The rainbow penguin of regard

I’ve been getting more gifts conveying regard and affection. I’m an old man who has for some years now felt brushed aside, treated as already academically dead, while I write extremely quirky, relentlessly analytic, highly personal, and often outrageously sexually open material for a tiny coterie of readers, but now in a time of constant death — so these gestures of friendship and respect (some quiet and plainspoken, some effusive) are a great balm. Today’s surprise was a tossed-off rainbow penguin drawing for me, accompanied by impossibly sweet thanks (which I won’t expose here) for my linguistic work and also my writings about my life. The penguin:

Background.  From a 4/20 Facebook posting of mine (somewhat edited):

I am enjoying the kindnesses of acquaintances. Neighbors and Stanford colleagues offering help. Others sending or bringing me things: lots of facial tissues, citrus fruits from their gardens (bood oranges!), sweet vermouth, wonderful cheeses, art work (an abstract penguin, now reported on here: a 4/16/20 posting “Quick shot: the SGT penguin doodle”). This is incredibly sweet.

The cheese (mostly) from Switzerland report is still to come. But as an advance notice, Steve Anderson’s declaration to me, after I reported the cheese devastation at the Safeway a week ago, leaving only smoked cheese that no one else wanted to buy (the locusts devour all the standard things, but leave untouched the weird stuff, like smoked Gruyère):

no Swiss person [meaning me] should have to survive on smoked cheese from the Safeway

Then came the rainbow penguin of regard, from Anna M. Thornton, who sat in on my (gigantic) class in the 1991 Linguistic Institute at UCSC, and whose career I’ve followed at a distance over the intervening years. Basic facts from her website:

Anna M. Thornton is Professor of Linguistics at the University of L’Aquila [a research university in the Aquila region of the Abruzzo], Italy), where she has held positions in Linguistics since 1992. She graduated from the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’ in 1983 and earned an Italian PhD (“Dottorato di Ricerca”) from the University of Pisa in 1989.

Her main research interests lie in the field of morphology: she has published on Italian inflectional and derivational morphology, on prosodic morphology and the morphology / phonology interface, and on gender assignment.

She did early joint work with my one-time OSU colleague Wolfang U. Dressler (at the University of Vienna), and more recently, collaborative work at Greville Corbett’s wonderful research group on morphology at the University of Surrey in England. (In case you hadn’t noticed, scholarship, science, the arts, and sports are all relentlessly and irreducibly multinational; these are hard times for all of us.)

Just to note that the mountainous and picturesque (and mostly rural) Abruzzo is way south of Lombardy, therefore far from the center of the pandemic in Italy (not to say that it basks in safety, any more than I do in Palo Alto). Also that Columbus OH (where Ohio State is) once had a substantial Abruzzese neighborhood, a nice little study in the idiosyncrasies of cultural spread.

[Addendum on 4/26: Anna tells me that she lives in Rome and had been commuting to l’Aquila. Which means she’s now holed up in Rome, not the Abruzzo.]

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