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Indiana University


EASC Newsletter

A publication of the East Asian Studies Center, Indiana University

December 2014

Student Updates

Aaron Albin (Linguistics; Second Language Studies) was invited to the University of Rochester to give a talk on November 14 as part of the Viewpoints colloquium series for the Department of Linguistics, titled “Segmental constraints on F0 target alignment in interlanguage intonation: Early alignment of boundary rises in L1-English learners of L2 Japanese.” During his visit, he also ran a workshop on PraatR, a software architecture for phonetics research that he created.

Susan Blake (Philosophy) was awarded an EASC travel grant of $300 for expenses connected with the presentation of her paper “Disputation and Names in the Zhuangagi” at the Eastern Meeting of the American Philosophical Association in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 26-30.

Sara Conrad (Central Eurasian Studies) is currently teaching an online course for Indiana University's branch in Fort Wayne, titled “Religions of the East.” This course introduces students to religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jaina traditions, as well as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean traditions.She will be teaching a course through IU's Lifelong Learning program in the spring of 2015 titled “Tibet and its People.” This course will beavailable April, 2015. She will also present a paper at the Annual Association for Asian Studies Conference in March 2015. The paper is titled “Motherhood in Exile.”

David Kendall (EALC) spent part of the summer volunteering through the WWOOF organization at an organic farm in Korea, publishing a write-up of his experience here. Kendall emphasizes the practical benefits of volunteering as an alternative to formal study abroad programs: “Rather than spend thousands for tuition and living expenses, students can work on farms about 5 hours a day and get plenty of language practice in addition to free room and board.”

In addition to South Korea, WWOOF also has chapters in China, Taiwan and Japan.

Lily Li (Comparative Literature) recently published the article “Finding Freedom and Reshaping Fate: An Exile's Disentanglement from Obsession in Gao Xingjian's Novels,” in Polyphony Embodied: Freedom and Fate in Gao Xingjian's Writings (Eds. Michael Lackner and Nikola Chardonnens, De Gruyter, 2014).

HuiGuo Liu (Sociology) was awarded an EASC travel grant of $300 for expenses connected with the presentation of his paper “Political Construction of China's Domestic Carbon Market” at the Score International Conference on Organizing Markets in Stockholm, Sweden, October 14-19.

Anthony Ross (EALC) was awarded a CLS Alumni Development grant to organize a Korean speech competition at IU this March. Exact date and time TBA.

Kazuhide Takeuchi (EALC) was awarded an EASC travel grant of $300 for expenses connected with the presentation of his paper “Conversation Table Using Google Hangouts:From Online Chat to F2F-Written Fluency and Oral Fluency Development” at the Wisconsin Association for Language Teachers Fall Conference in Appleton, Wisconsin, November 7-9.

James C. Wamsley (Linguistics) published an article in Chinese titled “Mao Zedong Sixiang (Mao Zedong Thought)” in the IU-sponsored journal Hongyin (2014).

Hsiang-Ning Wang (Education) was awarded an EASC travel grant of $300 for expenses connected with the presentation of her paper “A Micro-level Design and Analysis of a Theme-based Course – Using The Example Topic of ‘International and Localization’ of Multinational Enterprise” at the First International Conference of Business Chinese Teaching, Textbook Research & Development, and Business Cross-Cultural Communication in Portland, Oregon, November 14-16.

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Student Profile: Samson Lotven

Ph.D., Linguistics 

Whether you’re interested in plosive pronunciations or explosive self-defense, East Asian linguist Samson Lotven (Linguistics) can give you the expert rundown. Currently studying the peculiarities of modern and ancient Korean language as a second-year doctoral student, Samson feels right at home in Bloomington’s rich academic environment, and can even manage to make time for keeping up a regular martial arts training regimen at IU’s hapkido club.

Samson’s journey toward linguistics started early, when he began learning French in the seventh grade. He went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in French at the University of Missouri, located in his hometown of Columbia. The highlight of his French studies was going to Europe through the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF), where he “learned more in 9 months living in France than I did in the 8 years before that.” After graduation, he knew firsthand that the best way to learn a language is through immersion, and so he decided to switch gears and go somewhere completely different, embarking on the study of Korean language and culture. He and his wife obtained teaching jobs in Changwon, a city located near the southern metropolis Pusan. He worked at a private school there, known by the locals as a “hagwon,” for almost two years. Later, he received his TESOL certification and taught in Vietnam for several months before returning to Korea for another teaching stint, but this time at a rural public school in Boseong, Jeollanam province. Here he earned his second-degree black belt in hapkido (the first had been earned in Changwon), and was introduced to hidden gems like dog soup, “haesunokchatang” (literally, sea-water-green-tea-bath), and live baby octopus.

While in Changwon, Samson had also been exposed to Korean pitch-accent dialects. This local way of speaking, in contrast with the standard Seoul variety of Korean, features tone assigned to syllables, which in turn helps listeners to differentiate between similar-sounding words. Seoul Korean, on the other hand, features a nascent phenomenon, referred to in the relevant literature as “tono-genesis,” where speakers also use pitch to differentiate between certain consonants. The spread of this phenomenon to the pitch-accent dialects of Korean complicates the issue of tone in these regions. Samson aims to research the particulars of how this complex use of pitch works, seeking to understand how a multivalent speech signal is produced and interpreted by native speakers. This type of research could carry over into speech-to-text technology, helping computers more effectively do the work of parsing human utterances.

The food in Korea also struck Samson’s fancy. He was always willing to try something new not just once, but two or three times, in case the first time it wasn’t prepared well. Nearby was a village with a single restaurant that happened to be famous for dog soup. Dog meat is considered a health food in Korea, and live octopus a delicacy. About once a year, the price of octopus would plummet and the local fishermen would bring in a large haul of baby octopi for the whole community to enjoy. Samson reminisced, “They just chop up a baby octopus, throw it on a plate and dip it in sesame oil, but it’s super delicious. That’s a case where you try something that looks super weird and it’s actually really mild and delicious.” Misadventures can still happen, though, as he learned when he was offered raw cow’s liver, which was “really one of the most repulsive things that I’ve tasted.”

Samson’s academic successes, much like his martial arts ones, are beginning to rack up: he received the Foreign Languages and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship for his first year of graduate study at IU and the Society of Friends of Korean Studies (SOFOKS) Fellowship for his second year. He is also currently working at EASC as a program assistant, taking on various responsibilities and contributing toward awareness of East Asian language and culture at IU Bloomington. Remarking on the contribution EASC has made to his academic career, he said, “EASC has been extraordinarily supportive – allowing me to go to school here, in a lot of ways. They’ve offered me these fellowships, given me a job, and are supportive of the things that I want to do.”

No matter if it’s linguistics study, hapkido training, or the pursuit of exotic culinary delights, Samson advises reaching for the stars. As an experienced Korean learner, he heartily recommends that beginners make an effort to seek out immersion opportunities: “Take a year off and teach in Korea. There’s tons of public and private schools across the country that are looking for English teachers. Living in a place, as long as you’re ready to live somewhere that’s really different, for a year, I think that’s really the best way to pick up a language.”

We at EASC look forward to seeing how Samson’s doctoral research progresses and wish him the best of luck at IU and beyond!

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