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Don't be fooled:
Donna Jo Nap1o
Linguistics prof. wants her students
to develop the courage to question
Donna Jo Napoli is a professor in the University's Program in
Linguistics. Daily staff writer Michael Lustig, a student in Napoli' s
Linguistics 315 class, interviewed her at her Ann Arbor home.
Could you first just tell me about yourself, like what brought you
I was a math major at Radcliffe, and I liked languages and didn't know of
any way to put them together. In my senior year of college I had an
Italian teacher who told me I was really good and that I should go to
graduate school in Italian. So I did, and in the first semester of graduate
school at Harvard I took a linguistics course and I switched over to a
program between romance languages and the linguistics department. I
finished up my Ph. D. in linguistics - romance linguistics - and I
went to MIT for a year for a post-doc year doing theoretical linguistics.
With (noted linguist and MIT professor Noam) Chomsky?
Chomsky was not the major person that I worked with, but he was
certainly one of the people. He's been a big influence on my life.
Even though I've had your class, I'm still not all that sure what
linguistics is. Can you explain that a little?
Linguistics, as I see it, is the study of language itself as a problem as
opposed to the study of language in any sort of setting. So, for example,
many different fields look at language but they might look at language
insofar as it sheds light on one particular kind of thing, like social
interaction, or cultural things, literature, things like that.
The linguist considers language itself a problem and studies it kind of
internally. There are lots of people who border, like psychologists who
look at language. There are anthropologists who look at language. And,
you know, at what point do you call someone a linguist, at what point
an anthropologist? I believe the answer is very much in what kinds of
problems fascinate them and how they look at the data. I think that
linguists see language problems in the data, not human interaction
problems. I consider linguistics a branch of cognitive psychology. There
are lots of different kinds of linguists, though.
Yeah, I sometimes would see it as very scientific, with all the
theories we were going over.
The kind of theory that I work in is very much trying to extract away
from data to principles that would govern the interaction of words and
phrases in any language, and looking at it in that way, you find that you
are looking at a fairly abstract and formal presentation of the principle.
That's why I say linguistics is a branch of cognitive psychology because
hopefully if you can find these principles they're not just accidentally the
same from language to language, they are that way because that's how
the human mind conceptualizes.
See INTERVIEW, Page 9
I JUST TURNED TWENTY-
two. The first thing that's wrong
with turning twenty-two is that you
don't get anything from society.
At sixteen, you get to drive. At
seventeen you get the legal right to
go see R-rated movies (though I
suspect HBO has taken the gloss
off of this one.) At eighteen you
get the right to vote, and shortly
thereafter, the right to become
cynical as you discover that your
vote didn't accomplish what you
had hoped it would. You also are
tried as an adult for your crimes
against God, nature, and the State,
which makes you feel a little more
Nineteen is more or less a bonus
teenage year, which to my way of
thinking is a fine gift. Twenty is a
neat, round sum, and you're no
longer a teenager, which seems like
a gift at first, but really isn't.
Twenty-one, of course, grants
access to all manner of legal
depravity. Liquor is readily avail-
able, and you can order the
Frederick's of Hollywood catalog.
But twenty-two. It's just old.
Sure, I got presents, and food -
it's still a birthday. But it's an old
birthday. It shrieks, "you're grad-
OFF THE WALL
ANARCHY RULES. I
Townsend is God.
You spelled Townshend wrong.
You also spelled good wrong.
All dorms suck. Live in a house.
Live in a house if you're a recluse
and despise mankind. Otherwise
live in a dorm and meet people.
-Modern Languages Building
DEATH TO THE TERMINALLY
The question you'll be asked most
in life is: "Do you want fries with
(If anyone really cares.)
How come the longer you're in
college, the longer you wait to
make plans for spring break?
Because so many freshmen are
high-strung, worried pansies.
uating soon," and "would you like
some wine with your dinner, sir?"
and "you're not still listening to
that Ramones group, are you?"
For my eleventh birthday, all
my friends came over. My parents
passed out squirt-guns filled with
dyed water, and we sprayed a
bedsheet, (and each other, when
Mom wasn't looking!), creating a
psychedelic, psychotic, and kind of
ugly melange. I got the sheet for
my bed. Now that's cool birthday
fun! At twenty-two, it becomes
clear that even if you were hell-bent
on doing the same things you did at
your eleventh birthday party, your
friends would be either too busy, or
too stodgy to join in. So I went
out and got myself a NHL Player's
Association table-top hockey game
from the local Salvation Army.
Two bucks. All of the little metal
players were still there, in the
original box. And I got two pucks.
is no picnic
So what's wrong with me, huh?
I've got a lot of work to do. I've
learned enough to have a vague
appreciation for the vast, esoteric
world out there. Lord knows, I need
to deepen and strengthen my
education. But am I hitting the
museums? Am I discussing Proust
with professors? No, if my
housemate Dan is willing, I'm
playing hockey, working on
complex manouvers to try and give
me that competitive edge. I'm
doing terrible imitations of
Canadian Hockey announcers which
are barely recognizable as such until
I shout "s-cOOOOre," in several
Whoa, nelly, are my tastes
juvenile. My favorite album right
now isn't Prokofiev, or Mozart.
