Let’s Clean Up This Dust

It’s been over a year since my last post, and I apologize. 

Last year was difficult year. I kept hitting dead ends, I went through some traumatic events, and ultimately fell into clinical depression. With much effort, I was able to get back on my feet, but felt a clear disconnect – which I’m still struggling with. 

Looking back on this blog, I long for the passion I once held for linguistics. I don’t intend to get heavy on you, readers, but, even though I’m no longer clinically depressed, it has been difficult to feel that linguistic motivation again. It comes back in bursts, and I’m trying my hardest to delve back into topics that I once loved greatly. I have high hopes.

September was the start of my last two quarters at UCLA, and I was lucky enough to get my dream job right after my last quarter. I have been working full-time at the museum I have admired since I was 5 years old for about two months now, and I am loving every bit of it. I met a wonderful person and am happy to have him in my life. Now I’m just waiting for my graduation ceremony in June.


Things are getting better. I hope to make more posts in the future – hopefully linguistic-related posts once again – but I don’t like making empty promises. 

Until next time. 

I need to hear less and listen more.

The notion seems a little contradictory. I’ve always been a firm believer of the notion that if you listen a lot, it means you’re paying a lot of attention (Side note: Isn’t it interesting how you can pay attention and pay more attention, but “pay attention more” sounds a little odd? I love that!).

I am evidence that this notion is not the case.

I’m currently enrolled in a Political Philosophy class. I find it boring for two reasons: 1) I am not a fan of political philosophy, and 2) it’s an intro course designed mainly for freshmen. So, it’s not very challenging either, and my classmates don’t spark much discussion because, well, they’re freshmen and they’re still getting into the swing of things. Even though it’s not interesting, though, I listen very intensely.

Actually, maybe listen isn’t the correct word. “Listen” seems to convey the idea that not only are you hearing the sounds coming out of a person’s mouth, you’re also comprehending those sounds into words and those words into ideas. So, “listening” is really just the auditory pathway to understanding, given this line of reasoning (please don’t take that as an official definition!). I think the more accurate thing to say is that I “hear” a lot in this class, especially in discussion.

My TA for my Political Philosophy “discussion” (it’s more like a group office hours because “discussion” doesn’t really happen during this hour) has a very interesting accent. I’ve yet to pin it because I’ve been hoping to figure out on my own without actually asking him where he’s from (I’m almost positive he’s close to Central Europe. For certain, he’s neither from the far West or the far East of Europe.).

Because I’ve decided to play this game with myself, I’ve been hearing a lot of what he says in discussion, but I haven’t actually been listening… which is not good at all. I am intrigued by his accent – I love how accents sound in general! But, since Political Philosophy isn’t one of my interests, I’m going to have to try extra hard to excel in this class.

My solution: taking Voice Notes with my phone of the discussions. That way, in the moment, I can actually pay attention and listen to the ideas my TA is expressing in order to aid my term paper, and then, when I go home and have free time, I can listen to the recording and try to guess where the accent is from.

Actually, now that I type this out, it seems a little creepy that I’m making recordings of my TA’s lectures just so that I can figure out where his accent is from… but I promise it’s for the sake of liguistic science!

In any case, I think my revised notion is one that I should apply to a lot of aspects of my life: hear less, listen more!

I am more than a Linguist.

In an attempt to keep this blog from becoming a barren wasteland, a handful of my posts haven’t been about linguistics…which worried me for a bit. To be quite honest, I tossed and turned a bit since I did create this blog to be a Linguistics Blog.

This would be great if everything I did was about Linguistics (more relevant: This would be great if I were practicing really interesting aspects of Linguistics regularly). However, this is not the case.

More so, this is not the case because I am more than a Linguist, and I’ve come to terms with that. By extension, this blog will probably end up being more than a Linguistic Blog. This, I hope, is a good thing, because I am actually human; therefore, I am more than what I am studying, and more than my career path, and more than many other things.

