Fund Drive 2016: Donate by Friday to Win a Prize!

Dear LINGUIST List Colleagues,

Today we are rolling out another bundle of books and journal subscription prizes for this weekend, one of which you can win if you donate to the LINGUIST List Fund Drive before Friday, May 13, before 5 pm.

***

From Bloomsbury Publishing: THREE copies of The Bloomsbury Companion To Historical Linguistics edited by Silvia Luraghi and Vit Bubenik (http://goo.gl/ObUXv2)

From Cambridge University Press: TWO one-year online-only subscriptions to Journal of Linguistics (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=LIN)

From De Gruyter Mouton: 30% discount code on all of the linguistics books on their website (https://www.degruyter.com/browse?t1=LS)

From Elsevier: ONE personal one-year electronic subscription to an Elsevier linguistics journal of the winner’s choice (see the complete list of their linguistic journals here: https://goo.gl/NaswSa)
***

Again, to win any of these fantastic prizes from this coming week’s prize bundle, you can donate to enter your name into the drawing, until Friday May 13th, at 5 PM EST. For every $10 you donate, your name will be entered into the lottery to win. Donate by the link below:

http://goo.gl/e656LG

In addition to the one-time donations to our Fund Drive, you can also become a recurring donor and support LINGUIST List on a long-term basis. Find out how by following this link:

http://goo.gl/Q27jls

And as always, if you cannot donate monetarily, you can help us out in other ways, such as liking, sharing, and retweeting our Fund Drive posts on social media. If you like the LINGUIST List and have benefited from our free service, tell your friends about the LINGUIST List and our Fund Drive. Every little bit of support is appreciated!

There will be many more great prizes from our supporting publishers in the coming month, so stay tuned to our social media pages to hear about more prizes that you can win. Thanks and good luck!

Linguistically yours,
The LINGUIST List Crew

Featured Linguist: Miriam Butt

Featured Linguist: Miriam Butt

Featured Linguist: Miriam Butt

I was born in Taif, Saudi-Arabia in a military hospital. I was one of the first (maybe even the first) European babies born there and caused quite a stir.

My father was an electrical engineer from Pakistan, charged with bringing electricity to the country. Some of my first memories involve peacocks in the garden of the royal summer palace — one of the duties my father had was to make sure that the royal family was well supplied with electricity!

My mother is a German journalist who interrupted her career to go on an Arabian adventure and from whom I presumably have a good portion of my love of language.

I grew up trilingual in German, English, Urdu with a bit of Arabic thrown in, but thought that that was normal. Indeed, I was astonished when the doctor in Germany was astonished when I asked him *which* language I should count to 20 in. Checking on counting ability is one part of the overall, standard examination to determine fitness to go to school in Germany, but one only needs to be monolingually fit.

Indeed, schools in Germany are still only slowly coming to terms with the new multilingual reality caused by recent migrations. Paradoxically, the state governments have consistently been decreasing the amount of linguistics taught to language teachers, thus exacerbating the situation, rather than addressing it effectively.

My first memory of thinking about language is when I was quite young. I wondered where language came from. What were the first words? How did it all start?

I went to ask my mother, but, once she had figured out what I was asking, had no answers.

In school in Germany, I learned Latin as of fourth grade. Although I consistently got fairly bad grades, I absolutely enjoyed the sense of antiquity, the sense of history and hidden information that wafted off the pages and pages of vocabulary items, paradigms and texts.

I wanted to become an archaeologist but my family told me there was no money in it and I should go for a different profession.

When I was thirteen, we moved to Pakistan and I attended the Lahore American School (LAS). There was no Latin in the curriculum, but the teachers were willing to be creative and helpful and allowed me to engage in a self-study course in which I continued with some Latin. I also found Mario Pei’s “The Story of Latin and the Romance Languages” in the library and worked my way through that in utter fascination.

