Friday, October 27, 2006

aarghs and yays

Aargh 1. I'm really annoyed with my students. I think I'll have to give them the lecture on Monday, about how they're in college now, and they're responsible for their own education, and it's not my job to remind them every day of what homework they're supposed to do.

Aargh 2. I was supposed to get Vertigo in the mail today from Netflix, but it didn't arrive. That's the only time so far that the a movie from there hasn't gotten here on time.

Yay 1. NaNoWriMo is almost here! I got a new idea for part of my plot the other day in a Linguistics class, although I'm not sure yet if it will actually work.

Yay 2. The other day I had an appointment with my professor for Research Methods and Bibliography in Linguistics (which, incidentally, is the class where I got that idea for my novel). We were supposed to meet to discuss these papers we're working on, the first part of which (intro and lit review) we turned in recently. It was a very good meeting, and coming away from it, I felt reassured about my ability to make it in the academic world.

Yay 3. Today I finally went to a study group session with some of the girls from my Old English class. The other day I had decided that I really needed to start making allies in that class, and I did have some good conversations with a couple girls when we recently met in the Rare Books Room of the library for class (we practiced transcribing different hands from medieval manuscripts -- great fun). So I promised faithfully that I would come to the study session today. And about half-way through it, I thought to myself, "I'm good at this. I can do this. I like this a lot." Unless something stops me, I'm going to go ahead and switch to Medieval.

Yay 4. In lieu of our not-yet-arrived Vertigo, we are watching The Three Faces of Eve tonight. Margo and I have never seen it before, and we thought it would be a good, somewhat-creepy movie for Halloween.

Yay 5. Margo's been doing an internship at the local hospital, and they had their annual bake sale today -- they have their neuro patients bake the stuff, using the activity as a therapeutic communication situation, and then they sell the stuff in the hospital lobby and donate the money to a charity. So Margo and I drove out there today during lunch-time and bought some stuff, and we're eating it while we watch our movie.

You used to make us laugh -- really was a gas. 33 points

Monday, October 23, 2006

it's official

Well, I'm doing it. I'm going to write a novel in November, as part of National Novel Writing Month 2006. I've also conviced that_one_erin to join me, and elliespen had already committed; I believe that JaneHeir is doing it, too ... let me know if you're planning on it for sure. Though it isn't required, I also signed up on the website, which will allow me to do weekly (or other-ly) word counts and let you all know how it's going. Here's a link, in case anyone else wants to join in the noveling fun:

Official NaNoWriMo 2006 Participant

The last quote was from "The Thin Man," as elliespen guessed. Amazingly, she says that she hasn't seen this in years, but she still remembered quite a few details from the scene. That's my girl! ;)

We all love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth knowing. (82 points)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

medieval summer and noveling November

I have been loving my Old English class, right? I think you all know this by now. Well, today, I went to see my professor to ask him some questions about changing my focus to Medieval Studies, rather than Poetics. Though I love stylistics, I have been very frustrated with my program here, and every time I have considered transferring to a different university, I have been pulled back -- apparently Heavenly Father has strong reasons why He needs me here, thought it certainly is not my first choice. But Medieval Studies would give me scope for lots of the things I'm interested in, and it would be much more marketable in the end than a Poetics degree. And, I can still use my Linguistics/Stylistics background to analyze medieval texts.

Since the field is, by nature, interdisciplinary, I would be able to take classes in music, art history, history, and even law, along with my classes in Literature to round it out. Plus, it would make sense for me to learn Latin (which, geek that I am, I've been wanting to do for some time now). My professor recommended that I go elsewhere for an intensive summer course in Latin, since what they offer here at UNT will be very elementary and very slow. I have found about four courses that I'm really interested in, at U of Toronto, Notre Dame, CUNY, and University College Cork. My favorite option, of course, is Cork; not only does the tuition include accomodation (for the others, it's additional), but it's in Ireland, for crying out loud. Chances are not good with that one working, however, since in addition to the tuition and fees, I would also have to spend money for tickets. Toronto is the cheapest, but I'm not especially keen on going to Toronto (not that I don't want to go there, just that I would rather go elsewhere). I really the options for CUNY and Notre Dame right now. I just think that would be amazingly fun.

I'm not ready to actually change my focus yet, but I am seriously considering it, and I have one more semester to mull it over before it will start affecting the classes I take.

I am also considering joining in with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. It's a fun-centered program that got started in 1999, where you write a 50,000-page novel in one month. I've wanted to write a novel for ages now, and this summer I actually started working on one a little bit (before long I decided it was something I would need to do lots more research on ...) But I did the math, and to write 50,000 words in one month, excluding Sundays, I would have to write 2,000 words a day. That's do-able. So I'm considering it. But, if nothing else, I have at least spread the word a little further. Anyone want to join me? (elliespen, I know you're pining to!)

Last quote was Natalie Imbruglia's "Shiver" -- a song I just love, and one that always reminds me of Lancaster (I heard it a lot over there).

I don't like crooks. And if I did like 'em, I wouldn't like crooks that are stool pigeons. And if I did like crooks that are stool pigeons, I still wouldn't like you! (122 points)

Monday, October 2, 2006

a little update, plus some thoughts on OE, PIE, and vowels

I haven't been feeling well, yesterday and today. I am staying home from classes today, so I've been sitting on the couch reading Agatha Christie and watching Murder, She Wrote.

I have been really enjoying my classes this semester. I feel like things are going a lot better in the ones I'm teaching -- it really helped to have one semester of that class behind so that I could take in all my mistakes from that term and try to fix them this time around.

And I'm still having a blast with Old English, and even with Historical Linguistics, even though that one is giving me a run for my money. It's still a struggle keeping my head above water all the time, but I don't mind so much having to sit around and memorize Old English verb conjugations, or comparing sets of data from related languages to figure out how they have changed.

You know, speaking of OE verbs ... When I tell people about Semitic languages like Hebrew, ancient Egyptian, and Arabic, and how they don't write their vowels (except for the 'weak' or 'semi-' vowels /w/ and /y/), but that they only write the consonants and then change the vowels to conjugate their verbs or decline their nouns -- when I tell people about this, they seem to think it's utterly incredible. However, English does similar things. This was brought home to me while I was studying my OE verbs the other day. See, in Old English, there were two basic types of verbs, weak and strong. The weak verbs form the past tense by adding a dental (a /d/ or /t/) to the stem, much as we do in Modern English: look, looked; rule, ruled. The strong verbs, on the other hand, form the past tense by changing their vowels: meet, met. This can (and frequently does) also include the past participle: sing, sang, sung; write, wrote, written. (I have used Modern English examples here, since our verbs have inherited these weak/strong attributes from Old English, and most of my readers, I imagine are more familiar with ModE than with OE.) As it turns out, these strong verbs, the vowel-changing verbs, were inherited from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), while the weak verbs were inherited from Proto-Germanic. That is, the strong verbs came from an ancient, unwritten language, while the weak verbs were made up later, after that language had already split into several different languages. That means that PIE verbs, like Semitic words, only alter their vowels to change their grammatical function. It seems entirely plausible to me, then, that PIE and these Semitic languages might be related to each other, at least in phonological processes if not in semantic or syntactic structure. If PIE had been written, might we find that it indicated only the consonants, and not those tricky, shifty vowels?

The last quote, correctly identified by both elliespen and emily, was from The Music Man, one of my all-time favorite movies.
Jump the tracks, can't get back, I don't know anyone 'round here, but I'm safe this time. (32 points)