The Canadian Linguistic Association (CLA; in French, l'Association canadienne de linguistique (ACL)) is a scholarly society, founded in 1955, whose stated purpose is "to promote the study of languages and linguistics in Canada" (according to article 2 of the association's constitution). It is a member of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS), and holds its annual meeting as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences organized by CFHSS, which is hosted by a different Canadian university (or sometimes a pair of small universities close together) each year.
The most salient activities of the CLA are this annual conference and the publication of the Canadian Journal of Linguistics (CJL; in French, la Revue canadienne de linguistique (RCL)), which in principle appears quarterly, although in recent years its publication timetable has been disrupted inadvertently, by a dearth of unsolicited submissions, and deliberately, by the publication of longer, thematic issues counting as two numbers of a single volume. The journal contains articles on theoretical and descriptive linguistics and book reviews, in both official languages of the organization, although English tends to preponderate. (An abstract of each article is printed in both languages, but the articles themselves are monolingual.) Membership in the association includes a subscription to the journal.
The annual conference of the CLA runs for three or four days near the end of May or beginning of June. The bulk of the conference is devoted to talks presented in three parallel sessions; each talk is 20 minutes long (formerly 30), plus 10 minutes for questions and discussion. In addition to the regular talks, there are discussion panels, occasionally plenary talks, and a business meeting. Abstracts for proposed talks are generally due on the first of February, and the acceptance rate tends to hover around 85%. Topics covered, in roughly descending order of prevalance, include syntax, phonology, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, semantics, morphology, phonetics, historical linguistics, and pragmatics. The atmosphere of the conference is convivial, collegial, and informal; linguistics is a small discipline, and Canada a sparsely populated country, so most of the people at the conference tend to know one another already. It's also a good place for new graduate students in linguistics to meet students and faculty in linguistics from other institutions.
In addition to the journal and the conference, the CLA also works on issues of interest to linguists in Canada, either through the executive or through committees. Recent initiatives include work on guidelines for the ethical treatment of human subjects in linguistic research (which is almost always less invasive than, say, medical research, but which raises questions of its own, particularly when it involves fieldwork on languages that are regarded as sacrosanct by some of their speakers); on the preservation of endangered aboriginal languages of Canada; on increasing public awareness of linguistics; and on the status of women in linguistics, including the formulation of guidelines for non-sexist usage in linguistic writing (partially informed by similar guidelines drafted by the Linguistic Society of America).
The CLA has no physical headquarters, as the members of its executive are spread out across the country. The conference each year is organized by representatives at the host institution(s); the journal is printed and distributed by the journals division of the University of Toronto Press; and the association's finances have for several years been administered by Memorial University of Newfoundland, the home institution of both the current and the immediate past treasurer of the CLA.
Further information about the CLA, including its constitution and bylaws, information about the conference and the journal, and a current list of officers, can be found on the association's Web site at http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~cla-acl/. The home page of the Canadian Journal of Linguistics can be found on the University of Toronto Press Web site at http://www.utpjournals.com/cjl/cjl.html.