Searching for a dissertation topic gives one an abundance of time for introspection. And watching old TV programs. Personally, I get my jollies through archived episodes of The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, and Hogan’s Heroes. Those were great shows, let me tell you. Can’t get enough of them!
As I said, this leads also to introspection, and I have begun to arrive at an unexpected truth, which I’m pretty sure is relevant to choosing the right dissertation topic. I’ve been searching for a fieldwork topic, thinking that I should contribute to the world’s body of knowledge and to the happiness of humanity by choosing an endangered language to study and, hopefully, to help to preserve.
After discovering linguistics, I wrote a Senior Honors paper in a Tagmemic framework and an MA thesis in Montague Grammar, and published several papers which made the Relational Grammarians proud. I wrote them all on a PET computer, though secretly I missed my IBM Selectric.
On reflection, I realize that everything I’ve ever loved, everything I’ve devoted my energy to, has become obsolete, has disappeared completely. Sure, nothing is permanent, but nothing I’ve ever been attached to has ever been long-
So I’m realizing that foisting myself onto some unsuspecting language community would violate their human rights. If one thing is sure, it’s that any language I’d study would be certain to pass into oblivion faster that you can say “Esperanto.”
No language deserves to suffer that fate.
So I’m going to write about generative grammar instead.