Monday, April 2, 2012

Dissertation acknowledgements

As you know, I am wrapping up the final elements before I file my dissertation. I recently wrote my acknowledgments without much care to the fact that I would be limited to a single page. Of course, if I were truly to acknowledge everyone it would roughly equal the dissertation in length. But still, even in my attempt at modesty, I wrote 3x the accepted amount.

Eventually, I will have to cut this down. But this is who I want to thank and how I want to thank them, so I want to share that. And frankly, I will probably cheat in the final document and refer people to more complete version.

UPDATE: I, of course, neglected people in the original. I have updated this to include more folks. I'm sure some still are left off. This is so much harder than it looks.



A dissertation is not a work of individual effort. Though, only my name is listed as an author, there are so many other people who have contributed to this work directly or indirectly and supported me in the ways that made it possible. These pages are an attempt to acknowledge and thank those people, though understand it is impossible to list everyone or to thank those listed enough.

I would like to begin by thanking the graduate students (present and past), staff and professors in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona. All of you have been my family for the last several years. In particular I would like to thank, in no particular order, Simin Karimi, Heidi Harley, Andrew Carnie, Andy Barss, Adam Ussishkin, Amy Fountain, Mike Hammond, Diana Archangeli, Cecil McKee, Diane Ohala, Mary Willie, Ofelia Zepeda, Janet Nicol, Natasha Warner, Andy Wedel, Tom Bever, Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, Amy LaCross, Lindsay Butler, Jessamyn Schertz, Dan Siddiqi, Scott Jackson, Maggie Camp, Dave Mederios, Jeff Witzel, Leila Lomashvili, Bob Kennedy, Michael Anderson, Mans Hulden, Carly Tex, Jordan Brewer, Erin Good, Polly O’Rourke, Sumayya Racy, Peter Richtsmeier, Yosuke Sato, Angelina Serratos, Shannon Bischoff, Cathy Hicks-Kennard, Alina Twist, Jason Haugen, Erin O’Bryan, Colleen Fitzgerald, Gregory Anderson, Dane Bell, Rolando Soto, AndrĂ©a Davis, Jeff Berry, Dan Brenner, Ethan Dickinson, Emma Ehrhart, Julia Fischer, Kara Hawthorne, Colin Gorrie, Alan Hogue, Alex Trueman, Elly Zimmer, Samantha Wray, Miriam Diaz, Mercedes Tubino, Brecht Welch, Maureen Hoffman, Keisha Josephs, Hyung Kyoung Jung, Greg Key, Emily Kidder, Kenne Likkel, Lio, Mathieu, Jorge Muriel, Jaime Parchment, Jaehoon Choi, Kevin Schluter, Megan Stone, Jae-Hyun Sung, Deniz Tat and Sylvia Reed. I discuss many of these individuals in more detail. But I wanted to provide such a long list here to illustrate my point of how this is not an individual effort. And this is but a mere subset of the total people involved.

I would be extremely remiss to forget to mention Marian Wisely, Jennifer Columbus and Kimberly Young. Marian is a source of light and joy in the department. She can almost always be counted on to cheer you up when you are down or to knock you down a peg when you are getting too high on yourself. She’s great. She’s always ready to go to bat for you and she’s an endless source of knowledge and spirit. Kimberly is a rock star. She’s helpful and joyful in what she does.

Through this all, I owe most of this work to Simin Karimi, my far too gracious advisor. Simin has stood by me as I struggled to precisify a dissertation topic. She helped me manage to process of going from the dissertation that I thought I wanted to write into the dissertation that I actually wanted to write. She is funny. She is kind. She is prompt. One would be hard pressed to find a better advisor.

In many ways, Heidi Harley was advisor B. In many ways this work most closely reflects my vision of Heidi’s work. This was quite the transition for me. I entered into Heidi’s morphology and lexical semantics classes highly resistant to idea that Distributed Morphology had much going for it. Now, I have written a dissertation in that framework. I view that as a testament to Heidi as a teacher and as a scholar. But Heidi is so much more than that, she is truly a person to be admired. Despite all of her brilliance and all of the amazing work she does, she finds time for all of her students and she finds time to have fun. Occasionally, she even finds time to truck across the galaxy with me. Go get’em, Big Rig!

Andrew Carnie might be the single most important person in my education as a linguist. Andrew was my mentor through my undergraduate years and he was the person who pushed me the most during my graduate years. Andrew is exacting and honest. He is the perfect mentor. Besides being a great professor, mentor and colleague, I like to consider Andrew a friend. Andrew certainly helped feed my board gaming addiction which was absolutely necessary for my survival in grad school.

