Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are an exciting opportunity for LSA members with shared intellectual or professional concerns to network virtually and in person, and to have an online presence on the LSA website and an in-person presence at the LSA Annual Meeting.

LSA members are encouraged to submit a proposal for the creation of a Special Interest Group. For more information about SIGs, their activities, and how to organize one, see below.

What is a Special Interest Group?

A Special Interest Group (SIG) of the LSA is a mechanism for creating a network of LSA members who share an interest in issues of intellectual or professional concern to linguists (e.g. phonetics, Austronesian linguistics, language planning, etc.). A SIG provides LSA members a simple, informal vehicle for coming together to discuss ideas, exchange information, and advance common interests or concerns.

What kinds of activities does a SIG engage in?

SIGs are encouraged to engage in a variety of different activities, including:

  • holding special events at the Annual Meeting (organizational meeting, "open house" meeting);
  • submitting proposals for organized sessions at the Annual Meeting;
  • creating a web page with basic information about the SIG, its purpose and its activities, for posting on the LSA website;
  • holding teleconferences or e-mail discussions with technical support from the LSA Secretariat.

What is the first step in organizing a SIG?

A representative of the proposed SIG should contact the the LSA Secretariat for advice on the process. The LSA Staff may suggest consultation with existing entities of the Society, such as committees. The LSA staff will also schedule, upon request, an organizational meeting at an LSA Annual Meeting, which can be used to review organizational plans and/or to ascertain interest in starting a SIG. Note that a minimum of six LSA members is required to start a SIG.

What is the next step once interest has been ascertained?

Members of the proposed SIG should designate at least one convener, who will be the contact person for information about the SIG, contact with the Secretariat, and for organizing any SIG activities. The convener(s) may be selected in any way the members of the proposed SIG prefer. The convener(s) should submit a Statement of Purpose to the LSA Executive Committee (via the LSA Secretariat) giving the following information:

  • the intellectual topic(s) and/or professional concern(s) around which the Group is to be formed;
  • the need for such a Group, i.e., explanation of what it will contribute that is different from other entities of the LSA;
  • the process for selecting future conveners;
  • initial plans and process for developing information exchange/special event sessions at an annual meeting;
  • a list of names and e-mail addresses of at least 6 current LSA members who have agreed to be members of the SIG.

The President of the LSA, in consultation with the Executive Committee where advisable, will review the application and, if the decision is positive, authorize the formation of the SIG for three years.

What kind of technical support does the LSA provide for a SIG?

The LSA provides various kinds of organizational and technical support to its SIGs:

  • the Secretariat maintains a roster of SIG member names and e-mail addresses, as supplied by the SIG convener;
  • the Director of Membership and Meetings assists in scheduling SIG discussion or business meetings at the LSA Annual Meeting;
  • the Director of Membership and Meetings and the LSA Program Committee offer assistance in submitting a proposal for an organized session for the LSA Annual Meeting;
  • the Secretariat assists in the drafting and updating of a SIG web page, and publicizes the formation of a new SIG to the membership via e-mail and other media as appropriate;
  • the Secretariat provides a Listserv for purposes of communication between members of the SIG;
  • the secretariat provides financial and technical support for periodic teleconferences of the SIG;
  • the Secretariat assigns a staff liaison for each SIG.

What is a SIG required to do?

A SIG should provide at least one ongoing mechanism for exchange of information (e.g., an Annual Meeting special event, written communications, listserv, web page, etc.). It should also submit an annual written report of its activities to the LSA Executive Committee at its January meeting.

How long does a SIG exist?

A SIG is originally created for a term of three years. If its members wish it to continue for an additional three years, they may so request during their third annual report to the LSA Executive Committee. If at any time prior to that SIG members wish to dissolve the SIG, they may so request in a report to the LSA Executive Committee.

Are there any restrictions on SIG activities?

Yes; see below:

  • SIGs are not provided with a budget by the LSA, and therefore may not contract expenses on behalf of the Society.
  • As a subentity of the LSA, a SIG may not issue advocacy statements, take advocacy positions on issues, or act contrary to the LSA bylaws. However, SIGs are encouraged to communicate with the LSA about possible advocacy or action to be taken on issues that come to the attention of the SIG.

SIG Area of Interest                    Contact Person                                           At LSA Annual Meeting

African American Language                   Sonja Lanehart (sonja.lanehart@utsa.edu)            Yes

Biolinguistics                                         Kleanthes Grohmann (kleanthi@ucy.ac.cy)           TBD

Clinical Linguistics                                Lise Menn (lise.menn@colorado.edu)                    TBD

Ethiosemitic Linguistics                        Aviad Eilam (eilamavi@babel.ling.upenn.edu)        TBD

Generative Diachronic Syntax                Ian Roberts (igr20@cam.ac.uk)                              TBD

 Language Documentation                     Peter Austin (pa2@soas.ac.uk)                               TBD

Linguistic Decipherment                        Richard Sproat (rws@xoba.com)                             TBD

Linguists in Business, Industry, Govt     Anna Trester (anna.trester@gmail.com)                  TBD

Phonetic Fieldwork                                 Joyce McDonough (jmmcd@ling.rochester.edu)     TBD


Download the Operating Procedures for Special Interest Groups (PDF).