Archive for the ‘Linguists’ Category

Turkish Neutrogena

September 7, 2023

Neutrogena hand cream (for dry or chapped hands), specifically. Which I’ve used as a moisturizer for dry skin and a healing cream for abraded skin, on various parts of my body (especially as an adjunct to the coconut oil I use daily on my feet, legs, hands, and arms); it comes in almond-scented and unscented versions. Unremarkable until recently. But yesterday it excited the interest of four linguists, in exchanges on Facebook.

Set off by Monica Macaulay:

— MM: This is a new one on me. I ordered some Neutrogena lotion and the picture looked like what I’m used to, but look what came!!! Is that Turkish? Something went awry with the space-time-language continuum? I’m very puzzled.

(#1) EL KREMİ in its tube

— Geoffrey Nathan: Definitely Turkish — i’s without dots, c-cedillas, s-cedillas. No idea what it means, however. Just remembered — eller means ‘hands’. From a morphology problem.

— AZ [who, once a teacher of introductory morphology, also recognized eller]: Had the same experience a little while back. The lotion seems to be unchanged, but the packaging was a surprise.

— MM > AZ: Really?!? So this is a known unknown? Very, very strange.

— AZ > MM: Well, known to me. You’re only the second person in my experience to have gotten Neutrogena in Turkish.


More Sally Thomason, and Anne Cutler too

July 25, 2023

A follow-up to yesterday’s posting “The lost penguin art”, about Sally Thomason’s delightful creature-doodle art, with an excursus on Sally herself:

Sally is not just a good friend of very long standing, and an exceptionally talented creator of these creature doodles, but she is also an enormously distinguished colleague. I will now embarrass her by quoting excerpts from her Wikipedia page

… I stand in awe, while noting that she is one of the world’s nicest people, and very funny, but with a quite direct and penetrating manner that crushes foolishness and fuzziness.

As predicted, all this did indeed embarrass Sally, but I pressed my reasons for praising her this way, reasons that took me back to my appreciation of Anne Cutler, another “one of the world’s nicest people, and very funny, but with a quite direct and penetrating manner that crushes foolishness and fuzziness” (an appreciation that somehow never made it into a posting on this blog).

The program from here on: my (e-mail) exchange with Sally on embarrassment; an interlude on the  American folk song “Give Me The Roses (While I Live)”, directly related to the Sacred Harp song Odem (Second); and then a bit of affectionate appreciation of Anne Cutler (who died, suddenly, last year).


The lost penguin art

July 24, 2023

I wrote to Sally Thomason in e-mail earlier today:

While I have been recuperating (slowly) from gallbladder surgery, I have a wonderful helper León [León Hernández, in full León Hernández Alvarez] who does many useful thngs for me, though working from pretty rudimentary English. But his great passion is housecleaning, at which he is a remarkable demon. He is even able to dust things and put them back exactly where they were before (whether or not that’s where he would have put things). Having (I thought) cleaned everything there was, today he embarked on moving all the pieces of furniture in the living room and cleaning underneath them. Finding, in the process, a large range of lost things: long-dead pens, a lot of change, a knitting needle for thick yarn (which I didn’t recognize, but León immediately announced was a goncho, and we had to look that up together) (We do a lot of on-line searching together, especially about the trees and flowers we encounter on our neighborhood walks).

And a great prize: your first penguin doodle from many years ago, in a small frame, much bleached by time but still elegant and adorable. León has learned to live in Penguinland, and ManSexLand too — but by random good fortune, he’s gay himself, so the ManSex all over the place is just entertaining. However, he immediately appreciated your doodle as a work of art, and was so delighted to have found it under one of the couches that he brought it to me while I was shaving in the bathroom. I currently have its larger successor on display on the desk in my study, and we have now added the smaller one next to it.

What once was lost has now been found, and we rejoice.

The two penguin doodles, in a photo León took for me about an hour ago:

Side by side by Thomason

Addendum. Sally is not just a good friend of very long standing, and an exceptionally talented creator of these creature doodles, but she is also an enormously distinguished colleague. I will now embarrass her by quoting excerpts from her Wikipedia page:

Sarah Grey Thomason (known as “Sally”) is an American scholar of linguistics, Bernard Bloch distinguished professor emerita at the University of Michigan. She is best known for her work on language contact, historical linguistics, pidgins and creoles, Slavic Linguistics, Native American languages and typological universals. She also has an interest in debunking linguistic pseudoscience, and has collaborated with publications such as the Skeptical Inquirer, The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal and American Speech, in regard to claims of xenoglossy.

… From 1988 to 1994 she was the editor of Language, the journal of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA). In 1999 she was the Collitz Professor at the LSA summer institute. … In  2009 she served as President of the LSA.  In 2000 she was President of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas. She was also Chair of the Linguistics and Language Sciences section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1996, and Secretary of the section from 2001 to 2005.