With an American high school degree one can do very little except go to college in the US, so that is what I set out to do. I had been to the US on a brief visit, but it was mainly terra incognita, especially with respect to the college landscape. In the days before internet and instant access to information, I picked some states at random to narrow down the search space somewhat and then leafed through big college information books, looking for places that taught both Latin and computer science.

Computer Science because Pakistan at that time only allowed the use of foreign exchange (Pakistani rupees for dollars) if one studied one of a list of approved subjects. Air-conditioning was out of the question for me, so I settled on computer science. I knew I liked programming because LAS had offered a computer course and I had learned BASIC. Quite a forward looking curriculum for the early 80s in a school in Pakistan!

I applied to a number of places and was accepted (with financial aid) by Wellesley College. The experience there continues to be one of the best of my life. I learned linguistics from Andrea Levitt. Though her research is squarely in phonetics and language acquisition (something I only learned later), she made sure that all of us doing “Language Studies” received a broad and thorough linguistic training. This was augmented by Annette Herskovits in Computer Science, who worked on spatial terms from a Cognitive Science perspective. With the two of them as incredible mentors, I ended up doing a BA thesis comparing spatial terms in Hausa and Urdu.

This opened doors for the next step: graduate school. In applying, I knew I should be sensible and do computer science and earn a lot of money. However, a year spent as a Computer Science intern taught me that I did not want to spend my life in an air-conditioned office in front of a computer. I compromised and applied to places that did both computer science and linguistics. Stanford was one of those places.

On my first day there, I encountered a colibri and pepper trees and sun shine and the experience just kept on getting better. I took courses from and was mentored by a series of great linguists: Joan Bresnan, Eve Clark, Charles Ferguson, Andrew Garrett, Paul Kiparsky, Aditi Lahiri, John Rickford, Ivan Sag, Peter Sells, Henriette de Swart, Elizabeth Traugott and Tom Wasow. They taught me the value of a broad, interdisciplinary approach to linguistics and that being able to look at a given phenomenon from several different perspectives is a necessity in understanding language structure.

But most of all, I was influenced by KP Mohanan, who taught courses with an emphasis on South Asian languages and set me off on my current career path. Most importantly, though, he taught me to question each and every assumption I was presented with and that having an argument is always good! I have vivid memories of sitting out on a terrace in Kerala years later in the early morning light from about 6 am onwards with a cup of tea arguing about politics, linguistics, religion, anything and everything!

This memory also includes Tracy Holloway King, a Stanford class mate. Strong bonds were forged at Stanford with her and others, most notably Gillian Ramchand. We organized conferences together, published together while arguing vociferously about linguistics and about who would have to use the phone to call somebody (a duty to be avoided at all costs!) and published with Dikran Karaguezian of CSLI Publications. (We did not argue with him, but of course always accepted his sage advice!).

Our collaborations have continued even as we have moved into different directions, with industry at one end of the spectrum and theoretical linguistic research augmented by experimentation at the other end.

My first job out of graduate school was on Machine Translation. The next on grammar development, where I became part of the Parallel Grammar (ParGram) effort (see http://clarino.uib.no/iness/ for some of the resulting on-line interactive computational grammars and treebanks that document this work). The early years of this effort were characterized by intense exchanges (that is another way of saying “argument”) with another set of great linguists: Dick Crouch, Mary Dalrymple, Ron Kaplan, Lauri Karttunen and Annie Zaenen as well as Tracy King and John Maxwell at Xerox and at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). I am indebted to my boss of the time, Christian Rohrer, for beginning the ParGram collaboration and for fostering a truly interesting research environment that always strove to be cutting edge both in terms of computational and theoretical linguistics.

