April 26, 2006

Written Language Changes Too

We have talked a little in these few weeks about language change, and this is one thing I thought about while reading chapter twelve in Finnegan. As I looked at the graphs and diagrams, especially figure 12-2, the “Evolution of Cuneiform Writing From Pictograms� on page 422, it was so interesting to see one symbol or pictogram being modified in many different ways and evolve into a written form of language that carries meaning. Similar to how spoken language changes over time, from Old English to e-mail and internet talk, words change and take on new meaning. This is also seen in writing systems where symbols and pictograms eventually evolve into an alphabet and graphic symbols that represent a phoneme. I never thought of writing as an evolving, changing part of language, yet it went through a birthing process and changing period just like spoken language, and totally separate from spoken language. It is so amazing to look at the Rosetta Stone and see how language can be developed from the history we have of the remnants of language. Now there is a new Rosetta Stone that will be mass produced on mini disks and information will be available on the internet for other linguists and the public to see.

I also found the argument in Oaks interesting about linguistics being used as a tool for literary criticism. I have never thought of using linguistic methods to analyze literature due to the fact that I always thought linguistics picks apart the language without realizing more than what is seen on the phonetic level. Yet, the article in Oaks showed how linguistics can be helpful in literary criticism and provide different viewpoints and information for the critic. I now realize that many of the things I have learned and studied in this class will affect my own literary studies, and I don’t think this hinders my literary thought, but enhances what I know about the language and the usage to greater understand the literature.

April 28, 2006

Creativity of the English Language

The creativity in writing is found in the many types of writing. The ones in use today are syllabic, logographic, and alphabetic. I was interested by Chapter 12: Writing and the Creatvity found behind writing. While speech has been around for many, many years, writing is a far more recent invention. Starting out only as pictures, progressed into writing and all the styles or writing. The creativty and intelligence behind the many different styles is amazing enough, but I also find it unblievable the ability the different pictures, symbols and letters have been analzyed and rearched. I think that this chapter helps to put an emphasis on the history of language and writing. so many changes have beeen made over time, through cultures. Understanding the different stages of writing and the different developments can be analyzed through the culture and history of language.

April 29, 2006

Not saying what I write is art...

The Finegan chapter regarding written language sparked an interesting thought for me. Finegan wrote about appreciating the marvel of the written language and I began to also think about the physical act of writing. Physically writing something can in fact be a form of art. More than just the words themselves but the actual images being drawn - like how caligraphy is beautiful not for the words being written but for the amazing intricacy in which they're crafted. Having studies Japanese for about a year in high school I was able to get a taste of how respected the art of calligraphy is for that culture.

What I wonder is if computers, and typewriters before them, are destroying this art form. I'm not going to say that I think me writing something out by hand is a thing of beauty or some kind of art, but I think the appreciation for such things is lost when people don't use it anymore. At the same time, in this age a handwritten letter takes on an amazing level of significance. If you handwrite someone a note it means you really care.

As the chapter pointed out, written language is much younger than its spoken counterpart. It makes me wonder about typed language. It'll be interesting to see how much this change in the physical nature of writing changes the course of written language itself. All I can say is, wtf... I just want 2 B outta here!

May 1, 2006

Week 15 PPT

Download file

Thank You Notes from Santa Claus

While reading chapter 12 in Finegan I thought back to the beginning of the semester when we talked about how nobody writes letters anymore. More than just the physical beauty of written language I thought a lot about the emotional aspect of written language. I have always found that writing down what I want to say is not only easier, but that I am more honest when doing so.

Reading about written language made me think about how each individual person has a different and very distinct version of their written language. I'm sure you would be able to recognize the handwriting of individuals if given a sample without a name. This is how I found out that Santa Claus isn't real. Santa always left us a thank you note for the cookies, milk and carrots for the reindeer that we left out each year. I don't remember how old I was, but I remember coming downstairs on Christmas morning excited to read the letter Santa had left for us. I don't know if it clicked right away or if I realized it later, but I noticed that Santa had the exact same handwriting as my mom. My suspicion was confirmed the next year when Santa's handwriting looked exactly like my dad's! I'm glad I found out that way, figuring it out on my own, rather than someone spoiling it for me!

There is something so comforting in reading something someone has written to you. Going to school in Moorhead my first two years of college I always felt so comforted and connected to the person who had sent me a letter. Recognizing instantly whom it was from just by their handwriting on the front of the envelope.
So write letters when you can instead of emails :) Your reader will love it!

May 2, 2006

Literacy and the Literacy Myth

A service learning course I'm taking through the English department, which focuses on Educational Politics and Literacy has addressed throughout the semester many of the same issues brought up in the article titled Literacy and the Literacy Myth: From Plato to Freire. It was interesting to see the importance of linguistics in the highly politicized debates regarding literacy that these two men are known for. In my other course we've focused mostly on Friere's modern concepts of how literacy cannot ever be politically neutral and it was interesting to see ideas of a founding father of Freire's thoughts through Plato. Both men as revolutionaries of their time period have found a key way to interpret language, literacy, and linguistics as more than just the ability to understand and produce elements of a certain language but the larger implications of having these skills in regards to education, social status, job marketability, etc. It was a great article through which to examine socio-linguistic impact in regards to literacy, the human experience, and life quality determined by level of literacy.

May 6, 2006

The Completeness of the Written Language....

In thinking about chapter 12, I was struck by the differences of the written language and the spoken language. To me, they really seem worlds apart. Whether academic writing or just personal communication,etc...I think that the formation of writing is so much more controlled and manufactured. This is a good thing and a bad thing. When I speak, I often don't think about what I'm saying for a huge period of time first (I often don't think at all!), but when I write I find myself really analyzing my points and my composition. Maybe the completeness of the written language is a huge influence on why politicians and public speakers have WRITTEN speeches...they don't just go out there and say something. They want something that has been controlled, thought over, and in a sense manufactured. I think the most important thing I contemplated this week is just that the written and the spoken are really so different and have very different ways of communicating language.