Friday, April 21, 2006

forensics, language, and the shuffle (paca)

1) I have been putting things into my iTunes at work and using the Shuffle feature. Good lord, you get some freaky switches. I just got early Peggy Lee where she's trying to sound like Billy Holiday switching to Puffy Amiyumi's Japanese beach vacation number. Now, it's Kool & the Gang's jazzy funk "Give it Up". And now "Superstar in France" by Lambchop. "Heathrow Shuffle" by Van Morrison.

2) My backup plan if I can't get an academic job is to try and combine my old computer project management experience with the linguistics degree doing perhaps commercial natural language processing or voice response units or whatever. Not the ideal, but it would pay. Probably better than being a prof actually. I also just got an announcement for a summer program on "forensic linguistics" which is an interesting branch of ling outside of academia. It's basically anything having to do with language in the courtroom and as part of an investigation. So it includes the analysis of wiretaps and any speech data as evidence in a court; the type of speech the attorneys use; the concept of "simple" speech; the interpretation of statutes to some degree. Again, I don't think I'd want to do that, but it's an interesting side of things. Since half of the readers of this blog are lawyers or soon to be lawyers (the bar exam is nothing), I thought you might be interested.

3) Speaking of language, another field of linguistics is dialectology. It's the study of language variety and includes how dialects differ, how they grow, spread, and die, their location, their social import and use as a marker of identity, etc. Any linguist can go off about the issues involved in trying to identify a standard English, because there isn't really one, and moreover, it's virtually impossible to say that one dialect is actually better than another. When you really understand a dialect, you learn you can say different things in them and usually the thoughts are just as complex as they are in whatever the prestigious dialect de jour is. Moreover, some linguists study taboo words; how all languages have them, how they grow and relate to other words (naughty words take over meaning from other words; you can't say cock for rooster any more or ejaculate for a burst of excitement or vagina for... sheath, but that last one is just the original Latin and has nothing to do with English; I just wanted to throw it in so I get some more hits from surfers; I'm naughty yet not). All that said, when linguists walk out of the class room, they act just like everyone else. They make Bush / nucular jokes even though they know it's just a dialectal thing and no indication of intelligence. They get embarassed when people say fuck and shit. I'm a little embarassed right now.

UPDATE: And, yes, in Latin class in 10th grade where we read Caesar's Gallic Wars (Invasion of Britain chapter) where they frequently talked about the Roman centurions and their vaginae, well it was more than we could take. Mr. Coombers must have hated those sections.

Actually I remember getting in trouble in 7th grade science, falling on the floor in hysterics at the word "fatty acids". That was nothing, however, to social studies with the teacher in her north Louisiana accent talking about Mao Ze-Dong, which sounded for all the world like "mousey dung." I think I got kicked into the hall for the giggle attack. I'm giggling now. I guess I can't use the "I was 11 excuse" anymore. Hee-hee, "mousey".


1 comment:

J said...

Poe used "ejaculate" in one of his stories that I used to teach, and it always embarrassed the students. They thought that I didn't know what it really meant.
What was hysterical to them was Julius Ceasar, when Brutus says: "What a blunt fellow is this grown to be!"
Har! Blunt Fellow! 420! We were blunt fellows last weekend!

Oh, and I hope you're right about the Bar being a snap.