SpecGram Vol CLXIV, No 4 Contents Letters to the Editor

On Saving Endangered Languages
as Part of Doing Doctoral Research

By Albertrinette Q. Yue-Ramirez
SpecGram Research Intern #934392-002YR
(Dissertation Support Program 4A)

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.

Stanford Uni­ver­sity’s Cen­ter for Race, Eth­ni­city, and Lan­guage, 2012, “Rac­ing Lan­guage, Lan­guag­ing Race” Symposium.

Chiasmus of the Month
June 2012

Thinking back over my life, though, I realize that I love things gone by: The Brady Bunch and The Six Million-Dollar Man; the Minnesota Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies. I still pine for argyle socks and Izod shirts. I was state champion at Trivial Pursuit, three years running, and I still have the trophies to prove it.

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-lived. It’s all evaporated pretty fast.

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.

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CLXIV, No 4 Contents