hours laminating pictures and taking them to your fieldsite. This is also useful for outreach events (see pictures below) or for seminars where you practice elicitation methods with your students and want to be able to swap pictures easily without endless lamination. You can find ideas for language games and elicitation with recycled and natural materials on my old languagegamesforall-blog.


If the combination of sustainability, linguistics, and play is something you enjoy, you might also find my new German website useful. It focuses on language, play and nature, hence the brand name “Sprachspinat” (“Speechspinach”) from the German equivalents of language, play and nature – SPRACHe, SPIel und NATur. Articles in German, links and literature as well as practical suggestions in both English and German).This page has a strong sustainability focus and takes up ideas from permaculture, i.e. the design of sustainable systems based on natural systems. While the blog texts and some of the recommended readings are in German, you can also find lists of websites and readings in English as well as language games and elicitation ideas in “international” picture-format. The site is accompanied by a German Twitter account (@sprachspinat) and an English twitter account, @SprachspinatE where you will find news about language, play, nature, sustainability, urban gardening, and local food.


One of my first projects for the Sprachspinat-Label was to design a box that can be taken to schools, kindergardens, and eco-projects for ecological training and language games (training). I have called this box the Wupf-Box, from German Wurm ‘worm’ and Pflanzen ‘plant’. It has the same layers as a raised vegetable bed, a built-in worm-compost tower, plants that can be eaten or used for medical or household purposes (e.g. cleaning), and toys for language games. The box can be used to give workshops about vegetable gardening, permaculture, worm-composting, and language games. As the worms and plants need regular care, you can encourage kids to tend to them and engage with the toys and language game opportunities … Or they can produce pictures for themselves, card games, language prompts and social media, while discussing the choice and spatial arrangements of plants or toys, their colors and sizes, etc.  – all while using language that is rich in adjectives and other modifiers, spatial language, modal verbs, etc.  And – to close the circle – you can use this box to grow the herbs for your conference tea breaks…

I am currently creating different variations. The ones below make use of toys and boxes we already had and did not use so much (we usually need the LEGO animals from sets, but not the blocks that went into the box). Other versions will involve old kitchen utensils, cardboard from old boxes, and natural materials like sticks and fibers. On the 27th of November, I will share my experiences in a free lecture on creating a grow-box with a built-in worm tower in Cologne.


I would love to hear more suggestions! – Have a sustainable future event – in every possible sense!


Social Media Accounts

For more information related to the sustainability of research practices, you can check the relevant webpages (e.g. https://fridaysforfuture.org/, https://fridaysforfuture.de/) and FridaysForFuture accounts on various and social media. There are also some linguists who post general information, but also information about events or FridayForFuture-initiatives that involve linguists or the universities where they work (e.g. @StefanMuelller, @fxru or @KonstanzeMarx on Twitter). You can find more using the two hashtags #linguists4future and #linguistsForfuture.

Live long and sustainably!

Sonja Eisenbeiß

P.S.: If you should have a source for hook&loop-fastener that involves upcycling or biologically degradable materials, please let me know. The toys I create and use with others are multi-purpose and get a lot of use in different (language) games; and we do use left-over material where we can. However, in addition to old buttons, hooks, etc. we need larger pieces of fastener to keep the bits and pieces together; and we have not found a fully sustainable replacement for synthetic hook&loop fastener, yet. Maybe you have a suggestion for us …


Updated Info: #Rstats, CLAN, Research Method Readings, and various Tools for Psycholinguistics

Dear users of these pages,

While I was working on my class handouts and some publications, I updated this resource webpage. In particular, I added material to these pages: Most of the additions involve materials written in English, but there are some new sections in my lists of materials and links that involve German materials that I have collected for my teaching in Germany.

You can also check my YouTube account for updated playlists with videos on psycholinguistic research methods, fieldwork & language documentation, endangered languages, and language acquisition. Some of the playlists contain English videos, others consist of German videos. My previous blogpost contains a list of these playlists plus more playlists created by other users.

I hope you will find the new information useful and would appreciate any suggestions!

Sonja Eisenbeiss

YouTube Playlists and Channels for Psycholinguistics, Fieldwork, and Language Documentation

I have created some playlists for my YouTube account. They contain English or German videos that I have found useful for my teaching or for my own training. Some of these videos are short and can be used in class, others are longer and would be good for self-study, for follow-up activities or as a preparation for class:



Useful videos and playlists for psycholinguistics, fieldwork, and language documentation – and many other areas of linguistics – can also be found here:

And if you want to see how videos or songs for children can use (i) frames for the presentation of words and (ii) an interesting combination of attention-catching animal sounds and the “real” animal names, you can check out my playlist with many different language versions of an animal name song for children. I find this very useful for psycholinguistics teaching as it is an engaging prompt for discussions about the use of babywords, repetition, and variation in child-directed speech, but be warned: You might find this hard to get out of your head.

Enjoy the videos!

Sonja Eisenbeiss

P.S.: There are also some video play lists about permacultue & sustainable systems and some video play lists about bees and nature gardens.

