Is syntax the best subfield?
Updated: Nov 9
ɪz ˈsɪnˌtæks ðə bɛst sʌbfild
be.3SG sintax ART best subfield
‘Is syntax the best subfield?’
Not only is this the entry question for the Facebook group Syntax is the best subfield (shoutout to Kathleen Doviken, 611 members and I’m still not convinced), but also what second-year BA students have been wondering since the beginning of this block.
Taught by Kees Hengeveld, aka UvA’s very own Linguistic Father Figure, and Roser Vallejo, the course covered topics such as Morphosyntactic alignment systems, Implicational hierarchies, Grammatical hierarchies, and Relative clauses. However, the consensus seems to be that this course is starting to resemble a ‘DIY syntax’ tutorial.
The course’s general structure mirrors the one of the Phonology course. There are two types of assignments: reading and language assignments. The former consists of the analysis of data provided by the professors and the latter one involves collecting data from a language. At the beginning of the Phonology course, each student was assigned a language they had to work with. The list included languages such as Kambera, Wardaman, Hdi, Basque, and so on. As the UvA is a research institution, most of the assignments students must complete are not textbook-based.
Moving on from academic related topics, the student association revealed the destination for this year’s student trip; sunny-artsy-home of the isolated language of Basque: BILBAO!!
What does this study trip entail? Every year, study associations organize a trip which relates to their programme (which is a requirement if we want to get dem billz). As a linguistics association, our choices are much more varied as you’ll find language pretty much everywhere (duh). In the past, VOS has gone to Germany, Italy, Greece, Estonia, Austria, and even Brazil! In the old, darker times, it used to be so that VOS attended a linguistic conference on the trip, which meant that the majority of the day was spent attending talks and seminars, that most of us would not be able to understand. So instead, VOS has decided to visit a university to learn about the relevant language of the area. This means plenty of time to wander around and actually discover the destination which you paid €250 to see.
So, why Bilbao anyway? Just think for a second: would you rather spend four days in warm, sunny Bilbao, or you know, rainy, slightly cloudy Amsterdam. Don’t get me wrong. Amsterdam is one of my favourite European cities, but Bilbao does not sound half as bad. And this year, VOS is planning to take a little detour to the somewhat warmer coastal town of San Sebastian which is famous for its beaches, pintxos-restaurants, and cobbled old town. Sounds tempting doesn’t it?
Still on VOS (yes, yes, lots going on), last week, a group of Vosjes took advantage of a massive group discount and headed to North Brabant to experience THE EFTELING.
On more positive news (or not), Psycholinguistics and Phonology grades were finally posted!! The average grades were rather satisfactory, but the results were published late resulting in a stressful time for second years, who were not sure whether they would have to resit the exams.
Putting that aside, as the block is coming to an end and with no Syntax finals (#bless), we can finally start thinking about the sunny holidays we are booking to celebrate our success. Haha jokes. February 4 marks the beginning of a new semester and with that new courses and a whole load of other preoccupations.
Wish us luck.
P.S: Come to Karaoke on the 1st of February!!!
 See also Phonology is the best subfield - “For when Kathleen Doviken tries to say it's syntax” to view the conflict between subfields from a different (*cough* better - I’m completely impartial *cough*) perspective. For a more inclusive approach head on to Linguistics ['ʃɪt̚.,pʰʌ̈̈ʊ̈̈.stɪ̃̃ŋ] where you’ll gain a better understanding on all sorts of linguistics topics in an extremely humouristic way (trust me, it’s hilarious). Do be considerate of the content you post as colonialism, sexism, bigotry, homo-/transphobia, classism, and all other forms of oppression are 100% NOT tolerated and will never be considered as ‘just a joke’. The same can be applied to all content and interactions here at KAT-Blad.