Andy Barss is a legend. Working with Andy is an amazing experience. The wealth of knowledge that he holds is probably unparalleled in the field. I truly believe this. His ability to recall critical arguments from obscure sources and blend them into a coherent theoretic picture is a sight that must be seen to be believed. Whenever I was stuck on a particular jarring issue, I’d always go to Andy. Without exception, Andy would set me on the course that find the answer.

Richard Larson was my most challenging committee member (and I mean this in a very good way). Never would he let me get away with a theoretic assumption for the sake of the analysis, he pressed me very hard. He made me a better-rounded linguist. It was truly a privilege and an honor to get the opportunity to work with him.

All together, my committee formed an amazing team. Whenever I am asked, “who was your advisor?” I, of course, say Simin but often I feel the need to say that I really had a whole committee working for me. Every single member of my committee went well above the call of duty for me. Everyone one of them deserves every ounce to gratitude I can offer. When I’m asked next who my advisor was, I might offer this as a response: “Larson-Barss-Carnie-Harley with Simin Karimi leading the charge.”

Outside of my committee members there are several faculty members I need to thank for their individual efforts. First, there is Adam Ussishkin who led me through the undergraduate-to-graduate transition and taught me a lot about how to be a professional linguist. Amy Fountain who taught me how to blend teaching and research and gave me a sounding board and a cookie whenever times were tough. Mike Hammond who taught me how to find balance. Diana Archangeli who taught me how to be a professional. Diane Ohala whose unrelenting kindness was always a joy and who gave me the space I needed to get this work done. And finally, Natasha Warner who taught me how to balance my teaching and service needs with my research. There are many others who did many things along the way. I wish I could list them all but this acknowledgment section is already pushing the bounds of tastefulness.

The students who have inspired or helped me are simply too numerous to fully list. As with above, I will list many, but understand that this list is incomplete. It would be egregious for me not to list Amy LaCross here. I know that many of the linguists have gotten immense joy from hearing Amy and I bicker as if we were 8 year-old siblings, or 75 year-old spouses. Essentially, we are both. More than anyone else, Amy feels like family. She’s seen me at my worst and still stood by me. Yosuke Sato has always been an inspiration to me. I wish I had his drive. He is a friend who kept me focused on what I needed to do next. Scott Jackson has been my guide through much of my graduate career. Whenever I was stuck I knew I could turn to Scott. Sylvia Reed has been my office-mate, frenemy, friend, and many other roles. She drove me through my last year. Lindsay Butler has been a complicated but inspiring figure to me. We have struggled together almost always at the same time. She has always been there to pull me out. Jessamyn Schertz’s no nonsense attitude was critical for me when I got stuck in a rut. I knew that if Iwasn’t working, she’d say whatever I need to make the “justifications” go away. And, that if I really just couldn’t get stuff done that day, she’d be over to play Dominion.

I would be remiss to not thank everyone who has listened to me speak at various venues and given me critical feedback that informs much of the work in this dissertation. There are simply too many conferences and individuals to thank here. But I would like to give a special acknowledgment to the audience of the 2009 Mid-American Linguistics Conference where the kernel that forms the bulk of this dissertation was first conceived. I also need a place to thank Mike Putnam, who I met there.

There are many other people who I need to thank outside whose roles were largely outside of my academic development but no doubt were a major part of it. First, my parents-- for obvious reasons that I do not have the space to enumerate. Heather Jackson who took in whatever crazy I was spewing that day and turned it into something understandable. There were times when Heather felt like my life jacket is a vast sea of linguistic theory. John Ivens and all of the hikers for getting me outdoors and reminding me that one cannot have a healthy mind while one is trapped indoors all the time. Maggie Camp and James Garza who provided much needed silliness in a world that is all together too serious. The gamers (who somewhat sadly, but all together too predictably are too numerous to name individually) who gave my mind some other puzzles to solve—which opened it to solving the ones in here. And to the people at The Ultima who by training my body allowed my mind to open up and finish this thing.

I also owe an incredible debt to "the writers/crocheters" who not only taught me the art of Keith-Fu (thank you, Mr. Martin) but kept me in touch with perspectives outside of linguistics and kept the world a fun place. Also, they usually kept me well fed and well boozed.

I know that I have forgotten someone or something. For that I apologize.

No comments:

Post a Comment