Memo to Self...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Now the question is...

Did this actually work, or am I dreaming?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Drawing up a draft

(This was written about two weeks ago, and never published. For posterity!)

Note: feel like CRAP. Where did this come from?

I need to sit down and do these on the actual night of the class, but I'll make an exception for this night, as there was a paper to work on. And much work was needed, too.

On Tuesday, we discussed grant writing proposals. Grants are something I keep hearing about and hearing about, but have never really had any experience with until I got to graduate school. As an ungrad, there were things like PELL grants, but I had no chance of getting those (I believe). Now, though, grants are what pull us through the later stages of college and our research projects. As much as I don't mind working for the money...the idea of a grant is pretty nice.

It is a matter of writing them, though.

As our class is mostly focused on NA project, the grant proposals we've looked at have been geared to writing one for them. I should back up--we started out looking at just lists of proposals that deal with language revitalization and efforts like it, which include just a ton of things. I was kind of surprised, actually, but I am, somehow, always surprised by things like this. Then, we moved on to reviewing the NSF grant.

I put all this summary here because...we'll, we next subcontracted out to write the NSF grant. I took the "writing the grammar bit," as I was full of lofty words and phrases in class. Now, though, as I cycle through my homework and the Navajo paper, I am...not so sure what to write anymore.

It works like this: it's not the material, it's the writing. How do I present a case with two purposes--a descriptive grammar (call it linguistic based) and a pedagogical grammar (teacher based)?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

554 Class: The last few weeks

When Melissa first talked about doing this class, both Avan and Ducky (that would be Evan and Susan, cleverly disguised) wanted me to be in the class. It seemed odd to me, since I've never shown a real interest in revitalization work; if anything, I feel I'd be more of the evil linguist who comes in and goes "Oooh! That's cool!" and then goes away. I'm a phenomenom sort of person, unfortunately, and rather a coward at heart; dealing with "white guilt" makes me want to break out in hives, especially considering my background. And if that all seems rather personal...yes, it is, because I want to make clear the sense of uneasiness I always feel when it comes to revitalization efforts. It's not like it can be swept under the rug or anything, and I do have to confront it. And I am.

But, as wise people may say, helping on projects like this are ways to confront and deal with the uneasiness. And I have to admit, coming into this class, I have been absolutely fascinated by things. Why, good heavens, it's applicable to my own life! Who would've thunk it? (Oh, do I pay for my upbringing sometimes.)

Anyhoo. Actual purpose: talking about class. These collaborative groups are a lot of fun, and this class shows promise, once we all start opening our mouths. (Last class, I swore not to talk. I became infatuated with a thumb pimple/blister just so I wouldn't have to. This just doesn't work with Spunky Undergrad, whose name I promise to try and remember--then butcher turn into a proper psuedonym--sometime in the future.) Get our mouths working, and I think we get working as well. I do have to keep remembering, though, that WE WORK FOR THE CLIENT (to use business parlance.) In this case, with the survey, I have to bite my tongue with C....I know she wants demographic information, very specific information, but I'm torn over whether or not this is the way to go about it. I think groundwork has to be laid, and then built upon. But, again, we're there for the client, not to boss the client or appear superior to the client, or any of those other archaic ways of doing things. And while I have no real intention of doing such, I still need to watch it. I always say that I'm a leader, not a follower, except when no one else is leading...and even then, I need to shutup. :)

Oh, BTW? According to The American Heritage Dictionary, off of, linguistic (adj): Of or relating to language or linguistics. Linguistics? A noun. (Interestingly enough, the same dictionary includes pragmantics and socioling under that broad heading. Interesting because, as I am finding out, pragmatics really isn't a separate field, even if it does have its own journal.) The whole point of this? Modifier vs. noun + noun thing. And yes, I really suck at being wrong sometimes.

This entry is getting kind of long, so I'll address the class stuff in the next one--below this post, due to the way I published these things. Ah vel.

And I don't think I said everything here, but hey, must save things for later. Really.

The Five Things Most Important to a Handbook

Ducky (that would be Susan's evil nickname) and I continued to talk about this after class. We went back and forth for a bit, and I've been mulling it over ever since. So I'm gonna put some ideas here, and then maybe copy this whole post for class tomorrow if I don't change my mind in my sleep.

This is all based on teaching a second language learner whose main language has been ENGLISH. I can't stress that enough, since some points become moot-ish if we're talking about someone whose first language was Spanish. That's something to be cleaned up later, too.

1. Structure of a Language
         Start from the top, basically. I think these terms are out of vogue now, but explaining the difference between an analytic language, a synthetic language, and a polysynthetic language is probably a nice way to start things out. Why? I think it may help speakers get a grip on the differences between so many languages. English, being analytic, is relatively barren of morphology; many other languages aren't. English "grew old" that way, so to speak. And I feel I'm inadequately conveying why I think this is important, other than that knowing from the start that not all languages function the same way is important. And how beautiful and majestic and COOL some of the features English lacks are.

