March 27, 2010
I love books!
I finally updated the books I’ve read (see off to the right)! I think it looks messy, so if anyone knows of a better way to put it up, please let me know!
PLEASE post comments you’ve had on the books or offer new suggestions so that they may be devoured/read!
March 10, 2010
THE BIG PONDER: Has e-speak bridged the gap between the written and spoken word?
Many languages, such as English, are made up of a spoken and written component. For these languages (I’m thinking Indo-European), it takes a while for the written language to “catch up” to the spoken word. The written word is sluggish because it’s generally reserved for more formal, permanent communications. The written word (read: the published word) had to adhere to certain grammatical standards and rules, whereas the spoken word is constantly changing and evolving. (Never mind for the moment that “standard English grammar” in and of itself is a whole other can of worms.)
Personal communication, being informal by nature, doesn’t have to be edited for spelling mistakes, correct punctuation placement, or grammar. And yet, as the writer desires to transmit a comprehensible message along to the reader, it is absolutely necessary for the writer to adhere to some sort of grammar (thank you, Noam, for your colorless, green ideas).
Let’s leap back for a sec: Diaries, letters, and even post-its have been around for quite some time. These are all forms of personal communication where the grammar isn’t always formal. In fact, depending on the audience, the grammar found in these kinds of documents reflects the grammar of the spoken word instead of the rules of the written word, but no one ever pitched a fit about it. So why is it that e-speak is causing such linguistic turmoil? Simple: letters, diaries, and even post-its are not instantaneous forms of communication. Chatting online happens in real time. Texting happens in real time. Even e-mail, although slower than chatting, happens more frequently than letter writing. Spoken language evolves through USE. Therefore, it makes sense that the more we USE e-speak, the more it will change and evolve, just like a spoken language. E-speak is the method in which people informally write. In other words, e-speak is the perfect medium to write like you talk, thus bridging the gap between the formal, written word and the fleeting, verbal word.
Now, to get back to the BIG PONDER. Do you think that e-speak has bridged the gap between the written and spoken word?
February 25, 2010
I both cry and laugh when I steal a kid’s note from class. I cry because their middle school grammar/spelling is so incomprehensible; and then I laugh because their middle school grammar/spelling is so incomprehensible. This week’s winner was…
” i no how to spel “
Ah, the irony! Does anybody have a tissue?
February 21, 2010
“Back in my day, we didn’t have TV. We read books.”
As an educator, I am constantly shocked by the way in which books do not factor into the life of the average individual. Getting my 7th graders to read books, even books that they choose, is like getting a cat to take a bath. Even my mid-twenties peers consistently choose television shows over reading. This trend has nothing to do with intelligence, it’s simply that books have become an anachronistic form of entertainment and knowledge.
The main idea for today:
The written word is no longer immortal.
Books are an archaic form of acquiring and publishing information. (Case in point: look at me publishing my own thoughts out here on the inter-webs!) Now on the one hand, this can be a good thing: new information can be acquired, and digital sources can be updated immediately. But on the other hand, what is our legacy without the written word? With constant updating of information, the written word-nouveau is only written to be re-written. Thus, the written word is no longer immortal.
It used to be that books were a sign of the wealthy and the educated – an instant status symbol for respect. Libraries were a shrine of academic prostration where literate leaders could convene. Flash forward to the modern era: books are reduced to a ramshackle bookshelf relegated shamelessly to the back of the apartment where they can be hidden, not shared or discussed. My how times have changed: even 100 years ago average people would have given a limb to possess the dusty bookshelf in the back of your apartment. (And yet, I suppose the fact that what was worth a limb 100 years ago is now simply a sinus infection waiting to happen could be called progress – thank you, supply & demand.)
The cause of my [super old-school] lament is that the books at my school seem to be more at home on the floor of the building than on a library shelf. Not only does the newer generation in my classroom fight against the non-digital word, but the written word is so actively disrespected that a book can be kicked unceremoniously from one side of the school to the other and back again; not even worth the time and effort of a spry, young individual to bend over and remove it from harm’s way. The power of books is dead. Welcome to the disposable language of the modern age.
February 14, 2010
In 1984 by George Orwell, the society in his book speaks a language called “NewSpeak” where they make talking more efficient by limiting vocabulary. Are we, as a society, heading down the path towards Newspeak?
Vocabulary has lost its place among other prestigious characteristics in today’s society. Ads use mundane words, and former President Bush was well-liked for his “understandable” speeches, so characterized by their lack of pompous vocabulary. I note a serious lack of vocabulary usage and understanding as I teach my kids 7th grade math. Words like “increase,” “decrease,” and “compare” are now words that 7th grade students do not comprehend. “Why say ‘increase’ when you can just say ‘goes up?'” complain my students. As we work towards solving word problems, we have learned to “translate” the harder words into words we can understand; and I wonder…am I really doing them a favor, or am I propelling the future generation towards Newpseak?
Case in point: This is a dialogue I heard between two students –
- S1: Man, that nigga so bad.
- S2: Whoa – he gone to prison?
- S1: No man – I mean he good bad, not bad bad.
The confusion between “good bad” and “bad bad” comes from using the word “bad” to describe both positive and negative situations. Next step: good vs. ungood?
What other words do you commonly use to express yourself that have a double meaning?
Are we heading towards Newspeak? Cast a vote!
February 6, 2010
So here’s the skinny:
I am a teacher in a relatively crappy school. I am constantly surprised by the lack of literacy in my classroom and school. We have boards and committees whose entire lives are dedicated to the legislation of literacy in the classroom, we are connected globally for the purpose of communication, and yet it makes communication “cheaper” and less profound. We live in an age of excess and disposability, and our language reflects it. For example, the picture in this post was something I took at my school. It is dry erase board marker on the bathroom wall.
Please note, the children cannot even spell “bitch” OR the name of their gang (pic below: read “cripe,” autocorrect “crips”) correctly. It shocks me to think that in this day of ipods, iphones, icans and iwills that the future generation resorts to glorified cave art on the wall of the communal “dumping grounds.”
Whether due to technology, the latent aftershock of integration, or the fact that English hasn’t had an upgrade since a bunch of entrepreneurs with printing presses in the 1700’s spewed out some grammar books, English is changing. The spelling, the grammar, and the mediums through which language travels are not respected; they are disposable.