Laurie Taylor

June 20, 2013

Will he stay or will he go?

Concern is being expressed about the future of Martin Hall, the vice-chancellor of the University of Salford, after renewed controversy over the closing of language courses and another round of job cuts at the institution.

However, our Head of Linguistics, Dr Hannah Tenet, insists that she can find no hard evidence of any intention to resign.

She said that she had carefully studied the vice-chancellor’s reported response to a question about his ability to lead Salford forward. This contained just 18 words: “I’m positive about being here, because otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I’ve got other places I could be.”

Dr Tenet agreed that there was “a hint of tentativeness” about the assertion by Professor Hall that he wouldn’t be at Salford unless he was “positive” about being there. It was, after all, semantically possible to be positive about being somewhere – John Doe is positive that he is in Basingstoke – without necessarily regarding that positivity as evidence of an actual wish to be there.

However, Dr Tenet agreed that rather more serious concerns about Professor Hall’s continuing commitment to Salford were raised by his assertion “I’ve got other places I could be”.

This type of assertion, known in linguistics as the Yah-Boo phenomenon, is, according to Dr Tenet, frequently associated with serious doubts about one’s current situation. It has “definite linguistic affinities with the adolescent cri de coeur ‘Nobody asked me if I wanted to be born’, and the more mature expression of dissatisfaction with circumstances: ‘Sod this for a game of toy soldiers.’”

Dr Tenet told our reporter that she had no intention of indulging in further speculation as this might, in her considered linguistic opinion, “be tantamount to intruding on private grief”.

Poppleton don indicted

One of our leading scholars, Dr Piercemüller of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies, has been indicted on the new Romanian website integru.org, which invites academics and non-academics to flag up research work that shows evidence of academic misconduct.

According to the site, Dr Piercemüller is accused of the following breaches of ethical research behaviour:

  1. Twelve of the research articles he published between 2011 and 2013 in completely different journals have more or less identical content despite dramatic differences in title.
  2. The first of these 12 articles was extensively plagiarised from an earlier article written by one of Dr Piercemüller’s seriously underpaid research students, and all subsequent articles plagiarised this initial plagiarism.
  3. All 12 articles extensively cited each other in such a way as to maximise Dr Piercemüller’s citation count.
  4. All 12 articles inflated the validity of their conclusions by using such dubious statistical formulations as “more or less true”, “pretty significant”, “there or thereabouts” and “much the same thing”.
  5. All 12 articles referred to the “impact” that would be made by the reported research even though there was no evidence that any of the pieces had been read by anyone other than the complainants.
  6. In the most serious complaint, a departmental secretary, described on the site simply as “Maureen”, suggested that Dr Piercemüller could not be the actual author of any of the papers attributed to him because she had good grounds for believing him to be an entirely fictional character.

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Classes for Graduation Day Presenters will begin this Thursday. After last year’s unfortunate debacle in which 143 accountancy graduands whose surnames began with H failed to be called to the platform, our first session will concentrate on mastering the first third of the alphabet.

lolsoc@dircon.co.uk

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