1b. Language connection and history
      I thought I'd stick this in here, because it could be interesting. I have no support for it, though. (Perhaps knowing that your language has existed for ages and eons could stimulate even more interest? Err, dunno...)

2. Sound Stuff
      I don't think sounds should come first. I know that this is the American way of teaching a language, but I think that (priming of that, there) this is just the equivalent of throwing information at people. You must become acquainted with a language before you get intimate with it!
      Silly pun sort of things aside, there's a question of how this should go. I put "sound stuff" up there instead of phonetics because I'm proposing that cutaway face thing first. It could end up being just a relatively short introduction, I suppose. I don't think talking about "pulmonary explusion" (or whatever that term is for making sounds when you breathe out) is necessary, but it is nice to know the dynamics. Plus, introduce the voiced/voiceless distinction, with the fun "put your hand on your throat to hear you make the sound."
      No pictures of the glottis, though. That can be disturbing.

3. Consonants and Vowels (or vicey-versa)
      Now we get to sounds, the basic bread of any language Of course, the question here is: what comes first? Vowels, or consonants? Tradition 101 or 292 methods suggest consonants, because there are so many more of them, and the contrasts are SO MUCH EASIER TO HEAR! Part of me agrees with this. Part of me, though, says no! Vowels first! They're HARDER! Which could also be a reason to introduce them last, now that I think of it.
      This may be the time to introduce the fun English-language sound comparison chart. And despite what the textbooks say, there are ways to produce those "unusual" consonants in English. Err, sometimes. I know for the palatal [c] and its voiced friend in Japanese, some authors have suggested the sound one makes at the ends of plurals: ca[ts], du[dz]. There are loads of examples like this. Faltz has an excellent chart for this in Navajo, BTW, which may be worth looking at in class.
      Another thing here is: do we introduce all the fun things, like tone, to train the ear? This would also be a good time to have audio materials for the class to listen to at home. The question then, of course, is how to make them listen to it. Hmm.

4. Contrasts
      Also known as phonemics. I am running out of steam here, so I'll just say: contrasts important. Nice to know what makes a word and what doesn't. Also, maybe, a good time to introduce the trickier things, like tone and glottalization, or at least cover them in heavier depth.

5. Morphology and incorporation
      Yup, just about out of steam, and I haven't even gotten to the two most important components of language: morphology and syntax! Grrr. The thing about those two, though, is that they can be awfully dry. Phonetics, even phonemics, can be made fun. For example, highlighting the contrast between ano and año in Spanish made it reaaal clear why that was an important thing to know. However, morphology and syntax translate as...GRAMMAR, that hideous thing! WHACK IT WITH A STICK!
      So this is when the language class, I think, needs to be made real. No bolígrapho de mi tía here, please. (Why is it always pens, I'm curious--same for French and Japanese, there). The Japanese idea of bunkai, pattern sentences is similar to this, but I think can be used to great effect with shifting vocabulary and real-life situations. I'm not necessarily talking about the conversation style class, where you learn a "topic" (shopping) with a grammatical construction ("estar" as a location verb)--I think this can be expanded and improved on. Of course, it's closing on 2:30, so I'm out of ideas for now. But I know it can work! Real life can work!

One last thing before I close: repetition. If there's anything functionalist theory has taught me, it's the important of repetition and frequency in controlling how much of this stuff gets into our brain and stays there. Of course, old style language classes used to do things like this, so it's a matter of updating and making it less of a chore. As usual, I raise a question and don't answer it...but I think it's a valid point to be raised. And it's a nice incorporation of current theory with actual practice. Yes. We'll go with that.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

I got a subject line! Also, declaration of purpose.

I used to keep this Blog for class notes; it was nice to have a place to put them all. Then I ran out of time. :) So, as of today, I'm using this Blog to journal about Ling 554, the Languages of the Southwest class.

Statement of purpose accomplished. Actual blogging? Sometime in the future.

Oh, and I promise to be as honest, ruthlessly honest, as possible. We'll see how that goes. :)

Monday, August 26, 2002

I have a course binder for Ling 303, so I see little point in putting up my notes here when I already do
copy them twice. :)

So, other classes notes. Though Ling. 292 is going to overlap 303, and Ling 331 actually overlaps a class
I took last semester, so...overlap ahead.

Ling. 292
If distributed evenly, each language in the world should have about 1 million speakers. But actually, only 5% do.
Dividing up the world:
About 1,000 languages in the Americas--1/5-1/6 of the world's languages.
About 2,000 languages in Africa, many of which have large numbers of speakers.
Europe has a little over 200, Asia about 400, Austrailia 234.
South and SE Asia--1400.
New Guinea--around 1100 languages, or somewhere between 1,000-2,000.

How are languages related to each other?
They group together in families. Spanish, Latin, French, Rumanian form part of the Romance language family. All are from a common
source, Latin. 2,000 years ago, it was the language of the conquering Romans, and it pushed aside Gaulish/other Celtic dialects, which
most of Europe spoke. Gaulish died in the 4th century. With Latin in so many places far from Rome, changes started in the language,
and by about 400 A.D., they didn't understand much of actual Latin.
Seguey--A conquering population, whether through military might or culturally, brings its language. The conquered population can either
have their language wiped completely out (often through the extinction of speakers), or assimilate the language of the conquerer. The second
case often leads to word swapping between languages, a sort of fusion.
English is an example of a language fusion--the Norman Conquest left a layer of Norman French over Anglo-Saxon.

