Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Every now and then, while I'm doing homework or between classes at school, I remind myself to step back and think about what this is all for. Why am I doing all these classes? Why am I learning how to learn Ilocano (in addition to actually learning it), why am I learning Greek declensions - especially the really hard third declension? Why am I learning how to accurately transcribe and enter data into a lexicon?

It's not just because it's really amazingly fun - most of the time - or because it's helping me understand more about language in general... though those things are true.

It's because someday soon, I will be using this information and these skills as part of a team of people working to bring the Word of God into a language that has never had it before.

9After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice:
"Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The end of the first month approaches...

Wow, that went quite fast!

Things are really starting to get busy here. I have a 10-page paper due tomorrow at 10pm (why am I not writing it right now, you ask? Well, because... I... oh, look over there!), which I'd like to finish before classes start for the day, so I can then move to concentrating on my Greek homework. Thankfully, there's not as much of that this week. Then of course I have my usual elicitation sessions to prepare for, and Ilocano data to listen to, enter into the dictionary program, and use to begin to figure out a phonology of the language. Also, I'm sure there are some course readings I need to do... ahem.

I have had two shifts of work. It's quite physically demanding: I set up dividers in the cafeteria for a private event on Saturday morning, and put them away yesterday while Mackenzie moved the tables and chairs back to their normal positions. Those dividers are quite heavy, and sometimes they really don't want to go back into storage. But I think the job will be okay. I'm just a little worried that since it's so taxing, it wouldn't be a great idea to have many hours of it per week, in addition to all my coursework. In turn, that would mean I'm not earning as much money as I'd like to, for things like rent and gas money. Hmm. By next semester, it'd be nice if I could be a TA instead.

Mackenzie and I have pretty much decided that we'll be going to the E Free church that's quite near Trinity (and thus not far from us). We went again today on this surprisingly beautiful Sunday morning, this time to the service with more students. It was very good: good music, a good sermon, and fellowship afterward. It would be nice to join a small group there, though we're both a bit disappointed that no CanIL students seem to go there.

Lunch time! And then I should really get back to that paper.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another brief cookie-related post

Tonight's experiment was chocolate HobNobs, which we got from the local IGA (a grocery store that seems to be rather like a bigger, fancier Safeway). The verdict? Quite delicious! Not nearly as sweet as Tim Tams, but that's what I expected based on their description. They were good both by themselves and dipped in milk, and I imagine they would also be tasty with tea or coffee. I love oatmeal cookies, and these are like a drier, crispier version of those. I bet I would also like the plain ones, though I would definitely need a beverage to go along with them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Time for a school update

Mackenzie and I have now had our first LACA (Lang. & Culture Acquisition) elicitation session. Those are quite different than the Field Methods sessions - you have to have a concrete lesson plan with an overall topic relating to more than just generating vocab. Our topic for our first session was actions and describing pictures. It went pretty well, though Mackenzie and I were quite tired from staying up late doing homework (and the session is already in the mid-afternoon), so it wasn't quite as energetic of a session as others have been.

Before that, we also had our first group elicitation session (for Field Methods), with the married couple who is also learning Ilocano. It was a lot of fun! Our FM teacher helped us out, since it was the first group session. He did a kind of monolingual demonstration, holding up a rock or a flower or a bigger rock and saying the name of the object in a language that no one else in the room knew, and then our LRP said the word in Ilocano. Then we all started combining the words with simple actions like "give", and trying to figure out how to say "bigger rock" or "two rocks", etc. Our LRP also enjoyed watching us all act out words or actions. Hee!

There was also the first relatively big test in Greek. Despite studying a fair amount I hadn't quite memorized all the forms of the definite article - Biblical Greek has a different form of "the" for feminine, masculine, singular/plural, and four different cases! - so I knew I wasn't going to get a perfect score. But I did manage to remember more than I thought I would, especially when I got to the translation part of the test. At the end of the class period (it's long enough that the TA has enough time to grade everything during class, which is kind of nice), it turned out that I got a pretty good grade. And I am getting all the cases and paradigms memorized, so that's good!

