An informal document stylesheet for my UvA students

UvA students sometimes ask me for guidance in writing a tutorial, an assignment, or a thesis. Unfortunately, there is (still?) no comprehensive guide for helping students in properly formatting their academic papers, documents, tutorials, theses, and the like.

Most of my students come from the Faculty of Humanities, but there are notable exceptions, some of them being enrolled in MA programmes in Logic, Artificial Intelligence or some branch of Computer Science or Informatics. I hesitated a lot before to embark in such an endeavour, because of this immense variety — which I like a lot, actually, as the mindset of a student in cognitive science can be very different from a student in Modern Greek (no value is involved here, just to be very explicit).

First, there is one general advice I want to give to my students — and I underline the possessive ‘my’: what follows is valid for me and me only, so, colleagues can think and behave differently from me — that is, please read carefully the official UvA English Style Guide, before anything else (ironically enough, the web page is in Dutch; if you cannot understand the content, which is really basic, shame on you, keep calm and click the downward arrow, a PDF will be downloaded for you; open it). Although it is not addressed to students, it solves a lot of doubt, first of all, British vs American spelling.

Second, ask yourself if you want to write your academic document with a word processor such as LibreOffice or Microsoft Word, or get yourself into the magic world of LaTeX. I accept to receive your documents, dear students, in four formats: Open Document, Word, or (Xe)(La)TeX, and, finally, PDF. I prefer LaTeX because LaTeX is not only beauty in typography but it disciplines your mind so to prepare better content. Moreover, it is easy to find UvA templates in LaTeX, for example, the ILLC Dissertation Style (note that my affiliation is not there but in the ACLC) or the template for Ph.D. thesis for the GSAS (same as above). Finally, I found a template for Master of Logic Theses.

I kindly invite you to spend 10 minutes of your time browsing the web pages above, even if you do not know LaTeX and you do not plan to learn it. In such an unfortunate case, open the exemplar PDFs you’ll find there, skip the explanations, which are Dark Magic for you. You can still get inspired by them.

If you do not have what does to mean to write a thesis, a scriptie, as you only did a profielwerkstuk in high school before, you may profit in downloading already accepted BA and MA theses. Please open this UvA web page, which provides two links to you: the first one points to the database of all accepted theses in Dutch Universities, the second one to the subset of theses accepted at the UvA. Web interface is not exactly cool, but they do their job.

I hope you will appreciate this blog post, which is not an April Fools’ Day joke, but it is for real. And now you go!

PS In case of panic, your red button is your UvA Study Advisor(s): ask for an appointment and get advised.

After two months in Amsterdam

I just had my last free lunch in the KLM lounge, as since tomorrow I will be downgraded from Gold to Silver member, waiting for my flight to Milan. I won’t come back to A’dam for a while, so it’s a good moment for a reflection.

I’ll do it in English, as a lot of non-Esperanto speakers asked me what the hell is happening in my life now… 😅

So, the question is: what happened in these two months, worth a mention? Well, a lot of things. In sparse order:

– an intense two days with Marco Benini in town, in order to work with me and Jean Wagemans on the foundations of Adpositional Rhetoric #AdpRh;

– a gorgeous party (gezellig is the right word, in Dutch, something you can’t translate) in honour of the 50 years of Jean himself;

– a street portrait session in A’dam Noord with Ivano, Lucia, Giona and Eda (and a couple of guest) which I will never forget, and convinced me that I am not a bad photographer after all…

– discovered that not only I have a non-trivial Erdős number but also a non-trivial Salgado number…

– a reflection of my first five-year period of being a professor at the #uva, held in the Esperanto local club, which resulted in me being filmed and put into a YouTube video, by Ŝaj Ne.

– my most amazing birthday party ever in a very Amsterdam Jewish Esperanto style, all at the same time.

– a great discussion with the students of the #VOS association at the #UvA, with Davide Astori coming. I’m. So. Grateful.

– my first artistic photo book project, not for sale, only for distinguished people.

– the finalization of a book project in Esperanto called #amikaro which is becoming amazing thanks a new friend of mine met in the guesthouse, Valeria Miele.

– gourmet dinners with chef Giuseppe Barra — the fiancé of Valeria — in the guesthouse. You are an artist, my friend!

– two unforgettable dinners on the Meaning of Life (not the Monty Python’s film, but in that spirit) with one of the most amazing man the Mysterious Force let me the opportunity to meet: Roberto Bolognesi.

– new interesting job opportunities in A’dam and the surroundings. First snowball: László Marácz . Stay tuned for details. Fingers crossed.

