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The Brief Idyll of Late-Nineties Wong Kar-Wai
"In the summer of 1997 I was living in London, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I’d left college and had been in the city for a year, trying, like so many other twentysomethings, to write a novel. I’d given myself a year, but as the chapters took shape so did a curious tension about the way my life was playing out. Part of me was exhilarated and determined: I was writing about a country and people—my people—that did not exist in the pages of formal literature; I was exploring sexual and emotional boundaries, forming relationships with people who seemed mostly wrong for me, but whose unsuitability seemed so right; I was starting, I thought, to untangle the various strands of my cultural identity: Chinese, Malaysian, and above all, what it meant to be foreign, an outsider.

But the increasing clarity of all this was troubled by a growing unsettledness: I had imagined that the act of writing my country and people into existence would make me feel closer to them, but instead I felt more distant. The physical separation between me and my family in Malaysia, which had, up to then, been a source of liberation, now created a deep anxiety. All of a sudden I saw the huge gulf between the person I had been and the one I now was. In the space of just five or six years, university education had given me a different view of life, a different appreciation of its choices. My tastes had evolved, the way I used language had changed—not just in terms of syntax and grammar but the very fact that standard English was now my daily language, rather than the rich mixture of Malay, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Malaysian slang that I had used exclusively until the age of eighteen. I was writing about the place I was from, about the people I loved (and hated), but felt a million miles from them.

All around me, the world seemed to be repositioning itself in ways that seemed to mirror this exciting/confusing tension within me. Britain was in the grip of Cool Britannia fever, and London—multicultural, newly confident after the Labour Party’s victory in the elections—seemed to be the most exciting place on the planet, a city where minority groups of all kinds suddenly found their voice and artistic expression flourished alongside capitalism. On the other side of the world, where my family and friends lived, however, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis had just erupted, bringing the previously buoyant economies of Southeast Asia to their knees. On the phone with my parents, I heard news of one friend after another who’d lost their job or business. A new anxiety lurked in the voices of all those I spoke to in Malaysia and elsewhere in the region: an unspoken fear of civil unrest, of anti-Chinese violence that inhabited the passages of our histories in times of crisis. These fears were not unfounded: less than a year later, in Jakarta, where my father worked at the time, widespread anti-Chinese riots led to the murders of over a thousand people and hundreds of incidents of rape and burning of Chinese-owned property and businesses. Stay where you are, don’t come back, various friends cautioned.

On TV, I watched the handover of Hong Kong to China after one hundred years of British colonial rule, a transition that felt at once thrilling and scary: the passing of a country from one regime to another, with no one able to predict how the future would pan out. My sister, who had recently moved to Hong Kong to find work, decided that it would change nothing for her, and that she would stay.

I sank deeper into the world of my novel. I sought refuge in a place where I was in control—but even there, things weren’t working out. My characters were all divorced from their surroundings, trying to figure out how to live in a world on the cusp of change. They fell in love with all the wrong people. They didn’t belong to the country they lived in. I wanted the novel to be an antidote to the confusion around me but it wanted to be part of that mess. I was exhausted by it and by the end of that year, abandoned the manuscript.

It was exactly at that time that Wong Kar-Wai’s Happy Together found its way into the art house movie theaters of Europe. That summer he had won the Best Director prize at Cannes for the film—the first non-Japanese Asian to do so—and I’d seen the movie posters in magazines: Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung sitting dreamily in the back of a car, their faces bathed in a hypnotic yellow light. I’d grown up with these actors, iconic figures in Asian pop culture. I’d seen all their movies, and like so many of my contemporaries, knew the words to all the Leslie Cheung songs, which still take up several gigabytes of memory on my iPhone. I’d seen and swooned over Wong Kar-Wai’s previous films, Chungking Express and Fallen Angels, as well as a curious early work called Days of Being Wild, set partly in the Philippines and also starring Leslie Cheung. I thought I knew what to expect from Happy Together. It turned out that I had no idea at all.

It’s impossible to describe the intense rush of blood to the head that I felt on seeing these two leading actors—young, handsome, but somehow old beyond their years—in the opening scene. They are in a small bed in a boarding house in Buenos Aires. They are far from home, wondering what to do with their lives, how to make their relationship work again. Within seconds they are making love—a boyish tussle with playful ass-slapping that morphs quickly into the kind of rough, quick sex that usually happens between strangers, not long-term partners.

It was the end of the twentieth century; I had watched countless European movies where explicit sex was so much a part of the moviemaking vocabulary that it had long since lost the ability to shock me. But the people in this film were not random French or German actors, they were familiar figures of my childhood, spitting into their hands to lubricate their fucking.

The two men are partners in a turbulent relationship with extreme highs and lows. They travel to Argentina—as far away from home as possible—to try and salvage what they can of their love. Their dream is to travel to see the Iguaçu Falls, a journey which takes on totemic qualities as the movie progresses and their relationship once again falters. They break up. Tony Leung takes a lousy job as a doorman at a tango bar; Leslie Cheung—promiscuous, volatile—becomes a sort of rent boy, though the precise nature of his relationships with other men is never clearly defined. (Over the years I’ve developed a resistance to remembering the characters’ names, wanting, I guess, to imagine that Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung were actually in a relationship.) Leslie drifts in and out of Tony Leung’s life, sometimes bringing his tricks to the bar where Tony works. From time to time they appear ready to get back together again, but they always miss their chance to connect—often in a literal sense, for example when one goes looking for the other, but goes into one door just as the other emerges from an adjacent one.

Their relationship is a series of missed connections, but it is more tragic than two people simply being in the wrong frame of mind at the wrong time. It is impossible for the men to achieve intimacy because they are unable to carve out their place in the world—neither in Buenos Aires nor in Hong Kong, which is referred to often but never in comforting or nostalgic terms. Their new city is not welcoming, and neither is their home country. The same set of problems they escaped from home to avoid follow them to this strange foreign place. The Buenos Aires they inhabit is at once real and unreal, sometimes gritty, other times so dreamy it seems like an imagined city. The mesmerizing visuals that Christopher Doyle created for that film (and would carry into Wong Kar-Wai’s future works) make us feel as if the characters are floating through the city, incapable of affixing themselves to it.

Late in the film, a major new character is introduced—an innocent, uncomplicated young man from Taiwan played by Chang Chen, who works in the Chinese restaurant where Tony Leung has found employment. They form a close friendship, one that seems nourishing and stable. But Tony Leung is still preoccupied by Leslie Cheung, even though they are no longer together. Does Chang Chen feel more for Tony Leung than mere friendship? Almost certainly, he does. He goes to Ushuaia, the farthest point of the Americas, but Tony Leung chooses to remain in Buenos Aires. Those missed connections again: that impossibility, for Tony Leung at least, to figure out how he truly feels because he is too far from home, cut off from his points of reference. That intense separation should have brought him objectivity; he should have gained clarity of thought and emotion. Instead his feelings remain trapped in a place he wants to leave behind, but is unable to forget.

In the closing scenes, Tony Leung finally manages to leave Buenos Aires and travels not to Hong Kong but Taipei. He goes to the night market where Chang Chen’s family runs a food store. Chang Chen isn’t there, he is still traveling the world. “I finally understood how he could be happy running around so free,” Tony Leung says in his low, sad, matter-of-fact voice-over. “It’s because he has a place he can always return to.”

When I think of that period in 1997, when I couldn’t walk down the street or fall asleep without seeing Tony and Leslie dancing the tango in a squalid kitchen, or hearing Caetano Veloso’s featherlight voice hovering over ravishing images of the Iguaçu Falls—I can’t help but think that we were in a short era of innocence before the complicated decades that lay ahead. The Hong Kong that Wong Kar-Wai refers to in that movie no longer exists. The film’s original title is 春光乍洩, which means the first emergence of spring sunshine—or, more idiomatically, a glimpse of something intimate. But perhaps it refers also to that brief moment of openness and… [more]
wongkar-wai  tashaw  film  memories  memory  place  belonging  home  1990s  1997  2019  youth  identity  storytelling  unsettledness  separation  malaysia  education  highered  highereducation  langauge  english  malay  cantonese  mandarin  chinese  malaysian  change  innocence  london  capitalism  jakarta  southeastasia  hongkong  china  tonyleung  lesliecheung  chunkingexpress  happytogether  fallenangels  daysofbeingwild  buenosaires  relationships  intimacy  families  connection  nostalgia  comfort  cities  taiwan  changchen  taipei  vulnerability  openness  acceptance  victimization  divisiveness 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Spanish has never been a foreign language in the United States - Los Angeles Times
"Video recordings in very different settings caught two incidents of Spanish speakers being harassed or detained as perceived undocumented immigrants this month.

In midtown Manhattan, an attorney, Aaron Schlossberg, berated a restaurant owner after he heard workers speaking in Spanish. He ranted that they should speak English in “his country” and threatened to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A world away in Montana, two American citizens, Ana Suda and Mimi Hernández, recorded as they confronted a U.S. Border Patrol agent about why he asked for their identifications. He responded plainly that he wanted their IDs when he “saw that you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here.” He detained them for 40 minutes in a parking lot.

The call to “speak English” in America has a long history that often drowns out our even longer history of diverse language use. Spanish especially is a language with deep roots in the United States.

The Southwest was originally part of Mexico. When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the U.S.-Mexican War in 1848, it also granted the remaining Mexican settlers citizenship. The treaty did not require that they learn English.

Quite the opposite is true: Over the decades that followed, the federal government permitted local governments in the Southwest to use Spanish in official capacities.

California’s first state Constitution required that “all laws, decrees, regulations, and provisions, which from their nature require publication, shall be published in English and Spanish.” Some California counties received session laws and operated their courts in Spanish.

The use of Spanish in New Mexico was especially widespread. Just five years after taking over the territory, the United States recognized that it needed to pay for translators in the legislative chambers. Federal officials embraced Spanish as a necessary way to fairly govern this new group of citizens.

In some parts of New Mexico, election results, loyalty oaths, session laws, letters to elected officials, speeches by both political parties, court transcripts and many other official documents were written in Spanish. These are merely the recorded uses of Spanish and don’t include its widespread oral use.

Senators visiting New Mexico in 1902 concluded that they could not conduct their official business without an interpreter. They encountered school teachers, judges and a census supervisor who were monolingual Spanish speakers.

When the senators asked a former justice of the peace, José María García, why he continued to use Spanish, he replied: “I like my own language better than any other, the same as I like the United States better than any other country in the world.” For García, there was no contradiction in being both an American and a Spanish speaker.

Spanish remained an official language of politics and government in much of the Southwest throughout the 19th century, but that changed in the first decades of the 20th century. Increasing immigration from Mexico, a push for school segregation and other “Americanization” efforts helped turn the tide. As the historian Paul J. Ramsey has shown, 26 states, including California, had outlawed the teaching of languages other than English in public primary schools by 1921. California outlawed it in private schools that year.

Anti-Mexican sentiment peaked in the early 1930s, coinciding with cruel repatriation campaigns that forced hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens and Mexican Americans over the border into Mexico. Los Angeles County was especially effective at these tactics. Nevertheless, Spanish remained the preferred language in many parts of the Southwest during this period, and more than a thousand civic organizations promoted Spanish in the interest of Pan-Americanism.

Spanish speakers also settled well beyond the Southwest, of course. As early as 1891, the Cuban poet and journalist José Martí, then living in New York City, was writing of “Nuestra América,” or “Our America,” in an effort to unite Spanish speakers across the hemisphere. Tens of thousands more Cubans arrived in the early 20th century, well before the Cuban Revolution.

Congress created many Spanish-speaking Americans when it gave Puerto Ricans their citizenship in 1917 through the Jones Act, which also did not have an English-language provision. By the 1950s, nearly 200,000 Puerto Ricans had moved to New York City. Spanish has now been a part of everyday life in New York for over a century.

Forty-one million native Spanish speakers reside in the U.S. today, and this figure does not include the millions more who have learned Spanish by choice. In fact, the U.S. has the second-largest number of Spanish speakers in the world, outnumbered only by Mexico, according to the Instituto Cervantes.

Not only does the U.S. have no official language, but Spanish is not a fringe language here. It plays a much deeper role in this country than either of this month’s news-making videos suggest. Its use is neither new nor an anomaly. Spanish is an American language.

Lozano is an assistant professor of history at Princeton University and the author of “An American Language: The History of Spanish in the United States.”"
rosinalozano  spanish  español  us  2018  language  english  history  newmexico  california  mexico  spain  españa  law 
july 2019 by robertogreco
k'eguro on Twitter: "(people who write about humans, what words do you use instead of "worth" and "value" and "potential" I've been trying to come up with different terms, but I'm dry)"
“(people who write about humans, what words do you use instead of "worth" and "value" and "potential" I've been trying to come up with different terms, but I'm dry)”

[some of the answers:

"Flourish/human flourishings is a personal favorite for replacing "potential""
https://twitter.com/robertramaswamy/status/1116692851616882688

"Heart/love for worth, Wisdom for value and imagination for potential. Generally like electric, energy, soul and magic."
https://twitter.com/Afrowomanist/status/1116781830156500992

"Muchness.
Or
Sparkle"
https://twitter.com/aleyakassam/status/1116732206829985794 ]
keguromacharia  language  english  words  humanism  capitalism 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Chevanni Davids on Unschooling - YouTube
"Chevanni's comments on unschooling, critically looking at a quest for humanity through self directed education."

[from this longer video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3z6z0dyX0U ]
unschooling  chevanni  2018  history  self-directed  self-directedlearning  education  learning  indigeneity  socialjustice  classism  humanism  english  schooling  nature  everyday  food 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Language and Linguistics on Trial: Hearing Rachel Jeantel (and Other Vernacular Speakers) in the Courtroom and Beyond, by John Rickford and Sharese King [.pdf]
"Rachel Jeantel was the leading prosecution witness when George Zimmerman was tried for killing Trayvon Martin, but she spoke in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and her crucial testimony was dismissed as incomprehensible and not credible. The disregard for her speech in court and the media is familiar to vernacular speakers and puts Linguistics itself on trial: following Saussure, how do we dispel such ‘prejudices’ and ‘fictions’? We show that Jeantel speaks a highly systematic AAVE, with possible Caribbean influence. We also discuss voice quality and other factors that bedeviled her testimony, including dialect unfamiliarity and institutionalized racism. Finally, we suggest strategies for linguists to help vernacular speakers be better heard in courtrooms and beyond.*"
johnrickford  shareseking  2016  trayvonmartin  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  aave  english  bias  law  legal  justice  race  racism  dialect  literacy  intelligence  linguistics  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Justice for Jeantel (and Trayvon): Fighting Dialect Prejudice in Courtrooms and Beyond - CornellCast
"When George Zimmerman was tried for the homicide of Trayvon Martin, the testimony of Rachel Jeantel was critical to the prosecution’s case – but was ignored by the jury. According to linguist John Rickford this happened because Jeantel speaks African-American Vernacular English. On Sept. 15, 2016, Rickford presented a University Lecture discussing the potentially devastating consequences caused by mishearings and misjudgments of dialect speakers in courtrooms, police encounters, job interviews and elsewhere."
johnrickford  2016  trayvonmartin  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  aave  english  bias  law  legal  justice  race  racism  dialect  literacy  intelligence  linguistics  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
John Rickford, Sharese King: Full Interview on "Race, Dialect Prejudice, and Literacy in the Zimmerman Trial and Beyond" | Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education
"The testimony of Rachel Jeantel, close friend of Trayvon Martin and the prosecution's star witness in the trial of George Zimmerman, was the subject of considerable public commentary in the summer of 2013. Social media pilloried her for her "slurred" or "ungrammatical" speech and described her as stupid and ignorant.

But as Stanford professor John Rickford and second-year linguistics graduate student Sharese King show from analyses of her use of zero copula, absence of third singular present, possessive, and plural --s, and other features, she follows the systematic grammar of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) quite faithfully.

Rickford and King discuss the evidence of Jeantel's limited literacy that emerged during the trial, and the poor reading performance of African American students at her school, Miami Norland, which did not come to public attention. They ask about the extent to which speakers of African American Vernacular English and other dialects are misunderstood, disbelieved, or otherwise unfairly evaluated in courts, schools, and other settings.

This interview followed the SCOPE Brown Bag Lecture: "Race, Dialect Prejudice, and Literacy in the Zimmerman Trial and Beyond" on February 10, 2014."

[Direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH-vshQf2g0 ]
johnrickford  shareseking  2014  trayvonmartin  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  aave  english  bias  law  legal  justice  race  racism  dialect  literacy  intelligence  linguistics  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
All Things Linguistic: LSA 2016 - John Rickford's Presidential Address (with images, tweets) · drswissmiss
"John Rickford gave an amazing Presidential Address at the LSA in Washington DC about how people who speak marginalized dialects face discrimination in the courtroom, especially speakers of African American English. (Key quote: “Jeantel’s dialect was found guilty before Zimmerman was found innocent.“)"
johnrickford  linguistics  language  english  2016  trayvonmartin  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Founders Day Honoree John R. Rickford - YouTube
"One of the world's experts on African-American Vernacular English, Stanford linguistics professor John R. Rickford (Stevenson 71) was honored for his work studying language spoken by poor and marginalized communities and the application of that research to solve educational problems."
johnrickford  ucsc  language  sociolinguistics  2009  aave  ebonics  linguistics  english  creole 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Raising Free People | Raising Aware People #LRC2018 - YouTube
"What are your experiments with the intersection of Unschooling / Self Directed Education and Social Justice. And your understanding of this intersection. While, hey are inextricably linked, the practice of unschooling as social justice and raising aware people isn't widely understood, spoken about or shared.

So at Learning Reimagined 2018, we hosted an interactive panel discussion as an introduction to the relationship and practice of the two, with the hope that this will help participants and now viewers to think around these issues and to then discuss and share further in their communities and here with us online so we can learn too.

The panel consisted of a mix of young unschoolers and featured speakers (Akilah Richards, Bayo Akomolafe, Teresa Graham Brett) at Learning Reimagined 2018."

