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Today I found out I have been using staple removers wrong for my whole life.

I’m enjoying my new job at the International Student Services office. Sometimes I can even answer a few questions without asking a supervisor or crawling under a bench in terror. The students’ names fascinate me. So far my favorite is Sock-Pin, which is someone’s first name. I’m not sure where it’s from, maybe Thailand? Thanks to that syllable-final non-nasal consonant, I think we can all agree that it ain’t Chinese.

Someone told me last week that the Chinese name their children by throwing forks in the bathtub.

Current music obsession: The Avett Brothers.

It is So Stinkin’ Hot. I am counting it as one of my many blessings though – since my clothes get steamed when I walk to work, I don’t need an iron.

The bark is falling off all the sycamore trees. Is this ok??? The bark is crunchy and fun to step on, but NATURE IS FALLING APART.

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Finals: check.

Getting three free meals at the cafeteria from kind people with extra meal points: check.

Capstone paper: check.

I turned in my onomatopoeia paper yesterday (38 pages! Yes!) and one of the linguistics professors tried to convince me that onomatopoeia doesn’t exist. Who does that.

Painful goodbyes: started, but mostly still looming ahead.

I went over to the apartment of some foreign friends, Milena (French) and Gyeong-ae (Korean), to say goodbye and see if they needed help with packing or cleaning. They gave me several of their half-used food items, tastefully arranged in a decorative Easter basket. The census taker came by while I was there. Hilarity ensued. We were frantically searching facebook for the full names and birthdates of their former South American roommates, who have about six middle names each, and Milena kept lapsing into French for no good reason, which confused the poor census fellow. Then he asked for her race, and Milena looked over her list of options and declared herself to be Cuban. He didn’t get it. Gyeong-ae was delighted that the American government came to talk to them personally and kept telling me how much fun she was having.

I don’t want these people to leave.

On Thursday night, we had a birthday party for Rachel, because she is 21 now and is the most wonderful roommate ever and deserves a party. I have pictures for you! Yes, you.

Rachel's bonfire cake! And yes, there are 21 candles. Lin (see stroganoff story below) would not let us cut the cake until he had confirmed this fact for himself.

Below we have Christine (our Taiwanese neighbor) posing with the food table. She brought the giant box of donuts and is doing the peace sign because it’s apparently illegal not to. Let me tell you a pointless story about the beef stroganoff at the far right of the table. One minute after the party officially started, our Taiwanese friend Lin burst through the door, plopped down on the couch, breathlessly apologized for being late, and exclaimed that he had made beef stroganoff but it was ugly. We told him beef stronganoff is always ugly, so he said he would go get it. And go get it he did. He reappeared with it twenty minutes later, and as you can probably tell from the picture, it’s very pretty for beef stroganoff. Unfortunately this picture does not include the salmon quiche that Lydia brought later.

PEACE AND DONUTS.

In case you are wondering whatever became of Elmo, wonder no more! He went out in a blaze of violence and glory. We kind of forgot to explain the concept of the piñata before we started whacking him, which alarmed some of the internationals. I heard someone exclaim, “How violent this is!” But they quickly got the hang of it, and poor Elmo never stood a chance.

Rachel (birthday girl) gives batting tips to Claudia (Colombia), while Gyongae (S. Korea) helps Elmo (piñata) come to grips with his mortality.

Here’s another piñata picture. Apparently he was a pretty high-quality piñata, because he did not die easily. I’m not sure that I personally could cling to life for so long if I were beaten with a rolling pin as long as he. Oh Elmo. You are an inspiration to us all. RIP.

Keith (U.S.) inspects the rolling pin, Gyongae (S. Korea) inspects the mop, and Pingyen (China) inspects Elmo for damage and checks his tensile strength. She did this every time someone hit him.

After Elmo’s untimely demise, the party quickly disintegrated into nerdiness, which everyone seemed to be ok with. I took advantage of the diversity of the guests and bugged them to tell me examples of onomatopoeia in different languages. (This is hopefully what my senior essay will be about. More on that at a later date.) My Turkish friends thought it was a really fun game, and people were generally cooperative. Fun fact: the Turkish and Colombian Spanish words for “gargle” are the same.

In other news:

I signed up to be a language exchange partner (or something) with the English as a Second Language program on campus. Today was my first day, and it was quite fun! I met my language buddy for tea and we talked in English for an hour, which is an easy job for me. His name is Michael and he’s a finance major from China. He seems to be enjoying America; I just saw that he made a photo album on Facebook about some turkey he ate. Perhaps they do not have turkey in China, I will investigate this.

I had the afternoon free today (wooohooo!) so a friend and I went out for Indian food and explored an art gallery with a giant creepy cement face outside of it. In the evening, I went to another friend’s senior composition recital, which was a new experience. People performed the various pieces of music that he has written over the course of his college career. It was excellent.

