master’s thesis … lost in translation

I need a good topic for my master’s thesis. Right now I’m sitting on my bed with the Swahili translation of Macbeth and hope that somehow I’ll get a better idea than analysing Shakespeare … why is there no Swahili version of The Lord of the Rings or 1984 or Brave New World? I found out someone wrote a science fiction novel in Swahili called Walenisi, but as far as I know it wasn’t translated to English – so much for comparing original and translation.

And I can’t start looking into the two other topics my prof proposed yet because both books are borrowed from the library by someone else right now. Sometimes I just want to curl up in a corner and convince myself that life without science could be happier. But would it? I’m not sure how long it would take until I’d be bored out of my mind. Maybe a year maximum.

Favourite Friday: Conversations

My favourite kinds of conversations are the ones which do not involve too many people. One to three people apart from me are okay most of the time. I don’t really like scheduled conversations because they can feel pretty unnatural and awkward (especially when someone says they want to talk to me alone without telling me why), but recently I learned to enjoy meeting up with a person one on one for coffee or hot chocolate to talk about university and a little bit about life. If they are the ones to ask it is much more comfortable, because then I know they really want to spend time with me or maybe even get advise. I love deep, meaningful conversations that seem to come out of the blue, like the ones when after a visit the first round of good-byes is said, but you just keep talking and sit down on the floor in the hallway for another hour. Or the day we met a friend at the station and stood there for an hour in the middle of the night, walked home, and stood there on the street for some more time. I even enjoy university related small-talk when I run across a fellow student in a building and it feels good to just stand there for a moment and compare the classes we attend or our homework loads. I love conversations that make me feel better. Talking to a lot of people or being in a big group which tends to split up into two or three groups talking among themselves makes me feel tired and exhausted, but when I spent some time talking to a person I really like it can leave me with a feeling of being more alive, more interested in getting a project started, or just emotionally satisfied and truly happy. Conversations which make me feel close to a person, and give me the impression of catching a glimpse of their heart.

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.