My attempt to journal more, which includes blogging every week, has already failed – and on the first Wednesday in January, as if to prove my New Year’s resolutions would fall right out of the gate.

There’s a reason for that, and it’s the three hour written exam I took on Monday. I studied for the entire month leading up to it – every day but Christmas! – and I wrote about lost puppies and tacos. Seriously. Linguists love a good joke mixed into Grice’s Maxims.

[Word nerd note: Grice’s Maxims are my favorite linguistic rules. There are four maxims and they basically state that in conversation, a speaker should 1. say as much as necessary but not more than necessary, 2. say only what they know to be true, 3. be relevant, and 4. be brief. Except that when Grice wrote the fourth maxim, he actually wrote: “Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity)” which may or may not have been a joke on himself about being brief. Linguists are a witty group, right? Okay, moving on.]

And now that the exam’s over, we’re on to a new semester and new essays and the leering deadline for dissertation topics. Which leads me to the title of this post: What I’m Interested In. Because I need to choose a topic. But I don’t know.

I mean, I’m interested in a lot of things. Feminism and gender roles. Immigration and stereotyping. The role of language in a court room. Cooperation principles in political debates. Uses of “they” as a singular pronoun. How Twitter is like the telegram.

But what do I want to spend the next eight months researching and writing a 15,000 word paper on? (Side bar: how do PhD candidates ever choose a dissertation topic? Will I ever be a PhD student? Can someone mail me three El Poquito mushroom tacos?) It feels like a decision that could make or break any future academic choices. So I’d really like to make the right choice.

Maybe I’ll just say I’m going to study the linguistics of Aaron Sorkin and spend the next half a year watching The West Wing and Newsroom. Actually…


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