Today's regular Field Method elicitation session went very well. Not only did we have a good time acting out simple words like "push," "pull," "eat," and "drink" (and I think our LRP enjoyed guessing what word we were acting out, too!), we had a fun conversation - in English, not Ilocano yet - about snakes and spiders, and whether or not we found those particular animals scary.

Unfortunately, after the session, Mackenzie and I found out that not all of the words we tried to record ended up actually being recorded. Sigh. The little MP3 recorder that we used is apparently quite tricky, even though we really tried to make sure it was working correctly. Oh, well - at least we have transcriptions for all of the words.

Sorry for the somewhat jargon-y post! Hope it wasn't too boring.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Commonwealth...

...is a good thing. Why, you ask? Because it means that Canadian grocery stores carry food items that you most likely wouldn't be able to find in North America if it weren't for Canada's ties to the UK.

Mackenzie and I have heard from our online friends who live in the UK and Australia that we must try certain biscuits/cookies. The main ones are Pims, Tim Tams, and HobNobs. Safeway in Seattle carried Pims, so we tried them and found them pretty tasty. Today, Mackenzie and I bought Tim Tams. They are delicious. They're like a Twix bar, only no caramel, much more cookie-ish, smoother, and just really light and pleasant. It has been recommended that we try them with tea or another hot beverage, which I think would work very nicely.

Next shopping trip, we'll try HobNobs.

Edited: Apparently they are available in the US, but not nearly as readily so - in world trade stores and the like. I bet they're more expensive there. ;)
Edit 2: Weird... this was supposed to be posted yesterday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First elicitation session!

Today was the first session with the LRP (Language Resource Person) for Mackenzie and me. We had been feeling relatively okay about the whole thing before LACA this morning (man, I feel like I should have a key with all the acronyms I'll be using - that's Language & Culture Acquisition), in which we delved into what was expected in each session more deeply. That was, ironically, what made Mackenzie and me start to feel like panicking. I felt so unprepared and like I was going to freeze up and not be able to gather the data we need - and Mackenzie felt the same way. Fortunately, we had several hours between the class and the elicitation session. So we spent almost all that time preparing, and could feel much less nervous when the time actually came.

And it was fantastic! Our LRP is extremely nice, friendly, and very sharp. She also has experience doing this, which is always helpful. :) We got a lot more data than we'd thought, and although the recorder ended up having some issues such that we didn't record one of the short lists of vocab, that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Also, I think my first data notebook entry is quite messy, but that will get better with time and experience. Ilocano seems like a really cool language (but aren't they all??), and I'm really excited to keep learning it and learning about the culture - as well as getting to know our LRP better! We did get a chance to chat a bit while we were taking a break from our actual data gathering, and I look forward to that kind of thing for next time, too.

Oh, and by the way... Mackenzie and I have jobs now! We both will be working on campus, helping set up & take down for conferences & meetings as needed. All I have to do is get a Social Insurance Number card (sort of like a Social Security card) and turn in some paperwork, and it's official. Yay!

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Life Tastes Different in Canada"

Elise came up to visit this weekend, which was a lot of fun. We caught up, chatted, laughed, went swimming, ate Canadian Oreos (excitement!), and watched The Princess Bride for the millionth time. We also caught a bit of Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel, which none of us had ever seen before. Seems like a fun show! It's clear that the guys on it take any excuse possible to blow stuff up - naturally. ;)

The title of the blog entry (very deep, isn't it?) is in reference to the fact that Mackenzie and I have tried two different varieties of Life cereal while we've been here, and even the one that looks the most like the normal version in the States doesn't taste the same. It sounded like a good title to us all this weekend, so I said I'd use it on my blog. Hee.

It was a very, very good way to start off the week, all in all... though of course too short.

The second week of Greek was much, much less draining than the first. I'm sure it helped hugely that Mackenzie and I were fully prepared for class this time. This time, it ended up more like the feeling after you finish exercising: tired, but only an appropriate amount for how much effort you just expended on a fun activity. I know it might sound crazy, but I love learning languages in a classroom environment. While things like paradigms and declensions, and how they tie into case, seemed more than slightly confusing when I just read about them in the textbook, the way it was laid out in class was very clear. (Now I just need to memorize it all!) And it is just so cool whenever one of the exercises in the workbook or that we work on in class is translating a verse directly from Greek.

