Long Time No Write

Hi folks!

It’s been a while – mea culpa!

Some of you may have followed me on Instagram and Twitter for shorter updates and random thoughts. (And the Star Wars hair styles I did today and yesterday to entertain a co-worker, go look at them on IG if you need a chuckle!) I really want to get back into writing; I’m just not sure of the format.

There are some topics I want to touch, but I’d like to put more effort into these.

  • Getting in touch with your body and your identity through martial arts (and handling blunt weapons, lol)
  • Contentment vs. happiness
  • Space (I’d love to create something about planets, moons, and asteroids, playing with different ideas right now)
  • Navigating life with a mind full of opposites
  • Background noise

I’m busy with work most days and want to keep this blog completely separate from my job for different reasons. I’m still a linguist, doing linguist things in a language project for a company, destroying (and fixing) templates, and occasionally dabbling in logic programming and python, while filling my desk with plants, listening to weird music, and drinking a little too much espresso. Sometimes I fold origami manta rays and other creatures when I need a break.

A long due update on my journey in capoeira will follow shortly!

See you soon!

PS: The last few months I didn’t find motivation for photography beyond the low-quality phone snapshots and I still haven’t posted the images from the last wedding I photographed. Life has been crazy, the weather disgusting, and nothing really interesting was going on. I’m waiting for the sky to clear so I can take pictures of the moon with my new tele-zoom lens, then next month I’ll be at the big annual capoeira workshop with my camera.



master’s thesis update: one week to go

Just one more week until I have to prepare my master’s thesis for printing! Tonight I finished the contents of the chapter on the theoretical framework, just some examples and citations need a little more work. I’ll do that when my proofreaders say the content is okay and not full of logical wholes.

I’m quite content with another chapter, which is on special uses, metaphorical meanings and possible grammaticalisation. At the moment it’s longer than the chapters on the “normal” usage!

The biggest struggle is the statistics – I’m still not sure about more than half of the tags, so counting them is fuzzy business, and my first attempt of counting resulted in weird numbers that just didn’t add up when comparing the stats for the different aspects I’m looking into. Big drama last night. I’ll have to rework the categorisation, the tagging, and the stats before I’ll be able to write something decent on lexicalisation. And syntax. I hate describing fuzzy syntax stuff.

Morphology is mostly alright. So far I’ve refrained from working statistics into the morphology chapter; this will be reserved for the unlikely case of finishing the other things early enough. Putting affixes in categories and describing their use was quite nice for a change, though I’ll have to spend at least one more day on it to fill in all the examples and describe a few things more detailed.

Just so-so are the chapters on the data used, terminology, and inference. Inference is an interesting topic, but I lack the knowledge (and time) to research it in depth. The introduction is fairly solid, though the order could be better, and the outlook/conclusion will need some serious input in the end. Not sure about the troubleshooting chapter yet.

All in all I’ve more or less reached the absolute minimum of required pages; but this includes the still empty tables for these freaking stats. I’ll gain another page or two during the final formatting session by widening the side margins for my professors to write in their comments, but I’d rather be able to hand in at least the suggested 80 pages, the biggest tables not included in this figure.

In case you’ve made it so far through this bland post, thanks for reading, and please, send me some motivation, prayers, and maybe a few vegetables, I should stop living on sugary stuff.



umbrellas in the library


Today it rained and rained and rained like crazy, and there was a lot of wind as well. I was stuck in a building after eating lunch because I didn’t want to get soaked within two minutes and then sit in the library for the rest of the day while shivering in my wet clothes. Later it got better for a moment so I ventured to another library first to get some books. As usually I went to the rows of lockers first and was greeted by a colourful swarm of umbrellas. There are at least three rows of lockers (I never counted, but it could be four or five) and all of them were covered in open umbrellas! I guess on a day like this no one worries about thieves because there are bigger problems.

I went outside with my books and got a little drenched because I didn’t want to wait another hour, but at least my coat didn’t leak so I could go into the other library and sit on the floor hidden between rows of shelves with a stack of books on cognitive linguistics in front of me.

Voyager: You are my Sunshine

Music and Star Trek again. This time a real scene from Star Trek: Voyager. A former Borg and a hologram singing a duet – oh, the sweet randomness of science fiction. Even though I sort of dislike both Seven of Nine and the Doctor (he must be one of the most annoying holograms ever, gah) I have to admit that this is a wonderful scene.

