Wednesday, February 20, 2008

So this linguist walks into a law school classroom...

Hopefully this is the beginning of a meaningful engagement on issues relating to law and language, and not the beginning of a promising-sounding joke.

About me: I'm a 2L (second-year law student) at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. I have two masters degrees in linguistics, one from the University of British Columbia, and one from UMass Amherst. This is a mixed situation. On one hand, a master's degree ain't that valuable to begin with, and there are diminishing returns - in fact, vanishingly small returns - on additional MAs after the first one. On the other hand, even the most renowned and brilliant linguists don't have two MAs in linguistics, which makes extremely qualified, by some sort of reasoning.

My UBC masters thesis was on phrase structure and verb movement in Hebrew and English imperative constructions. My generals papers at UMass were about (1) generic possessives (like women's college) and (2) cardinal adverbials (like three times). I also worked on some issues in children's acquisition of universal quantification and maximality, which was the result of some work I did on the DELV, a dialect-neutral diagnostic of language disorders.

My main interests in law are employment and labor law, although after taking a class in labor law last semester I view the prevailing regime in the U.S. as utterly perverse, as the result of good legislation being wrecked by ideologically extreme judges and National Labor Relations Board members. I'm also interested in any kind of law that can be used to advance the public interest by undermining the class systems. I "externed" at the Employment Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services last summer, am "externing" at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland currently, and will "extern" for the SEIU this coming summer. (explanation: extern: intern as venti: large).

I have this other blog, but I'm starting this blog specifically for language and law issues, because I think I may have more interesting things about law and language specifically, rather than the eclectic collection of things I happen to find interesting. Hopefully this will serve in part as a place to brainstorm and develop ideas for my note, which I will be writing next academic year. And since I'm not aware of any other blogs of this type, maybe it will be a place to engage with others who are interested in this issue.


Dan said...

(You should totally allow people to log in and comment with their wordpress accounts).

Anywho, exploring how language surrounds issues of labor law could be a fascinating study.

Uri said...

Okay, I've switched the comment option to allow everyone to comment. That should hopefully include people with wordpress accounts.

Re language and labor law - what do you have in mind?