All posts by James

This year’s AGM

We’ve had a fantastic year with this committee, but now it’s time to regroup, maybe say goodbye to some old friends… and hopefully welcome some new ones!

Are you interested in being on the LangSoc committee? At the AGM on 15 March, all committee positions will be up for re-election. Any member of the society can nominate themselves or someone else, or be nominated, for any position.

So don’t be afraid to come along! If you’re thinking about running for a position, please send us an email at just so we know how approximately many people will be standing in the elections.


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Cognitive biases and word order universals in the lab

The 1 March lecture will be given by Jennifer Culbertson and will be about cognitive biases in word ordering.

Abstract: In this talk, I will discuss the connection between the typological distribution of word orders in the noun phrase, and cognitive biases active during learning. In particular, I set out two such biases – one for structural simplicity, and one for semantic naturalness – and test how they interact to drive the behavior of adults and children in a series of artificial language learning experiments. The findings across these experiments suggest that developmental and native language transfer effects play a role in how new linguistic patterns are learned. Nevertheless, both simplicity and naturalness also shape learning outcomes in a way that aligns closely with the typology, providing a possible explanation for the frequency of particular patterns across the world’s languages.

Free entry for members, £2 for non-members.

18:00 doors for an 18:15 start.

Don’t forget to join us at the pub afterwards!


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LangSoc Highlands Excursion

Come along with LangSoc as we explore the beauty and magic of the Highlands! Stopping off through numerous national parks along scenic drives you will learn all about the unique history of the untamed lands with a guided tour. Like castles? Like whisky distilleries? DO YOU LIKE NESSIE? Well join us and (fingers crossed) see them all! The price at the moment is £39 for students but that is subject to change minorly. This is a day-long trip, we’d leave at 8am and return just after 8pm.


For more information, check the Facebook event!

Filled Pauses as a Sociolinguistic Variable?

The 15 February lecture will be given by Josef Fruehwald and will be about filled pauses. The abstract is as follows:

Since at least the 1960s, sociolinguists have tried to account for variable linguistic behavior by using “Variable Rules.” These are supposed to be rules of grammar, like any other, except they’ve got probabilities attached to them. This tendency has spread out now to other subfields of linguistics where the “probabilities in the grammar” approach is more or less taken for granted. However, there is a growing body of work questioning whether this is the right direction. I’ll be discussing this in the context of a change occurring in English where speakers are more likely to say um/erm instead of uh/er when they use a filled pause. This change looks like a textbook example of a sociolinguistic variable, except it’s not clear that we’d want to apply a variable rules style analysis to it, because it would be strange to say that there is a special grammatical rule for when people experience disfluencies.

Free entry for members, £2 for non-members.

18:00 doors for an 18:15 start.

Don’t forget to join us at the pub afterwards!


Facebook Link

LangSoc Murder Mystery

Welcome to the second annual LangSoc murder mystery!

For plot reasons we’ll only have 12 characters, so register your interest as soon as possible! Please only say you’re going to the event if you’re sure you’ll attend so we have an idea of numbers.

Character list and more details to be published soon on Facebook!

Facebook Link

PPLS Ball & Ceilidh 2017


Are you looking to immerse yourself in a night of traditional Scottish dining, dancing, and socializing? Looking to get the most experience out of your enthralling time in Edinburgh? Then you should come to the black tie PPLS Ceilidh Ball!

The School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences is hosting a Ceilidh, which is organized Scottish dancing passed through the ages. This event is open to all students and non-students. The Ceilidh Ball will be Saturday 4th of March in the historic Hub right on the Royal Mile. The Hub is the closest venue to the Castle, quite literally on the doorstep inviting everyone’s eyes with its gothic architecture and stained glass windows.

You will be welcomed with a glass of sparkling wine or Scottish Malt upon arrival to be followed by a three-course meal including a taste of Scotland’s infamous treat: Haggis! There will also be half a bottle of wine per person during dinner, because it is Scotland.

You will be treated to a performance by our professional Highland Dancers in traditional attire who will later instruct and guide you to become a master ceilidh dancer! No previous experience necessary! You can then ceilidh your way through the evening and join us to a premier George Street night club!

So if dancing in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle tickles your fancy come along to this once in a lifetime night! Tickets are £60 for non members of a PPLS society and £55 for members. This is an experience you can remember for the rest of your life. Tickets can be found by clicking the link below and will be on sale until next Thursday 23rd of February. So grab your tickets while they’re still available!

The ceilidh will start at 9pm and doors will close at 10pm.


For more details and to buy tickets, check out the Facebook event page!

Wug Crawl: Part II

Come and join us for the first social of the semester – the wug crawl!

Join LangSoc for a great night on the town exploring some of the fun pubs Edinburgh has to offer! Everyone is welcome! We are meeting at Boteco (across from Bristo Square) at 8!



Tell us you’re coming on Facebook!