Whenever I’ll be done with this annoying term paper I’ll just wrap myself in a blanket and glue myself to a screen to re-watch some good old TNG and Voyager. Take that, Mr Talmy and friends. I’ll just pretend I’m studying alien languages, hoping they don’t express locomotion at all.




I think I hate-love Graphviz

For a term paper I’m trying to create a network graph with the programme “Graphviz”. It has some really cool features like dotted edges and different node shapes, but the edges are crossing each other like crazy and I can’t move the nodes/edges by hand. So I’ve been trying to solve that puzzle for more than four hours now. Very frustrating. This paper and another one are both due in two weeks. Maybe I should go back to the programme I used before and ignore the fact that I need partitions and all, because I still have to go through the remaining 7/8 of a  Swahili novel and discuss the locomotion verbs for paper #2. I like the novel and it’s fun working with it, but there are some really weird verbs and I have no clue how to classify them yet.

I want it to look fancy like this … but it doesn’t. (http://www.graphviz.org/Gallery/undirected/fdpclust.png)

Maybe I should study theology or something like that … linguistics can be really weird and confusing sometimes. Speaking of theology – I’ve signed up for an Old Hebrew class at university for next semester, just because I can do so. (And because I’d like to learn some of the classic languages, of course. I’ll try my luck with studying some basics of Latin on my own as well, right now I’m only able to read simple sentences, especially if they are related to religious concepts.)

Favourite Friday: Classes this semester

Yesterday I realized I love my Thursday classes at university. Especially the second one, which happens to be the last one of my week .

Favourite classes this semester:

Tense, Aspect, and Modality. It is taught by a professor emeritus who seems to enjoy teaching us funny things about metaphors and the likes. He tries to help us find things out for ourselves by asking questions and giving us the opportunity to thing of our own examples for phenomena. It’s a mixed course with undergraduate and graduate students from different programmes, so we’re a pretty mixed group of about seven students with different levels of knowledge and different backgrounds. Yay for enlightening discussions at the end of my academic week. Oh, and the seminar is held with a focus on cognitive linguistics.

Semantic Networks and The Mental Lexion are both cool. I signed up for these classes independently (in two entirely different modules), but they go together rather nicely. Basically it’s all about the question how our knowledge is stored and accessed, and which concepts are linked to others in a certain way. The first one is more about representing the relationships between words/concepts found in linguistic corpora, the latter is concerned with the organization of the actual “storage” system in the human brain.

I might like Statistics for Linguists, but I’m not so sure yet. At least the tool and programming language we will use (“R”) seem to be easy enough to manage. And next week another class will start,  which will be on Language and Knowledge. Sounds fancy.

Random funny fact: Many lectures at our university use Calvin and Hobbes cartoons to introduce us to new concepts, or to make us think about aspects e.g. of language we tend to overlook.

Favourite Friday: Favourite Classes during my B.A. studies

The first week of the new semester is over! I’ve attended some nice classes so far. Right now I’m in the third semester of my master programme (M.A. in Linguistics), so I think it’s time to remember …

my favourite classes back in the B.A. programme:

Cognitive Linguistics. It was an elective class I took to connect my major (African Languages: Documentation and Analysis) to my minor (Psychology), and I enjoyed it so much! Most of the time there were between 5 and 10 students in class, and our lecturer was a pretty young academic himself, so we had lots of fun discussing recent theories and difficult articles (though reading them at home was not so funny), and learning from each other. This semester I’m taking a bunch of courses related to this subject, hopefully they’ll be interesting as well!

Biopsychology was not everybody’s cup of tea, but I liked it (and was pretty good at it). Braaaaains. I hope I’ll be able to take some classes in Neuro- or Patholinguistics in the future to follow up with it.

Swahili … lugha nzuri. One of the reasons I joint this specific programme was the opportunity to take language classes for three years. Sometimes we even sang songs in class.

Educational Psychology and Clinical Psychology both were very interesting, though the exam for the latter was quite difficult.

Phonetics and Phonology rank pretty high on my list of favourites as well. [kən ju ɹiːd θɪs]?

Manuscript Cultures … well, I really liked most of the contents because I’ve been interested in the history of writing systems since my later childhood. Cuneiform in ancient Mesopotamia? Hieroglyphs and the rebus principle? Being allowed to touch old African “magic scrolls” in class? Count me in. Just the way the lectures were held was not very appealing to me (the fact that I had trouble understanding the lecturer’s accent may have been a big influence as well), so I spent some classes eating licorice and just reading the provided scripts (which were very detailed, easy to understand, and generally helpful, really!) instead of listening all the time. Sorry, prof.