Complementary ignorances

Yesterday’s posting on Philip Larkin’s poem “This Be the Verse” elicited this redfaced comment from U.Mass. linguist Rajesh Bhatt:

I only knew this as an Anne Clark song until now!

To which I now reply, equally redfaced, that until Rajesh’s comment I didn’t know about the Anne Clark version, and was in fact only dimly aware of Anne Clark.

(Rajesh supplied a link to a YouTube video of a live performance, at the Berlin Metropol in 1992; you can listen to a studio recording here.)

From Wikipedia (reproduced here without editing):

Anne Charlotte Clark (born 14 May 1960, Croydon, London, England) is an English poet songwriter and electronic musician. Her first album, The Sitting Room, was released in 1982, and she has released over a dozen albums since then.

Her poetry work with experimental musicians occupies a region bounded roughly by electronic, dance (techno applies on occasion) and possibly avant-garde genres, with varying hard as well as romantic and orchestral styles.

Clark is mainly a spoken word artist. Many of her lyrics deal critically with the imperfections of humanity, everyday life, and politics. Especially in her early works she has created a gloomy, melancholy kind of atmosphere bordering on weltschmerz. She has been considered as one of the pioneers in the spoken-word music genre, as well as being highly idolised over the board of synth-pop and new wave music, especially across Europe.

The cover of her 1994 album Psychometry, which includes “This Be the Verse”:


Now a word about Rajesh (I really need to feature more linguists here; for many of my readers, linguistics is a foreign world, so it’s worth giving a peek into what individual linguists do):


Rajesh Bhatt in 2015

Ph.D., Univ. of Pennsylvania (1999); at U.Mass. Amherst since 2004, now Assoc. Prof. Research interests on his U.Mass page:

Syntax: agreement, relativization strategies, comparatives, diachronic syntax, object shift and scrambling, verb-second phenomena

The Syntax-Semantics Interface: infinitival clauses, crosslinguistic expression of obligation and possession, word order phenomena

Comparative Indo-Aryan Syntax: agreement, ergativity, correlatives, tense-aspect systems, nega- tion.

Semantics: aspect, counterfactuals, degrees, modality, negation, questions

Computational Linguistics: computational aspects of linguistic theory, Tree Adjoining Grammar, and computationally constrained grammatical formalisms.

Rajesh’s doctoral program at Penn is one of a small number of linguistics programs that are equally strong in theoretical linguistics (syntax/semantics, phonetics/phonology, morphology), historical-comparative linguistics, sociolinguistics, and computational linguistics, and integrates these subdisciplines. (A local acclamation: Stanford is another.)

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