Watch Your Language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun Jun 15 13:17:04 UTC 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008
Watch Your Language

Any country with the word "ice", like Iceland, would be great to visit
as I sit here in the North East United States sweltering in this heat
wave. In the bookstore I saw the Teach Yourself Icelandic book and
wondered how difficult it would be to learn the language.
Despite the heat in the U.S, I would still prefer to live in an
English speaking country where a committee is not going to dictate
what words I use. The June 9th, Iceland Review Online interviewed
GudrĂșn Kvaran, the head of the Icelandic Language Committee and she
said, "Our project now is to draft a language policy." Then she goes
on "it's quite dangerous if we are exposed to too much influence from,
let's say, English."I expected that she would blast English as do most
European countries who want to keep their language "pure" from
English. How do GudrĂșn and the Icelandic Language Committee plan on
stopping people? Wait I hearing a knocking on my door, I must have
used a non Anglo-Saxon word.

English teachers in the United States are concerned that student's
writing skills are going to decline because of text messaging. It's
not only English teachers, but the French, especially the president,
Nicholas Sarkozy is worried about the French language. In an article, says "it's not about the invasion of English words in
the French language. His concern is over a new form of language - next
messaging - also referred to as "txt-msging" or "txtspk". It's
refreshing to hear that he's not blaming their linguistic decline on
English. We all can get along. The French coined a word mediatheque
described and defined In the Turkish Daily News June 13th:"In the four
years that Littardi has been at the French Cultural Institute located
at the top of bustling stiklal Street, the center has seen a lot of
changes under his leadership. For one thing, all the electrical wiring
has been replaced and the library was upgraded to a "mediatheque" (a
term that combines the words English word media and the French word
for library "bibliotheque") undergoing extensive renovations and
expansion of its collection. The building now has central heating. And
before Littardi leaves he plans to get more computers for French
language students and give the place a new paint job."

Latin is even being attacked. An article from "The Pilot: The Official
Newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston" titled "Middle Schoolers learn
their Latin 'roots'."started off promising, I agreed with everything,
until Hank Fleming, creator of the Latin program said "what separates
his program from others is that it is aimed at increasing the
student's English vocabulary and not on teaching Latin grammar, which
he said has limited usefulness because Latin is no longer a spoken
language." What? Studying Latin grammar develops cognitive skills, but
I guess we don't want our middle schoolers to think. I'm not
advocating teaching middle school the passive pariphrastic or the
ablative absolute (even though the Founders could read Latin and Greek
fluently at a middle school age) but they can learn noun declensions
and verb conjugations. It's very stimulating to read a book in Latin
and not depend on a translation. After hard work, a student can feel a
sense of accomplishment and build self-esteem.

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