Continuing that type of research and providing that type of research experience to my students has been at the heart of my efforts at the University of Konstanz. We focus on interdisciplinary research that connects up new computational and experimental methodology with research that combines all core areas of linguistics. We are one of many sites world wide chipping away at the vast expanse of missing linguistic knowledge and understanding. I write this just after attending a conference on South Asian linguistics in Lisbon that featured discussions of Tamil as seen through the lens of Christian missionary grammar writers, of Indian languages as they have fared in the diaspora (e.g., South Africa, Trinidad, Guadalupe), of Indo-Portuguese creoles and of understudied languages like Marathi and Punjabi (but which each count millions and millions of speakers). Listening to these talks again opened up vistas of thousands of topics that are in urgent need of linguistic attention, but that are currently attended to (if at all), by a comparatively vanishingly small number of linguists.

The Linguist List is a hugely important effort that has created a world-wide community of linguists who can communicate with one another effectively and quickly, thus ameliorating some of our lack of boots on the ground. It provides a space to share software and knowledge and is always looking for new and crucial ways to serve the community. Help keep it going and thereby help foster crucial linguistic research world wide!

 

 

Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2016 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List needs your support!

Featured Linguist: Milan Mihaljević

Featured Linguist: Milan Mihaljević

Featured Linguist: Milan Mihaljević

My decision to become a linguist owes much to happenstance. At eighteen I was, like many teenagers, in the metaphysical phase, searching for the meaning of life. Although I was offered a very good scholarship for business studies, I decided to study philosophy. At the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science of the University of Zagreb we had to combine two programs. The major subject (A) lasted four, and the minor (B) lasted three years. Naturally, I chose Philosophy as my A subject. My first choice for the B program was English, but the problem was that I had learned English only for a short period of time and my command of the language was not good enough to pass the entrance test. Therefore, I had to choose something else. I can’t explain why I chose General Linguistics, since until then I didn’t know that such a program existed. However, after few months I discovered that Philosophy was not as interesting as I had expected and that Linguistics was far more exciting. I decided, and with the support of Radoslav Katičić, who was the chair of linguistic department at the time and later the supervisor of my PhD thesis, succeeded to change Linguistics into my major subject. As a third-year student I discovered Generative Grammar. The topic of my MA thesis was the relations between syntax and semantics in Chomsky’s theory.

After graduation 1978, I got a job in the Old Church Slavonic Institute in Zagreb in which I have stayed until now. It is interesting that, even two weeks before I started working there, I didn’t know that such an institute existed. This is a philological institute devoted to the research of medieval Croatian texts written in the Glagolitic script. As I started working there, I had to find a “common denominator” between my general linguistic education and the needs of my new job. I started to apply generative theory to the old texts written in Croatian Church Slavonic, a language which was used only as a literary language (mostly in liturgy) and never had native speakers. The topic of my PhD thesis was generative phonology of Croatian Church Slavonic. In order to work successfully in such an institution, I had to acquire different philological skills. For example, when a new Glagolitic text is found, I have to determine when and where it was written, and whether it was translated from the Greek or Latin protograph. In order to do that, it is not enough to describe its language. You also need some knowledge of codicology, palaeography, history, etc. In this way, I soon became an unusual combination of a modern, generative linguist and a traditional philologist. They have lived peacefully side by side in my head for many years, and I like both of them equally.

Very important for my professional carrier was a postdoc year (1985-1986) which, thanks to the Herder scholarship provided by the FSV foundation from Hamburg, I spent in the Institut für Slawistik at the University of Vienna. Working with professors František Václav Mareš and Radoslav Katičić, as well as with colleagues Johannes Michael Reinhart and Georg Holzer, I have learned a lot about Slavistics, especially about Old Church Slavonic and Slavic comparative grammar.

In addition to the engagement in the Old Church Slavonic Institute, I have also taught different subjects (Old Church Slavonic language, Slavic comparative grammar, Generative syntax and phonology) at most Croatian universities (Zagreb, Split, Pula, Rijeka, Osijek, Zadar) to undergraduate and graduate students of Croatian language and General Linguistics. Although I studied Linguistics by chance, I was fortunate in my irrational decision, and after more than forty years I wouldn’t change it for anything else.

