In New York I stayed at the cheapest (safe place with ensuite bathrooms) that I could find but it was still by far the most expensive place I stayed for the trip, despite the horn honking, sirens and loud conversations which continued all night and were completely audible from my room. Fortunately I was so exhausted by the trip that I slept like a log anyway. I spent my first day there trying to stay awake and riding one of those (ridiculously overpriced) hop on hop off busses around the city and seeing placed like Central Park (which was just as good as described) and Times Square (which I found totally overrated).
On the second day I met with Justin Bledin at New York University where he is doing a sabbatical. At the time when I was organising my trip I had recently received a review of my (now published) manuscript which basically said that I didn’t understand the basic precepts of linguistics, had ignored a vast literature in linguistics and philosophy of science (since Aristotle) and therefore all of my arguments were completely invalid. As you can image this left me a bit insecure and I thought that this trip would be a fantastic opportunity to meet up with some linguists, discuss my paper and see if anyone spat on me or offered advice. I found Justin and his description online led me to believe that he would be interested in my work (on terminology and standardisation) – well it turns out I misunderstood his description and he wasn’t really working in that sort of field. However, he is a linguist and, while he hasn’t studied everything since Aristotle, his understanding of linguistics was sufficient to give me two important pieces of advice.
- He doesn’t think I need to study linguistics to do my work or look at standardising terminology within ecology. He thought that, unless I wanted to switch fields I would be better off focussing on the ecological literature. Huge relief there – reading linguistics texts gives me a headache.
- The question of whether or not it is possible or desirable to standardise terms or words is debated by historical and modern day linguists and is not yet resolved. Therefore, my suggestion that ecological terms should be standardised (starting with ‘woodland birds’) is completely valid.
Based on his advice I feel confident that I can forge onwards with my studies without fear that I am flouting centuries of well established proof that standardising terms is impossible and undesirable. This means that I can let go of the toxic comments from that review and return, with gusto, to my work!