Thursday, February 02, 2006

Why do I always attract the crazies?

The guy attending the "special" workshop series in his head was at today's seminar as well. Unfortunately, he somehow decided I was his new best friend. So when we were asked to pair up and brainstorm the main characteristics of the best dissertations, my new special friend gave me a five minute monologue on the historical consequences of the tension between the scientific method and monastic scholarly tradition. So spectacularly off-topic it was almost funny. (His thesis topic is something to do with engineering, so it wasn't even that he was discussing that).

At morning tea time the same guy was telling me all about his difficulties finding friends who understand him (hmmm... I wonder why?), and how hard it is to be a student enrolled in Melbourne, with a supervisor in Queensland, and physically located here (so why is he doing it this way, exactly?). I was incredibly grateful to be "rescued" from this conversation by another guy who wanted to tell me all about his dissertation topic. Turns out his background is in International Relations, but he is studying transcripts of conversations using what he called "Chomsky's theory of discourse analysis". Self-taught, of course. I tried to pin him down on what exactly he thought this theory was (and to mildly suggest he might like to look at Conversation Analysis or something that, you know, actually exists) but he wouldn't let me get a word in edgewise.*

Then, trying to extricate myself from that conversation, I pushed my way into the immediate vicinity of a plump, elderly woman who had a nice smile. Upon which, she immediately began trying to convert me.

Am I sending out some sort of signal, people?

* Why is it that random people off the street always think that, because they speak a language, they are automatically qualified as linguists? I mean, I have teeth, but I don't go around offering to perform dental surgery.

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1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I came upon this post, and thought, "Oh my goodness, at least it is not just me."

Seems that self-proclaimed linguists abound (almost as much as the obligatory "How many...?" question).

What would Chomsky's DA look like, I wonder? The very thought makes me giggle.

I guess that I (we) should be happy that people are so interested in the field, but mostly, I just end up annoyed. Especially when people also take it as license to complain about the way "those black people" talk, or that all "those Mexicans" won't learn English. Because that's what linguists do, right? ARGH.

Will be reading your blog from here out.