Category Archives: Uncategorized

Speaking out for Science

speaking-waveform
Coming up this Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people around the world will join voices for the March for Science. (The main March will be in Washington, DC, and there are 512 satellite marches planned. I’ll be going to the Boston one.)

Soon after I heard about the march, I not only planned to go, but started working on a design for a t-shirt and sign. As I am a linguist, I wanted to represent speech and language sciences. I made a recording of myself saying my slogan, “speaking out for science,” and put together a graphic with the (orthographic) text, a waveform, and a phonetic transcription in IPA. I put up a draft of my design on Facebook, and got some feedback from other linguists on my transcription. I made a new recording with some clearer articulation, and put up a new image and transcription. I finalized a couple versions of my design (one with a spectrogram), and set up a storefront on TeePublic (an online t-shirt store), and lo and behold, several people ordered shirts!

speaking-spectrogram

A couple of weeks or so later, a (linguist) friend of mine shared a photo of herself in her new shirt. There was lots of gratifying positive feedback, but also a few other (linguist) friends of hers said things like “that’s not how I’d say that,” as well as “that’s not how I’d transcribe that!” There was much back and forth about both articulation and use of diacritics. (Mostly centered around the release of stop consonants, if you want to know the nitty gritty.)

While I admittedly at first felt a bit deflated to have the design I’d made for fun get feedback that felt harsher than what I’ve seen from anonymous reviewers on a conference abstract, I realized that there was an opening for a new variation on the design. Because this is what scientists do. We discuss our methods and our data with our peers, and we revise accordingly.

speaking-multispeaker

So I made some revisions. Whereas the possible variation in saying a simple 4-word phrase at first seemed like an obstacle to get around in choosing a representative production to use for my design, I realized that it was an opportunity for a new design to reflect the variation itself. And so I asked my friends and those friends of friends who’d been part of the discussion to submit recordings of themselves saying the phrase, with the option of sending their own transcription. My new design has 7 different productions of the phrase “speaking out for science,” along with a new sub-slogan: “No matter how you say it, science matters.”
speaking-multilingual

And I had another idea for a design to include more languages. I especially wanted to include a non-spoken language. I consulted with a Deaf friend on how best to represent the word science in ASL (American Sign Language). With her guidance, I consulted a few references (including video), and drew and adjusted a diagram to represent the word. I also included 26 other languages, in addition to English. (And I had to consult others again for help with a few of the languages with non-Roman script, including one friend in Abu Dhabi, and another in Bangladesh.)

And so it is that I have 4 different design variations. I have put together some files that are available for downloading and printing, free for personal use, should anyone else want to use them. (I’m planning on making a couple of two-sided signs, each with 2 of the different designs.) Variations of the designs are also available on t-shirts and on some other stuff on TeePublic.

Below are the files, formatted for printing on 18″x 24″ (but scaleable). The png files have a transparent background. Images were created using Praat and Illustrator.

  • Speaking out for Science: Single speaker waveform [pdf png]
  • Speaking out for Science: Single speaker with spectrogram [pdf png ]
  • Speaking out for Science: multi-speaker [pdf png]
  • Speaking out for Science: multilingual [pdf png ]

Let me know if you decide to use one of my signs. And let me know if you have any suggestions for future versions! (Help me get more voices and more languages. For science!) You can always email me at alejna99 “at” gmail.com.

