[PLUG-TALK] Linguistics anyone?

John Jason Jordan johnxj at gmx.com
Tue May 26 11:19:27 PDT 2020

In 2005 I enrolled at PSU to study linguistics, ultimately taking every
course the department offered. I did not do so with the intention of
getting a job in the field; I did so merely because linguistics has
fascinated me since I was a teenager, and in 2005 I was finally able to
indulge my interest.

In 2005 I also followed my interest in Linux, mostly because I needed a
laptop for classes, and I was determined that it would run Linux.
Toward that end I discovered PLUG, where I found advice and support.
And being a guy who believes in fairness I have always attempted to
give back. I don’t have the technical knowledge to help much, but I do
what I can.

Last December I started to write a lay person’s guide to linguistics,
sort of a Linguistics 101, and I aimed it especially at Linux users. It
came to 37 pages, most of which is pure linguistics, but there are
places where I took the time to explain how to do things in Linux that
are needed for linguistics, things that took me a long time to figure
out - things like writing with characters from the International
Phonetic alphabet, creating phrase structure trees, writing glosses –
these and many more are all possible in Linux, but figuring out how
took me a lot of effort, and I wanted to document the methodology.

I also included some points that are more popular – things like why
English spelling is so [expletive deleted], and easy ways for you to
improve your own orthographic prowess. And because my audience is
fluent in English, that is the language that I used mostly when I
needed to give examples to clarify a topic.

As I was writing it occurred to me that I should present the subject to
an audience of Linux users. PLUG has talks and, although presently in
hiatus, I could see myself giving a talk. However, the topic is so long
that it would take a dozen talks to cover it. On top of that, everybody
is interested in linguistics, but the topic is hopelessly off topic for
PLUG. After much rumination I have the germ of an idea for how I might
make a presentation.

Lately there has been much discussion here of ways to make virtual
presentations with tools like Zoom, among others. I haven’t yet actually
tried to do this, but I can probably get something working. But my opus
is still far too much to cover in one talk. Therefore, it occurred to
me to post the document somewhere so that people can download it and
read it for themselves. After allowing a decent period of time for
people to finish reading it I can give one presentation which would be
a type of question and answer talk. Whatever questions a reader has can
be presented so I have time to explain and clarify, and others can
benefit from the discussion as well. The time for the talk does not
have to be the first Thursday, but it could be. 

I post this here to see if there is any interest, with full knowledge
that there may be none at all. And if there is any interest, I would be
grateful for suggestions – is my idea of a virtual question and answer
talk worth pursuing, and if so, are there any further ideas for how to
do it?

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