17 January 2008


I dropped one class today. I decided, that after attending the first two meetings, I would drop Modal Logic.

I figured that this would be better overall, rather than kill myself by taking four classes at the same time teach one class.

Before dropping it, I had a schedule of four classes per week. I was enrolled for ten credits, but that didn't necessarily equate to ten hours per week. I was only enrolled for one credit for Quantitative Methods but still, I needed to attend three hours per week. Also, I have Field Methods 2 which is a 3-credit class, but we meet more than three hours per week. Add to that the lab meeting with my adviser, and I am also trying to write a qualifying paper. And before I forget, I am also teaching one class, which needs some prep time as well.

So, I decided, that, instead of taking four classes and doing bad in all four of them, I'd rather amputate my schedule and take out Modal Logic, and concentrate my efforts on the remaining three. Thus, I dropped 3 credits of Modal Logic, and I changed my Quantitative Methods class from one credit to three credits, bringing my total number of credits to 9.

So there. Some people told me I am a masochist, but I am also a realist. I have other important things to do as well, both academic and non-academic, and I need to balance things out.

There are other reasons why I dropped Modal Logic. One reason has to do with the content. Although I love the topic, and after attending the first two meetings, I am sure that I can follow the content, there is something that makes me feel that this is not relevant to what I am doing as a linguist. Of course, I do research in semantics, and formal semantics make use of formal logic in philosophy. But there are things in logic that simply does not carry over to linguistics.

Take this example. In logic, the following two propositions are equivalent.

  • [A&B]

  • [B&A]

Conjunction is treated as equivalent in logic, but it does not have the same meaning in natural languages, as shown in the following examples.

  • John and Mary got married and had kids.

  • John and Mary had kids and got married.

I don't want to make this a technical entry, so I won't go further in explaining this. But, my point is, the things that class is covering is too abstracted away from natural language, that I don't see the relevance of it in my work as a linguist. I am still practical, after all. I do acknowledge the importance of formal models in language description, but given my current schedule, I decided it would be better to do away with it rather than to keep it.

To do a shift of topic, I finished reading The 158-Pound Marriage. It was short but concise, very direct to the point. I was amazed at how the author was able to paint the various differences of personalities that his four characters had. The book was about the disastrous consequences of wife-swapping. It was written in the 1970's, when the sexual revolution was in boom, I suppose. It was about a ménage à quatre between two married couples who are all somehow related to the local university. The book paints the subtle but rapid decline of the relationships between the four, and the subsequent ruin of both marriages.

Literature-wise, I liked the way the book was written. It was a book that was non-chronological; where the narrative, done by one of the husbands, which remained unnamed throughout the book, was a series of non-sequential vignettes, only inter-connected by the fact that some situation in the past was relevant to some other situation he was currently narrating. Everything was written as if occurring in the past, and the only thing that was written in the present was the event in the last few pages, when the narrator is on his way to Vienna to follow his wife who wanted some time away from him. In short, it was very captivating.

So, I finished that, and picked up this new book from the library, entitled The Piano Tuner. I saw this book as a paperback in Barnes and Noble the other day, and I wanted to buy it, but then I resisted the impulse, thinking that the library might have it, and if not, I could recommend its purchase, so I didn't. It turned out that the library has a copy, and so I checked it out. It is about a piano tuner who was sent to Burma in the Victorian era to tune a piano in the Burmese jungle. Interesting premise, and so far, it is interesting to read too.

Anyway, I will leave this post at this point, I will celebrate shaving off three hours from my schedule by sleeping early tonight.

(World War II Monument, from my Battery Park Series)


  1. Er... I would have dropped too! I took some linguistic credit (I'd better as teacher!) but I must admit some aspects drove me nuts ;)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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