New Age Music leaves me cold.
Sure, I like Gershwin, but do I play
my one Gershwin record? Nope. It's
straight to The Beastie Boys. And I
shout along with them, and put on
a too-small baseball cap, and grab
my crotch, and give the rock-fer-
And comic books. I really like
some of them better than the works
of great art that I'm given to read in
See LOGIE, Page 9
Gritty 'Angel Heart'goes beyond the usual
By Kurt Serbus
ON ITS SURFACE, Angel j
Heart is a stylish, complex
detective thriller in the classic
Its anti-hero, Harry Angel
(Mickey Rourke), is a sleazy,
small-minded P.I. who takes on
what appears at first to be a fairly r
routine missing persons case. Wise-
cracking, self-depreciating, and
morally ambivalent, Harry fits right
in with that pantheon of urban
mercenaries whose exploits have
provided Hollywood with one of its ~
longest-lasting and least-mutable
genres, and this gives the film a
comfortable familiarity. As Harry
follows the trail from Harlem to
New Orleans, he's shot at by thugs,
harrassed by malevolent police, is
seduced by a beautiful femmefatale
- in short, he boogies right alongX
the same, well-worn path followed
by his all of predecessors from Sam a
Spade to J.J. Gittes.
As Harry draws closer to the N's' ''Ft
truth, however, that familiar surface
starts to crumble, and Angel reveals
a more esoteric heart. No matter A
where he turns, he comes face to..
face with the occult. People he,.
questions tend to end up as victims
of ritual murders. Chickens seem to 9. r
be a continuing motif. d
At the center of all this is
Harry's client, a cultured foreign..
gentleman named Louis Cyphre
(figure it out). When the facade of " v
normalcy begins to fall apart, so"
does Harry, becoming more and
more frantically desperate as he
begins to suspect that he's not
looking for a routine missing F Fps x
person so much as a key to his own
identity. No matter how far the plot
spirals into strangeness and Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) gets involved with Epiphany Proudfoot (Lisa Bonet), daughter of a voodoo priestess. I
MUSIC the back cover gets my vote (along early '80s British art punk, jazz screaming in a hundred individual i
with Nick Cave's new double 12" colliding with rock, improvisation voices, with nothing to link them
Continued from Page 4 45 RPM LP) as Most Annoying colliding with standard song together except the roof (and vinyl) a
Packaging Concept of 1987 for it's structure, and cerebral determination to which they are attached. A
two bands. Now that the final impossible-to-follow-without- colliding with heartfelt action. t
chapters of both groups' careers detatching-a-retina twisting and Every note that they struck, every Still, some of the tunes are quite r
have been written, it will be up to turning. The lyrics themselves stop, start, and change of direction, catchy, from the waves-crashing-
recent label acquisitions like Sonic reveal Watt and the band to have seemed to come shooting out of against-the-shore rollicka-roll of t
Youth and Slovenly to carry SST smoked one too many peace pipes their veins to entwine itself around "Chemical Wire," to the darting
forward into their second decade, under the cosmic wigwam. Ed's the skeleton of each song and fill it pellets of "Caroms" and "Relatin'
With Black Flag and the lyrics particularly smack of heavy with body and soul, blood and guts. Dudes to Jazz," but most are 4
Minutemen now gone, one of Kansas-damage, with more candle Firehose, however, takes the dragged down (struggling, at least)
SST's hopes for the future is and flame imagery than you can Minutemen's revolutionary ap - by the undertow of Ed's amateurish
Firehose, a trio made up of former shake a moth at. proach as a starting point, instead voice. The '70s influences are still
Minutemen Mike Watt and George More disturbing is the lack of of forming their own unique set of here, but they've swung towards the
Hurley and newcomer Ed from instrumental cohesiveness within musical calculations, and quickly progressive middle of that decadeI
Ohio. Unfortunately, their debut the trio. The Minutemen were reduce it to formula. The songs on and songs like "This" drown in a
disc leaves much to be desired. The children of the dialectic, the the album and their component mire of folky sappiness. Instead of
problems start right with the synthesis created by early '70s parts are like the burning shingles powering ahead in a straight line,
album's sleeve: the lyric sheet on American hard rock colliding with on the album's front cover, the songs on Ragin', Full-On go
PRINT FROM THE PAST
DAILY FILE PHOTO
Thanks to a mild winter, the Diag is dry this season. Usually the grounds
near Mason Hall, pictured above in February of 1959, are a vast late-winter
THE DAILY ALMANAC
20 years ago - March 14,
1967: A number of students hailed
the banana as a cheap and legal
substitute for marijuana. "Scrape
off the white fibrous stuff from the
inside of a banana peel, bake it at
440* until it's dry, grind it up and'
smoke it in a pipe," suggested one.
"I heard a truck zooming outside
my window much louder than
usual," said one student after a
banana high. But not everyone who
experimented with the fruit felt the
desired effects: "I tried it and
nothing happened. Bananas are only,
good for putting on your cereal."
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,~ ~~3E8 ;~v4P~R~44 ~J987