04 March 2011

I'm a charmer is why

by Cecily
If papers, handouts, etc have a blank side, I put them in a drawer to use for scratch paper later. Here's what was on the "blank" side of the piece of paper I just pulled out:

sketch of an angry face saying “I hate coexisting” and a scribble saying “I hate etiquette”

Based on the other side of the paper, this is from a class about language politics and planning in 2006. I have no idea what the other relevant details were that led to this being drawn.

It's much harder to draw lots of hilarious cartoons during a class now that I am usually teaching the class.

Other in-class cartoons from my more-prototypically-studential days were about theta roles, morphology, and the extremely irritating and frustratingly common belief that gorillas can learn ASL*. I still haven't gotten around to the one about Phonology + Chrononhotonthologos = Phonolohotonthologos. Yet.

*Those last two, while they began in a classroom setting, involved substantial extracurricular efforts as well.


  1. You were awesome in 2006, you were awesome in Gorilla-land, and you are awesome now!

  2. Oh, stop. No wait, go on...

  3. So, what's with the gorillas? (I don't know anything about gorilla signing except a vague belief that people think they've been taught to sign.) The whole thing is nonsense, and they're not really using signs to communicate at all, or they have actually been taught to use signs, but not in a way that qualifies as language?

  4. The claims that annoy me are very strong claims about how gorillas (and other apes I think) "can learn sign language" and that this is somehow an important thing that teaches us something about language, humanity, etc.

    In fact, some individual apes have been trained to produce and respond to some individual signs, but (a) the rates of replicability are very low (b) the scientists involved did not know ASL, (c) when actual deaf signers were involved, the number of "signs" they were recording dropped drastically (i. e. the non-signers basically coded every movement as a sign) and (d) no grammatical markers or syntactic structure was ever recorded.

    It mainly makes me mad that the general public seems not to know the difference between "having memorized a few isolated signs" and "knowing ASL". I mean, nobody thinks dogs or parrots "know English".