The 3rd Annual Crete Summer School of Linguistics
Review by Tom Williamson, Final year BA (Hons) Linguistics and Philosophy
For the last two weeks in July, the University of Crete puts on a rather special event for the field of linguistics. Organised jointly between the Department of Philology at Crete and the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), it attracts the sharpest and keenest linguists in the world. The 3rd Annual Crete Summer School of Linguistics (CreteLing) this year was attended in a two-thirds’ majority by graduate students; a fact that truly made it an honour for me to be invited to attend.
So, what exactly is CreteLing? It is an intensive, fortnight-long, graduate-level summer school. Offering courses from the world’s leading academics (hailing from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Yale and Edinburgh, to name a few), it’s fast-paced, content-full, and cognitively demanding. From Monday to Friday (excluding Wednesdays for poster sessions, workshops and other activities), you are offered the opportunity to sit in up to five, hour-and-a-half-long lectures on topics from syntax and metrical phonology to superlinguistics, neurolinguistics, heritage bilingualism and even the philosophy of language. Although most opt to attend only two or three, I chose four! They were: Introductions to Syntax, Semantics and Neurolinguistics, and Philosophy of Language for Linguists.
This is all well and good, but, how could you be expected to learn anything without doing work in your own time? That’s right, there are assignments, too! Throughout, I think I spent an additional 20 hours of my time in Crete completing the (albeit, optional) assignments set by some of the classes I took. They were tough, but luckily the School offers the help of Teaching Assistants (TAs) for each class. All being MIT PhD students, they were available during lunchtime office hours for advice and guidance, and provided extensive and useful feedback on assignments.
Overall, I think that attending the Summer School was possibly one of the most enriching experiences I have ever had. Not only did my portfolio of linguistic knowledge expand hugely, I was also privileged to meet a plethora of fantastic and fascinating people. Having the ability to interact and befriend the brightest linguists on the planet was truly a delight, and I have a lot of memories I shall never forget – including the weekend trip to Knossos, the midnight swimming in the Mediterranean and the innumerable fascinating discussions in which I was able to engage. To any LAEL student interested, I would highly recommend putting in an application to attend next year!