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The Free Dictionary Language Forums
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009 12:52:01 PM
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Last 10 Posts
English Spelling Reform
Thursday, April 9, 2009 12:01:31 PM
If we changed the spellings to be more phonetic, we would lose those bits of word that tell us about their history or origin, as fred says. Then what system would we use to try to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words? All we would have are sounds without any idea of their referents. At least now we have the Latin and Greek roots in some recognizable form in many of our words. And it's useful to people other than students taking SATs.
Thursday, April 9, 2009 11:36:12 AM
My professor recommended reading it out loud, b/c there are some phrases and pop culture references that aren't as easily recognized when they're just read silently. I found it helped...a little.
FW is one of those books (or maybe the only one) where you read uncomprehendingly for several pages before getting a tiny inkling of a clue, or a random phrase, or bit of song, or whatever. I sure hope you're reading it with a class, though. I only got through a quarter of it, but since you've seen the book you can understand why that's still a kind of accomplishment. Good luck!
Americans value work?
Tuesday, April 7, 2009 12:17:18 PM
I see a lot of good points being made in this discussion, one of which is the idea that the value of work will increase *now that we have no choice* -- as in, now that the economy has tanked and so many jobs, both white and blue collar, are up in the air. I'm thinking more and more lately that unless you work as a doctor, nurse or similar, you're at risk of losing your job. And it's hard to know who's more likely to lose their jobs first -- permanent employees, valued for their loyal service and experience -- or temporary employees, valued for their cheap labor and expendibility (of which I am the latter). Employers have come to view employees as interchangeable parts, easily replaced, and employees have taken the "every man for himself" attitude in response.
The value of work is most relevant to a news bit I heard recently, which said how agricultural day workers coming into the US from Mexico were becoming less and less in demand as Americans in need returned to (including my boss with 15 years w/ the company)day laboring at farms to make ends meet. Apparently this is a common phenomenon -- Americans returning to farms in times of need, then moving on to better (as in easier, presumably) work when the economy improved. Now it's easy for people to say they'll do hard work like that temporarily, in times of need, but there would be a whole different attitude if the expectation was that the hard times were not going to end.
With Gen Xers and such, I think we've learned a kind of "limit" on this hard work expectation -- as in, we'll have to do it only for so long and then reap all the rewards. By age 40 or 50, we'll all own our own expansive homes, have kids in a bunch of clubs and activities, and look forward to retiring with time on our hands. That is, until recently. We can't, and perhaps shouldn't ever have, expect to have what the Boomers aspired to. Just look where it's gotten so many of them -- nearing retirement age with retirement funds cut in half, or worse, just in the last year. I'm not saying this is or was my particular dream, but I must say I expected the quest for prosperity, or at least financial security, to get easier, not harder, and this is perhaps the fallacy of the American dream.
I have a graduate degree, taught some college classes, but during a recent summer worked at a grocery store for around $10/hr. And, yes, I must say I would have been a bit embarassed if I'd met any of my students there. Does that mean I don't value the work I did? Or that they wouldn't? Yes, probably. I certainly didn't like it as much. And physical labor has a bad reputation among people who don't know better the quandary of having *any* work rather than just *good* work. Right now I am lucky enough to have a job using my degree/skills in a comfortable setting, but like so many others have no security in that position (including my boss with 15 years w/ the company; there have been rolling layoffs for months). If I needed to, I'd be back at the grocery store. But if I were still there 5, 10, 20 years from now, I would certainly be more bitter.
when books are turned into films.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009 11:36:04 AM
To refer to the original post in this thread, how can anyone know the author's "intention," and, even if we have the luxury of the author telling us what s/he intended to portray, does it really matter? Once a work of art (in this case literature) has been put into the world, the artist/author relinquishes control over it. It now belongs to the world and whatever the world can make of this. However, current attitudes and laws regarding intellectual property beg to differ.
It's particularly interesting that film adaptation is where this argument suddenly seems relevant. After all, some living authors whose works get adapted actually pen the screenplays, or work in an advisory role. Others completely disengage themselves. In either case, the author will have to relinquish some control over the work, firstly b/c it's in a different medium that has different demands, secondly b/c it's most often for profit and, in the case of studio films, for mass profit. I think that if I wrote a book, even if I was happy to see it get the attention of being adapted into a film, I would be torn between wanting to retain some control, while knowing it would probably be a struggle in every change that was made, and wanting to divorce myself from it entirely.
That said, I love seeing adaptations, but I especially like to look at the differences, rather than insisting on similarities. Some things can be said just as well without words as with, and film is wonderfully complementary to both. (And, having just read the Potter series for the first time, it just makes me want to go back and watch the movies again.)
I guess one's attitude toward adaptations depends on if they value fidelity over creative deviation. That and the quality of the filmmaker's vision and production. (And I stress creative deviation, b/c so many adaptations will deviate from their "originals" for sensationalism...which, for me at least, isn't as much creative as formulaic.)
Why is modern English so widely divergent from other British languages?
Thursday, March 19, 2009 4:53:06 PM
In the case of Irish Gaelic, though, there is the fact of the concerted effort to revive the language into popular usage in the early 20th century. It was a measure of resistance against continuing British imperial occupation, which had demanded the use of English by the Irish for hundreds of years. I can't say I'm an expert on this though. This tidbit of knowledge on the subject comes via research on W.B. Yeats, who was heavily involved in the Gaelic language movement.
Thursday, March 19, 2009 4:48:18 PM
The first peeve that comes to mind is the sloppy use of (or failure to use) apostrophes. I just saw one this morning on a door in a shop marked "Employee's Only." That kind of thing really brings out the cranky English teacher in me!!
Ditto that. When exactly did using apostrophes take over for the use of plain old "s" for plurals? Granted, I just put "s" in quotes there to avoid the problem of making a plural for the letter s, something which may or may not involve the use of an apostrophe. *sigh*
Great Scrabble words
Thursday, March 19, 2009 4:31:58 PM
The greek letter "xi" is very helpful, esp. since you can usually pick up the vowel from the board and fit the word in small spots (well, obviously). Better when you can stick the X in a spot that is next to an I and above another I, to get double points from one letter. Best when it's on a triple letter score.
Any suggestions for J? A two- or three-letter scrabble word starting w/ J would be handy.
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