Category Archives: recommended reading

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.

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.


words your iPhone doesn’t “know”

words your iPhone doesn’t “know”

Guys, y’all know how I feel about swear words and bad language… but obviously I understand why the iPhone doesn’t have the eff-bomb programmed into its autocorrect.

This article, on the other hand, is a little nuts.

recommended reading of 2012

Looking back at my 2012 posting track record, I realize that I shared a lot of articles.  In fact, I shared other people’s writing so frequently that I ended up creating a new category to include all of my article posts (see sidebar).  As I continue to reflect on how best to move forward with this blogging project (or, if you’ll forgive the blend word, bloject), I think I’m still well within the appropriate window to share a year-end list for your perusal in the meantime.

Here is a list of language-related stuff I read in (mostly late-) 2012 that I think you should also read:

  • Shameless self-promotion first, this feature on CASE about facebook is an important read because: “Our experiences hold some kind of significance or meaning that should not be reduced to the system of rational exchange that equivalence engenders, and that built the current Facebook. We do not live and grow to compete against our friends in a perpetual, unsatisfying game of one-upsmanship.”
  • Utopian for Beginners” in one of the last New Yorker issues of 2012.  What does it mean for a language to be “perfect” and why does the quest for perfection always leave so much room usurpation?
  • Talking Hands by Margalit Fox is not a work of sociolinguistics or anthropology; it’s a story about language and a narrative about grammar… and also a reminder that sign language is a language, not an alternative.
  • This article about the flooding happening in Britain at the end of November is worth reading for the understated tone.  I have just started work on an adaptation of a translation from British English to American English… and I think this is why: “Conditions were described by locals as ‘pretty shocking.'”
  • Style Lessons in Clarity and Grace which I received for Christmas and have yet to examine with much depth.  It was time for this girl to upgrade to a new style guide and this is, apparently, the best.

today’s contribution to society

I have a new article up on CASE today… and I’ve also realized that with the new schedule I’m on right now, I’m going to have to rethink my regular update day on la-la-language.  Decisions to come.

Here is the beginning of my CASE article, Do Not Call:

I just added my cell phone number to the Do-Not-Call List as a precaution.  Campaign season is over and we’ve weathered the fall pledge drives, but still, the landline rings.  Lately, we’ve received a battery of calls from this phone number: 718-872-7180.  The caller ID tells us that some unknown entity “G R O U P” has decided to drop a line.  Repeatedly.

In the holiday spirit of charity, I opt for gentle rejection, often allowing the calls to ring through to the answering machine.  Occasionally, I will pick up, be asked if my mother is available, offer to take a message, be told that isn’t necessary, and hang up.  We still don’t know why they call.

[To read more, click link above.]