Dec 2007

I signed up for this class on a whim, and I am so glad that I decided to stay with it. The syllabus was very well organized to give a clear overview of the history of semantics, and the other students were all very into the subject. The best part of the class, though, was the professor. Though the readings were minimal, he used his lectures to put them into context with so much clarity, knowledge and wit that the course was more enlightening than some I've taken with five times as much reading. His lectures are funny and engaging - I loved just sitting back and listening to him relate his own experiences in linguistics circles in the 1960s, his time in Berkeley, his return to Russia, etc. A quarter of my notes are just quotations of his that I couldn't resist writing down. (It's particularly fun to listen to him talk about Chomskyans.) I never found his accent a challenge (though you might want to sit near the front of the room), and his English was virtually perfect, so I don't know why people seem to have a problem with it. He talked with the confidence and depth you imagine from a real old-school professor, the type I came to Columbia to learn from. On top of his knowledge and subtle humor, he is a kind and fair professor. He responded to student questions patiently, and he clearly enjoys teaching. You will not regret taking a class with Professor Gasparov, so if you have the chance to do so, take it.