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.