NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 1999
In this issue:
Greetings from the 11th floor of Van Hise Hall!
I'd like to welcome you to the rebirth of the UW-Madison Linguistics department newsletter. We're going to try to put the newsletter out twice a year, but at the very least annually. I know: promises, promises... but we are in fact going to try to keep it going this time.
Now, some of our alumni may be wondering, "Who is this person writing this column?" The reason you may be wondering is that I'm just starting my fourth year in the department (and my first year as chair)so those of you who graduated before Fall of 1996 will not know me. (You can learn more about me by seeing the faculty section below.)
There have been many other changes in the department as well since the last newsletter. We were greatly saddened in 1996 by the losses of Professor Valdis Zeps and Professor Peter Schreiber. Professor Emeritus Murray Fowler also passed away this last winter. But on a happier note, we have enjoyed the presence of several visitors: Thomas Purnell has been with us for the last two years, and this year we have Hooi Ling Soh and Matthew Pearson teaching for us.
We have many projects underway in the department this year. Among other things, we're writing a graduate manual, considering significant changes to our undergraduate major, continuing our series of colloquia and conferences, and of course bringing back the newsletter. One of my goals as chair is to make this department a bustling, active, exciting place to be. The revitalization of the LSO has already done a lot to make this happenit's provided a wonderful sense of community to the graduate students, and its numerous committees function to make sure that students' voices are heard in the running of the department. Many thanks to the students who have been organizing it.
Thank you again for all you've done for us. We wish you a happy, successful, and prosperous new yearand may the Y2K bug not bite you!
Monica Macaulay, Chair
Following you'll find descriptions of some of our current faculty. Sketches of other faculty members will appear in future issues.
Hooi Ling Soh: Dr. Soh came to the Linguistics Department in August 1999 as a visiting Assistant Professor. She received her doctorate from the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT. Her areas of interest include syntax, the phonology-syntax interface and the syntax-semantics interface, and she works on Chinese dialects (Mandarin, Hokkien and Shanghai) and Malay. Her recent publications include: Object Scrambling in Chinese, Ph.D. dissertation, MIT (distributed by MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, 1998); "Object scrambling in Chinese: A closer look at post-duration/frequency phrase position," in Proceedings of North Eastern Linguistic Society 28 (1998); and "Scrambling in double complement constructions," in Proceedings of the Western Conference of Linguistics (to appear).
Sheldon Klein: Dr. Klein has been a Professor of Computer Sciences and Linguistics since 1973 (Ph.D. Linguistics, UC-Berkeley, 1963. B.A. Anthropology, UC-Berkeley, 1956.) He has numerous research projects, and experience including: Artificial Intelligence Research Group, System Development Corporation,1961-64; Research Investigator for Zellig Harris (Transformations and Discourse Analysis Project), Linguistics Department, University of Pennsylvania, 1959. He has done linguistic fieldwork with the Kawaiisu Indians, 1958 (University of CA Survey of California Indian Languages), and 1981-86 (Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research). His most recent publication (Invited Plenary Paper) is "The Analogical Foundations of Creativity in Language, Culture and the Arts: the Upper Paleolithic to 2100CE," in Proceedings of The Eighth International Workshop on the Cognitive Science of Natural Language Processing (1999), edited by Paul McKevitt et al., Information Technology Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway, pp. 20-32. For related details & other references see: http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~sklein/sklein.html.
Monica Macaulay: Dr. Macaulay joined the faculty here at the UW in Fall of 1996. She got her degree at the University of California-Berkeley, and spent seven long years teaching at Purdue University. Her areas of specialization are morphology and American Indian languages, and she is currently working on the Algonquian language Menominee with a wonderful team consisting of two graduate students and five undergraduates.
