Friday, 29 November 2013

A plan

I've decided to drop the first person narrator as the primary research, as I can't think of a way to do it electronically. So I'll look at keywords, like all the other researchers do. Keywords is a technical term. It means the words used in these lyrics which are more or less often used than in the comparison lyrics. In fact, the word Cohen uses in way which is key compared with the other popular lyrics is 'the'. Now that might not immediately impress, but it tells us he is using a lot of nouns. And closer inspection reveals that he is using 'the' like people do in conversation - 'the pillow', 'the window', so he 'assumes' you are there in the room with him and knows which pillow and window he is talking about. When he says 'the monkey and the plywood violin', the reader expects further explanation, but none comes. So then he is behaving like a poet, who can be mysterious. And he mixes all this up together, and I am beginning to have a technical understanding of the appeal.

Yesterday we went to Llandudno and had a bracing walk on the pier and along the prom. My hair is still not right from Old Faithful's last attempt. It is far too short. I need to talk to him properly next time.

I feel so much better now I am developing a plan.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Is this blog helping?

I sent S a progress report and received general encouragement.

Next, he wants me to start to structure the actual dissertation - write an introduction and set out chapter headings for the rest. I've been working at that all afternoon and managed to produce a few words. But I'm struggling to achieve that lofty academic style. All my career in business was spent writing things that a senior manager might read and could not possibly misunderstand. And now they are expecting me to write in what I think is a fairly obscure, elitist way. I can do it but I'm not at all convinced of the validity. Do I have to talk about our language and Leonard's songs like that?

And then there's this blog. Barely literate, really. And full of syntactically incomplete sound-bites (see, I can do it!).  It gets me into bad habits.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Without the computer

I've started my manual analysis of three lyrics - 'Marianne' from the early period for a personal relationship, 'First we take Manhattan' for a political one and 'Going home' for one where 'leonard' appears. 'Going home' is really quite sinister. There is a controlling voice and an automaton just following orders. 'Marianne' is more ambiguous than I thought. He appears to be dumping her but it then seems she's already left.

Its been very difficult to find time for work for the past few weeks, with all our visitors and then the aftermath of the clearing up. But I really need to get down to it now. The clock is ticking.

Sad week - we went to a funeral for an ex-colleague of TSH - the same age as him and just a bit older than me. So someone's gone forever (and with a holiday booked!), his family are distraught because it was very sudden and we are reminded of our age.

But I still have a forward plan which extends over more than ten years and I intend to add to it.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The mixed bag

Setting up the comparison corpus has produced even more of a mixed bag than I expected. Who knew that the top single in 1969 was Archie's (??) 'Sugar Sugar'. And in 1988 Yazz & The Plastic Population were second with 'The Only Way is Up'. What a comparison for LC!

Old Faithful cut and styled my hair last week. I told him that my hair had been good and I'd liked it throughout the month. So then he did it 'different every time' and I can't do a thing with it. It really does look spectacularly dreadful and I've tried it two different ways the last two days. Or am I just blaming him because I look in the mirror and see 62?

Friday, 15 November 2013

Linguistics and Logistics

Meeting with S went well - I think he'll be very helpful. No rain, so hair stayed in place and no raincoat needed.

I need to set up a comparison corpus of pop lyrics and we decided on the top three lyrics from each year Cohen released an album. That will be a mixed bag!!

Some reading needed and also I need to start with the structure of the dissertation - Table of Contents and Intro.

Meanwhile .... house full of guests and much cooking needed. Brownies and meatballs and cakes and ........

Now they've gone and its a mound of sheets and towels and our own  neglected washing.

Some guests had a new soft toy and insisted on a haiku for it. And there's to be a new addition to the family who will need a haiku. It's like being Poet Laureate - I hope inspiration strikes.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

On site

I'm off to University today for real. A meeting with S to check on my dissertation ideas and hopefully get some useful input.

Black trousers, new black long pile black sweater, bright pink beads and a good hair day.

When we get home, we have house guests for the next few days. Lots of cooking and then laundry.

Monday, 4 November 2013

My research question is firming up

I've discovered that there is an argument between Stubbs and Widdowson about how much detail corpus linguistics can really pick up. Even Stubbs - the corpus linguist - says that you can really only look for the language features you already suspect are there.

So .... suppose I start with the 5 lyrics that mention Cohen or Leonard by name. Analyse them in huge detail. Then look for the same patterns in the whole Cohen corpus. And find that corpus linguistics can't do it with the current state of the software. So my dissertation is formed. And there is so much work for the IT people to do in corpus linguistics. A word count and a concordance is just the tip of the iceberg.

I'm seeing S on Wednesday, so I'll see what he thinks.

I'm making bean stew for tonight's meal and, if I have time, banana bread for when more of our visitors arrive on Thursday. I've never made it before but it'll be fine.