Eleven Elegant Entries Upon the Complexities of Human Language:

So, how about the first day of that presentation huh? I’ve never had my ears graced by such beautiful and kind words, and never in the frequency or depth that we delved into said words with. I’m confident in saying that I could bring my grandparents into the room and they would love such a classy discussion. Nothing of vulgar meaning was discussed… In all seriousness, I found that first day uncomfortable but also very enlightening, or as enlightened as one can feel while also feeling like scum for writing and thinking the way I did for thirty minutes. The second day felt like it had potential, but it was inconsistent in relying on specific topics to trigger a response from the audience. As for the final discussion, I’m still a bit irked about it to now. The whole time we were discussing speakers of other languages and how we still communicate through family, I was sitting there and I felt like my experience was so close yet so far from qualifying as a contribution to the discussion. To briefly clarify, the grandparents on my mom’s side of the family have lived with us for the past 4 years, and have visited us frequently for years before that. Their primary language is Spanish, and they would spent hours on the phone talking to friends in Colombia. But, just as fluent as they are in Spanish, they are also in English, and thus, with only a few words being exchanged in Spanish between us over time, I’ve never really had the language barrier divide that some other people have had (most notably, Alex and Tara), which is a bit saddening to me. In reality, I really did find this discussion fascinating and I was disappointed to not contribute anything, but I felt like the experience I did have wouldn’t have really counted for much considering the much more meaningful experiences that everyone else was listing.

*breathes out* That was an ugly wall o’ text right there, I’ll try to make things a little more concise.

I found the readings from this chapter much more interesting than those from the Enviro chapter, specifically Mother Tongue and Bilingualism in America. They provide a great contrast in both style and argument,  and immensely help the reader to understand the span of issues and benefits to the presence and understanding of the many different languages in America. Hayakawa’s piece, Bilingualism in America, was particularly interesting to me due to how my initial opinion and that of the argument of the writing’s (which basically states that encouraging native tongues and cultures in school systems is leading to a larger educational deficiency that is a disservice to foreign or immigrant students) contrasted heavily. I come from a family that is almost completely bilingual on one side and monolingual on the other, and I have always (maybe not personally) put a priority on learning at least one alternative language due to the mental developments that it can lead to as well as the benefits that will arise from being better able to communicate internationally. But after reading this piece, I can better understand the perspective of some who might oppose such heavy encouragement of other languages. I didn’t really find the conversations that interesting, and while they all made relatively valid arguments on the nuisances of language (outside of the Starbucks piece, which was worthless in my opinion.)

As for the synthesis prompt, I feel like it corresponds well to the overall subject of language as well as most of the presentation. Except for one thing. If the whole purpose of the language project was to analyze the importance of language in our international society (and focus it on America), then why even bother performing the first day’s activities? Trust me, they were entertaining and definitely did a great job at getting people’s attention, and they fit for a language based project overall, but the activity just seemed like it was out of place after the fact, and more time could have been spent focusing on the synthesis prompt instead.

I had a bit of a harder time connecting the Language group to our own, but I do believe that the second day mentioned something to bridge the gap. When the second day moved towards discussing social media and how this platform for massive communication was influencing our language, I believe there was a brief point made about politics and how Trump was able to amass such support from Twitter and social media through a simplified form of language designed to empower and engage a very specific base of voters. I’d already observed this several months ago, but it was good to see that this point, this topic of social media and the associated language that comes with it being mentioned within the presentation.


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