After traveling to Dallas last year and Boston the year before for the annual conference of the American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL), it was nice being able to travel a little closer to home this time with the conference being held in Portland, Oregon this year. That’s to say, not just close to home in Hawai‘i where I’ve lived for the past several years, but close to home in Oregon, where I grew up. I always have mixed feelings leaving Honolulu, happy to be off on a new adventure, but a little sad to be leaving the surf and sun for a while (especially when the first south swell was supposed to hit the day I left!).

leaving on a jet plane

Sitting on a plane for 5 hours is always a great way to get work done and prepare for upcoming stuff, but somehow I managed to avoid all of  that:-) Partly because of views like this somewhere over the middle of the Pacific Ocean:

pacific ocean

Somewhere over the Pacific

Even though I grew up in Oregon, I never spent too much time in Portland (being from the coast) so it was fun exploring the city a bit, a city known for “Keeping it weird.”  The whole weekend I was there was beautiful, and everyone seemed to be in shock that it actually wasn’t raining in Portland.  This has to be one of my favorite cities.  It’s both friendly and eccentric, known for aggressive bicyclers exerting their rights (or deontic status:-) over the street, a plethora of beards of all shapes and sizes, and an eco-friendly everything.  Two places everyone tells you you should go if you’re heading there: Powell’s Bookstore and Voodoo Doughnuts.  There’s even a book that’s out called “Portland: the city you’ve heard you should like.” And it’s pretty hilarious. A TV show called Portlandia bases its entire comedic value off of the stereotypical weirdness of Portland. “It’s the city where young people go to retire”…and eat the weirdest variety of doughnuts ever imagined:-)

Voodoo Doughnuts!

voodoo doughnut

There were some amazing food trucks as well! I’m definitely looking forward to trying out “The Cultured Caveman” when I get back into town someday! Smelled delicious.

food trucks

walking through downtown Portland on the way to the conference while wanted to snack at every food truck I walk by!

I really wanted to see some live music while I was in Portland. We have some great local bands in Hawai‘i but being on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean you tend to miss out on a lot of the music out there in the world.  So some friends and I headed out to see some live tunes, although it wasn’t quite what I was expecting…unexpected semiotic resources in unexpected places, as Alastair Pennycook might say.  Although I’m not sure what would be unexpected in Portland, Oregon:-)


Whenever I’m in Portland, Powell’s books is a necessary destination.  You can get lost for days in there, and I’m sad to hear they might be reducing the size of the store dramatically this summer.  Glad to have had the chance to go one more time while it’s still in full swing.  Also, note the guy in shorts and a tank-top in the pic below outside Powell’s. Now that’s an Oregonian! It was a pretty nice day but the temperature in Portland wouldn’t have been too far off from a polar vortex in Hawai‘i. Will need to prepare a bit more if I plan on going to Scandinavia next year:-)

Powell's Books

58 degrees fahrenheit = short/tank-top wether in Portland or rare polar vortex in Hawai‘i.

The AAAL conference was overall a fantastic experience, and I met some amazing scholars doing some great research.  It’s always inspiring to see the work that people are engaged in and its wonderful to see how passionate and engaged people are in addressing a range of issues involving language, especially with stigmatized languages and populations.  I was privileged to participate in a colloquium on Translanguaging with some scholars whose work I respect very much.  Our presentations,

“examin(ed) translanguaging and transliteracy practices of youth and teachers across diverse settings in and beyond school. Exploring translanguaging from multiple epistemological perspectives, the colloquium advances theoretical understandings of language acquisition among multilingual youth and offers implications for teaching in linguistically and culturally diverse contexts.”

I co-presented with Christina Higgins, a scholar whose work I admire very much (and who also happens to be my advisor!) on Translanguaging in educational contexts in Hawai‘i:

The other scholars in our colloquium included, from left to right: Natalia Guzman, Jenny Chen, Ofelia Garcia, Margaret Hawkins, Christina Higgins, me, Melinda Martin-Beltran, and Mary Bucholtz.


One of the highlights (too many to mention here but I hope to write about some of the great presentations I saw in another post soon) included John McWhorter’s plenary entitled: “A Broken Piano Making Pretty Music is Still Broken: Convincing the Public that Nonstandard Speech Isn’t Substandard.” 

