Saturday, July 19, 2014

Birth of a Language

The story of the English language is an extraordinary one. It has the characteristics of a bold and successful adventure: tenacity, luck, near extinction on more than one occasion, dazzling flexibility, and an extraordinary power to absorb. And it's still going on. New dialects, new Englishes, are evolving all the time all over the world. But every story needs a beginning and, in the case at hand, who better than Lord Melvyn Bragg and the BBC to recount the tale of the birth of this remarkable language?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Visigoths at Academe's Doors?

"If the scuttlebutt about reading is true, the Visigoths are at the door,"
 warn Drs. David Joliffe and Allison Harl. An array of national surveys
 and studies suggests neither high school nor college students spend
 much time preparing for class, the central activity of which entails
 reading assigned articles, chapters, and books. Similar reviews indicate
 college students spend little or no time reading for pleasure. As major
 players in general education, most of which requires substantial reading,
 English department faculty are increasingly asking themselves:
 What are our students reading and why?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Like I Mean This Doesn't Help, You Know

"What the poor, the weak and the inarticulate desperately require is power, organization, and a sense of identity and purpose," affirmed the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone (D-WI), "not [the] rarefied advice of political scientists." Nor, we would add, a gloss that deems recent research on inarticulate speech patterns, viz., the use of filler words such as um, like, you know, "a minor victory for the inarticulate, who think more, even as they stumble in speech." Um, I mean, this doesn't like help, you know, even if it is easier and cheaper than constructively addressing the matter by improving our educational system.

Once More into the Breech

First, an overdue apology for my gross inattention to these pages. I'll spare you the hoary bromide of the tree falling unattended in the forest and simply confess that like my beloved Brazil football team for a moment that seemed longer, my motivation dived. Confession is good for the soul, and reflection is good for the mind. On reflection, I recall what I've long held as a touchstone, viz., writing is not merely a means to present ideas but a catalyst to develop, organize, clarify, and even create them. In other words, it doesn't require an audience, as much as I might, after a year of labor, hope for one. Besides every thought  written or not  is contemplated by at least two minds. With that in mind then, once more into the breech! Comments as welcome as they are absent.