 

 

Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2016 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List needs your support!

Fund Drive 2016: Want to Win a Publisher Prize? Donate to Win!

Dear LINGUIST List Colleagues,

Today we are rolling out another bundle of books and journal subscription prizes for this weekend, one of which you can win if you donate to the LINGUIST List Fund Drive before Monday, May 9, before 5 pm.

***

From Bloomsbury Publishing: TWO copies of Contrastive Linguistics by Pan Wenguo and Tham Wai Mun (http://goo.gl/ft0t0I)

From Brill: TWO one-year subscriptions to their journal Language Dynamics and Change (http://goo.gl/kUwKXo)

From Cambridge University Press: TWO one-year online-only subscriptions to the journal of English Language and Linguistics (http://goo.gl/GNHMwk)

From De Gruyter Mouton: One one-year online-subscription for the journal Global Chinese (http://goo.gl/RoNmiP)

From Springer: Reading, Writing, Mathematics and the Developing Brain: Listening to Many Voices edited by Z. Breznitz, O. Rubinsten, V.J Molfese and D.L. Molfese (http://goo.gl/VR0U2Q)

***

Again, to win any of these fantastic prizes from this coming week’s prize bundle, you can donate to enter your name into the drawing, until Monday May 9th, at 5 PM EST. For every $10 you donate, your name will be entered into the lottery to win. Donate by the link below:

http://goo.gl/e656LG

In addition to the one-time donations to our Fund Drive, you can also become a recurring donor and support LINGUIST List on a long-term basis. Find out how by following this link:

http://goo.gl/Q27jls

And as always, if you cannot donate monetarily, you can help us out in other ways, such as liking, sharing, and retweeting our Fund Drive posts on social media. If you like the LINGUIST List and have benefited from our free service, tell your friends about the LINGUIST List and our Fund Drive. Every little bit of support is appreciated!

There will be many more great prizes from our supporting publishers in the coming month, so stay tuned to our social media pages to hear about more prizes that you can win. Thanks and good luck!

Linguistically yours,
The LINGUIST List Crew

Featured Linguist: Joanna Błaszczak

Featured Linguist: Joanna Błaszczak

Featured Linguist: Joanna Błaszczak

How did I become a linguist?

Well, my parents wanted me to become a doctor one day, a woman in a white coat examining patients, using diverse medical instruments, conducting studies. I myself would have rather preferred to work with animals (I love animals, dogs are my favorite ). I imagined myself travelling around the world, living in a jungle with wild animals, observing and studying the behavior of chimpanzees and the like. What has become of it? Depending on how you view it, the answer to this question could be: NOTHING, as I became neither a doctor nor an animal researcher or world traveller, or BOTH in some sense. Do you wonder how this latter answer may be sensical at all? I am indeed a world traveller, maybe not (always) in a physical sense, but as a linguist you have the opportunity of travelling around the world through different languages. Originally, I wanted to study the behavior of animals, but studying the structure of languages, trying to understand the principles behind such structures, can be equally fascinating. My parents wanted me to be a doctor. Well, I do not cure sick people but still I have something to do with ‟patients” and medical equipment while conducting psycholinguistic experiments.

But let me go first a few (actually much more than ‟a few” ) years back and tell you how all this started.