Yep, I love Bible translation.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Mackenzie and I went to the nearest Superstore today, to try it out and to stock up on more than just a usual shopping trip's worth of groceries. The verdict? It's awesome - almost everything is vastly cheaper, and it's Costco-like in its selection (and the niceness of the store). You don't have to be a member, though you do have to bag your own groceries. But that's fine; we had to do that in Paris, too. Things like cheese and cereal aren't really any cheaper, but overall, we both think it's worth the extra distance if we plan well so that we don't have to go out there too often. (It's not too far away, but much more so than the other grocery store.) And it's very nice to have stocked up on fresh vegetables, more variety of pasta, and other good stuff. I also bought a 2-liter bottle of lychee-flavored pop, because it was only 98 cents and was very intriguing.

Now, to make dinner, and try the exotic pop. ;)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One week down

So today marks the end of my first complete week of grad school. Right now, I still feel excited and energetic, in general (that last part might be because I took a nap yesterday), and I think I can do well if I can just keep on top of all the various things I have to do. Another lingering worry is that I haven't heard back about any of the jobs I applied for, even though I have kept in contact with the job offer-ers as best as I can. I bet there are still positions open in food services, but I more than kind of wanted to move away from that. I guess we'll see.

Anyway, things to do: begin the first Syntax language data project, finish Greek assignment for Monday (memorize vocab, do workbook, read chapters), read the rest of the LACA (Lang. & Culture Acquisition) readings, mentally prepare for the first meeting with Language Resource Person(!!!!), physically prepare by doing tutorials for the sound editing programs we'll be using.

Oh, by the way, I ended up choosing to do Ilocano, which is the Philippines language that I mentioned before. It helped that some second-year students said that they really enjoyed doing it, and that the LRP is really nice. I think she actually works at CanIL.

Still been really awesome to eat lunch in the CanIL common room. We met a bunch of our Norwegian classmates today, and chatted with them. They seem to be a friendly and intelligent lot.

Notes about Canada, and where Mackenzie & I are living in particular:
1. When we go back to Washington to visit and for the semester break, it's going to seem like speed limits are insanely fast. Our neighborhood and all the roads in the Walnut Grove area (at least the parts we frequent so far, and of course not including Highway 1) never have higher speed limits than 60 kph, which is less than 45 mph. Most are under 50 kph, which is around 35 mph. So slow!
2. Macaroni & cheese (the kind that comes in a box) is mostly known as Kraft Dinner here. Even the non-Kraft brand has to have the word "dinner" in the name. But apparently that's how Kraft originally marketed it in the US, too - according to Wikipedia. Weird!

Monday, September 8, 2008

First Monday of class

I had to wait until I'd eaten dinner and taken some time to decompress before I started composing this. Whoa. That was a long, brain-draining school day... in the best possible way! Mostly just the last class of the day, since it's three hours long. More on that later.

Today was the first day of Language & Culture Acquisition. This is Mackenzie's and my only class that meets with the ling undergrads, so it's also the biggest: around 35 students and three TAs. The teacher seems really cool and has a great sense of humor - to illustrate what language learning is not going to be like, he played the "I would like to buy a hamburger" scene from the new Pink Panther movie. Hee!

This is the second class for which we'll be learning a language (either Ilokano - a Filipino language, Arabic, or Karen) from a Language Resource Person (sort of conversation partner). In this class, we're not analyzing the grammar of the language as much - that's Field Methods. But it's nice that the classes fit together so much and so well. And I'm really glad they want us to pick just one option to use in both classes; it'd be insane to try to do both Arabic and Karen, for example!

We started out the class by writing down four questions that we thought we could easily ask someone, other than "What's your name?" Then we were told to pick a partner who we didn't know very well, and attempt to ask them those questions without the use of language - only gestures or simple drawings. It was quite fun, and amusing to watch and listen to. :) But as is becoming usual, the courseload sounds like it's going to require a lot of effort, as well as time management. I guess grad school is a good time to learn that skill... heh.

