Digital Slaves – The Discipline of Money

Tweet I’m reading a book, Who Owns the Future?, by the “father of virtual reality,” Jeron Lanier. His starting point is in the “prelude.” “…digital networking ought to promote a two-way transaction, in which you benefit, concretely, with real money….  I want digital networking to cause more value from people to be on the books, […]

Online education

Tweet California is pushing many entry-level college courses online.  I have so much to say about this that I don’t know where to begin. I teach writing.  The parts of the class which always, always engage the students most vividly are group work, critiquing other students’ papers, individual conferences, and class discussions.  Taking those away would […]

Ridiculous patents

Tweet Apple has patented page turning on electronic books.  While I understand the profit motive, it seems to me that certain things should be hustled into the public domain and left there for all to use.  There is the occasional purpose for commercial activity behond just making a profit. Having spent over half an hour […]

Language cartoons

Tweet Here is a site loaded with cartoons about language, especially English, but some other languages as well.  It is appropriately irreverent, and spikes our preconceptions, etc. — you know, the things that cartoons do.  It was  taken from a posting on linguist list, a resource that no person interested in English should be living […]

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 […]

More About the Scary Science: Linguistics

Tweet An article in the Arts section of The New York Times this morning, “How Do You Say ‘Disagreement’ in the Pirahã tongue?” points up the gulf between the soft science of Linguistics and ordinary mortals.  Since there is no whiff of this science discernible in high school courses (at least in the U.S.), students […]

Share your thoughts

Tweet In just the last month, this blog has been read by people speaking 33 different languages, in 58 different countries, from Vietnam to Djibouti to Trinidad to Sweden and everywhere in between.  Most readers are from the United States, but there is a healthy representation from all continents (except Antarctica – that would be […]

Wampanoag Comes Home for Thanksgiving

Tweet Wampanoag is the language of the tribe that coexisted with the Pilgrims. Their language disappeared in the 19th century, but has recently been reconstructed by a Wampanoag woman, Annie “Little Doe” Baird, who won a MacArthur “genius” Award for her work.  A whole fascinating article can be found here. A film about  Baird and the […]

Creating new languages

Tweet From time to time, new languages develop in response to local needs.  For example, a deaf sign language was developed in Central America by a small community which was isolated from other deaf communities. A new kind of sign language is developing in the Occupy protests.  To read about it, here is the link: […]

Talking to dolphins

Tweet A previous post discussed Stephen Frye’s new tv series, in which he dismissed the language abilities of apes.  The excerpt from a longer article below gives more respect to animals’ abilities. “It was a childhood fascination with astronomy which drove him to where he is today and resulted in him joining SETI, an independent, […]