Archive for October, 2011

Are we what we say?

I’ve continued to read Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate. Because it’s non-fiction, I tend to read it in fits and spurts and I jump around from chapter to chapter. I also have pink post-its stuck in pages here and there– I almost never do this with books I read for pleasure (maybe it reminds me of work– where I use virtual post-its in iAnnotate). Anyway, on page 286 here is what Tan writes:

Even more dangerous, in my view, is the temptation to compare both language and behavior in translation.

Here, I think she is talking about making assumptions about what someone thinks based on what they say– or more specifically, based on errors they make in their second language. At the same time, I’m intrigued by the pairing of language and behavior in the context of translation. You see, language is more than the words– more than linguistic equivalence. It is how those words are used in a given cultural context. How those words may or may not match up with actions, facial expressions, and gestures. Read the rest of this entry »

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On Translation

After almost 10 years, I am reading Amy Tan’s book, “The Opposite of Fate” a memoir. I have always enjoyed Tan’s writing and I have enjoyed this book very much. With her linguistics background she has great insight to her own writing process and to the ways that people around her use language. One of the parts that I connected with is her description of the ways her own awareness of two languages and what it means. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vocabulary Learning

There’s been at least two articles recently on the SAT verbal drop in scores over the last 40 years. One article notes that verbal scores are associated with communication skills, learning, and holding a job. Indeed verbal skills are important, I certainly think they are anyway, it’s the focus of my research. One of the problems that Hirsch notes in this article is that this drop is associated with changes in curriculum. Specifically, a shift from a focus on deep knowing and interacting with course content, to what he calls a “skills-based” approach to learning. I think kids need both skills and deep interaction with content (e.g., literature) that can help children build verbal skills. An important thing he notes is that verbal skills can be taught. Read the rest of this entry »

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