Friday, February 24, 2012

The disappearing field trip

The fun thing about a short field trip is the almost breathless pace life takes on. I came back the other day from 6 days visiting a Tam speaking friend in Chitwan, and after 2 days of sightseeing in Kathmandu with a friend I'll be heading off to Helambu to see just what the Yolmo there is like, before heading off to Lamjung for a week. That'll give me enough time to get back, get my laundry done and say my farewells.

This blog has taken a bit of a back seat this year. That's partly because of Superlinguo I guess, but also partly because this is no longer so novel. I'm used to Kathmandu, with it's shoddy electricity, cows on the road and chaotic colour. I'm also more relaxed and confident about exactly what the hell I'm doing with my work day to day. 

I'll drop back and report after my Helambu adventures - this is where speakers of Tam migrated from a century or so ago so I'm excited to hear what the language there is like!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Into India

I'm in India this week for the North East Indian Linguistics Society annual conference. Having only just settled into Kathmandu life I've suddenly found myself sight-seeing in Delhi for a few days and today I'm heading to Assam where the conference is being held.

Delhi has presented no great culture shock. If anything I'm impressed that the roads are so nice, the cars so new and the weather less bitterly cold. I have found getting around rather difficult, and I keenly feel how much easier life in Nepal is because I can speak Nepali. These few days have actually been a rather pleasant reminder of just how easy I find living in Nepal compared to when I first got there. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gastro, Bhandas, and Festivities

These are the three things that, for me, take the most time away from doing any actual work here - and they've all happened in the last few days.

The festival was Sonam Losar for the Tamang community, and appears to fall in line with the Chinese New Year. This festival actually wasn't disruptive to my own plans - and it was fun to see lots of women dressed in traditional Tamang clothing.

The gastro was much more on my mind. It's never fun to have the voms - but when I only got started on work a couple of days ago it put a bit of a dent in newly forming work habits. It's also less fun when there's not a decent shower to be had, nor enough electricity to allow me to spend all day watching DVDs in bed.

The bandha is on today. For people new to Nepal/this blog a bandha is a work stoppage - where everyone from big factories to street vendors stop work for a morning/day/several days to protest something. This one is over the rising price of petrol and LPG - it's been a while since I've seen one quite this effective. Normally one can head off the main streets or into the tourist area to find life kicking on as usual, or things will start out serious and then ease off by about 2 when everyone is bored. But this time things are still well shut up at this hour of the day (if you don't know where to look).

All I can say is that I'm glad I didn't have to go anywhere more than walking distance today!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Back in the 'du

It's nice to be back, but Nepal is having the coldest winter in quite a while and the chilly temperatures in the morning and evening are quite a shock. The days are still warm enough if the sky is clear and the sun can shine - and it's certainly a good topic of conversation.

Many people from last year are still in Kathmandu, which has eased the return, and today I get back into the full swing of things; a morning lesson with A. and them I'm off to deliver the dictionary-making gear to N. and his family. Here's hoping some mental exertion will distract me from the cold!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hello, Goodbye

Hello sadly neglected blog! Another field trip looms - I'll be back in Nepal on Monday for the final PhD-related visit. It's only two months, which I know sounds facetious given that two months is a long time, but after the previous visits this one feels much shorter. I'll also be spending a week of that time at a conference in India, as though two months weren't short enough already.

It's been a big year of linguistics for me. Superlinguo has taken over much of my linguistics blogging time, but there have been other adventures as well. On the work front I managed to get a dictionary printed up, and I'm starting a small-scale dictionary project with speakers of a related language.

In linguistic activities not related to the PhD specifically, I wrote an opinion piece for The Age on the commentary around politicians' language. My friend Jill and I did some work on LOLcats, which we presented at ALS, and it was rather popular.

I'm looking forward to this field trip. It's largely going to be double-checking things in the thesis and testing some hypotheses that have come out of recent analysis. So the work won't be too strenuous, I'm confident my Nepali will come back good enough to get by, and I'm excited to see everyone.

I'll be back here posting about the usual kinds of crazy things that happen when working in Nepal, and I'll cross-post any linguistically related topics both here and at Superlinguo. And as always I look forward to sharing the experience!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Spring at home

Thanks to a couple of years of fieldwork it's been a long time since I've enjoyed a spring at home. It's been so nice with the football grand final, the start of daylight savings and the jasmine blossoms. It makes a change from the humid, sticky end of monsoon in Nepal!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Lecture

This year I'm making the most of being home for a whole 12 months by doing lots of teaching as well as lots of writing. Last week I was fortunate enough to give a lecture in the subject that I'm tutoring for! The subject is all about linguistic diversity, and it's designed for students who are at the end of their undergraduate course.

The class I had to take was on cross-linguistic variation in event description. I was lucky enough to be able to base it on two of my favourite areas of research - evidentiality and gesture. I used lots of real examples and all of my favourite examples. I was amazed at how quickly an hour of talking could go! Hopefully the students also found it relatively painless...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Strange ideas I sometimes have

I was chatting to a class about dialects of English the other day, and how some are so different as to almost boarder on being non-mutually comprehensible.

How excellent and interesting it would be to get two disparate groups of English speakers - for maximal difference let's say northern Scottish and Indian - and get them to work together in a situation where there is no standard English. I wonder if they would try and drift towards a dialect that is not native to any of them, or create a pigeon/creole? I think it would be excellent to have a Creole where the superstrate and substrate languages are both English. I got terribly excited about the idea but the students didn't appear to take to it as much as I did.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Break time

I handed a giant wad of printed pages to my supervisor last Friday, which somehow constitute my two-year report. I've got at least a week until she gets it back to me, so I'm using that time productively to get some serious tv/reading/gaming in, as well as a bunch of social engagements. It's so nice to have a few days brain recharge.

Friday, July 8, 2011

year three (?)

Sometimes PhD comics are just a bit too close to reality:

I've technically been on leave for three months to get myself back on track after the last field trip (the kind of leave where you still work every day, which is not really fun). I should have done my 2 year milestone report about three or four months ago, and even if you subtract the 3 months leave it's still a good month or two over due. If it wasn't for the fact that the enrollment office keeps track of these things on the internet I'd have no idea that they're under the impression that I'm going to get this finished by the end of May next year.