Let’s look at what I am, though. I am a student. Expanding on that, I’m a student of Linguistics and Philosophy. (Side note: It’s funny, I automatically typed ‘stupid’ instead of ‘student,’ so maybe I’m ‘stupid’ as well.) But, I’m not just a student! I’m a daughter, a sister, a friend, a female individual, an archer, a museum staffperson, a bookworm, a video game player (I don’t want to say ‘video game geek’ because I really don’t know much about video games, I just like playing them).

I’m probably much more, but I’ve yet to figure that out.

To say the least, I’m human, and I wish people thought of themselves as more than _______. By extenstion, I wish people thought of other people as more than ________.

As an adult, I’ve found that, when I meet a new person, I’m immediately defined by what I’ve been studying. I tell people that I’m a linguist, and immediately, I’m questioned as to why I work at a Contemporary Art Museum (if they know I’m a museum worker). If they don’t know I work at a museum, usually they ask what I want to do with my degree, and then are baffled that I’d like to, first and foremost, continue working at the museum that I’m currently employed by.

I’m going to be honest with you, reader, I really have no idea why I’m telling you this. This isn’t even a rant – I’m okay with people asking me the Why’s, the How’s, and Are You Sure’s. Maybe it’s because I’m taking a lot of Philosophy classes this quarter instead of Linguistic classes and I’m actually looking past data and trying to think of things in a more abstract and ‘larger’ sense… (This isn’t to say that Linguistics doesn’t look at the ‘larger’ sense of things, it’s just a different form…and, often, a more concrete form… if that understanding made sense to anyone…)

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ll probably stop tagging Non-Linguistic posts as ‘Non-Linguistic’ posts because this blog will probably end up being more than a Linguistics blog… because I am more than just a Linguist.

Last Quarter…

…Wasn’t that interesting in regards to my research. It was mainly phonetics in Russian and identifying the phonetic alphabet of Russian speakers – each student researching Russian had to pick a speaker from a different part of the Russian-speaking world in regards to the other students. My speaker was from Kiev.

I have about 42 .wav files identifying the phonemes of Russian , available upon request.

Here are my two favorite recordings, including the sound wave and spectrogram images.



Click to play .wav file: ел


Click to play .wav file: ель

So, to sum it all up, I spent 8 weeks just looking at these things and writing about the differences between the sounds. Definitely not as interesting as my research on typologies, but, well, we all need an easy research period. Next quarter will be quiet on the linguistic side – I’m mainly taking philosophy classes. I will be taking a Phonology course, so maybe I’ll have something new to add.

Until next time.

[Non-Liguistic Post] Let’s Catch Up

Hi readers,

I hope I haven’t lost very many of you in my…5?…month absence! For those interested in what I’ve been doing in liguistics, I’ve started off the school year with very simple research – the past 9 weeks have been me conversing with a native Russian speaker and analyzing spectrograms of her speech patters. Simple phonetics and acoustics, but still interesting, nonetheless. Once I’ve submitted my report, I’ll be happy to share spectrogram images – but, for now, that’s about it.

I have not progressed in my studies of Romanian. Maybe I’ll set that as a New Year’s resolution: “Be able to have a basic conversation in Romanian!” Seems easy enough.

Aside from that, nothing has changed very much – simply working and studying. I’ll be leaving for an hiking/beach adventure to Cancun, Mexico in a little over a week. Maybe I’ll have something more to talk about after I come back.

I’m not just writing this to bore you all, though.

No, what promted me to revisit this dusty little linguistics blog is to share my experience with a frequent guest at the museum.

(Oh, right, it’s been a while. I still work at an amazing museum.)

Before I tell you about our guest, let me tell you about admission – the museum is free for students and $10 for adults. We have other prices for different discounts, but that’s irrelevant for this event.