J. Randolph Valentine: Dr. Valentine's professional interests are in the study and promotion of Native American languages, particularly the Algonquian languages of the Great Lakes region. His dissertation was an extensive dialectological study of Ojibwe, involving the collection of field data and the development of computer programs for analyzing and presenting the materials he gathered. He has recently completed an extensive grammar of a dialect of Ojibwe spoken along the shores of Lake Huron. Recent work also includes assistance in the editing of a dictionary of Northern Ojibwe for Ojibwe-speaking schoolchildren in northern Ontario, and he is presently providing lexicographical assistance to another Ojibwe dictionary project. He has also developed novel approaches to the presentation of Algonquian textual materials, including computer programs for generating inflectional concordances of richly inflected languages, and has published a collection of annotated Ojibwe stories originally transcribed by Leonard Bloomfield. He also has an avid interest in Algonquian ethnopoetics, particularly the rhetorical structures associated with oral traditional myths, legends, and historical accounts. "I consider it a great privilege to do the work I do, and very much enjoy being a part of the scholarly community here at the University of Wisconsin."
Two of our faculty retired at the end of last year: Don Becker and Andrew Sihler. Manindra Verma will retire as of January, 2000. Here, Professors Becker and Sihler discuss their retirement plans; we'll get Professor Verma to write us something for a future issue.
Don Becker: Dr. Becker's main scholarly project at the moment is working on his book on old German script, which is designed to familiarize students of German with various styles of handwriting used from the late 18th through the early 20th century. The samples in the book will be printed with computer fonts that he has created based on old documents. The book will be useful to students of German literature who need to read correspondences as well as to Americans of German ancestry who are researching their family trees and need to decipher handwritten family records. Otherwise, his retirement plans include working on his Spanish so that he can help his wife Carolyn with her book project. (They went back to Argentina for a couple of weeks at the end of October.) They now have four satellite dishes for pulling in foreign-language TV and radio broadcasts which they are using to improve their comprehension skills. He also hopes at some point to get back to writing computer programs for teaching foreign languages. On the lighter side, he's playing accordion with the University's Russian Folk Orchestra. Thus far he has been using his trusty old piano accordion that he has had for nearly 50 years, but he is trying to learn to play a "bayan" (technically, a b-system chromatic accordion) which is more often used in Russian music.
Andrew Sihler: [editor's note: we feel that this must be reproduced in first person, as Professor Sihler wrote it. The prose so captures the essence of the man that we cannot bear to tamper with it.] I arrived in Madison in late May of 1967, a Yale sheepskin (still warm) in my white-knuckled grip. At that point I was younger than a number of our graduate students. My part in the great scheme of things was to teach general and diachronic linguistics and, upon his retirement, inherit the mantle of Indo-Europeanist of Record from Murray Fowler.
My publications, which are not notable for their number, are largely in Indo-European linguistics, starting with two long articles based on my dissertation. More accurately, they are how I would have written the dissertation if I had known, when I started it, what I knew when I finished. In the process, I wound up being the world's greatest expert on Sievers-Edgerton's phenomena. That is too bad, as there is little demand for such expertise; and worse, in my (exceedingly well-informed) opinion, there never were any such Indo-European phenomena in the first place.
Having Warren Cowgill as a teacher did not inspire self-confidence. He was a mild and kindly man, but had a knack for making one feel ignorant and foolish. His standards were high, his knowledge immense. (It didn't get that way by accident. I remember him at a party, whether bored or neglected I don't know, standing in a corner flipping through a deck of Lithuanian vocabulary flash-cards which he had in his pocket for just such emergencies.) It was only with his premature death, in fact, that I felt enough confidence to tackle a really major project I had been considering for a while, namely revising C.D. Buck's Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin. In the end, though, the 'revision' was so extensive that the publisher thought the book was a tub on its own bottom. It is currently in its sixth printing, I believe. (A fact which would be more flattering if the printings weren't so small.)
I have a contract with John Benjamins to publish a sort of short crash course in historical linguistics aimed at students in language departments who find themselves studying (being made to study, actually) such subjects as the comparative grammar of Greek and Latin or the history of German or of English, but who have no linguistic background, syn- or diachronic. It therefore presumes nothing on the part of a reader but interest, intelligence, and a modicum of sophistication (but not about linguistics). I am currently working on revisions.
