January 06, 2005

Dinner at the L.S. Cabal

TstT and others have organized a linguistiblogosphere dinner Friday, 1/7/2005, at the linguists' secret annual cabal in Oakland.

In truth, the LSA meeting is so far from secret that its program is on the web for all to read. This is in contrast to the program for the recent MLA meeting in Philadelphia, which you can only access on the web if you have a membership number and password. The LSA hasn't quite gotten to the stage of putting abstracts as well as titles on line, but I attribute that to lack of focus on communication via the web, not to any principled opposition to open access.

The dinner is open to all, but let TstT know if you plan to come (by adding a comment to his post), so that he can keep the restaurant informed.

[Update: Mike Albaugh wrote

As a Language-log fan, I was struck by the juxtaposition of two articles. One was about the "Language Cabal" dinner in "Oakland", another about the amount of context brought to bear in disambiguation. Not actually being part of the "Language Cabal", I was curious which of the two Oaklands I am familair with (let alone the numerous Oaklands there must be) was the site of the secret meeting. Visiting the site did not provide an immediate answer, until I noticed that the area code given for the two "overflow" Hotels was (510), which means this would be the Oakland dismissed by Getrude Stein, not the one famous for its Cathedral of Learning. Not sure exactly how the Semantic Web is going to handle this. Hubert Dreyfus keeps bubbling to the surface of my consciousness.

I thought about adding "Oakland CA 94607", with a link to the convention center, but then I thought "naw, the link to the meeting program should be enough."

Ironically, it seems that everyone misinterprets Gertrude Stein's famous remark: "The trouble with Oakland is that when you get there, there isn't any there there". This comes from a lecture she delivered on a visit to Mills College in 1934, when she was 60 years old, and she apparently meant that by then, the Oakland of her youth in the 1880's had completely disappeared. Most people take her phrase to be a clever way of putting down boring cities with no real civic life, whereas she apparently meant it as a clever way of saying that you can't go home again. That's the thing about modernism -- even when you think you know what it means, it means something else entirely.

Even Oaklanders have apparently decided to go along with the convention in this case. According to the Gertrude Stein bio page cited earlier:

...a developer in Oakland who has been going through the downtown restoring and renovating older buildings keeps Stein's memory alive through his triumphant banners. As each building is completed, he flies a green flag that states emphatically "There!"


Posted by Mark Liberman at January 6, 2005 09:16 AM