29 octubre 2008

language and words

thought one: if you can't express what you know, to others you don't know it.

along with taking plane rides, learning a language is good for perspective. for the full impact, during the early stages of learning, one really needs to go to another country and practice that language. see the natives' condescending smiles. shield your ears from their raised voices. ask them to repeat more slowly. misspeak. stutter. have awkward moments. point and make hand motions. smile because you're clueless and you don't have anything else to do. you don't know what they're talking about. you can't express yourself even if you did know what they were talking about. if they talk at above a kindegarten level, you're lost... miss out on their jokes. wonder what they're laughing about. get frustrated...

...because, you see, no one knows how intelligent you are when you sound like an slightly handicapped 3 year old.

then go back home and be empathetic.

thought two: appropriating language

what is the process for internalizing language? truly appropriating concepts [vocabulary acquisiton] and not just trying to sound smart... owning a word. i noticed that in Spanish, a good deal of the language i've acquired comes not by making little sentence diagrams in my head but by rattling off word phrases that feel like they "fit" in the context of what i'm saying. i sometimes pause to panic, "was that even a word? it sure feels like a word..."

thought three: on vulgarities and word power

A very nice young lady i have the pleasure of knowing dropped a word or two the other day that took me aback. They weren't obsceneties; they were just so... perplexing.

Language is power. If using a dirty word can bring more power to the good and more happiness to God, by all means, spit it. But vulgarity for the sole purpose of distinguishing yourself from all the quaint, cautious, easily- scandalized souls about you, is so... self-conscious. juvenile. the preceeding pause or the resolution with which certain individuals disgrace their language frustrates me. if you notice yourself cussing, you don't need to be cussing. why be self-conscious and juvenile? why not be reserved? what's wrong with being discreet? gracious? subtle? ironic?

actually, 'twould be wise for us all to avoid all language we can't "back up" within us- be it high-falutin' words or catch-phrase descriptions. it's hard to filter, though... sweet it would be to be real with what i say. to be simple. to speak truth, unforgettably. not to cheapen my tongue with nothingness, pretension, perspectiveless complaining, or unsubstantiated opinions...

thought another: Josh and "yet"

I have a friend who's 15 years old and gets excited about reading The Economist. He explained the whole gas price hike to me a couple of months ago in three simple points. [1. demand 2. taxes by importing countries 3. i don't remember but i promise it has entered the mesh of my economic understanding.] He's going places.

But I remember one time, someone dropped a term he didn't know. His reply killed me:

"I'm sorry, I don't know that word yet."

that "yet." goood heavens. THAT is the attitude that kids ought to have. carambas... everybody ought to have. how to inculcate?

thought the last: to have smart kids:

~ converse together.

~ don't solve their problems for them, but let them see you solve yours

~ explain stuff.

~ be socratic while doing so.

~ be observant. listen to their observations

~ shoot, blow up, or smash your t.v.

~ don't buy toys.

~ outlaw the word "bored" and all derivatives thereof.

~ give them detailed tasks.

~ emphasize the implicit... don't spell everything out.

~ teach manners (will cause greater awareness of surroundings and implicit messages)

~ have them memorize things of great, although perhaps unknown value. it'll stick just as well as absurdities can. " 'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear" v. "The wheels on the bus go..."

~ read to them. a lot. they can understand a much higher level of oral language than they could handle reading on their own. read poetry. prayers. the Bible. Have you ever met someone who thinks in Scripture?! That's cool.

hey, i wonder if this'll work if i try it on me... detailed task: finish writing. go to next tab. do not switch to another until finished with the contents therein. go to third. do likewise. all the way down to tab nine. then place cursor on small white x on the square red button on the top left hand corner. click once. alt-F4 works similarly. key in ctrl + alt + del.

oh, wait, that's not being implicit...