January 25, 2011

The decline and fall of the native speaker

A "native speaker" of English is someone who grew up speaking English (though there are problems with any definition here). Language schools all over the world want "native speaker" teachers, so students can speak like "native speakers" themselves. But Evelyn from Chile, Amine from Morocco, and Oriane from France will probably never sound like me. Why is this comparison so important?

"If, on the the contrary, bilinguals are regarded as multifaceted individuals who possess a different, albeit more complex, mental organization, we are finally questioning native speaker dominance and native speaker idealization. In such a case, monolingual competence will be replaced by multicompetence as the optimal state of mind, and experienced multilingual users will have the upper hand."

--Enric Llurda, "The Decline and Fall of the Native Speaker" (2009)

January 18, 2011

Don't jump the bullet

is my brother Andy's advice.

January 10, 2011

Turkish again!

ikinci defa (second time)
üniversitede daha fazla Türk var (there are more Turks at university)
zaman geçirmekten hoşlanıyorum (I like hanging out)
para biriktirmek (to save money)
bağımsız filmler (independent films)
altyazı (subtitles)
ne kadar zamandır görüşmüyoruz? (how long has it been since we saw each other?)

Hasan and I met for some "Tandem language learning" this sunny Saturday afternoon. His English is way better than my Turkish, but when it came time to switch languages, he was wonderfully patient. I showed him how to take notes when I struggled, and these are some of the new phrases I learned or re-learned as a result. It feels good to be speaking again!

January 7, 2011

The Many Faces of Treason

"We will sacrifice our best hunches in favor of some pedestrian norm in fear of betraying the task we were set out to do."

Gregory Rabassa says this of translation, in The Many Faces of Treason. He says that when we sacrifice our best hunches, we commit the worst betrayal of all, worse even than betraying words, authors, and readers. Beyond the task of translating, I think, we often push down our hunches. I have a hunch that at least one person out there will have use for this reference.

Happy 2011. May we overturn some pedestrian norms.