Linguistics

Oh, so long since I last published anything here…

To spare anyone who cares the copious details, in short, 2016 has been part best friend, part life coach, part schoolyard bully. Between starting university, husband being made redundant 6 months ago, caring for ailing grandparents and still mothering and working, it’s been quite the year. I doubt I will miss much of 2016 other than to pay it respect for being the year I decided that nurturing my body, soul and spirit as a foundation to meeting the needs of those around me and limiting death bed regrets.

The next few years will be very busy with my little one beginning school and the continuation of the afore mentioned items, so I am considering posting some of my university content for constructive feedback. The hope is that it will develop some resilience in my ability to take criticism, improve my critical thinking and writing, as well as provide a place for discussing various subjects or encourage/inspire others to be brave and life the life they design, not designed by others.

I have enrolled in the summer trimester in an attempt to expedite the degree, Bachelor of Arts: Linguistics and Languages…

Now, without further procrastination, behold, my first forum posting for the trimester…

What is Language? 

The brief from our tutor is in italics below:

The forum for this first module involves some self-reflection. 

Take some time to think about the following questions, and then share your answers in the forum:

– Why are you taking the trouble to learn about language? 

– What do you expect to know by the end of the semester?

– How will you use this knowledge?

I am intrigued by humanity’s proclivity for creativity in every facet of life. Language is an elegant example of such freedom of expression and creativity  we as humans posses within the grammatical and semantic structures we innately learn as children. As Edward Sapir (1921) expressed, “Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations,” and as an avid reader, music enthusiast and writer/blogger I could not agree more fervently.

The most engaging aspect of Language to me is the symbiotic relationship between linguistics/language as art and also science. Throughout my life I have viewed art and science as opposites ends of a magnetic rod and as two separate magnets, both repelling and attracting dependent upon position of the poles proximity to each other. My hope is that by engaging with this unit I will begin to understand more fully how this interplay functions.

I expect several learning outcomes from this unit. My long term goal is to work in interpretation and translation (French and Japanese to begin with) of which this unit should provide a foundation for. At some point, I would also like to become a published author and so I find myself taking the advice of Irvine Welsh, “I think young writers should get other degrees first, social sciences, arts degrees or even business degrees. What you learn is research skills, a necessity because a lot of writing is about trying to find information.” Ultimately, I am simply curious to know more about one of the cornerstones of humanity.

Black, Adam, 2004, Literary Sparring: An Interview with Irvine Welsh, 3AM Magazine, viewed November 19 2016, <http://www.3ammagazine.com/litarchives/2004/feb/interview_irvine_welsh.html&gt;

Sapir, Edward, 1921, Language: an Introduction to the Study of Speech,  Harcourt, Brace, New York.

edited: 20/11/16 (as per feedback from a faithful friend).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hair

She is the spit of her father; no one could mistake her for his progeny. Both of them are deep blue eyed blondes with streaks of celtic heritage, fairly fine features and long-sighted enough to audition for a remake of Revenge of the Nerds. They have the same grin, reactive nature and obstinance enough to take down an invasion of Cybermen.

However, while obstinate, I am broader in build, brown eyed and ashy mouse brown. If it wasn’t for her significant vocabulary and independent attitude, I’d swear she was switched at birth and husband has a lot to answer for…

I change my hair colour frequently. It reflects my state of mind, my current mood. It’s my way of giving the proverbial finger to the status quo I suppose. In the last 3 months it has been purple, chocolate brown, pink, black, cherry red… and now blonde… again…

She has developed the ability to articulate her thoughts on Mumma’s indecisiveness. Most of the time she loves the pink, but lately she’s been saying I should grow long hair like her and have it blonde. Perhaps it’s her sensing my insecurities, or maybe it’s the copious viewings of Doctor Who in Eccleston’s tenure and her fascination with Rose? I think she’s right though. I should grow my hair and leave it blonde. Every time this over-processed mop of hair is blonde, I feel like we are mother and daughter.

It shouldn’t really matter. We have a pretty decent relationship for a 4 going on 14 year old and sassy 30-something woman, but having that physical likeness is feeling just as pertinent. Having the exterior marker that announces belonging to each other as we wander through the masses in town, or the city, or wherever we find ourselves.

Belonging… and hair… and together.

The Troll…

Application is pending…

I find out in 8 days whether or not I’ve been accepted. I’m as nervous as I was 16 years ago. The application form defines me as mature age entry. I still feel like I’m a kid and yet I’ve never felt older.

