These are some articles I have enjoyed reading recently, on language, culture, education, and more. I hope that you find a few items of interest in this batch of links from recent weeks.
1. The writer’s job is to change the world. “I think an author should write what the reader does not expect. The problem is not to ask what they need, but to change them…” (Umberto Eco: ‘Real literature is about losers’ )
2. People are incredibly receptive to meaningless buzzwords, and the vast majority of people are willing to believe complete bullshit. “Pseudo-profundity is the art of sounding profound while talking tosh. Unlike the art of actually being profound, the art of sounding profound is not particularly difficult to master.”
3. Harvard Guide to Using Sources. (A very useful Guide which introduces you to the fundamentals of using sources in academic papers.)
4. Culture and Society: An all-women panel (Ien Ang, Larissa Behrendt, Robyn Archer, Bridget Kendall) takes up this debate on Australian Stereotypes and Cultural Identity at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. This event was presented by the Sydney Opera House and the St James Ethics Centre.
5. Can education be judged on simple customer satisfaction? We assume that if students are satisfied with a course then the teacher has done a good job and the students have learnt a lot. Or have they? Do students know what is best for their own learning? You can read about this here.
6. Teachers are unsure how much importance they should give to grammar, what grammar they should teach, and how they should teach it.
According to the British most eminent linguists who came together for English Grammar Day (presented by UCL and Oxford University in association with the British Library last year), it’s an exciting time for grammar. But there’s a need for fresh thinking and the word itself can be misleading. The main focus of the discussion was on the problems with how grammar is taught in schools.
“You have to put the notion of grammar in the background. It’s about meaning and clarity. Clarity unites us. I’m not afraid to use the word grammar, but I can see why people would be.” (David Crystal)
7. I love WORDS as “Words are delicious and intoxicating. They do much more than just denote; they have appearance, sound, a feel in the mouth, and words they sound like and travel with. All of these participate in the aesthetic experience of the word and can affect communication. So why not taste them like a fine wine?”
Stan Carey’s older posts on words and language for Macmillan Dictionary can be viewed here.
8. Mondegreens – Words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric.
The term mondegreen was coined in 1954 by American writer Sylvia Wright and popularized by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll. The term was inspired by “Lady Mondegreen,” a misinterpretation of the line “hae laid him on the green,” from the Scottish ballad “The Bonny Earl o Moray.”
“Excuse me while I kiss this guy” (for the Jimi Hendrix lyric, “Excuse me while I kiss the sky”)
“The ants are my friends” (for “The answer, my friend,” in “Blowing in the Wind,” by Bob Dylan)
“She’s got a chicken to ride.” (for “She’s got a ticket to ride.” Ticket to Ride, The Beatles)
“You and me and Leslie.” (for “You and me endlessly…” Groovin’, The Rascals)
9. This is an odd poem I’ve created by some interesting searches leading to my blog:
wisdom begins in wonder
how to enrich our vocabulary
it is a very good idea to have a vocabulary notebook
stay hungry stay foolish early morning
rilke english to french at the bottom no one in life can help anyone else in life
something interesting happened during the holidays
the studio was filled with the rich smell of roses
he wishes for the cloths of heaven lesson plan
English listenings about dreams
teaching is more an art than a science
10. Zodiac signs for linguists you can find on Superlinguo
HAPPY NEW YEAR 🙂