Date: Tue, 7 May 1996 12:46:55 EST


Subject: Re: Ling Bio and Ellen Johnson

A variation on the linguistic autobiography which has been positive and

successful lately: students use notes from a prompted session on creating

linguistic autobiography. The prompts begin with a 'talking world map' for

current places where conversations are crucial, and go back in time via

houseplan of early (and positive) Place. On this houseplan, they scribble

notes identifying reading,writing,and variation in speech. Using a time-

line, they identify peaks in their own lifeline for important language-

awarenesses. This set of notes is written up into a two-page informal

narrative which is the background section for the second part of the

autobiography -- a close look at a restricted vocabulary they use (or

used), which can be keyed to occupation, status, hobby, envisioned career,

and the like.

Some of the ones from this semester include how language changed

when promoted to different jobs on a loading dock, what happened to left-

over words from canal boats in a small town along the Erie canal, and

how taking different dates to different restaurants (one preferred generic

but fancy and the other loved authentic and local) meant handling menu-talk

in order to Look Suave

The prompting eliminates the need for models, and they find themselves

suddenly interested in word-formation and processes of change, etc. I've

had good fortune with every variation, so I agree with Bethany and Jeutonne