Month: April 2013

A Day in the Life of Rebekah McClure, Graduate Student and LINGUIST List Editor

In this series of blog posts, we’ve asked some LINGUIST List staff members to share what it’s like to work at LINGUIST. This post was written by Rebekah McClure. She is currently finishing her first year in the Master’s program in linguistics at Eastern Michigan University. At The LINGUIST List, Rebekah is the Publications Manager and a member of the MultiTree and LL-MAP projects. 

Rebekah showed here breaking the norm by eating a relaxing meal free of distractions at a local Vietnamese restaurant.

5:00 am Jump out of bed to silence the abominable noise that is my alarm. Try not to let the fact that it won’t be light out for another three hours get me down.

5:01 am Slip into the thick wool sweater placed strategically by my bed the night before. Think how environmentally conscious I’m being by keeping the thermostat low.

5:01.005 am Retract previous thought. Think new thought about how I actually just like saving a few bucks on monthly utilities bills but that my goose bumps feel infinitely more noble when they come in the name of energy conservation.

5:46 am Drive to the gym and to my secret life as a weightlifting enthusiast.

6:00 am Squeeze in a workout before a day of LINGUIST List, classes, and yoga teaching.

7:14 am Arrive home and initiate matutinal cleansing, eating, studying, and dawdling rituals.

9:47 am Give my still husband a good-bye kiss that he will have no recollection of since he was up late the night before writing a paper for his Modern Japanese History class and is still sleeping.

9:48 am Leave for Eastern Michigan’s Darrell H. Cooper Building, home of the LINGUIST List.

10:01 am Greet my office mates Brent, the effervescent coffee savant and committed vegan, and Danniella, the perpetually imperturbable British expat and four-time marathoner. Exchange stories of tofurkey and opinions on the best brand of running shoes.

10:05 am Realize I should probably turn my computer on and get to work.

10:07 am Persist in conversing anyway.

10:10 am Turn my computer on and get to work.

10:11 am Log in to email account and check the schedule for meetings and project deadlines that day. Realize that I should have turned my computer on and gotten to work ten minutes ago.

10:13 am Approve Publisher submissions. Find someone in the office to translate one of the descriptions for a German publishing house. Go through my multiple options of German-speaking coworkers and think of how, in times like these, I’m grateful to be working with linguists, many of whom are polyglots.

11:03 am Write an email to (yet another) confused user explaining that you must click on “Submit Journal Information” even if you simply want to register as a publisher and that no, I don’t know why it’s set up that way.

11:06 am Read Journal submissions and be in awe of the multitudinous academic paths a linguist can take and consequently write an article about for a journal. Courtroom discourse or Zulu phonology? Transformational Grammar or politeness phenomena? Realize how much I have yet to learn about the field of linguistics.

11:15 am Approve Journal submissions and publish Journal Calls for Papers for those journals.

11:36 am Draft an email requesting that a user include more information in her Table of Contents submission.

11:40 am Email a reply to a hopeful graduate student and explain that LINGUIST List simply announces new publications—it does not publish books or journals itself—and that I’m sorry your dissertation has been rejected by every other academic publisher but I just can’t help you.

11:42 am Worry about my future as an academic linguist a little bit.

12:06 pm Nibble on lunch as I scan my LINGUIST List intranet page to make sure there aren’t any Publisher, Journal, Journal Calls for Papers, or Table of Contents submissions I missed. Dip broccoli into hummus with left hand and assign with right hand Linguistic Fields to one last Journal description that just came in.

12:27 pm Write an email to (yet another) confused user explaining that you must click on “Submit Journal Information” even if you simply want to register as a publisher and that no, I don’t know why it’s set up that way.

1:00 pm Meet with the MultiTree team. Get excited about new projects.

1:27 pm Return to my office and see three new Publisher submissions for me to approve. Get overwhelmed by new projects.

1:30 pm Explain to a LINGUIST user via email that I’m afraid Klingon is actually not spoken in parts of Cameroon and perhaps you should consider checking your sources before submitting this Journal description.

1:32 pm Worry about my future as an academic linguist a lot.

2:00 pm Conclude worrying about my future as an academic linguist and resolve to forge onward regardless of what lies ahead.

2:01 pm Meet with the PR team. Get excited about new projects.

2:33 pm Receive half a dozen emails from the Benevolent Overpig, our task management system, assigning the new projects just discussed. Get overwhelmed by new projects.

2:35 pm Begin work on a language map of the Kamchatkan peninsula. Type out a long, detailed inquiry in an instant message to Sarah, my tireless LL-MAP “buddy” who tutors me on the intricacies of GPS data points. Acknowledge that it would have saved me time if I had simply gotten up and walked to her office ten feet away. Simultaneously acknowledge that when faced with a similar situation tomorrow I will undoubtedly act in the same manner.