– intersemiotic conversations with great Italian students of mine (no names will be revealed here)

– an invited lecture in the US about International Auxiliary Languages that should last 45 minutes but it was at the end 90 minutes long because of the passion and interest of the students attending. A video was produced in advance by me and polished by Derek Roff, whom I thank in public here.

– a great week with Davide Astori visiting with the Erasmus+ programme, who finally met Marco Pasi. This encounter will change the world 😆

– an evening with Ivano and friends, and a departmental social dinner, where I started to understand what does it mean to be Turkish today and why Italians are lucky bastards on one side and completely naive on the other — yes, this is sybilline, on purpose

– why Esperanto is still a great opportunity for nowadays’ world, why a lot of people learning the language are wasting their own time, how to avoid losing your time with them, and especially how to make Esperanto again an interesting topic, to the adverted learner — again, the sybil in me is prophetising, don’t ask for an exegesis, I can’t do it, sorry.

– a brainstorming session with Jean Wagemans and Federica Russo, which led to a new research possible collaboration project with an industrial partner. Fingers crossed, stay tuned for details.

– an unforgettable kibbutz-style Esperanto study weekend where I could delve into original Esperanto poetry about Esperantism, with passionate participants! Among the others, the two veterans Andries Hovinga and Joost Franssen, and the new entry Egbert Masereeuw.

– two evenings exploring the secrets of A’dam with Davide Astori as a companion, and Ringo Maurer (yes, the young artist and pianist, a former student of mine in Esperanto), including a very very exclusive place. I will never forget the moment when I improvised a classic jazz song in Esperanto with Ringo playing, smoking a cigar, and drinking a whisky, at the same time.

– in the same secret place, an evening with the most famous mentalist in the Netherlands, who chose me many times as a person of interest among 40-50 participants… I’ll never forget the experience of being hypnotized by him…

…and other great things that I do not remember by now!

I hear you: “wait a minute! No bad things? I don’t believe you!”

And you are right. This is my answer: do you remember the old Cherokee teaching about the fight of the two wolves within you?

(if not, simply google it.)

Well, I know which one to feed.


Kial Esperanto ne estas facila lingvo

Origine publikigita en Fejsbuko, Lundon 12 Februaro 2018

Interesa blogaĵo pri la malfacileco de Esperanto por ĉinoj. Cetere, al miaj universitataj studentoj, el ĉie ajn ili venas, mi diras ĉiam la samon, plimalpli en la sekvaj vortoj:

“Esperanto ne estas facila lingvo ĉar oni ne povas serioze difini kio estas facila lingvo laŭ fakaj, lingvosciencaj kriterioj. Kion oni povas korekte diri estas, ke ĝi estas *morfologie* tre regule kaj, krome, ke la distanco inter la skrib- kaj prononcmaniero estas malgranda kompare kun, ni diru nehazarde kiel ekzemplo, la angla.

Laŭ mia persona sperto, kiu estas statistike sensignifa kaj nur valoras anekdote, universitataj studentoj kiuj venas de orientaziaj landoj kiel Ĉinio kaj Japanio devas studi pli da horoj ol la Eŭroplingve devenaj (inkluzive la Amerikaj) por atingi similnivelajn rezultojn.

Tio, memkompreneble, implikas nek, ke la strebo ne valoras la penon, nek, ke la kvanto da horoj bezonataj por atingi similajn rezultojn en la angla ne
estas multe pli da, kontraste kun Esperanto.

Jen mia tre persona opinio.”

Il mio nuovo blog / My new blog / Mia nova blogo

Ultimamente sono insoddisfatto dei social, così ho deciso di riprendere la via del blogging, che fa molto anni Novanta. La mia intenzione è di tenere traccia delle mie attività sui social non effimere in un punto del web che non dipenda da altri ma solo da me. Vediamo se ci riuscirò.

In the last days I became unsatisfied of social media, thus I decided to take up again blogging, something a bit-old fashioned in terms of the web, as it was fashionable in the 1990s. My aim is to keep track of my non-ephemeral activities on social networks in a single web point, which does not depend on others, only to me. Let’s see if I will keep faith to myself.

En la lastaj tagoj mi ekkomprenis, ke mi estis nekontenta pri la sociaj retoj, do mi decidis reblogumi, agado kiu estas tre eksmoda en la retuma epoko, ĉar mojosis en la jaroj 1990aj. Mia celo estas kolekti miajn ne-efemerajn agon en sociaj retoj en ununura punkto, kiu ne dependu de aliuloj sed male nur de mi. Ni vidu se mi restos fidela al mi mem.