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Showing posts from July, 2011

Still Learning Arabic...

Sort of. Unexpected life events this week have probably ended my summer studies of Arabic, but I did make some progress. Working with a friend on our own, we were able to learn the Arabic alphabet, though reading is still a bit of a challenge because the letters change shape somewhat when they are in different positions in a word (initial, medial, terminal, independent). But I feel like I at least cracked the code and can peek in a bit on the Arabic world, even if with very limited understanding.

What excited me even more than learning the Arabic alphabet was learning to speak some Arabic. I had bought Pimsleur's Quick & Simple Eastern Arabic, which consists of 4 CDs, with 8 30-minute lessons. Pimsleur then sent me the complete Arabic 1 course, which consists of 16 CDs, or 32 30-minute lessons (including the 8 I already had). They wanted me to try out the full course and then pay for it if I liked it--but I have not had any time to move beyond the initial 8 lessons and will be …

Huguenots in New Platz, NY

I recently visited New Platz in New York state on my trip to Montreal, Canada. Apart from being a charming little town in the middle of New York, New Platz also has a lot of Huguenot history. There is a street named Huguenot street with several buildings built by the Huguenots who arrived and settled in the area. There is also a Reformed church, though it is no longer Huguenot.

The historical marker on Huguenot Street says New Platz in German (Die Pfalz) because the Huguenots who came to New York, though obviously French, actually arrived from Germany rather than directly from France. They had already fled to Germany before seeking a permanent home in North America. They named their village after the town in Germany where they had lived.

Today in Language: Marc Miyake

The linguist Marc Miyake, specialist in Old Japanese and Tangut, was born on this day in 1971. I bet you never heard of Tangut before today. I had never heard of it before I heard of Miyake, a Hawaiian with Japanese middle (Hideo) and last names.

Miyake is not a dead 19th- or 20th-century linguist that we can only talk about. He actually has is own blog, Amritas, where you can read exceedingly technical posts about Old Japanese and Tangut. Miyake talks about the sorts of things I hope to know/understand better one day. It's great that young linguists like Miyake are continuing the development of modern linguistics.

My Nook

[ALERT: This will be a longer post than normal.]

In addition to a little French book, I recently purchased my first e-reader: the new Nook Simple Touch, or Nook 2nd generation. I had several reasons for not buying an e-reader until now, as well as several reasons for buying this one now.

First, I did not want to buy an e-reader until now for the following reasons: I did not think I truly needed it. This is an important but usually forgotten (ignored) reason in materialistic consumer societies.I did not like any of the available e-readers. The Kindle from Amazon was the closest to what I might have been tempted to buy, but it had several unpardonable problems, such as no touch screen and therefore very difficult navigation. In addition, its proprietary format for e-books meant it was not viable for my needs.I already had books at home that I haven't read, so why buy an e-reader and have even more books sitting on it that I don't have time to read?
With the new Nook, however, I wa…

Symbolism of the Huguenot Cross

The following is a blurb from a bulletin of the Huguenot Church of Charleston. I have only added links and a French translation, in addition to fixing a couple of typos.-JP

"The Huguenot Cross is composed of a Maltese Cross with four arms of equal length, representing the four Gospels. Each arm becomes progressively broader as it leaves the center, symbolizing the believer's transformation (2 Cor. 3:18). The outer edge of each arm is indented in the shape of a 'V' for victory through Jesus Christ. The two points at the end of each arm, eight in all, stand for the Eight Beautitudes (Matthew 5:3-10). Between the arms of the cross are four fleurs-de-lis, each with three petals symbolizing the trinity. The twelve petals of the four fleurs-de-lis represent the Twelve Apostles. The lily is also a symbol of the resurrection and the care of God (Matthew 6:28). The four open spaces between the arms form four hearts, symbolizing loyalty, the love of Jesus, and the recall of His…

Relevance: An Intellectual Standard

This is perhaps academic heresy, particularly for someone who is now at the graduate level of academics and intends to pursue a lifelong career as a teacher in American higher education. But I often have a pestering thought that some information taught to me is 1) irrelevant or 2) presented in an irrelevant way. Thus, I want to hold myself, as a student, researcher, and teacher, to the intellectual standard of relevance.

