April 29, 2011

Garber: a hilarious Canadian author

I will never forget the way he describes an albino.

It is simple, young and petted and everyone's favourite. People take it for walks along the Quai, keeping their backs always to the sun. It purrs; it whines; it peers into the air in search of objects. Buy it a beer and it goes to sleep; tell it a joke and it cries; draw it a picture and it eats the paper. It is a fine conversation piece and Nora has had it in her room for some time. It lies, stands or sits on her floor like a piece of fleshy driftwood.

From Tales from the Quarter, published in 1969. I am heartened. Hilarious Canadian authors exist.

April 27, 2011

The importance of being earnest

In speaking a foreign language, we tend to lose years, as well as other kinds of time, to become gentler, more innocent, more courteous versions of ourselves. We find ourselves reduced to basic adjectives, like "happy" and "sad," and erring on the side of including our "Monsieur"s; and we are obliged to grow more resourceful and imaginative in conveying our most complex needs and feelings in the few terms we remember (like a child rebuilding Chartres out of Lego blocks).

... Speaking a foreign language, we cannot so easily speak our minds; but we do, willy-nilly, speak our hearts.

... And even when we're not speaking Spanish, but only English that a Spaniard will understand, the effect is just as rejuvenating. Reducing our own language to its basic elements, we find, of a sudden, that it becomes new to us, and wondrous. How vivid the cliché "over the hill" sounds when we're explaining it to an Osaka businessman! How rich the idiom "raining cats and dogs"! Speaking English as a second language, we find ourselves rethinking ourselves, simplifying ourselves, committed, for once, not to making impressive sentences, but just to making sense.

Pico Iyer, from the essay "Excusez-moi! Speakez-vous Franglais?"

April 10, 2011

Monolingualism starts to sound like a disease

On native speakers of English:

Not only do the majority not speak languages other than their L1 English, but they also tend to be less competent than many non-native speakers in their acquisition and use of accommodation strategies, and instead expect non-native speakers to make all the adjustments. This may in part be the result of their monolingualism.

in the near future, those who occupy the top of the English language hierarchy will no longer be native speakers of English, but bilingual speakers of English who have the skills to function comfortably in multilingual communication.

--Jennifer Jenkins, in her article, "Exploring attitudes towards English as a lingua france in the East Asian context"

April 4, 2011

It's his attention to detail

I was asking if you wanted to zone over :-)

I'm stroll staffing it up

Going to head out finnish

Chime over later?

You've sleazy southern airport might not mean what I say, auto text humor! Auto text!

It really just writes hawks

mejor aquí

Tengo una amiga que se llama Alaina, que una vez me dijo que para ella, el español es un idioma seguro. Nadie ha gritado a ella en español. Nadia ha hecho daño en español.

Esta noche, corrí diez kilómetros y yo sólo escuchaba música en español. Yo quería un lugar seguro. A veces inglés no puede ofrecer eso.