So this means it's National Poetry Month. I just learned about this today so I'm a little behind the 8-ball. Apparently, there's a "Write one poem a day" challenge that goes along with this. Since this won't go up until the 4th here's 4 poems for your enjoyment. Feel free to post your own poems in the comments.
Thus far I've not said anything really political in this space, but I think I'm going to start now. The problem we have right now
is that the right wing has been allowed to control the narrative. They have
gotten to define all the words. Liberal is a bad word. So we shifted to
progressive, now that’s a bad word. We need to drag public discourse back to
the left. Stop catering to the so-called middle. The middle has been forcibly
shifted to the right. The liberal base doesn’t come out to vote because all the
candidates put forth are center right. Most people when surveyed are center-left
or left outright, but they have no reason to interrupt their busy schedules to
stand in line in the cold to vote.
So, here’s how we take the country back. First, we find the most wing nutty wingnut out
there and have them run in an election that we probably wouldn’t win anyway. No
one that believes in weird conspiracy theories though; no chem trails or vaccines cause autism people, that’s dumb. But
someone who believes in a universal income, state-owned
oil companies. Make sure that the small oil
drilling companies can still operate but kick out the big ones. Run this
person, hype them up pretty good. Then in a more contested election, dial it
back to more normal. The masses will have gotten a little used to hearing the
far out there stuff so the more typical progressive policies will seem less out
there. Maybe the wing nut should be a man and the more mainstream person a
woman of color. We should make sure they are all above reproach though. No
questionable financial dealings, no sexual assault or discriminatory behavior.
It will take some time but I believe we can
drag the political climate back to the left and make our country the place our
founding ideals suggested it could be, one where everyone is included and gets
what they need.
Right now I'm supposed to be studying for a test in my Linguistics class, but I guess wring a blog post about language is kinda the same thing.
I was reading over my notes and one of the first things in there was 9 Ideas About Language. This stuff is in a textbook as well as other places on the internet. I can cite my textbook later when I get home or just not since it's easy to find on the net. I promise I didn't come up with the idea on my own though.
1. Children learn their language swiftly, efficiently, and without instruction.
This one kinda blew my mind a little. I am a parent and I thought that I taught my daughter how to talk but apparently, she learned on her own and just got her dialect from me. As well as figuring out what sounds she could make were English. Another part of this idea: Babies make all sounds for all languages and start to filter out the ones they don't need by age 1. So all that babbling your baby does is language based. That's neat huh? Also, there is a critical window for learning language, from birth to 6 where they are sponges absorbing everything. After that, it slows and some researchers think it stops by 10 or 11. This isn't to say we can't learn after that obviously, just that we can't learn like normal speakers after that.
2. Language operates by rules. This one seems obvious but there's a difference in rule types. There are Descriptive and Prescriptive rules. The descriptive rules are unconscious rules that our brains just follow. A lot of them just make it so our brains don't work too hard while still getting our point across. Irregular verbs are difficult for our brains for instance. They have to be memorized. This is why a toddler will say something like "I runned really fast!" instead of "ran". Their brains are following the rules, but run doesn't follow the rules. Prescriptive rules are ones we have to teach in school and are usually about writing, like "don't split the infinitive". A lot of these are based on Latin and don't actually make sense for English. Apparently, that rule specifically came about during the Enlightenment where scholars thought that everything from ancient Greece and Rome was the best thing ever. The thing about Latin is, you can't split the infinitive because they are single words. In English where they come in 2 words, splitting them is fine. The thing about Prescriptive rules is that they are often used to separate us into "educated" and "uneducated" categories, which is really more about privilege than anything else. The irony about this is I'm currently using Grammarly to make sure I'm following all the Prescriptive rules. Another Prescriptive rule example is "no double negatives". Our brains understand this perfectly. Again, because of the Enlightenment, someone decided to bring about this rule. I don't know if they were trying to inject some mathematical logic to language or what but double or even triple negatives are actually grammatical.
3. All languages have 3 components: A sound system (phonology), vocabulary (lexicon or morphology), and a system of grammar (syntax). There's nothing groundbreaking about this other than the idea that just because it's different than English doesn't mean it makes more or less sense.
4. Everyone speaks a dialect. Even if you speak the "standard" version of your language, it's still a dialect.
5. Speakers of all languages employ a range of styles and a set of subdialects or jargons. We switch back and forth between them in different social situations.
6. Language changes are normal and inevitable. So crying over the fact that teenaged girls talk differently than you is dumb. Stop doing that. In fact, teen girls tend to be the primary drivers of change, in not only word usage but pronunciation changes like vowel shifts.
7. Languages are intimately related to the societies and individuals who use them. There's a lot you can find out about a culture or an individual by studying word choice or the syntax. Time is important to some cultures and their language reflect that. Same thing with snow.
8. Value judgments about different languages are a matter of taste. Just because you prefer yours doesn't mean it's better. Also, just because someone doesn't speak yours doesn't mean they are less intelligent.
9. Writing is a derivative of speech. Writing must be taught. whereas speech isn't taught. Speech also came first. We've been writing for only about the past 5000 years, we've been speaking for much longer. Some languages don't have a written form. Not just tribal languages either, gesture languages don't have writing either. Those that speak with ASL write in English. Otherwise, they would have to "write" by drawing the gestures. Drawing gestures is useful for illustrative purposes but would make a very inefficient writing system.
Well, thanks for studying with me, I now need to study the other parts of the test (I have flash cards too, ugh). Keep in mind, this has been from a linguist's perspective. I'm sure there would be plenty of people to argue any of these points.
In my last post, I mentioned that I changed my major. I suppose I can talk about it. (Ok, before I start that I have to talk about how Blogger is annoying me right now. There are only 6 fonts, the one I like doesn't stay between posts. Same thing with size. And whose dick do I have to suck to get a line spacing button? I may need to switch to WordPress.) During the Spring Semester, I started to get deeper into the program. I had all the heavy math classes and math adjacent general ed classes too. I got very stressed out. I dropped one class and it didn't really help. It got to the point that I was questioning my degree program. Now, this wasn't the first time I had questioned it. But I did finally analyze why I picked Math in the first place. And there were a couple of reasons. None of them were about me or what I wanted to do or what I'm good at. I originally picked that major because I wanted to make the biggest impact. Service to the community. For one, there are a lot of bad Math teachers out there. They may know how to calculate stuff, but they have no idea how to teach. I think this is a big reason why kids hate math. If they have no confidence in their ability, they will struggle and hate it. Also, we need more women in STEM. It might help if girls had more STEM teachers that are women, it might help. The other reason I picked Math is that I have been trying to prove I'm as good as the boys my whole life. Part of this is how my mom treated me and dressed me before my brother was born. She raised me kind of boyish. There were girls that tried to make me prove I was a girl because I always had boy clothes on. Of course that all changed when my brother was born. Then I was told to wear more dresses and he was the favorite. Now she wonders why he does nothing and expects handouts. So for the longest time, I suppressed everything girly. Slowly I've shed most of that nonsense. The last to go was vocation. I bought into the idea that the hard sciences are masculine and the soft sciences are feminine. Which is nonsense since men have been trying to keep us out of all of them for generations, and women were the 1st coders. And who cares if I do something girly anyway. We need to stop gendering jobs. Once I unpacked that I realized that I missed writing papers. Getting a grade for my opinion is pretty great really. And while Math concepts are interesting, I really don't care about the computation. I am, however, still very interested in Astronomy and am doing independent research studying Seyfert Galaxies. Let me know in the comments if you want me to write for days about Active Galactive Nuclei. And we still need people to report on science if we're ever going to get the public to value it again.