[from the Learning Reimagined 2018: Unschooling As Decolonisation conference conference: https://www.growingminds.co.za/learning-reimagined-conference-2018/ ]
unschooling  education  socialjustice  self-directed  self-directedlearning  akilahrichards  bavoakomolafe  teresagrahambrett  liberation  justice  zakiyyaismail  deschooling  learning  politics  southafrica  us  difference  scaffolding  parenting  poc  howwelearn  decolonization  2018  race  racism  inclusivity  conferences  lrc2018  bias  inclusion  community  privilege  kaameelchicktay  elitism  schools  schooling  indigeneity  class  classism  humanism  language  english  africa  colonization  agilelearningcenters  agilelearning 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Is "Show Don't Tell" a Universal Truth or a Colonial Relic? | Literary Hub
"In his essay “The Storyteller” (1936), cultural critic Walter Benjamin mourns the death of oral and communal storytelling, taken over in modern history by the novel, the “birthplace of the solitary reader,” and information technology with a rise in capitalism. Yet, what Benjamin posits as the organic evolution of oral, communal practices of storytelling into modern modes of storytelling, consumed by a reader in “privacy,” is in fact, the understanding of a Western history of storytelling as a universal one. As Maggie Awadalla and Paul March-Russell suggest in the introduction to their anthology The Postcolonial Short Story (2012), many non-Western countries did not transition “organically” from oral to written storytelling with a rise in capitalism. For many formerly or currently colonized spaces like South Asia, Africa, Caribbean, American South and Native America, there has always existed a rich, vibrant tradition of oral storytelling, one that was marginalized, often violently, through an imposition of an allegedly modern, white Western language and culture. In their study, Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts (1998), Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin defend “orality” not as a cultural precondition that morphed into a more advanced written culture, but orality as a counterpart to writing, where both co-exist, complement and transform each other constantly. This coexistence of oral and written modes of storytelling continues to thrive in postcolonial spaces, including those of Asia and Africa.

In her now-canonical essay “Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934), Zora Neale Hurston makes a strong case for the use of vernacular—especially dialect and rhythm—in Black writing. In his story collection, Creole Folktales (1988) and equally canonical co-authored essay, “In Praise of Creoleness” (1989), Patrick Chamoiseau offers a manifesto for Caribbean storytelling that aims to free itself of French colonial gaze by transforming Martinican-French literature through a militant use of Creole. And while not through cultural theories or essays, contemporary writers like Salman Rushdie, Vikram Chandra, Roxane Gay, Junot Díaz, and Edwidge Danticat, among others, bring a strong, self-conscious vernacular in their stories. Their fiction questions not only an allegedly mainstream Euro-American storytelling marked by narrative brevity and an economy of words, as lauded by Edgar Allan Poe, John Barth and Francine Prose in their critical writing, but also the dominance of visuality in many fiction writing workshops with their show-don’t-tell credo, bolstered by our cinematic and digital age with its preference for images over sounds."



"James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sandra Cisneros, Gish Jen, Tiphanie Yanique, ZZ Packer, Rajesh Parameswaran—the list of contemporary writing affirming oral and aural alternatives over a sight-based focus of storytelling is long. And I haven’t even gotten started with poetry-in-color, including an aesthetic legacy of rhythm in writing spawned by Papa Césaire and the Négritude movement. What I’ve explored above is a brief sampler on a multifaceted use of orality that challenges the boundaries of a more standard Euro-American literary English with its emphasis on brevity, clarity, and good grammar. In playing persistently with language, sounds and syntax, multiethnic fiction does not shy away from “writing in scenes,” however, it does dethrone the reign of eyesight to stress the importance of other senses in fiction, and hearing in particular.

That said, the use of vernacular or dialect is far from unique to non-Western writers writing within or outside the West. Time and again, major writers across the world have challenged the status quo of a hegemonic language by using the vernacular in different ways. I’m thinking here of Shakespeare and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s linguistic innovation within English and French respectively, and of pioneering poets like Kabir who used the vernacular in Bhakti poetry to challenge the rule of Sanskrit in medieval South Asian literature.

And yet, the examples of multiethnic fiction I’ve shared above have all been published in the last couple of decades, following complex literary and historic changes that include mid-20th century’s wave of decolonization that swept the “third world,” the Civil Rights Movement in the US, the institutionalization of Ethnic Studies in the American Academy, and the literary canon wars that followed. This recent, layered, global history has led to a higher visibility of non-white, non-Western voices in the Western metropolitan publication scenes of New York, London and Paris. The content within contemporary multiethnic fiction often talks of identity, home and displacement; they ask questions like who has power and voice and who gets marginalized or silenced, these ideas fleshed out obsessively in stories through plot, theme, form, language, or a combination.

Orality within fiction that is deliberately engaging with power dynamics between the West and non-West—as evident in the title of Rushdie’s story collection East, West—thus becomes more than just a stylistic device or virtuosity with craft. The shift in sensory focus within multiethnic fiction from images to sounds holds a mirror to our contemporary, complex literary history, guiding the reader further to ways in which these stories maybe constructed, read, or deconstructed. Orality here becomes a political stance, an ideological move reminding the reader over and again that what we consume as universal in story craft, literary history, or aesthetic taste is anything but universal."
orality  oraltradition  visual  via:vruba  2018  storytelling  walterbenjamin  culture  tradition  namratapoddar  globalsouth  maggieawadalla  paulmarch-russell  billashcroft  garethgriffiths  helentiffin  vernacular  zoranealehurston  creole  creoleness  folktales  writing  salmanrushdie  vikramchandra  junotdíaz  edwidgedanticat  edgarallanpoe  johnbarth  fancineprose  criticalwriting  howwewrite  literacy  multiliteracies  dialect  rhythm  patrickchamoiseau  caribbean  africa  asia  colonialism  english  alicewalker  imperialism  gishjen  jamesbaldwin  tonimorrison  tiphanieyanique  zzpacker  showdon'ttell  sandracisneros  roxanegay  ajeshparameswaran  négritude  papacésaire  haiti  aural  oral  sight  brevity  clarity  grammar  fiction  aimécésaire  martinique  léopoldsédarsenghor  léondamas  postcolonialism  louis-ferdinandceline  latinamerica  indigenous  canon 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Yo-Yo Boing! - Wikipedia
"Yo-Yo Boing! is a Spanglish novel by Puerto Rican poet and novelist Giannina Braschi. Braschi is the author of the postmodern poetry trilogy "El imperio de los sueños/Empire of Dreams" (1988) and the postcolonial dramatic novel United States of Banana (2011). Published in 1998 as the first full-length Spanglish novel, Yo-Yo Boing! is a linguistic hybrid of literary Spanish, American English, and Spanglish.[1] The book mixes elements of poetry, fiction, essay, musical, manifesto, treatise, bastinado, memoir, and drama. The New York Daily News called it an "in your-face-assertion of the vitality of Latino culture in the United States".[2] The book dramatizes the tensions between Anglo-American and Hispanic-American cultures in New York City.[3]"



"Yo-Yo Boing! has many examples of the linguistic phenomena of code-switching between English and Spanish, as spoken by millions of Latinos and Hispanic-Americans in the United States and in Puerto Rico.[12] Through dramatic dialogues and conversations among a nameless chorus of voices, the work treats subjects as diverse as racial, ethnic, and sexual prejudice, discrimination, colonialism, Puerto Rican independence, revolution, domestic violence, and writer's block. In the book, intellectuals and artists debate English-only laws, ethnic cleansing campaigns, and the corporate censorship.[13][14]

The dialogue also features references to popular culture, books, films, sex, poetry, inspiration, and Puerto Rican artistic expression in New York. Artists and celebrities such as Woody Allen, Almodovar, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Pavarotti, Martin Scorsese, Fellini, Pee-Wee Herman, and Nabokov are celebrated and derided.[15] Scenes cross-cut throughout New York City from the Upper West Side literary soiree to the Lower East Side tertulia at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, "from the diner booth to the subway platform, from the movie theater line to the unemployment line, and from the bathroom to the bedroom".[16]"
books  toread  gianninavraschi  puertorico  code-switching  intertextuality  codeswitching  english  spanish  spanglish  español 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Unschooling Unpacked – A Semantic Musing | Growing Minds
"IN DEFENSE OF UNSCHOOLING

Unschooling on the other hand represents my resistance to the dominant model and the resulting dominant mindset of compulsory schooling and all that it represents.

For me, schooling is THE most potent agent of continued colonialism. It is the master’s tool to keep the master’s empire intact. It is where we learn to live in and uphold empire. It is colonizing by nature: the pedagogy; the coercive nature; the content and mindset that speaks to white-heteropatriarchal-capitalist power, planetary destruction, creative destruction, competition, adultism, epistimicide, cultural extinction and language extinction.

And so unschooling is resistance: It is by nature decolonizing, it is more in tune with nature, open to all knowledge systems, embracing of the multitude ways of learning, nurturing, cooperative, culturally regenerating, child honoring and consent based!

Of course there are and always will be the dissenters and disruptors that emerge from the industrial schooling system, swimming against the tide and resisting the effects of schooling (lf you’re reading this then you’re most likely one of the dissenters!). But by and large, as we all exit the schooling system, we exit with our minds colonised into a particular understanding of the world, of what constitutes knowledge and learning and how learning looks. This is not something we can simply shrug off. It takes considerable work to deschool from this and potentially a lifelong process of deschooling. In the meantime communities, children, families and the earth suffer.

While I was working on this piece I was going to suggest that maybe our native unschoolers, as the next generation, can shrug off the word as Wendy proposes. But then I got a massage from Ben Draper that debunked that thought. He writes about the influence of those schoolish messages that now show up for him as a father, even though he grew up relatively free of the coercive schooling institutions. The influence of the school mindset extends to even those that have lived and learned outside of it!

Finally, schooling epitomises social injustice. Its compulsory nature takes away the right of a child to have any say in her education. It is adultism in action, laying the foundation for the other kinds of oppressive practices, like racism; classism; sexism; cissexism; heterosexism and ableism. It would make sense that schools should be the agents of change instead of agents of entrenchment. They aren’t. Unschooling begins with social justice. First for the child, which by its nature requires us to investigate and then resist the systems that perpetuate the multitude of societal oppressions that is supported by the schooling structure.

And that is why I can’t give up on the word unschooling. That is why it resonates with me. That is why I am comfortable with the word schooling being there. It needs to be there. In the same way that colonization makes up the bulk of the word decolonization – which serves to name that system that fundamentally changed our psyches and cultures and societies and continues to do so, I want to understand it , name it rather than erase the source of how I came to be. Similarly, I don’t want to erase the role and responsibility of schooling in how I now think, act and feel and that thanks to schooling I am in need of constant introspection to safeguard myself from reverting to patterns of thought and actions dictated by my constantly lurking schooled mindset. Schooling has a significant historical and contemporary role to play in how society functions. It is ever present and therefore the need for the word unschooling is ever present. For me.

Maybe John Holt didn’t envision this word unschooling to represent decolonization and social justice in this way, But I am claiming it for myself. That is the nature and evolution of words.

As long as schooling is around and it influences how we see children, learning and is instrumental in creating and upholding this unjust society , I will be using this word uschooling. Despite Ursula K Le Guin’s warning that “To oppose something is to maintain it”.

I fear I am unable to take heed of her words just yet."
2018  unschooling  deschooling  zakiyyaismail  education  howwelearn  learning  children  johnholt  language  english  homeschool  resistance  colonialism  decolonization  ursulaleguin  opposition  adultism  agesegegation  cissexism  injustice  socialjustice  ableism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Black Twitter: American Twitter gets its new terms from Black Twitter — Quartz
"African American English may be America’s greatest source of linguistic creativity.

A new study, led by Jack Grieve, a professor of corpus linguistics at the University of Birmingham in the UK, analyzed nearly 1 billion tweets to find out how new terms emerge on the platform. By looking at words that go from total obscurity to mainstream usage on Twitter in a short period of time, the research can begin to answer questions like: Is one part of the country more linguistically creative than the others? And do new words spread from a geographical origin outward, or does the internet allow them to emerge everywhere, simultaneously?

To some extent, the answer to both questions is “yes,” as I have written previously. But the study points out the particular importance of one community on Twitter in particular, concluding, “African American English is the main source of lexical innovation on American Twitter.”

To get to that result, the authors extracted billions of words from tweets by users in the United States. They then identified the words that were very uncommon around October 2013, but had become widely used by November 2014. After getting rid of proper nouns and variations of the same term, they settled on 54 “emerging words,” including famo, tfw, yaas, and rekt.

Identifying those terms allowed the researchers to analyze out how new words spread. That pointed to five “common regional patterns” of lexical creation: the West Coast, centered around California; the Deep South, around Atlanta; the Northwest and New York; the Mid-Atlantic and DC; and the Gulf Coast, centered on New Orleans.

Of those five, the Deep South is exceptional in the way it brings about new terms. Usually, a term starts in a densely populated urban area, then spreads to urban areas in other parts of the country. In the case of the West Coast, for example, terms tend to start in Los Angeles and San Francisco, then make their way to Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.

That doesn’t happen as much in the Deep South. There, the spread of creative new words appears to be driven more by culture than population density. Atlanta, the authors point out, is small relative to urban powerhouses like LA and New York. And terms that originate in the South do not spread by jumping to other cities; instead, they spread via areas with large black populations.

The map below shows the different regions the study uncovered; each county in the US is colored based on the pattern of spread it is most closely associated with. As you can see, the West Coast map shows several red hotspots well beyond California, popping up as far away as Seattle, Florida, and the Northeast. Several other maps look like that, too—the Northeast pattern has green splotches in Louisiana, the South, and Southern California; the Mid-Atlantic map shows deep purple in Chicago, Texas, and elsewhere. The Deep South, on the other hand, spreads straight out from the area around Atlanta, with only a very faint blue on top of San Francisco.

[maps]

That alone wouldn’t be enough to say that African American English is the “main source” of new terms on American Twitter. But the paper adds that three of the five patterns above seem to be “primarily associated with African American English.” That is to say, these patterns reflect the distribution of the black population in the US. Often, the study finds, the percentage of a county that is black appears to be more important than just the number of people living there in fueling linguistic creativity. In Georgia and North Carolina, for example, linguistically innovative areas “are not necessarily more populous but do generally contain higher percentages of African Americans.” This, they conclude, shows “the inordinate influence of African American English on Twitter.”

Many of the Black Twitter terms identified in the study will be familiar to any frequent Twitter user. Among the ones most associated with the Deep South region are famo (family and friends), fleek (on point), and baeless (single). But the fastest-emerging terms come from other places and cultures, too. Waifu, for example, a Japanese borrowing of the English word “wife,” is associated with the West Coast and anime."
blacktwitter  language  english  communication  invention  culture  2018  2013  nikhilsonnad  jackgrieve  linguistics  deepsouth  sandiego  portland  oregon  seattle  lasvegas  phoenix  westcoast  losangeles  sanfrancisco  california  atlanta  nyc  washingtondc  nola  neworleans  chicago 
september 2018 by robertogreco
The Tangled Language of Jargon | JSTOR Daily
"What our emotional reaction to jargon reveals about the evolution of the English language, and how the use of specialized terms can manipulate meaning."



"How Jargon Can Exclude and Obscure

It turns out that, far from being objective, jargon—outwardly a sober, professional kind of talk for experts from different occupational fields—has always carried with it some very human impulses, placing power and prestige over knowledge. A doctor, for example, might inappropriately use jargon in explaining a diagnosis to a patient, which prevents the patient from participating in their own care. This quality of jargon attracts those that might want to obscure biases, beef up simplistic ideas, or even hide social or political embarrassments behind a slick veneer of seemingly objective, “scientific” language without being challenged.

Latinate forms happen to lend themselves well to new terminology like this, especially technical jargon, for those very perceptions of precision and prestige, as well as detachment. But this detachment comes with a price. The alienness and incomprehensibility of new jargon words we’re unfamiliar with might sometimes make us a mite uncomfortable. It can sound inauthentic, compared to other innovative language change, from slang to secret languages. There are all kinds of innovative speech used by certain groups not just to share information easily, or to talk about new ideas, but also to show belonging and identity—and to keep outsiders out.

It’s one of the reasons people hate jargon with a passion and have been railing against it for years, centuries even. H. W. Fowler called it “talk that is considered both ugly-sounding and hard to understand.” L.E. Sissman is a little more subtle. Sissman defines jargon as “all of these debased and isolable forms of the mother tongue that attempt to paper over an unpalatable truth and/or to advance the career of the speaker (or the issue, cause or product he is agent for) by a kind of verbal sleight of hand, a one-upmanship of which the reader or listener is victim.”

Jargon, as useful as it is in the right contexts, can end up being socially problematic and divisive when it hides and manipulates meanings from those who need to receive the information. This negative reception hasn’t stopped jargon that apes scientific language from being widely produced, by economists, academics, entrepreneurs, journalists… and probably even poets. Jargon has now become the devil’s corporate middle management’s language, making information harder to share and receive. It has seeped into almost every facet of a complex modern life, giving us new buzzwords not even a mother could love, with terms like self-actualization, monetize, incentivize, imagineering, onboarding, synergize, and the like. And there’s so much more where that came from.

When Jargon Becomes Dangerous

William D. Lutz talks about how jargon and doublespeak can often be carefully designed to cover up embarrassing or secret information. For example, a commercial airline that had a 727 crash, killing three passengers, was able to pass off the resulting three million dollar insurance profit on its books as “the involuntary conversion of a 727,” which was unlikely to be questioned by confused shareholders whose eyes would probably have glazed over from the cumbersome legal jargon.

Words aren’t equal just because they mean the same thing, especially when the stakes are high. It’s not simply a matter of knowing or not knowing the meaning of these words, or if they accurately describe facts, but what Sally McConnell-Ginet calls the conceptual or cultural baggage, the hidden background assumptions the language carries with them, the ‘ologies and ‘isms that pretend to be something they’re not. Most recently in politics, the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings showed how deftly legal terminology can be wielded to avoid or plausibly deny or confuse clear facts. For example, denying knowledge of stolen documents is literally not a lie if you steadfastly assume they aren’t stolen, despite textual evidence to the contrary. The statement “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land” literally defers to a fact, the meaning of which is true. The conceptual baggage the statement carries with it, however, strongly suggests the writer does not disagree with the opinion.

Linguist Dwight Bolinger suggests that this is exactly the kind of heinous abuse of meaning that makes linguistic activism critical, shining a spotlight on these egregious cases where lies are hidden by omission or avoidance of the truth in jargon, euphemism, doublespeak, and other linguistic trickery."
jargon  language  specialization  2018  chiluu  communication  manipulation  english  synonyms  williamlutz  georgeorwell  styleguides  writing  linguistics  words 
september 2018 by robertogreco
The Legendary Language of the Appalachian "Holler" | JSTOR Daily
"Is the unique Appalachian dialect the preserved language of Elizabethan England? Left over from Scots-Irish immigrants? Or something else altogether?"



"The AAVE Connection
Many have noticed strong similarities between white southern speech and AAVE, although AAVE isn’t necessarily tied to the south. For example, Wolfram highlights language from a KKK pamphlet which reads “Look out liberals: Wallace power gonna get you” showing a similar grammatical construction to AAVE with a missing copula be (e.g. you ugly).

