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Language Log

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2006 - 8:24 a.m.

Made some microwave orange marmalade the other day. I am obsessed with preserves now. Language preservation is too much for me, but fruit preservation! This I can manage.

What else...I've been attending job talks. Computational. Boring. Classes are fine. The parts of L2 acquisition research that deal with things like correction, comprehensible output, negotiation of meaning still make my eyes glaze over.

We had dinner with some colleagues of J's the other night. I like cooking for people, but I don't like conversing with them. I just don't. We'll be having another party for a job candidate in a couple weeks.

I may paint the livingroom this weekend.

The application form for the summer program was posted yesterday afternoon and I've already had two requests for fee waivers. I hate this part more than anything. It's my job to tell people no, there just aren't any fee waivers, we don't really care about your situation. But I know how it feels to be broke, so broke that no, you actually can't save the $150 even when given three months' notice. And to be excluded from participating because of money. I sometimes suspect that the people who decide that this is doable have not had a real, personal experience with poverty (their work in Africa nonwithstanding-- or perhaps the over-the-top poverty they have seen there makes them discount the difficulties of students here at home). At the same time, I now understand the organizational purpose of this fee-- if there's no fee (or a liberal policy about collecting it/issuing waivers), people will say, yes, I'm coming, sure, and then you hire a teacher (there's a contract; you have to pay them then whether the students show or not) and the students don't show and you're screwed. You don't know how many people you're really expecting, and you can't plan anything that way-- you can't even reserve on-campus housing for them without committing to some number. And fact is, you just can't count on people unless you've forced them to invest themselves seriously. We are all pretty compassionate, I think, but the fact remains that in order to organize this thing, the fees are necessary for a number of reasons.

Even more frustrating than having to tell people that there is no waiver is NOT being able to explain to them why. My natural instinct is to lay out the logic and hope they'll understand, or at least that they will retreat somewhat from the position that we are complete buttheads for requiring a fee. But no. It's supposed to be all formal and official, and detailed explanations of institutional reasoning just are not appropriate to that. No, I'm sorry, there's no waiver. That's all I can say in the face of their protestations.

So frustrating. Anyway.

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