Letters from camp

I tell you, it’s like a constant linguistics party! Okay, so we only have classes four days a week (which is the only way to do things) so we get Wednesdays off, which basically means we have two Friday nights, which is what linguistics is all about. I mean . . . Anyway. So things have gotten so much better, it always takes me a week at these things, to realize they’re awesome.

On Tuesday evening there was a lecture (by Marianne Mithun, the it-girl of field linguistics, she told us about Mohawk). Then there was a party that magically happened from everyone walking from the lecture to the bar. I had some great conversations and got to meet one of my linguistic heroes. Then on Wednesday I met with one of my profs here and we had a good conversation about unaccusativity and the crazy verbs I’ve been studying. It’s so good to be able to discuss this with so many people!

Then I went to a philosophy of language conference and most of it was over my head, but it was about Game Theory, which seems really interesting, although a little too mathematical for me. The more interesting of the two talks I went to was given by Chris Potts (who was speaking in place of someone who couldn’t make it). He was talking about different gradable adjectives, like “tall” and “wet” and “straight” and how they fall into different categories. For example, if you have two items sitting on a table and you say to someone, “hand me the tall one,” well, even if they are both under six inches the person will still hand you one of them. But if you have two glasses of water, both partially filled, and you say, “hand me the full one” the person will be confused, because neither one of them is full.

Classes are going pretty well, one is really fun, one is really interesting and I feel like I really know what’s going on and can ask good questions, one is kind of boring (probably because it’s early in the morning), but we got a data set today to work on, so that’s exciting, and one is kind of my enemy right now, Semantics. Oh man, I haven’t done any kind of logic since my freshman year Intro to Philosophy class and I just don’t get it. I mean, propositional logic I’m alright with, but predicate logic and set theory? Hell. I don’t know. We turned in some homework today. I’m interested in seeing how I did. But it’s like learning a new language, it just takes a certain amount of exposure, and I’m getting that because I’m sitting in on a class on “Events” which is all semantics too. It’s good, I need to know this stuff, getting to know a topic is always somewhat painful, though.

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