The prodigal linguist returns.

Yes, I have been away for a long time.

No, I haven’t been gallivanting and blowing my inheritance on cheap booze, men, and gambling, though I do return repentant and ready to settle down and take on my responsibilities.

It appears that December and January are not good writing months for me. Semester adjustments are always time-consuming, but the winter transition is particularly thorny. After the insanity of final grades and holiday time has subsided, my brain shuts down. Because the winter interim between semesters is quite short, I barely have time to catch my breath before school starts again. Then the dust settles and I can start thinking clearly enough to resume writing.

And there has been coffee. Lots of coffee.

This semester, there were a couple of new factors to contend with. They aren’t bad developments, but as psychologists love to tell us, even positive changes can cause stress, which then triggers coping behaviors. For me, that means I’ve needed to just put my head down and plough through the work until it’s safe to run on autopilot for a while.

The first issue has been my schedule. It’s true that I’m very accustomed to my schedule changing about every four months, but this Spring, I’ve got evening and Saturday classes  – a schedule I haven’t had for about 5 years. It’s not a bad schedule and I’ve got really great students in those classes, but I’ve had daytime weekday classes for so long that it’s throwing me off balance just a little bit. (Of course, as soon as I get used to it, the semester will be over, right?)

In addition, there’s another situation that hasn’t been true for a long time: I am a student again.

As a newly-minted Senior Adjunct, I am entitled to, among other things, up to eight free credits taken at my school. For a person who has always loved school, this benefit is nearly impossible to resist, and so I registered for my first real college-credit class in 15 years: Introduction to Paralegal Studies.

I am awaiting the grade for my first paper.

(I’m a little nervous. I really want an A.)

I’d like to finally learn how to make my good old-fashioned manual film cameras consistently do what I tell them to do.

There are a lot of reasons why I am taking this particular class, even before taking the Photography class that I’ve been lusting after for the past several years, but which will have to wait until summer. For now, I’ll just say that I’m testing some waters to see if I want to swim. It also occurs to me that my life may very well be centered around the letter L: Leonore’s observations on language and linguistics, literature, and now law.

So, what’s on deck for the next few months? What’s in my head, waiting to get out?

I’ve got a whole list of articles that have sparked my interest over the past few weeks, the most interesting of which are about Noam Chomsky, Twitter lingo, the origins of language, world English, and language preservation.  This being an election year, and given my recent forays into the study of law, I imagine that political language is going to be a topic of interest to me as well. I’m going to have to brush up on my George Lakoff

I also started researching Jamaican Creole after trying to place Caribbean students into a developmental writing class. Is the creole close enough to English to consider them native speakers, or is it far enough that they are better served in ESL classrooms? I hope that I will be able to share some new insights I may gain on the subject.

And finally, an unlikely source of inspiration: while watching the episode on Power Metal on VH1’s program, Metal Evolution, I can’t help but wonder why it is that Scandinavians are so stinking good at English.

“She couldn’t just leave it alone, could she? She just HAD to put us up on her blog again.” “Quiet, she’s watching.”

I’ve also been worried about being a one-trick pony by focusing so much of my energy solely on language-related issues. It’s true that language is really my first and life-long love, but I’d like to fancy myself an essayist, an observer of many different elements of life, not just language. To that end, I’m also working on a new project to accommodate some of my other interests in writing that don’t really fit under the auspices of As a Linguist. It will, among other things, absorb my neglected photo blog. More details will be forthcoming.

Dearest readers, if you’ve stuck around through my unannounced and unintended hiatus, I thank you sincerely! I look forward to diving back into the blogging fray and getting reacquainted with all of you and maybe even see some new faces in 2012.

22 thoughts on “The prodigal linguist returns.

  1. Welcome back! This post was fantastic as always. I love the black and white photo. I bet you did get an A on your paper. I finally took a college course a couple years back and it was daunting to be back in school after 15 plus years. But I got back into the swing of things and I’m sure you will too.

    • Thanks, Darla!
      I always liked school and did well, but I was surprised at how nervous I was on the first day of this class. It’s probably making me a better student than I was before. I certainly am getting my homework done earlier than I ever did before ;)

    • Thanks Hippie! I do have a ton of stuff that I’ve been saving up. I end up finding an interesting tidbit and keep that tab open so I can remember it. A few days later, I have a gazillion tabs open and I’m afraid to close the program, so I bookmark them all in a “Don’t forget!” folder. That folder is getting crowded :)

  2. Hi, Leo! I’ve been on an extended hiatus, as well. I’m glad to hear that you have a good group of students. I know that adjusting to a new schedule isn’t fun; I’m a huge creature of habit! I’m sure you’ll make an A on your law paper–you’re one smart lady! Glad to see all is well, and always glad to see a cute pic of your furry girls! :)

  3. Oh how I have missed you. Welcome back, Leonore. Here’s to your new paralegal adventure. I am confident you will do well in the class. I hope you are able to get back into photography, too.
    Hope to read you again soon!

    • Hey Lenore! And now that I’m back, I won’t just be lurking around your site – I’ll start commenting again too!

