If you're within striking distance of Albany, you may have already heard that the (first annual!) Empire State Book Festival kicks off tonight (Friday) and continues all day tomorrow, Saturday April 10, at the Empire State Convention Center. (Admission is free; the program guide is available here.)
So what, you ask? Well, one of the categories is language books, and I'll be there, participating in a panel on usage along with Jack Lynch, author of "The Lexicographer's Dilemma:The Evolution of 'Proper' English, from Shakespeare to South Park," and Ammon Shea, author of "Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages." We'll chat with visitors and sign books from 3:45 to 4:30, then moderator Peter Sokolowski, a Merriam-Webster lexicographer, will lead us in a discussion of prescriptivism. (John McWhorter was scheduled to be there, but alas, he had to cancel late in the day.)
Then on Tuesday, April 13, linguist Geoff Pullum (of Edinburgh University and Language Log fame) will be taking his anti-Strunk & White campaign to Providence, where he'll attack the "toxic little compendium of unfollowable dumb advice, bungled grammar claims, and outright mendacity" in a 7:30 talk at Brown University. It's also free and open to all; 7:30 pm at the Metcalf Chemistry Building Auditorium. (Geoff's little announcement of the event got 113 comments, so you may want to arrive early for the good seats.)
Wisconsinites are also on the mavens' route; Mr. Verb has been spreading the news that Dan Everett, known for his years studying the Piraha language and culture, will be in Milwaukee on Tuesday, speaking on "Cognitive Fire: Language as Cultural Tool" at Marquette University. Here's hoping someone will record both Pullum and Everett for our YouTube watching pleasure.