I think my interest in linguistics originated as early as primary school. While all other pupils hated grammar lessons, I loved them. It was a great fun for me to analyze structures of sentences, determine the grammatical properties of words and their grammatical functions in the sentence. Later I started learning foreign languages (Russian and German), and – while I am absolutely not a talented foreign language learner – I have been fascinated by the clarity of grammar rules governing linguistic structures ever since. Being the finalist of a German language competition (olympiad), I had an opportunity to study abroad, concretely at the Humboldt University of Berlin. There, my interest in linguistics gradually grew even more. (To be honest, I also studied economics, I also did some law at the Free University of Berlin, but these subjects, while surely being interesting and useful, could not diminish my bigger interests in language and scientific work.) My first teachers at the Humboldt University (Prof. Manfred Bierwisch, Prof. Ewald Lang, Prof. Norbert Fries, Prof. Karin Donhauser) showed me how diverse the study of language can be: from lexical and compositional semantics, through syntactic structures to language change. During various linguistic summer schools I’ve got more of that. The young teachers there (Daniel Büring, Christopher Wilder, Christopher Piñón, Lea Nash, Marcel den Dikken, Maaike Schoorlemmer, Tracy A. Hall, David Adger, to mention a few) fascinated me with their cool ideas and their vast knowledge, but what fascinated me even more was generative grammar, a framework with clear predictions which can be corroborated or falsified. I think around that time I started to think or even to wish to become one day one of these scholars. And indeed my wish came true. Of course not immediately , but a Master’s thesis, a Ph.D. thesis and a Habilitation thesis later, here I am: a linguist. As Prof. Gisbert Fanselow, my boss at the University of Potsdam, once said about me, I have always started my research (be it for the MA thesis, the PhD or the Habilitation theses) with a small set of empirical data, questioned the assumptions made for them, by providing evidence or counterevidence from all possible angles (also including language acquisition, diachrony, typology etc.), then formulating a new view and integrating new findings into a consistent theoretical picture. This is what I love most: deriving far-reaching theoretical insights about the structure of grammar from the analysis of a well-defined, small empirical domain. By doing this, I feel like a detective and nobody would say that detective work is not interesting.

My primary linguistic interest was and still is syntax, minimalist theory, semantics, and syntax-semantics interface. By and by this interest has broadened to include typology, psycholinguistics, language teaching, and sociolinguistics as well. My work in various projects at the University of Potsdam and also at the Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS) in Berlin has certainly contributed to that. The projects I was involved in were diverse and ranged from, for example, developing the annotation scheme for the morphological and syntactic aspects of the corpora of the Collaborative Research Centre 632 in Potsdam through working on a book about different languages spoken in Germany’s schools as a help for teachers who have pupils in their classrooms with native languages other than German (a ZAS project under the leadership of Prof. Manfred Krifka) to studying the relationship between national identity and bilingualism (a joint project with Dr Marzena Żygis from ZAS).

Where I am now? Since 2008 I have been an Associate Professor at the University of Wrocław in Poland, a place with a good generative grammar tradition (initiated among others by Prof. Bożena Rozwadowska). There I am Head of the Center for Experimental Research on Natural Language, supervising and coordinating various psycholinguistics projects. With the support of the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) and the National Science Centre, Poland (NCN) it was possible to obtain additional grants for setting up a neurolinguistic laboratory with the EEG equipment and an eyetracking laboratory. In addition, I managed to establish a publishing house The Center for General and Comparative Linguistics, officially accepted by the National Library of Poland, which publishes a linguistic (book) series Generative Linguistics in Wrocław (GLiW) and, in cooperation with De Gruyter Open, an online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal Questions and Answers in Linguistics (QAL). These publications offer a forum for linguistic discussions on various topics, and more importantly, they give especially young researchers the opportunity to present their work. And thanks to the Linguist List, more and more people know about us. Also thanks to the Linguist List, more and more interested students contact us as they want to apply for our new Master Programme in Linguistics (ETHEL – Empirical and Theoretical Linguistics), a programme, as the name suggests, which combines theoretical linguistics with empirical issues, giving the students the opportunity to study, next to theoretical syntax, semantics, etc. also statistics, corpus linguistics, psycho- and neurolinguistics, and to conduct their own experiments. Needless to say, our laboratories and the publishing house offer another possibility of practical training.

