Thursday, June 30, 2011

New (financial) year resolution

It's the end of the financial year here in Australia, although that doesn't mean too much to a PhD student.

While walking home from dinner the other night in the beautiful fog I decided rather abruptly that I would like to have a first draft of my thesis done by Christmas.

This is a good three months earlier than any other time-line I've considered, and also requires a terrifying words-per-week count - but I figure that while I'm brain deep in data I may as well just smash out as much of it as I can. I also figured that if I told the internets of this plan I'd be more likely to be stuck with it.

We'll see how I go - I've already written at least 10,000 words in the last month an my brain is already quite melty, but a draft would be the best possible Christmas present I can think of.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Map Win!

I've so excited - I've just found out that the satellite images of the area I work have been updated in Googlemaps. So now, instead of pixely greenery I can see each village and the paths between them. It's going to make it a lot easier to map the area now, especially after my GPS tracker failed on the last trip.

I don't think I'm going to get any work done today, instead I'm taking a virtual tour of where I work!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nepali cinemas banned from early session

One of those "only in Nepal" stories today, from one of my favourite Nepal blogs that is not written by an ex-pat in Nepal or a Nepali-overseas; X-Nepali.

Their most recent post was on the news that the Film Development Board of Nepal have decided to act as moral police and stop early film screenings to stop students cutting classes. X-Nepali point out many good reasons why this won't work, and what other problems face school-age children in Nepal. But why I find it delightfully and typically Nepali is that the ban is on films before 11 am. In Nepal it is completely typical to see a film at 8:30 in the morning. Until I went to a session that early while there I don't think I'd ever set foot in a cinema before about 2pm.

I have no idea whether this ban will come into effect, but it will be interesting to see how the FDB fare coming between Nepalis and their beloved cinema.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The alphabeical bibliography

I've been reformatting my bibliography for the work I've written so far and I've realised that I'm only a few letters off having a reference from people with surnames from every letter of the alphabet. The only ones I'm missing so far are:

F, I, Q, R, U, X and Y


The 'F' should be easy. I'll just mention something by F├╝rer-Haimendorf or Fisher who both wrote a lot about Sherpa, which is closely related to Tam. The 'R' will also be easy; one whole chapter of my thesis is a reflection on Robbins and Rumsey's 2008 collection on the Opacity of Mind doctrine. The others I'm not feeling so sure about. Surely there's a Young that's written something about Tibeto-Burman languages or copula verbs or something? Perhaps a Xaviers or Xenophone? A Quinn or an Unger?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Opening line

When not finishing up the sketch grammar, most of my time this week was taken up with fretting about writing the introduction to my thesis. I always leave introductions until the end, but I have to have this one done for a meeting in a few weeks. I know I can always come back to it, but the first crack is never fun.

Given that the thesis is looking at how Tam has all these cool grammatical features that encode social information I decided to start with a truism: 'Humans are a social species.'

I relish the irony that it's past 11pm on a Saturday night and I'm sitting on the sofa in my tracksuit pants, ignoring Handsome (who is, in turn, ignoring me and playing computer games) and indulging in some very anti-social activity.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sketch grammar done, for now

I've finally finished adding all the additional bits to the sketch grammar part of my thesis! It's terribly exciting, even if it's a still a bit terrible in parts. There's not a lot I can do about that, I'll have to wait until I've written some other chapters so I can fix up this bit to reflect what is written further down the track. As you can probably tell, it turns out writing a document this big (ie. a book) is quite a different pace to how I normally write, and a lot more circular.

Still, for now I'm happy with where it stands - it's around 31 thousand words (31, 308, but who is counting?) - although around 7,800 of those are of examples, so I have 23,500 words of thesis content which is very exciting. Because all of the examples are presented so spaced out, and thesis formatting requirements include 1.5 spacing and giant margins the document is a 230 page behemoth - and that's without the title, table of contents, bibliography or any appendices. It's dawned on me that the final product is going to be pretty darn hefty, which I'm quite pleased about.

Speaking of final products, finishing the sketch grammar means that I can turn my attention to other matters, like the tiny problem of the 20 thousand words I have due for my 2 year milestone in 6 weeks time. This is going to include my introduction, general background reading and then look at a bit of data. I've already got a couple of thousand words kicking around, but that leaves me having to write 600+ words a day (although I've scheduled weekends in there). It's going to involve some serious finger crampage but I'm excited at the prospect of having half my thesis written once it's done!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy birthday Rajesh Hamal!

Today is the birthday of one of my, and one of Nepal's, favourite actors - Rajesh Hamal.




Debonair, with a good voice and the ability to land a flying kick, Rajesh possesses all the skills needed to be one of the top actors in Nepal, which is why he has been for many years, and still continues to be. His youthful long hair allowed him to play a university student journalist in last year's Desh (my review here).

He's also king of Nepali product endorsement. It wasn't his fault that after his endorsement for Real Juice there was evidence they were selling out of date juice. During my time in Nepal I've also seen billboards where he's spruked concrete and canola oil - not to mention the dozen or so films he is in every year. Even turning 47 today Rajesh shows no sign of slowing down. Happy birthday Rajesh!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Stuff that (linguistic field workers) like

I've been reading 'stuff expat aid workers like' since it started up six months ago. I was put into it by a friend doing aid work in Nepal - and while I occasionally find it hard to relate there are some posts that really hit home for me. For these you could do a find-and-replace with 'expat aid worker' and 'field linguist' and it would basically be a post on this blog. For these occasional gems SEAWL is the only 'stuff X like' blog that I always read.

The most recent post about 'having a guy for that' is so on the money with how I run my life in Nepal. I have my tailor, my shoe guy, my fabric guy, my Nepali sweets guy, my jeweller, my travel agent, my bookshop guy, my paan guy and all number of other specific people for specific jobs. Like the blog above mentions, I really like introducing friends and colleagues to 'my guys' and, of course, if you're going to Nepal I'll happily put you in touch with them.

Although the SEAWL post gives the impression that this set up is to make one feel more impressive when showing off in front of fellow foreigners, there are also other more practical reasons as to how these relationships develop. It's partly out of laziness - places like Kathmandu are big and if you want something but don't know where to start looking it can be a slow slow process. Once you found someone who'll get you what you need why go back to looking? Also, being such an old-ball giant white Nepali speaker means that going back to the same people every time circumvents the 'yes I do speak you language/no I'm not rich/I don't have kids/etc.' conversation. And finally, in a place where if always takes a little while to feel like you've got social connections, it's nice to have familiar faces to say hello to on your way though somewhere.