What I’m about to do feels like a troll under a bridge on my journey. That troll was scary and I let it intimidate me. I’m more determined now. I’m a little bit wiser and more thoughtful about my intentions. I have superior reasons for returning- I understand myself and my passions. I want set a standard for my daughter, to know she is in charge of her mind and she can use her emotions instead of them using her. I’m not running away, I’m squaring off.

I want to go back to do and be and say things I had little courage for the first round. Instead of letting my life cower in the undergrowth, I’m trying to grab it by the hand and guide into significance. I’m not sure where I am exactly going, I am simply placing my feet on the ground in determined succession.

University… how I love you and hate you all in one heart beat. You beat me in my uber-youth and I’m going back to beat you this time… if you’re up for the fight… so come on… accept my challenge.

Unfriending, Donald Trump, and Character Development

I recently read a comment via the Washington Post about the importance of remaining friends with Trump supporters even if one strongly disagrees. It’s an interesting piece and one that we need to keep discussing so we may maintain and improve freedom of speech and the balance in political correctness. I’d like to compliment it by suggesting how disconnecting with those we disagree with negatively affects our individual characters.

Caitlin Dewey, a digital media critic for the Washington Post focuses on how our clicks manipulate algorithms on social media sites into suggesting similar content, and apps that can censor parameters individuals choose to set. She proposes that people have taken to blocking and unfriending those with conflicting opinions thus shaping their online experiences to a degree in which they become intolerant and nasty. She also contends that critics have argued this approach to social media is contrary to the core of what we value about our democracies. Her article emphasises throughout how remaining balanced in our online interactions keep a healthy perspective on reality, community and political intelligence both personally and societally.

I’m of the opinion that everything in our lives has a holistic affect on our person and narrowing our political views is no different. By choosing to focus only on those things we agree with we lose growth in resilience, assertiveness, and intellectual reasoning. I’m sure there are other things, but for the sake of keeping this short I’ll leave it at those.

First up, Resilience. Resilience is the ability to continue growing despite and in spite of stress and adversity. When we lack resilience to maintain our convictions and opinions in front of the other, we are weakened in our resolve, discipline and development of good habits. Without resilience we are no longer able to fulfil the capacity of thought, action and progression in our relationships, careers and personal development in which we should be capable. Without resilience, fear wins and failure thrives. We personally become shadows of our authentic selves, a little bit like Smeagol/Gollum in Lord of the Rings.

Next, Assertiveness. Assertiveness is the ability to share our thoughts and go about our day with confidence. The lack of confidence is a decline into mediocrity where resilience takes a significant hit. If we are not assertive in sharing our thoughts while listening to another then we allow negative and damaging mandates and treatments to come upon us. We begin to live in a way that becomes existence, where other people dictate our direction and state of being. We become any body’s fool and every body’s slave.

Finally, Intellectual reasoning. No one is going be the epitome of intellectual reasoning all of the time and it would be even less common if we chose to block out parts of the arguments and thinking of those we disagree with. How else are we able to remain firm about our personal convictions or change the direction of a toxic cultural norm if we are not able to rationally and intelligently persuade people otherwise? If we choose to eliminate whole sections of the argument we are missing out on opportunities to deepen our cognitive skills. If we choose to remain ignorant and stunt our critical thinking we are inviting mediocrity into our person.

So, if we choose to eliminate voices we see as the antithesis of our world view we rob ourselves of our best. To reject all of a person for one part seems obviously destructive in our character development. It is an inability to deal optimally and healthfully with offensive opinions and principles. We need to see opposing sides as a way to check our own character and develop humility in our own views and beliefs. The result of eliminating opposing and grey-scaled voices are one of these- apathy and atrophy OR becoming as dogmatic and narrow minded as the ‘other’ side. That is a serious character flaw and one of the few things worth unfriending.

If you’d like to take a look at what Caitlin Dewey’s proposition for yourself go here.

Mean Girls @ 4

“I don’t want to wear that… it’s boys leggings.” she said as she by-passed her favourite bottoms.

That’s what my almost 4 year old girl said to me yesterday as she was dressing for daycare.

“Why do you say that? Anyone can wear khaki star leggings.” I replied, feeling a little shocked (I did my best to mask it).

Apparently, her ‘best’ friend from school had told her that the brownish leggings and Transformer robot undies she had picked out herself  in the shops were only for boys.

My child began to cry, “I’m not a boy, I’m a girl!”

