Saturday, January 31, 2009

UW news: "Language matters for Wisconsin"

Well, nobody keeps me in the loop anymore … I have to read stuff in the paper! Tom Purnell and Eric Raimy of the Wisconsin Englishes project were just awarded one of the extremely competitive grants from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment. Their project is for working with groups in a set of communities around the state to deal with, as they've been putting it, "hot-button issues" connected to language in Wisconsin, everything from language and immigration to dialect and phonics. The issues grew out of community questions and concerns that came up during earlier talks all around the state. They're planning a short non-technical book to present key issues briefly.

The bigger point is that these serious young theoretical linguists are investing a huge amount of time and energy in doing work that directly serves the needs and interests of our state. It's another powerful counterexample to the idiocy promoted by certain aging losers that "higher education, properly understood, is distinguished by the absence of a direct and designed relationship between its activities and measurable effects in the world." I think this younger generation is turning out to be OK after all.


The Stranded Preposition said...

Well, as is usually the case, I'm guessing that behind every youngster are some experienced folk, and I've heard that there is a good crowd at Madison with heads screwed on tight--unlike Prof Fish.

Anonymous said...

Nice project, it sounds like, and it's just good to hear that SOME money is flowing into worthy projects at present. (Hurry, Mr. President, we're barely hanging on!)

My first reflex on reading this was to think 'obviously linguists think and work like this -- with a foot in the real world.' But then I realized that we too have our own theorists who've lost their way, even if they aren't as embarrassing and insane as the Fishes of the world.

Adam Ussishkin said...

Congratulations, Tom and Eric!