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Japan trip
In Japan, Mariko Higuchi Goto (left) of Kyushu Institute of
Technology with UTSA Associate Professor Bridget Drinka

UTSA Spotlight: Associate Professor Bridget Drinka receives fellowship to Japan

By Tim Brownlee
Assistant Director of Public Affairs

(Oct. 28, 2008)--Bridget Drinka, associate professor and chair of the Department of English, took part in a Sept. 2-16 lecture tour of Japan as a fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Drinka wrote a proposal and was awarded a grant by the JSPS Invitation Fellowship Program for Research.

She was hosted by Japanese linguist Mariko Higuchi Goto of the Kyushu Institute of Technology, who shares many of her research interests. Drinka gave lectures and participated in workshops with Japanese linguists and cognitive scientists at universities in Kumamoto, Fukuoka, Kyoto and Nagoya.

"It was thrilling to have been invited to participate in this rich cultural experience and to meet and work with fellow researchers just as fascinated by the history of English as I am," said Drinka.

The lectures included such topics as the "Family Networks and the Development of the English Perfect in Early Modern English" and "Language Contact in Europe: The Present Perfect in Diachronic Perspective." The lectures centered on Drinka's ongoing work on the gradual diffusion of the present perfect tense across the map of Europe. According to Wikipedia, the present perfect tense is used to express action that has been completed with respect to the present. (Read more below about present perfect tense.)

Drinka earned a B.A. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.S. from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in Indo-European and historical linguistics. Her areas of specialization are the history of English and verb structures, principles of linguistics, historical and sociolinguistics, and linguistic methods of analyzing literature.

A member of the UTSA faculty since 1991, her research has focused on such issues as the sociolinguistic motivations for language change, the role of contact in linguistic innovation and the importance of geographical contiguity in the diffusion of changes across the Indo-European languages.

Her forthcoming book, "Language Contact in Europe: The Perfect Tense Through History" (Cambridge University Press), explores the complex development of a grammatical category as it spread across the map of Europe. Drinka also is working on a corpus analysis of Late Middle and Early Modern English, exploring, among other factors, the role that family networks played in transmitting and fostering change.

Drinka was a Fulbright senior lecturer at Moscow State University (1998) and visiting professor at two German universities (Dusseldorf, 2002; Osnabruck, 2007-2008). She was a 1999 recipient of the University of Texas Chancellor's Council Outstanding Teaching Award.

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What is "present perfect" tense?

According to Wikipedia, the present perfect tense is used to express action that has been completed with respect to the present. It is a compound tense in English and many other languages that it is formed by combining an auxiliary verb with the main verb.

For example, present perfect is formed by combining a present-tense form of the auxiliary verb "to have" with the past participle of the main verb.

Present perfect is used...

  • When the time period has not finished: ex. I have seen three movies this week. (The week isn't over and you may see more movies.)
  • When the time is not mentioned: ex. Gerry has failed his exam again. (And he may take it again until he passes.)
  • When the time is recent: ex. Ikuko has just arrived in Victoria.
  • With "for" and "since": ex. Greg has lived here for 20 years. (And he plans to continue living here.)

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