The Maltese adventure continues
It's the middle of my third week here - by this time next week, I'll be getting ready to start packing and head out. Things have been going fine, aside from a nasty stomach bug I picked up recently. Interestingly, three out of four times that I have come to Malta I've gotten something similar. Luckily my Maltese friends, not to mention two Arizona students staying with me, are extremely helpful and friendly and offer a lot in the way of care and sympathy. I'm mostly better now, which is a relief - I essentially couldn't leave the apartment for 48 hours. Ah, the apartment - we're in a "new" apartment for this one week (the usual one happened to be booked, so we had to move out and will move back in this coming weekend). This new place is very conveniently located, just around the corner from the other place and sort of has a sea view. It's one of the older, original Sliema two-story town houses, which has some benefits and some drawbacks. It's quite charming, but...there's almost no water pressure in my shower, and the owners recently removed all the plaster and paint from the beautiful limestone block walls inside, so there is dust everywhere. And there's some weird mold growing on the grout between the blocks downstairs - that's a bit icky. It's cheaply furnished in such a way that everything feels flimsy. As a fellow vacation-rental owner, I almost feel obliged to draw up a list of things to improve for the owner. Almost.
Workwise, we've run 168 subjects now - that means we're about halfway done with the third of our four experiments. It's unbelievably cool. We have a lot of slots to fill up for next week, so we may not finish before our departure, but if we don't there's a colleague here who can likely run subjects after we go, which would be great. We're also getting ready for arriving in Jerusalem in a couple of weeks, where we plan to finish designing our Hebrew experiments and preparing the items, though those experiments will likely be run once we're gone. Kevin and I are also preparing two word familiarity studies in addition to the priming experiments; one on Hebrew and another on Palestinian Arabic.
Another work-related thing is that I gave a talk today at LREC - the Language Resources Evaluation Conference. This conference is enormous - something like 1000 attendees - and I ran into several people I know when I came to give my talk, though given my illness I had to flee right home after my talk. It was fun to come to a computational linguistics conference in Malta, and give a talk about Maltese (there may be one or two others among all the papers, but that's all).
The most exciting/unexpected thing by far: On Monday, despite being sick, I got to be on Maltese television! My colleague here, Manwel Mifsud, is a professor in the Department of Maltese at the University of Malta, and is also the president of the National Council of the Maltese language. Every Monday afternoon, he appears on television to discuss all aspects of the Maltese language, and he had asked me to be interviewed on the program this week. Even though I wasn't feeling 100% well, I went on anyway and had a great time! There were even live telephone callers phoning in during the show to ask questions - it was a really great experience and has shown me once again how much the people in Malta care about their language. It was really exciting to get to talk about why I care about it, given that to them I am some stranger from Arizona, of all places.