If it’s true that the two dialects have slightly different linguistic sources as their origins, how did they come to be so similar? As we’ve seen, white southern speech has a Scots-Irish origin, sharing some of unusual grammatical structures yet is missing many other distinctive features of those dialects. Meanwhile, though most linguists agree that AAVE originated from the same British dialects as white southern speech, some argue that there was some linguistic influence from an English-based creole formed when millions of Africans speaking many different languages were forced, through slavery, to communicate with each other.

Wolfram suggests that the missing copula is a characteristic sign of creole influence from AAVE. The question is, how did this feature get into white southern speech, especially if the grammar was inherited mostly intact from its monoculture immigrants? It seems likely that while both dialects came from similar sources, AAVE had a significant impact on how the white southern evolved. White southern speech could have adopted and assimilated certain features of AAVE through white children spending formative time with slave caregivers and their children, for example. In a social context where white southerners and black southerners were closely interacting, many elements of African American Vernacular English, from grammar to accent, were likely to have been major influences on how southern speech developed into its own distinctive dialect. The writer of the KKK pamphlet might could have been driven plumb crazy had they known that.

So the theory of the poor, white, rural Appalachian mountain men going it alone, preserving a pure and unchanging strain of archaic British English, isolated in a hardscrabble place far from civilization, could not be further from the truth. Without the influence of diverse communities of other Appalachians such as African American Appalachians, the southern Appalachian speech and culture simply would not be what it is today. To ignore their contributions to culture and language means Appalachia will always be a distant story, burdened by the myths and legends written by others, left half told."
language  us  english  appalachia  chiluu  2018  dialects  linguistics  srg 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Black Buddha | Nothing is Lost
"Black Buddha illuminates the best destinations, experiences and underground voices around the world."



"Black Buddha is a brand dedicated to creating premium video content that illuminates the best destinations, experiences and underground voices around the world. Like a trusted friend with the keys to the city, we are the source for inspiration, entertainment, and insight for the millennial minded urban explorer."
travel  video  japanese  english 
july 2018 by robertogreco
In What Language Does Rain Fall Over Tormented Cities? – Raiot
"Text of The W. G. Sebald Lecture on Literary Translation by Arundhati Roy
5 June 2018, The British Library, London."

[more excerpts coming soon]

"Twenty years after the publication of The God of Small Things, I finished writing my second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but if a novel can have an enemy, then the enemy of this novel is the idea of “One nation, one religion, one language.” As I composed the cover page of my manuscript, in place of the author’s name, I was tempted to write: “Translated from the original(s) by Arundhati Roy.” The Ministry is a novel written in English but imagined in several languages. Translation as a primary form of creation was central to the writing of it (and here I don’t mean the translation of the inchoate and the prelingual into words). Regardless of which language (and in whose mother tongue) The Ministry was written in, this particular narrative about these particular people in this particular universe would had to be imagined in several languages. It is a story that emerges out of an ocean of languages, in which a teeming ecosystem of living creatures—official-language fish, unofficial-dialect mollusks, and flashing shoals of word-fish—swim around, some friendly with each other, some openly hostile, and some outright carnivorous. But they are all nourished by what the ocean provides. And all of them, like the people in The Ministry, have no choice but to coexist, to survive, and to try to understand each other. For them, translation is not a high-end literary art performed by sophisticated polyglots. Translation is daily life, it is street activity, and it’s increasingly a necessary part of ordinary folks’ survival kit. And so, in this novel of many languages, it is not only the author, but the characters themselves who swim around in an ocean of exquisite imperfection, who constantly translate for and to each other, who constantly speak across languages, and who constantly realize that people who speak the same language are not necessarily the ones who understand each other best.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has been—is being—translated into forty-eight languages. Each of those translators has to grapple with a language that is infused with many languages including, if I may coin a word, many kinds of Englishes (sociolects is perhaps the correct word, but I’ll stay with Englishes because it is deliciously worse) and translate it into another language that is infused with many languages. I use the word infused advisedly, because I am not speaking merely of a text that contains a smattering of quotations or words in other languages as a gimmick or a trope, or one that plays the Peter Sellers game of mocking Indian English, but of an attempt to actually create a companionship of languages.

Of the forty-eight translations, two are Urdu and Hindi. As we will soon see, the very fact of having to name Hindi and Urdu as separate languages, and publish them as separate books with separate scripts, contains a history that is folded into the story of The Ministry. Given the setting of the novel, the Hindi and Urdu translations are, in part, a sort of homecoming. I soon learned that this did nothing to ease the task of the translators. To give you an example: The human body and its organs play an important part in The Ministry. We found that Urdu, that most exquisite of languages, which has more words for love than perhaps any other language in the world, has no word for vagina. There are words like the Arabic furj, which is considered to be archaic and more or less obsolete, and there are euphemisms that range in meaning from “hidden part,” “breathing hole,” “vent,” and “path to the uterus.” The most commonly used one is aurat ki sharamgah. A woman’s place of shame. As you can see, we had trouble on our hands. Before we rush to judgment, we must remember that pudenda in Latin means “that whereof one should feel shame.” In Danish, I was told by my translator, the phrase is “lips of shame.” So, Adam and Eve are alive and well, their fig leaves firmly in place.

Although I am tempted to say more about witnessing the pleasures and difficulties of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness being translated into other languages, more than the “post-writing” translations, it is the “pre-writing” translation that I want to talk about today. None of it came from an elaborate, pre-existing plan. I worked purely by instinct. It is only while preparing for this lecture that I began to really see how much it mattered to me to persuade languages to shift around, to make room for each other. Before we dive into the Ocean of Imperfection and get caught up in the eddies and whirlpools of our historic blood feuds and language wars, in order to give you a rough idea of the terrain, I will quickly chart the route by which I arrived at my particular patch of the shoreline."



"So, how shall we answer Pablo Neruda’s question that is the title of this lecture?

In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?7

I’d say, without hesitation, in the Language of Translation."
arundhatiroy  language  languages  translation  literature  2018  india  colonialism  nationalism  authenticity  elitism  caste  nativism  identity  culture  society  inbetween  betweenness  multilingual  polyglot  everyday  communication  english  hindi  nationstates  imperialism  urdu  persian  tamil  sinhala  bangladesh  pakistan  srilanka  canon 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Why Nouns Slow Us Down, and Why Linguistics Might Be in a Bubble | The New Yorker
"Writers and language geeks inherit a ranking system of sorts: verbs good, adjectives bad, nouns sadly unavoidable. Verbs are action, verve! “I ate the day / Deliberately, that its tang / Might quicken me into verb, pure verb,” Seamus Heaney writes, in “Oysters.” A sentence can be a sentence without nouns or adjectives, but never without a verb. For the most part.

But nouns deserve more cognitive credit. A study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that nouns actually take longer to spit out than verbs do, presumably because they require more thought to produce. In the study, researchers led by Frank Seifart, a linguist at the University of Amsterdam, and Balthasar Bickel, of the University of Zurich, analyzed hundreds of recordings of spontaneous speech from nine very different languages from around the world: English and Dutch, as well as several others from as far afield as Amazonia, Siberia, the Kalahari, and Tibet. They picked out and compared the spoken renditions of the nouns and verbs, focussing not on how long it took for each word to be spoken but on what was happening in the half-second preceding each word. That tiny window is informative: cognitive scientists have concluded that it takes the brain about that long to formulate its next word, which happens even as a current word or phrase is being spoken.

Which is to say, the future word casts a shadow over the present one. And that shadow is measurable: the researchers found that, in all nine languages, the speech immediately preceding a noun is three-and-a-half-per-cent slower than the speech preceding a verb. And in eight of nine languages, the speaker was about twice as likely to introduce a pause before a noun than before a verb—either a brief silence or a filler, such as “uh” or “um” or their non-English equivalents. That future word, when it’s a noun, is more of a footfall than a shadow, creating a hole in the phrase right before it.

Seifart and Bickel think that this has to do with the different roles that nouns and verbs play in language. Nouns require more planning to say because they more often convey novel information, Seifart told me—that’s one reason why we quickly transition from nouns to pronouns when speaking. Listeners are sensitive to those tiny pauses before a noun, and interpret them as indicating that what follows will be something new or important.

Unlike nouns and pronouns, verbs don’t have “proverbs” to pick up the pace, although we cheat a little with sentences such as, “Susan drank wine and Mary did, too.” Verbs are grammatically more complex than nouns but have less to reveal. When you’re about to say a verb, you’re less likely to be saying something new, so your brain doesn’t have to slow down what it’s already doing to plan for it.

Oddly enough, the one language that doesn’t seem to pre-think its nouns as thoroughly as its verbs is English, Seifart and Bickel found. Although English speakers do slow down their speech immediately before a noun, they use fewer pauses beforehand, not more, when compared to verbs.

“English is peculiar,” Seifart said. English is less useful than we might imagine for understanding what our speech has to say about how we think: “It can never be representative of human language in general,” he said. “To make claims about human language in general, we need to look at much broader array of them.”

In recent years, scientists have grown concerned that much of the literature on human psychology and behavior is derived from studies carried out in Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic countries. These results aren’t necessarily indicative of how humans as a whole actually function. Linguistics may face a similar challenge—the science is in a bubble, talking to itself. “This is what makes people like me realize the unique value of small, often endangered languages and documenting them for as long as they can still be observed,” Seifart said. “In a few generations, they will not be spoken anymore.” In the years to come, as society grows more complex, the number of nouns available to us may grow exponentially. The diversity of its speakers, not so much."
language  languages  weird  nouns  verbs  communication  linguistics  2018  alanburdick  action  frankseifart  balthasarbickel  future  present  speed  speaking  english 
may 2018 by robertogreco
marwahelal on Twitter: "𝙰𝚗𝚍, 𝚘𝚏 𝚌𝚘𝚞𝚛𝚜𝚎, 𝚊 𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚐𝚞𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚖𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝚊 𝚋𝚘𝚍𝚢 𝚘𝚏 𝚟𝚘𝚌𝚊𝚋𝚞𝚕𝚊𝚛𝚢 𝚘𝚛 𝚊 𝚜𝚎
"𝙰𝚗𝚍, 𝚘𝚏 𝚌𝚘𝚞𝚛𝚜𝚎, 𝚊 𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚐𝚞𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚖𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝚊 𝚋𝚘𝚍𝚢 𝚘𝚏 𝚟𝚘𝚌𝚊𝚋𝚞𝚕𝚊𝚛𝚢 𝚘𝚛 𝚊 𝚜𝚎𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚐𝚛𝚊𝚖𝚖𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚌𝚊𝚕 𝚛𝚞𝚕𝚎𝚜. 𝙸𝚝 𝚒𝚜 𝚊 𝚏𝚕𝚊𝚜𝚑 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚑𝚞𝚖𝚊𝚗 𝚜𝚙𝚒𝚛𝚒𝚝, 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚖𝚎𝚊𝚗𝚜 𝚋𝚢 𝚠𝚑𝚒𝚌𝚑 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚜𝚘𝚞𝚕

𝚘𝚏 𝚎𝚊𝚌𝚑 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚌𝚞𝚕𝚊𝚛 𝚌𝚞𝚕𝚝𝚞𝚛𝚎 𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚜 𝚒𝚗𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚖𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚊𝚕 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍. 𝙴𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢 𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚐𝚞𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚊𝚗 𝚘𝚕𝚍 𝚐𝚛𝚘𝚠𝚝𝚑 𝚏𝚘𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚍, 𝚊 𝚠𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚑𝚎𝚍 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚘𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚝, 𝚊𝚗 𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚒𝚛𝚎

𝚎𝚌𝚘𝚜𝚢𝚜𝚝𝚎𝚖 𝚘𝚏 𝚜𝚙𝚒𝚛𝚒𝚝𝚞𝚊𝚕 𝚙𝚘𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚋𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚒𝚎𝚜." - 𝚆𝚊𝚍𝚎 𝙳𝚊𝚟𝚒𝚜

Welcome to the VERNACULAR HOME, a @nomadreadings #crafttalk. Before we begin, I ask that if you are following along, that you engage these ideas by sharing them, faving, RTing, and chiming in with your own comments.

This talk is dedicated to all displaced peoples and all people who engage in creating a home of language on the page.

1. We’ve witnessed in recent years how advertisers have co-opted vernacular made popular by Black communities on this very platform and profited from it.

2. What these advertisers know is what any good poet knows: vernacular is the pathway to transformation. It is your first language — that language before you were aware of language. It is “like a howl, or a shout or a machine-gun or the wind or a wave,” K. Braithwaite writes.

3. Sidenote: Transformation has a cost but cannot be bought.

4. And as this scene from Spike Lee’s Malcolm X reminds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfRDUsvu5fE , English is an inherently oppressive and racist language. As Malcolm X feels through this new insight into our language — a “con” as we’re told — he transforms and viewers are transformed with him.

5. Perfect segue to the next point…

6. If the poem does not transform (itself or the reader) it is not a poem. I repeat: If the work does not transform, what you have are words on a page — not a poem.

7. Let's now establish what vernacular [poetry] is.

8. Vernacular is a term used to express the idea that all languages are equal. It eliminates hierarchies of dialects vs. language.

As Baldwin writes in an essay I will share more of later, “...language functions as ‘a political instrument, means, and proof of power,’ and only politics separates a language from dialect.” (from the introduction by ed. Dohra Ahmed, Rotten English) https://bit.ly/2pXfk3h

9. Now that we’ve established what vernacular is, please don’t tell me you speak only one language...

10. Your dreams are a vernacular. Nature is a vernacular. Your sneaker collection is a vernacular! Signage: a vernacular. Your unique way of looking at the world: a vernacular. Your heartbeat: a vernacular. Breath: same, a vernacular.

Whenever I teach this material, I end up yelling “EVERYTHING IS VERNACULAR” by the end of every class. So get ready.

11. Building on that (pun intended), vernacular is also the synthesis between the language (words and symbols in any language) we choose, and how we construct it with grammar, punctuation, syntax and form.

12. It is inaccurate to say we are "decolonizing" a language. What we are doing is reclaiming it by colonizing it with our own vernaculars and inventing what it has failed to imagine. It is a language that has failed to imagine 𝘜𝘚. And so this craft talk is also a call

A call to pay attention to where this language has become dull, stale, and boring. A call to pay attention to intentional and unintentional connotations. And to undo those connotations. In undoing them, I ask that we create radical solutions for this language that troubles us.

13. “It was during the anti colonial struggles of the twentieth century that the latent political potential of vernacular literature fully emerged.

14. Our resistance is in the refusal to assimilate, the preservation of our native vernaculars, the creativity in that preservation.

It is in understanding that there is a particular language [they] want [us] to know -- that particular language that is taught in schools, and the rules or codes implied in that agreed upon language and resisting those implications or overturning those agreements.

15. June Jordan said, “Good poetry & successful revolution change our lives, & you cannot compose a good poem or wage a revolution without changing consciousness—unless you attack the language that you share with your enemies & invent a language that you share with your allies.”

Now, with these ideas in mind, let’s go into the texts…

Harryette Mullen, "We Are Not Responsible," "Elliptical" and "Denigration" from Sleeping with the Dictionary [3 images of text]

Note the attention to language, the transformation or awareness brought to the everyday humdrum of signage and those aforementioned 𝓬𝓸𝓷𝓷𝓸𝓽𝓪𝓽𝓲𝓸𝓷𝓼.

Note the attention to punctuation. Each poem uses exactly one form of punctuation in a very distinct way.

I will leave the joy of those discoveries to you! We have more to read...

Here, this breathtaking excerpt by @yosuheirhammad from “break (clear)”, breaking poems [image of text]

The Arabic words "ana" and "khalas" are doing overtime.

"ana" = I am and becomes "I am my" in the last two instances. "Khalas" stands on its own line in the first instance -- open to many translations: "enough," "stop," or "no more" and establishes its commitment to finality in that last line, "khalas all this breaking."

MORE! Solmaz Sharif’s “Persian Letters” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/57580/persian-letters

Here the vernacular “bar bar bar” not only shows us the creation of a word: “barbarians” -- it holds a mirror up to the ones who made it.

“We make them reveal
the brutes they are, Aleph, by the things
we make them name.” - @nsabugsme

NOW Baldwin: “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate. (And, if they cannot articulate it, they are submerged.)”

"Black English is the creation of the black diaspora. Blacks came to the United States chained to each other, but from different tribes: Neither could speak the other's language. If two black people, at that bitter hour of the world's history, had been able to speak to each...

other, the institution of chattel slavery could never have lasted as long as it did. Subsequently, the slave was given, under the eye, and the gun, of his master, Congo Square, and the Bible--or in other words, and under these conditions, the slave began the formation of the

black church, and it is within this unprecedented tabernacle that black English began to be formed. This was not, merely, as in the European example, the adoption of a foreign tongue, but an alchemy that transformed ancient elements into a new language:

A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey.

Link to the full essay: “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” James Baldwin https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/baldwin-english.html

Further reading: “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan
Link: http://theessayexperiencefall2013.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/files/2013/09/Mother-Tongue-by-Amy-Tan.pdf

I leave you with this poem by @kyle_decoy “American Vernacular” via @LambdaLiterary
https://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/poetry-spotlight/09/19/a-poem-by-kyle-dacuyan/ ]
marwahelal  language  poetry  writing  words  vernacular  culture  resistance  2018  jamesbaldwin  displacement  transformation  appropriation  malcolmx  english  poems  dohraahmed  grammar  punctuation  syntax  decolonization  colonization  assimilation  creativity  preservation  junejordan  harryettemullen  connotation  suheirhammad  solmazsharif  arabic  amytan  kyledacuyan 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Describing Words - Find Adjectives to Describe Things
"This tool helps you find adjectives for things that you're trying to describe. Also check out ReverseDictionary.org and RelatedWords.org."
dictionaries  onlinetoolkit  writing  reference  adjectives  words  english  via:tealtan  classideas 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Experimental trials and ‘what works?’ in education: The case of grammar for writing - Wyse - 2017 - British Educational Research Journal - Wiley Online Library
"The place of evidence to inform educational effectiveness has received increasing attention internationally in the last two decades. An important contribution to evidence-informed policy has been greater attention to experimental trials including randomised controlled trials (RCTs). The aim of this paper is to examine the use of evidence, particularly the use of evidence from experimental trials, to inform national curriculum policy. To do this the teaching of grammar to help pupils’ writing was selected as a case. Two well-regarded and influential experimental trials that had a significant effect on policy, and that focused on the effectiveness of grammar teaching to support pupils’ writing, are examined in detail. In addition to the analysis of their methodology, the nature of the two trials is also considered in relation to other key studies in the field of grammar teaching for writing and a recently published robust RCT. The paper shows a significant and persistent mismatch between national curriculum policy in England and the robust evidence that is available with regard to the teaching of writing. It is concluded that there is a need for better evidence-informed decisions by policy makers to ensure a national curriculum specification for writing that is more likely to have positive impact on pupils."