In 1997-98 Ranko Matasovic, precocious occupant of the Indo-European chair at the University of Zagreb, came to Madison on a Fulbright with the object of 'studying' with me, a misconception since he is more knowledgeable about the subject, despite his youth, than I am. But the association was a wholly agreeable one, and on the basis of my handouts for Linguistics 777 and 778 Prof. Matasovic suggested that we collaborate on an unorthodox sort of Introduction to Indo-European, consisting of brief historical sketches and sample texts with fairly detailed syn- and diachronic commentary. That is still very much in the works.
The two major events in my personal life since coming to Madison, I suppose, were meeting John Tallman in late 1980, an attorney for the University of Wisconsin System Administration; and buying a historic 'Prairie School' house with him in 1984. We both like to cook. We both like cats. John gardens, and the lovely grounds around our house are the product of his imagination and hard work. (I pull weeds.) In addition to us two, our household has included from time to time Harriet, Dudley, Leland, Dexter, Anabel, Christian, Matthew, and Leigh. The first five are cats (or were; only the last two are still alive), the last three are John's children.
Our graduate students continue to present and publish up a storm...
After a year without any elected LSO officers, the linguistics graduate students met during the summer of 1998 to draft a constitution for the LSO. The new constitution created seven committees: Colloquium, Curriculum and Instruction, Degree Programs, Library, Phonetics Lab, Student Relations, and Information Technology. As well as two elected committee chairs for each committee, the constitution created four more elected positions: two co-presidents, a scribe, and a treasurer. Students volunteered to fill these positions in 1998-1999, and then in the Spring of 1999 elections were held for 1999-2000. The new constitution and the involvement of about half of the graduate student body quickly showed results. During 1998-1999 several students and professors from the department gave talks as part of the LSO Colloquia series. An LSO web page was designed. Many social activities were planned that increased student involvement and increased the opportunities to share ideas and discuss frustrations with fellow students. Student representatives also gave input to the department in regard to courses offered, the structure of the program and much more.
The LSO has much planned for the 1999-2000 academic year. We are proud to have helped sponsor the visit by Morris Halle in November and are currently working to bring other speakers to the UW. There will be a working papers volume published in the Spring. As well as several social activities, the Student Relations Committee will be working on a tutoring list for lower level classes as well as study groups.
Congratulations to our recently-minted Doctors of Philosophy:
The Main Office
Jackie Drummy continues to be the omniscient one. Here's a message from her: Yes, yes it's true I am still here and although many changes have taken placesome good, some badthis office remains the same. Many of the postcards and treasures you have given me throughout the years still adorn the room and probably in the same spot! I look at them and picture the individual that gave it to me and wonder how you are doing. Many of you have kept in touch and it's always great hearing from you. I apologize here if I haven't been so faithful but since email is so readily available these days, I will leave my address at the end of this message. I hope I will be around long enough to see your offspring walk though these doors (whether they do linguistics or not) and introduce themselves, and we can talk about the days their parents were in school. I hope life has been good to all of you and please do keep in touch. (email: firstname.lastname@example.orgI'll be waiting!!!!)
Talks & Colloquia
Thanks in large part to your generous donations, we have been able to sponsor a number of speakers over the last several years, both from outside the University and from within. These speakers have included:
In addition, in March of 1999, we had a memorial lecture for Professor Valdis J. Zeps, given by Dell Hymes. In November of this year we have had two big events: first, a panel on the topic of linguistic fieldwork at which seven graduate students (from Linguistics: Rebecca Kavanagh, Marianne Milligan, Jason Roberts, Randi Stebbins, and John Taylor; from German: Mike Lind; and from French and Italian: Jim Schwarten) discussed their field experiences. Second, we cosponsored (with the German Department) a phonology roundtable on "The Representation-Rule Constraint Confluence." This included talks by Musaed Bin-Muqbil, Fred Eckman & Gregory Iverson, David Holsinger, Paul Houseman, William Idsardi, and Thomas Purnell. And finally, in early December, Matt Pearson gave the first LSO faculty colloquium of the year.
We thank the following alumni and other friends for their donations to the Department of Linguistics:
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