Archive for the ‘thesis’ Category


Failure and atonement

February 28, 2008

Yes, yes, I failed. I didn’t manage to blog every day during PeBloWriMo. I guess I got fed up with writing pointless posts just for the sake of writing, and also I got home much later from choir practice last night than I’d intended. But still, I wasn’t supposed to fail, and definitely not with only two days left to go.

I did write a lot yesterday, though, and ended up submitting a chapter to my supervisor, plus an updated and corrected version of the chapter I sent her last week. So that’s some writing done. And then I had a – not sleepless, but insufficiently sleepful, night, so am not doing much of anything today. The “not much” includes watching some episode commentaries on Buffy the Vampire Slayer; we’re re-watching the series, and are currently just started on season 3, so I’m watching a couple of Season 2 episodes, which unfortunately are commented (commentaried??) by one of the series’ staff who says the most inane and frankly rather stupid things. This bothers me. I may have some more specific comments to make later, after I’ve watched the whole episode.


Oh dear

February 22, 2008

A large Swedish daily newspaper has an article about netiquette and how to (not) write a successful business email. And some of what they say is correct. Only, some of it isn’t. And I know this, because it’s what I write about in That Thesis. So do I drop them an email and say “Um, no, actually it’s fine to begin a business email with ‘Hello [first name]’, especially to the US, or ‘Dear [first name]’, especially to Britain; and almost nobody opens an email with ‘Dear Sir’, and in fact most USAnians open business email to utter strangers with only the person’s first name – and ‘best regards’ is a perfectly fine ending in a business email to Britain as well as the US, ‘Yours faithfully’ is like ‘Dear Sir’, so formal it’s almost insulting.”?

But then, the result of such an email would either be that the journalist would ignore it, or else misinterpret and mis-quote me. And after all the thesis isn’t finished yet so I shouldn’t go pretending to actually know anything (although I do!) No, it would end in tears. I’ll be quiet and let any Swedish businessmen who take that advice make fools of themselves – which is probably all for the best.

[Edited later: Bother. Somehow – I have no idea how it happened – this post was linked from the article, in their list of blogs that link to them. That is not supposed to happen unless you ask for it to happen which I certainly didn’t, but in any case I removed the link to the article from the post and hopefully that will remove the link from the article to the post. If anybody wants to read the article you can go to and look up the article called “Bomma inte e-tiketten”.]


Paraphrased conversation

February 19, 2008

Colleague (slightly worriedly) : So how did your meeting with the supervisor go??
Me: It went really well, as a matter of fact. I have lots to do still, of course, and she still isn’t completely happy with my structure, though it’s improved since the previous version.
Colleague (encouragingly) : Well that’s excellent.
Me: *giggles*
Colleague (suspiciously) : What are you laughing at?
Me: Oh, just, she was telling me a funny story about when you wrote your thesis…
Colleague (in mock outrage) : There was NOTHING FUNNY about when I wrote my thesis!!

So yeah, it’s going ok. I am trying not to focus on where I ought to have been by now, and more on how to get to where I need to be. (My supervisor is really good at helping with that kind of focusing. There wouldn’t be any point in her berating me for being tardy, because I beat myself up over that with great skill, but that doesn’t stop lots of other supervisors from doing that sort of thing to their students anyway.) And apparently the issues I have right now are the ones everybody has been through, whatever they try to claim afterwards.


February 23, 2007

This is a research moan. It is mine and belongs to me.

I am revising my three data chapters — three out of the four central chapters of the thesis, as a matter of fact — to be able to send them to my supervisor, get her approval and then be able to send them to the seminar participants by Monday at the latest. (The seminar is on the 7th, but if people are to read three chapters they do need to get more than a week cos some of them also have other things to do. Weird, I know, but there you have it.) And the chapters are essentially complete and finished, but when I am going through the email chapter one final time I start thinking things such as “Can I use the word genre here?” and spend half an hour looking up everything I can on genre research, and read things like this paper and realise that I don’t really know enough to know whether I can use the term or not. Except in a lot of papers, people seem to be using the term without analysing it in minute detail. I have read Swales on genres at some point, but it is all so very far away in my mind right now.

And then there are gender-related issues. Which is something I have never been interested in but it would be plain bad research to just ignore them; I can get away without doing any gender analysis in the chat room chapter since it is impossible to know the genders of the participants for certain, but the weblogs and emails are another thing. And I don’t know anything about the differences between how men and women communicate or what the researchers say about it (except the very basic stuff from the general sociolinguistics course I took a couple of years ago), and I feel that I should take a month or three to actually get acquainted with that — but that is impossible of course.

Oh, and then there is the whole question of quoting from the material. The praxis seems to be that you really need the consent of the language producers, but in the case of the email material that isn’t possible. The same goes for most of the chat material, of course. And most of the bloggers I’ve written to ask for consent haven’t answered. In the previous seminars people have clamoured for more examples, but instead I may have to take out most of the ones I do have. Can I use fictitious examples, if I take care to construct the noun phrases exactly the same way they were in the actual examples? (I am reading up on this, and also consulting people who have experience with this kind of problem, but I want it to be solved as of last month, so I don’t have to tinker any more with the examples because that kind of work is tedious as well as worrying. Especially when I have to renumber all the examples in the 35-page email chapter yet again.)

And have I really read everything I ought to read? The answer to that is certainly “no” and that bothers me, and I am worried that I have missed some very basic stuff. And my knowledge of discourse analysis theory is not at all good. Oh my paws and whiskers.

Also, I got very little sleep last night.

This is my research moan which is mine and belongs to me and is related to my thesis, but am I the only one who has ever had this kind of worry?


January 4, 2007

My Christmas holiday is winding down. I went to the department today, saw my tutor briefly and discussed my time plan. Once back home, I started tidying up my reference lists and making todo lists. Tomorrow I’ll start writing again.

I feel fairly good about the thesis right now. I think I can finish it on time – more or less. I feel less sanguine about the quality of my research, though. Sometimes I don’t think what I’m doing is relevant at all. But at the moment I’m not too panicked about that.

Ho hum. Here is a good link regardless of your nationality: The Local, English-language news from Sweden. Only from Sweden, and by a team of native English-speaking editors who live here (mainly expatriate Brits, I think). I enjoy reading The Local for many reasons – their articles are well-written and usually well-researched; even if the news are the same I get in DN the language factor makes it seem as if the perspective is somehow different; and knowing that Sweden is very small and very insignificant it nevertheless feels good to be able to point to news articles (not to mention in-depth articles about Swedish society, culture, traditions, science, politics…) for the benefit of foreign friends. Read The Local, it’s a good newspaper. Especially if you’re a forriner.


March 31, 2006

I suppose that when you are a published academic, you are expected to be so high above worldly concerns that seeing your name in print is of no consequence. Well, sod that for a game of soldiers (as Terry would say.) I’m published! In vol 66 of Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, ISSN 0028-3754; my paper is on p 295-305.

I think that is extremely cool. So there.


February 10, 2006

Johari Window by Kevan. I wouldn’t call it a personality test so much as a… um, not sure just what 🙂

Today I have been working on a Table. A good table, I’m quite fond of it as a matter of fact. It’s not the kind of table that has legs and a tabletop, rather the kind where you get rows and columns, and table cells with numbers in. I know more things about the language of chat rooms now than I did this morning. Not much more, mind you, but still — a day well spent.