June 03, 2005

SEMANTICS

It's not really possible to count how many words there are in the English language, but it's a lot. And many people agree that English has more words than most other world languages. Anecdotally, I remember noticing the problem when I was learning French and I wanted to distinguish between jump, hop, and leap; French only has the one jumping verb. There's no distinction in Swedish between winking and blinking, though I'm sure flirters would disagree.

English has plenty of words to describe everything quite accurately, which is why I get so angry when people start conflating the definitions of words. I'm mad that what happened at Abu Ghraib gets labeled as "torture" when we have the word "humiliation" to differentiate the two concepts. The word torture loses its specific meaning when it covers the spectrum, just as jump shouldn't cover both leaps and hops.

I've been especially mad this week over the misuse of the word "gulag" by Amnesty International. "Gulag" is a very specific word used to describe a very specific type of penal system. It is entirely not appropriate for discussing Guantanamo Bay.

The Jawa Report has a well-researched post about what exactly a gulag is. We have plenty of words in the English language to accurately define the differences between the gulag and Gitmo; let's use them.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:21 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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June 02, 2005

SIGH

Amritas points to an article about "a Los Angeles school board proposal to require all high school students to take college prep courses." One paragraph caught my eye:

Campbell pointed out that some of the students excel in the school's culinary and performing arts classes. But because most of those classes don't qualify as college prep courses, she worries that students will miss out on those subjects.

I missed out on several things in my high school because I was taking college prep. I sure would have benefitted more from typing and computer classes than chemistry! We didn't have culinary classes, but I would've liked to take one.

Know what I do now that I'm an Army wife with two degrees? Cook and type.

I have a friend here on post who quit college when she decided to get married. While her husband was in Basic and AIT, she went to cosmetology school. She makes way more money cutting hair in her home than I did teaching college English. She has a skill that's marketable no matter where she moves, while I'm stuck because apparently I need a PhD to do what I want to do. It wouldn't even have to be in anything related to teaching college English; I just have to have the piece of paper that says I studied something.

So I'm a housewife who cooks and types instead.

I guess it suits me just fine though. If I had it to do all over again, I would've studied mechanical engineering like my dad. I always loved physics. But at least the way things are now, I'm not too bummed to be locked out of a job that only paid me $800 per month in a system that was extremely frustrating. Moreover, I don't necessarily think that Army wifeing and careers go hand in hand. My first loyalty is to the military and my second is to my own job prospects. Not surprisingly, being an out-of-work professor fits easily with our PCS rotation

Posted by: Sarah at 05:46 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 339 words, total size 2 kb.

SAD

One of the most depressing blogs out there is Babalu Blog. I swear every time I go there, I feel like crying, and today is no exception. Val Prieto got to talk with a Cuban who's visiting the US. Commenter Kathleen summed up how I too felt after reading this story: "All this time we've been saying how fidel has ruined Cuba, turned it to shit. The truth of it makes me weep. I can't think of a word in English, or Espanol that expresses how much I'd like to see castro gone. What can we say to this visitor? Yes, we know what has happened to your country, how much your people have suffered. Sorry, the world just doesn't care. Sometimes I'm truly ashamed to be human."

Posted by: Sarah at 03:59 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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