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I wrote a contrafactum to rhythm changes today. Or I should say that one just occurred to the fingers of my right hand as I was playing, aft...

Monday, December 9, 2013

What are people interested in when they are interested in language

Since I am a language teacher (at least in part of my professional role) and an academic specialist in the artistic use of language (i.e. poetry), and a poet and translator myself, I have thought about what it means for someone to be interested in language, and what people mean by this.

One of the main areas of interest is in stigma. People love stigmatizing others for how they talk or use language. Whether it be those interested in the enforcement of "zombie rules" (non rules) of grammar like split infinitives, or in stigmatizing accents, regional dialects, or vernacular habits of speech as ignorant or lower class. At its least offensive, an interest in stigma becomes an interest in mere sociolinguistic difference, without a negative value attached, or an admiration for prestige dialects.

(Disfluency is supposed to be a sign of moral or political corruption. I never understood that. I might hate the linguistic habits of people I agree with politically, for example. Wouldn't that be more my problem than theirs? Or if right-wing people are poor spellers, well, that means that they are poor spellers, and nothing more than that.)

Another category of interest is in words and etymologies. Some people who like language just like word origins. That's fine. I happen to know some etymologies, though I can't say that's the source of my interest in language. I like words, but I like sentences more than words per se.

Some people are interested in the process of language learning. I have some interest in that in my role as teacher.

People are interested in Whorfian ideas about language shaping thought.

But most of my interest in language is in the area of linguistic prosody: rhythm and intonation, pretty much. I think syntax could be pretty interesting, but I don't follow technical discussions of it, lacking formal training. Cognitive linguistics, related to the study of metaphor, is also worth my time, as is the study of idiomatic expressions and proverbs.

Friday, December 6, 2013

No trilogy

I decided against the trilogy idea. Another book by me on Lorca is not what the world needs (after my 2nd I mean). What I should do for book 6 is something completely, utterly unrelated to Lorca.

I think it should be a book on prosody. That's the subject I've thought the most about without publishing anything about it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


What Lorca Knew: Fragments of a Late Modernity

Hermeneutical Introduction*
Chapter 1: What Lorca Knew*
Chapter 2: Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Poetics of Cultural Exceptionalism
Chapter 3: The Anatomy of Influence: Lorca in Contemporary Spanish Poetry
Chapter 4: The Grain of the Voice
Chapter 5: New York Variations: O’Hara, Motherwell, Strayhorn*
Chapter 6: Queering Lorca
Conclusion: Elegy For Modernism

I've honed this table of contents so that it reads better. I realized I didn't need to have Lorca in every title of every chapter, or have explanatory subtitles every time. Title chapters refer to Henry James, Wallace Stevens, Harold Bloom, and Roland Barthes. And Frank O'Hara, I guess, since he often wrote poems like "Ann Arbor Variations." Is that too cute?

Looking at a colleague's work recently, I noticed that the title of every article was very, very long. I'm trying to go in the opposite direction, or at least have a balance between long and short titles. An asterisk means that chapter is written. I'm trying to finish chapter 4 this calendar year.