Here are a few project ideas I’ve been considering lately:
1. For the Core 1 term paper, I considered how digital technologies could be utilized in teaching introductory linguistics courses. I reflected on our readings and discussions of education and learning, and decided that some existing technologies could be used in combination to assist students in analyzing language they use or encounter in their homes and communities. The issue is that most linguistic analyses utilize “cooked data”: clean categorical representations of the real continuous messy data. Cooked data is typically used to do analyses in intro classes because eliciting and cooking the data yourself is difficult and time-consuming. The basic idea I’m considering is creating a cooking suite (called “The Linguists Kitchen”?), where existing speech analysis and transcription tools are brought together in a very user-friendly way. While this will not automate the cooking process, it may at least provide an opportunity for students to try analyzing language that they actually interact with, which may make studying linguistics a more meaningful experience.
2. As an experimental linguist, I often think about the logistics of finding and recruiting participants for experiments. I’ve been thinking about the possibility of creating some sort of database where individuals interested in participating in research can sign up and list (or not list) various traits they possess that experimenters may be interested in (I’m thinking of traits related to language knowledge and usage). While something like this may be extremely useful to researchers, it seems like it would raise a number of ethical issues concerning confidentiality, security of personal information, etc. Perhaps an equally useful alternative would be to create a CUNY-wide database of ongoing research projects in need of participants. Individuals interested in participating in research could then peruse participant selection criteria and contact experimenters if they find a project they’d like to be a part of.
3. For the past year, I’ve been meeting weekly with a small writing group of fellow linguistics students. We help each other set writing goals, balance our personal work with our many other commitments, and find ways to help each other meet the goals we set out for ourselves. This group has been extremely helpful and, lately, I’ve been wondering if we could be even more useful by actually participating in each other’s writing process. This idea sprouted while I was somewhere in Chapter 2 of Planned Obsolescence and was crushed when I got to Chapter 3 and discovered that CommentPress exists. I’d like to try using CommentPress this semester with my writing group to figure out if there are any modifications we could make to align it more with (or better complement) the nature of our in-person interactions.