Endangered Languages, Language Documentation, and Language Revitalization: Resources and Readings

Information about the World’s Languages and their Status

In German

Länderdaten und Amtssprachen ( https://www.laenderdaten.de/staat/amtssprachen.aspx)


Organizations and Institutes with a Focus on Endangered Languages, Language Documentation, or Revitalization





  • Austin, P. K; & Sallabank, J. (2011). Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Crystal, D. (2000). Language death. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Evans, N. (2011). Dying words: Endangered languages and what they have to tell us (Vol. 22). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Grenoble, Lenore A. & Lindsay J. Whaley (eds.) (1998). Endangered Languages: current issues and future prospects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hale, K, Krauss, M. W, Watamahogie, L., Yamamoto, A., Craig, C., Jeanne, L.M., & England, N. (1992). Endangered Languages. Language 68.1-42.
  • Krauss, M. (1992). The world’s languages in crisis. Language, 68(1), 4-10.
  • Nettle, D., & Romaine, S. (2000). Vanishing voices: the extinction of the world’s languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Pereltsvaig, A. (2012) Languages of the world: an introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Assessment of Language Status






Endangered Languages in Germany



This list of links and readings was compiled for my current module on multilingualism. It contains materials from my own earlier resource lists, plus suggestions from


Resource Updates: R and #Statistics (#rstats), #OpenScience, #Multilingualism, #Ethics

It is time to get tutorials and reading lists ready for the summer research period and the preparation of teaching in the fall. Thus, I have updated some lists of readings and resources and would like to share them. Any suggestions for further additions are more than welcome. I have added little bits here and there on this site, but major additions can be found here:

Enjoy reading and playing with your software and data.

Sonja Eisenbeiss

new on the Stats page: Cooking with R


#Linguistics Resources for Studies on Possessive Constructions

I am currently planning my new autumn/winter course on possessive constructions at the University of Cologne. The course will use experimental and corpus data to compare adnominal, predicative, and external possessive constructions cross-linguistically. It will also discuss the processing and acquisition of possessive constructions as well as language change. The starting point will be the project pages and references below. I am grateful for any pointers to further resources and will post further materials on this blog (as I have done for my recent course on “Psycholinguistics in the Field“).


Project Webpages

World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS)

http://wals.info/ , with several chapters and maps about possessive constructions


Manchester Database for English and Swedish Adnominal Possessives



The Prominent Possessor Project



Core References

Börjars, K., Denison, D., & Scott, A. (Eds.) (2013). Morphosyntactic categories and the expression of possession. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Heine, B. (2006). Possession: Cognitive sources, forces, and grammaticalization. Cambidge: Cambridge University Press.

McGregor, W. (2009). The expression of possession. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Seiler, H. (1983). Possession as an operational dimension of language. Tübingen: Narr

Taylor, J. R. (1996). Possessives in English: An exploration in cognitive grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

For further reading lists, in particular for research methods and tools, see https://experimentalfieldlinguistics.wordpress.com/

Why we need large language samples for cross-linguistic psycholinguistic research

Our new article on linguistic relativity and statistical issues in cross-linguistic studies has just appeared in the journal Cognitive Semantics:

Satellite- vs. Verb-Framing Underpredicts Nonverbal Motion Categorization: Insights from a Large Language Sample and Simulations

Montero-Melis, Guillermo and Eisenbeiss, Sonja and Narasimhan, Bhuvana and Ibarretxe-Antuñano, Iraide and Kita, Sotaro and Kopecka, Anetta and Lüpke, Friederike and Nikitina, Tatiana and Tragel, Ilona and Florian Jaeger, T. and Bohnemeyer, Juergen, Cognitive Semantics, 3, 36-61 (2017), DOI:https://doi.org/10.1163/23526416-00301002


Is motion cognition influenced by the large-scale typological patterns proposed in Talmy’s (2000) two-way distinction between verb-framed (V) and satellite-framed (S) languages? Previous studies investigating this question have been limited to comparing two or three languages at a time and have come to conflicting results. We present the largest cross-linguistic study on this question to date, drawing on data from nineteen genealogically diverse languages, all investigated in the same behavioral paradigm and using the same stimuli. After controlling for the different dependencies in the data by means of multilevel regression models, we find no evidence that S- vs. V-framing affects nonverbal categorization of motion events. At the same time, statistical simulations suggest that our study and previous work within the same behavioral paradigm suffer from insufficient statistical power. We discuss these findings in the light of the great variability between participants, which suggests flexibility in motion representation. Furthermore, we discuss the importance of accounting for language variability, something which can only be achieved with large cross-linguistic samples.

Journal Webpage:


downloadable preprint: https://www.academia.edu/29808551/Satellite-_vs._verb-framing_underpredicts_nonverbal_motion_categorization_Insights_from_a_large_language_sample_and_simulations._Cognitive_Semantics._UPDATED_11_29_16_with_minor_cuts_for_proofs_


One of the issues we discussed in this article is the need to achieve enough statistical power for experimental studies in psycholinguistics. This issue is debated by a lot of researchers at the moment, see e.g. recent work by Shravan Vasishth and colleagues – and references cited in these two publications:

Shravan Vasishth and Andrew Gelman. The Illusion of Power: How the statistical significance filter leads to overconfident expectations of replicability. Submitted to conference: Cognitive Science, London, UK, 2017. [ http ]

Matuschek, Hannes, Reinhold Kliegl, Shravan Vasishth, Harald Baayen, and Douglas Bates. “Balancing Type I error and power in linear mixed models.” Journal of Memory and Language 94 (2017): 305-315.


I will soon update my stats pages with more papers discussing statistical modeling, power, etc. Thus, please keep the suggestions coming

Happy experimenting in the field or lab – or field lab!