I don’t really like the term “final thoughts” as it sounds as if I am planning to stop thinking afterwards, or maybe stop existing altogether, which I am certainly not considering if I can help it, however I do need, as Victor Berrjod kindly reminds me, to round this off, hence the title.
Let me just get a coffee, this could be a longish article, maybe you would like one as well?
Right, let’s continue. The story so far is that we’ve divided the things or activities that you can do in a language, be it counting, swearing, praying, reading the paper, watching TV, learning the songs of the language or filling in a visa form or a job application into four basic types or functions, as shown in the above table:
Just about anything you can do in a language bases on one or more of these four functions.
Take a moment if you like to see of you can think of any activity involving language that is an exception, and by all means tell me in the comments. Personally I could not think of any exceptions.
We’ve also considered that for one pair of these functions, listening and reading, the learner is on the receiving end of polished language and therefore is able to use his or her passive knowledge to engage in the function and its related activities. Listening is more challenging than reading because the user has less ability to control the speed, although there are instruments available based on developing listening skills where you can control the pace of listening. We talked about audio courses where you have your pause button, and another good one is Audible where you can buy audiobooks in other languages and set a slower narrator speed, or a higher one in order to develop ‘listening fluency’. However, in the main, for the passive pair as long as a word is known passively the learner will not be put off his or her stride by reading or hearing it as they will be able to recall its meaning when it is given in the language much easier than when he or she needs to generate the expression and knows it passively, but is not in an active state, and the mind goes blank.
Conversely, we’ve recognised that the other pair of functions, speaking and writing, are ones in which we the learner are called upon to generate the learned language and not just fluently recognise meaning and stay with the flow of the presented foreign language material. This represents an additional challenge but one essential to get to grips with sooner or later if you want to SPEAK the language. We are always hearing the term “what languages do you speak?” rather than which can you read, listen to with understanding or even write in. Now more than ever nobody seem to be all that impressed by the ability to write in a foreign language – unless they actually watch you forming calligraphic kanjis with your hand – because things like Google Translate are available. And even though in the main the Google Translate users do give themselves away pretty quickly, seeing that the quality of that service is not yet all one might be led to expect, nevertheless sometimes quite convincing written language comes at you over the internet from people who don’t really know the language in question at all. They are having fun, but it also serves to undermine the value placed by the online community on written foreign language skills and so now, more than ever, the gold standard is really what you can speak. Read the rest of this entry
This week a number of interesting developments hit the headlines as I was travelling around Europe. There is in fact so much going on at the moment that it’s impossible to comment on everything, or indeed stay abreast of everything. Of course one of the main things which caught my eye, and I am sure the eye of every Internet denizen is the goings-on with Mr Julian Assange, the founder of wikileaks, currently under arrest in London and awaiting extradition to Sweden, a country quite happy to overlook and not investigate or prosecute Saab’s dealings in the BAE affair, but extremely concerned to deal out every justice to Mr Assange for allegedly raping two women, whereby the detail seems to be not that he had sex with somebody that was unhappy to have sex with him, but that he did so without wearing a condom when he was supposed to be wearing one. Whether this was two occasions with each of the two women separately or during a threesome, the press has not deemed needful to elucidate. There we go, then, not exactly the next Peter Sutcliffe, but nevertheless enough to put him on the Interpol list in several countries. This apparently has nothing to do with the leaks he is doing other than those involving his genital member, as if anyone is going to believe that. Before you can say Jåkk Røbbænsen, or whatever Jack Robinson is in Swedish, this person will be extraordinarily rendered to the States and called to account before the Senate, some of whom have already issued Iran-style fatwas on him for treachery against their deen.
So concerned that the powers-that-be to nail missed a sandwich (sorry, but that’s how the voice recognition software heard “Mr Assange”) for failure to wear a condom when that was a pre-condition for the sex that in the meantime they even managed to lean on Pope Benedict the 16th to abandon the Roman Catholic Church’s strict ban on blob-wearing, so now Mr A cannot even claim conscientious reasons for his failure to don. That’s how far up the conspiracy to nail this ultraleaker has gone.
And so the wikileaker has been arrested for allowing his own winky to leak into somebody else’s pubic domain, and there has been a scramble for the Internet domain “winkyleaks.com” – one I went to see if I could get it in order to do some interesting parodies of the recently emerging wholly un-astonishing but for some reason scandalous depeches, I saw that the domain http://www.winkyleaks.com had in fact already been nabbed, and moreover even put into effect with some very stylish, Onion-style parodies of the recent news. Evidently it was not written on high that this domain should fall into my lot, but at least it seems to have gone into good hands, so go and see if you feel like a good chuckle.
No worries though, I can always do a series on Huliganov TV of my own parody wikileaks, so watch this space. If I do them they will be like a mini-series with their own little section on here. Whether they will be as funny as the ones over at http://www.winkyleaks.com is anyone’s guess, though. They’re doing a jolly good job.
Another interesting headline this week was that Google Translate have now included Latin in their list of languages to translate into and out of. The problem is that of course everything which isn’t in their database which at the moment are still very small is left in the original even if it is a word which seems to have been available to that classical language anyway. At the moment if you ask it to translate “On the impossibility of parody“, for example, it gives you “De impossibilitate parody” – so it doesn’t recognise the perfectly good Latin word “parodia” which presumably takes a genitive “parodiae”. But it’s early days yet, for Latin, I dare say.
- Wikileaks Opens New Domains After Shutdown (247wallst.com)
- WikiLeaks back online (heraldsun.com.au)
- STD fears sparked WikiLeaker sex case (thestar.com)