How to Pay for Linguistic Fieldwork—<i>SpecGram</i> Editorial Board SpecGram Vol CLVIII, No 4 Contents The Prudent Fieldworker’s Guide to Preparation and Packing—Part I—Professor Athanasious Schadenpoodle

How Computers Can Do Fieldwork For You: A Case Study

So, as a very mature and worldly individualI am 20 years old after allI am continually surprised by the lack of sophistication among the older generationsy’know, from 30 on up. They seem to be oblivious to the most rudimentary facets of everyday life, like Twitter, Reddit, and Fark. I mean, these people grew up on this planetnot like in Africa or something. Posers.

So, as part of my self-designed interdisciplinary degree in International Computational Business Communication Studlies (I love that my advisor didn’t catch that extra “l” until my junior yeartoo late to change it! FTW!), I’ve been taking 3rd-year graduate linguistics courses. Thanks to the flexible nature of my degree program, no prerequisites are required.

So, I’m taking “Field Methods” and trying to figure out how to get my computer to do my fieldwork for me. I started off thinking of a variant of a common internet meme:

  1. Get a computer to do your fieldwork for you.
  2. ???
  3. Profit!

So, as is commonly the case, step number 2 did not immediately present itself a priori, so I figured I’d work out what it was when I got there. Whatev.

So, I did some research on Wikipedia and Uncyclopedia and in some books I downloaded and figured all I had to do was use some cutting-edge military-grade machine-learning programs I found BitTorrents for. (Yay zero-day warez!) I configured my computer to look for something characteristic and distinctive in the language of the internet. I processed a tiny sample of about 147 terabytes of internet data I slurped off Google Groups and Facebook, doing automatic feature extraction using a simulated annealing-based component analysis, which I fed to several machine learning models, including a Kohonen map, a decision tree, and a neural net with inputs based on TF/IDF weights. It’s pretty basic stuff, but I thought I’d see what happened.

So, the first pass concluded there was no intelligent or coherent language about language out on the internet. (The closest thing was “im in ur dictionaries verbing ur nounz!” ROFL! Pwnage!)

So, for my second pass I tweaked some parameters and my stoopid spellchecker auto-corrected a typo of “lenguste” to “linguistics”. The results were a little more interesting: there still isn’t anything intelligent or coherent out there, but these phrases came back as being the most characteristic and distinctive elements of the language of linguistics on the internet:

So, as a result of my attempts at automated fieldwork, I’ve found an a posteriori turn-key solution for step #2 above that anyone can implement in the comfort of their own home while the pounds melt away and the ladies flock to admire your imitation Rolex and worship your enlarged manhood. Just send $29.95 and your bank account routing codes to:

Fullah Enterprises Co., Inc., Ltd.
137 S. Pam Ave.
Konstantiniyye, Turkey

Chit Fullah

İstanbul Online University

[İ.O.U! Go Fighting Pawn Tickets!]

How to Pay for Linguistic Fieldwork—SpecGram Editorial Board
The Prudent Fieldworker’s Guide to Preparation and Packing—Part I—Professor Athanasious Schadenpoodle
SpecGram Vol CLVIII, No 4 Contents