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Live Blog by Ilker Hepkaner

Sunday and New Words

When they ask me what was my most important take on Sunday meetings, I will say: New Words.

Of course, they are not solely new words, they are actually new concepts—or at least new to my way of thinking.

Prof. Bonfiglio talked about “biologizing language”, while Prof. Ricento gave a new meaning to “English”. Alison Phipps inspiring talk was full of great concepts and pure newness to my way of thinking, but I will mention only “daughter tongue”. If it provokes your curiosity, and it should, go and watch her talk on videos section. Joshua Miller explained why he spells the word “immigrant” as “im/migrant”. In Randall Halle’s talk, “declaration of interdependence” was a striking concept for me, but I am also almost 100% sure nobody in the auditorium will forget “Vladimir’s scene”.

I can say this symposium has turned out as expected: We were "luckier attendees" this weekend. A thankful applause goes to all who made it real!\

During lunchtime, I also had the chance to observe the participants do brainstorming. Although many things were left to conclusion to another time, one hint I got was that we would have more conferences like that. I probably will not volunteer for blogging, but I hope this section in the web page stays for the next conference as a tool to make the purgatory more appealing to others. I also hope it will serve as a humble source of information for the next organizers, and the new comers to this initiative.

The symposium ended with new words for me, and I can feel, it was actually only the beginning.

Symposium coming to an end

The symposium will soon be over, and I will be posting a last entry tonight. Before that, I can say this symposium has turned out to be as expected: We were "luckier attendees" this weekend. A thankful applause goes to all who made it real!

Last Session: Multilingualism Unmoored

After a lively debate about the future of the initiative, the last panel has started. We got unmoored, and it felt it was about time. Among many things, Prof. Phipps talked about "daughter tongue". "Homo Diaspora" and "Polyglot Film" were next.

As the last Q&A session started, I am sure everyone could feel the sad aura in the auditorium accompanied by intellectual satisfaction. 

Minor Schedule Change

The Closing Remarks by Chantelle Warner scheduled at 4pm is now a "Q&A Session". 

Bipolar Saturday

In the second day of our conference, everybody woke up to a “bipolar” Saturday: It was raining, windy, and depressing in the morning, and sunny, warm, and cozy in the afternoon. Inside the auditorium, the excitement had been normalized.

However, if your loyal blogger is not able to provide you a comprehensive analysis of the symposium like the one he did for Friday, it is because he is also a human. At conferences, I, like many other friends and professors I have met so far, forget that I have a mundane, not-theoretical-at-all life, and I usually go along with all these smart people engaging very critical thinking, and leaving the mundane out.

But I am writing from the purgatory, and this conference has shown that I am not “done” yet. My life can find its way through the imagined thick doors surrounding the conference. I also think that attending a conference in the city I live in had an effect on it.

So, I have to limit my take from the sessions. But I still can say Prof. Srihari’s talk was very enlightening about the distance that the technology has come so far on multilingualism issues. Prof. Kulick has taken us to “remote” places in Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and Denmark with his moving speech. His content was full of vivid examples of ethnographic research, and it was also critical to the current trends the institutions are in. He criticized grant programs and graduate committees who don’t give a chance to those researches holding no lingual capacity of the society they want to make a research on. According to Prof. Kulick, one does not have to necessarily know the language of the society he is working in. Deborah Cameron, once again, tore down many definitions in our mind, and she was one of the academics who gave a concrete answer to the usual question of this topic: Why people are afraid of multilingualism? Her response included the fear of disorder, social breakdown, and moral anarchy. Yasemin Yildiz, by taking a start from a lingual sculpture, showed us that multilingual practices may not necessarily derive from a multilingual conception, and they might be solidifying monolingual practices as well.  It was also very interesting to see Deborah Cameron was one of the consultants of the project Yasemin Yildiz talked about, and the two exchanged ideas on the project.

Claire Kramsch’s talk was a remedy to my, and many other’s, whining to teaching. Teaching is a not-questioned activity for us graduate students, but there are moments when it becomes an obstacle in front of our progress at our research. However, when Prof. Kramsch explained how teaching challenges even an academic with her career, my way of looking at it has changed a lot. Teaching does not only solidify one’s knowledge on a particular subject, it also helps in for one’s research.

As I said, my life stepped in, and I couldn’t stay until the end of Prof. Kramsch’s talk. But livestreamed video, which was recorded as well, will give me the chance to go back and finish what I started.

Saturday finished with a cold night. Sunday would be different.

Notes from a Conference

As I stated earlier, I have been involved in this “conference business” for a long time, just like any graduate student I would say. I have attended many conferences, and have been involved in organizing some. In this entry, I will try to give you an attendee’s perspective. It will be a break from the serious discussions I have been covering for the last two days.