Through his efforts over the years in trying to convince the public and media of the legitimacy of “non-standard” varieties, he charismatically and convincingly argued for new ways to persuade lay people and non-linguists of seeing different varieties of English as legitimate and not “broken” or “degenerate” forms of English. Using past arguments for legitimating African American Vernacular English (AAVE) (citing the Ebonics controversy in Oakland in the 1990’s and the recent Treyvon Martin case when Rachel Jeantel took the witness stand and her AAVE was criticized in the media) centering around complexity, he proposed a few different arguments for changing minds.

One of these ways, he argued, is to show how “modern standard English” is really “non-standard” old English (of course, there’s much that is problematic with even using the terms standard and non-standard, but I’ll leave that for another time).

It’s also fun to browse some of the new books in the publishing exhibit, so I also picked up a few from the Multilingual Matters booth including: Alastair Pennycook’s Language and Mobility: Unexpected Places, Jan Blommaert’s Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes: Chronicles of Complexity and Multilingual Urban Scandinavia: New Linguistic Practices edited by Pia Quist and Bente Ailin Svendsen (hoping I get a chance to attend some conferences out there next year!)

Multilingual Scandinavia


This concludes the academic portion of the post:-)

…After the conference, I headed home to the coast, which usually involves discovering some of the newest batches of ale some great Oregon Coast breweries are creating:




And the view from some of these breweries isn’t so bad either:) Pacific City, Oregon with a view of Cape Kiwanda and a sea stack named Chief Kiwanda Rock (or “Haystack Rock”) in the the distance.


Pacific City, Oregon

Even on a cloudy day, it’s hard to beat this coastline:-)  This is a picture from Cape Foulweather, an apt name on this particular day.  The wikipedia entry describes this cape “as the first promontory on the northwest coast of New Albion (as the area was then known) to be sighted and named by Captain James Cook, while on his third voyage around the world. His March 7, 1778 journal entry reads:

“ The land appeared to be of moderate height, diversified with hill and Valley and almost everywhere covered with wood. There was nothing remarkable about it except one hill…At the northern extreme the land formed a point which I called Cape Foulweather from the very bad weather we soon after met with.”

Little did Captain James Cook know that his third voyage would come to a grisly end on the island of Hawai‘i at Kealakekua Bay near Kona less than a year after this.


Cape Foulweather

I’ve been to the Oregon Coast Aquarium several times, but it’s always worth visiting again. It’s where Keiko, an Orca whale made famous from the movie “Free Willie” was kept from 1996-1998 before he was released in the wild in Iceland, and I remember going to the aquarium to see him on several occasions. They still have the ‘touch pool’ which simulates a tide pool, where you can touch star fish and sea anemones. Sea anemones are especially fascinating creatures considering the symbiotic relationships they form with other species (like clown fish: remember the movie Finding Nemo?!). The volunteer at the aquarium told me they have thousands of “daggers” that stick you, just as I started to touch one.  Luckily this translates as just feeling a bit sticky to the touch, at least for these guys in the “touch pool”:-)




These Pacific Sea Nettle or Chrysaora fuscescens was probably one of the more incredible exhibits at the aquarium. It’s hypnotizing just watching these creatures, I could have stayed there for hours.



This harbor seal was just chilling right here the whole time.  Maybe the world is just more interesting upside down…or maybe (s)he’s just incredibly bored being in captivity.



Heading further into deeper waters, these rock fish were fascinating, especially the white one in the back just resting on the ship. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but that white rock fish had the meanest grin on its face.  I guess he’s too cool for school…that was a bad fish joke.


Lastly, although Hawaiian Monk Seals are endemic to Hawaiian waters, the Rogue Brewery brewed this ale, Monk Seal Ale, with donations going to the Waikiki Aquarium, so pick up a bottle if you ever make it out to Newport, Oregon.  It’s for a good cause!


One response to “Portlandia

  1. I spent three months in Portland working for Oregon Translation (such a great company) and reading this post brought back nice memories. Incidentally, right now I am wearing a Voodoo Doughnut tshirt:)
    If only it didn’t take 24h to reach Oregon from Italy I would definitely visit more often.
    By the way, I love your blog!

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