I was in Botswana during the academic year 2019-2020. I have been home for about a month. So, it is a good moment for me to reflect on the things I miss there. Here is a small list (order not important):
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Monday, September 14, 2020
In this post, I will discuss our Field Methods 2020 class, focusing on the issue of teaching remotely. I will give weekly updates.
Sunday, September 6, 2020
This is my very first graduate student paper written over 30 years ago. It is very rough in many ways, which is probably why I never tried to publish it, and I never presented it at a conference. I do not intend to post it on Lingbuzz.
Collins, Chris. 1988. Conjunction Adverbs. Ms., MIT.
Collins, Chris. 1988. Conjunction Adverbs. Ms., MIT.
Sunday, August 9, 2020
This blog post was inspired by a recent Facebook thread on my Facebook page discussing one of Barbara Partee’s talks on the history of formal semantics:
Sunday, August 2, 2020
Sunday, July 26, 2020
The objective of a review for a linguistics journal is to evaluate whether a submission advances the scientific study of human language. If the submission makes such an advance, it should be accepted. If it does not, it should be rejected.
Working in linguistics can be mentally and emotionally challenging. The field is set up in a way to measure performance at almost every turn, and often there is a negative outcome. I will give a list of some types of failure and rejection, and then give general advice on how to handle them. I suggest that failure should be seen in a positive light, as an opportunity for growth. It should not be feared, but rather embraced, and it should definitely not lower your self-esteem.
Sunday, July 5, 2020
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Venue: online (Zoom)
Registration: There is no registration fee, but attendees need to register.A registration link and further information will be posted at a later date.
Date: December 4-5, 2020
Organizers: Chris Collins (NYU) and Richard Kayne (NYU)
The purpose of this conference is to investigate the relationship between morphology and syntax, and in particular to investigate the extent to which morphological generalizations can be accounted for in terms of purely syntactic operations and conditions. Specific questions that could be addressed include the following:
(The following is a guest post by Henk van Riemsdijk responding to the following post:
Here are the next three monographs that I want to write, presented in the order in which they will be written. Most of the material has already been written up (and posted on Lingbuzz and on my blog OrdinaryWorkingGrammarian in various forms).
I outline some sound recording set-ups that I have used. I am definitely not an expert, but I have not found anywhere on the internet laying out these options, and their pros and cons especially in the context of linguistic fieldwork. I believe that there is no best method. The one you use depends on the requirements and goals for the particular video.
Transcription of oral texts is difficult and time consuming. It is made more difficult when the words are spoken quickly and softly, and when the audio is not optimal (e.g., too much wind, background noise). Adding to the difficulty, one may have several hours of oral texts to transcribe.
Monday, May 25, 2020
Monday, May 18, 2020
This short squib was triggered by the following joke that I saw on Facebook (in the group “I Love Mathematics”):
Wife: Please could you go to the shop and get a carton of milk, if they have avocados get six.
Husband: [Returning from the shop with six cartons of milk]: They had avocados.
Friday, May 15, 2020
In this post, I argue that we, as a field, are at the beginning of the scientific study of natural language syntax. There are two aspects to this claim. First, work in generative syntax, even on a well-studied language like English, has just uncovered the tip of the iceberg in terms of documenting the relevant facts and generalizations. Second, we are also at the very beginning of understanding the mechanisms of UG that account for these generalizations.
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
A heavily revised version of a paper on the Greek and English passive by Nikos Angelopoulos, Chris Collins and Arhonto Terzi. Lots of very interesting theoretical conclusions about by-phrases, VoiceP and the Theta-Criterion.
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
In this post, I discuss the use of the phrases “grammaticality judgment” and “acceptability judgment”. I end the post by suggesting that the phrase “grammaticality judgment” should be used for the kind of data that syntacticians gather in a judgment task.
at May 06, 2020
Monday, May 4, 2020
In this post, I walk you through what a typical middle class house in Gaborone, Botswana looks like (the neighborhood is Block 6). This house is in no way unusual for Gaborone. In fact, there are many neighborhoods where the houses look more or less like this (e.g., Block 7 and Block 8). Of course, there is much more expensive housing in Gaborone too, especially in Phakalane. And there is less expensive housing too, in places like Mogoditshane (just outside of Gaborone, on the road to Molepolole).
Thursday, April 30, 2020
An Interview with Paul Postal
The following is an interview with Paul Postal on his career in linguistics. The interview took place via e-mail during the coronavirus pandemic, from Tuesday March 24, 2020 to the end of April, 2020. For readability, some of the questions and answers have been edited and the order of a few of the questions has been altered.
Saturday, April 25, 2020
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
April 9, 2020
Everybody has problems nowadays. I am taking this opportunity to document some of my own.
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Cambridge Handbook of Minimalism
Edited by Kleanthes K. Grohmann and Evelina Leivada
In minimalist syntax, the syntactic objects formed at any particular step in the derivation occupy a workspace. This chapter will be about the role workspaces play in the minimalist syntax. The emphasis will be on the following questions:
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
What do we do, as syntacticians, when there are differing grammaticality judgments between two speakers for a particular sentence? How do we interpret those differences theoretically? In this blog post, I outline various alternatives.
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Sometimes graduate students ask me for general advice on doing well in graduate school. I have compiled a list of tips that I give them. The points are not presented in order of importance. If you have other tips that I should add, let me know!
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Monday, February 17, 2020
These are things I noticed while living on and off in these countries (in the Peace Corps in Togo, and doing linguistic research in both Togo and Botswana) over the last 35 years. Many of these differences extend to other countries so that the difference might be really West African versus southern Africa. They are all rather superficial, since I am essentially a stranger looking from the outside in.
Friday, February 14, 2020
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Monday, February 3, 2020
On February 1, 2020, at around 4:00pm, while driving home from the cattle post, my wife and I were involved in a horrible car accident. We had just gotten on to the gravel road, from the cattle post road, and I lost control of the car. The car spun 180 degrees to the right, and then flipped over 270 degrees onto the driver’s side. The top of the car is crumpled in, and the front windshield is completely shattered. The car is basically destroyed, and will be written off by the insurance company. Some pictures are at the end of the post.
Here is a rough draft of my UCONN talk to be given Friday February 7, 2020.
Sunday, January 26, 2020
Sunday, January 19, 2020
People from other countries often find writing a Statement of Purpose (SOP) for linguistics graduate school in North America to be frustrating and mystifying. To help address this issue, I am posting a set of example SOPs from current and past graduate students as examples.
Saturday, January 18, 2020
Meta-linguistic awareness is an important concept in linguistic fieldwork, but as far as I know it has never before been discussed in that connection. In this blog post, I will define the concept, give several examples and explain why it is important for fieldwork.
Thursday, January 2, 2020
I have been coming to Botswana on a regular basis since 2011 to do research on the Khoisan languages. Usually, I live somewhere in Gaborone, and then make expeditions into the field. When in Gaborone, I try to bike every morning to wake myself up.
Everybody knows somebody who is terrible at e-mail. Here is a system of e-mail grades for your colleagues, students and friends. At the end of each year (December 31), just send them their grade, and the description of what the grades mean. I guarantee that you will see a notable improvement in their e-mail performance the following year.