My colleagues, dr Dorota Klimek-Jankowska, dr Barbara Tomaszewicz, dr Anna Czypionka and Piotr Gulgowski (PhD student) and I currently work on decomposition of linguistic categories in the brain, nominalizations, eventualities (FNP project), number and quantification in natural language (NCN project). We cooperate with researchers from Germany (Konstanz University, Heidelberg University and the Humboldt University of Berlin), and invite scholars from various places of the world: from neighboring countries (Germany and the Czech Republic), through other European countries (the Netherlands, Spain, France, Italy, UK, etc.) to Northern America (Canada and USA). Here once again it becomes apparent that also as a linguist you are a world traveller: you are travelling to the world (by going to conferences or workshops) but the world is also coming to you (as participants in conferences organized by you, as guest researchers working with you on joint projects, etc.). And – needless to say – nothing of this would be possible without the help of the Linguist List. A big ‘Thank you’ to all the people engaged in the Linguist List, for your great and extremely helpful work!

 

 

Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2016 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List needs your support!

Fund Drive 2016: Another Publisher Prize Bundle, Donate to Win!

Dear LINGUIST List Colleagues,

Today we have another bundle of books and journal subscription prizes, one of which you can win if you donate to the LINGUIST List Fund Drive before this Friday, May 6, before 5 pm.

***

From Cambridge University Press: The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Anthropology edited by N. J. Enfield, Paul Kockelman, and Jack Sidnell (http://goo.gl/9sYBoh)

From De Gruyter Mouton: Greek Interjections by Lars Nordgren (e-book) (http://goo.gl/WyLc7L)

From Bloomsbury Publishing: Discourse of Twitter and Social Media (http://goo.gl/qJrP2o)

From Edinburgh University Press: The Handbook of Business Discourse Edited by Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini (http://goo.gl/jR8btP)

From John Benjamins: 1 (of 3) journal subscription of your choice from any of their 70+ journals (http://goo.gl/lvCacl)

***

Again, to win any of these fantastic prizes from this coming week’s prize bundle, you can donate to enter your name into the drawing, until Friday May 6th, at 5 PM EST. For every $10 you donate, your name will be entered into the lottery to win. Donate by the link below:

http://goo.gl/e656LG

In addition to the one-time donations to our Fund Drive, you can also become a recurring donor and support LINGUIST List on a long-term basis. Find out how by following this link:

http://goo.gl/Q27jls

And as always, if you cannot donate monetarily, you can help us out in other ways, such as liking, sharing, and retweeting our Fund Drive posts on social media. If you like the LINGUIST List and have benefited from our free service, tell your friends about the LINGUIST List and our Fund Drive. Every little bit of support is appreciated!

There will be many more great prizes from our supporting publishers in the coming month, so stay tuned to our social media pages to hear about more prizes that you can win. Thanks and good luck!

Linguistically yours,
The LINGUIST List Crew

Featured Linguist: Adams Bodomo

Featured Linguist: Adams Bodomo

Featured Linguist: Adams Bodomo

How I became a linguist:

I studied linguistics and became a linguist for two reasons. First, I wanted to be a top diplomat for my country, Ghana, which would involve being posted around the world to represent my country. I figured that if I studied linguistics and foreign languages at the University of Ghana that would increase my chances, so I read Linguistics, French, and Swahili. Second, I wanted to help document and preserve my mother-tongue, Dagaare, a small language in northern Ghana. I succeeded in writing the first grammar sketch of the language, published at Stanford University titled The Structure of Dagaare. One of the most wonderful experiences young scholars will ever get in their academic life is seeing their first book and holding it in their hands. In my case it was even more dramatic because of the way it happened. After teaching the structure of Dagaare for two years as a part-time lecturer at Stanford University I went back to Norway – I was writing a doctoral thesis at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology – to submit and defend my thesis. Then the publishers at CSLI , Stanford sent me copies of my book in Norway. However I never received them because I returned to Stanford campus for a conference event. Then I walked into the Stanford Bookstore and happened to look at a section of the Bookstore with a bookstand titled: “Stanford Authors”. Lo and behold, I saw my book and stood there for more than 20 minutes flipping through it unendingly – as if I was reading the texts for the first time when indeed it was I who wrote them in the first place. There were no selfies at that time, else I would have taken a memorable selfie about how it feels like to receive your first book.

