August, 2012

Punctuation confusion

Tweet As the semester opens, next week, I don’t know what to tell my students about punctuation. Authoritative books, such as A Writer’s Reference, The Everyday Writer, and the latest edition of the Modern Language Association handbook on my shelf, the 6th, have almost identical lists of rules about commas, for example, yet the series […]

Linguists and biologist tussle over original language

Tweet An observant British diplomat serving in India, Sir William Jones, observed in the late 18th century that many word roots in Sanskrit matched word roots in Greek and Latin, which led to further linguistics research which ultimately linked a stunningly large group of languages, from English to Finnish, to Sanskrit, all the Latin languages (French, […]

Food as a cultural marker

Tweet My friend Lillian is a Chinese-American chef who has been living in China for the past few years. She has seen more of the country than most native Chinese as she has traveled from restaurant to restaurant, market to market, farm to farm, tea plantation to tea plantation. She is planning to write a […]

Ignorant politics – Rep. King and Chinese

Tweet Rep. Steve King of Iowa has sponsored an English-only bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a dumb bill with unstated pernicious goals of racism and exclusion, but leave that aside for the moment. Rep. King said, “A common language is the most powerful unifying force known throughout history, throughout all humanity and […]

Down with English-Only laws

Tweet Once again, English Only legislation is being introduced in the U.S. Congress, this time by Rep. Steve King of Iowa. Given the substantial number of serious problems faced by America now, this legislation should be viewed as a frivolous waste of time, but its deleterious effects go deeper than that. It denigrates and demeans […]