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Language is wine upon the lips

Photos_Ljilja 1442

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)

Why grammar lessons should be renamed ‘understanding language’

Michael Swan: Teaching grammar – Does grammar teaching work? 

 

virginia-woolf-author-language-is-wine-upon-the

 

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?”

 About Word Tasting Notes –  Sesquiotica (Words, words, words) 

 Alice in Blenderland (by Stan Carey on Macmillan Dictionary Blog)

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.”

e.g.

“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:

Poppies

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 

comic2-2804Dinosaur comics: So you want to learn English

HAPPY NEW YEAR 🙂

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About ljiljana havran

English language teacher (General & Aviation English), passionate about learning and teaching. Curious, adventurous, a lifelong learner. Love: good books, music, lots of dance.

4 responses »

  1. Great stuff, Ljiljana; thanks for these interesting links. It’s good to see Stephen Law’s blog recommended. As he so rightly says: “Pseudo-profundity’s greatest enemy is clarity.”

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Geoff. I am glad you found the links interesting. As Stephen Law pointed out in his post, combating pseudo-profundity is rarely quite as easy as that, but his brief sketch of some of the ways pseudo-profundity can be generated will help us to spot it more effectively.

      Thanks again, and very best wishes for 2016 to you. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Especially like the recollection of the aesthetics of language. Perhaps there is a dot there to be joined to one of the worst forms of pseudo-profundity: post-modern nominalism. Aesthetics provide one disproof of that nominalism. And it is a lesson that ELT rarely seems to teach. If there were an EFL exam that deserved a modicum of respect, it would be one that opened up a space for a personal appreciation of the aesthetics of the language.

    Reply
  3. Thanks very much for your interesting comment.
    I agree with you that much more attention should be paid to the aesthetics of the language in ELT: aesthetic sensitivity and appreciation for the sounds of words, phonetic fitness between their sound and their meaning, our sensitivity or aesthetic responses to sound patterns in language, etc. For example, it is interesting that there are so many (English) words to do with light and shining things that start with /gl/: a gleam, a glimmer, a glancing glow, just a glimpse on the glassy glazing… (glint: https://sesquiotic.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/glint/)

    Reply

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