I will talk about doze, booze, snooze, buzz, and sweets. If you still haven’t figured out that English is my second language, there you have the evidence. Sugar is the mother of all evil.

Conference Doze

It is my favorite topic, but not very pleasant for the presenters, and for those who experience it in person, the listeners. It is basically that transcendental moment where the listener closes his eyes to reach to the very deep meaning that is being presented. That’s what the presenter wants to believe. What actually happens is the listener loses control of his eyelids, which are out of energy and resistance from yesterday’s flight or last night’s booze. The listener actually does not want this to happen, but he can’t help it. Unless he has got the buzz.

Conference Buzz, inspired by a conversation with Courtney Dorroll

Conference buzz is what happens when the listener, trying to avoid the conference doze, drinks too much coffee. As the listener pushes dark, Colombian coffee without any milk or sugar down through his throat, he is thinking of only one thing: I can’t lose my focus on Prof. X’s talk. (This Prof. X is not controlling minds, at least not in the fashion the famous Prof. X does) This noble academic intention pays back with a conference buzz, the little shake in one’s body while listening to the long-anticipated presentation or that unexplainable desire to run in the hotel lobby for about half an hour. Conference buzz is the gatekeeper of the main goal of events: it makes the ideas circulate better—and faster. Attention: It can become the most irritating thing, too. In those cases, I invite you to the conference booze.

Conference Booze

It is, with the buzz, the fuel of conferences. The organizers definitely need drink(s) at the end of the day. As stated above, the buzz victims need it, too. For the others, it is not mandatory but it facilitates many things from socialization to new discoveries in the city, where you would never visit if they weren’t hosting the conference there. Conference Booze is the inescapable element of conference life, and it is usually balanced with the buzz. However, they might also lead to the conference snooze.

Conference Snooze

You are in front of your hotel door, leaning here and there. You open the door after a couple of trials. You throw your clothes on the ground or on the TV, and yourself into bed. You somehow manage to set your clock, and the rest is blank. But… Conference Snooze wakes you up. You open your eyes with that irritating sound, and hit the snooze. You need more sleep, at least before showing up to Prof. X’s presentation. You hit the conference snooze again, if you are staying in the conference hotel. It is not that far, I’ll be there in less than five minutes. You hit the conference snooze once again, if you don’t want to wake anyone up in the room. You are snoozing just because you are caring about them. Then you hear one of the organizer’s voice from the hotel corridor—that person who sacrificed his conference snooze for you when you are running for the fourth. You wake up, and say goodbye to your snooze, until the next doze.

And Sweets.

Oh those dear and omnipresent friends of ours during conferences. It is what puts an end to conference snooze while having breakfast, or what accompanies the conference buzz as the coffee is darker than usual. Too many sweets can lead to a different phase of conference doze, and I don’t recommend with any conference booze. Some conferences have them served everywhere: by the water, out with the coffee, on the panel table, in your friend’s purse. They save the academia, they save the experience. Don’t have too much, though.

So, this is my notes from a conference. I will be back with the coverage of Saturday.

The last event of today: Claire Kramsch's Talk

Prof. Waugh presented Prof. Kramsch and her immense influence over the academe in general, and the University of Arizona in particular. Prof. Kramsch's talk is entitled "Authenticity and Legitimacy in Multilingual Second Language Acquisition (SLA)". Many familiar faces from our school's SLAT program is among the audience, and everybody is ready for her highly-anticipated talk.

Multilingualism Simulated

Multilingualism Simulated Panel starts now under the moderation by Yaseen Noorani (UA MENAS). Yasemin Yildiz is giving her talk entitled "The Monolingual Paradigm and the Postmonolingual Condition".

Although Glenn Levine stated that he wanted to ask questions to Yasemin Yildiz after her inspiring talk, he started his talk with these provoking questions: "Should we simulate multilingualism? If yes, whose multilingualism should be simulated?" His talk definitely brought back my hazy Parisian days, back in 2008, when I was an exchange student at Sciences-po. As a perpetual "exchange" student, it is very exciting to see we are finally a category of analysis.  I always knew we had the potential!

Brian Lennon is the last speaker. His speeck's title is a question: "Can Multilingualism be Simulated?" Prof. Lennon suggested that his talk is complementary to many presentations given so far. Did you know the military complex had came up with machine translation back in 1950s?

Update about late start

Tucson food is so tasty and the weather is so nice that we will be starting a bit late after lunch. I don't accept responsibility on that as one of those who rejected leaving open air so soon, especially with the sun back. Also, the soundtrack before panels has changed, and this might be affecting that. 

