This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Françoise Rose, a linguist from the CNRS in France, who’s currently a visiting scholar in the department.
Could you tell us a bit about where you’re from, and your relationship with the University of Oregon?
I am a visiting scholar for the academic year 2016-2017, on a grant from my home institution. I am a linguist of the French national research institution (CNRS), working in the Dynamique Du Language (DDL) research center in Lyon. Our center is linked to Université Lumière Lyon2. My main areas are description of Amazonian languages (this is the domain in which I advise graduate students), comparative morphosyntax (on both Arawak and Tupi-Guarani languages), typology (lately mainly on genderlects). Here I am working on different aspects of the grammar of Mojeño Trinitario, an Arawak language of Bolivia. I also participate to the Language Description and Revitalization group, attend the colloquia and meet with Spike Gildea from time to time.
PS. Lumière means “light” in French but the name of the University actually comes from the last name of the brothers who invented cinema, and were convinced it had no commercial future…
Why do you think language description (or typology, or whatever topic you prefer) is so important?
I have always loved languages. Coming from the countryside, I grew up dreaming of traveling. Also, my parents and siblings were using the little English they knew to share secrets without me understanding (I am the youngest child.) I like language description, because I am fascinated by how different people find different ways to express themselves, having both the same natural needs but also a strong cultural pressure. For the same reason I am interested in typology.
Could you tell us more about some of the research projects you’re currently working on?
I’ve been working on the description of Mojeño Trinitario, an Arawak language of Bolivia. My plan is to write a grammar of the language. It shows fascinating features: (a) a distinction between male and female speakers for a single but very useful category (third person human singular masculine), found in articles, person affixes, demonstratives, and independent pronouns; (b) a prosodic process by which every other vowel syncopate in almost all words, and that is governed by various types of factors, like root classes, vowel quality, morphology; (c) the fact that verbs and nouns share most of their morphology (even tense, aspect, mood and evidentiality) and syntactic distribution (both nouns and verbs can refer or be used as predicates without derivation)…. and many more interesting stuff.
Outside of research, what do you like to do for fun?
I spend most of my free time watching my kids growing! Otherwise I love hiking (Oregon is a perfect place), reading novels (this year has been dedicated to American classics), playing games, and hanging out with friends, if possible around a good meal!