mitcho Michael 芳貴 Erlewine

Postdoctoral fellow, McGill Linguistics.


Posts Tagged ‘University of Chicago’

Dates in the Month of May that Are of Interest to Linguists

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Happy May! May, as you surely know, is an important season of celebration for linguists. Some of my favorite items are below.

From Dates in the Month of May that Are of Interest to Linguists by the late [[James D. McCawley]]:

May 6, 1939. The University of Chicago trades Leonard Bloomfield to Yale University for two janitors and an undisclosed number of concrete gargoyles.

May 23, 38,471 B.C. God creates language.

May 29, 1962. Angular brackets are discovered. Classes at M.I.T. are dismissed and much Latvian plum brandy is consumed.

May 31, 1951. Chomsky discovers Affix-hopping and is reprimanded by his father for discovering rules on shabas.

Unfortunately May 31, 1951 was a Thursday…

Bathroom Graffiti

Friday, November 21st, 2008

University of Chicago Law School Faculty PodcastOn my continuing quest for good audio content, I’ve recently subscribed to the University of Chicago Law School Faculty Podcast and so far I’ve been very pleased. Today I was listening to the latest installation: Dean Saul Levmore’s talk on “The Internet’s Anonymity Problem.” He opened the talk with an anecdote about graffiti at the Med and bathroom graffiti. This immediately reminded me of a Scav Hunt item which I completed in my first year:

From the 2004 Scav Hunt list:

Item 80. Brain Farts: The Collected Works of The University of Chicago Bathroom Graffiti (organized by theme, but attributed to location). [102 points. 15 bonus points for an inset detailing the entirety of the “Grout Work.”]

I spent a day or so going around campus with a friend (so I didn’t have to be snooping around in ladies’ rooms) taking pictures and compiled the booklet. (more…)

Scav Hunt!

Thursday, May 8th, 2008


It’s that time of the year again—Mother’s Day weekend—and that means Scav Hunt! Every year at the University of Chicago we have a huge Scavenger Hunt (a.k.a. “Scav,” or “The Hunt”). On Wednesday night at midnight, a list of roughly 300 items is released in some obfuscated fashion. The items are to be presented three days later, on Judgement Day (Sunday). While some items are simply rare and must be found, most are some sort of construction, production, or art project. There are also some other scav staples: some of the items make up the Scav Olympics, the Party on the Quads, Scav All Stars, and the Road Trip.


The Shoreland in the Times

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

From Old Man on Campus:

The Shoreland’s 13 floors, hundreds of rooms, will be a dorm for another year or so before it’s transformed into high-end condominiums. Meanwhile, plaster sifts from the ceilings, and the lobby is a mishmash of couches, stacks of student publications, a big-screen TV and handbills covering the walls. A friendly, bored staff of desk attendants watches as students — listless, sleepy, harried, running late, dressed to the nines, falling down drunk, depending on the day and hour — file past.

Accurate. I can vividly visualize the scenes he describes. Funny, I miss the Shoreland.

(via Bailey)

Bailey’s in the Tribune!

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko just put Bailey on the front page of! ^^ You kind of have to see a different page to know who it is, though.1 Heh.

I recently got Daring Fireball‘ed too,2 so that almost makes us a celebrity couple.

Bailey on the Tribune

I personally like the caption right above. That’s the same story, right?

  1. “Good thing I have nice eyebrows, ‘cause that’s all you can see.” 

  2. This article: Great News! You can opt-out from Omniture’s mitcho on DF 

Setting Language Research to Music

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Via LinguistList:

‘Setting Language Research to Music’ is a Newcastle University project whose aim is to compose orchestra and choral music to demonstrate infant perception and production. The first piece of music to emerge from the project, ‘Swing Cycle’, mimics babies’ experience of discovering word boundaries, taking work by Peter Jusczyk and colleagues as a starting point.

It’s the craziest thing I’ve seen in a long while… it reminds me of the Music: Materials and Design course I took a couple years ago. My final project was an electronic composition building a rhythm with political speech samples and echos and cracking noises, representing the hollowness of political rhetoric. It was one of my academic low points at Chicago, for sure.

Maybe it’s because I’m an artist, but I’ve never understood the drive for modern art, including compositions like these. I would much rather listen to some music and read about language acquisition separately… the motivation to combine the two eludes me.

You can listen to The Swing Cycle and read the lyrics (or their approximation) on the Setting Language Research to Music website.

Krashen The Party

Friday, November 9th, 2007

Yesterday we ETA’s went to a workshop at Lan-Yang Institute of Technology. The workshops were focused around the instruction of reading. The three afternoon sessions we saw included two workshops on building vocabulary and one by [[Stephen Krashen]].

Krashen is kind of like the Chomsky of language acquisition and teaching—a huge and controversial (some may say incendiary) figure who you can love or hate, but can’t ignore. Last Wednesday in our weekly workshop, Dr. Collins delivered a chronological run down of Krashen’s theories.1 As an entertaining aside, one task given to us was to draw a schematic diagram of Krashen’s view of language acquisition and production. Below is Dale’s drawing, which eerily reflects the geography of the brain… the input comes in through the ears (or eyes, at the back of the brain), then hits the Affective Filter (the amygdala), goes to the Language Acquisition Device (the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas), then the output is filtered by the Monitor—a product of conscious learning—(the frontal lobe). Pretty creepy.


Krashen’s talk2 was fascinating, albeit not what I expected: given that the workshop’s focus was on the teaching of reading and that he himself has been a big advocate of recreational reading for language learners, I expected more on teaching English reading as to non-native speakers. The majority of the talk, though, was on writing and the composing process: “reading more makes you a better writer, but writing more makes you smart.” He talked about how the act of (regular) writing clarifies and organizes our thoughts, and advocated for a writing process which involved much revision as, “every time you have to revise, it means you’ve become smarter,” and building relaxation (to allow for eureka moments) into the process. His conclusion and analysis are important for first-language speakers just as much as the second-language learner, and the talk did feel more like a writing seminar than a pedagogical one. Krashen is an engaging and entertaining speaker, using many examples from famous writers and common experience to draw his conclusion.

The intensity with which he spoke and the passion for thinking about thinking reminded me of Sally’s Honors Analysis class, which was as much about thinking as it was about mathematics. Sally once told us that, when we’re stuck on a problem, we should find someone just about as smart as us and just explain the problem to them. He claimed that the majority of the time, the simple process of explaining the problem outloud and answering clarifying questions would make the solution come to us. It’s a powerful technique that I’ve used many times at Chicago and elsewhere, and Krashen’s analysis of what happens when we write thus struck a chord with me.

Afterwards I was fortunate enough to go out to dinner with the speakers, some of our advisors, and some faculty from the Institute that hosted the workshop. I had some great conversations about my background, where my future directions may lie academically, and of course the ideas. ^^ It reminded me of dinners with linguists back at home, after a workshop or CLS. I realized I miss the fraternity of academia—the sense of mutual respect and interest academics have for each other’s work and ideas, even if the “other” is only 22 years old.

  1. A similar basic run down of Krashen’s various theories is found on this blog post, The Krashen Revolution

  2. Krashen, Stephen. “What is Academic Language Proficiency,” presented at the International Conference and workshops on English Language Teaching: Pedagogical Aspects of Reading. Yilan county, Taiwan, November 8th, 2007. 

A Match Made in Heaven

Friday, October 12th, 2007

From the U of C Development page:

Paul Sally and mitcho

Together, at last. I feel so honored.