Two factors differentiate languages--time and isolation.

Most languages are related to other languages--for example, Africa's 2000 languages break down into about four families.
A conservative estimate says there are 20 language families in the world, but it can go as high as 100.

Languages that are not related to other languages are called "language isolates"--the most famous examples being Zuni and Basque.

The Indo-European family includes the Romance, Germanic, Celtic, Hellenic, Albanian, Armenian, Indo-Iranian subfamilies of languages.
Between groups, they can be shown to be related to each other, and thus have a common ancestor in Indo-European.

The Uralic family of languages--Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, Saami, maybe mas--do not show any relation to the groups in Indo-European,
therefore it is an entirely different family. The relationship between them goes too far back to be seen in the present.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Didn't blog yesterday due to moodiness.
Should get over that soon.

Ling. 292 notes:
There's no clock in this room, gyah.

How many languages in the world?
We can't really count, but the estimate is 5,000-6,000, with the range being 3,000-8,000.

No way to determine, linguistically, language vs. dialect.
Two key things to sort languages
1. Difference in structure--if extremely different, more likely to regard as separate languages. (Grammatical structure.)
2. Mutual intelligibility--less of this, more likely to regard as separate languages.

Neither simple to apply, nor are these absolute rules.
EX: Dialects of Chinese are very different in structure, but all are still considered Chinese.
Some Romance languages have very close structures, but are all considered different languages.
A speaker of Taiwanese doesn't automatically understand Mandarin--related, but not mutually intelligible.
Whereas some Romance languages are mutually intelligible, though it may not be balanced, as in
Spanish and Portuguese.
Political and ethnic heritage come into play. Two different states speaking varieties close to each other
look to different standards. There are gradations of dialect--language is fluid.
Language or dialect? is more of a political question.

Other problems counting languages--not all 6 billion people have been counted or censused, so it's not
accurate. Also, census questions can be faulty, and people don't always know what they speak.

Top five languages o' the world, come on down!
1. Mandarin Chinese
2. English
3. Spanish
4. Bengali
5. Hindi

About 12% (11.5) of the world's languages are spoken by fewer than 150 people.
About 1/3 (30.1) of the world's languages are spoken by fewer than 1000.

Ling 331 notes:
We will be studying language and gender, endangered languages and language policy, and bilingualism and bidialectalism.

Really. All the notes I took.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Back to school, back to blogging.

MW: 4:00-5:15 (Phonetics)
TR: 2:00-3:15, 4:00-5:15 (Ling Analysis, Language and Society)

Phonetics notes:
Class is okay. Still a clockwatcher, especially on nice digital clocks. Lecture style is ummy, reminds me of Mrs. Johnson.
Here's hoping the class won't kill me in the end--have yet to peek at textbook or course notes. Need folder/binder for

articulatory phonetics: study of the movements to produce sounds
acoustic phonetics: study of the sounds themselves (waveforms)

Powerpoint--the Ling. prof's best friend.

"Speech is special"
-We have a special ability to process sound
*ability to zero in on one voice despite background noise
*interpret sound as speech even if the voice is not human produced (some people)

"Speech is complex"
-Speech is audible gesture, movement that produces sound
-Simple phrases produced by complex sequences requiring elaborate and precise coordination

"Speech is a continuous signal"
-No breaks between words during speech, unless you deliberately pause, which sounds unnatural
-Oronyms--jokes made on this principle ("the stuffy nose" vs. "the stuff he knows")

"Same sounds not always the same"
lip vs. pill -- light vs. dark "l"
kit vs. cot -- palatalized vs. back "k"
cat vs. can -- plain vs. nasalized "a"
miss you vs. miss her -- palatalized vs. alveolar "s"

"Speech is fast."
Ex: 80 speech sounds in five sec. vs. 63 music notes in five seconds (even at a rapid clip)--rate of sounds is very fast
We hear different sounds as the same by subconsciously compensating for context.
We can talk much faster than we can deal with other sounds.

Speech sounds are part of a system--Duality of Patterning (DoP).
-Combine meaningless units of sound to create units of meaning--words
-Morphemes: smallest unit of meaning. "cat" is a word and morpheme; "s" is the plural morpheme, etc.
-Reorder the sounds, get a different meaning:
slip, pills, lips, etc.

Communication systems without DoP
-Road signs and other types of signs
-All animal communication--play it backwards, doesn't change meaning

All human languages have DoP--why?
-Advantage: Language becomes extensible. Small amounts of sounds make up gigundo vocabularies.
-Consequence: Order of sound becomes crucial.

So, what am I doing in this class?
-Studying sounds as part of a system of language
-How do we produce them?
-How are they put together

Then we're going to learn vocab, how to talk about sounds. Whee.