[via: https://twitter.com/alfiekohn/status/936614840684154883 ]
grammar  education  writing  directinstruction  policy  english  2017  teaching  teachingwriting 
december 2017 by robertogreco
The Transformative Experience of Writing for “Sense8” | The New Yorker
"A large number of the American writers I know, and I know a few, are involved in writing or developing long-form narrative television. One reason for this was recently provided by John Landgraf, the C.E.O. of FX Network, who said that four hundred and fifty-four scripted original series had aired in the U.S. in 2016; he thought that the number could rise to five hundred this year. Apparently, the industry needs writers and, black-hole-like, is sucking in galaxies of them. Until I was asked to work on “Sense8,” I’d never been interested in that particular black hole, even though I had come to believe that American television had overtaken narrative literature in its ability to deal with contemporary realities. No novel has addressed the Bush years’ crypto-fascist notion of “leadership” with the same clarity of thought as “The Sopranos.” If you wanted to understand the waste laid by the so-called War on Drugs, you wouldn’t read a novel—you’d watch “The Wire.” Television, in other words, offers opportunities to confront and report from the world as it changes.

Before “Sense8,” my screenwriting experience consisted of co-authoring a script with the Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanić for her comedy “Love Island,” in 2014. The rest of my writerly life had taken place in the self-imposed isolation of my head. I don’t take part in workshops or writing groups; I don’t share ideas or drafts with my fellow-writers for feedback; I make all the decisions and am responsible for every word in the book that I am writing, acknowledgments included. My solipsistic authorial habits would seem to feed into a common misconception about writing, which is that it is merely a conduit for the writer’s interiority, and that a good writer—or even just a capable one—possesses the skills to transfer the contents of that interiority onto the page with as little loss as possible. Much of the creative-writing industry depends upon that misconception and the promise, implicit or explicit, that the acquisition of those skills is unconditionally achievable. I’ve grown to be suspicious of that notion, as I have learned that writing generates the content and therefore transforms—or even creates—the interiority. Writing is a means of interaction with the world, and therefore it changes the writer. If it doesn’t, it contains no discovery and merely reproduces the already known and familiar. Writing, I believe, should be a matter not of execution but of transformation.

My screenwriting experience confirmed my belief. While Lana, Lilly, and Joe were responsible for the foundations of the show—for all the characters and their narrative trajectories—my role was to make proposals that would be taken up by the other people in the room and spun around a few times. The version of the proposal that emerged would have little to do with the original, yet belonged to me as much as to everyone else. In the course of one of those spins, I realized that, whenever I spoke or listened to someone, I was looking at the center of a circle that was delimited by the participants. Somehow, we started calling this space, and the collaboration that it housed, the Pit. A whole Pit-related phraseology soon emerged: “I’m going to throw this into the Pit.” “Let’s spin it in the Pit.” “The Pit concurs.” “The Pit needs a pendulum.” I enjoyed losing myself in the process, which felt all the more fascinating for the fact that the distinguishing characteristic of the heroes of “Sense8” is an ability to inhabit someone else’s mind. All this may be yesterday’s news to the film, television, and theatre people out there, but I’d never experienced the pleasure of temporarily losing my intellectual sovereignty—of watching my bright idea be destroyed, only to be transformed into something entirely different.

After that week in 2015, David and I went back home. (My home is about five blocks away from Kinowerks; David’s is in Ireland.) For the rest of the year, we were regularly assigned scenes to write on short deadlines. Cognizant of their place and role in the larger narrative, we were tasked with working out the dialogue and the details, tossing in our suggestions for a remote Pit spin. “The Wolfgang and Lila dinner, 2-3 pages, tomorrow,” Lana would write in an e-mail. The following day I’d submit the requested two to three pages. Lana and Joe would perform the bulk of the Pit work, developing, amending, or just rejecting the pages we sent in. Over the course of three months or so, I sent in some hundred and twenty pages, happy in the knowledge that not a single one of them would make it to the final seven-hundred-page script in the form in which I had written it."



"In my literary projects, the plotless structures I gravitate toward allow me to seek connections and meanings that emerge primarily not from characters and events but from language and the potentialities of thought within it. I think inside endless semantic, syntactic, rhythmic variations. Both David and I were continuously tempted to apply our respective colored pencils to the pages of the script (David’s grammatically persnickety alter ego is named Lawrence and likes to use a green pen), but there was little time and even less need to attend to the language in the way we were accustomed to. We did, however, often discuss the structure of individual events and their positioning in the larger plot. For instance, the second season of “Sense8” ended with a cliffhanger, the resolution of which would necessarily prohibit certain future plotlines. There was, nevertheless, an infinite number of possibilities for the plot that would follow; not unlike language, our plot was a discrete combinatory system, in which from a finite number of elements any number of combinations could be made. From our respective couches (which Lana, David, and I named, for reasons that I cannot explain here, “Illumination,” “Ireland,” and “Doom,” respectively), before making any notes, we spent hours reshuffling the abstract, as yet nonexistent structure of the story.

During one of those sessions, I had a near-Proustian involuntary memory of a time, some thirty years ago, when I was a freshman at an engineering college. My friend and I were studying together for an advanced-differential-calculus exam, solving tough integral problems, until we ran into one that we could not break. For two days, for at least twelve hours a day, we sought a solution; the process required reducing the integral to some identifiable type and then applying a preëxisting algorithmic protocol. (We finally called in a math-genius friend, who looked at the unbreakable integral and solved it in just a couple of steps.) The memory made me realize that plotting a narrative is a logical, algorithmic operation, albeit one that has an infinite number of possible outcomes, rather than one correct resolution. Building a plot is like creating an algorithm from scratch, starting before the problem is even defined and then backtracking after the desired solution has been selected.

The memory also suggested that my subconscious was following a logical algorithm. My dreams are usually amorphous, featuring a field of confusingly connected events—a description that also applies to most of my work, as well as to my waking mind. The subconscious authority governing my dream life, however, had lately begun to insist that the events and the characters in my dreams be logically connected, that they follow one another causally. In recent dreams, I’ve struggled to connect discrete events, so much so that I’ve woken in despair. Once, I dreamed that I was a screenwriter trying to untangle a plot knot. Some dreams have featured “Sense8” characters, others those from the New Project, who sometimes act like real people in my dreams and are sometimes just structural problems that I have to solve.

Back in my early years in the U.S., at the time when my English was in transition from tourist to survival mode, I’d catch myself dreaming in English, and noticing, in my dream, that the people who shouldn’t be talking in English were doing so. Even more bizarrely, I would recollect English conversations with my family or friends, which would certainly have taken place in our native language. I interpreted those dreams and memories as my subconscious mind welcoming this non-native language. If I hadn’t absorbed the new language in that way, I wouldn’t have been able to write any of the books I’ve written in English, or to have lived a full life in this language. I am writing this on the last day of the Pit’s screenwriting session, overwhelmed by the feeling that the sandbox is about to be dismantled, that my friends will go back to their separate lives and careers, and that, very soon, I’ll be returning to my former, stark, monastic literary practices. What the experience of exultant plotting at Kinowerks may have done to my mind, I cannot begin to know, at least not yet."
aleksandarhemon  2017  writing  sense8  collaboration  collaborativewriting  english  languageacquisition  dreams  dreaming  memory  kinowerks  television  screenwriting  howwewrite 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Time Traveler by Merriam-Webster: Search Words by First Known Use Date
"When was a word first used in print? You may be surprised! Enter a date below to see the words first recorded on that year. To learn more about First Known Use dates, click here."
timelines  classideas  dictionaries  words  language  english  neologisms  2017 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Nick Kapur on Twitter: "Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/"
"Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/

It turned out even within the upper-class London accent that became the basis for BBC English, many words had competing pronunciations. 2/

Thus in 1926, the BBC's first managing director John Reith established an "Advisory Committee on Spoken English" to sort things out. 3/

The committee was chaired by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, and also included American essayist Logan Pearsall Smith, 4/

novelist Rose Macaulay, lexicographer (and 4th OED editor) C.T. Onions, art critic Kenneth Clark, journalist Alistair Cooke, 5/

ghost story writer Lady Cynthia Asquith, and evolutionary biologist and eugenicist Julian Huxley. 6/

The 20-person committee held fierce debates, and pronunciations now considered standard were often decided by just a few votes. 7/

Examples included deciding "garage" would rhyme with "carriage" rather than "barrage" and "canine" (the tooth) sounding like cay-nine. 8/

In 1935, there was a crisis over what word BBC radio should use for "users of a television apparatus" (whom we now call "viewers"). 9/

To solve this conundrum, a 10-member "Sub-Committee on Words" was set up, chaired by the American, Logan Pearsall Smith. 10/

The Sub-Committee came up with the following list of possible new words for the users of the television apparatus: 11/ [contains screenshot of text: "auralooker glancer, looker, looker-in, optavuist, optovisor, seer, sighter, teleseer, teleserver, televist, teleobservist, televor, viewer-in, visionnaire, visionist, visor, vizior, vizzior"]

The Sub-Committee ultimately chose none of these, settling on "televiewer," which was shortened by the main committee to just "viewer." 12/

Emboldened by this early "success," the Sub-Committee on Words began to run amuck, inventing new words willy-nilly out of whole cloth. 13/

In particular, Sub-Committee chair Logan Pearsall Smith wanted to beautify English and "purify" it of foreign influences. 14/

He also disliked words with too many syllables and preferred English plurals to foreign plurals (eg. hippopotamuses over hippopotami). 15/

Some of the new coinages were reasonable and have survived. For example, "airplane" replaced "aeroplane" and "roundabout" was invented 16/

to replace the then-common "gyratory circus." Similarly the word "servicemen" was invented to describe members of the armed forces, and 17/

BBC radio was instructed to stop saying "kunstforscher" and instead say "art researcher," which has since become "art historian." 18/

Other ideas were...less successful. E.g. Smith proposed the BBC call televisions "view-boxes," call traffic lights "stop-and-goes," and 19/

call brainwaves "mindfalls." Other members of the Sub-Committee also came up with bizarre new words. 20/

Edward Marsh devised "inflex" to replace "inferiority complex," and Rose Macaulay wanted "yulery" to replace "Christmas festivities." 21/

By June of 1936, things were getting out of hand, and the BBC's Director of Program Planning Lindsay Wellington urged: 22/ [contains screenshot of text: "[H]aving read the minutes of the Sub-Committee's meeting, at which all kinds of suggestions had been made with regard to new words, some sort of restraint should be placed upon the Sub-Committee. It was not the Corporation's policy to initiate proposals of this kind, which were rather the function of some outside body… [S]ome of the suggestions — e.g. 'halcyon' in place of 'anti-cyclone' or 'view-box' for television set — were so ludicrous that irreparable harm to the main Committee's prestige might be done should any of these suggestions be broadcast."]"

Finally in January 1937, Chairman of the Governors R.C. Norman shut down the Sub-Committee on Words for good, arguing that: 23/ [contains screenshot of text: "The Corporation has read with interest the minutes of the Sub-Committee appointed to make recommendations as to the framing of new words. It feels that it must define more closely the extent to which it can accept the advice of the Sub-Committee. Such advice will be sought by the Corporation when new words have to be found for its own purposes — as in the creation of vocabulary of television terms. The Sub-Committee, however, has recommended the introduction to the public of new words for general use (e.g. 'halcyon', 'stop-and-go'). This responsibility is one which the Corporation feels it cannot accept."]
bbc  english  history  language  words  classideas  sfsh  structuredwordinquiry  radio  television  johnreith  standardization  georgebernardshaw  loganpearsallsmith  ctonions  kennethclark  alistaircooke  cynthiaasquith  julianhuxley  pronunciation  tv  edwardmarsh  rosemacaulay  rxnorman  1937  1926  nickkapur  invention 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Word Searcher
[via: http://www.wordworkskingston.com/ ]

[See also "Word Building and Spelling: Experiments in English Morphology"
http://www.neilramsden.co.uk/spelling/

"Welcome to the morphology micro-site. It has information on how English words are built up and interactive web-tools to try out.

Use this page, www.neilramsden.co.uk/spelling/, as a bookmark in your own browser or when quoting this site to other people, even if you quote other specific pages as well such as the Word Searcher. Other pages might get moved.

This micro-site is for anyone interested in the English writing system, especially in how words represent meaning and how they are put together.

For newcomers, we hope you'll see English orthography in a new way.

For the more experienced, it's here to test ideas or as a resource to help others.

We hope whoever you are, you'll use, enjoy and send us comments on this morphological micro-site.
morphology noun 1 linguistics the study of morphemes and the rules by which they combine to form words. 2 biol the scientific study of the structure of plants and animals. 3 formal the structure of anything.
from Chambers Reference Online

Neil and Louise Ramsden"]
classideas  structuredwordinquiry  sfsh  words  language  english  spelling 
june 2017 by robertogreco
MLE or multi-cultural London English - YouTube
"MLE or Multi-cultural London English is a mixture of accents for both British an foreign English speakers in the UK. This comes from the BBC's One show"
language  england  london  change  2013  linguistics  mle  cockney  evolution  english 
march 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - Word of Mouth, Intonation: The Music of Speaking
"Michael Rosen and Laura Wright explore the tunes we sing when we are speaking - without even realising it. Sound artist John Wynne extracts the melodies to play in the studio and Sam Hellmuth explains what we use intonation for."
intonation  sound  music  language  2017  accents  english  johnwynne  samhellmuth  sounds 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Grammar snobs are patronising, pretentious and just plain wrong – Mona Chalabi | Comment is Free - YouTube
"Mona Chalabi argues that those who correct others’ language are clinging to conventions that are unimportant. She says grammar snobbery is often used to silence those who have less of a voice in society."
monachalabi  grammar  grammarsnobs  listening  exclusion  language  english  power 
september 2016 by robertogreco
K.T. Billey: Utmost Import: Instagram & the Future of the Icelandic Language - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
[about: https://www.instagram.com/everysinglewordinicelandic/

"Futbol vikings, moonbeams, Björk—Iceland has long-since captured the global imagination, often capitalizing on foreign fascination. Tourism has been essential to the country’s post-crash economic recovery and guerrilla activities in the form of social media have emerged as a complement to ad campaigns and travel initiatives. Put simply, the posted image is the new word of mouth and Iceland is Instagrammer heaven. When cabin porn is a noun-ed phenomenon, Grade-A bragging visuals have brought hordes of visitors and money to the Nordic island. However, the influx has not been without anxiety. One Instagram account embodies the bane and boon of tourism for contemporary Icelandic identity.

Every Single Word in Icelandic, @everysinglewordinicelandic, is one of the most charming mini-galleries around. The concept is simple: pictographs break down the etymology of Icelandic words, illustrating cultural personality and the magic of language while teaching interested followers a thing or two.

Created by Eunsan Huh, a graphic designer who began learning Icelandic in New York City, many Every Single Word entries are Icelandic symbology: wool sweater, hot dog, whale (peysa, pylsa, hvalur). Others reflect Iceland’s absorption of new practices. In a shepherding country, chopsticks are called matprjónar or “food knitting needles.” Idioms also pop up—in Icelandic a tough cookie could be called a harðjaxl, a “hard molar.” The ranks of the account’s followers has steadily grown. Particularly in terms of nature and ‘folk’ attitudes, we seem collectively predisposed to being amused by Iceland the way audiences at comedy shows come ready to laugh.

The interest in Icelandic is certainly welcome. A language spoken by about 300 000 people must work to preserve itself. Reliance on importation and a history of Danish rule make Iceland no stranger to fears of foreign influence. A vital function of the Icelandic Language Council is to establish Icelandic words for new inventions. Drawing on Old Norse and Icelandic roots, the goal is to prevent an influx of loanwords—once Danish, now English—from taking over. Some borrowed words have taken hold—the use of banani far surpasses bjúgaldin “sausage fruit”—but preservation efforts have paid off in terms of language survival and intrigue. The word for television is a popular example that reminds us of how strange tv was upon its invention, as well as of the beauty of the English word. Sjónvarp breaks down into “vision caster.” Tele-vision. It may seem obvious, augljós, (auga<, eye, + ljós, light), but is there anything we take more for granted?

Perhaps one thing. The internet, whose here-to-eternity English poses an unprecedented threat to Iceland’s notoriously difficult, poetic, and odd tongue. Icelandic schooling has long included English, Danish, Latin, and various other languages, but English is particularly alluring for young people looking to participate in global arenas. Not just the online, but in technology use in general. As the Icelandic writer Sjón put it in an interview I conducted with him for Asymptote International Literary Journal,“When the day comes that we have to speak to our refrigerators in English (which I believe is not far in the future), Icelandic will retreat very fast.”

Former President of Iceland Vigdis Finnbogadóttir drew an oft-repeated distinction: Icelandic is not a ‘small language’ but rather ‘a language spoken by few.’ According to Finnbogadóttir, an active linguistic advocate (and the world’s first elected woman head of state—fewer speakers often boast when they can), there are no small languages. This rings true to anyone who has been mouth-baffled in a land of extensive compound words. It is not a numbers game, but hundreds of years of Nordic literature—an immeasurable contribution to world culture and mythology—is contingent on linguistic knowledge."



"Tomorrow’s folk tale might be a cautionary yarn about the Pokémon hunter who fell into Goðafoss. Purists might cringe at the notion, romantics might refuse to read it—or watch the trailer. There is much to bemoan about the evolving tension between technology and our physical and social lives: bodily detachment, fractured attention, intimate dis-ease. Worries about Icelandic are well-founded, but its speakers are aware. Gerður Kristný responded to the ‘why not write in English’ question by explaining that language has so much to do with Icelandic independence and identity, she will always write in Icelandic. It is her language. Technology looms, but pride and artistry is made of different stuff. Human obstinacy is a phenomenon unto itself.

The fate of Icelandic and other languages spoken by few remains to be seen, read, and heard. For now, as with anything, we can take the mixed bag, if we believe we have a choice. Absorbing positive resonance when we can is a coping skill as venerable as sagas. Marveling at inventions creates space for thought about how to use them well.

Rarity may protect languages via the kind of cult interest Icelandic enjoys. Print was supposed to be dead by now, or the realm of fetishized art objects and eccentric collectors. Yet book-devices haven’t supplanted books themselves. There are simply more ways to read. The internet is akin to Borges’ Babel in both threat and potential—it cultivates a browsing attitude that eats its children but also offers a place to be intentionally communicative. Never have we had such a grand chance to self-define or such an audience for our own terms.