2:36 pm Blame my dependence on technology on factors outside my control—the milieu of my generation, Steve Jobs, my mother. Mourn the imminent death of person-to-person interaction and concede my own complicity in the fall.

2:37 pm Resume work on Kamchatkan map.

3:01 pm Pack everything up and rush to class—LIN436, language acquisition.

3:36 pm Watch videos of toddlers on YouTube and analyze what stage of phonological development they could be passing through.

4:45 pm Leave class with a renewed sense of amazement at the language learning process.

4:46 pm Decide to stay on campus to get some homework done. Struggle through a worksheet in which I’m supposed to analyze the morphology of Tok Pisin, a Papa New Guinean creole that I had never heard of prior to last week.

5:09 pm Worry about my future as an academic linguist really, really a lot.

6:28 pm Chug a protein shake for dinner on my way to teach yoga at the local community college health and fitness center.

7:00 pm Get my zen on.

8:37 pm Return to my apartment feeling calm and collected. Greet my husband and exchange stories from our respective days, each of us making sure the other knows the intricacy and arduousness of the trials we’ve overcome in the past twelve hours.

8:50 pm Put on my thick wool sweater. Read about a former LINGUIST List intern who got into a prestigious PhD program and scored a sweet research grant. Worry about my future as an academic linguist a little less.

8:56 pm Notice the feeling of prickling skin and welcome the appearance of goose bumps. Noble, noble goose bumps.

9:05 pm Initiate my vespertine cleansing, eating, studying, and dawdling rituals.

11:11 pm Not bother to take off my sweater as I climb into bed and brace myself for the abominable noise that will soon be my alarm.

 

Clearing the Clutter: A few tips on keeping your computer files organized

Hello, my name is Kristen Dunkinson. I have been a member of the LINGUIST List team since July 2011.  During my first semester, I was assigned to  work with the publicity team.  After several attempts to locate key documents for review, we realized that we had a problem: no one knew where all of the documents were.  I think we all know the feeling of searching for a document among the hundreds or thousands of files on our computer, only to come up empty-handed.  This seemed like a perfect task for… well… me!  I love creating organizational systems and finding new ways to make things easier or more accessible. So I began the project by creating a good system for organizing the files, and then came up with a file naming convention.  Knowing how helpful this might be to others, I have a written up a few tips on creating a organizational system for yourself.  I hope you find them useful.

Tip 1: Take a few minutes to think of what types of files you save and what types of data are in them. It might be helpful to pull out a piece of paper and jot down a few notes. Is that a personal file or an academic file? Is that PDF a publication that you want to read or is it a source for a research paper? Is that a current bill, or an old bank statement that needs to be archived? Try to break it down to a level that you feel comfortable with but not overwhelmed.

The next step is to begin a completely new set of folders. For example: I have a folder with my name, and then inside it I have a folder called ‘Personal’ and a folder called ‘Academic.’ In the personal folder I store bills, copies of receipts, and information that I don’t want to lose. I then created folders for those documents such as Crafts & Hobbies, Financial & Household, etc. The academic folder holds a subfolder named after each school I have attended, and then inside each individual school there are things like Semester or Financial Aid. Once you have created a folder system that works for you, make sure that everything has a place and that you consistently put your files where they belong.

Tip 2: Another good habit in the world of file organization is having a helpful file naming convention. If you have folders full of Word documents named ‘research paper 1’ and ‘research paper 2,’ you might never find what you are looking for in a search. I like to follow this simple template: DESCRIPTION_DATE. For example, if I am writing a paper about the politeness strategies of males in Sweden, I might name my file: SwedishPoliteness_01192012.doc. If I am working on a document with several changes I might also add edit_INITIALS or version#_INITIALS. To develop a naming convention for yourself, think about the information in the file that is pertinent to you.

Tip 3: Have you ever edited a document and then saved it, only to later find that you don’t like those changes as much as you thought? Then you realize that you saved over the original document already. This has happened to me a few times, and it is always very frustrating. There is a simple solution to this common problem: whenever I open a document to edit it, I create a fresh save. I copy the current name of the document and add a version number or add ‘edit’ at the end of the file name, then of course I navigate to the proper location to save. Not only will this keep you from saving over your files, but it will keep all of your versions of the same paper organized. I find that doing this immediately upon opening the file is the best idea; that way you avoid an accidental CTRL+S while you are editing.

Well, those are a few easy tips to get you on your way to a more organized computer with a set of files that is useful to you, instead of a file system that causes a panic attack every time you turn on your computer. If you have any question, suggestions or issues you would like some advice on tackling, please feel free to contact me at kristen(at)linguistlist.org. 

