China bans wordplay in attempt at pun control | World news | The Guardian

China bans wordplay in attempt at pun control | World news | The Guardian.

Okay, so I think the criticisms here are pretty obvious, so let’s not dwell on them. Like, to ban anything for being “confusing” or “non-standard” seems more a comment on power/control in education than useful public policy, so there’s that.

On the other hand, let’s enjoy the fact that puns are being framed here as “cultural and linguistic chaos,” which is hyperbolically delightful.


In defence of sweary women | Daily Maverick

In defence of sweary women | Daily Maverick.

“Profanity is part of my rhetorical armoury.” THIS IS THE BEST, THE ABSOLUTE FUCKING BEST.

What’s the Use of the Academic Paper? — Teaching, Learning, & Education — Medium

What’s the Use of the Academic Paper? — Teaching, Learning, & Education — Medium.

Well, to be frank, I think the open-ended closing to this essay is a huge cop-out (and one that we can’t typically get away with in academic writing!), but some of the information she cites is p interesting. The traditional classroom may be a relic of 19th Century industrialization, but wouldn’t updating it to fit current technology subject future generations to a similar wrong? The problem, here, is training students for their futures based on our current needs and realities.

And as a personal side note (coming from someone who excelled at academic paper writing, so take it with as many grains of salt as you need/want), I do think there’s value in learning to write formally and to adopt a voice that is uncomfortable. It’s a brain-stretching exercise that also exposes a lot about how written language operates and how to communicate with a variety of audiences. The long SAT-word-laden sentences of academic writing teach both readers and writers to have patience for complex ideas… but of course they can also sometimes obscure crappy ideas and impoverished thinking with highfalutin vocabulary. On the other hand, the seemingly relatable tone of a blog can serve a similar function, so why not study both together? Maybe it’s time for the contemporary classroom to get down with a little rhetorical theory to train a generation of critical thinkers.

Writing Repository

Howdy! I’ve missed this place, but I think I might be back for real this time after a few failed attempts to get Twitter and Tumblr famous. 😦 Also, now I’m directing potential employers to this site, so hi guys! Sometimes I write things.

Here are some of my latest CASE pieces going from most to least recent:

Fear Catch Me

For the sake of the archive! Here is the last article I wrote for CASE on how one sentence in Pidgin English reframed the way a group of Americans thought about fear. Also note the exchange of comments at the end… defending your own work is maybe one of the most terrifying tasks. (On the other hand, I am realizing that I am sometimes a little too timid to state the things I think I know with conviction either because I’m intimidated by people or afraid of being wrong. Rats.)

Okay, anyway, here’s the piece. And there will be a new one from me in just a few hours. Golly.

Scientists Seek to Rein In Diagnoses of Cancer –

Scientists Seek to Rein In Diagnoses of Cancer –

Semantic change or medical revolution?

Language Wars

This PBS “Language Wars” report paints a somewhat balanced picture of the debate on bilingual education in this country… and it drives me absolutely insane.  I was planning on writing another ranty post about this, but I’ll spare everyone because what I want to say boils down to this: it makes me feel icky.  I love grammar, and I think learning it provides us with a powerful tool for communication, but quashing a student’s native or heritage language seems wrong and reactionary.

Being bicultural is enough of a struggle without a school system telling you that speaking your language makes you stupider.  Heritage languages can be hard to preserve because parents and children feel ashamed of the culture they are transmitting or learning… and anti-bilingualism reinforces that feeling of shame.

One of the toughest but most important tasks a language teacher has is to create a safe space.  Language is experimental and intensely personal.  A student may feel more at ease in a classroom of rules and diagrams, but that’s only because the rules become walls and the adherents have no incentive to explore.