Lunch was had in the CanIL common room again. I hope that stays a tradition! It's so fun to talk to classmates and program-mates about linguistics, and whatever other random topics we come up with. Mackenzie and I tried the instant kimchee noodle bowls that are for sale there (along with a lot of other food options, don't worry), and found them pretty good. It mostly just tasted like spicy instant noodles. I have no idea if real kimchee would taste similar!

While waiting for the next class to start (a few hours), we spent more time in the computer lab, making sure to mix in some homework with the general surfing the internet. ;) Greek started at 2:30, in the building right next to the CanIL building. It only meets once a week, for three hours in the afternoon, theoretically for people in the surrounding community who want to get seminary type degrees and may not have time to go to a course meeting more than that often. This particular class is pretty small, but there is one other girl in it other than Mackenzie and I who is pursuing an MLE, which is nice. She has an advantage over us, though, since she took classical Greek one year in undergrad, and M and I have not taken any before today.

The class was extremely fascinating and cool, though M and I both wished we'd read the syllabus online to see that we were supposed to have read chapters 1-4 of the textbook before today. It might have been nice to have been slightly more familiar with the Greek alphabet and whatnot before actually starting right in, but oh well. It worked out. And I can already tell how awesome it would be to be able to read the New Testament in its original language... and how useful that would be in translating it. However, we were both severely brain-drained after the class got out, so much so that I couldn't even bear to listen to the French language radio station on the way back because I couldn't deal with hearing another non-English language!

So I still don't know whether I'll be sticking with it. I'd love to - it's fascinating, like I said, and I don't think feeling that mentally exercised and tired one day a week would be too bad. But the thing is, I don't know that it would end up being just one day a week, once the other courses really reach their busy points. Can I memorize 50 vocab words and prepare for various quizzes each week, as well as doing the language projects for Field Methods & Lang. & Culture Acquisition, and the slightly smaller language projects for Syntax & Semantics? I think it's possible, and it has been done before. Need to think about it more.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


So my change when I paid for groceries today was $8 something. I was briefly quite confused as to why the only bill I got was a 5.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pictures from San Juan trip

Here is a link to the pictures I took on our trip.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

First day of class

... And incidentally, due to somewhat wacky scheduling, also the last day of class for the week, since I don't have any Friday classes!

Anyway. This grad school thing? Is going to be awesome. Hard work, for sure, but awesome. I can't express how cool it is to be in a building full of people who all have the same passions as I do, including the teachers.

First class was Field Methods, taught by one of Dad's former students. This sounds like it's going to be a lot of work - gathering data from a native speaker of one of three non Indo-European languages (in other words, not closely related to English), figuring out what sounds they have in that language, doing a rudimentary phonology (figure out which sounds are important to native speakers), and composing a theory about one aspect of the language, as well. The three language choices are a language from the Philippines with a really long name that I've forgotten (not Tagolog), Karen, and Arabic. I'm a little hesitant to choose Karen, despite some family connections, because it's tonal. But we'll see.

After that class, we chatted a bit with the teacher, who is extremely nice. Then, since we had plenty of time before our next class, we checked out the collegium - basically a really nice student lounge - that's available for ACTS students, and then got our student IDs. My picture is at least a bit better than the one I had for my UW ID, so that's good. ;) Next, we decided to check out the CanIL lounge. It's also very nice, and full of awesome people. We met a lot of new friends, both further on in their degrees and our same year. We also shared in a lot of awesomely nerdy linguistics jokes. Yay! :)

After a quick stop at the library to get the ID card activated, we spent some time in the CanIL computer lab before our next class. We did a lot of ice breakers in Syntax & Semantics, so I feel like I know all of my classmates at least a little bit. They all seem cool, and as usual, come from a very wide variety of places, from other areas of Canada & the US, to South Korea, Romania, and Norway. The professor is from the UK, so I especially enjoy hearing her accent. :) And she is also very nice, with a great sense of humor.

The only question brought up by class today was whether or not Mackenzie and I should drop Greek. We'll already be doing a lot of language learning in Field Methods and Language & Culture Acquisition, so adding another whole language on top of it was not recommended to us. But the teacher for Field Methods suggested we try one day of Greek (first class meeting is on Monday) and see what we think. If we drop it, we might add Ethnography to our schedules, which would also be cool.

