Do Not Muzzle the Ox

Rachel's Work PicsOn Friday Rachel completed a data entry task that Gary gave her to do about 9 months ago. She has been going to the office with us in the mornings and typing the population figures from the paper version of the 12th edition of the Ethnologue into a spreadsheet. (Apparently the digitized version of the 12th edition got lost between computer upgrades somewhere along the way.)

She did this by photocopying the Ethnologue a few pages at a time, using a highlighter to find population and year of population for each of the world’s languages, then she typed that information into a spreadsheet where the list of languages and their 3-letter ISO codes had been pre-generated from the digitized 13th edition.

If I understand it correctly, the point of this exercise is to help the Ethnologue staff [read that: Gary] produce a longitudinal data set showing how the population of each of the world’s languages has changed over time.  It would likely be one of the data products sold by the Ethnologue  for use by linguists  and demographers to study where the little languages of the world are headed–mostly to extinction, is the fear–assimilated by nearby languages of wider communication.

Well, she was not worthy of her pay, or even if she was worthy, she wasn’t paid, since Gary didn’t want to be accused of nepotism.  On the hand of the other metaphor, we could at least say that she was not muzzled while she tread–we fed her all the stale donuts she could eat at coffee break. 🙂

p.s.  While writing this blog Gary and I had to research the word “ox.”  Mostly it means a castrated male bovine who works for a living, but in some contexts it can also refer to female bovines.

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