October 31, 2010

Defining "globalization"

a "multidimensional set of social processes that create, multiply, stretch and intensify worldwide social interdependencies and exchanges while at the same time fostering in people a growing awareness of deepening connections between the local and the distant."

-Manfred Steger, 2003 (He wrote a book on it, anyway).

October 30, 2010

Concrete poetry

By Pedro Xisto.

Also by Xisto, I believe.

By Amir Brito.

October 29, 2010

Quote of the day

A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.

October 28, 2010

Poetry fill-in-the-blank

If you were exchanged in the cradle and
your real mother died
without ever telling the story
then no one knows your name,
and somewhere in the world
your father is lost and needs you
but you are far away.

He can never find
how true you are, how ready.
When the great wind comes
and the robberies of the rain
you stand on the corner shivering.
The people who go by--
you wonder at their calm.

They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind.
'Who are you really, wanderer?'--
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
'Maybe I'm a _____."

What's the next word?

(The poem is "A Story that Could Be True", by William Stafford, but answer before you look it up.)

October 22, 2010

"Julie and Laura were rated as native speakers"

...of Egyptian Arabic.

Julie immigrated from Great Britain to Cairo at 21 when she married an Egyptian. She got no formal instruction and never learned to read or write in Arabic.

Laura studied Egyptian Arabic in the last year of her undergrad. She studied it at the graduate level, too, and then she settled in Cairo, married an Egyptian, and became a Standard Arabic teacher at a university there.

13 teachers of Arabic as a foreign language evaluated their speech. Julie and Laura were rated as native speakers by 6 of them. Furthermore, the two women were pros at discriminating between Arabic dialects and judging whether sentences were grammatically correct.

BOOM! You have to understand that in my textbook on second language acquisition, this study stands out like a sore thumb. Almost all researchers subscribe to the Critical Period Hypothesis, which says that after puberty, you'll never properly learn a second language, because of some biological change in the brain. Any yet if you travel, you meet people like Julie and Laura rather frequently. Researchers must not travel.

Even for this study, you see the researchers scrambling to say that Julie and Laura are biologically unique ("Julie herself is left-handed and has skin allergies"). No. They created environments for themselves and went for it.

October 18, 2010


...the ability to move spontaneously and actively, consuming energy in the process.

Learning English

Metonymya figure of speech in which a thing is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated. For instance, "Houston" for NASA Mission Control.

Sociolect: a.k.a. a social dialect, a variety of language associated with a social group such as a socioeconomic class, an ethnic group, or an age group.

Cline: in linguistics, a scale of continual gradation.

"I speak English. I'm learning Language X." These two sentences together carry a fallacy. The fallacy is that we fully know our mother tongues ("tongue", by the way, is an example of metonymy, but I didn't know that an hour ago).

October 15, 2010


...in Quebec, a resident, usually an immigrant, whose mother tongue is neither English nor French. 

The word "allophone" is formed from the Greek roots allos (other) and phone (sound or voice).

In 2001, the big groups of allophones were speaking Italian, Arabic, Spanish, Greek, and Haitian Creole.

October 13, 2010


...is the term used in 1984 for individualism and eccentricity--considered highly dangerous. It has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

October 8, 2010

Wiki Friday: Paulo Freire

He was an educator. In Brazil at his time (1920s-1960s), literacy was a requirement for voting in presidential elections. So he taught 300 sugarcane workers to read and write in 45 days.

October 6, 2010


...refers to something that is constantly undergoing change or something that is likely to undergo change.

October 5, 2010

I'm back

the Foundation
the seawall
the Biltmore
the Downtown Eastside

I'm back in school (Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia). I'm back in Vancouver. I'm back on the blog.