      So far I’m really enjoying the paralegal adventure. And I can’t wait to take the photography class. I’ve been dying to learn how to develop my own film ever since I got my first camera right out of college.

  4. So good to see you again, Leonore! You’ve definitely got some cool things cooking (I didn’t know you had a photo blog)! And bless you for teaching evening/Sat classes – oy! Can’t wait to read what’s in store :)

    • Howdy Jules! Thanks for sticking around :) Yup, I have a photo blog, but I haven’t posted on it in months. I have tons of photos to post, but it just fell by the wayside and now will have a place in my new project.

      I don’t mind the evening classes – I’m more used to them because so much of my teaching career was spent doing evening classes. The Saturday class thankfully has really fantastic students and it goes fast because otherwise, it would be kind of brutal. 9-1:30 straight with only one quick 15-minute break!

  5. Welcome back! It seems like you have a lot on your plate. Good luck with your paper! My fingers are itching to get back to studying again, as well. University here has some night classes that I’m considering as they are not that expensive, but I’ll wait a bit and see.

    As for Scandinavians and English, perhaps I can help you a bit there seeing as I’m Scandinavian, have an English degree and teach English to adults. :)
    Where I live, we are taught English from a relatively early age in school (4th grade these days, I think). I think the main reason is that no one “in the big world” speaks our languages. I can’t go outside my own country and expect anyone to know my language. Even, and this sounds a bit silly, Scandinavians sometimes speak English when they meet people from other countries here (though the languages are very similar). I know a lot of Danish people who claim they can’t read Swedish nearly as well as they can English.
    Generally, in Scandinavia, people are literate and have at least 9 years of compulsory school, and most people in my country choose to study a few more years (which is possible because quite a few educations are provided for free by the state). – So that really gives us an opportunity to learn English at least somewhat thoroughly if we want to.
    Television helps a lot too. Germany and many other countries voice-over (synchronise) programmes in English, but Scandinavian countries don’t (using subtitles instead), and they show a lot of American and British TV. This also means that English is “cool” and lots of teenagers especially toss in English phrases when they speak in their native tongue.
    When it comes to the languages themselves, Scandinavian languages are generally close to English compared to so many others. I’m not going to go into how Old English was influenced by “us” when the vikings went to the British Isles, but I’m sure you know a lot about it, anyway.
    I don’t know how languages are taught in other countries, but here there is a lot of focus on speaking the language. It wasn’t always like it is now, however. Most of my students are adults who have learnt English a long time ago, and back then (my parents’ generation) English classes were more about reading out loud in English and translating back and forth than about forming sentences and using the language more freely. So they ended up having a large, but inactive, vocabulary.
    … Wow, long rant. Hope it was at least a bit informative. Please do feel free to ask if you find yourself curious about something and I’ll try to answer it. :)

    Oh, and I’m glad to see more pictures of your girls. They’re so lovely! :)

    • What a fantastic comment, M.Howalt! I loved reading a first-hand experience. I’m probably going to be quoting you when I get to writing the article (which will be sooner rather than later, because I’ve already started doing some research.

      I work at a community college so the tuition isn’t that expensive compared to other area schools, but I still would have a hard time paying for classes. So I plan on taking full advantage of the ability to take free classes now! Lord knows I’ve put in my dues to this school, so now I’m getting something back :)

  6. AND, as the prodigal son’s father welcomed him back with open arms, it appears your readers have done the same.

    RE: your photo interest, I developed film and printed my own work for many years. This was no mean feat as I am legally blind and had to construct equipment to meet my needs @ http://bit.ly/wKGWfX

    My question to you re developing film and printing your work is this: Where do you plan to buy chemistry and photo-paper in the digital age? EVEN B&H cannot serve the needs of those who want to print their work as materials are not being manufactured!

    • My readers are so awesome!

      I am so impressed that you take such lovely photos and you’re legally blind. The photos on your website are really stunning. The double exposure black and whites remind me of this one that I took with a Russian knock-off Rolleiflex (oh how I long for a real one!): http://asaphotog.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/bake-sale/

      To answer your question, there is a small photo shop called Sam’s in the area where I get film developed, and they still sell a lot of supplies. Plus there’s online sources – adorama.com is one I’ve ordered from before. I expect I’ll be able to get darkroom time at the college where I work (and will take the class this summer). My boyfriend and I bought a film scanner, so I’d love to learn how to do the prints, but it will save me a lot of money even if I can just do the developing on my own, and then we can scan it into the computer. That way I can probably focus on the prints I really want to do and not waste paper and chemicals on the crappy shots.

      • Nice image! Thanks for sharing it with me. You are multi-talented. I sort of assumed that you would get darkroom time where you worked, when I worked a college, darkroom time was only given to photo student — so I always made sure I was taking a course.

        I did ultimately invest a LOT of $$$$$$ in photo chemistry, as well as converting my kitchenette into a darkroom for both developing film and printing images, but, I quickly learned that chemistry in the kitchen combined with legal blindness was not a good idea and I gave everything I invested in away!

        Sometimes it is painful to think about those years and dashed hopes.

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