Lest you think my life is all fun and games, please be aware that I am working hard, learning hard, going to all my classes, getting ready for midterms (gasp!), and reading more about language philosophy than anyone ever should. And yes, that sentence is for the benefit of my parents. I love you guys!

This morning at the library I ran into Christine, and she was carrying a pineapple. When I expressed surprise at seeing produce in the library, she pointed out that she had put it in a bag so it “wouldn’t freak people out.” Then she pretended to attack me with it, which did freak some people out.

Spring break is around the corner! Yesss.

Happy Thursday! I know I just wrote a thing about how much I love Sundays, but Thursdays are pretty great too. Some reasons why: my week is winding down, I have a large bag of lentils in my fridge, and tonight is Kraettli the Greatly. I’m making brownies.

Yesterday was Gordon’s birthday! He’s 23 now, can you believe that? Here’s a fun fact: He used to be the youngest baby in the world.  (It runs in the family.) I have many fond memories of my dear brother, but here’s one that popped into my head yesterday. Gordon, remember that time you had them play “Walk Down This Mountain” at True Life because you knew I liked it? You’re a great big brother, and you managed to retain your sanity even with three little sisters.  I hope your birthday was lovely! Good grief, you are so old.

I saw a German shepherd puppy yesterday and it made my day.

The library and I have been good friends lately. I’m in research mode for my senior essay, so I’ve been going on grand book hunts looking for particular language philosophy books (which I then have to read = significantly less fun). I’m always impressed at our library; they can get a hold of any book you can think of, even the obscure ones written by crackpot linguists with snarky anti-establishment undertones.

I am hoping that if I talk enough about how great OU is, it will encourage Anne to come here. Anne, come! Think of all the literary resources that would be available to you!

Time to get back to reading all about Socrates and the naming of things.

I like its shoes.

It’s raining currently, and Oklahoma is becoming encased in ice! I had class this morning, but campus is closed this afternoon and tomorrow. Yesterday, however, the weather was 65 and beautiful and felt like spring. What is going on? Probably the end of the world.

On a different note, let me tell you about my classes.

Morphology: I still can’t explain what this is. I have vague understanding – it’s something about how parts of words work together and influence each other. The lady who teaches it is my favorite professor, so I predict it will be difficult but interesting and entertaining.

Communication in Contemporary Chinese Contexts: We already read a book and turned in a paper for this class, and I think it will continue to be time-consuming. I think I like it so far though. One of my Chinese friends is the teaching assistant, which was a pleasant surprise! She became a Christian over the break, and I’ve been enjoying getting to know her better.

Israeli Culture Through Film: Basically we meet once a week, watch a movie, discuss it, and have a quiz. As of now, I am not fond of the professor, but the movies we watch are somewhat interesting. Well, maybe. Last week we watched a documentary about coffee, and this week we watched I Love You Rosa, which is kind of like Harold and Maude in Jerusalem’s Old Yishuv.

Communication in Nonwestern Cultures: I love this class and think it is terribly interesting, but that could probably change at any moment. The professor seems a little shifty.

Senior Essay: AAGGHH! This class will be the death of me. The professor was really good about putting it in perspective for us – this is not a masters or doctorate thesis or anything, it’s just our dinky widdle undergrad capstone. So that’s a relief, right? But the fact remains that it is a semester-long project that will probably end up being 50 pages or so. For me, that is the most stressful thing I can possibly imagine – I hate having projects looming over my head. Sigh. Any prayers you can spare are greatly appreciated.

Spoken Chinese – This one is just two hours a week, for half a semester. We’ve only had two classes so far, and I love it, EXCEPT for characters. UGH. I thought this was spoken Chinese. I’m going to have a talk with the professor and ask him to not teach us the writing system. Anyway, you may be happy to know that I can now say “hello,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” “sorry,” “oh, that’s ok,” and “goodbye.” What more can there be to learn??

And there you have my classes. Whenever I tell people what wonderful classes I’m taking, I always assume that they will be jealous, which probably means that I picked the right major. On the other hand, all of these splendid classes could very well be my downfall.

I’m off to enjoy my Ice Day. I hope you enjoy your day too, whether or not there is treacherous precipitation!

Good news! I am back in my Oklahome. Break was AWESOME. I read a lot, played a lot with the dog, befuddled the cat, watched some assorted nonsense on TV, saw Avatar in 3-D, ate a lot of delicious food, sewed an apron, etc. etc. Now that I’m back, I feel like I am already back in the swing of things, even though things don’t quite have a swing yet.

I’ve already met a few new internationals and instigated a Walmart expedition. Tomorrow there is some kind of Bingo party for the internationals, and I hope to get to go to part of it. I will meet a lot more foreign kids and also dominate at Bingo.