“Orchestra” is a pertinent Every Single Word in Icelandic entry. Hljómsveit, literally “sound team.” The ancient chorus persists, in one form or another, and it is what we make of it."

[See also: http://grapevine.is/author/eunsan-huh/
https://www.behance.net/gallery/28612451/Every-Single-Word-In-Icelandic ]
iceland  icelandic  language  languages  instagram  ktbilley  eunsanhuh  symbols  symbology  history  linguistics  audio  pronunciation  translation  english  illustration  via:tealtan  instagrams 
august 2016 by robertogreco
When Did Americans Lose Their British Accents? | Mental Floss
"There are many, many evolving regional British and American accents, so the terms “British accent” and “American accent” are gross oversimplifications. What a lot of Americans think of as the typical "British accent” is what's called standardized Received Pronunciation (RP), also known as Public School English or BBC English. What most people think of as an "American accent," or most Americans think of as "no accent," is the General American (GenAm) accent, sometimes called a "newscaster accent" or "Network English." Because this is a blog post and not a book, we'll focus on these two general sounds for now and leave the regional accents for another time.

English colonists established their first permanent settlement in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, sounding very much like their countrymen back home. By the time we had recordings of both Americans and Brits some three centuries later (the first audio recording of a human voice was made in 1860), the sounds of English as spoken in the Old World and New World were very different. We're looking at a silent gap of some 300 years, so we can't say exactly when Americans first started to sound noticeably different from the British.

As for the "why," though, one big factor in the divergence of the accents is rhotacism. The General American accent is rhotic and speakers pronounce the r in words such as hard. The BBC-type British accent is non-rhotic, and speakers don't pronounce the r, leaving hard sounding more like hahd. Before and during the American Revolution, the English, both in England and in the colonies, mostly spoke with a rhotic accent. We don't know much more about said accent, though. Various claims about the accents of the Appalachian Mountains, the Outer Banks, the Tidewater region and Virginia's Tangier Island sounding like an uncorrupted Elizabethan-era English accent have been busted as myths by linguists.

TALK THIS WAY

Around the turn of the 18th 19th century, not long after the revolution, non-rhotic speech took off in southern England, especially among the upper and upper-middle classes. It was a signifier of class and status. This posh accent was standardized as Received Pronunciation and taught widely by pronunciation tutors to people who wanted to learn to speak fashionably. Because the Received Pronunciation accent was regionally "neutral" and easy to understand, it spread across England and the empire through the armed forces, the civil service and, later, the BBC.

Across the pond, many former colonists also adopted and imitated Received Pronunciation to show off their status. This happened especially in the port cities that still had close trading ties with England — Boston, Richmond, Charleston, and Savannah. From the Southeastern coast, the RP sound spread through much of the South along with plantation culture and wealth.

After industrialization and the Civil War and well into the 20th century, political and economic power largely passed from the port cities and cotton regions to the manufacturing hubs of the Mid Atlantic and Midwest — New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, etc. The British elite had much less cultural and linguistic influence in these places, which were mostly populated by the Scots-Irish and other settlers from Northern Britain, and rhotic English was still spoken there. As industrialists in these cities became the self-made economic and political elites of the Industrial Era, Received Pronunciation lost its status and fizzled out in the U.S. The prevalent accent in the Rust Belt, though, got dubbed General American and spread across the states just as RP had in Britain.

Of course, with the speed that language changes, a General American accent is now hard to find in much of this region, with New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Chicago developing their own unique accents, and GenAm now considered generally confined to a small section of the Midwest.

As mentioned above, there are regional exceptions to both these general American and British sounds. Some of the accents of southeastern England, plus the accents of Scotland and Ireland, are rhotic. Some areas of the American Southeast, plus Boston, are non-rhotic."
us  uk  england  britain  history  language  accents  2016  english  networkenglish  bbcenglish  receivedpronunciation 
july 2016 by robertogreco
You’re probably using the wrong dictionary « the jsomers.net blog
"The way I thought you used a dictionary was that you looked up words you’ve never heard of, or whose sense you’re unsure of. You would never look up an ordinary word — like example, or sport, or magic — because all you’ll learn is what it means, and that you already know.

Indeed, if you look up those particular words in the dictionary that comes with your computer — on my Mac, it’s the New Oxford American Dictionary, 3rd Edition — you’ll be rewarded with… well, there won’t be any reward. The entries are pedestrian:

example /igˈzampəl/, n. a thing characteristic of its kind or illustrating a general rule.

sport /spôrt/, n. an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

magic /ˈmajik/, n. the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

Here, words are boiled to their essence. But that essence is dry, functional, almost bureaucratically sapped of color or pop, like high modernist architecture. Which trains you to think of the dictionary as a utility, not a quarry of good things, not a place you’d go to explore and savor.

Worse, the words themselves take on the character of their definitions: they are likewise reduced. A delightful word like “fustian” — delightful because of what it means, because of the way it looks and sounds, because it is unusual in regular speech but not so effete as to be unusable, is described, efficiently, as “pompous or pretentious speech or writing.” Not only is this definition (as we’ll see in a minute) simplistic and basically wrong, it’s just not in the same class, English-wise, as “fustian.” The language is tin-eared and uninspired. It’s criminal: This is the place where all the words live and the writing’s no good.

The New Oxford American dictionary, by the way, is not like singularly bad. Google’s dictionary, the modern Merriam-Webster, the dictionary at dictionary.com: they’re all like this. They’re all a chore to read. There’s no play, no delight in the language. The definitions are these desiccated little husks of technocratic meaningese, as if a word were no more than its coordinates in semantic space."



"A book where you can enter “sport” and end up with “a diversion of the field” — this is in fact the opposite of what I’d known a dictionary to be. This is a book that transmutes plain words into language that’s finer and more vivid and sometimes more rare. No wonder McPhee wrote with it by his side. No wonder he looked up words he knew, versus words he didn’t, in a ratio of “at least ninety-nine to one.”

Unfortunately, he never comes out and says exactly which dictionary he’s getting all this juice out of. But I was desperate to find it. What was this secret book, this dictionary so rich and alive that one of my favorite writers was using it to make heroic improvements to his writing?

I did a little sleuthing. It wasn’t so hard with the examples McPhee gives, and Google. He says, for instance, that in three years of research for a book about Alaska he’d forgotten to look up the word Arctic. He said that his dictionary gave him this: “Pertaining to, or situated under, the northern constellation called the Bear.”

And that turned out to be enough to find it."



"Who decided that the American public couldn’t handle “a soft and fitful luster”? I can’t help but think something has been lost. “A soft sparkle from a wet or oily surface” doesn’t just sound worse, it actually describes the phenomenon with less precision. In particular it misses the shimmeriness, the micro movement and action, “the fitful luster,” of, for example, an eye full of tears — which is by the way far more intense and interesting an image than “a wet sidewalk.”

It’s as if someone decided that dictionaries these days had to sound like they were written by a Xerox machine, not a person, certainly not a person with a poet’s ear, a man capable of high and mighty English, who set out to write the secular American equivalent of the King James Bible and pulled it off."

Words worth using
I don’t want you to conclude that it’s just a matter of aesthetics. Yes, Webster’s definitions are prettier. But they are also better. In fact they’re so much better that to use another dictionary is to keep yourself forever at arm’s length from the actual language.

Recall that the New Oxford, for the word “fustian,” gives “pompous or pretentious speech or writing.” I said earlier that that wasn’t even really correct. Here, then, is Webster’s definition: “An inflated style of writing; a kind of writing in which high-sounding words are used, above the dignity of the thoughts or subject; bombast.” Do you see the difference? What makes fustian fustian is not just that the language is pompous — it’s that this pomposity is above the dignity of the thoughts or subject. It’s using fancy language where fancy language isn’t called for.

It’s a subtle difference, but that’s the whole point: English is an awfully subtle instrument. A dictionary that ignores these little shades is dangerous; in fact in those cases it’s worse than useless. It’s misleading, deflating. It divests those words of their worth and purpose.

Take “pathos.” This is one of those words I used to keep looking up because I kept forgetting what it meant — and every time I’d go to the dictionary I would get this terse, limiting definition: “a quality that evokes pity or sadness.” Not much there to grab a hold of. I’d wonder, Is that really all there is to pathos? It had always seemed a grander word than that. But this was the dictionary, and whatever it declared was final.

Final, that is, until I discovered Webster:

pathos /ˈpāˌTHäs/, n. 1. The quality or character of those emotions, traits, or experiences which are personal, and therefore restricted and evanescent; transitory and idiosyncratic dispositions or feelings as distinguished from those which are universal and deep-seated in character; — opposed to ethos.

It continued. 2. That quality or property of anything which touches the feelings or excites emotions and passions, esp., that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality; as, the pathos of a picture, of a poem, or of a cry.

Dear god! How did I not know about this dictionary? How could you even call yourself a dictionary if all you give for “pathos” is “a quality that evokes pity or sadness”? Webster’s definition is so much fuller, so much closer to felt experience.

Notice, too, how much less certain the Webster definition seems about itself, even though it’s more complete — as if to remind you that the word came first, that the word isn’t defined by its definition here, in this humble dictionary, that definitions grasp, tentatively, at words, but that what words really are is this haze and halo of associations and evocations, a little networked cloud of uses and contexts.

What I mean is that with its blunt authority the New Oxford definition of “pathos” — “a quality that evokes pity or sadness” — shuts down the conversation, it shuts down your thinking about the word, while the Webster’s version gets your wheels turning: it seems so much more provisional — “that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality; as, the pathos of a picture, of a poem, or of a cry” — and therefore alive.

Most important, it describes a word worth using: a mere six letters that have come to stand for something huge, for a complex meta-emotion with mythic roots. Such is the power of actual English."



"There’s an amazing thing that happens when you start using the right dictionary. Knowing that it’s there for you, you start looking up more words, including words you already know. And you develop an affection for even those, the plainest most everyday words, because you see them treated with the same respect awarded to the rare ones, the high-sounding ones.

Which is to say you get a feeling about English that Calvin once got with his pet tiger on a day of fresh-fallen snow: “It’s a magical world, Hobbes. Let’s go exploring!”

Appendix: How to start using Webster’s 1913 dictionary on your Mac, iPhone, Android, and Kindle [continues with instructions]"
2014  dictionaries  language  words  english  writing  jamessomers  howto  noahwebster  history  etymology  johnmcphee  howwewrite  merriam-webster  srg  dictionary 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Emoji Is the Birth of a New Type of Language (👈 No Joke) | WIRED
"Tyler Schnoebelen has discovered something curious about why people use the skull emoji. Schnoebelen is a linguist and the chief analyst for Idibon, a firm that interprets linguistic data. So recently he got interested in emoji. He analyzed a million social media posts containing those familiar little pictograms and found that when people talk about their phones they’re 11 times more likely to use the skull.

Fully 92 percent of all people online use emoji now, and one-third of them do so daily.

Weird, right? But Schnoebelen thinks it makes sense. Our phones, he points out, are social lifelines, and when they malfunction—a weak signal, short battery life—we’re distraught. “When you don’t have access to your phone, or when nobody’s texting you, you’re socially dead,” he says. So we reach for an emoji that’s pregnant with that metaphor: the skull.

Fully 92 percent of all people online use emoji now, and one-third of them do so daily. On Instagram, nearly half of the posts contain emoji, a trend that began in 2011 when iOS added an emoji keyboard. Rates soared higher when Android followed suit two years later. Emoji are so popular they’re killing off netspeak. The more we use 😊, the less we use LOL and OMG.

In essence, we’re watching the birth of a new type of language. Emoji assist in a peculiarly modern task: conveying emotional nuance in short, online utterances. “They’re trying to solve one of the big problems of writing online, which is that you have the words but you don’t have the tone of voice,” as my friend Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and author, says.

Purists sniff. What have we become, children with crayons? Surely words alone can convey emotional tone? Maybe—if you’re a novelist with years of experience in the patient forging and editing of prose, McCulloch says. But we thumbfolk are writing speedily and conversationally, in bursts on SMS or Facebook. Of the 20 most frequently used emoji, nearly all are hearts, smilies, or hand gestures—the ones that emote. In an age of rapid chatter, emoji prevent miscommunication by adding an emotional tenor to cold copy.

We also use emoji to convey a sort of ambient presence, when words aren’t appropriate. Ryan Kelly, a computer scientist at the University of Bath, has found that when texters finish a conversation, they often trade a few emoji as nonverbal denouement. “You might not have anything else left to say,” Kelly says, “but you want to let the person know that you’re thinking of them.” So you send a couple of pandas. Or telescopes! Or some other symbol that seems witty. This is another aspect of emoji—many are open-ended. You’d think that would make them less language-like, but in fact friends use that malleability to invest specific emoji with their own private meanings. (My wife and I use the Easter Island head to connote absurdity.)

Indeed, people are even developing syntax and rules of use for emoji. Schnoebelen found that when we use face emoji, we tend to put them before other objects. If you text about a late flight, you’ll put an unhappy face followed by a plane, not the reverse. In linguistic terms, this is called conveying “stance.” Just as with in-person talk, the expression illustrates our stance before we’ve spoken a word.

All you social dystopians can unclutch your pearls; no linguist thinks this bodes the end of writing. Text is our most powerful, go-to communication tool. For most people, these ideograms are an upgrade. And what an unusual one! Language always changes, of course; slang is born, prances, and dies. But it’s exceedingly rare—maybe unprecedented—for a phonetic alphabet to suddenly acquire a big expansion pack of ideograms. In an age where we write more than ever, emoji is the new language of the heart."
emoji  clivethomspn  2016  english  language  tylerschnoebelen  text  communication 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Fantastic Vocab
"a compendium of imaginary words and their uses"
words  vocabulary  english  dictionaries  dictionary 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Purists don't like this mix of Acadian French and English, but it may be helping the French language in Canada | Public Radio International
"Here's a linguistic recipe.

Take French grammar and syntax and add English verbs. Take English verbs and conjugate them like French verbs. Sprinkle in the vocabulary of 17th century French settlers to French Acadia. Translate an English idiom literally to French. That's Chiac.

That’s how you’ll get sentences like, "J'ai backé mon car dans la driveway."

"Jsai vraiment pas pourquoi but les "stilettos/claw" nails me freak slightly out. Jfeel sa pourai easily etre un deadly weapon"
https://twitter.com/Cath_Bourque/status/301066404298362881

Chiac emerged naturally from close contact between French and English speakers that goes all the way back to the colonial period. Chiac speakers with the common last names, Leblanc and Daigle, descend from the early French settlers who have preserved their culture against formidable odds. In the deportation of 1755, the British evicted 10,000 Acadians, many of whom later returned to a world now dominated by English

Their descendants speak Chiac, but ideally not too much of it — the boundaries are subtle, informed by fears about the erosion of French culture.

While activists and politicians have fought to carve out space for French in New Brunswick, artists and musicians have led an evolving conversation about where Chiac fits in a regional identity.

For Dano Leblanc, the Acadian band “1755” made him aware in high school that he used a vocabulary he wouldn’t hear on French television.

“They had lyrics that were in Chiac and, you know, suddenly it was written down, you know, in the lyric sheet and the album and you could see it and suddenly became really self-conscious of the way we spoke.”

As an adult, he put Chiac on television, spoken by the animated superhero Acadieman.

The show aired not just in New Brunswick, but elsewhere in Canada.

Chiac has in fact never been higher-profile than today, with Chiac musicians Lisa LeBlanc and Radio Radio touring France and Quebec.

“We get from other provinces [that] you're destroying your French,” says Marie Annick-Bisson, who knows LeBlanc and has followed her growing success. “It's like, well, if we can manage to speak a good French to other people who actually speak French and we speak Chiac amongst ourselves, then what's the problem?”

In this episode, we pose that question to the region’s best-known writer, France Daigle, to members of the hip-hop act Radio Radio, to politicians and to parents."
chiac  french  english  2016  canada  newbrunswick  moncton  gabrielmalenfant  francedaigle  bernardrichard  radioradio  lisaleblanc  music  acadian  languagepurism 
april 2016 by robertogreco
mortenjust/cleartext-mac: A text editor that only allows the top 1000 most common words in English
"A text editor that only allows the 1,000 most common words in English

I just got Randall Monroe's new book Thing Explainer. Only using the top 1,000 words makes the text really easy to read. I thought I would make it easy for people to write like this, so I made this application. It's cool to be clear."

[See also: http://splasho.com/upgoer5/
https://medium.com/@mortenjust/i-doomed-mankind-with-a-free-text-editor-ba6003319681#.q9hbz2vjd ]
english  language  simple  simpleenglish  copywriting  applications  mac  osx  texteditors  via:mattthomas  mortenjust 
march 2016 by robertogreco
No. 12: Lekker - Stuff Dutch People Like
"If you’ve lived, toured, visited, or really spent any amount of time in the lowlands and you haven’t heard this word…well, then I’d suggest you get your ears checked – and quick! This seemingly innocent word is ubiquitous in the Netherlands. Park yourself down in any Dutch café or restaurant and do a little good ol’ fashion eavesdropping (if you weren’t already) and you are sure to hear multitudes of the “L” word.

Lekker in its original form refers to food and can be roughly translated as tasty or yummy. The Germans and Belgians still use lekker in this form, however, over time Dutch people have taken incredible liberties with the word and now essentially use it to describe, well, just about everything! A warm meal on a cold fall day can of course be lekker, but so can a feeling, an experience, a place and even a person! Word of warning: don’t go around calling your boss lekker as the original translation of yummy or tasty still does apply! (Of course, the tall Dutch boy down that hall in his red pants and curly gelled hair may indeed be lekker to some! ;)

As you see, lekker is a highly versatile little fellow and can be used in endless instances. You will see that the original translation does not always hold true:

- lekkere broodjes (tasty sandwiches) – an easy one
– lekker rustig (yummy calm, pleasant calm)
– lekker weer (tasty weather, great weather)
– niet lekker (not yummy, not nice, not well)
- slaap lekker (sleep tasty, sleep well, sleep tight)
– lekker ruim (tasty space, lots of space/room)
– … and the list can go on!

Ask a Dutchie, in a work setting, how they are doing and you are sure to hear the reply of “lekker druk“! I do find this one a tad amusing, as the last time I checked the Dutch weren’t that lekker druk at all! Of course, there are many things in the Netherlands that are “lekker belangrijk“: such as observing meal times (dinner is served at 18:00 precisely), scheduling appointments and generally acting normal. However, watch the tone of this one, as your opinion is most likely being dissed and dismissed as “lekker belangrijk” in a sarcastic/”what-EVER” type of way.

