Sunday, June 06, 2010

greetings from Jerusalem

Well, I can't say I was thrilled to get on a plane to Israel on June 1. The previous day involved some rather scary events in and near Israel, and it was hard to know whether things would worsen. It's always a bit tricky for me to be here - the "situation" tends to constantly feel on the verge of worsening to the point of becoming dangerous, or at least crossing a line of comfort for me. At the same time, we have a lot of work to do on Hebrew and Arabic, and I know no more productive place to get such work done than in Ram Frost's incredible lab. Each day in the lab feels as productive as an entire week at home, if not more, and I really appreciate the chance to come work here.

So what are we working on? First, there are the priming experiments on Hebrew, which are identical to the ones we just finished running on Maltese last month. In addition to Kevin, Andy is here with me, and the two of them make us a pretty awesome team. We're going through enormous lists of Hebrew words, creating nonwords, and programming our item lists for the priming experiments. Secondly, Kevin and I have a little grant to carry out a couple of word familiarity experiments. One is on Hebrew, and is an elaboration of a similar experiment we did last year. The other is on Palestinian Arabic, which, thanks to Kevin's hard work, is moving along nicely and may represent the first such experiment on a spoken dialect of Arabic. We'll meet with our first native Arabic speaking consultant tomorrow, and we hope to have that experiment up and running very soon.

One nice thing about Jerusalem, and Israel in general, is that I sort of have a built-in social life here. Thanks to my parents' friends from 35+ years ago, there's a wonderful network of extremely friendly Israelis that I get to spend time with, in addition to my own Israeli friends and colleagues. It's a real pleasure to see people when there's downtime, and it helps the time pass more quickly. We're only here for another couple of weeks actually - then we begin the journey toward home. Till then, here's hoping we get even further with the research!


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