Today was the first day of classes. I had Communication in Contemporary Chinese Contexts, Israeli Culture Through Film, and Morphology. “What on earth is morphology?!” you ask, and you are probably thinking it sounds like a class Harry Potter would take. It’s something linguisticky, and I am hoping to find out exactly what soon. When my professor was “defining” it for us this morning, she said that morphology “is really crunchy and very baroque.” If that somehow provides you with any clarity, PLEASE pass it on to me. Anyway, I think I’m gonna like it a lot.

The weather is odd and awesome. It’s so warm! I’ve been wearing short-sleeved shirts and leaving my sweater at home.

I was going to lend an old textbook to a friend, but it has vanished! (The book, not the friend.) Our apartment is small enough that it is physically impossible to lose something, so I have no idea what happened. This deeply perplexes me. I blame our samurai ghost.

For anyone who knows Milena and is interested in finding out what became of her over the break: she spent New Years in Minnesota with her host family and their pet monkey, spent a few days in Chicago working through a list of landmarks that Frances gave her, and then went to New York City (on a whim, apparently) to meet a friend. I saw pictures, it looks like she had a lot of fun.

I made sweet potato fries and they were delicious! I don’t even like sweet potatoes!

Back to work at the lol library. I like it there. We have another staff cookout planned for this weekend.

I have a good feeling about this semester. I had my doubts at first, and I am still thinking it will be a lot of work. However: Jesus and I will do fine (he’s got my back, says he).

My current obsession: goji raspberry V8 fusion. It’s tasty and good for me!

The other day (the first day the weather went below freezing here) our heater broke, so Rachel and I pretended to be pioneers. To make it more realistic, our internet also broke, and my Skullcandy earbuds also pooped out, so I had to use the earbuds that came with my ipod (much like the early pioneers, obviously). Our internet is functional again and the maintenance people came the next day and fixed the heater, but alas! They could do nothing for my earbuds.
I got a swine flu vaccine on Friday. I’m invincible!
Last night I went to a senior piano recital for a friend who is graduating this semester. It was amazing! There was a bit of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff and Debussy and Chopin, etc. In the last song, which was by Rzewski if you’re interested (and also if you’re not), involved him using his fists, forearm, and elbow to whack the piano keyes in a very melodic manner. Here’s his myspace page if you’re up for some piano music.
I got my 10 page Second Language Acquisition paper finished and sent in. This is a happy accomplishment. Now I just have to write a report of Dutch phonology, present it in class, finish two take-home finals, and then I just have two more regular finals. The end is in sight!
P.S. This is funny.
Beware: I am about to tell you about a paper I’m working on that is due tomorrow in my Language and Culture class. I think it’s interesting, but you might not. You’ve been warned.
Basically it is about using historical linguistics to find out information about prehistoric people. If we compare a lot of related languages (like Latin, Sanskrit, Russian, etc.), we can reconstruct a proto-language (like Proto-Indo-European, which I will refer to as PIE, since pie is so delicious). Then we can use the words from the proto-language to find things out about the prehistoric people who spoke it. It’s like CSI! Here are some of the things we can learn:
  • Original location – Nobody knows exactly where the Indo-Europeans lived, but since there is a long list of words like snow, mountains, oak, beech, bear, wolf, bee, etc., we can narrow it down to only places where all of these things exist. The current guess is somewhere between central Europe and the steppes of southern Russia.
  • Culture – Using the same strategy, we know that speakers of PIE were no longer nomadic and had some agricultural knowledge. They had domesticated dogs but not cats. They had a patriarchal society and recognized the existence of a soul, believed in gods, and had developed certain ethical ideas. Also they had figured out how to make an intoxicating beverage out of honey.
  • Movements – We can tell which way a people group migrated, but that’s not interesting.
Obviously this is all a lot of educated guesses, and it’s impossible for us to know anything for absolutely positively certain. But STILL, I think it is pretty neat that we can get all of that information from a prehistoric language that had long disappeared by the time people started writing history down.
If you’re mildly interested, here’s a family tree for the descendants of the PIE family.
In other news: I found out at 10:15 Monday night that I had a 10-page paper due at 10 that very night. How alarming! It’s under control now, no need to worry, but I was panicking.
Another thing: The title of this post is hilarious! Bonus points if you leave a comment discussing why it is hilarious.

A favorite delicacy of the speakers of Proto-Indo-European. As a speaker of a descendant language, I am proud to carry on this tradition.