Just to make things a even more fun, the Dutch have decided to get a little tricky and pair one difficult-to-translate-word with yet another even-more-difficult-to-translate-word. The combination? The beautifully descriptive: lekker gezellig! Trust me, it does come in handy but I’ll let you bicker amongst yourselves over the exact translation! ;)"

[See also: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lekker

"ENGLISH

Adjective

1. (South Africa) Tasty, nice, fun, great.

2. (South Africa) Good in a generic sense, worthy, functional.



AFRIKAANS

Adjective
lekker ‎(attributive lekker or lekkere, comparative lekkerder, superlative lekkerste)

1. having a nice taste, tasty, good, delicious
Die kos het lekker gesmaak.‎
The food tasted nice.

2. good, fun, nice in a more generic sense
Lekker tye.‎
Fun times

3. (informal) foxy, sexy
Kyk na daai lekker ding‎
Look at that foxy lady

Usage notes
The attribute form lekkere is considered somewhat archaic and only used for emphasis to show how good something is.



Adverb

1. good, nice, fun in a more generic sense.
Ons het lekker gespeel.‎
We played nicely. / We had a great time playing.

2. good and hard or properly, badly
Hy was lekker ingeloop.‎
He was swindled badly. / He was properly swindled

Interjection

1. yum!, yummy!, delicious!
2. goody! hah!, used sarcastically to show disapproval, disrepect or contempt
Lekker! Jy wou mos!‎
You just wanted to do that, huh?

Noun

1. sweet, a piece of candy

2. (uncountable) pleasure, enjoyment



DUTCH

lekker ‎(comparative lekkerder, superlative lekkerst)

1. Having a nice taste, tasty, delectable.
Het eten is weer lekker vandaag, mam! — The dinner is tasty again today, mum!

2. Good, nice, pleasant in a more generic sense.
Lekker weer! — Nice weather!

3. (colloquial) Hot, sexy, physically attractive.
Hij is zo'n lekker ding! — He's such a hottie!
Hé, lekkere meid! — Hey, sexy girl!"]
dutch  netherlands  language  words  lekker  food  afrikaans  english  via:ablerism 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Unless you speak English, the Internet doesn’t care about you | Fusion
"The internet is global but it is also regional. Cats are to the U.S. and Japan what goats are to Brazil and Uganda. If you speak an uncommon language, the internet can feel downright rural. The problem isn’t just getting online, but whether there will be anything for people who get online to actually do.

“What’s critical to understand is that, with the next billion users coming online, we’re going to see a wide variety of new languages represented online,” said An Xiao Mina, a co-founder of the Civic Beat and a technologist at Meedan working to build a platform to translate social media. “We live in a world of many internets, where even if you reduce the limits of geography, censorship and connectivity, language prevents large swaths of people from connecting with each other.”

But it’s not just ‘obscure’ languages that are discriminated against on the web.

Even use of Arabic—the sixth most commonly spoken language in the world and the fourth most common language among internet users—was until recently limited on many mobile phones. In some places on the internet, it still is. To cope, Arabic speak­ers developed “Arabizi”, a combination of Roman letters and numbers that make it easier to chat. Arabizi is a essentially a transliteration of Arabic into English characters, using numbers to stand in for some of the letters that don’t have direct counterparts in sound, like 7 for ح (ha), which sounds a bit like a guttural “h.”

It’s an ingenious solution, but one that shouldn’t have to exist. When emoji exploded in popularity, developers across all platforms worked quickly to make it easily usable on their devices. Why so slow with Arabic?

Arabic Wikipedia, by the way, has just 400,000 articles. A language spoken by more than 400 million people is less represented than Swedish, a language spoken by just 9 million. The demographics of the internet have historically been very different from that of the offline world, and those colonization effects are dramatic.

Recent research has shown that speaking English is a significant factor in determining whether someone adopts use of the web. Some languages are not well represented online, but others, like Tibetan, are completely invisible, unusable on browsers, operating systems, and keyboards.

The Tibetan blogger Dechen Pemba recently wrote about the frustrations of not being able to access the Tibetan language on a phone. Google, he wrote, failed to develop a Tibetan language interface and only recently incorporated the Tibetan language font on some Android phones. (That’s one way for Apple, which does support Tibetan, to win customers from Android.)

“Given that the Tibetan literary tradition goes back to the 7th century … my pet hate is when Tibetan language is described as ‘obscure,'” he wrote. “I wonder how it is possible that the language of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhists, comprising of as many as 60 million people, can be wilfully left behind in terms of modern technology?”

Facebook’s Free Basics program was controversial in India in large part because it limited the internet resources the digitally disadvantaged would have access to. Would it include access to domestic violence protection programs, or would it be a walled ghetto devoted to social media and online shopping? Language barriers can also force internet users into digital ghettos, or force them to forsake their mother tongue (and its culture) to escape them.

“The fact that a lot of groups have very little local-language content is problematic because it can contribute to a global homogenization of ideas and culture, and perhaps even knowledge itself,” said Mark Graham, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute.

Graham predicts negative impacts on cultural diversity if the Internet’s language is predominantly English, Chinese, and Spanish. A version of this, for example, is happening right now in Iceland, where the packaging on so many imported goods is in English that it’s becoming more common than Icelandic in every day life.

A linguistically divided internet can also lead to the creation of monocultural bubbles. Wikipedia provides a good example: one study showed that most content on Wikipedia is available in exclusively one language. Even English Wikipedia only has articles that correspond with about half the topics of German Wikipedia.

“The Chinese internet is a good example of this,” Graham said. “There are more Chinese internet users online than internet users from any other country. So, this has meant that there is a lot of content out there in Chinese. Which, in turn, means that it is easy for Chinese internet users to exist in their own ‘filter bubble’—not really exposed to different content on the broader Web.”

Mina pointed out that the web’s prioritization of mainstream languages also leaves many tools for political organization and speaking out off-limits to marginalized groups.

“If you don’t speak a top ten language, the internet you have access to is extremely limited,” Mina told me. “Imagine going to a Chinese restaurant and just trying to order based on pictures.”

Graham told me he’d like to see more online spaces like Wikipedia that are digital commons where users can contribute content in any language they like, allowing local internet users to essential built their own web. But getting those digital commons filled with content first requires creating incentives to get people online in the first place. And part of that means making content that is already out there accessible across the boundaries of language. Mina is interested in chipping away at those boundaries by creating technology that translates social media content from one language to another. Scott Hale, a data scientist focused on bilingualism at the Oxford Internet Institute, told me that user interfaces could help break down language barriers by allowing users to interact with them in multiple languages at once. Most online interfaces—Google and Facebook among them— are designed with monolingual users in mind, only surfacing content in one language at a time. Allowing people to easily toggle between languages is one way to break down the linguistic silos that online life creates.

“You can’t just put a bunch of people in the network and expect that they connect,” Mina said.

The internet was supposed to be the thing that made all of our differences irrelevant, that erased borders and boundaries by translating everything into 1s and 0s. But online borders definitely exist with language boundaries that can be impenetrable."
internet  language  languages  web  online  anxiaomina  kristenbrown  wikipedia  arabic  english  translation  homogenization  culture  swedish  freebasics  arabizi  india  iceland  technology  socialmedia  politics  chinese  spanish  español  diversity 
february 2016 by robertogreco
English 508 (Spring 2016)
[See also: https://jentery.github.io/508/notes.html ]

[From the description page:
https://jentery.github.io/508/description.html

"In both theory and practice, this seminar brushes against four popular assumptions about digital humanities: 1) as a service to researchers, the field merely develops digital resources for online discovery and builds computational tools for end-users; it does not interpret texts or meaningfully engage with “pre-digital” traditions in literary and cultural criticism; 2) digital humanities is not concerned with the literary or aesthetic character of texts; it is a techno-solutionist byproduct of instrumentalism and big data; 3) digital humanities practitioners replace cultural perspectives with uncritical computer vision; instead of privileging irony or ambivalence, they use computers to “prove” reductive claims about literature and culture, usually through graphs and totalizing visualizations; and 4) to participate in the field, you must be fluent in computer programming, or at least be willing to treat literature and culture quantitatively; if you are not a programmer, then you are not doing digital humanities.

During our seminar meetings, we will counter these four assumptions by examining, historicizing, and creating “design fictions,” which Bruce Sterling defines as “the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change.” Design fictions typically have a futurist bent to them. They speculate about bleeding edge technologies and emerging dynamics, or they project whiz-bang worlds seemingly ripped from films such as Minority Report. But we’ll refrain from much futurism. Instead, we will use technologies to look backwards and prototype versions of texts that facilitate interpretative practice. Inspired by Kari Kraus’s conjectural criticism, Fred Moten’s second iconicity, Bethany Nowviskie and Johanna Drucker’s speculative computing, Karen Barad’s notion of diffraction, Jeffrey Schnapp’s small data, Anne Balsamo’s hermeneutic reverse-engineering, and deformations by Lisa Samuels, Jerome McGann, and Mark Sample, we will conduct “what if” analyses of texts already at hand, in electronic format (e.g., page images in a library’s digital collections).

Doing so will involve something peculiar: interpreting our primary sources by altering them. We’ll substitute words, change formats, rearrange poems, remediate fictions, juxtapose images, bend texts, and reconstitute book arts. To be sure, such approaches have vexed legacies in the arts and humanities. Consider cut-ups, constrained writing, story-making machines, exquisite corpses, remixes, tactical media, Fluxkits, or détournement. Today, these avant-garde traditions are ubiquitous in a banal or depoliticized form, the default features of algorithmic culture and social networks. But we will refresh them, with a difference, by integrating our alterations into criticism and prompting questions about the composition of art and history today.

Instructor: Jentery Sayers
Office Hours: Monday, 12-2pm, in CLE D334
Email: jentery@uvic.ca
Office Phone (in CLE D334): 250-721-7274 (I'm more responsive by email)
Mailing Address: Department of English | UVic | P.O. Box 3070, STN CSC | Victoria, BC V8W 3W1

Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it. —Karl Marx"]

[via: "when humanities start doing design without designers because design's too self-absorbed to notice being appropriated"
https://twitter.com/camerontw/status/700175377197563904
includes screenshot of Week 7 note from https://jentery.github.io/508/notes.html ]
jenterysayers  text  prototyping  digitalhumanities  speculativedesign  design  english  syllabus  maryanncaws  johannadrucker  wjtmitchell  jeffreyschnapp  evekosofskysedgwick  technosolutionism  brucesterling  fredmoten  karenbarad  jeromemcgann  marksample  bethanynowviskie  fluxkits  detournement  poetry  exquisitecorpses  algorithms  art  composition  rosamenkman  anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  syllabi 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Adapting to a more global, more diverse Internet » Nieman Journalism Lab
"“Thanks to denser networks that foster better pipelines for attention, the Internet gives communities a pathway directly to newsrooms.”

According to Quartz’s Next Billion vertical, Internet use is projected to double — from 2.5 billion to 5 billion — between 2012 and 2016. That’s next year, and already, the global diversity of the netizenry and how they use the Internet is starting to change people’s relationship with the news. Much of this growth is expected to occur in Asia, while the fastest growth will be in Africa. These so-called “next billion” Internet users are often different from the first 2.5 billion in their background and lifestyles, representing a plethora of languages, cultures, incomes, and methods of technological access. And the implications, I think, will reach many different aspects of journalism.

The news will break on many networks, and these networks won’t be open.

After the explosions in Tianjin this year, GIFs, photos, and videos circulated on Twitter, Facebook and Sina Weibo. But the first person to break the news did so through a private messaging group on WeChat, posting video of fire outside the chemical plant just minutes before the explosion. For minutes afterward, the mobile-first, private platform was the primary place for sharing and discussing.

Increasingly, eyewitness media is discussed and disseminated on private networks like WhatsApp, Line, KakaoTalk, Snapchat, Viber, and Facebook Messenger. This is already having significant effects on newsgathering. At the recent TechRaking conference at MIT, journalist Andy Carvin and others pointed out that, when media do surface on the open web, it’s incredibly difficult to find and source the originator, as the images are often stripped of metadata, compressed, and of indeterminate provenance.

Digital journalism, so accustomed to APIs and tools that aid discovery and aggregation, will likely have to adapt. Partnership and advocacy efforts are likely right — platforms can do more to facilitate journalists’ efforts, and newsrooms can build better tech for these platforms. As well, the technological approach to digital journalism will need be supplemented by the traditional relational skills of newsgathering: cultivating sources, building relationships, and fostering trust.

It won’t be enough to speak just one language, or even three.

As news and reports of the Paris attacks rippled through social media, journalists captured and reported on eyewitness media shared in both French and English. Just a day before, a flurry of tweets and Facebook posts in Arabic, French and English discussed the worst bombing in Beirut since 1990.

News reports of the Paris attacks in French were translated to English:

[tweed embeds]

To Chinese:

[tweet embed]

To Arabic:

[tweet embed]

From French to English and then to Italian:

[tweet embed]

Meanwhile, false reports of a tsunami heading for Japan triggered the trending topic #PrayForJapan. An earthquake had indeed happened, but the Japanese-language reports clearly stated it wasn’t strong enough to trigger a tsunami:

[tweed embeds]

In the hecticness of the day, Spanish newspapers picked up a selfie of a Canadian Sikh man Photoshopped to look like he was wearing a suicide bomber’s vest. In Baghdad, a real suicide bomber killed 18 people. It was a day for hashtag prayers for multiple corners of the world:

[tweet embed]

Every day, global trending topics on Twitter alone appear in multiple languages and scripts — when I glance at them at different times of the day, they frequently appear in Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, Korean, and French, often outnumbering the English-language trending topics. English speakers, once the dominant group on the Internet, will soon become just one of many language speakers online.

Global communities will be talking back to media — and demanding better representation.

In recent years, we saw the transformation of #BlackLivesMatter from a hashtag and a nascent movement to a core question in the presidential primary debates. This year also saw #SomeoneTellCNN re-emerge as a satirical hashtag in Kenya in response to the network calling the country a “terror hotbed.” In the past, these tweets yielded minor changes in coverage; this year, a senior executive personally flew to Nairobi to apologize for the statements. And after Facebook turned on Safety Check for citizens of Paris, Beirutis asked why they didn’t get a Safety Check feature, even though their city had just been bombed a day before.

We can expect more of this. Geographically far from most media outlets, people in many regions of the world have historically had few avenues to attempt to improve global reportage of their issues. Thanks to denser networks that foster better pipelines for attention, the Internet gives communities a pathway directly to newsrooms. At its worst, call-out culture can be destructive and foster a herd mentality against the less privileged in society. But at its best, when people organize and amplify their voices to punch up rather than down, they can make real changes in media and media representation. What can we do to listen more effectively?

GIFs won’t be icing: they’ll be the cake.

[gif embed]

Let’s go back to Tianjin. Some of the most powerful images that circulated on WeChat were, in fact, GIFs. While livestreaming video tools like Periscope will push the boundaries of high-bandwidth, high-resolution video, the humble GIF is also on the rise, with built-in tools on sites like Tumblr and Instagram and autoplay features on Twitter now making it easier than ever for people to generate and share compelling moving images.

This matters for global Internet users because GIFs, in addition to being eminently shareable, consume less data — and less data charges. They also work well with smaller screens, whether that’s a low-cost smartphone or an Apple Watch. While cats and dogs will always have a special home on animated media, so will the mews, er, news."
anxiaomina  journalism  2015  messaging  internet  web  socialmedia  language  languages  news  translation  gifs  kakaotalksnapchat  viber  facebook  whatsapp  lineapp  andycarvin  digital  digitaljournalism  online  twitter  arabic  french  english  chinese  mandarin  italian  portuguese  japanese  spanish  portugués  español 
december 2015 by robertogreco
From Digital Divide to Language Divide: Language Inclusion for Asia’s Next Billion — Words About Words — Medium
"Thinking through language divides in online platforms and what we can do to reduce them"



"New Internet users who don’t speak majority languages will likely be unable to participate in global Internet culture and conversations as both readers and contributors; as Mark Graham and Matthew Zook have noted, minority languages speakers, especially those from the global south, will experience substantial information inequality online (Young, 2015). Indeed, people’s inability to speak English can significantly afect their very adoption and use of the Internet, even if they are aware of its existence (Pearce et al., 2014)."
anxiaomina  2015  language  languages  inclusion  internet  web  online  accessibility  kevinscannell  stevenbird  aikuma  translation  meedan  socialmedia  twitter  linguistics  katypearce  power  english  scotthale  technology  edbice  digitaldivide  asia 
december 2015 by robertogreco
words we don't have
"Language and culture are inextricably linked. The words that exist (or that we make) form our language, and hence, are definitive of our culture. This place explores words that are unique to dialects or non-English languages, with an aim to examine what these words might illuminate about their cultures (and ours)."
words  laurenserota  language  english 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Where's Me a Dog? Here's You a Dog: The South's Most Unusual Regionalism | Atlas Obscura
"Regions of America have their own grammar, just like they have their own vocabulary.

Ohioans, for instance, call the wheeled conveyances used in grocery stores "shopping carts," rather than shopping wagons, carriages, buggies, or any of the other terms used around the country. And if that shopping cart gets dirty, in Ohio, it doesn’t need to be washed; it needs washed.

Sometimes, grammatical variations are obvious to the ear: the “habitual be” of African American Vernacular English–as in "we be showing off" or “who be eating cookies?”–stands out to American English speakers, even if they don’t know its proper use. But sometimes these grammatical variations sneak by.

“New words are being created all the time, and they’re easy to spread,” says Jim Wood, a visiting lecturer at Yale University. “Syntactic constructions, a lot of them are more under the radar, and when you ask about the variation, people often aren’t aware there’s anything surprising about it at all.”

Compared to vocabulary and accents, the regional variations of English grammar in America have not been studied much. So when Wood and his colleagues at the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project started documenting variations, they quickly found unusual constructions—including one that’s not only unique to the American South but that has no parallel in any language they’ve looked at so far.

This discovery began with a blog titled “Here’s you a blog,” which Larry Horn, one of the project’s founders, had come across. This blogger had first come across this grammatical quirk–”here’s you a…”–while traveling in Kentucky: a post office clerk had handed over a stamp featuring a dog, and said, “Here’s you a dog.” The phrase delighted the blogger, and she started using it to label pictures of dogs, until she realized she could apply it to other nouns–like her blog.

