How the movie Arrival made the linguist’s office 

When the trailer for the xenolinguistic movie Arrival first came out, I mentioned that I knew the linguists who consulted for the film. Ben Zimmer followed up with them for Language Log

For the film, the linguistic consultants included Jessica Coon, Lisa deMena Travis, and Morgan Sonderegger, all from McGill. The set designers spent time with Travis and Coon in their offices and ended up borrowing many of their books, as well as reproducing other items from their offices, in order to create the office set.

Via e-mail, Coon writes:

The set crew came to my office first and took a lot of pictures (they liked my tea kettle and plants, and they wanted to know what kind of bag I carry). They needed to rent a certain number of feet of books, but I didn’t have enough, so we went up to Lisa’s office. I keep a fairly tidy office… they liked Lisa’s much better. […]

But Travis told me that the set designers were less interested in titles than colors: they were particularly interested in borrowing blue and beige books. Fortunately, she had plenty of both. Many of the blue ones are in the Linguistik Aktuell series from John Benjamins (Travis serves on the advisory editorial board). And she had lots of beige-colored journals (e.g., Language, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory,Linguistic Inquiry, Oceanic Linguistics) and conference proceedings (e.g., NELS, short for the North East Linguistic Society).

An article for McGill News interviews Jessica Coon about what she wrote on the whiteboard: 

Sequences that take place in the code-breaking tent where military cryptographers struggle to crack the aliens’ language, feature words that Coon wrote on whiteboards to lend that process a more authentic air. Words like “articulators.”

The articulators that humans use to form speech include our tongue, teeth and lips. “[The aliens] don’t look human at all, their vocal tracts and their mouths or whatever they’re using to make language is nothing like ours,” says Coon. In a situation like that, the military experts would probably be thinking a lot about articulators.



One more thing! I will be a guest speaker at NerdCon this Friday and Saturday at the Minneapolis Convention Center, and you’ll be able to see me do a whole bunch of goofy things. Check out my schedule here!

I had a fantastic time hanging out with @bluedelliquanti at NerdCon this past weekend! And then I bought a book and forgot to get it signed OH NO

Blue’s one of the rad folks I interviewed this weekend for

@thelingspace so we can all look forward to seeing that video on our YouTube channel​ soon!


Read PoC//Fantasy and Science Fiction

I only listed one book per author, usually their most popular or highest rated book/series, so make sure to check out their Goodreads page for more of their hardwork!!

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Young Adult//Historical Fiction//General Fiction//Autobiographies and Memoirs

This is like exactly the reading list I’ve been dreaming of

also if I can add to it: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older, I met him at NerdCon: Stories this past weekend and bought the book and devoured it as close to literally as possible


The first poster for the NASA drama Hidden Figures starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe.

See the trailer.

omgomg is this for real

Can’t believe this is the first I hear of this movie! Looks like something I would watch the CRAP OUT OF and eeeee Janelle Monae


Nikolaus Glockendon I

Armorial Bearings of the Cardinal

Germany (1524)

Illumination on Parchment (full page), 385 x 280 mm.

Missal of Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg (572 ff.). Folio 7 sup v .
Full page: Armorial bearings of the Cardinal with Saint Maurice and
Saint Mary Magdalene.

The Image of the Black in Western Art Research Project and Photo Archive, W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University

I know that she’s got a halo, but it REALLY looks like a spaceman helmet and i LOVE IT