Who knew blogging the symposium would be also speculating publicly about mundane stuff?

Also, we have good news: Joshua Miller has also joined us after a couple of travel difficulties.

Deborah Cameron, "The one, the many and the Other: representing mono/multilingualism in post- 9/11 verbal hygiene" 

The audience has grown in numbers, and we are hosting Deborah Cameron, after the introduction of Vincent Del Casino. The audience showed a quantitative support to Prof. Cameron as those who adressed questions started their words with statements such as: "I wish you went on longer." After this impressive talk, the participants had a lunch break under the back-to-sunny Tucson weather. The breeze is still there, but Tucson looks like itself more at the moment.

Multilingualism Practiced.

The current panel on multilingualism practiced is not only documenting different uses of multilingualism, but it is also a great opportunity to see how different disciplines and methods are assessing the Multilingualism phenomenon. Those who had to miss it due to rain or a late Friday night are missing an exciting discussion. 

Opening Remarks by Chantelle Warner

There have been some changes in the program. The Multilingual Simulated Panel has been moved to 2:30pm. That means we will have a two-hour lunch break. It would have been wonderful for us if it wasn't raining. You can check out the collection of Center for Creative Photography in your spare time. 

First Day, Summarized

So, the first day of the symposium started with the speeches of Dr. Igsiz and Dr. Gramling, and the first message I got from the symposium was a direct one: Dr. Gramling reminded me, in front of all the participants and attendees, that I had to be fair and balanced while blogging. I smiled and nodded from “the control room”, where all the technical wonders of our symposium take place. I am not going into the details of chills I got. Debates of the subjectivity of the knowledge producer is also outside for the moment.

I also transcended from my blogger role, and substituted for Alex, our tech wizard, for a moment, when he was probably taking care of some technical problem. It was quite an interesting experience, but I must say: even those five seconds were difficult. Keep on being you Alex, and your playlist is awesome.

Dr. Gramling’s welcome speech was full of bicycles, technology terms, and new words in the service of this symposium’s larger role of recreating meanings. After suggesting the symposium could be a step toward our “speech fellowship”, he asked: “Maybe next symposium will be entitled Multilingualism, 1.9?”

Before moving any further, I must state one important aspect from Dr. Gramling’s talk: When he gave an example, he always acknowledged whoever had contributed to his way of thinking. His respect to his colleagues and graduate students was giving a larger lesson: The importance of interaction of minds, but also, the importance of giving credit when it’s due. I am sure there are many disappointed students who hear their ideas echoing from the ivory towers in forms of “genuine ideas of the tower occupants” all around the world. The graduate students at the symposium did not experience it yesterday.

Dr. Igsiz’s talk followed Dr. Gramling, and she invited us to visit the ruins of the nation-state in the post-nationalist era to redefine human, humanity, and humanism. –This one goes for her insistence on us, her students, to come up with a capsule statement when expressing our ideas at class!-

Prof. Holquist started his speech by talking about another invitation, and he expressed his contentment for being in Arizona to discuss matters of multilingualism. I remember how the organizers of the symposium had been excited for hosting this event in Arizona, given the state’s position in this very issue. This was a great way of seeing the goals of the symposium were being met.

What I learned from Prof. Holquist’s speech, among many other things, was his selection of examples. To prevent “the conference doze” among the listeners, the speaker needs to pick striking examples, and if possible, funny ones. His speech reminded this once again, as his examples were as such. I will come back to the conference doze, a term that I just created, and Google tells me that no one used it in the way I am using right now. Does that count for nailing a new cultural theory term?

Mary Louise Pratt was the last speaker, and she gave her speech mostly in Spanish, with her quotes kept in English. What made this experimental experience possible was technology, a concept that is criticized a lot especially in the debate of “devolution of higher education”. English transcript of her speech was projected in the auditorium, and we had the chance to read what Prof. Pratt was saying in Spanish. The soothing tone of Spanish was accompanied by the familiarity of English. This talk definitely pushed me more towards a Spanish class. I also talked to a couple of fellow graduate students, and they told me that the speech had engaged their minds more than a monolingual one does. It actually kept the minds alive, and the conference doze out. Thanks to Prof. Pratt, I now know how I will plan my MA thesis defense in the coming fall.

After the Plenum Discussion, our day ended in Casa Vicente with mild sangria, fabulous food, and poetry by Renato Rosaldo. As a Tucson native, Casa Vicente was just Casa Vicente for me; but what made the night special was our “kids table” at the back of the patio, and of course Rosaldo’s poetry.  Breezy night, dinner with fellow graduate students, and poetry from the voice of the poet is not the usual combination for my Tucson experience. And yes, the breezy night is usually the lacking one.

