"Just as complicated and just as simple."

Dr Svetlana Sokolova writes about the 4 months she spent with Ooominds.
Published: 11 Mar 2019
Sveta in the Jessop West cafe

I have known Professor Dagmar Divjak for about ten years, both through her notable work on various aspects of cognitive linguistics and through her collaboration with the research group CLEAR at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, which I am a member of. In March 2017, CLEAR organized a seminar where we presented our own research and discussed the project “Out of Our Minds”, which would be launched in Fall 2017 in collaboration with Dr Petar Milin. The project combines three different dimensions - cognitive linguistics, experimental psychology, and computational linguistics, the synergy of which allows us to look anew at some old problems. After learning more about the project, I knew that I wanted to spend my first sabbatical with the group OOOMinds and I was very grateful to Dagmar ad Petar for providing me with this opportunity.

If I were to describe my four months stay with OOOMinds in one quote, I would refer to Anton Chekhov’s famous saying regarding his dramatic style: "just as complicated and just as simple as in real life": "people are sitting at a table having dinner, that's all, but at the same time their happiness is being created, or their lives are being torn apart".

One of the things that impressed me about OOOMinds is how they were able to combine an enormous amount of work with the casual style of the discussions. The results of these “casual” meetings were truly amazing:
• Brainstorming with Petar and Dagmar has helped me to find a new idea for my book on Russian verbal morphology.
• Several coffee discussions with PGR Maciej Borowski have led to a whole panel on the challenging issues of aspectual variation, which we hope to organize at one of the forthcoming cognitive conferences.
• Dr Srdan Medimorec provided me with feedback on my psycholinguistic experiment that tests analogical mechanisms in Russian nominal compounding. He also gave a brief tutorial on how to use the OpenSesame software and an eye tracker. This introduction was further consolidated at an eye tracking workshop at Goldsmiths, University of London, that I was able to attend together with the group.
• Informal weekly lunches with all the group members were often accompanied by inspiring talks given by guest researchers and visiting scholars (Professor Harald Baayen, Dr Jan Chromý, Dr Jiří Januška to name a few).

With OOOMinds it is easy to feel welcome and engaged, be it at a brainstorming session or a workshop or at a social event with a pint. These people have the art of making complicated things look simple.