Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Things I could not discriminate until it was too late, part 1

Linguistics Terms 2

Tense, aspect, and mood

Time is a universal, non-linguistic concept with these divisions: past, present, and future; by tense we understand the correspondence between the form of the verb and our concept of time.

Aspect concerns the manner in which the verbal action is experienced...

...while mood relates the verbal action to such conditions as certainty, obligation, necessity, possibility.

A Concise Grammar of Contemporary English
Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum

Monday, June 24, 2013

Scene 4: Hell yeah, a party!

When: The weekend after school starts

Where: In Tim's apartment, downstairs and across the hall from my place. It's tiny.

Who: Tim, our mutual friend Gloria, my friend Nancy, people from the nearby apartment houses, people Tim has gathered because he's such a madman and people like him, and a foreign guy I haven't met yet, surrounded by more people.

Conflict: I want to socialize but I feel shy, especially because I just got cut down at school and because everybody is crazy.

Back Story: I'm a little Mormon girl from small town Utah and I've come to the big city. Mormons are different from most people, and rebels from Mormonism are also different from normal rebels.


Tim's apartment is done up Victorian style, with red flocked wallpaper and the whole wall, when it's not lined with bookshelves, completely covered with frame-to-frame paintings and prints. He's got a fancy velvet sofa, much the worse for wear, and a gold armchair, a glass vase in which he's growing papyrus, a goldfish, and the smell of pipe smoke, and a huge rug on the wooden floor, plus gold drapes. Not that it's particularly clean.

His kitchen is like mine, with that 1940's thick white enamel and a marble-looking formica countertop. There's a ton of food, like a bowl of ravioli pasta salad, some bread, cheese and crackers, salad, massive quantities of beer and wine. Rumor has it that you shouldn't eat the brownies unless you want to get high.

There's concert and jazz music playing in the background, but you can't hear it over the people all talking.
There's a guy in the front room, sitting in the middle of Tim's sofa with a whole serving bowl of jello in his lap, and a big metal spoon, and he's eating it. Everybody around him is attracted like magnet shavings, and he talks with this us-trange aksnt. He's saying "I love American jello. It's the greatest thing." I think he's Swedish. He's got brown hair, blue eyes that turn up at the corners, an aquiline nose, and small teeth. His name is Stefan and he's famous around here.


I shut my apartment door and carry my jello downstairs, then look around for a spoon. I then talk to Tim and a few people I know. Tim is very slurry and drunk, but he gestures for me to make myself at home. I walk around the kissing couples and the people talking in little clusters. I grab Nancy and tell her about the pot brownies and we both eat one. We party some more and then Nancy starts to feel bad. I ask Gloria where Tim is, and she says he went to lay down and he fell asleep. Stefan is still there when Nancy says she needs help, she's having a bad reaction. She and I walk up the street to a hospital where they tell her she's just going to have to walk it off, so we do that. When I get back to the party, Gloria is cleaning up the kitchen and everybody else is gone. I help her clean up the kitchen.


A sense of relief when something comes up to distract me from wondering why I wasn't good enough to get the teaching assistant job and how difficult linguistics was for me, and whether or not I should even stay there, and what else I could do with my life. I feel very attracted to that guy Stefan but I don't think he'd notice me with my crooked teeth and my low attitude.

Outcome: I will check on Tim later, and ask him what he knows about Stefan, and try hard to get researching that first paper that's coming up.

Linguistics Terms 1: Illocution


The Intent or aim of a speaker making an utterance; What you're trying to do by how you say something.

Example: How many different ways can you use the word 'okay?'

"Okie dokie!"
"Okay, um..."
"Yeah, okay."

You choose how you say that word depending on what you want it to do for you.

Do you want to signal that you think someone is kinda crazy? You go, "Y'...okay..."

Or if you want to signal that you are pleased by what you've just been told, you say, "Okay, cool!"

If you are about to give an order but you want to make it sound like you are just figuring things out yourself, you say, "Okay. Here's what to do."

Every time we talk we are doing something and trying to make something happen.

The story begins when I don't find my name on the list

My Head Vs. The Wall
the story of a lost young woman who meets a guy who she thinks can save her.

Scene 1. I'm out of the the In Crowd

When:   Autumn of 1987 but could be any time

Where:  The University of Utah Linguistics Dept. but it could be at any college.

Who:     Me, seeking to be a Teaching Assistant in the linguistics department. Tuition would be paid, plus a small stipend, for assisting a professor or a department.

Conflict: I am not chosen. Then what?

Visual:  Sterile, empty hallway with linoleum tile and brick walls, closed office doors and bulletin boards by each door.

Actions: A couple of fellow students pass me going the other direction, looking excited. I go to the list and find nothing about me on it.

Feeling: A block of cement settling into my heart and stomach. Fear that I'm not good enough, then a wave of anger, then the wave subsides and I just feel bad again.

Outcome:  I don't have enough money to live on, but I'm so determined not to clean houses or do temp work, I would rather starve. I could go crawling home every week and beg groceries from mom and dad, but there's got to be a better way.

Scene 2 Beggars can't be choosers

When: The next day

Where: Ianucci's office

Who: Professor Ianucci and me and maybe a department secretary in another room off to the side, plus other professors' offices attached out in different directions.

Conflict: I want him to take pity on me but he is cool and treats me like it shouldn't be his problem.

Visual: I stand by his desk even though there's an empty chair. He looks like your typical Italian-American linguistics department head; a thin guy with a thin beard and a linen suit and white shirt.

Actions: He sits and leans back in his chair regarding me as one of the pains in his neck he must deal with all the time. I don't take it personally. Maybe a little.

Feeling: An ounce of hope is rewarded. "If you want, you might go apply at Salt Lake Community High School, but it's not linguistics. It's just ESL teaching.  (ESL=English as a Second Language)

Outcome: I go crawling away.

Scene 3: Well, this is what you can have.

When: A few days later

Where: An abandoned-looking high school building a few blocks away

Who: The guy at desk with shelves full of files behind him, Max, and a woman in a beige polyester dress.

Actions:  He grunts at her and she gets me the application.

Visual: She looks like Fish's wife on that old TV show. Florence Stanley who plays Bernice. Max looks like Gordon Jump from WKRP Cincinnati. The office is just like a shell of a high school office with no cheery posters, industrial green walls.

 Back story: President Reagan has recently started his *Amnesty program and lots of illegal aliens (use the more recent euphemism? make up my own?) are signing up for classes once they get their permission. I take one more look around and I feel like I'm at the bottom of the barrel compared to what might have been.
*=item to research

Feeling: Gray resignation.

Outcome: I need to cheer up. I think about the years I spent at Utah State and in my memories they look better than they really were.I call my old boyfriend, John, but he's not home. But...what's that I hear coming from the apartment downstairs? Why, it's a party.