After my doctoral dissertation I got a job at the prestigious University of Hong Kong and rose up through the academic ranks from postdoc to Assistant Professor to Associate Professor. Much of my work on Linguistics has been the descriptive and theoretical analysis of African languages using descriptive and formal frameworks like Lexical Functional Grammar and the Principles and Parameters approach. While working on African languages mainly, I have also done substantial work on Chinese languages like Cantonese and Zhuang and supervised many PhD and masters theses of students who come from all over the world: Africa, Asia, and the West (Europe and North America).

I am currently Chair Professor of African Languages and Literatures at the University of Vienna, and I am continuing to do research on general linguistic analysis, particularly of African languages, but also now look into how we can develop African language literature. I have come to the realization as a scholar interested in African and minority language documentation and revitalization that it is not enough to just document linguistic texts and their analyses; one must also ensure that speakers read and write in these languages. Literary work is very important for revitalizing African and lesser studied languages.

I am often asked who are my models. I tend to say that I really have no models because my journey is too unique to model after someone. I do however have many mentors back home in Ghana – Prof Dolphyne, Duthie and Dakubu – who taught me core linguistics; in Norway – Prof Lars Hellan, who was my PhD supervisor in Norway, and in the US at Stanford University – Prof Joan Bresnan who taught me LFG, and Will Leben, the general editor of the series – Stanford Monographs in African Languages, which published my first book. I am a lucky man; I am where I am today because of many men and women–great linguists and academics–who mentored me, but I don’t have space to list all of them.

A number of critical skills are necessary in order to become a good linguist: One, a critical, enquiring mind, two, attention to detail for discovering the intricacies of human mental processes through the use of linguistic structure, and three, the creativity to grasp the nuances of other people’s languages and cultures.

I also think that young scholars of linguistics must not study linguistics in isolation. I have always sought to look at language studies from an interdisciplinary perspective within the humanities. The mission of the Humanities is to discover the inner nature of the human creature, including the intricacies of language, thought, and culture, and how this creature relates to its environment, leading, hopefully, to an appreciation and celebration of its inner beauty. We can even extend this to the Social Sciences which also study how humans relate to their environment. Humanities and the Social Sciences have intertwined missions but different methods of inquiry, so these groups of scholars, including linguists, can learn from each other about deep, introspective methods of inquiry in the Humanities to empirical, experimental and quantitative methods in the Social Sciences.

Linguistics is a very interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences discipline.

 

 

Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2016 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List needs your support!

Featured Linguist: Laura Janda

Featured Linguist: Laura Janda

Featured Linguist: Laura Janda

I became a linguist because I was rather obnoxious and rebellious.

I grew up in a little town in upstate New York where no languages were taught before high school. In ninth grade I enrolled in my first language class: French. But after about two weeks, the teacher was clearly fed up with having one student wave her hand in response to every single question. I was handed a pile of books and cassette tapes, pointed in the direction of the janitor’s closet, and told to go work on my own. By June when I emerged from that closet, I had completed all the assignments and tests from all four years of high school French. I was told: “Ok, you’re done with language for high school.” But I didn’t listen. The following fall I signed up for Spanish. And the same thing happened. At the end of tenth grade I was told: “Now that’s really enough, we don’t have any more languages to offer, go do something else.”

Two years later I was signing up for courses as a Princeton freshman, selecting biology, calculus, and the like, since my parents had told me that there was no way they were paying for a university education unless I became a doctor. There was a language requirement, and that made me unsure of what to do. I didn’t want to go back to French and Spanish, since my “closet studies” were but a distant memory by then and probably inadequate to get me beyond a beginner course. I could try something different. Chinese? No, that conflicted with the pre-med courses my parents demanded. An advisor solved my dilemma by enrolling me in Russian.