… She is married to philosopher / computer scientist Richmond Thomason and is the mother of linguist Lucy Thomason. Her mother was the ichthyologist Marion Griswold Grey.

I stand in awe, while noting that she is one of the world’s nicest people, and very funny, but with a quite direct and penetrating manner that crushes foolishness and fuzziness.


Hail to Heidi Harley

June 27, 2023

Old news, but then I’ve been out of the world at SUMC for some time and didn’t get this posted before the cascade of disasters:

Heidi Harley (Univ. of Arizona) has been nominated as president of the Linguistic Society of America (which means three years of service to the society, each year with its own responsibilities: as vice-president, president, and immediate past president).

I note further that Heidi (born 9/26/69) is now only 53, not some elder of the discipline, so this is an especially signal recognition of her achievements.

Facebookers will know HH especially from her postings about the linguistic and social development of her two young sons.


Puer mingens at the Prenup Pub

May 27, 2023

(warning: packed with allusions to, and sculptures of, playful cherubic penises, so subject to both the Art and the Infant exemptions from the X-rating of human penises (even those — or, maybe, especially those — that are in the midst of relieving themselves), but, still, not to everyone’s tastes)

It starts with the Peruvian Ernesto Cuba being touristic in Toronto, where, at the Prenup Pub (191 College St.), he encountered this whizzard in white, which he dubbed mojando la garganta ‘drenching the throat’:

(#1) From the Beer Advocate site: Tripel Karmeliet [‘Tripel Carmelite’] is a Tripel style beer [a strong pale ale; the origin of the name is unknown] brewed by Brouwerij Bosteels in Buggenhout, Belgium


Just elected to the American Academy

April 19, 2023

… of Arts and Sciences, (at least) 7 scholars in linguistics and the language sciences — 6 women and one man:

— in Psychological Sciences, Leda Cosmides (UC Santa Barbara) and Virginia Valian (CUNY)

— in Education, Ofelia Garcia (CUNY)

— in Literature and Language Studies, Claire Bowern (Yale), Salikoko Mufwene (Chicago), Hazel Simmons-McDonald (Univ. of the West Indies), and Elizabeth Traugott (Stanford)


NCOD 2022

October 11, 2022

It’s National Coming Out Day, and everything’s happening at once. Well, it’s NCOD and that’s a big thing in my world. All the more because it’s the day my man Jacques and I chose to serve as a surrogate wedding anniversary; actually, Jacques reasoned his way to October 11th as the best of all possible days, and I saw that he was right.

About J&A Day and NCOD, with affection, silliness, and a certain amount of playful raunchiness, see what I wrote last year in “This day”, and enjoy the Robert Emery Smith photograph of husband-equivalents J&A in 1996:


Into this came, yesterday, the announcement from the Linguistic Society of America that Rusty Barrett had received the LSA’s Arnold Zwicky Award (for LGBTQ+ linguists); and then today the society’s COZIL LGBTQ+ History Month interview series for 2022, one of the three interviews being with me. Notes below.


Mayan language revitalization, hip hop, drag queens, and leathermen

October 10, 2022

Showing something of the range of Rusty Barrett’s academic work, on the occasion of his being awarded by the Linguistic Society of America. Today’s announcement:

(#1) The Zwicky Award recognizes LGBTQ+ linguists who have made significant contributions to the discipline, the society, or the wider LGBTQ+ community through scholarship, outreach, service, and/or teaching. … The prize is intended to recognize distinguished accomplishments by LGBTQ+ scholars, whether working directly on LGBTQ+ issues in language or not.



July 19, 2022

My morning name of 6/5, which came to me, not in my head on awakening (the way morning names usually do), but on Facebook upon my firing up my computer, from John Wells, who was exclaiming with surprised delight: “I’m now a panjandrum“.

JW had just come across a 1/29/19 piece on Tony Thorne’s language and innovation site, “Mockney, Estuary — and the Queen’s English”, in which Thorne referred to “the Linguistics and Phonetics department at UCL [University College London] under the panjandrum of phonology Professor John Wells”.

(#1) Not JW, but the Great Panjandrum of Randolph Caldecott’s 1885 picture book, on its cover (on the book, see below)


35 years of the CHSP

March 18, 2022

Announcements now out with the program for the 35th Annual Conference on Human Sentence Processing — that is, the 35th meeting of the Annual Conference on Human Sentence Processing — at UCSC, the University of California at Santa Cruz, on 24-26 March.

The CHSP 2022 logo, with its mascot Chuspie; Chuspie appears to be a sea otter (clutching a statistical distribution), unrelated to the UCSC mascot Sammy the banana slug

Two nomenclatural matters: the designation of the conference’s subject as human sentence processing; and the change in this year’s title, the 34 preceding meetings having been the Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing. The purely historical reference to CUNY (specifically, to the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where the conference was founded in 1988, by Janet Dean Fodor) now having been elided.