Tag Archives: grad school

Milestone: 250 downloads of my thesis on vague language so far

Milestone: 250 Downloads

Digital Commons tells me my thesis on vague language has been downloaded 250 times as of today. That’s a far cry from the handful of people who read a thesis that’s bound and shelved!

You can read the abstract and get the PDF at no cost: Keeping it vague: A study of vague language in an American Sign Language corpus and implications for interpreting between American Sign Language and English

WOU MAIS Theses

My classmates publish their theses on Digital Commons!

DC_logo_graphic-300x157I’m proud to be an alumnus of the Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies with an emphasis in Teaching Interpreting, and to announce that several of my cohort now have our theses published online for all to read. All the theses published so far and in the future can be retrieved from http://digitalcommons.wou.edu/theses/. To date, the published theses and professional projects comprise the following:

I’m so proud of us! Here are some photos of us at our hooding and graduation:

MAIS Grads at Hooding
MAIS Grads at Hooding
MAIS Grads at Commencement
MAIS Grads at Commencement

ASL is not a vague language

Nor is any language “a vague language.” Rather, every language has vague language, just as every language has specific language. Vagueness is a natural phenomenon; not everything in life is certain, specific, accurate, or clear. Since things are sometimes vague, people must be able to use language to express this vagueness. ASL has ways of expressing vagueness; therefore, ASL has vague language in it — just as English and every other language has vague language it it. Any language is too complex to be labeled “a vague language.” Conversely, it is not reasonable to say that any language is “not a vague language” — except insofar as to say there is no such thing as “a vague language.”

Until recently, people thought ASL was “a simple, concrete language incapable of expressing abstract thought.” Research has proved that wrong. My research into vague language (VL) in ASL dignifies ASL by proving that it is capable of expressing vagueness. Can you imagine if it were impossible for an ASL user to express vague or abstract thoughts? If that were the case, ASL would be a limited language. On the contrary, ASL is a healthy, natural language that affords its users the ability to express an infinite range of ideas. That is why I say ASL has vague language, and I support my point with the empirical research I conducted for my master’s thesis “Keeping it Vague: A Study of Vague Language in an American Sign Language Corpus and implications for interpreting between American Sign Language and English.”

I welcome discussion on this topic! Please use the comments section below to respond with whatever thoughts or feelings you have about vague language in ASL and/or other languages.

Writing about language using italics

When I wrote my master’s thesis on vague language, I often cited vague words and phrases. At first I put them in quotation marks, but the quotes cluttered the pages, and by the time I was ready to publish, I wondered if I should use italics instead. I used APA style*, so I consulted my APA Manual and I found that, indeed, you should use italics for “a letter, word or phrase cited as a linguistic example” (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 105). Some examples offered in the APA Manual are:

words such as big and little
the letter a
the meaning of to fit tightly together
a row of Xs

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this until the day before I submitted my thesis for publication, so I had to go through a hundred pages changing “sort of” to sort of, “threeish” to threeish, and so on. I hope this little blog post saves others the time I spent undoing my errors.

* Chicago and MLA style manuals call for the use of italics for linguistic examples as well.

References

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Greene, D. J. (2013). Keeping it vague: A study of vague language in an American Sign Language corpus and implications for interpreting between American Sign Language and English. (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.wou.edu/theses/2/

Modern Language Association. (2008). MLA style manual and guide to scholarly publishing (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Modern Language Association.

University of Chicago. (2010). The Chicago manual of style (16th ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Master's Theses Digital Commons @ WOU screenshot

Thesis published on vague language (VL) in ASL and English!

Master's Theses Digital Commons @ WOU screenshot

I am thrilled to announce that my thesis has been published online, available for all to read. The title is “Keeping it Vague: A Study of Vague Language in an American Sign Language Corpus and Implications for Interpreting between American Sign Language and English” and the URL is short & sweet: http://digitalcommons.wou.edu/theses/2/

Thanks to all who expressed interest in reading this work; thanks to the Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies with an emphasis in Teaching Interpreting program at Western Oregon University (WOU); and, thanks to WOU for venturing into digital publication with our program’s master’s theses. It is an honor to be the second postgraduate student to publish a thesis on WOU’s Digital Commons repository.

Please do email me@danielgreene.com with any questions or to discuss this thesis, and feel free to “talk amongst yourselves.”

References

Greene, D. J. (2013). Keeping it vague: A study of vague language in an American Sign Language corpus and implications for interpreting between American Sign Language and English. (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.wou.edu/theses/2/

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