Archive for the ‘Linguists’ Category

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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In the morning: the B list actor and the scholar

May 26, 2018

On the 20th, the morning name was W. Sidney Allen; if you’re not a linguist or a classicist, you’ve almost surely never heard of him — but then great scholars rarely work in the spotlights of public attention. On the 25th, the morning name was Lisa Whelchel, an actor you would probably recognize under the name of her most famous role: Blair Warner in the American tv sitcom The Facts of Life. So, in the penumbra of the spotlights, a B list celebrity.

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The profane domain

May 7, 2018

… and pornlinguistics.

Recently on Facebook, from Dan Everett and then Rob Pensalfini, calls for research in what I’ll call the profane domain of linguistics:

Dan: How about a pop-up book on the interaction of pornography and linguistic relativity?

Rob: It’s about time for a revival of McCawley’s field of pornolinguistics (and scatolinguistics, while we’re at it).

Dan is a frequent presence on this blog; Rob is new (and I’ll introduce him below). Rob asks about the profane domain, under the name “pornolinguistics and scatolinguistics” (a label I seem to have been responsible for, in 1967, in a moment of careless playfulness). Dan asks about linguistic aspects of pornography (I’ll put pop-up books — they already exist — and linguistic relativity aside in this posting), a topic several commenters thought must be barren, though I’ve found quite a lot to say about it on this blog.

So: on the profane domain, other names for it, and resources on this blog about it. And then on pornography in a similar vein.

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Sein Dopelgänger

April 19, 2018

Not a typo. The man in question is the elusive David Dennison, a pseudonym of the notorious American sociopath Helmet Grabpussy (who is generally referred to on this blog as [REDACTED]). And his Dopelgänger is the distinguished David Denison, Professor Emeritus of English Linguistics at the University of Manchester (on the other side of the Atlantic).

There’s the 2-n DD and the 1-n DD, and they are laughably, horribly, distinct. The 2-n DD is a creature, the 1-n DD is a teacher. (Apologies to Ogden Nash, llamas, and lamas.)

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Dick Oehrle; Morris Halle

April 2, 2018

While putting together a brief note on the death (late in February) of linguist Dick Oehrle, I got the news of the death this morning of Morris Halle (who was Dick’s dissertation director, and mine too).

(Dick was about 6 years younger than me, Morris about 17 years older.)

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It was 53 to 55 years ago today

March 26, 2018

A bit of intellectual and social history, plus a lesson in the fragility of memory. Set off by the British scholar Chris Knight on his Science and Revolution website, in two postings there:

from 2/18/18, “Chomsky’s Students Recall their Time at the MITRE Corporation”

from 3/4/18, “The MITRE Corporation’s project to use Chomsky’s linguistics for their weapons systems”

I come into this because I was one of those students of Chomsky’s who worked at the MITRE Corp. (in Bedford MA), in 1963-65 (53 to 55 years ago). Some of us have been trying to reconstruct those days, for Chris’s sake but also for our own.

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Attack of the custardy torus

January 15, 2018

… in Palo Alto, in yesterday’s Zippy:

(#1)

Happy Donuts at 3916 El Camino Real, in the Barron Park neighborhood of Palo Alto, just south of the Stanford Industrial Park, itself just south of the College Terrace neighborhood (on the west) and the California Avenue shopping district (on the east), these being just south of the university (on the west) and downtown Palo Alto and the Professorville and Old Palo Alto neighborhoods (on the east). My neighborhoods.

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Jerry Fodor

December 21, 2017

In the NYT on 11/30, an obituary by Margalit Fox, “Jerry A. Fodor, Philosopher Who Plumbed the Mind’s Depths, Dies at 82”, beginning:

Jerry A. Fodor, one of the world’s foremost philosophers of mind, who brought the workings of 20th-century computer technology to bear on ancient questions about the structure of human cognition, died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 82.

The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease and a recent stroke, his wife, Janet Dean Fodor, said.

More of the obit below, then a few personal remarks, and an extended discussion of an early influential work by Jerrold Katz and Jerry Fodor, The Structure of Langage: Readings in the Philosophy of Language (1964).

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Revisiting 15: Salome, Conrad, and more Zs

December 9, 2017

(For the purposes of this posting, the letter Z standing on its own is an abbreviation for the surname Zwicky.)

More family bulletins from Switzerland, starting with the musicians Salome Z, Conrad Z, Peter Z, Stefan Z, and Benjamin Z, from my 11/27 posting “The two Salome Zwickys of Zürich”. These will take us to Spain and, incidentally, to linguistics. With, of course, the obligatory trip to Mollis, in canton Glarus.

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100 years of independence

December 6, 2017

Though today is one of the dark days of early December alluded to in my recent posting — it’s Mozart’s death day, a sad occasion indeed — it’s also St. Nicholas’s day (gifts!), and Chris Waigl’s birthday (eggcorns, remote sensing of wildfires in the Arctic, Python, knitting, and more, in three languages!), and Independence Day in Finland. As Riitta Välimaa-Blum reminds me, this year’s Independence Day is something spectacular: the centenary of Finland’s declaration of independence from Russia.

(#1) The Finnish flag

So raise a glass of Lakka (Finnish cloudberry liqueur) or Finlandia vodka, neat, to honor that difficult moment in 1917 — the year should call to your mind both World War I (still underway then) and the Russian revolution, and these enormous upheavals were in fact crucial to Finland’s wresting its independence from Russia.

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