Weathering this Weather

Did you know that procrastinate literally means “to put off until tomorrow”? It is the only word that I can think of that uses the Latin root cras, which means “tomorrow”.

What counts as procrastination? Doing anything besides the work one is obligated to do, I suppose, even if it is other work. It’s now the week before final exams, and my workload is fairly heavy. Once again, I’m relying on my tried-and-true method of dealing with important deadlines: waiting until the eleventh hour to meet them.

It didn’t help that this past week saw the now-infamous Berkeley protests, which I followed closely online and in person. The first night of demonstrations came to a climax on the street right outside my apartment, when the riot police tear gassed the crowd, me among them. I’m not going to deny that my anger against what I consider reckless and unnecessary police action is exactly what spurred me on to join in on the second and third days when I could, even though I should have been writing term papers. I even biked all the way to the Marina on the west edge of the city on Monday night to see demonstrators taking the freeway and blocking an Amtrak train.

Impressively, these daily protests have gone on for the better part of a week; my friends joke about helicopters being their thesis-writing background music or the arrival of “protest-o’-clock,” which is time to go home to beat protest traffic. It’s funny, but also deeply unfunny at the same time… I would write more about this, but I’m so tired I can hardly think. Tomorrow, I will attend a “Millions March” protest in San Francisco to show my solidarity and firm belief that #Blacklivesmatter.

Then, there was the “storm of the decade“, also known as a Pineapple Express (all I can think of when I hear that is a flooded pineapple field with hundreds of fruits floating downstream). My favorite moniker for the much-overhyped weather system was #hellastorm, which I would never say but love because only the Bay Area could come up with that. Although flooding was severe in some places, Berkeley only saw a few downed power lines and lots of steady drizzle. Funny — this week has been awful for public transportation, as first fiery protests and then a profusion of water caused nightly shutdowns of highways and BART stations. In some ways, this was a good metaphor for the emotional storm that has lingered over the city (even though what I’m calling a metaphor is actually a literal storm… now how does that figure?). But though we may see blue skies tomorrow, it does not mean all’s well with the world.

I have not much else to say for now. Please allow me to disappear into my office to pound out a couple of papers before resurfacing next Saturday. I do have lots of ideas for future posts, coming your way in one week! In the meantime, please get your fill of linguistics from this amazing masterpost from All Things Linguistic: “How to explain linguistics to your friends and family this holiday season.” It’s perfect.

ω

Word of the Day: diachrony, a linguistic term that refers to change in a language over time. It was borrowed into English from the French coinage by Saussure, but has the Greek root χρόνος (chronos), meaning “time”, and the prefix dia-, which means “passing through”. Also, it is pronounced [daɪ.ˈæk.ɹəni], which is partly why I like it. Such a pleasing pronunciation. I learned this word just today, as a matter of fact, because it relates to one of my current phonetics projects. Next semester, I will be taking a course in historical linguistics, in which I will learn much more about diachrony than I do now.

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About Andrew C.

I'm a grad student at UC Berkeley.
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