James Tauber : Linguistics

James Saiz

journeyman of some

Linguistics

I was recently accepted into the external PhD programme at the University of Essex.

In 1996, I graduated from The University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) double-majoring in Linguistics.

My areas of interest within linguistics include:

For some fun, see my occasional linguistic observations.

A Bit of Autobiography

A number of things happened in my childhood, all roughly around the age of twelve, that lay the foundation for my interest in linguistics.

In 1985, I was in my final year of primary school in Brunei. English lessons largely involved working individually from a series of textbooks, I believe by Ronald Ridout. I was the only one in the small class who had made it to Book 8 and I recall it seemed to take a more systematic approach to language than previous books and taught things like the International Phonetic Alphabet.

That same year, I received for my birthday Tolkien's Return of the King (I had been a huge fan of The Hobbit). Not having read the first two parts of Lord of the Rings, I was reluctant to start reading the main text of RotK so, instead, spent time studying the appendices and, in particular, the Tengwar alphabet and how it related to the phonetics I had learn from my English textbook.

In 1986, my first year of high-school, which I undertook via correspondence, I studied Latin and developed a fascination with its inflectional morphology.

Around the same time, I was playing text-based adventure games on the computer where you would indicate what you wanted to do with simple English sentences. This got me interested in Natural Language Processing, particularly as I immediately aspired to write my own adventure games. In my research into what was involved, I came across such terms as "lexicon" and "parser" for the first time.

For a few years my focus shifted more to other aspects of computers and to theoretical physics. In my final years of high-school I did make a start on a constructed language with my best friend. One notable characteristic was that it had both a written alphabet and a signed alphabet, both based on one another and both logically tied to the phonemic inventory (e.g. voicing was consistently indicated in the same manner). We didn't get much further than the alphabets and phonemes, though.

Between high-school and university, I became a Christian and, although I started off studying mathematics and physics, I quickly developed an interest in the application of computational linguistics to understanding the Greek New Testament. My goal was to syntactically parse the entire Greek New Testament so I spend my spare time learning about parsing technologies.

Then, mid-way through 1992, at a point where I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with my choice of major, I made the decision to shift my studies to linguistics.

This page last modified Tuesday 14 March, 2006 by James Saiz
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