Linguistics

Eleanor Catton carries on her leftist tirades

Eleanor Catton sounds like she is standing for public office, rather than dipping her well trained snout once again into the trough.

She has an opinion piece in the Sunday Star-Times and once again rants on about political things.

She will of course get mightly upset when she gets smacked around the ears for it, you see free speech is only for the left, everyone else has to shut up.

As is usual she thinks because she is a tenured liberal academic elite that what she says, no matter how wrong, is the gospel truth.

Imagine the  sudden dissolution of all sports stadiums, fitness centres and recreational facilities in New Zealand, rationalised by the argument that if kids want to learn about sport they can watch it on TV. Such a proposition is absurd.

But sitting on the couch, watching a game of rugby, bears as little relation to actually playing the game as clicking through websites does to reading a book – especially when that book has been requested, sourced, or chosen according to the individual interests of the child.

The notion that online content is ‘interactive’ in a way that reading books is not is absolutely backwards. Physicality is immensely important to children, as is the enormous sense of achievement that comes when you check out a book from the library, when you finish it, when you return it, when you find it on the shelf again.

A book has dimension. It is a doorway.

A screen is all surface. How many adults can sit at a computer terminal and read diligently and immersively, for hours? How many can then retain what they have read?

Read more »

All about bogans

Hands up if you re a bogan.

Apparently there is a bit of bogan in all of us as ‘outrage’ breaks all over Australia over the word bogan.

I’ll bet real bogans don’t even care.

Clive Palmer has dismissed the leaking of an internal email from one of his MPs, which described voters as “bogans”, as the actions of a disaffected former candidate exacting revenge against the Palmer United Party.

The mining magnate also said he had an affection for bogans and had “spent most of [his] life as a bogan”.

The email, allegedly sent by a Queensland MP in Mr Palmer’s party, Alex Douglas, reportedly describes voters as “bogans” living “empty lives” fueled by a “diet of grease”.  Read more »

Rotorua Daily Post Editorial Education System is failing our children

It’s 10:30, we have kicked the crap out of the green taliban all morning, time for a short interlude…let’s kick some teachers.

Or more precisely, let’s read what the Editorial of the Rotorua Daily Post has to say about the education system.

Despite my chosen profession, I’ve never been a perfect speller and there are still words the electronic spell checker reminds me I am yet to master.

In saying that, spelling things correctly is important to me, not only as a journalist, but in my personal life as well.

A Canterbury University study has found New Zealand teachers are not putting their understanding of how to teach spelling into practice in the classroom.

Some put it down to a full curriculum or large class sizes, others say they were not given the adequate skills to teach spelling at their university or teacher’s college.   Read more »

Is txting really that bad? Perhaps not

Watch this TEDTalk from John McWhorter and his analysis of txting.

He also has an article in Time magazine about the same topic:

The argument that texting is “poor writing” is analogous, then, to one that the Rolling Stones is “bad music” because it doesn’t use violas. Texting is developing its own kind of grammar and conventions.  Read more »

Perhaps there isn’t a problem after all with Shearer’s fumbles

David Shearer is a the king of uhm in New Zealand, but perhaps there isn’t a problem at all with his mumbles, stumbles and fumbles:

Studies and analysis of people’s speech shows that a lot of personal communication can be achieved through what we think of as filler words. “I mean,” acts as a clarification or an emphasis. “You know,” can be used as cue for the other person to reply. “Um” and “uh” are signals that we’re thinking about something and the other person shouldn’t jump in until we’re finished.  Read more »

The “squeezed middle”

Russell Brown has his own Word of the Year contest. The UK has Oxford Dictionary choosing theirs.

Phil Goff nicked the idea from Ed Miliband in the UK, it was naff there and it was naff here. But in the UK Oxford Dictionary has named “squeezed middle” as their word of the year.

Andrew Sullivan highlights what Geoffrey K. Pullum says against “squeezed middle,” routinely used by the UK Labour Party, and of course by NZ labour and Phil Goff:

[M]y real objection is not to the feebleness and blatantly political origin of this phrase (which ordinary people are simply not using), but to the fact that it is fully compositional: squeezed just means “squeezed”, and middle just means “middle”, and if you put the two together you have the literal meaning. It is ridiculous to think of putting this in a dictionary — as opposed to a collection of political phraseology and cliché.

I wonder how long before we see a speech from David Shearer bleating about the “squeezed middle”?