Archive for category just for fun

Punk Syndrome

Another movie I got to see at SXSW was Punk Syndrome. It’s a documentary about a Finnish punk band called, Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät. The film follows the daily lives of the musicians in the band, who are developmentally delayed. Their developmental delays are not specifically the focus of the movie. Rather the focus is on their daily lives, interactions with each other and with family and caregivers. I think a strength of the film is that it allows the audience to see this group of people in their every day lives– disagreements, falling in love, negotiating, planning and so on– activities to which we can all relate. Read the rest of this entry »


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This week was SXSW in Austin. I usually try to go see as many movies as possible. It was a lot of fun running from one independent movie to another, but I did have to get some work done so my time was somewhat divided. One of the films I really enjoyed was “Sound City” directed by David Grohl. The movie is about the history of a recording studio in Van Nuys, CA. Nirvana recorded their breakthrough album, Nevermind, at Sound City, along with many rock and roll greats including, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, and many others. I enjoyed listening to the clips of music (and there were a lot) as well as their stories from their years at the studio. The people who recorded there and the folks who ran the studio obviously had a lot of good memories and high regard for each other. Read the rest of this entry »

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2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 14,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals.

Anyway, 14,000 views for us is A LOT. We want to thank you all for reading, for sharing, and for being passitionate about bilingualism. Keep on sharing and keep the comments and questions coming.

Click here to see the complete report.

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So, I don’t know much about codeswitching, but I’ve been forced to learn more about it because one of my students, the recently graduated Dr. Kai Greene is really interested in the topic. So, he’s taught me a lot. Anyway, some things that are interesting about these switches is that it takes skill. Kids may switch to fill in a word if they don’t know it in the language they are using, but they almost always use it correctly– so, a noun for a noun, a verb for a verb. This means they have to know a lot about both languages in order to monitor both. Indeed, those who are most bilingual, we’ve found are the most skilled, and switching tends to be directional. This means that children who are dominant in one language will switch more often when using their weaker or non-dominant language. Also, code-switching is not an indicator of language impairment.

So, why this random post on codeswitching?  Read the rest of this entry »

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Codeswitched Night Before Christmas

Came across this verion of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and thought the codeswitching was cute. You can find other versions including this one here. Enjoy!

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring — Caramba! Que pasa?
Los ninos were tucked away in their camas,
Some in camisas and some in pijamas,

While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado
To bring all children, both buenos and malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard there arose such a grito
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think quien era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero.
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre
“Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Chucho, ay Beto,
Ay Chato, ay Chopo, Macuco, y Nieto!”

Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea,

then huffing and puffing at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala,
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos–
For none of the ninos had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad,
Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad!

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Weaker Links and Missing Days

Okay, I know this probably isn’t what Gollan has in mind when she writes about weaker links. But, I couldn’t help but relate the story of the French-English bilingual calendars which were accidentally printed with a day missing– Saturday (in English) to be exact. The weak links hypothesis is the idea that because bilinguals need to know more words (words in L1 and L2) they divide their attention and practice between them. Knowing more words leads to less practice with each word. So, the subtle differences in bilinguals’ performance (in comparison to monolinguals) may be due to using words with less frequency. You can read more about this here. Anyway, here the calendar makers had to handle twice as many words (7 vs. 14). In trying to handle 14 (instead of the usual 7) they lost one (oops). Read the rest of this entry »

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Immigrant Parents and Language Learning

I am the child of immigrants. Like many children growing up in dual language environments, I grew up speaking a home language (Spanish) and although I knew some English, I learned most of my English in school– starting in kindergarten. My mother in fact says we learned English together.  As a child I quickly became aware that the English spoken by my parents and that spoken by the rest of the world was not the same. Today, I came across this article in SF Gate where Jeff Yang talked about conversations with his mother-in-law in context of reading two popular blogs: my mom is a fob and my dad is a fob. I laughed and I cried, what can I say. These are exactly the kinds of interactions I’ve had with my parents and continue to have with my mom. Malapropisms, eggcorns, and spoonerisms— I had to have a whole dictionary for what my parents meant. But, through it all parents convey that they love their children and that they care. While the two fob sites draw on examples of Asian moms and dads– let me tell you this stuff isn’t limited to Asian parents!  There are so many wonderful examples of exactly the kinds of interactions I had with my parents (okay, the accents and words were different but with the same kinds of slips and intents). Read the rest of this entry »

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Google goes Hawaiian

I read today that the Hawaiian language was added to google. Probably, that caught my eye because we went to Hawaii for 10 days this summer. It was a wonderful, relaxing, and fun trip. We even had daydreams that I could go to Hawaii to study bilingualism there. Hawaiian is part of the Polynesian language family. It had been on the decline, but through efforts to teach the language in schools the number of speakers has increased. Both Hawaiian and English are both official languages in Hawaii. We enjoyed the sounds and multisyllabic words of the language and it was certainly a challenge to my working memory.

Oh well, seeing that I don’t really know enought about the language to study Hawaiian-English bilinguals, I’ll have to stick to Spanish-English bilingualism (and other languages my colleagues know about). Unless of course there’s someone out there to collaborate with.

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The disadvantages of monolingualism

Looking for Mr. Prawo Jazdy.

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Bicultural Celebrations

We celebrated Christmas with my husband’s family this year which probably makes me yearn to be with my family. I got to reminiscing about the foods that were part of our celebrations growing up. At Christmas we always had tamales, turkey and tamales, ham and tamales– which I see as sort of a blend of cultures. My aunt makes a terrific turkey stuffed with the stuffing for “chiles en nogada.” My mom made a decidedly American cornbread & sausage stuffing. But, of course we always had tamales. At new years buñelos are the tradition (and as soon as I figure out how to insert the tilde in wordpress I will– and I’ll fix my name too–aha!). Anyway, I guess I’m in the food mood and would love to hear about other blended traditions.

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