Archive for the ‘Linguists’ Category

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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Livin’ La Vida Multilingüe

October 3, 2017

Yes, Ricky Martin is the hook for this posting. Aside from the fact that I’m a big RM fan, this is not at all a forced connection, as you’ll see. For the moment, this:

  (#1) See also #1 in this posting on RM, showing him in a performance of the song.

Back in June, I posted (here) about the retirement party for Stanford’s Eve Clark, prominently mentioning Herb Clark’s comments about the 2014 Festschrift for Eve edited by

Inbal Arnon, Marisa Casillas, Chigusa Kurumada, Bruno Estigarribia

There I said, of Eve and Herb, that

each of them read and critiqued almost everything the other wrote, and they talked about their research essentially on a daily basis. As Herb remarked yesterday, this made it incredibly difficult for him to write his contribution to the Festschrift … without tipping Eve off to the project; complex ruses were resorted to.

Herb also reflected on the diversity of the editors’ names, each from a different language — Bruno’s, from Basque, being the most exotic of the four. They are all multilingual (and multicultural), Bruno pretty spectacularly so. And, being linguists, they all know at least a bit about a huge number of languages (and the cultures and societies those languages are part of).

Such experiences, I think, incline linguists to a certain liberality of spirit: openness to new ideas, appreciation of social, cultural, and individual variety, and resistance to prejudice. Characteristics to be seen in Eve and all four of the editors. And, arrived at by a somewhat different route, in Ricky Martin.

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Locked out, memorably

September 8, 2017

A little while ago my old friend J, an American, went to an international linguistics congress. From a message to me yesterday (edited to conceal identities), about an encounter J had with a European colleague, G, there:

(Note: not an accurate depiction of my Staunton Court condo, or of J or G.)

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From Tex-Mex to naked rugby

July 25, 2017

Yesterday’s morning name was the Mexican Spanish nickname Chuy (for Jesus). I’m pretty sure it got into my head from a friend who recently ate at a Chuy’s restaurant in Texas, so I’ll start with that.

But the real topic is Mexican Spanish nicknames: Chuy or Chucho for Jesus, Pepe for JoséChe for Ernesto, and Pancho or Paco for Francisco, in particular (with a note on the linguist Viola Waterhouse, who was a student of such things). That will take me to Pepe Romero, Che Guevara, Pancho Villa, the linguist Paco Ordóñez, Paco Rabanne (the man and the fragrances), and from there to Nick Youngquest in the buff, which will supply a moment of gay interest.

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