So yeah - I think this whole thing will be really, really fun, if I just keep on top of all the work I have to do. I guess it's a good thing that the on-campus jobs I applied for mostly only offer less than 10 hours a week!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back again, and much more ready to start school

So, the trip to the San Juan islands was lovely, if far too short. Got to spend good time with family, see a wide variety of wildlife and spectacular views, and travel on ferries (pictures to come later). That's the short version.

Longer version? Mackenzie and I drove down to Anacortes from Langley on Tuesday afternoon. No trouble at the border, no trouble following the directions from Dad and from the WA State Ferries website. Mom & Dad met us at the terminal. It was too dark to see much scenery on the ferry ride over to San Juan, but it was still a fun trip. Then it was absolutely pitch black when we arrived on the island, so much so that driving on the long, windy road to the vacation house was a bit scary. We did see a fox and a deer on the way there, though!

Inside the house, we were greeted with a much less awesome type of wildlife, in the form of two gigantic spiders. Thankfully, Dad killed them both. ;) We were all rather tired by this point, so it didn't take long for us to all head off to bed.

The next morning, we all realized exactly how beautiful the views from the house were! There are lots and lots of windows, all over the house, so that each bedroom has excellent views. Even though the day started off a bit cloudy, it was still gorgeous.

When Isaac & Andrea arrived, we all just chatted for a while, which was good. :) Then we went into town - all six of us in Mom & Dad's Golf, which was a tight fit! - and windowshopped. Friday Harbor is a fun town. Mackenzie and I each got a little square of fancy French dark chocolate Grand Noir 85% cacao for 40 cents each, and also some curry paste so we can learn to make curry (and also just add some spice to our cooking in general). We all also spent a good while looking at Native American and First Nation art in one shop. Really cool stuff.

We tried to look at a lighthouse on the way back, but we couldn't find the turnoff/parking lot with a path that actually led to it. There was a nice little view point that we stopped at, though, to take pictures.

Oh! I almost forgot - Isaac found an old Atari system in the game room/closet at the house. After some trouble setting it up, we played some classic, classic games - older than us! - such as Pacman, Asteroids, Missile Command, and Space Invaders. Good times! I'd never actually used a joystick before. Hee.

Another highlight of the day was taking pictures as the sun set behind the house. Not only did we all get some beautiful views of the surrounding water and islands, but we also saw a large purple jellyfish that had gotten caught near shore. None of us could tell whether it was still alive, since it was moving but that might just have been with the tide, but it was very pretty. Isaac tried to steer it back out to sea, but it just drifted back in a few feet further down the shore. Oh, well...

Unfortunately, Mackenzie and I had to leave relatively early the next morning so that we could get back to Langley in time to do important school-related things on campus. So we said our goodbyes at the ferry terminal the next morning and walked on. This time, of course, it was daytime, so we could watch the scenery as we made our way back to Anacortes. It was beautiful, even if we didn't see any whales. :) And it wasn't hard to get back to I-5 once we arrived there, which was nice! In fact, we only worried that we'd gotten lost once we were back in Langley, since we ended up taking a different road than usual to get back to our neighborhood. But it all worked out.

At campus, we managed to catch the last half of the CanIL orientation, and then we met a classmate afterwards who also needed to do things like get her ID, set up insurance, etc., so we went together. She's actually also from Washington, though much further south than I've ever really been. But we did get textbooks, insurance, and I got my parking pass, which eased our minds about actually starting school tomorrow! Also, we met the wife of one of our teachers, who knows Dad from way back.

All in all, a very satisfying couple of days. Class starts tomorrow, bright and early - 8:20 AM! Sigh. ;)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Day 3: Labour Day

Man, hopefully this blog will get more interesting once school starts. ;) I'm sure it will.

So in honor of Labor Day, Mackenzie and I have just completed our day's strenuous task: to call the library guy at TWU and leave a message so we can set up a time to be interviewed for the circulation desk assistant position for which we're both applying. Of course, since it is Labor Day, there was no one there, or we could have actually maybe talked to him instead of leaving a message. But oh well.

Now, the next item of business is getting ready to drive back down to Washington, to spend a few days with our family in the San Juans. Should be quite fun, though there won't be any internet. So this may be my last entry... for a few days.