Monthly Archives: November 2013

Ever-evolving English Language



The Oxford University Press has announced that the 2013 Words of the Year are:  selfie, twerk, showrooming, bitcoin, and binge-watch.  It is interesting to see how the English language is so adoptive of new terms and continuously evolves and changes.  Every year some type of term that seems to have sprung out of pop culture or technology becomes an official word.  Some people may not understand what it means when Oxford University makes a term an official word.  Once Oxford “gives the okay,” that word is no longer slang–it is a recognized and accepted term.  It can now be found in dictionaries and can be used on a general and widespread manner.  

It is strange to see which words are created year after year–I think one of my favorites that have been ‘knighted’ by Oxford is ‘bootylicious.’  This was a word that singer, Beyonce Knowles, made up while writing a song for her music group.  English is a language that is very flexible in its use–it will easily adopt terms that have sprouted out of necessity or social circumstances.  For example, a few years ago, Facebook became a noun and a verb–sometimes even an adjective.  You hear people say “Facebook me that picture.”  This did not exist twenty years ago, but now it does.  The nature of the English language is very open compared to other tongues.  French, for instance, is not so fluid in its creativity.  It has many restrictions in terms of what is an official word and what is not.

So what’s your take on this?  Is it a good thing that English is able to change and adapt?  Or do you think the adoption of new terms is a hindrance?



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Self-definition through the Written Word

Matt de la Pena wrote a piece recently about the struggle to find oneself when growing up in a tough environment.  The author, himself, grew up in a rough neighborhood, in a Mexican family, which did not necessarily support a young man to read and write.  He often admits to the fact that he didn’t finish reading an entire book until he was a sophomore in college.  But once that connection formed, he was hooked.

He discusses how “the most difficult definition to break free from is self-definition.”  He understands how your surroundings can sometimes dictate the choices you make and the way you present yourself, but there is always a way.  He encourages young adults, especially those in urban environments, to find a way to “break fee,” even it it is in secret.

And this in turn should translate to the adults around these teenagers.  Sometimes it is not easy for young adults to embrace their “nerdier side.”  Sometimes they hide this passion within.  Sometimes the wonderful writer or the voracious reader is not the typical straight-A student.  And us, as adults, especially those in the education realm, need to tap into that hidden love of the written word.  Foster relationships, encourage discovery, and learn to push them to accept what they love–and who they are.

Matt de la Pena is an amazing author, not only because he has an amazing talent of writing, but he knows how to connect to his readers by presenting ‘honest’ characters.  He allows his characters to be who they are, because a lot of the time, his readers may not be able to do that for themselves.

As he states at the end of his article, “reading can change lives,” so allow the “non-traditional reader” to change their life.  Encourage and support every opportunity.

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Classics for Toddlers: Yay or Nay?

 Any child who was read to as a baby has most likely come across “board books,” which are the thick, cardboard-paged books that are durable enough in the hands of a toddler who is teething.  We all know board books; they are usually very basic in content–focusing on shapes or colors–a subject matter that is understood by its very, very young readers.

But that is all changing.  Publishers are now creating board books that feature classics of literature, such as Moby Dick and Sense and Sensibility.  The first question that would probably come to mind is:  “why is this being done?”  or “how can a toddler benefit from a canonical piece of literature?”  Well, the argument is that babies most definitely will not comprehend the struggle between fisherman and whale, but they will process the ship and the ocean’s waves.  The entire mental process behind this idea is rather similar to the idea of playing classical music to your children (or even while pregnant).  As the baby’s mind is shaping and forming, exposing them to these great pieces of work can further along their growth and development.

From my own personal stance, I am not quite sure if these classic literature board books will do anything to support that argument, but I still don’t have anything personally against them.  However, some people may strongly take offense to turning wonderfully written, iconic pieces of literature (that have lasted through years and years) into board books that will most likely be physically chewed and sucked on by babies.

It begs the question: what would Herman Melville and Jane Austen have to say about this?

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Net Neutrality: A Thing of the Past?

We all enjoy (at least in this nation) freely creating and accessing information on the internet, and many of us may be taking this for granted.  But now, net neutrality is under attack.  Big wigs like Verizon and AT&T are looking into enforcing capitalistic control over the internet.  What this means is that creating online is going to be a chargeable action (money-wise).  

Huge companies like Google already pay fees for obtaining services of these large telecommunication companies, but now it may affect us all.  Keep in mind we already pay to receive internet access in term of technology, but now these telecom corporations may be charging us on various sources we access while under their services. 

Although this is not even an official change in the world of internet–it will be seen in the DC Federal Court (the second strongest court after the Supreme Court)–it does seem like it will happen either now or later.  These telecom companies tried another sneaky tactic back in 2006 when they tried passing legislation that would protect net neutrality BUT with a loophole that stated that these telecom companies can control the level of services provided.  That meant that the telecom corporations chose which companies had faster internet service.  We all know how finicky we are about the speed of a website, so the fact that they could control this basically meant they chose which websites succeeded and which ones didn’t.  Thankfully both the government and public saw right through this tricky loophole and voted it down.

But, now in 2013, we’re at these front lines once again.  What will happen to net neutrality?  Will the last free technological frontier turn into a capitalistic, controlled system?  

It seems that only time will tell.

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