Friday, 30 July 2010

Joining the Prescriptivists' Ranks

As a linguist I should be upholding the tenets of descriptivism, embracing changes in language as part of its natural evolution, not judging those who diverge from the accepted "norm", being open-minded and curious about what differentiates individuals as language users. I tried to read Eats, Shoots and Leaves but I threw it away after twenty pages. Text messaging isn't destroying language, it's evolving it, pushing its boundaries, adding to its richness. Yeah, OK, any other day I'd give you that spiel. But from time to time some things piss me off enough that I'll cast aside the descriptivism that I hold so dear and momentarily join the ranks of self-proclaimed language "experts", high-horsed grammar mavens, and those who have their own newspaper columns about language yet can't tell the difference between a Chomsky and a Chimpsky.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Sucky Music

I've been brewing an article in my mind for quite some time. My idea went like this: I was going to take a bunch of critically acclaimed bands; you know the ones, we've heard about them for the past twenty years; the under-appreciated yet groundbreaking bands that you've never actually bothered to listen to, the ones that everyone says are the pinnacle of music goodness. Then I was going to tell you how much I think they suck. Yes, I know, it probably wouldn't have flown far in the vast expanses of the Internet before being shot down, where obscurity, elitism and snobbery are the only ways we can distinguish ourselves from the group."What!? You haven't listened to Antarctic Monkeys from Mars? Loser."

Saturday, 10 July 2010

My Impressions of Auschwitz

The main gate to Auschwitz I. The sign reads "Arbeit macht frei" - Work sets you free

Auschwitz is not a place to be visited lightly. The site of the former Nazi extermination camp in Oświęcim, Poland, is a haunting place. Having succumbed to modern-day tourism, Auschwitz sees people of all nationalities come to pay their respects. Walking around the site of Auschwitz I, I found myself mentally detached from the scale of the murder that occured on the ground upon which I walked. Bubbling beneath the surface were millions of screaming ghosts and I chose not to listen to them. It was a natural defense mechanism, one which I think most people would adopt when visiting a place like this. But when I glimpsed a young girl's pony tail on top of a pile of human hair, a shock ran through me. An innocent child, naked, head shaved, had then been pushed into a room with thousands of others and gassed with hydrogen cyanide.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Doritos Rant

Since I came back from Papua New Guinea I've noticed something new in New Zealand.