Translating Conference-Speak

2 April 2014, 0945 EDT

I’m leaving for the Midwest Political Science Association conference this afternoon, a wonderful 3 days since I returned from ISA.  I’m a little (*cough*) “conferenced-out” – it wasn’t a good idea to do both conferences so close to each other.  I am excited, however, to see all the fabulous IO panels at Midwest.

As I finished up the last of my conference slides this morning, I was reflecting on the “conference-ese” we all use and what our phrases actually mean.  To the untrained participant, the phrase might not get noticed.  For the seasoned conference participant, however, it is obvious what the phrase really means.  Let me translate some of these:

Conference-Speak: [Panel Participant] “This project is very new and we look forward to incorporating your feedback”

  • Translation: “Don’t murder us on Q&A – we know the project is still crap”

Conference-Speak: [Discussant] “it’s obvious this is a new area of research for the authors”

  • Translation: “your project is still crap”

Conference-Speak: [Discussant] “I’ve prepared just brief comments for each author and then we’ll turn it over to the audience”

  • Translation: “I really wanted to read these papers but just discovered Orange is the New Black on Netflix”

Conference-Speak: [Discussant] “These papers speak to each other in very exciting ways but I won’t waste our time focusing on that”

  • Translation: “The program chair must have had a bunch of orphan papers that needed a home – the only thing in common with these papers is that they are all in English”

Conference-Speak: [Panel Participant] “My co-author is the real expert on that area. Let me check with her and get back to you”

  • Translation: “Really? My co-author wrote that!?  I need to start reading her sections of the paper.”

Conference-Speak: [Question from the Audience] “I found all the papers fascinating but have a question specifically for Participant X”

  • Translation: “I only came to this panel to suck-up to Participant X”

Conference-Speak: [Palmer House mingle-er] “Hey, you…it’s been a long time.  How are all the new and fabulous things with you?”

  • Translation: “I have no idea who you are but I guess we met at some point in our careers.  How can I look at your name-badge without giving myself away?”


Any others? Have a great conference!