When Wood first read that sentence, “it was a sharply ungrammatical sentence to me,” he says. He wanted to find out where it was used and in what forms. By running surveys through Mechanical Turk, the Amazon service which connects workers with paid tasks, Wood and his colleagues determined it was mostly used in the South. When they looked for variations, though, they found an entirely unknown type of sentence.

The linguists wanted to know if “here’s me a…” could be turned into a question—”where’s me a..?” One of their first steps: just Google that phrase. Immediately, they started finding examples. They’re all over the internet, mostly on social media and in the comments sections of websites:

Where's me a bae?

Where's me a good decent guy at?!

Now, where's me a half-ton Dodge Long-Bed?

Where's me a big yellow "GEEKY" button to click on?

When linguists think they’ve found something new, they look for the same construction elsewhere. “The way we tread new ground is asking people: can you say this in your language?” says Wood. Languages are generally similar enough that there are analogues. For “here’s you a…” that was true: there are examples in French, Latin, Russian and Hebrew. But the “where’s” version had no parallels.

“People would wrinkle their nose and say, ‘You can’t say that,’” Wood says.

When Wood and his colleagues investigated the construction, they found that it, too, is used mostly in the American South, stretching west through Texas. In other words, it seems like the South has invented a way of speaking that, as far as anyone knows, doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world right now–and may never have.

“One day we might find a language that has it,” says Wood. “But its absence so far is pretty remarkable.”"
english  language  linguistics  south  2015  regionalism  grammar 
december 2015 by robertogreco
How Diverse Literature Can Make Middle School Easier - The Atlantic
"I remember walking into my classroom for the first time, bare walls and all, and spending hours poring over the existing curriculum with my new team. I remember a smile spreading across my coworker’s face as I pushed Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese to become one of our new texts. This was the kind of material we wanted students to know about early on.

We’ve continued to add more texts to each year’s plan that better reflect the myriad identities that file into our classrooms every September.

We choose writing from all over the world, stories that speak about gender and sexual orientation, and texts that touch on race and socioeconomic status. We can’t always cover every cultural identifier during the semester, but we try our best. And we make it a point to include our students in that process.

At the end of the year, students rate the three major texts and various short pieces they’ve read on a scale from one to five; when our department meets at the end of a semester, we try to change at least one text for the next year. Though we’ve consistently kept American Born Chinese on our syllabus, no text is sacred to us, regardless of prestige. Two years ago, we chopped To Kill a Mockingbird from our reading list in response to negative feedback from students of color.

During the annual survey, we also ask students for books they’ve enjoyed reading in their free time. As a result, we’ve added things like Every Day by David Levithan to our syllabus. The goal is for students to understand reading as an opportunity for enjoyment, not merely an obligation.

That enjoyment—seeing themselves and becoming familiar with identities deemed Other—is more than an escape. Students of color live in an especially reactionary world, one that is frequently unreceptive to their attempts to push back against injustice. Students who are gender-fluid or non-conforming still have to gel with a cissexist society. For an hour and 20 minutes a day, my fellow teachers and I have a chance to help them sort through the static and find a sense of place.

In a typical year, eighth-graders read several pieces about identity, both fiction and nonfiction. For the past two years, the fall curriculum has started with Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, moved to excerpts from Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club, and lands on a short personal essay by Alice Walker titled “Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self.”

Then we take a deep dive into what we call the “identity unit.”

On Day 1, students answer two questions in a writing exercise: When someone meets you, what is the first thing that you think they notice about you? What are some things you wish someone knew about you when they first met you? The students break into pairs, sharing some or all of the bullet-point lists they’ve created with each other.

Next, I have students read a modified version of anthropologist Edward T. Hall’s article, “Iceberg Theory of Culture.” In 1976, Hall theorized we all have two significant layers: how we present to others—racial and gender presentation, etc.— and what’s “below the surface”—learning differences, morals, ethics, etc.

Students are asked to process these topics in different ways, sometimes physically. I’ll pose statements like “I think about my race on a daily basis,” or “I have been judged based on perceived socio-economic status,” and students will then move around the room to show where they fall on a spectrum, “agree” on one end, “disagree” on the other. We’ll usually have some class discussion afterward, and I’ll ask them to free-write a paragraph based on the topic.

I recently reached out to one of my former students, Darcy, who now attends Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts. She told me by email she still remembered the activity, a full three years later.

“Discussing our identities for the first time felt foreign, strange, and perhaps awkward,” she wrote to me. “However, the conversation about identity became more fluid with each new discussion. I appreciate that the iceberg concept was introduced to me at a young age because the activity forced me to communicate with myself in-depth, something that I know is hard even for adults.”

Once the class has discussed the iceberg and various identifiers, the students turn the lens inward. They spend some time brainstorming all the aspects of their identities, mulling over how much these elements contribute to their self-perception and how the rest of the world sees them.

To drive home these concepts, I have them visually create their own interpretation of the iceberg to depict their identity. In the last few years, I’ve seen students create models to speak for them—an advent calendar, for example, that featured “white” under a box labeled “race,” revealing “multiracial” once a tab was lifted. The student sought to show how important his multiracial Asian ethnicity was to his sense of self, though everyone else perceived him as white. Another student drew a cross-section of an apple, listing her presentational identifiers on the outside and her morals and ethics in deeper layers inside.

Most of the work we do around identity is geared toward beginning the long process of understanding these shifting concepts in society. These are issues my students will grapple with for as long as they live around other people. But already, I can see the impact of this work as students move on from my class. Again, I turned to Darcy to get a read on whether this material resonates.

“In middle school, I think many aspects of what I thought my identity to be were subconsciously influenced by my family. I wouldn’t say that pieces of my identity are necessarily easier to process now, but as I’ve matured I can identify independently,” she wrote. “I understand and appreciate that there is much more to a person’s character than what appears at the tip of the iceberg—a lesson produced by the discussions in my middle school English classroom.”"
noahcho  education  middleschool  cv  teaching  howweteach  literature  identity  2015  teachingenglish  english  pedagogy  preteens  adolescence  fiveparagraphessays 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Michigan Today » That’s what they say
"One of my colleagues and I get into heated debates in the hall about whether or not the pronoun “they” can be singular. I say it can, and he vehemently disagrees.

What we’re talking about here is often called the “singular generic pronoun question.” In English, we have the pronoun “he” for males, “she” for females, and “it” for inanimate objects; but what do you do when you’re referring to a person of unknown or unspecified gender?

We could take a sentence like, “A teacher should learn _____ students’ names.”

“His” suggests the teacher is male. “Her” suggests the teacher is female. “His or her” seems a bit cumbersome. So what do we do?

In the spoken language many of us would say, “A teacher should learn their students’ names.” We would use the singular “they.” Now some people will retort that “they” cannot be singular. Here’s my evidence that it can. Let’s imagine I say to you, “I was talking to a friend of mine and they said it’s a terrible movie.” For most people, that sentence would go unremarked. I was talking to “a” friend of mine and “they” said something about the movie. I’m clearly talking about one person. Perhaps I don’t want you to know whether that person is male or female, or it doesn’t matter, or the friend’s gender does not fit into a male-female binary. And so I say “they.” A singular “they.”

What about the argument that it’s impossible for a pronoun to be both singular and plural at the same time? Well, I would say we already have evidence in the language that it’s very possible. Let’s take the second-person pronoun “you.” The pronoun “you” can be singular: if I’m talking to one person, I would say, “You are very wonderful.” The pronoun “you” can be plural: if I’m talking to a whole group of people, I would (or could) say, “You are very wonderful.” (Of course, many varieties of English now include new second-person plural forms such as “y’all,” “yinz,” and “you guys.”) And standard varieties of English use the same verb “are” (i.e., “you are”) for both one person and many people.

“They” has done the same thing as “you” in terms of taking on both a singular and plural meaning. And it’s actually been doing that for centuries. Jane Austen used singular “they”; Shakespeare used singular “they.” I have found examples of singular “they” going back into the Middle English period (Chaucer’s era).

So English speakers solved the problem of how to refer to a person of unknown or unspecified gender a long time ago. It was the eighteenth century when grammarians told English speakers and writers that singular “they” was not a good idea, not “correct grammar,” and that we should use “he” as a generic instead. It was the 1970s with second-wave feminism that singular “he” was (accurately) identified as sexist, and many style guides recommended that we use “he or she” (or rewrite the sentence entirely to avoid the construction). And many of us may still use “he or she” or “s/he” when we write. But when we speak, we tend to use “they”; multiple studies have shown that the vast majority of the time most of us use singular “they.”

So it’s a problem that we as English speakers have already solved. The interesting question is, at what point will we be told that we’re allowed to write singular “they” down in more formal, edited contexts? And if you watch closely, you’ll see that singular “they” is becoming more and more common. You’ll now see singular “they” in newspapers and magazines, and sometimes even academic prose, as it slowly makes its way into more formal writing, out of the speech that we use every day."
annecurzan  language  english  gender  2012  they  pronouns 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Anne Curzan: What makes a word "real"? - YouTube
"One could argue that slang words like 'hangry,' 'defriend' and 'adorkable' fill crucial meaning gaps in the English language, even if they don't appear in the dictionary. After all, who actually decides which words make it into those vaulted pages? Language historian Anne Curzan gives a charming look at the humans behind dictionaries, and the choices they make on a constant basis."
annecurzan  language  english  words  classideas  dictionaries  authority  slang  history  2014  via:christaflores  lexicography  lexicographers  dictionary 
november 2015 by robertogreco
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Facepalm Pilot: Where Technology Meets Stupidity: An Interactive Guide to Ambiguous Grammar.
"Depending on whom you ask, the use of the active voice over the passive is arguably the most fundamental writer’s maxim, thought to lend weight, truth, and power to declarative statements. This absolutist view is flawed, however, because language is an art of nuance. From time to time, writers may well find illustrative value in the lightest of phrases, sentences so weightless and feathery that they scarcely even seem to exist at all. These can convey details well beyond the crude thrust of the hulking active voice, and when used strictly as ornamentation, they needn’t actually convey anything at all."
writing  grammar  language  police  passivevoice  2015  race  journalism  english  bias  lawenforcement  via:lukeneff 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Mapping Metaphor
"The Metaphor Map of English shows the metaphorical links which have been identified between different areas of meaning. These links can be from the Anglo-Saxon period right up to the present day so the map covers 1300 years of the English language. This allows us the opportunity to track metaphorical ways of thinking and expressing ourselves over more than a millennium; see the Metaphor in English section for more information.

The Metaphor Map was built as part of the Mapping Metaphor with the Historical Thesaurus project. This was completed by a team in English Language at the University of Glasgow and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council from 2012 to early 2015. The Metaphor Map is based on the Historical Thesaurus of English, which was published in 2009 by Oxford University Press as the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary.

To find out more see our Twitter feed @MappingMetaphor and our project blog, which has news, short articles and information on the project."



"• This circle represents all of knowledge in English: every word in every sense in the English language for over a millennium.

• The connections show metaphorical links in language and thought between different areas of meaning.

• Click on category names to highlight the connections from that category then click on individual yellow lines to get more detail about each connection.

• To open up the categories further, use the controls in the green box (particularly ‘show x categories’ on the home screen and the ‘centre on’ controls at more detailed levels).

• The Metaphor Map is a work in progress. All categories have links but not all categories have example words/dates yet. To view a list of categories which have had full date and word information added, please see this page"
metaphor  mapping  english  language  cognition  metaphors  meaning 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive: Phuc Tran at TEDxDirigo - YouTube
"Phuc Tran is in his second decade as a Classicist and Tattooer. He has taught Latin, Greek, German, and Sanskrit at independent schools in New York and Maine and was an instructor at Brooklyn College's Summer Latin Institute. In 2010, he served on a committee to revise the National Latin Praxis exam for ETS. Phuc currently teaches at Waynflete School in Portland."
phuctran  language  english  subjunctive  refugees  2012  identity  indicative  reality  presence  future  imperative  perspective  immigration  immigrantexperience  grammar  depression  regret  creativity  imagination  experience  optimism  philosophy  via:juliarubin  french  vietnamese  france 
september 2015 by robertogreco
No, Yes, Definitely: On The Rise Of 'No, Totally' As Linguistic Quirk : NPR
""Yep. Nope. Very definitely."

Kathryn Schulz, a writer for The New Yorker, heard that seemingly-contradictory response to a question recently. And once she started listening for it, she heard it everywhere: people agreeing by saying "No, totally," or "No, definitely," or "No, for sure."

In a recent article, Schulz digs into what's behind this linguistic quirk. She found out that the English language used to have more options than just "yes" and "no."

There were four options, to be precise: "yes," "yea," "no" and "nay." She writes:

" ... 'nay' was used to respond to positive statements or questions, while "no" was reserved for contradicting anything phrased in the negative.
Is the Tabard open?
Nay, it closed at midnight.
Isn't Chaucer meeting us here?
No, he went home to bed."

"Once that distinction dropped out," Schulz tells NPR's Arun Rath, "we actually created a problem for ourselves. Because now when someone asks you a question in the negative — 'Oh, you didn't like that film?' — if I say 'No,' I might be saying 'No, I didn't like that film' or 'No, you're incorrect, I loved that film!'"

And in some cases, "No, totally" makes your feelings more clear."

[Kathryn Schulz’s New Yorker article here: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/what-part-of-no-totally-dont-you-understand ]
language  english  2015  via:tealtan  kathrynschulz 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Johnson: Bilingualism in America: "Speak American". What about speaking something else too? | The Economist
"ARRIBA, ándale. America’s conversation about the country’s second-biggest language is as drearily predictable as the catch-phrase of Speedy Gonzalez, a cartoon mouse, is silly. The country has not quite figured how to think about the fact that it is home to millions of people who speak Spanish.

Three recent stories encapsulate the tone-deaf nature of the dialogue happening between English and Spanish in America. First is that of Vanessa Ruiz, a newscaster in Arizona. Apparently many Anglophones in her audience are annoyed by her overly Spanish pronunciation of Spanish names and place-names during her English broadcast. (One tweeted at her “You are a newscaster. Not a mariachi. Speak English.”) Ms Ruiz replied in a cheerful on-air commentary: she was “lucky” to grow up bilingual, and that she had faith that her viewers would get used to hearing the words in question pronounced “they way they are meant to be pronounced.”

This is slightly confused; there is not a single way that anything is “meant” to be pronounced: tomato, tomahto, “park the car in Harvard Yard” and “pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd.” Mexico is pronounced meks-ick-o in English, and meh-hee-ko in Mexico. What about a name like “Rodríguez”: the rhotic burr of an American "r" twice, or a trilled “r” to start the name and a quick tap for the second r, as in Spanish?

There is not a simple answer. One may not be authentically Spanish, but a Rodriguez in Cleveland may not care, or may even prefer the red-white-and-blue pronunciation. Ms Ruiz should not be criticised for her pronunciation; neither should she assume that Americans who do otherwise are doing anything wrong. If America can handle both Harvard Yard and Hahvahd Yahd, it can manage this.

But Spanish is not just another accent; it is a language. People’s confusion quickly leads to irritation when they cannot understand the speech of those around them, and many monolingual English-speakers don’t like the growth of Spanish in America. This became more than obvious when the second Spanish controversy broke recently. Jeb Bush, a contender for the Republican nomination for the presidency, is married to a Mexican-American, and occasionally addresses an impressively fluent string of Spanish to his supporters. This was too much for Donald Trump, the current Republican frontrunner, who said said that Mr Bush "should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States". Joining the chorus was Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2008, who said that while it was great that Mr Bush is bilingual, Latinos in America should “speak American”.

Never mind that she corrected this to “speak English” a sentence later. After disappearing from the national stage for a time, Ms Palin’s reputation for talking entertaining nonsense was quickly revived. She is, however, on a slightly better historical footing than her critics think: the state of Illinois declared its official language to be “American” in 1923, before quietly revoking the law in 1969, and one congressman introduced a failed bill to make “American” the national language in the 1920s as well. American English is quite obviously a dialect of English, not a separate language from that spoken in England, but in quite a lot of places, two mutually intelligible varieties of speech get different names for political reasons: Serbian and Croatian, Hindi and Urdu, and so forth.

Ms Palin did her best to be generous, calling America’s Hispanic population “large and wonderful” and praising Mr Bush’s connection to Hispanics through his wife and her language. But she went on to say “I think, you know, when you’re here, let’s speak American.” The territoriality of it all seems to be at issue: foreign languages are great, so long as they’re only spoken abroad.

But the territory of the United States has never been anything resembling monolingual. It was founded on the territory of speakers of the many native American languages. It bought and conquered big territories from France, Spain and Mexico. It has received wave after wave of immigrants, and contrary to popular belief, yesterday’s waves were no faster than today’s to learn English (and in many cases, quite a lot slower). Contrary to another popular belief, Spanish is not the first language with large groups of speakers living in big sections of the country, with media and local life in their language; German-speakers made up a huge and mostly unassimilated bloc a century ago, dominating cities across the midwest like Milwaukee, Cincinnati and St. Louis.

This history is easily forgotten because America is very good at turning immigrants into monoglot English-speakers. Yes, American English is the crucial language to know in the United States. But Ms Ruiz in Arizona and Mr Bush on the campaign trail merely highlight an obvious corollary: there is nothing wrong at all—in fact, there is a lot to celebrate—in speaking a second language alongside English, whether you are an Arizonan named Ruiz or the Anglo-Saxon son and brother of former presidents named Bush. Barack Obama can chat a bit in Indonesian, Herbert Hoover was fluent in Mandarin, and Martin van Buren’s first language was Dutch. America is never going to elect someone who doesn’t speak “American”, but it should be proud, not nervous, when it picks someone who speaks more than a single language."
spanish  español  english  us  language  languages  politics  2015  bilingualism 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Dear Pedants: Your Fave Grammar Rule is Probably Fake | JSTOR Daily
"What’s going on here? How is it that so many people, innocently speaking their own native tongue from birth, are accused of using it incorrectly? Is this really an epidemic of biblical hyperbole, signifying the death of the English language in these sadly degenerate modern times? Are we all going to start txt-speaking 2 each other in the last throes of its life?🙀

On closer inspection, it seems the English language has been dying in fits and starts for hundreds of years, simply through its own evolution. Linguists would agree that there is a socially accepted standard dialect that rules much of the mainstream, literate world of the Anglosphere."
grammar  rules  pedants  classideas  language  english  judgement  2015 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Dictionary Stories
"Very short stories composed entirely of example sentences from the New Oxford American Dictionary. A project by Jez Burrows."

"Almost every word you’ll find in the dictionary will be accompanied by an example sentence. These sentences—researched and written by fearless lexicographers—are intended to demonstrate the most probable usage of a word, in order to help you use it correctly.