“Of course you are, you know you’re a girl, Daddy and I know you’re a girl and you can still wear whatever you like.”

Well that washed down as well a toy car in a toilet bowl.

I don’t mind what my daughter wears most days. Occasionally I’ll redirect away from the three outfits we’ve designated as ‘going out’ attire if it’s a school day, but otherwise she could wear all her dress ups and her undies at the same time for all I care. A little peer pressure was definitely expected by the time she started prep in 2017 but after yesterday’s episode, I’m getting a little nervous.

This is not the first time something like this has made my child upset about this friend. At least once a week she comes home saying that this friend has decided she doesn’t want to be besties (totally normal I know). My girl’s favourite colour used to be yellow and now everything HAS to be pink because that’s a girl colour because this friend said so. Then there was her friend’s 4th birthday party on the weekend and without warning she bit my daughter on the arm in front of everyone and then laughed like a hyena.

For sure a lot of this is right on time for social development, after all their emotional systems have begun to kick into overdrive but the Mean Girls stuff  has negatively altered my child’s expression of herself and has me a little puzzled for solutions. I know the friend’s mumma a bit; I think she would genuinely be puzzled by the kinds of dialogue they’re having with each other so I’m thinking of having a chat about how we can model some appropriate dialogue in front of the girls. I don’t want to be a whinger, but it’s contrary to her mother’s values too and the little one is quite delightful a lot of the time (just like all children).

I hope I’m not over-reacting to this. I know this is the first of many conversations we’re going to have over the course of the next 2 decades. I’m just surprised that we didn’t make it to school before things affected her self-image. Who cares if she wants to wear boys underwear or if she wants to wear all the pink, as long as she’s doing it for her?!

 

 

 

That Sweet Child

The image of that child lying limp in the ebbing waves on that beach. That beautifully crafted yet now lifeless body broadcast across the world for anyone wealthy enough to own a smart device to see. There were no warnings. The image was simply there.

I could rant about how I think the last pieces of dignity were taken from that sweet, sweet baby. I could rant about how thoughtless and reckless it is that now we have a world in which we openly share the pictures of the dead in their violently perished states. I could rant about how we as a society are so desensitised to war and pestilence and persecution that it takes the body of a child for people to become aware. Some of these rant may sit true, some half-true, and yet all of them are not the core of the issue.

The issue, the tragedy, is that we who have enough and even an abundance are still poor in things that money can not simply buy with cash or credit. All the while, thousands of Mummies and Daddies are deciding that the open seas and oceans frought with danger are a safer alternative for them and their children than remaining in their homes. And, the privileged, relatively peaceful nations look on. They even actively repel these families and individuals in crisis. Our governments, who posses opportunity to role model generosity and compassion are letting us down out of fear that resources will be stretched thin or whatever feeble reasons they spin.

Perhaps I am simply an idealist. Perhaps I’m more ignorant about the real world than I care to admit. I know I need to do more to change the patch of earth I’m inhabiting. I know that I am not the loudest voice, the most charismatic or most useful voice. I am not a lot of things… but..

…As a mother I know I would  have taken the same opportunity their mummy did. If there was any chance of finding a safe place where my child was going have food, shelter, an education and safety, I would take it. Better die in the sea seeking freedom and hope, fighting for the lives of my family than remaining in the certain disaster of our native land. In this, I would be hoping that someone would have compassion and allow me and my loved ones help, genuine assistance.

So if you happen to be reading this, please consider that this is not a new problem, and it’s not going away, and the boats and the people will keep coming. The children will continue to wash up on beaches, and we have means to stop this devastation.

There are solutions and repelling the boats, and pushing people to drastic escapes is not the way… but open hearts and borders has got be better than more precious babes being lost. Do we dare risk compassion or will fear of resource depletion or whatever spin is placed upon this crisis be the status quo?  What is the real fear, because it surely can’t be of that sweet child?

Just Five Seconds

Five seconds.

That’s all it takes.

Before responding or reacting to any conversation, a testing child, a grumpy partner, an email or any other moment in your day;  take five seconds to think…

What do I really know about the other person, people, situation or interactions involved?

How will my perception affect the wisest response?

Is it worth saying anything, or can I let the moment pass acknowledged and unanswered?

Do I know enough to enrich or solve any present difficulties?

Taking five seconds to think before responding could transform your life and the patch you influence. At the very least, it will minimise some potentially embarrassing moments. Just five seconds is all it takes.