Updates to the Student Portal

This past year we have been working hard to update our resources catered specifically to students in the section of the site called the Student Portal. Our team has gathered information from around the web into one part of our site for you to love and enjoy. We were able to find resources which guide you through the basics of linguistics and how to find jobs and internships. Are you unsure with how to start writing your papers? Check out the writing resources and find out how to get your paper going and also how to present your work to the linguistics community.

If you are looking for some books to read in your ample spare time, we have also taken a list of books that our staff members enjoyed and put them all in the reading library. If you find anything you like, you can order the books through our Amazon stores.  The site looks the same as the regular Amazon you know and love, but by clicking the links below for your country or region, you will be helping to support a portion of our operations. What’s even better is that the price for the book will not increase! There’s a tag in the link that will ensure that every purchase you make will give LINGUIST a donation. If you have any questions about our Amazon stores, please visit the FAQs.

Are you more of a movie buff than a bookworm? We also have a YouTube station just for you! You can view some of the talks that were held at our offices such as one by Małgorzata Ćavar entitled “On the Influence of L1 on L2 Perception: The case of tenseness contrast in American vowels”. We also have an extended list of tutorials on our Multimedia page. If you have suggestions for information and resources to add to our Student Portal, please email us at portal@linguistlist.org.

Subscribe to Our Posting Announcements Today!

Here at LINGUIST List, you’ve probably seen the many emails that we send out each day, but do you know how many issues we post each year in each area? In 2012, we posted a total of 4,971 issues! These include our sixteen posting areas:

Our highest-volume posting areas are Calls (1,614), Conferences (1,002), and Jobs (707). If you don’t currently receive email announcements for these areas, there are two ways to set up email alerts:

1. Have an email sent to your account with each posting as it’s made live on our site. To do this, go HERE to update your settings. If you do not have an account, you will need to create one with the email address that will be getting the announcements. From there, search for the list called LINGUIST. Then, after clicking LINGUIST on the right-hand side will be an options menu. Click the Subscribe or Unsubscribe button. From here, you can choose to receive announcements from some of the posting areas or all of them–the choice is yours. Then click Update Options.

2. We also have a list called LINGLITE that sends emails once a day with a brief summary of all the postings that were posted that day. To subscribe to this list, follow the same directions as above, but instead of searching for LINGUIST, search for LINGLITE.

If you have any questions regarding your email subscriptions, please send an email to linguist@linguistlist.org. We will do our best to answer any questions that you may have. As always, thanks for reading the LINGUIST List!

ILIT Students Present Their Research

The past couple of weeks has been a busy time for our students. Not only are they completing their final exams, but they also recently presented their research to the public at the graduate research fair and the undergraduate symposium at Eastern Michigan University. Congratulations to Caylen Cole-Hazel, Brent Woo, Justin Petro, Sultan Asiri, Andrew Lamont, and Sarah Fox. Their presentation abstracts are included below. If you wish to know more about their work, send an email to linguist@linguistlist.org and we will put you in contact with them.

Graduate students posing after the research fair. FStarting from back left to front left: Mohammad Mahzari, Haroon Alsager, Justin Petro, Ousmane Cisse, Mohamed Beina, Sarah Fox, Sarah Asiri, Sultan Asiri, and Brent Woo

Some of our staff also attended the recent 18th Mid-Continental Phonetics and Phonology Conference (Mid-Phon), held at the University of Michigan. Aspiring linguist Caylen Cole-Hazel felt that “there were several talented presenters with stirring appeals to the imagination and other cognitive faculties… I liked these presentations because of their progressive appeal and exploration of thought-provoking issues in linguistics.”

Abstracts for Student Research Presentations:

Gender Effect in Code Alternation through Text Messages of Saudis

Sultan Asiri

Abstract: Code alternation has become a noticeable linguistic factor in Arabic text messaging owing to the growth in learning languages. This study aims to investigate the gender effects on Arabic-English code switching by analyzing a number of text messages of some Saudi participants. It also aims at figuring out which gender uses code alternation most in text messaging and measuring the frequency of the topics used through code switching for each gender. The subjects are 6 Saudi males and females from diverse levels of education. The paper concludes that female participants are applying code alternation more than male participants. It also reveals that the Arabic-English code alternation is applied through the extensive use of the system of writing Arabic with Latin alphabets or what is widely known as Arabizi. 

