Archive for the ‘Academic life’ Category

Time, and intellectual community

January 7, 2021

In the latest (December 2020) issue of the journal Language (vol. 96, no. 4), Brian Joseph’s “What is time (and why should linguists care about it)?”, an article that originated as his presidential address at the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) annual meeting in New Orleans on 4 January 2020. The article (abstract below) combines broad humanistic scholarship with fine-grained philological and dialectological research on the Greek language.

Meanwhile, the article is thick with thanks to all sorts of people, a characteristic that is not just personal niceness — though in some cases it is certainly that — but reflects a view about the nature of intellectual community.


Genus Americanus

December 8, 2020

… with Jacques and me in a bit part.


The BSDR files

February 7, 2020

This posting represents the intersection of two posting topics that have pretty much gotten out of hand for me, so I’ll be extracting pieces from the larger material.

Topic 1 is the 1993 annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, at which I gave (on 1/9/93) my 1992 Presidential Address to the society, “Mapping the ordinary into the rare: Basic/derived reasoning in theory construction”. In trying to retrieve memories of the event, I discovered that my computer files for the paper (the BSDR files) were in a format that was inaccessible to me and that all my paper files had been destroyed. So I put an appeal out on 12/21/19, on several sites, for help in finding a copy of (at least) my (very detailed) BSDR  handout.

Topic 2 is recent gifts to me of many kinds: symbolic roses for me, in accord with a 1/29/20 posting of mine on a line from the Sacred Harp: “Give me the roses while I live” (SH340 Odem (Second)). I’m an old man, currently writing things under the Python Queen of Scots cry “Not Dead Yet”. I have been given some excellent roses.

One of these wonderful gestures to me was a reconstruction of the BSDR handout — with formatting preserved — done for me, purely in the spirit of colleagueship, by Luigi Talamo, now at the Univ. of the Saarland. Whose labors I will celebrate here, with some notes about Luigi and his interests. But first I exhibit his gift.


The images quilt

December 15, 2019

The last in a set of four; the linguistics quilt, from the 19th, is its predecessor. As before, a 12-panel composition (roughly 6 x 3 ft) made of old t-shirts of mine, assembled into a quilt by Janet Salsman, with the collaboration of Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky and Kim Darnell (and photos by Kim).  This time, t-shirts with images that have pleased or entertained me:


Now the 12 panels individually, by row (R) and column (C).


The linguistics quilt

December 11, 2019

The third in a set of four; the university quilt, from yesterday, is its predecessor. As before, a 12-panel composition (roughly 6 x 3 ft) made of old t-shirts of mine, assembled into a quilt by Janet Salsman, with the collaboration of Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky and Kim Darnell (and photos by Kim).  This time, t-shirts for linguistics programs or linguistics events. Some of the shirts have small or subtle images on them, impossible to appreciate in a display like this one:

(#1) The pansy background is an especially nice touch, in a gift to me

So I’ll look at the 12 panels individually, close up, by row (R) and column (C).

The university quilt

December 10, 2019

#2 in a set of 4, the first having been my 7/30/17 posting “The queer quilt”. To come: the linguistics quilt and the images quilt. Each one, a 12-panel composition (roughly 6 x 3 ft) made of old t-shirts of mine, assembled into a quilt by Janet Salsman, with the collaboration of Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky and Kim Darnell.

#1 re-used old queer t-shirts, some political, some playful, some artistic. #2 is university t-shirts (from roughly 20 to 40 years ago), from institutions where I’ve talked, either teaching a class there, speaking at a conference there, or giving an invited talk there.

(#1) names, abbreviated names, nicknames, logos, and seals: Northwestern Univ., Univ. of New Mexico, Brigham Young Univ.; Georgetown Univ., Univ. of Kentucky, American Univ.; Harvard Univ., banana slugs (the mascot of the Univ. of Calif. at Santa Cruz (UCSC)), Univ. of Pennsylvania; Univ. of Calif. at Davis, UCSC, Univ. of North Dakota

Still to come: a linguistics quilt, with lx-related t-shirts; and an image quilt, with amusing or arresting images of several kinds.

The hurtful dog

September 18, 2019

Back on the 13th, David Horne passed on this cartoon on Facebook:

(#1) Explosm-style dog hurts man with words

This is in fact a Cyanide and Happiness meme, a 4-panel cartoon template with all the artwork taken, as is, from a particular Cyanide ( cartoon, and all the words too — except for the dog’s dagger to the heart in the 3rd panel. Meme sites supply the template; all you have to do is fill in your own nasty words in the 3rd panel; you get to judge what would truly wound your intended audience.

In this case, David’s FB readers included a large number of people who had failed to finish their PhD dissertations, or completed the work over long painful self-doubting years, or finished but without any enthusiasm for the dissertation they somehow squeaked though with, or gave up before embarking on the task at all (believing that they could only be defeated) — or who were close to people who went through such experiences. Waves of pain washed over quite a few of David’s FB friends, me included.

On the other hand, others found the cartoon wickedly funny, which was David’s first response, and I appreciate that reaction too.

To come: more on the Explosm Hurtful Dog meme, and on uncompleted PhD dissertations, and on another Explosm cartoon involving that same dog, whose bark turns out to be much, much worse than its bite, even though its bite is exquisitely painful.


Cavemen of higher education

September 3, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo:

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page. The HBD — happy birthday — note is presumably for one of Piraro’s two K-named daughters.)

A twist on the caveman cartoon meme, with a Neanderthal pursuing a higher education. And attempting to get college credit for his life experiences.


Dream time: back to school

August 30, 2019

As the summer comes to an end, days shorten, and plants prepare for fall and winter, there also comes the beginning of a new school year. Local primary and secondary schools where I live are on various schedules, but most of them are now into the new year. Many colleges are already in gear; Stanford classes begin on Monday, September 23rd.

Then we find Andrew Carnie (at the Univ. of Arizona) reporting on Facebook today that

The beginning of the semester is always a time for stress dreams for me, and the most common stress dream I have is the packing dream. Usually there’s some combination of having too much stuff, not enough containers, and not enough time before the movers or the taxi or whatever arrives.

Aieee! I am unprepared!

Andrew is far from alone. I haven’t taught a class for years now, but the approach of fall still brings stress dreams with it every year. I had a particularly distressing one last night.


The C.L. Baker Award

July 24, 2019

On March 6th, the Linguistic Society of America announced the creation of the C.L. Baker Award (named in memory of Carl Leroy Baker, known as Lee), and on July 12th put out the call for nominations.

Lee, who died in 1997, was my first Ph.D., the first person to finish a Ph.D. under my direction, with the excellent 1968 dissertation Indirect Questions in English (at the Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). Also a friend and a fine person (modest, gently humorous, earnestly principled, and humane).