A competition, and BLS

I’ll be at BLS this weekend. No ‘live’ blogging, because no free wireless, but I’ll try to post summaries. The program is its usual eclectic mix, but there seem to be a lot of talks on complex predicates on the program this year, which I’m looking forward to. AND, a rare event: I am not the only person giving a talk on a topic to do with historical linguistics and Australian languages.

And now, a competition. Every so often I am mistaken for a secretary or administrator in the department. It’s annoying, and today there was a very persistent undergrad looking for my (considerably more senior) colleague in the next office. The piles of grammars and papers on my floor seem to cry “administrator” while a glass-fronted office and sign saying “Department Administrator” is curiously mute. What should I put on my office door to discourage this? The obvious sign is ‘departmental administrator’, since it’s clearly directing students away from the real office*. Currently there’s an OLAC Gold Standard cartoon and some tree frogs. There will be an appropriate prize for the winning entry.
My office is not on the logical route from the entrance to the department to the main office.


6 responses to “A competition, and BLS

  1. Newspaper cuttings about ‘language’, perhaps a sign/statement in IPA, a photo of you in the field? Or perhaps less creatively: a statement that you are not the departmental adminstrator accompanied by directions to the real adminstrator’s office …

    Are you the youngest female on faculty? If so, then this might explain the you=departmental adminstrator.

  2. No wireless? Get a Blackberry, and have a modem anywhere you’ve got cell service! (Yes, it’s prohibitively expensive if you don’t have a corporate discount…but maybe Rice has an academic one?)

    As for the departmental administrator problem, what you really need is something like a treasure map. Depending on the mood you’re in when you put it together, the part right by your office might include pictures of some of the places you do fieldwork — or something that looks like it might eat the wandering student alive. Then you need a treasure chest graphic over by the actual administrator’s office. And to top it off, depending again on your mood, a drawing connecting the two that consists either of actually helpful directions, or lots of squiggly lines doubling back on themselves and going in other random directions. They should get the point.

  3. There’s wireless but one needs a Berkeley ID to log in.

    Yep, I’m the youngest female on faculty. I can’t be seen from the door of my office though – my desk is on the same wall as the door so you need to stick your head in to see if anyone’s in here. The number of undergrads who just walk into my office look surprised that someone’s there is extraordinary.

    SC, that’s a great idea! Scylla and Charybdis in the phonetics lab, the lotus eaters in the kitchen/photocopy room, and fire-breathing dragons in the library. Or I could make it like a Cludo board…

  4. “Abandon hope all ye who enter here,” perhaps?

    When you’re not in, they come to our office next door, so maybe it’s not that they think you specifically are a secretary. (Although, the number of people willing to entrust their homework and final papers to someone they don’t know – judging by their requests to accept homework for Syd when he’s not in – is surprising. How do they know I’m not going to turn around and shred them once they leave?)

  5. In addition to the treasure map, we should have the ‘folder of the abyss’ or something, where unsuspecting students may consign their work to the fires of oblivion … or a cheap shredder.

  6. I have no suggestion, but I find grim amusement in the inevitable result of the futile application of grand words like “administrator” to people formerly known by lowlier titles — they never learn that the title doesn’t define the job, the job defines the title, and all you wind up doing is depreciating words like “administrator.” I envision the day when the lowliest title in use will be “world conqueror”; what will the actual top dog be called?

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