The Five-Minute Linguist 2019 is sponsored in part by the Montclair State University Department of Linguistics.


The Five-Minute Linguist is a high-profile event which features eight LSA members giving lively and engaging presentations about their research in a manner accessible to the general public. No notes, no podium, and an actual timer. These five-minute presentations will be judged by a panel of journalists as well as the audience itself, and a winner will be chosen at the end of the event.   The goal of this event is to encourage LSA members to practice presenting their work to a broad audience and to showcase outstanding examples of members who can explain their research in an accessible way.

We welcome abstracts from  LSA members in all subfields of Linguistics . And we look forward to having our attendees vote on the presentations!  Abstracts are particularly encouraged that relate to the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages (2019).

See below for specific instructions on how to submit an abstract for The Five-minute Linguist, or read on for answers to some commonly-asked questions about the contest.

UPDATE: The 2019 Five-minute Linguist finalists and alternates have now been announced!  Join us at Annual Meeting to see these distinguished scholars share their presentations.

The Five-minute Linguist Abstract

This event is about communicating your work broadly and it starts with the abstract!  Your abstract should NOT just be a shortened version of a scientific abstract but should itself be aimed at a broad audience.  The selection committee uses the abstracts as a guide for whether the talk will be accessible, so make the abstract a good representative of your ability to communicate broadly.

How to submit an abstract for The Five-minute Linguist

Abstracts for The Five-minute Linguist are submitted using the standard LSA abstract submission interface, and during the same time period, June 1 through July 31.  Log in to the LSA website and click here to submit an abstract, or click the green "Submit Abstract" button below your name on your home page.  Be sure to consult the Call for Abstracts if you are also submitting your abstract for consideration as a 20-minute paper or poster. 

To submit an abstract for a poster or 20-minute paper AND for The Five-minute Linguist

In addition to the usual requirements for abstract submission, 1) after entering the title of the abstract, the language and language families, submission type, and primary and secondary linguistic subfields, check the "Click here if you wish this abstract to be considered for the ‘Five-Minute Linguist" contest’ checkbox; 2) enter an abstract no longer than 300 words in the box titled "300-word abstract for the 'Five-Minute Linguist' contest."

To submit an abstract ONLY for The Five-minute Linguist

1) Enter all the required information:  title, language, language family, submission type (select "paper" for primary and leave secondary as "none"), and primary and secondary linguistic field; 2) CHECK the "Click here if you wish this abstract to be considered for the ‘Five-Minute Linguist’ contest" checkbox; 3) UNCHECK the "Click here if you wish this abstract to be considered for presentation as a regular poster or paper at the Annual Meeting" checkbox; 4) upload a "dummy" copy of your 300-word abstract in the field for uploading your regular abstract, another "dummy" copy in the text box for the abstract summary, and a "real" copy in the "300-word abstract for the 'Five-Minute Linguist' contest" checkbox.  

Please contact David Robinson, the LSA's Director of Membership and Meetings, if you have any difficulty submitting an abstract.


Five-minute Linguist F.A.Q.  


Q: How can I enter the contest? 

A: When the call for abstracts goes out for the Annual Meeting, all LSA members will be allowed to prepare a 300-word abstract for the Five Minute Linguist contest. Members who submit abstracts for posters and/or 20-minute talks for the Annual Meeting will see a checkbox which they may use to enter their abstract for this event, but abstracts will also be accepted that are not concurrently submitted for the Annual Meeting and may have been presented elsewhere, or that are being considered for presentation at one of the LSA's Sister Societies.

Please note, the ideal Five Minute Linguist abstract is not simply a shortened version of the main (500-word) LSA abstract.  Instead, it should be written in an accessible style that would be more suitable for the target audience, namely, the general public.  The Selection Committee is trying to determine how effective the speaker would likely be at giving a publicly accessible version of their talk and the abstract is used to provide guidance on that matter.

Q. Are multi-authored abstracts allowed?

A: Yes, but in the event the abstract is selected as a finalist for the contest, only one author may present in person.

Q: Does submitting an abstract for the Five Minute Linguist contest affect the number of abstracts I can submit for regular 20-minute paper and poster sessions?

A: No.  Any LSA member may submit a maximum of one single-authored abstract for consideration as a 20-minute paper or a poster, and there is no limit on the number of multi-author abstracts.  But abstracts submitted for the Five Minute Linguist do not count towards this total. 

Q: How will the contestants be selected?

A: The Selection Committee is composed of members of the LSA's Public Relations Committee, the Outreach Committee, the Program Committee, and recent recipients of the LSA Journalism Award.  Presentations will be primarily selected from among the abstracts submitted especially for this event: please note that the committee views the abstracts as representative of what the talk will be like.  Your abstract should be accessible to a broad audience just as the talk should be.  If necessary, the Selection Committee may invite authors of other submitted abstracts or other members of the LSA community to participate. The Committee will select eight presentations for the event.

Q: How will the event unfold?

A: On the evening before the presentations, presenters will attend a coaching session where they will receive feedback about how to make their presentations more accessible.  The public event will be videorecorded for later posting online.  Each participant will speak for five minutes; visual aids (power point slides) will be allowed but participants are expected to speak without notes.  The talks will be judged by a panel of journalists and the winners will be chosen by a combined vote of the panel and the audience. 

Q: What is the prize?

A: The winner will receive a commemorative plaque and a one-year complimentary LSA membership.  All participants will be invited to prepare their presentation for further consideration for the LSA’s Press Release program. 

Q. Is this contest related to the book or radio program of the same name?

A. The LSA is the beneficiary of a generous donation of author royalties from the sale of the 5-Minute Linguist. Many LSA leaders and members contributed content to both the book and the radio feature. The LSA obtained permission from both the authors and the publisher to use this name for our contest. 

Q: What if I have questions about entering the contest?

A: Ask them to David Robinson, the LSA's Director of Membership and Meetings.