I did fine in the pre-med courses, but various factors led me to opt out of med school. At Princeton in the mid-seventies there were mighty few female students in the science and math courses, both the students and the professors made me feel unwelcome, and there weren’t even any women’s bathrooms in those buildings. Worst of all, the attitude toward learning in the pre-med courses wasn’t as important as grades. I remember a calculus mid-term that was 14 pages long. I took the test and left the room, noting that it was odd that almost everyone else was still sitting there. I had a nearly perfect score on the test – all I missed was a single minus sign – but I got a B- because it was graded on a curve and all those Princeton pre-meds had recognized that the test was too easy, so they all sat there and checked their tests over and over to make sure they got As. I said to myself: “I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life with these people.”

Russian was exotic and challenging and there were even some female instructors and (fellow?) students. But the biggest attraction for me was Professor Charles E. Townsend, a pupil of Roman Jakobson and a legendary figure in the classroom. The high expectations he set for his classes were only surpassed by the demands he made on himself and his unflagging devotion to his students. Charlie Townsend volunteered to teach me Czech in my senior year and also stood up to my father, defending my right to pursue linguistics. After that I went on to graduate school at UCLA and various adventures behind the Iron Curtain that no reasonable parents would have allowed their daughter to undertake in those days. In the course of my career I have had lots of fun with lots of languages and language students. But I can still be rather obnoxious and rebellious at times.

 

 

Please support the LINGUIST List student editors and operations with a donation during the 2016 Fund Drive! The LINGUIST List needs your support!

Fund Drive 2016: Reminder! Donate to Win a Publisher Prize

Dear LINGUIST List Subscribers and Colleagues,

In case you missed the announcement last Friday (http://linguistlist.org/issues/27/27-1879.html), we are running another publisher prize giveaway this week. If you donate before this Friday, April 29, at 5 PM EST, you will get the chance one of these prizes:
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From Bloomsbury Publishing: Discourse of Twitter and Social Media by Michele Zappavigna (http://goo.gl/7cSzz2)

From Brill: TWO copies of I am a Linguist by R.M.W Dixon (http://goo.gl/nJFXQb)

From Cambridge University Press: The Cambridge Handbook of Pragmatics edited by Keith Allan and Kasia M. Jaszczolt (http://goo.gl/h21hh5)

From De Gruyter: A Grammar of Daakaka by Kilu von Prince (http://goo.gl/2DVvA3)

From Elsevier: ONE personal one-year electronic subscription to an Elsevier linguistics journal of the winner’s choice (complete list of their linguistic journals here: https://goo.gl/NaswSa)

From The Association of Editors of the Journal of Portuguese Linguistics: one volume of the Journal of Portuguese Linguistics (http://goo.gl/rIJ7Ij) to everyone that donates $20 or more

From Springer: Languages for Specific Purposes in the Digital Era edited by Elena Bárcena, Timothy Read, and Jorge Arus (http://goo.gl/AnGUOR)

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To win any of these fantastic prizes from this coming week’s prize bundle, you can donate to enter your name into the drawing, until Friday April 29th, at 5 PM EST. For every $10 you donate, your name will be entered into the lottery to win. So if you donate $50, your name goes into the drawing three times. Donate by the link below:

http://goo.gl/e656LG

In addition to the one-time donations to our Fund Drive, you can also become a recurring donor and support LINGUIST List on a long-term basis. Find out how by following this link:

http://goo.gl/Q27jls

And as always, if you cannot donate monetarily, you can help us out in other ways, such as liking, sharing, and retweeting our Fund Drive posts on social media. If you like the LINGUIST List and have benefited from our free service, tell your friends about the LINGUIST List and our Fund Drive. Every little bit of support is appreciated!

There will be many more great prizes from our supporting publishers in the coming month, so stay tuned to our social media pages to hear about more prizes that you can win. Thanks and good luck!

Linguistically yours,
The LINGUIST List Crew