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Archive for November, 2012

How to take the fun out of comedy…


I’ve been working on a project with a few colleague for the past year or so looking at gender and interruption in Mock the Week. We presented the first tranche of results back at the International Language and Gender Conference in Brazil (which uncovered the small fact that we had to do more work to do on it…), but basically, we’re trying to figure out whether male panelists interrupt more frequently than female panelists, or if it is more to do with how often a panelist is on the show (unfortunately, this is complicated by the fact that the panelists who are on most often are male…). We’ve then got plans to tie this to issues of conversational dominance and so on, seeing whether we can support Jo Brand‘s comments about the show on an empirical level.

Rather than using more traditional CA approaches to transcribe the data, we’re leveraging the department’s skills in corpus linguistics, so we’ve marked up all the data in XML format, which means that, in theory, it’ll be easier to extract the features we decide to look at, provided these features have their own XML tag. As someone who is mainly used to a CA approach, this is new territory for me, and looking at an XML editor is kind of scary. But I’ve been assured that this is the best way to tackle this.

We were lucky enough that we managed to get some students to do the first pass of transcription in Word, and then these were fed into some infernal machine which spat out workable XML transcripts. These were then edited by one of my colleagues, and now I’m going through them for the second time cross-checking them.

Now to the point of my post: the most sure fire way of sucking the fun out of anything ‘humorous’ is to start transcribing it. I’m only on my fifth episode (of ten), but seriously, I’m kind of losing the will here…

– The Social Linguist

10 things I learned at AAA


Last week, I attended my second ever American Anthropological Association Meeting in San Francisco, and here’s what I learned:

  1. If Pittsburgh is hilly, then San Francisco is Pittsburgh on steroids.
  2. San Francisco is full of crazy.
  3. The AAA conference is huge…
  4. Sessions with ‘big names’ will be full. Arrive early.
  5. I need to take more cards with me when I go to AAA.
  6. The ‘politics of smell’ is really a thing.
  7. Having a discussant is good, but actually having time to ask questions is even cooler.
  8. Asking sensible questions after listening to quite complicated talks is a skill.
  9. Sometimes, blowing the conference off for a day to walk in the park with your significant other is a good thing.
  10. ‘Conference colds’ actually exist.

In other news, it’s snowing in Pittsburgh and Scotland just lost to Tonga in probably one of the worst displays of rugby I’ve ever seen from the team.

The Social Linguist

Back in the saddle!

November 20, 2012 1 comment

Ugh… Ok, so I don’t quite know how it happened, but it’s been nearly three weeks since my last update. Ok, it’s a lie that I don’t know how it happened, but it sounds so ‘wah, look at me! I’m so BUSY!!!’ humble-braggy that I’m not even going to entertain the thought…

In any event, I’m back in the saddle and trying to plough my way through about half a dozen minor projects before I start on the magnum opus of THESIS 2.0 (or, ‘The thesis I wish I had written three years ago if I knew then what I know now’, although it’s unlikely that a publisher will go for that title…). So yeah, I’m back in Pittsburgh, I’ve got my home office all set up (with a bookshelf and a side light and everything. It’s very mature) and I’m raring to get stuck into getting this book done.

But genuinely, I’ve got precious little idea what I’m actually going to write about. I’ve been here for two months already, and while I’ve got through a good amount of stuff, I’ve not even started to think about ‘Chapter 1’, never mind what goes into the rest of the thing. So a lack of thinking time has kind of ham-stringed (hamstrung?) me, and I’m guessing that it’ll only be when I sit down at the computer and go ‘right then, let’s get on with this’ that my creative synapses will start firing and I’ll figure things out.

I’m sure this is going to be a big job, and I’m kind of tempted to shunt off thesis 1.0 and just change the title, although that *definitely* won’t get picked up by a publisher. Ok, well, there’s one thing that I want to do, and that’s more coding and analysis, probably of the rest of my Year 3 data, and that’s the plan for December. Once that’s done, I can then sit down and hash out the other stuff I want to write about. Probably some stuff about Glasgow. And male speakers in Glasgow. And masculinity. And masculinity in Glasgow. And language. And ethnography. And stuff.

It’s gonna be a best-seller.

– The Social Linguist

Categories: Home life, Writing Tags: , ,