Babel Events

The Babel Young Writers’ Competition

Babel launched the Young Writers’ Competition in 2014, inspired by an article we published by young linguist Kateryna Pavliuk on British Sign Language. In 2015, we introduced two different categories – one for 16-18-year-old linguists, and another for undergraduate linguists.

You can read all of our Young Writers’ Competition winners below. Our 2019 competition is now open, with a 30 August deadline for entries. Our winning linguists will be published in Babel No29, to be published in November 2019. The winner also, of course, receives a year’s subscription to Babel!

Entries should be between 1,500 – 2,500 words in length, and can discuss any topic to do with languages and linguistics. The winners are announced in October. Download our guidelines, and submit your entries or any queries you may have to the Babel editors.

You can also get inspired by reading our previous winners!

Undergraduate winner: Claudia Bensi – From ‘cookie’ to ‘boss’: How Dutch influenced US language and society
16-18-year-old winner: 
Kiana Rezakhanlou – Language and nationalism: One nation, one language?

Undergraduate winner:
Abhishek Dedhe – Being bilingual in America: Not exactly a piece of cake
16-18-year-old winner:
Dong Hyun Kang – Wars on language: Forgotten tales of language change

Undergraduate winner:
Emma Jewell – Romansch: The hidden dying language
16-18-year-old winner: James Akka – Life in death: Three stories of language birth

Undergraduate winner:
Ollie Sayeed – Twerking sheep: Spoonerisms and how language is represented in the mind
16-18-year-old winner: 
Jonathan Lahdo – Lebanon’s language dilemma: A sociolinguistic evolution in Lebanon

Niamh Mulholland – The art of Konglish

The Babel Lecture

The fifth annual Babel Lecture was given by Jessica Coon, the linguistic consultant on the Hollywood film Arrival. Jessica discussed aliens, fieldwork and Universal Grammar, and how her linguistic expertise enabled her to help the makers of Arrival to portray communication between aliens and humans.

Jessica has previously appeared in Babel’s Meet the Professionals – read her interview here.

The event took place on 24 May 2019 at the University of Huddersfield. You can read a review of Jessica’s talk here.

Previous Babel Lectures have also been star-studded affairs! Click the links below for reviews:

  • 2018 – Susie Dent, Countdown dictionary expert and lexicographer, looked at attitudes towards the ‘Americanization’ of English.
  • 2017 – Peter French, forensic speech expert, discussed how linguistic analysis can help solve crimes.
  • 2016 – David Crystal, Babel’s own Linguistic Consultant, looked at intonation, and the many ways it affects the meaning of what we say.
  • 2015 – Brendan Gunn, dialect coach to the stars, lectured on the importance of understanding how exactly a stream of air from the lungs can produce so much meaning.