Sixty wishes for Jorge Hankamer on his 60th birthday, from selected Humanities Division Staff:
"The things I don't say never get me into trouble." Calvin Coolidge
"We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it." Martin Luther
The joy is in the journey.
Happy birthday, Jorge. I hope you have a great day.
Although I've veered slightly from linguistics into the very closely related fields of graphic design and jazz singing (ahem), I've retained a rabid love of language and communication thanks to you and your UCSC cohorts. I'd love to create a syntax puzzle for you using some such great jazz line as "is you is or is you ain't my baby", but the tricks for doing so are buried far too deeply in my head to excavate on short notice. So I'll settle for wishing you the happiest of birthdays, and may you have 60 more!
Annette C. Earling
Feliz cumpleaños Jorge!
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María Victoria González Pagani
Many many thanks for all these years of top-notch linguistics and teaching us grads our trade. Oh, and for all the soccer too!
Best wishes for a happy birthday, and for many more pleasant ones to come.
Alice C. Harris
I wanted to write a syntax squib for the occasion, but my brain just doesn't work that way anymore. I graduated in 1984. Sixteen years away from daily homework assignments has taken a toll on my syntax abilities. But I still have memories of Tough and Gorilla Movements, learning to say "The man kicked the pig" in Turkish, and having to stop writing the take-home syntax exams only because the due hour of 8 o'clock Monday morning arrived.
But even with all those times my fingers were sore and dented from the pencilit's a wonder how we ever made it without PCsI enjoyed your classes. The very first class I took at UCSC was Modern English Grammar, and the very first thing you said was, "Remember what you learned in high school English class? Well, I want you to forget it all." I did finally. And though I might have forgotten much of syntax and phonology, I remember the camaraderie the linguistics program developed. Friends from other programs envied us.
(I do remember this. I took a semantics class from you once (and didn't do very well) and you were trying to explain the problems with combining two sentences that have the same verb but with different properties. Consider. We can say, "Mother is cooking and so are my sisters" and "The vegetables are cooking and so is the rice." But we can't say, "Mother is cooking and so are the vegetables." Then some wise guy raised his hand and said, "Yes you can if Mother is the leader of a band and her band is called The Vegetables.")
Have fun on your birthday. I am moving to Washington, DC, on September 23. I'm going back after 5 years here in LA. I probably won't be able to make my annual running trips to the Monterey Bay and to the UCSC campus anymore. Too bad. I won't be able catch you working during the winter vacation anymore. But I will be back some time. Maybe if you're not working, I'll invite you to run the 5-mile loop around campus.
When you hired me 17 years ago I must say I never thought I would be here this long. But a big part of the reason I have been is you! You were determined to make this department the "best damn little linguistics department in the world". And, you really made me want to come along for the ride. You gave me a lot to brag about when students asked what linguistics at Santa Cruz was like. I watched in amazement as you worked your magic as my Chair for seven years and you taught me that most roadblocks just create better alternative routes to travel. Like your students, I consider you a "rare find".
Here are just some of the things your students have said about you in the last 17 years:
"He respects you enough to let you come to your own conclusions about how to do things and critiques you as if you were a colleague instead of a mere student."
"JH is an absolute magician. He is fascinating to watch. He has the very successful (if only mildly annoying) quality of making you figure the answer out on your own."
"Instead of stuffing it down your throat, he lets you stuff it down your own throat."
"Jorge makes the seriousness of syntax vanish, and lets you just do linguistics."
"Jorge can teach with one hand behind his back."
"Jorge encourages thoughtful analysis and independent thought."
"Jorge, as always, was magnificent (and ornery!)."
"[Syn. 2] The best structure and teaching of a course for learning that I have ever had the agony of."
"Jorge's attitude: Let's do this til it gets us in trouble."
"Jorge teaches the way college ought to be taught."
"He is hard; he's demanding; he doesn't give out answers."
"Thanks to you, syntax has a special place in my heart. Heh!"