We will see if rainy Saturday will turn out more magical than the breezy Friday. I want to be balanced, but we will see if this unusual Saturday will let me to do so.

Reception at Casa Vicente

I am sorry but I will not be able to update the blog during the reception. And you probably don't want me to do so after, either. Sangria is never a good companion in blogging, believe me, experience is speaking. If it occurs though, I am expecting a mysterious but righteous intervention from Alex or Dr.Gramling.

Plenum Discussion

The Plenum Discussion started under the direction of Dr. Costa and Dr. Igsiz. They encouraged attendees to start the discussion on the issues addressed during the previous talks given by Prof. Holquist and Prof. Pratt. Dr. Costa said: "Time to ask questions to the speakers is over. It is time to ask questions to each other." 

The last session of the first day has started with a downsized audience compared to Pratt's talk, but the exchange of ideas does not seem to be affected by the lowered attandance. Barbara Kosta stated how novelists with origins from Turkey, who write in German, are accused of not using the proper language by some German critics. Her remarks reminded me how some Turkish critics think the same for these subjects' use of Turkish. I guess it sadly shows us that it is not only the graduate students who are in the purgatory. 

"If English was good enough for Jesus' — Monolinguismo y mala fe"

Mary Louise Pratt started her speech with explaining, in English, that she wanted to provide an experimental multilingual experience. Her speech took place mostly in Spanish, and the English transcript was projected in the auditorium. This is a very meaningful performance, proving a strong message towards the concerns against multilingualism. When Pratt used more than one language in her speech, the meaning was not impeded. On the contrary, her message was complexified by that, and sparked a more stimulating reflection among the attendees. 

The Q&A started at 5.30. This means that Plenum Discussion will start later than it is indicated in the program. The audience didn't complain, though. This is totally unsurprising since they are conversing with Prof. Pratt! 

What Would Bakhtin Do?

Michael Holoquist, Emeritus Professor of Comparative and Slavic Literature at Yale University asked this very interesting question. Considering Prof. Holquist's contribution to "Bakhtin in English", his talk was a great opportunity to dwell into one of the most influential theorists of our time in comparative literature. Prof. Holquist's talk provoked a very lively debate.

We apologize for the microphone problem in the beginning of the Q&A. However, these first day problems are "the evil eye" as Turkish speakers say. They prevent worse problems! 

 

 

 

 

Welcome and Opening Remarks 2:15-3:00

Prof. Asli Igsiz and Prof. David Gramling welcomed the participants and the attandees with their speeches on their take on the issues of multilingualism. We also heard the story of this initiative, and the symposium. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symposium Registration

Symposium Registration is open until 2:15 pm! Come and get your program, and name tag.

 

As we start... 4/13/2012 1:40pm

Welcome to Multilingualism, 2.0?

I’m Ilker Hepkaner, and I will be blogging the event throughout the weekend.

Besides giving updates about the event, and giving a context to the program, I will also share my humble opinion about what is going on in the symposium panels. For the sake of being professional, I should state, without losing time, that all the opinions expressed here belong to me, and consider this paragraph ends with one of those legal disclaimers that nobody reads. And if you have any comments and questions, you can always reach me via email: hepkaner@email.arizona.edu

Being a graduate student means being in the purgatory. You are not in the so-called ivory tower yet, but you are also not  “in the real life” with a “real job”. As a graduate student, you are constraining yourself financially and socially to learn “more”, and produce “new” knowledge. The amount of “more” and the quality of the “new” depend on numerous factors, and one of the requirements to push this process forward is attending events like this.

There are many occasions where academics come together, and talk. If the attendees are lucky, academics discuss, and if luckier, they come up with satisfactory, long lasting, problem solving results. My first expectation from this symposium is being a “luckier attendee”. I am sure the program will prove itself to be fascinating, and the presenters will stimulate a livelier and concrete discussion on multilingualism.

My other expectation is to find answers to some academic and personal questions, which, I believe, are largely shared by graduate students around the world.

How do you negotiate your position in the production of knowledge in a global setting where the traditionally separate categories of practice, analysis, and methods are profoundly intermingling? What is the latest position of those authors that you see in every syllabus that your professors hand in in the hot debate of multilingualism?

In addition to academic issues we are dealing with every day, what can I professionally learn from the participants? How can I turn this event into a learning experience not only about what I produce as “new” knowledge, but also about how do I do it?

As of 1.40 pm, the purgatory is silent, and I am anxiously waiting for our tech master Alex’ instructions about posting the blog. Once the symposium kicks off, please stay tuned in our livestream page as well as our Facebook page for live comments and updates. For longer blog posts, check our blog section at the end of the day.