Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wrapping up in Malta

It's the eve of our departure from Malta, and we've run 253 subjects so far. We are 17 short of completing the last experiment, and may get to run a few more tonight. I am pretty darn satisfied with our productivity here, and can't quite grasp that I have been here for four weeks - the time has flown by! And in a good way; I've been busy and engaged the entire time. Part of that is due to having various visitors come and stay with us for periods of our time here, and part of it is due to simply being so busy with work.

Andy and his parents got here Monday, and so the last few days have involved finding a nice balance between running subjects and sight-seeing. Luckily Kevin's been able to run subjects without me on the days when I've played hooky and been a tourist. On Tuesday afternoon, we went on a beautiful guided hike, led by a professional botanist, on the northwest edge of Malta, just north of Golden Bay. We got to learn all about the garrigue ecosystem and see some of the rare, undeveloped parts of the island - it was spectacular, especially at that time of day in the rays of the setting sun.

Yesterday, I finally got to visit two of the prehistoric temple period sights: Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, which are in pretty excellent condition considering their advanced age and exposure to the elements. Last night, Anna cooked us another wonderful fenkata - traditional Maltese rabbit - so memorable!

Another fun aspect of this trip is that I feel as though I've discovered about ten million potential future research projects that could be done here, time- and money-permitting. It's nice to know there's work to bring me back, although my friends here already provide a great reason to return. If I am lucky, I'll be back in November for the annual Maltese book fair in order to unveil some of the progress on our electronic dictionary project. And then again next April for the third annual International Maltese Linguistics Conference - hopefully with some interesting results from the experiments we're wrapping up right now. I am looking forward to cracking open these data files as soon as I can to start analyzing the data. But before then, I'll be enjoying a few days off in eastern Sicily, and heading to Israel next week for more Semitic psycholinguistics.


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