All the stories collected here are written entirely using example sentences from the New Oxford American Dictionary, with nothing added except some punctuation to piece them together. The words that spawned each sentence are underlined.

Dictionary Stories is a project by Jez Burrows, a designer and illustrator and human man living in San Francisco, CA. You can yell at him on Twitter, or berate him over email. "
language  words  dictionaries  stories  storytelling  jezburrows  via:robinsloan  usage  english  dictionary 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Tumblr Staff — prismatic-bell: atomicairspace: copperbooms: ...
"
prismatic-bell:
atomicairspace:
copperbooms:
when did tumblr collectively decide not to use punctuation like when did this happen why is this a thing


it just looks so smooth I mean look at this sentence flow like a jungle river

ACTUALLY

This is really exciting, linguistically speaking.

Because it’s not true that Tumblr never uses punctuation. But it is true that lack of punctuation has become, itself, a form of punctuation. On Tumblr the lack of punctuation in multisentence-long posts creates the function of rhetorical speech, or speech that is not intended to have an answer, usually in the form of a question. Consider the following two potential posts. Each individual line should be taken as a post:

ugh is there any particular reason people at work have to take these massive handfuls of sauce packets they know they’re not going to use like god put that back we have to pay for that stuff

Ugh. Is there any particular reason people at work have to take these massive handfuls of sauce packets they know they’re not going to use? Like god, put that back. We have to pay for that stuff.

In your head, those two potential posts sound totally different. In the first one I’m ranting about work, and this requires no answer. The second may actually engage you to give an answer about hoarding sauce packets. And if you answer the first post, you will likely do so in the same style.

Here’s what makes this exciting: the English language has no actual punctuation for rhetorical speech–that is, there are no special marks that specifically indicate “this speech is in the abstract, and requires no answer.” Not only that, it never has. The first written record of English (actually proto-English, predating even Old English) dates to the 400s CE, so we’re talking about 1600 years of having absolutely no marker whatsoever for rhetorical speech.

A group of teens and young adults on a blogging website literally reshaped a deficit a millennium and a half old in our language to fit their language needs. More! This group has agreed on a more or less universal standard for these new rules, which fits the definition of “language.” Which is to say Tumblr English is its own actual, real, separate dialect of the English language, and because it is spoken by people worldwide who have introduced concepts from their own languages into it, it may qualify as a written form of pidgin.

Tumblr English should literally be treated as its own language, because it does not follow the rules of any form of formal written English, and yet it does have its own consistent internal rules. If you don’t think that’s cool as fuck then I don’t even know what to tell you."
language  tumblr  internet  english  grammar  via:robinsloan  pigdin  linguistics 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Toki Pona: A Language With a Hundred Words - The Atlantic
[Toki Pona website: http://tokipona.org/ ]

"In Chinese, the word computer translates directly as electric brain.

In Icelandic, a compass is a direction-shower, and a microscope a small-watcher.

In Lakota, horse is literally dog of wonder.

These neologisms demonstrate the cumulative quality of language, in which we use the known to describe the unknown.

“It is by metaphor that language grows,” writes the psychologist Julian Jaynes. “The common reply to the question ‘What is it?’ is, when the reply is difficult or the experience unique, ‘Well, it is like —.’”

That metaphorical process is at the heart of Toki Pona, the world’s smallest language. While the Oxford English Dictionary contains a quarter of a million entries, and even Koko the gorilla communicates with over 1,000 gestures in American Sign Language, the total vocabulary of Toki Pona is a mere 123 words. Yet, as the creator Sonja Lang and many other Toki Pona speakers insist, it is enough to express almost any idea. This economy of form is accomplished by reducing symbolic thought to its most basic elements, merging related concepts, and having single words perform multiple functions of speech.

In contrast to the hundreds or thousands of study hours required to attain fluency in other languages, a general consensus among Toki Pona speakers is that it takes about 30 hours to master. That ease of acquisition, many of them believe, makes it an ideal international auxiliary language—the realization of an ancient dream to return humanity to a pre-Babel unity. Toki Pona serves that function already for hundreds of enthusiasts connected via online communities in countries as diverse as Japan, Belgium, New Zealand, and Argentina.

In addition to making Toki Pona simple to learn, the language’s minimalist approach is also designed to change how its speakers think. The paucity of terms provokes a kind of creative circumlocution that requires careful attention to detail. An avoidance of set phrases keeps the process fluid. The result, according to Lang, is to immerse the speaker in the moment, in a state reminiscent of what Zen Buddhists call mindfulness.

“What is a car?” Lang mused recently via phone from her home in Toronto.

“You might say that a car is a space that's used for movement,” she proposed. “That would be tomo tawa. If you’re struck by a car though, it might be a hard object that’s hitting me. That’s kiwen utala.”

The real question is: What is a car to you?

As with most things in Toki Pona, the answer is relative.

“We wear many hats in life,” Lang continued, “One moment I might be a sister, the next moment a worker, or a writer. Things change and we have to adapt.”

The language’s dependence on subjectivity and context is also an exercise in perspective-taking. “You have to consider your interlocutor’s way of understanding the world, or situation,” the Polish citizen Marta Krzeminska stated. “For that reason, I think it has great potential for bringing people together.”

To create her new language, Lang worked backwards—against the trend of a natural lexicon. She began by reducing and consolidating the specific into the general."
language  english  linguistics  tokipona  rocmorin  2015  communication  vocabulary  minimalism  languages 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Designing for Non-Native Speakers · An A List Apart Blog Post
"For the past few years, I’ve worked on sites and web apps that have large user groups of non-native speakers of English. That has given me a chance to look at how they are accepted (or rejected) by people who don’t speak English as a first language.

Some curious facts emerge when you compare the languages most sites use, versus the languages most internet users speak. While around half of all web pages are in English, only about 28 percent of the people using the internet speak English as a first language. Interesting, right? There are billions of people who use and browse the English web, but are not native speakers.

Asking for fully translated and localized sites is a mammoth task, one only large international conglomerates can afford. Instead, we can take some other simple steps to make our sites accessible for non-native speakers. We can focus on clear language, interfaces, and prompts, to help users as they navigate a largely English-speaking web.



Non-native speakers of English often need a little extra help to get through English web interfaces. That is OK. If they are a significant part of your customer base, these are some simple ways to support them, making a more powerful online experience possible. Aligning your readability level with your users’ reading comprehension level, standardizing your interface, and expanding the range of help options available to users are all things you can do now—you don’t need to wait until the future when you have the time and money for a complete overhaul of your content. By planning and delivering these discrete steps, you can do a lot right now to help all your users, whether they are native speakers or not."
senongoakpem  2015  english  esl  writing  readability 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Why the Book I'm About to Publish Will Be Ignored — Partisan
"Given that English speakers share a country with such a vital and little understood literary market, and given how rarely these translations occur—and given that the poetry collections being rendered into English are some of the most outstanding and representative books from that territory—you would think their appearance would be regarded as a cause for celebration (or at least cause for copy). But beyond the staples of Émile Nelligan and, maybe, Saint-Denys Garneau, and outside of living poets like Nicole Brossard, Québécois poetry barely registers. And Quebec isn’t alone. There are Francophone poetry communities throughout the country—in Manitoba or New Brunswick—that exist in almost total isolation from English-Canadian reviewers, critics, and academics. I often joke that the easiest way to confound an English-Canadian poet is to tell them there are major Canadian poets who don’t write in English."



"One group gets it—Quebec’s English poets. Almost everything Canada knows about Québécois poetry is thanks to them. The McGill Movement is where it started. Led by F.R. Scott,, and active during the forties and fifties, this group was the first to demonstrate an interest in contemporary French-language verse. It was a period, according to Scott, when many “lively interchanges” were struck up among the French and English poets he invited to his home. (“I remember Louis Portugais,” Scott writes, “then editor of Hexagone publications, after reading T.S. Eliot’s translation of Saint-John Perse’s Anabase, looking up and saying to me, ‘It’s very bad’”). The McGill Movement’s importance, however, resides chiefly in its belief that translation wasn’t merely bridge-gapping tokenism but creative opportunity. Scott and his coterie sought authoritative and adventurous English equivalents—high-quality renditions that were poems in their own right."



"Anglo-Quebec poets are the only group that still seek out the invigorating surplus of these exchanges. Not surprisingly, they also appear to have harvested its considerable linguistic benefits—they write English, as Gail Scott has said of herself, “with the sound of French” in their ear. As a result, their best work not only carries a percentage of the genius of Québécois poetry, but something new: a Babelian sense of living between competing origins and tongues. For Eric Ormsby, this can lead to a phenomenon called a “shadow language.” Using the example of Basil Bunting’s familiarity with Latin or Geoffrey Hill’s knowledge of German, Ormsby argues that foreign idioms and phrases lurking below native speech can compel poets to “nuance and complicate the sound-patterns of their verse.” 

This shadow language enriches many of the English poems written in Montreal, poems marked by doubletalk and euphemism, polyphonic wordplay and impurities of diction. A. M. Klein was the first Anglo-Quebec poet to idiomatically emulsify his phrasings, to allow French to infiltrate and float inside his lines (“Mollified by the parle of French / Bilinguefact your air!”). But moments just as mesmerizing occur in poems by John Glassco, D.G. Jones, and Peter Van Toorn, as well as younger figures like Bruce Taylor, Asa Boxer, Oana Avasilichioaei, and Linda Besner.

A shadow language’s impact isn’t just linguisitic. Among Montreal poets, it can create the feeling of being set apart or cut adrift, of existing as an outsider. “I am nobody: / that is how I will enter you” is the way Michael Harris once addressed a room of imaginary readers. Or take Robyn Sarah: “I am the blip on the screen, / the cold spot, the dark area you see / with indefinite borders.” More exhilaratingly, it can contribute to a “several selves” state: life defined not only by the reality it inhabits, but also the potential—and sometimes fantastical—existences it did not fulfill. David Solway’s most notorious book, Saracen Island, features faux translations from a fictional Greek poet (he has since tried his hand at “Englishing” poems from Turkish and Domenican). And Asa Boxer’s long poem “Primer to the New World” reinvents Canada’s discovery as a Medieval travel narrative, packed with fabulous beasts and holy objects.

Anglo-Quebec poets are also the only group to successfully reconcile the century-old bicultural quarrel. The “two solitudes” have become what Solway calls the “two solicitudes.” What was once a sense of division is now a feeling of concern for the other’s well-being. Solway—who once declared Québécois poetry “the most powerful, the most interesting and the most vital poetic tradition in all of Canada”—has himself been an excellent conduit for that concern. He used to contribute a monthly translation of a French poem to the now-defunct Books in Canada (since gathered into a lovely anthology called Demilunes: Little Windows on Quebec), enjoys a fervent relationship with many francophone poets, and is the first English writer to win the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal.

It should be said such transactions aren’t exclusively between English and French. In her study Translating Montreal, Sherry Simon calls the city one of the world’s few “contact zones,” a place where languages mingle and intersect. This means poets can avail themselves of shadowy accents from a large palette of foreign vernaculars. Antonio D'Alfonso’s early collections sometimes mixed English, French, and Italian. Erin Mouré has creatively repurposed (or "transelated") Portuguese and Spanish poems into outrightly exotic dialects. Nonetheless, the shift of solitudes into solicitudes is the tale of an exploited double heritage, of poets embracing the acoustic advantage of living inside the French language and taking pleasure from its music. The self-centeredness of English dissolves in such a climate, forcing poets to acknowledge that larger soundscape.

Of course, that also means acknowledging the existence of singular talents like Nepveu. And that, in turn, means acknowledging a version of Canadian poetry found only in translation, in the sympathetic resonances between foreign words. Those of us committed to engaging with—and making available—literary worlds not our own can feel like that English radio station, discussed in Translating Montreal, that advertised delivering the “news to nous.” But “news to nous” isn’t always news that stays news. Fact is, it’s news to which Canada is now deaf."
poems  poetry  translation  french  english  canada  2015  language  languages  carminestarnino  quebec  spanish  español  portuguese  italian  mcgillmovement  ericormsby  amklein  johnglassco  dgjones  petervantoorn  brucetaylor  asaboxer  ooanaavasilichioaei  lindabesner  robynsarah  davidsolway  sherrysimon  erinmouré  pierrenepveu  gastonmiron  robertmelançon  pierremorency  michelgarneau  yvesboisvert  michaelhofmann  pashamalla  donaldwinkler  raymondbock  nellaarcan  hélènedorion  paulmuldoon  marcplourde  jacquesbrault  saint-denys-garneau 
june 2015 by robertogreco
These schools graduate English learners at a rate nearly 75 percent higher than other schools. What are they doing right? - The Hechinger Report
"Students at the International Network for Public Schools come from 119 countries and speak 93 different languages. About 90 percent of them live in low-income households, 70 percent have been separated from a parent during the immigration process, and 30 percent have significantly interrupted or limited formal education.

And yet, they are performing remarkably well. At the network’s 15 New York City schools, about 64 percent of the students graduate in four years. That compares with 37 percent of English learners in other city high schools. The six-year graduation rate is 74 percent, versus 50 percent for English learners in the rest of New York.

The Hechinger Report sat down with Claire Sylvan, who began teaching at the first International school in Queens in 1991 and is now executive director of the 19-school network, with campuses in New York, California, Virginia and Washington, DC. She tells us what works for her students — and what doesn’t.

Question: How do you set up your schools to accommodate such a diverse group of students?

Answer: You have to set winnable goals. If you were to say, ‘I’m going to run a marathon’ and you’ve never run, and you say, ‘Well, your problem is you don’t know how to run 26 miles,’ that wouldn’t work very well. You have to start from what you can do and keep expanding that. We assume that diversity is going to exist, we assume it’s a strength, and we figure out how to leverage it.

Q: How is diversity a strength?

A: English language learners arrive in school, and even the definition of them is, ‘You don’t know English yet.’ … What we’re saying is, ‘Wow, you know a whole lot of things about the world.’ Some of our kids come in and don’t know a word of English, they may not know how to read, but they know three languages fluently.

Q: So how does that translate into how you teach?

A: You create diverse groups and hands-on projects for kids who have different levels at entry to work on so that all the strengths they can bring come into play, and they begin to develop the areas that need development. So for a teacher the job is really hard, because they have to create these projects, they have to think about multiple levels, they have to think about how to group the kids. That is a huge thing in this operation.

Q: How do the kids learn English?

A: We don’t have them sit in a room to learn English in isolation from their academic work. They’re learning English while they’re learning social studies, and they’re also using their native languages.

You don’t learn to ride a bicycle watching someone else to ride that bicycle. Our kids need to be actively using the language so they can become adept at that, and so that’s why they work in small groups, too.

Q: What other kinds of support do International schools provide?

A: Nontraditional family structures are the norm in our school. Students may not be living with a family member or may be living with a mother they haven’t seen in 15 years. So what we need to do is create a structure where somebody is in charge of the whole kid, not just how they did on the math test. We care how they did on the math test, but we know that if we don’t organize ourselves in such a way that we are dealing with the whole child, we’re not going to be able to move forward on any particular part. We’re not going to know what the kid’s strengths are, because we may only see what isn’t working.

Q: What does that mean for teachers?

A: High schools tend to be organized in a way that there’s no one group of teachers who see the same group of kids. And so they can’t really talk about all of the kids.

In our schools, all the teachers — a math, an English, a science and a social studies teacher — all share the same group of kids. So everyone knows what each other is teaching, they can align the instruction so it supports each other, but they can also talk about how the kids are doing: ‘Johnny’s doing nothing in my class.’ ‘Really? In my class I have him sitting next to the following five kids and he’s off the charts.’

Q: The majority of your principals have been International teachers. Why do you put such an emphasis on internal leadership development?

A: If people are involved in making a decision, they’re actually going to carry it out. The teachers are the people closest to the kids, and who knows them better than the people who see them everyday? So they’re likely to be able to say, ‘This idea has no chance of flying with kids,’ or ‘Here’s the way to modify it.’

It’s also how you sustain schools over time, because the other issue is that [if] a school’s great because of a great leader [and the] leader leaves, whoops, [the] school goes down. That’s a not long-term strategy for success."
language  ell  education  diversity  pedagogy  schools  english  nyc  projectbasedlearning  highschool  interdisciplinary  international  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  clairesylvan  meredithkolodner 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Online Etymology Dictionary
"as in conk out, 1918, coined by World War I airmen, perhaps in imitation of the sound of a stalling motor, reinforced by conk (v.) "hit on the head," originally "punch in the nose" (1821), from conk (n.), slang for "nose" (1812), perhaps from fancied resemblance to a conch (pronounced "conk") shell."
words  english  etymology  wwi 
may 2015 by robertogreco
What's Your Favorite Slang Word? From Swag to On Fleek, Tweens Explain the Changing English Language - The Atlantic
"This is the first episode in a new series from The Atlantic, where we ask tweens for their thoughts on everything from middle-school jargon to what it's like growing up in the digital age. We interviewed students at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, D.C., who shared some of their favorite slang words with us: swag, on fleek, and werk (with an "e"). "Sometimes slang words come out of famous videos or Vines," Max, a seventh-grade student, says. "It's social media," says Ricardo, another seventh-grader."

[Also on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvSDh0OQ6Zs ]
kids  language  vine  english  slang  2015  teens  youth  middleschool  tweens 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Lydia Davis at the End of the World ‹ Literary Hub
"It all started with a resolution. After my books started coming out in various countries, I made a decision: Any language or culture that translates my work, I want to repay by translating something from that language into English, no matter how small. It might end up being just one poem or one story, but I would always translate something in return."
translation  lydiadavis  2015  books  language  culture  english  reciprocity 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Storylines TJ/SD
"Storylines TJ/SD maps subjective narratives from the past century that mark, trace, and challenge the transborder condition of Tijuana/San Diego, by highlighting bilingual stories of place-based resistance that have often gone underrepresented and bringing first person narrative to a region that is often interpreted through dehumanizing ideologies.

Organized by a binational editorial board of artists, art historians, and activists, Storylines: TJ/SD serves as a living narrative archive, manifesting as both live programming + public events accessible on both sides of the border, and as an interactive website and podcast released serially.

Storylines TJ/SD is:

Kate Clark (SD)

Misael Diaz (TJ)

Amy Sanchez (TJ)

Emily Sevier (SD)

Sara Solaimani (SD)

Adriana Trujillo (TJ)"
sandiego  tijuana  border  borders  stories  storytelling  bilingual  spanish  english  español  via:publichistorian  kateclark  misaeldiaz  amysanchez  emilysevier  srasolaimani  adrianatrujillo  art  history  events  mexico  us  activism  resistance  place 
april 2015 by robertogreco
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