Thursday, January 27, 2011

How [R] You?

In my Statistics for Linguistics class, I have to learn how to use a new computer program called [R]. It's not terribly intuitive and I was having a hard time with my first homework assignment, so, in an attempt to seem proactive, I went to my professor's first office hour to ask for her help. I left feeling distinctly unhelped and humiliated. It was not a great first impression, not only for her, but probably also for me.

Anyhow, I struggled though and even though I didn't do it all properly, I flubbed my way through the first homework and handed it in.

Last week, my professor was ill so the TA taught the class: the whole class was a primer on the program! Dreamy! Well, I feel so much better about it now. I don't know if the prof intended to spend that whole time going over [R], but I really liked how the TA taught us. He showed us how he uses [R] and helped us through where the guide was particularly opaque. I feel much better about it now.

Fun fact*: When I saw the title of the required text (see link above), I got all excited that our class was going to be so specific to our dialect of English that the book had to include the rhotic /r/ in its title.

*Wait... not "fun." Disappointing... that's the word. Oh! And nerdy. Disappointing and nerdy.


Anonymous said...

I hope that as the class progresses, nerdy and disappointing will cease to be the terms you use to describe it. :-)

Catherine said...

Thanks, Shadowy Stranger. Me too. You must be a Gries fan. Or Gries himself!

It was disappointing because I would have much rather discussed dialectic differences in English rather than how to extract a line of data from a dataframe. And nerdy, because, well - that's self-explanatory.

Catherine said...

No, wait. Maybe it's not self-explanatory. I haven't met many people who get excited about how flippin' cool the [r] sound is in English. There are so many variations in usage, interesting dropping of the sound, intrusive r, just to name a few. It is a really interesting sound. To nerdy nerds.

Anonymous said...

I, too, would much rather discuss dialectic differences in the English language. Perchance, will extracting the data assist you in doing this, or is that not an option?

I am not Gries. :-)

Catherine said...

Well, Shadowy Stranger Who Is Not Gries, no, I don't think this is an option.

You know in stats classes how there are always "stories" that set up the scenarios? "In a sample (n=100) of Swedish men's brain weights, how heavy is the brain in the 30th percentile of the population?"

In this class, the stories are just gonna be all Linguisticky. And we're going to learn how to design and read experiments, but tailored for Linguistics.

Anonymous said...

OK. Thanks.

I am interested to hear of at least some of the experiments you design. Is this a "duh" question -- will you administer experiments?