Archive for the ‘Academic life’ Category

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 (Explosm.net) 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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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Three Pride moments

July 11, 2019

Pride Month is past, and so is the Fourth of July (US Independence Day), but my postings on these celebrations will go on for some time. Today, three images for Pride: the art of the flag; penguins at work; and the M&S sandwich.

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The great work begins

February 24, 2019

(two morning names, of very different type)

Yesterday morning I came to consciousness slowly slowly, as a voice filled my head with the exulting declaration:


(#1) Society6 art print: The Great Work Begins by Maxfield and Madison

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Presidents Day weekend in Berkeley

February 16, 2019

A bit of personal and intellectual history, having to do with the fact that there was a period of years when on the Friday before Presidents Day my husband-equivalent Jacques Transue and I would drive from Palo Alto to Berkeley for the annual meeting of the BLS, the Berkeley Linguistics Society, then held in Dwinelle Hall at UCB over the three-day weekend. (It has since moved its dates to less crowded times during winter quarter.)

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The natural history of snowclones

February 1, 2019

The title of an abstract of mine for the 20th Stanford SemFest (Semantics Festival), to take place on March 15th and 16th (the Ides of March and National Panda Day, respectively). The SemFests feature reports (primarily 20-minute presentations, plus 10-minute question periods)

on recent work on any topic touching on meaning broadly construed, ranging from traditional topics in semantics and pragmatics to social meaning to natural language understanding and beyond

This posting is primarily about my snowclone paper, but there will also be some very personal reflections on the conference and its significance in my academic life.

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A book for the professor

October 22, 2018

On Facebook yesterday, this message from the J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Linguistics and the Humanities at Stanford University, my excellent colleague John R. Rickford:

Last night (Oct. 20), I experienced one of the most moving, memorable events of my academic career! After giving a keynote talk at the 47th annual conference on New Ways of Analyzing Variation in language, at New York University, I was presented with a festschrift (book) containing 47 articles and 9 vignettes by faculty colleagues and former students from around the world. It was a surprise gift to mark my retirement (last Stanford class is Jun 2019). Tears flooded my eyes more than once, beginning with the moment I saw all 4 of our children and 6 grandchildren in the huge audience, and ending with editors Renee Blake and Isa Buchstaller presenting me with four bound pre-print volumes and the contributors and family members coming on stage. The book, entitled “The Roundtable Companion to John Russell Rickford,” will be about 588 pages when printed (May 2019). This was truly one of those life-moments that “take your breath away.”

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DJ is chaired at Stanford!

June 16, 2018

Yesteday’s hot news from my little corner of academia, a message from my Stanford linguistics colleague Beth Levin announcing that

Dan Jurafsky … has just been appointed to an endowed chair, the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professorship in the Humanities.

Margaret Jacks Hall was thronged with well-endowed celebrants bearing chairs and singing paeans to the law and the American banking system, bringing to conclusion not only the month of Ramadan but also an extraordinarily crowded season of doctoral debuts (some of which I will report on in other postings).

In the midst of this, excited buzz — like the murmuring of innumerable bees — over the verbing of chair in the sense (roughly) ‘to award a named professorship to’.

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