  • I finally realized that the gaping hole in my life is my lack of a banjo. Of course! I lent mine to Gordon last year and keep forgetting to get it back. But those days are over. I’m going to get it back and become a banjo fiend.
  • I went on a free music blitz on Amazon. There is some moderately good stuff on there! You should check it out. Since I’m easily distracted by noises, the repetitive and mellow Philip Glass is my new homework soundtrack. It blocks out the noises of the rambunctious law students.
  • Sunday was full of adventurous food. First, Christine (my wonderful Taiwanese neighbor) cooked dinner for Rachel, Cody, and me. She fixed some lo mein with delicious beef and more shrimp than I am comfortable with, and we also had citron tea, which was basically citron jam stirred into water. I liked it. After I left her apartment, I went to Ethnic Dinner #2, at my friend Lily’s apartment. She was fixing French and African food for us, and it was delicious. Lily cooked a veritable cornucopia of tasty food, and it was so colorful and beautiful! I wish I could find a picture.
  • I watched Rear Window! Jimmy Stewart AND Grace Kelly AND Hitchcock–what a combo. It wasn’t as suspenseful as I was expecting, but the fact that I kept expecting suspense made it a little suspenseful. I liked it better than Disturbia, which is an alarmingly (and illegally) similar movie.
  • My family members keep going on interesting trips. Frances went to Nashville for the weekend, and Mom and Dad are just getting back from Charleston and Savannah. We are a well-traveled bunch! To continue the tradition, I’m going home to Kansas for the weekend. Other than spending quality time with my loved ones, I plan to renew my driver’s license and do laundry and THAT IS IT. I can’t wait! So relaxing.
  • I Mod-Podged the back of my phone.
  • I did some school-related things I guess. I had to do a presentation on an article in my Second Language Acquisition class, and the next morning I had a Language & Culture exam. The article presentating went great, and the exam may have gone great or awful, depending on how mad my essay makes the professor.
  • Gingko leaves are pretty in the fall.
  • I am in the middle of an enthralling teriyaki chicken crockpot experiment. Will it be edible? WILL IT?? We can only hope.
  • I spent a full minute this morning trying to remember how to pronounce the word “philosophy.” Then I said it to myself so many times that it sounded incorrect again.
  • Next I spent five minutes trying to remember the word “contiguous” before I finally googled it. It’s such a fun word! Say it out loud.
  • I am procrastinating on writing my report of rule-ordering in Tagalog. (How do you interpret that sentence? Do you read it as “my report of Tagalog rule-ordering” or as “my report in Tagalog, about rule-ordering”?)
  • The anime party was a blast! (I know some of you were skeptical.) I decided anime is a hobby I’m too busy to have; we watched four episodes of Deathnote, which is thirty episodes long! Thirty! But that’s nothing. Keri says a lot of them are 200 episodes long. If I wanted to be an anime fan I would have to give up sleep. Or class! Or both!
  • I googled “origami mittens” and came up with nothing.
FUNOLOGY
Let’s talk about my phonology class.
First I will tell you what it is. It is the study of how sounds pattern in language (or something, I still feel pretty shaky about this issue). In my phonetics class last semester, we learned terms to describe every kind of sound that humans use in language. In Phonology, however, we have to forget those terms and learn new terms that DON’T MAKE THAT MUCH SENSE.
Phonology is not the same as Phrenology.
Sometimes I wish it was.
Here is why I don’t like Phonology: because it is UNTRUSTWORTHY. I feel like it’s tricking me. I have a hunch that my professor makes things up just to see if we’ll believe him. It’s like a magic trick! He razzle-dazzles us with words like “spirantization” and “nonconcatenative” and hides pharyngeal fricatives under his hat and tries to get us to think THEY WERE NEVER THERE.
A fun aside: On a midterm in this class, I got some points for angrily scribbling on the extra credit problem. I’m not complaining about that at all, but I think it supports my point that the phonological world does not make sense.

Time for an incoherent rant about my phonology class!

First I will tell you what it is. It is the study of how sounds pattern in language (or something, I still feel pretty shaky about this issue). We have to learn an elaborate (to me) system of features to categorize every speech sound humans make, and our homework involves weekly reports of phonological rules of various languages like Eskimo, Zapotec, Polish, etc.

Phonology is not the same as Phrenology.

(It would be neat if it was though.)

Here is why I don’t like Phonology: because it is UNTRUSTWORTHY. Our professor seems tricky and I think he makes things up just to see if we’ll believe him. It’s like a magic trick! He razzle-dazzles us with words like “spirantization” and “nonconcatenative” and hides pharyngeal fricatives under his hat and tries to get us to think THEY WERE NEVER THERE. Last week he was showing us how to solve a problem, and on one step of the solution, he said, “Now this part is where I put in magic.” My suspicions were confirmed! If only I knew what exactly I don’t understand, then I could seek help. Sigh.

A fun aside: On a midterm in this class, I got some points for angrily scribbling on the extra credit problem. I’m not complaining about that at all, but I think it supports my point that the phonological world does not make sense.

Thanks for letting me vent my frustrations.