Friday, May 30, 2008

End of May ramblings

Linguistics-wise: summer's here, and the time is right for dancing in the streets! But seriously...there are several projects underway, most importantly transitioning from database construction for Hebrew and Maltese to item selection for experiments. I can't even begin to express how nice it is to have this grant! Pretty soon, we'll have word familiarity judgments for Maltese verbs, with a similar set of results from Hebrew coming later this summer if all goes well. All the computer equipment and software necessary for running the experiments next winter have been bought, and the lab will be working hard over the summer on item selection.

Outside my own projects, I've been avidly following an interesting blog-based discussion on phonology - an exchange between Phonoloblog and Mr. Verb. The issue is opacity, and whether/how various phonological theories are equipped to handle opacity. In particular, the discussion centers on Optimality Theory vs. rule-based serial approaches to opacity, and whether the mechanisms invoked by each approach count as theoretical "add-ons" (apparently a bad thing) or are just part of the original theory (apparently a better thing).

While fascinated by the discussion I've been a bit cautious of stepping into the debate. I don't really think either of these two approaches does a very satisfying job of handling opacity, regardless of what machinery is implemented to handle it. I'm also intrigued by recent work arguing for essentially serial implementations of OT used to deal with opacity.

Neighborhood-wise, the glass is definitely half-full. The 4th Ave underpass is proceeding quickly, and the concommitant work on street-car tracks south of the railroad tracks is moving fast as well. The exciting One North Fifth apartments are closing in on completion; I got a hard-hat tour of a 5th-floor apartment yesterday, and it was pretty impressive. It may be summer in Tucson, but things are definitely more active than normal.