Edited 4/18/2017: I have updated the pdf and png files to hopefully fix font issues that may come up on different computers. Please do let me know if you run into problems with any of the files!

cracking a little

 

Somehow, 2 weeks have gone by without me posting.

asphalt-yellowFalling behind in my goals, once again. (What’s new?) I haven’t exactly been cracking under the pressure, but the constrant strain of the news cycle has certainly been wearing down on me.

brick, cracks

I haven’t managed to work on my next essay for the 52 essays project. Honestly, the news of travel ban knocked the wind out of me. One blow among many coming from this new regime, but one that hit hard, because it affects so many issues that I care deeply about. It affected so many lives. I haven’t yet found the words to write about that yet. Or I haven’t yet managed to gather all the words I’m finding into a coherent group of words.

concrete-blue

But I did want to post something. It’s been a while since I’ve posted photos. I’m not feeling quite cheery enough to post cheery photos. Looking through my collections, I found I had a lot of photos of cracks. Somehow, my eye is often drawn to breakage..

cracked rock

I find beauty in the irregularity of cracks. I am drawn to the imperfections.

wood

I chose these from among dozens of related photos as they show a range of materials: wood, stone, brick, asphalt and concrete. All of them hard and solid, used to build walls or roads. Yet all of them still susceptible to the forces of time and weather. 

And all have gained a more interesting story to tell than the original unblemished whole.

leaves and ice

img_4629It’s time of year when my phone fills up with photos of ice. This time of year is, naturally, close on the heels of the time of year when my phone fills up with photos of leaves.

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It may not shock you to know that in this transition from late fall into winter, I sometimes also take photos of leaves and ice together.

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first snow

This morning we awoke to the surprise of a world blanketed in white. (I suppose I could have checked the weather last night, but I didn’t.) In any case, I found myself drawn to the details of snow and the various plants it landed on and around. The last of the colorful fall leaves peaking out into the snow were particularly eye-catching.

 

Welcome signs

I went on an excursion into Boston today with my mother (visiting from California) and my son. My son has a school project this year for which he is encouraged to visit various historic and culturally significant sites in Massachusetts. We went to the State House (just the outside), hit a few more landmarks on the Freedom Trail, and then headed to the Boston Public Library. Getting out of the T station at Copley, we were greeted by banners at the beautiful Old South Church proclaiming: “Love thy (Muslim) neighbor as thyself.” I was very heartened by this message of love and inclusion, what I see as an overt and beautiful response to the islamophobia that is running rampant among many in this country. (And which is sickeningly encouraged by the President-elect.)

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I have been running behind in my enumeration of gratitude, which I had intended to post here daily this month. However, tonight, it is easy for me to say that I am immensely grateful to live in Massachusetts: a state not only rich in history, but which has frequently shown itself to be on the right side of history. While not everyone in the state feels the same way I do, Massachusetts voters by and large choose social progress. And there are many, many people in Massachusetts speaking out loudly for these ideals.

blank Friday

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After the push of the last few days, getting organized for Thanksgiving festivities with a house full of guests, it was nice to have a day that was almost entirely unscheduled. I did take my sister and nephews to the airport at 4 a.m., which was 2 plus hours round trip. And we had a puppy obedience class at 6. But between those hours, we didn’t have any scheduled commitments. What we did have was a bunch of things still to wash and put away.

In any case, the kids and I and my mother (who is visiting) played some card games and did a jigsaw puzzle together in between clean-up and organization tasks. At one point, my mother and I went in the kitchen to make some tea before starting a game, and I guess we were gone a bit longer than expected, discussing various place setting issues that had come up for last night’s dinner for 12. My daughter asked: “What were you talking about.”

“Oh, dishes,” my mom said.

“And utensils,” I added.

“I can’t wait to be an adult,” my daughter quipped.

It’s true. The ways of adulting are multifaceted and glamorous.

 

 

 

turkey feast

Our neighborhood flock of wild turkeys has been coming around frequently again lately. Their numbers seem to have increased, as well. About a week ago, I counted 35 turkeys in our back yard.

This morning, a few of them stopped by the bird feeders for their Thanksgiving Day feast. It’s fun to see them jumping to reach the bird feeders.

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My family’s Thanksgiving feast is also finished, and included fewer seeds, and much less jumping. We had family visiting from California, and a few local friends joined us as well for a total of 12 for dinner. It was another long day of cooking and such. Tomorrow morning, I have to drive my sister and nephews to the airport at around 4, so I am once more short on time to write.