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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Language, Culture, Digital, Virtual

A few things prompted this post. I had heard these 3 programs over the last year or so, a few friends on Facebook posted things that played into my thoughts as well. One posted a link to make your handwriting a font and another noted that putting his poem on FB was as good as putting it on paper. I've been thinking about this whole idea for awhile- digital vs virtual or digital vs handwriting and books.

Plus, there has been a lot of discussion about how social networking (and the internet and email) has changed the world. For example, will Kindle replace books the way CDs replaced tapes and tapes replaced 8 track? Since the Kindle came out, I have been trying to decide if I wanted to sell out or put both feet in the 21st century, however one wants to look at it. I think over the past few years, I've decided that I would get one if I had a few hundred spare dollars laying around. That being said, I will NOT get rid of my books. I've been hesitant to get rid of my CDs that I put on iTunes, but I'd sooner do that than get rid of a book. Though, I do love the search function of, for example, an online Bible. I feel like my study is more complete and I can find a verse I want in seconds. I don't know how I'll like reading from a screen, though. And curling up with a Kindle? I just don't know... I'll always like books- the feel, the smell, the notes in the margins, the way you can personalize them (or read personalizaions at a second hand store), everything. That being said, I just don't see Kindle (or iPad , for you Apple people) replacing books.

A Half-Century Of 'Stupid Grammar Advice'- April 16, 2009
NPR- Talk of the Nation

A very entertaining discussion of grammar rules. I think this is either already on my blog or I posted it as a link on Facebook.

Tom Mallon: "Yours Ever" - December 9, 2009
NPR- The Diane Rehm Show

I loved this show.

As much as I and like technology, written correspondence will always be important to me. I like the personal touch, the idea of real contact, the stamps, etc. And, really, who doesn't love the pen section of Staples and such? And stationery- don't even get me started!

I remember being so excited in school the one or two times we exchanged letters with people in other countries as part of a pen pal project. My favorite letters to get, though, are notes from my grandma. I love not only her script, but also the way her manner of speech comes through and you can almost hear her talking to you. There's just something about knowing that someone physically touched it and put pen to paper just for you. You can write an email directly to one person, but it's just not the same. Somehow, that manner of speaking just doesn't translate as well, if at all. I probably don't write as much as I'd like. Email is just too convenient. Unfortunately, I think I sacrifice this personal touch for the instant gratification all too often. I guess it's not just instant gratification, though; if you're not using email, you'll probably get left behind. Not that I hate email- far from it! I just sometimes regret the impersonality (if that's a word) of it. Not that I think everyone who sends me email is cold- far from that, too! :) The instantaneousness is awesome.

Another brilliant thing about handwritten notes is... no forwards! You have to really think about what you're sending and you and everyone is sure it's coming from your own hand. With forwards, sometimes people forward them because they do want to express this warning or sentiment to you from them. Sometimes people seem to send them simply because they want their 3 wishes or not to have 3 bad things happen to them in the next 3 minutes. Sometimes you aren't sure whether people are sending you the Obama is a Muslim/ Christians don't vote for Obama/Obama is a communist/Muslims aren't Americans/etc because they do believe this and want you to know, they want to discuss it with you, or they don't know if it's true, but thought you should be aware. Anyway, I think there is a huge difference between hitting forward that Obama is a Muslim and America will turn socialist upon his election and actually putting pen to paper and handing you a note from you to someone else bearing that message. Myself, I look at a forward as though I am the originator. If I forward something, it's because fully agree and don't mind talking to you about it. I'm getting off track...


'A Little Book' Helps Kids Learn To Love Language - June 15, 2010
NPR - Talk of the Nation

I may pick this up.

In reading other students' work when we'd switch papers to proofread or whatever in school, I can say I witnessed a lot of the issue of trying to write conversationally in a formal paper. If we decide to home school, that's one of many things I check off in my mind as important to teach.

Also touched on are the different lingoes of different professions or different "languages" and dialects in different parts of this country. This reminds me of my grandma. She says wardrobe for closet (a British thing as well), feesh for fish, hamburg for hamburger, deeshes for dishes. She is from Ohio and my husband and I often discuss how his grandma and to some extent his mom, who are from the mountains of Virgina, have a lot of vocabulary in common.

I have to admit that part of what I enjoy about the BBC and such is learning what they call things that is different from what Americans say. One summer, we had an Irish student and two Australians (no, they didn't walk into a bar...well, they may have, but not in this story) in lab. They laughed at our pronunciation of garage and kept saying it, like we'd say Target when we're being funny (you might call it the French pronunciation?). I wonder why we say garage the way we say it and not the way they say it. They also call our lab cart a trolley, not a cart. Jamie Oliver, Britian's Naked Chef, says fillet like it looks, not the American way. Interesting stuff.

Also interesting are cultural differences, not unrelated to language altogether. This article talks about American peculiarities ('Nine reasons to celebrate America'). Tea ceremonies. The fact that in most of the world, you can talk about politics like you talk about the weather- conversations generally don't end with name calling (unAmerican, anti-Semite, etc). It's all endlessly interesting and puzzling.

On a more relevant note...
A fun forward I have gotten more than once (Yes, I do enjoy some email forwards!) :)

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