Notes from a Linguistic Mystic

Hi everybody! Three pieces of news, two language related.

Dr. Vowels?

First, I’ve just completed and submitted to my committee my doctoral dissertation. For those of you not familiar with the American Ph.D system, a Doctoral Dissertation is a large paper (or small book) in which you aim to make a teeny, tiny increase in the world’s knowledge on something or another.

My dissertation, which I described here for a non-linguistic audience, worked to get a better idea of how we humans are able to hear vowel nasality (the difference in the vowel between “pat” and “pant”). Here’s a word-cloud of what I wrote, just for grins:

So, after running four experiments, recording around 4000 words, and writing 170 single-spaced pages, I now have some conclusions, which I’ll present to a committee of six professors from my university on March 18th, and, after they grill me about it for around 2 hours, if they agree I’ve done good work, I will have a Ph.D!

After that, I’m moving to the University of Michigan to act as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow on a major grant (the “Post-Doc” option discussed here), investigating how people’s perception of different nuances of speech is reflected in their production of these things.

So, between that, publishing my dissertation research, and continuing to work on my guide to phonetic analysis using the Praat software package, I’ll be busy, but I’m also hoping to post a bit more often here.

Site Updates

As part of that process, I’m going to be making a few updates to the site itself. I’ll be going through some old posts to make sure they’re linguistically sound (and maybe add sources), fixing some long-standing formatting issues, and tweaking the code a bit. I’ll keep all the URLs the same, but don’t be too shocked if the odd post disappears, or if some things are updated or changed.


Finally, as many people who know me will mournfully attest, I’m a lover of puns. I collect and often deploy Wordplay, puns, father goose stories, or other humor that makes you hurt and laugh in equal parts.

Over the years, I’ve developed quite a large list of terrible puns, and I’ve decided to put them online, because some people just want to watch the world groan. If you’d like to be in pun-pain, well, go to my #crappypuns website at:

I welcome contributions, either by comment, Facebook, or email. And if you ever hear a good fish pun, be sure to let minnow.


Post Date: March 3, 2015
Categories: Humor - Personal -

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