Okay, back to the guest. The museum offers a lot of a free public programs (lectures, screenings, music, etc.), and we always have a guest come in JUST for those events. I’d say he’s about 20 years old, very quiet, but very polite. He comes in about 2-3 hours before events, checks in about 3 bags filled to the brim with clothes, and waits in our open courtyard until the event starts. At first, we looked past this, but after a few months, we came to the conclusion that he was homeless. He had never asked to enter the galleries (because our admission prices are prominently displayed). My co-workers and I brought him up in one of our training sessions, and the higher ups agreed to offer him free admission.

I remember the first time I offered him admission to the galleries, he politely declined, until I insisted again. Hesitantly, he asked how much it would cost, and I told him it was free. He’s quite expressionless, but I saw his eyes go wide and light up. I was so excited, too, because I could tell that he genuinely has an appreciation for art, but just can’t afford it.

It’s diffcult seeing someone love something so much but not be able to enjoy it as often as they’d like. It really puts things into perspective, and it made me happy knowing he’d have his chance now.

You’re probably thinking, “How is this relevant? This was ages ago.”

Sure, it was, but we continue to offer him free admission every time he visits. I was prompted to write about this because, months after we’d started giving him free admission, his expression is still the same. I think I’m touched by this because, if I were in that position, I may have taken the free admission promised to me for granted after a few months. But, to this guest, every time I offer it to him, he’s as surprised as the first time I offered it to him. I can tell he doesn’t take it for granted, so I’m sure it means a lot to him.


Maybe it’s the holiday season that’s sparking this post, but I think I’m going to take a lesson from our guest and try to not take the little things for granted – I’m sure I’ll enjoy things much more with that approach.


Happy holidays!

Originally posted on Anglophonism:

Sundays are a Day of Rest – by which I mean a Day of talking about the Rest of my life; that is, outside linguistics.

In linguistics, there’s a rule that grammar is descriptive and not prescriptive.

We’re not supposed to lecture people about their use of double negatives.

We can’t send angry letters to Tesco for having a sign saying “Ten Items or Less” instead of “Ten Items or Fewer”.

Instead, our job is to consider why people speak and write the way they do, and account for differences from the “accepted” way of speaking and writing.

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An Exploration of Morpheme Parallelisms and Aspect through Tagalog Causative Construction

I realize I said that I submitted my last research assignment, but my professor asked me to explore a topic that came up as a supplement (i.e. extra credit). Of course, I couldn’t resist overworking myself. Here’s an excerpt of my latest findings (the total page count was 7 pages single spaced, but I’ve only included the first 4, plus the source list – the first four are really all that counts, while the last 3 are more of my assumptions and support of them).

Unless I choose to do research for fun (which seems unlikely because I’m burnt out from the school year), I’m going to say that this will, in fact, be my final post that contains linguistic data, until the next school year (if, in fact, the next school year allows me to take more research classes).  

Also, when I reference Assignment 4, I’m referencing the research report from which this excerpt stems from.


In my previous research of Tagalog causative constructions (Assignment 4), I found the Tagalog language to be far more complex and specific in its constructions that those in English. My previous research focused mainly on the difference of constructions with Tagalog lexical causatives and Tagalog productive causative. Because I will not be discussing the constructions through a specific focus on lexical or productive causative for the purposes of this assignment, I’ll briefly summarize the previous findings and a basic groundwork for the material I intend to cover.

In English, the lexical causative is distinctive to its verb, such as the word “kill,” which can be interpreted to mean “X cause Y to die.” The productive causative in English is formed by the addition of a separate causative constituent, commonly the verb “make.” The productive English causative can be illustrated as such: “I made him buy the book.” Because the construction of the productive English causative simply requires the addition of a separate causative constituent, the English causative construction can be interpreted as flexible. This is illustrated through its flexibility in allowing some lexical causatives to be expressed as productive causatives, such as the lexical causative sentence “Susan killed the plants,” which can be just as easily expressed in the productive causative sentence “Susan made the plants die.”