The Influence of Gender on Language Shift

Andrew Lamont

Abstract: This poster presents data on the role gender plays in the outcome of minority or endangered languages threatened with shift to a dominant code or linguicide on three levels: micro-internally, macro-internally, and externally. The endangered language Yanyuwa obligatorily morphologically genders its speakers, stigmatizing its use for the few remaining speakers of the wrong style. The gendering of Taiap fueled its male speakers’ switch to Tok Pisin avoiding the “feminine” home code. A Hungarian-German bilingual community in Germany whose female members shifted strictly to German to alleviate themselves of the “peasant” status of Hungarian. These cases illustrate self-inflicted wounds which ease dominant language infiltration in a divide-and-conquer fashion. Further, they suggest the permeability at various linguistic strata to gender.

Out of the Past: A Diachronic Corpus-Based Analysis of English Prepositions

 Justin Petro

Abstract: Unlike most English prepositions, the word “out” is not able to assign Case to its object in most utterances, requiring the insertion of the preposition of to satisfy the Case Filter (Chomsky 1981), e.g. He climbed out of the rubble (where *out the rubble is ungrammatical). However, out appears to be able to apply Case to certain objects, as evidenced by sentences like He walked out the door. Given that Case assigning prepositions such as up once required of-insertion as well (McRacken 2012), there is evidence that out is in the process of diachronic shift from the lexical category Adverb to Preposition. Further analysis of historical records, text corpora, and native speaker intuitions are presented to bolster these claims. This work will shed important light on the nature of language change and its consequences for syntactic theory.

Genetic Determinism and Grammar: When Language and Biology Collide

Caylen Cole-Hazel

Abstract: Language is contemporarily accepted as a mechanism that is inherent to human beings. Through taking a critical look at the purported genetic components of language in relation to mental grammar offers a chance to elucidate factors of language that are currently restricted to traditional empirical interpretation. Contrasting gene-based language hypotheses with traditional socio-cultural theory allows for a heightened understanding of the implications and repercussions of linguistic interpretation, and probes both the imagination and intellect in the search for linguistic understanding.

It’s all Whopperjawed: A Case Study of the Maumee Dialect

Sarah Fox

Abstract: This presentation describes the phonetic features that characterize the English dialect spoken in the speech community of Maumee, Ohio, focusing especially on the pronunciation of English vowels. It investigates the extent to which speakers in the Maumee speech community share these features and determines whether the Northern Cities Sound Shift (NCS) has established itself within Maumee. As evidenced by its history, Maumee was once isolated in terms of both diseases and geographical features such as the Black Swamp and the Maumee River. This isolation points to the possibility that Maumee could be a dialectal isolate. If Maumee is in fact an isolate, then the NCS is not as permeable as it was thought to be in the past.

Zero Copula in Russian

Brent Woo

Abstract: Russian is a zero copula language. The copula (the linking verb “is” in “John is happy”) is not pronounced in the present tense and it governs the nominative Case on the predicate. However, the copula is overt in the past and future tenses and it governs the instrumental Case on the predicate. This Case difference is not compatible with current conceptions of Case Theory. Investigation of evidence from modern Russian suggests that the zero copula is a lexical item separate from the overt copula and this research proposes an analysis explaining the predicate Case alternation that accords with the theoretical assumptions of X-bar theory and Case Theory. The overt copula is to be treated as a small clause raising verb and the zero copula is the sole member of a new category of silent verbs that assigns nominative Case to its complement.

Finnish Origins Traced Back to Klingon

Several theories exist as to the geographic origin of Finnish and the other Uralic languages. One such theory, proposed this morning, is that they originated when Klingon ships landed somewhere around the Ural Mountains region and the bend of the middle Volga. This groundbreaking theory was proposed by linguist and Starfleet communications officer Nyota Uhura during her linguistic research in Finland. Uhura stated that “this proves the validity of language contact from other worlds before Earth’s first confirmed contact with extraterrestrials.”

The Klingon insignia marks where it is believed a Klingon ship crashed in 2000 B.C.

In a recent archaeological dig, researchers uncovered a Klingon bat’leth dating back to the second millennium B.C. On the bat’leth were engravings that matched carvings on ancient Finnish pottery. This finding led to a resurgence in historical linguistic analysis of the origins of Finnish, an analysis that suggests a Proto-Klingo-Uralic language existed.

The next step in Uhura’s research is to determine if Finnish speakers and Klingons share a common ancestor. It can be argued that after a crash landing on Earth, Klingons migrated northward and absorbed into a native Finnic-speaking population, giving rise to the modern Finns.

As a concluding remark, Uhura mentioned that “I expect Federation-Klingon research relations to improve as we embark on this endeavor to learn more about our shared past. Qapla’!”

 

[Editor's note: For any readers unfamiliar with the holiday falling upon April 1 in some cultures, see April Fools' Day.]