Readership distribution map

Would like to hear from people who read my thesis

In the four years since my master’s thesis was published by Western Oregon University on Digital Commons, it has been downloaded 2,036 times. Oddly, though, I have not heard from readers or seen it cited. What strange times we live in! If you read my thesis, please email or leave a comment to let me know how you used it in your research and/or practice. Thanks!

Readership distribution map
World map showing all the times my thesis was downloaded in different parts of the world in the four years since it was published online

Computerized interpretation of vague language for Web searches

It’s great to see how people other than “interpreters” are implementing the “interpretation” of vague language for practical applications! Panos Alexopoulos, in his presentation Vagueness in Semantic Information Management, discusses how Internet engineers can design databases with search capabilities that can “interpret” what consumers mean when they say they are looking for, say, a “Big, modern restaurant.” (How many square feet is big? What year range or architectural and interior design qualifies as modern?) He discusses the challenge of developing algorithms that can translate vague search terms into specific results. Very interesting!

Just because you don’t get it doesn’t mean it’s vague

“What about slang words and acronyms, aren’t they vague language?” Someone asked me this recently, and I wanted to say no right away, but I had to think about why. After thinking on it, I say no, slang words and acronyms are not vague language because they do not have inherently vague meanings; if anything, they are very specific. Vague words have inherently vague meanings– vague language is language you know, but can never be sure of. Take the word noonish– we know it means sometime around noon; we just don’t know exactly when. We also don’t know how late someone might be when they say they’ll meet you at noonish: 12:05? 12:10? What about quarter past– is that noonish anymore, or just plain late? I don’t think a dictionary, slang or otherwise, will ever tie noonish down to the hands of a clock. When people talk with each other in front of you in a language you don’t understand, they’re being cryptic, not vague. Or maybe you’re just being paranoid.

Introductory vague language workshop for all interpreters, presented in English

This Thursday evening, July 18th, from 6–9pm UTC -7, I will be presenting the first workshop of my three-part series on interpreting vague language. This training is appropriate for interpreters of all languages, and is presented in English. The second and third parts, held on Friday, July 19th from 9am-noon and 1–4pm respectively (UTC -7) are also presented in English, and are of interest to anyone who interprets into or out of English and wants to learn about how vagueness is expressed in American Sign Language. All three of these workshops — beginning, intermediate, and advanced — present the findings of my review of vague language literature and the study of vague language I conducted on an American Sign Language corpus. These workshops take my thesis on vague language off the page and into an interactive, hands-on learning environment. You may take any or all of these workshops online via Adobe Connect and get CEUs from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. Contact Amerigo Berdeski by email,, or call +1-623-570-3394 to register. For more details on each workshop, download these fliers in PDF:

  1. A Study in Vague Language: Beginning
  2. A Study in Vague Language: Intermediate
  3. A Study in Vague Language: Advanced

Vague language workshops – beginning, intermediate, and advanced

I’m teaching a new vague language training series comprising three three-hour workshops on an evening and the following morning and afternoon. My vague language workshops have been delivered since 2009  in various formats from three to six hours long. Two pieces of feedback I have received more than once are a) that the workshop should span two days and b) that the workshop should allow for more hands-on experience. Next Thursday, July 18, I will teach A Study of Vague Language – Beginning from 6–9pm, and the following day, Friday, July 19, I will teach A Study of Vague Language – Intermediate from 9am–noon and A Study of Vague Language – Advanced from 1–4pm. I designed the series in three parts so that each segment allows more time to explore the concepts involved in interpreting and translating vague language. In addition, since some people by now have attended one of my vague language workshops or read what I have written about vague language, if those people want to skip the beginning workshop, they are free to do so. Personally, I think we will explore the basic concepts of vagueness in life and in language more deeply than ever, so I think all three workshops together make for the best learning experience.

UPDATE: You may take these workshops online using Adobe Connect. Email to register.

Vague language curriculum divided into beginning, intermediate, and advanced

Here are the descriptions and learning objectives of the three workshops. I hope this helps potential workshop schedulers and participants understand what the workshops are about, and I hope this helps interpreter trainers understand how I teach interpreting vague language.

A Study of Vague Language – Beginning

Workshop description

Participants will explore the phenomenon of vagueness and the expression of vagueness in language, study vague language (VL) theory, analyze the communicative purposes and social meanings of VL, and consider the variables involved in interpreting and translating VL.

Learning objectives

  1. Define vagueness and give examples of vagueness in natural phenomena and social life.
  2. Define vague language (VL).
  3. Name at least five functions, or communicative purposes, of VL.
  4. Describe where interpreters and translators confront VL and how they tackle it.

A Study of Vague Language – Intermediate

Workshop description

Participants will explore the forms of vague language (VL) in English and ASL; participants will categorize vague forms into parts of speech and learn how each part of speech fulfills its functions in language; participants will develop a vocabulary of VL in ASL and English.

Learning objectives

  1. List the parts of speech (POS) vague terms take.
  2. Provide various vague signs for given parts of speech (e.g., various vague nouns).
  3. Provide various vague words for given parts of speech (e.g., various vague nouns).
  4. Demonstrate the use of several vague gestures and vocalizations.

A Study of Vague Language – Advanced

Workshop description

Participants will search written, spoken, and signed texts for vague language (VL); participants will devise and perform translations for vague texts; participants will practice interpreting vague texts both consecutively and simultaneously; participants will analyze vague language in consumer interactions and make ethical decisions using critical thinking, including the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct and Demand-Control Schema.

Learning objectives

  1. List tenets and exemplary behaviors from the NAD-RID CPC that pertain to interpreting vague language (VL).
  2. Name five ways an interpreter might interpret VL.
  3. Develop ethical and linguistic strategies for handling VL.
  4. Create an action plan for further study of VL and practice of interpreting VL.

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Introductory vague language workshop for all interpreters, presented in English