"The stimulation mentally and emotionally that Jorge has caused in my life will never be forgotten and will always be appreciated."
"I have never learned so much in one quarter through my own research and investigation."
"Jorge is a groovy guy....We bothered him all the time, and he was really patient."
"This class re-defined learning for me."
"He worked very hard just like we did."
"Jorge was awesome!!! Unfortunately his class workload was ridiculous! The class was the ruin of my life, not to mention my other classes."
"I honestly think having Jorge as an instructor is a rare find."
"Jorge is a sharp witted guide who let us go as far as we could without falling into quicksand. Sometimes he'd pull us out right away and move on and sometimes he'd let us struggle helplessly for a bit."
"All of my life I've had a fear of 'grammar'. I thought 'grammar' was beyond my grasp. In this class I was challenged, motivated and encouraged. I have come to realize that I do have grammar, and I have become very interested in describing it. Jorge is a fantastic professor. He has made my most dreaded subject learnable, interesting, and stimulating."
"J. Hankamer is really one of the best teachers/instructors I have had in about 7 years. He's certain of his abilities and can guide a class along without alienating the students."
"He's one of the few teachers I've had who is really looking for answers to a question when he asks one."
"He's the best professor I've had in my undergraduate career!"
"Syntax I has been the most exciting class of my college career."
"Jorge takes what could be the most deadly dull subject in the world and somehow makes it the most important thing in ones life."
"Jorge generates incredible enthusiasm to learn the material by playing a carefully measured game of hide and seek."
"Jorge Hankamer is the best teacher I've ever had."
"I very quickly became fascinated with the grammar, the language, and Jorge. He is one of my best and favorite professors at UCSC."
"I would come to school with a temperature of 105 degrees rather than miss this class."
"Jorge is one of those rare instructors who make you think and inspire you to put out more work than you thought you could."
"We earned what we learned."
"Jorge is definitely the most gifted professor I have had."
"He makes the student discover the answer. Jorge was the fiz in the mineral water."
"It was a very important class to me personally."
"He has a way of encouraging students to bring out their ideas. He has mastered the art of constructive criticism. There is really something to be said for encouraging the development of creative and original thinking-and resisting the temptation to jump in and squelch it at the sign of the slightest flaw!"
"Rarely am I so thoroughly challenged to think (without resenting the huge amount of time required to do the work). Jorge seems to inspire in all of his students a desire to impress him academically."
"Jorge knows his shit."
"It is too bad that this teacher has been lost to administration."
"This man belongs in a classroom, not stuck behind a desk."
Happy birthday Jorge, and welcome back.
All the best on your 60th Birthday, Jorge!
I'd like to express happy birthday wishes to Jorge. I enjoyed having him as my undergrad advisor.
A quick Hankamer story...While I was considering my future potential career as a linguistics grad student, I took the TA training course offered by the Linguistics staff. Jorge was pointing out some classroom management techniques. He pointed out how you need to keep the class on schedule and focused on the material you want to cover. Invariably there will be questions that are off-topic or take you down roads you don't want to follow. Rather than refuse to answer those questions you should say something like, "That's a good/interesting question. Let me write that on the side board here and we'll answer it if we have time." At first I was just taking notes as he was speaking until it dawned on me, "Hey! That's where you always put my questions!"
Thanks for the education!
Best wishes on your birthday!
To send this greeting I was forced to admit to myself that it has been 15 years since I graduated with my Linguistics degree. I remember switching my major as soon as I finished your "boot camp for the brain" syntax class. It would be fair to say that I have not been mentally taxed to such a degree since. I also think that whatever discipline of thought I still retain I owe in large part to your high standards of performance and your belief that I could be smarter than I thought I was. I feel very fortunate to have taken your courses and worked with you as a research assistant for a short time. I'm glad you are still working on sharpening those young minds. Have a splendid celebration.
We are here in LA thinking of you as we often do and missing your indomitable spirit. Keep going strong with linguistics, soccer, and your other loves.
Happy 60th Birthday!