While both constructions exist in Tagalog, the construction is more explicit in that both constructions have specific affixation to the verb. Furthermore, because Tagalog is a topicalizing language, the language undergoes a series of morphosyntactic properties in which the causative morpheme undergoes a transformation to include the topicalizing morpheme as well. The lexical causative in Tagalog is formed by adding the prefix pag- to the root of the verb, while the productive causative in Tagalog is formed by adding the prefix pagpa- to the root of the verb. When undergoing topicalization, the prefixes reflect an addition of the topic morpheme n-/m- at the beginning of the word. Thus, a word that has undergone topicalizer + causative construction will reflect the following:


(1)   n-/m-         +          pag-/pagpa-    +          root
TOP                       L-CAUS/P-CAUS                       root

L-CAUSE:   nag+root/mag+root
P-CAUSE:   nagpa+root/magpa+root


It is important to note, however, that context may play an important role in differentiating between two-place predicate productive causative and three-place predicate productive causatives in Tagalog. My previous research explained this more in detail, but as an oversimplification, the productive causative has more transformation properties than just the addition of the topicalizer morpheme. The productive causative must first be placed in its lexical construction, the drops the lexical root pag-, and then introduces the productive affix pagpa-. This causes an issue where the two-place predicate productive causative looks exactly the same as the three-place predicate productive causative. The entire transformation process has been explored in my previous assignment, which has been appended to this assignment.

For this assignment, I’ll focus on the differences between causative constructions in respect to aspect and topic focus. Because Tagalog causative constructions are more specific than English constructions, aspect and Agent/Theme topic play an important role in what other morphemes are incorporated with the L-CAUSE or P-CAUSE affixations. In Tagalog, there are two aspectual morphemes. The first morpheme (ASP1) is n-/-in-, which encodes the fact that the event has begun. Adopting the reference found in Travis (2010), I will refer to this as +start. The second morpheme (ASP2) is a reduplication, which encodes incompletion, referred to as +incomplete. Interesting to note is that the reduplicative morpheme appears between pag- and the root, when in a lexical imperfective construction.

Transitivity alternations in Tagalog lexical constructions at first give the appearance that, while pag- undergoes a visible topicalizing transformation, reduplication of –um- includes topicalization as well, where the infix ­–um-, whether reduplicated or not, serves as a topicalizing infix. (A side note: While ang and ng/nang can be topicalizing constituents, ­-um- infix can be used to topicalize as well. Native speakers have mentioned this phenomenon repeatedly, however, there are specific words which can use the infix, and others which cannot. There is much data on this topicalizing phenomenon, but to explore it in-depth would digress from the topic of this assignment.) Given the following alternations, it is easy to assume that mag- and ­–um- are equal in their purpose.

(2a)      t-um-umba      X fall down
s-um-abog       X explode
l-um-uwas       X go into the city
s-um-abit         X join

(2b)      mag-tumba     Y knock X down
mag-sabog      Y scatter1 X
mag-luwas      Y take X to the city
mag-sali          Y include X

To support the assumption that mag- and –um- serve the same purpose, one could reference the phenomenon of mag- and –um- disappearance when a theme is topicalized as opposed to when an actor is topicalized (where –in is the Theme Topic morpheme).

(3)   Root           Translation      Actor Topic      Theme Topic
hiwa          cut                   mag-hiwa        ø-hiwa-in
cook                 mag-luto         ø-lutu-in
                        catch               h-um-uli          h-ø-ulih-in
sew                  t-um-ahi          t-ø-ahi-in
1Curiously, in Tagalog, the verb “explode” (sabog) changes meaning to “scatter” when in a causative construction.

However, when the addition of maka- (able) we find that mag- and ­–um- act differently, and are therefore not equal in purpose.

