African Linguistics at Berkeley

Like last year, I spent the end of my spring break at the Annual Conference on African Linguistics. This time, instead of camping in Oregon, I stayed with my friend Andrew, a grad student in linguistics at Berkeley, where the conference was held.

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The Campanile

I presented a poster on Maragoli, the language I worked on in Field Methods last year. Famous Linguist #2 (see last year’s post) came to my poster, and we spent some time discussing the data and the way I transcribe the vowels of Maragoli. I discovered I enjoy explaining my research to others much more than I like actually attending poster sessions myself.

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Me presenting my poster (Photo by Andrew; Logoori is another name for Maragoli)

I had a good time at the conference in general. It was fun to see many familiar faces and to reconnect with friends in graduate programs across the country. I was particularly looking to attend talks on tone that might help me with my work on Efik, the Nigerian language I worked on in Field Methods this year. My greatest work-related success of the trip might’ve been managing to ambush a Cameroonian visiting scholar late on Friday in order to ask him the questions there hadn’t been time for me to ask during his talk on downstep in Babanki.

On Friday evening, I tarried a while in a Half Price Books and ended up buying three books. Then, walking back to my friend’s house, I discovered bookcases of free books on the sidewalk outside Black Oak Books. The store was closing, sadly. Most of the free books seemed to be cookbooks, and I didn’t take anything.

On Saturday, I went to the morning session of the conference and then took a bus to Oakland Chinatown to meet my friend Miyuki. I loved Oakland Chinatown. Every restaurant seemed to have hanging roast ducks and piles of zongzi in the window. We stopped in one for a lunch of wonton noodle soup, bok choy with oyster sauce, and pork liver steamed rice rolls. Then Miyuki took me to the Oakland Public Library–Asian Branch, which has collections in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and more.

From Oakland, I went on to San Francisco to meet yet another college friend, who had also been at the conference. I celebrated Easter with him before returning to Los Angeles.

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