(4)   Adaptive maka- (able)

  1. “able to join”              maka-sali        *maka-s-um-ali
  2. “able to include”         *maka-sali      maka-pagsali

First, the above examples prove that mag- is bimorphic, including the m- topicalizing morpheme, which is dropped when the adaptive is included, and the pag- prefix, which is left behind. Second, the examples debunk the assumption that mag- and –um- are the same; rather, it shows that –um- is parallel to topicalizing ­m-, because both disappear with the addition of the adaptive.

Although I have been focusing on the phenomenon surrounding the use of ­–um-, with reference to its involvement in ASP2 reduplication, this has been but a small exploration of reduplication’s role in causative constructions. As previously stated, reduplication occurs between pag- and the verb root to form infinitives in lexical causative constructions, implying that ASP2 requires ASP1 to be present in them.

(5)   Stem: trabahoh     “work”
Prefix:                    mag-pa                        P-CAUSE
Infinitive:               mag-pa-trabahoh        “X causes (unspecified) to work”
Contemplative:     mag-pa-pa­-trabahoh  “X will cause (unspecified) to work”

In the above example, we see the role of reduplication in productive causative constructions to have a different result. The above example supports the notion that context is important when utilizing productive causative constructions in Tagalog – without the context, the causee is simply unspecified, and the verb is classified as infinitive, and does not require the use of reduplication to form the infinitive. However, reduplication in productive causative constructions is still utilized to encode ASP2 properties (+incomplete). As the above example shows, the reduplicated morpheme is requires the ASP1 morpheme of mag-pa- and places itself between that and the verb root, to encode the contemplative or +incomplete aspect.

This phenomenon, however, is not solely bound to causative constructions. While causative constructions are an excellent way to explore the relationship of ASP1 and ASP2 morphemes, this relationship can be seen as present in non-causative constructions.

(6)   Stem: trabahoh     “work”
Prefix:        maka                                                   AGT+POT
Infinitive:   maka-pag-trabahoh                            “X is able to work”
Contemplative:     maka-ka-pag-trabahoh           “X will be able to work”

(7)   Prefix:        mag-paka                                            AGT-INT
Infinitive:   mag-paka-trabahoh                            “X works very hard”
Contemplative:     mag-pa-paka-trabahoh           “X will work very hard”

(8)   Prefix:        magsi-pag                                           MULT-AGT
Infinitive:   magsi-pag-trabahoh                           “X’s work together”
Contemplative:     magsi-si-pag-trabahoh           “X’s will work together”

The above examples show that reduplication in Tagalog verbs serves to encode ASP2 properties, regardless of whether the construction is causative or not. Furthermore, the examples bring to light that, when the prefixes contain more than one syllable, it is the second syllable of the prefix that is reduplicated. Given my findings, it is evident that the morphosyntax of Tagalog works on various levels. Not only is Tagalog causative constructions sensitive to whether the causative is lexical or productive, it also has to undergo various processes, which include insertion of topicalizer markers and inclusion of aspect markers. Because my area of focus for this assignment was aspect, I find it important to note that Tagalog’s sensitivity to marking aspect, especially ASP2 properties branches to more areas, including causative constructions. However, causative constructions seem to be a comprehensive starting point for a brief exploration of aspectual sensitivity, as shown in my findings. Tagalog’s overall sensitivity to aspect may be more complex, and is another topic entirely.




Travis, Lisa de Mena. “Chapter 1: Introduction.” Inner aspect the articulation of the VP. Dordrecht [u.a.:Springer, 2010. 8-9. Print.

Travis, Lisa de Mena. “Chapter 3: Inner Aspect and Event.” Inner aspect the articulation of the VP. Dordrecht [u.a.:Springer, 2010. 64-70. Print.

Travis, Lisa de Mena. “Chapter 6: L-Syntax and S-Syntax.” Inner aspect the articulation of the VP. Dordrecht [u.a.:Springer, 2010. 202-208. Print.

Ramos, Teresita V. “Chapter 7: Causative Sentences.” Tagalog structures., Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1971. 147-154. Print.


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