I have thought about relevance a lot recently--and ever since I was first a student in university. Irrelevance in the humanities was first brought to my attention as a freshman when I read the strident, fascinating books Who Killed Homer? and Bonfire of the Humanities.

I decided to write this post on relevance when I read an excellent Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Naomi Schaefer Riley. In my humble opinion, this is opinion writing (and writing in general) at its best: clear, feisty, supported, and relevant. It pops, if one can say that about writing. How about…


日本サッカー代表のワールドカップ優勝は素晴らしかった! 女子代表は「なでしこ」ジャパンと呼ばれ、見事な特性を示しました。

「なでしこ」とはどういう意味か? もし見下すような意味がなければ (というのは、日本の伝統的な家長制度の理想的な女) とてもよい意味です。まずなでしこという花はとても美しいです。女子代表の優勝も美しかったです。それよりも、日本選手の胆力やスポーツマン精神を見て世界全体は感動したではないでしょうか。あきらめずに最後の最後までがんばりました。


Ethics for Health Care Interpreters

In addition to all of the discussion of journalistic ethics that the News of the World scandal has provoked, I have also been interested recently in ethics for interpreting, particularly in the field of health care.

I am beginning some part-time medical interpreting and have had to read standards and ethics for medical interpreters. In the United States there is a National Council on Interpreting in Health Care that establishes standards, ethics, and certification for health care interpreters. Certification is not necessary, just as there is no "official," required certification for translators in the U.S., only unofficial certifying organizations such as the American Translators Association, which [ALERT: unproven assertion] usually offer dubious value while requiring a lot of time and money.

What these professional societies are useful for is networking with others in the field and providing good discussion of standards of practice. The NCIHC has at least two such documents

Dispose of that Translation

Mi esposa tomó esta foto en el baño público de un centro comercial. Es un letrero que alguien intentó de traducir del inglés, tal vez usando un programa de traducción. Salió bastante mal y chistosa la traducción y parece que una compradora hispanoparlante decidió de corregirla. Hay que decirle a mi esposa que regrese al baño ¡a ver si han cambiado el letrero!

 A blogger friend and French professor extraordinaire, ivman, has the best online collection of funny signs I know of. I am posting my first funny sign today, and also my first example of bad translation (a common feature on most translation/language blogs).

I am totally not making this up. This is a sign that my wife saw recently in a mall restroom (she took the photo, incidentally). Though she is Mexican, a Spanish professor, and  a freelance interpreter/translator, she was not the one that corrected the nonsensical, very poor, very funny (machine?) translation.

The new translation is okay (it makes sense at least, though grammar …

La Tour des Pères

J'ai déjà écrit mon introduction à Petit éloge de la paternité. Maintenant j'en partage un petit extrait, un calembour, qui m'a beaucoup plaît.
Il est certain qu'écrire  un éloge de la paternité lorsqu'on est père de quatre enfants  qui vivent sous le même toit . . . n'est pas la meilleure façon de séparer la vie et l'écriture, le monde et soi écrivant, de se protéger dans une tour d'ivoire--à moins qu'il s'agisse précisément de monter par là dans une tour d'y-voir, d'essayer d'y-voir peut-être enfin un peu clair, une tour ouverte à tous les vents, à la croisée de soi et des autres. (14)

Petit éloge d'un achat d'impulsion

Mon vice, c'est les livres. Les lire sans cesse. Les acheter. Les collectionner. Les sortir de la bibliothèque. Les dévorer à minuit avec ma petite liseuse pendant que ma femme dort. Je suis bibliophile.

Lors de mon voyage à Montréal il y a deux semaines, j'ai visité plusieurs librairies montréalaises. C'est un vrai paradis aux librairies québecoises puisque je trouve des livres tous en français ! Dans la Caroline du Sud, je suis surexcité si je trouve un seul bouquin en français dans une librairie.

Dans la librairie Renaud-Bray sur la Rue St.-Denis, j'étais en mission d'acheter des livres de jeunesse pour notre fils. C'était une mission que ma femme m'avait donnée (puisqu'il est presque impossible de trouver des livres français pour lui dans la Caroline du Sud). Elle m'avait aussi chargé de n'acheter aucun livre pour moi-même parce qu'elle en a ras-le-bol avec mes livres omniprésents chez nous. (Elle dit que j'en ai trop, mais elle ne com…

Inside the Murdoch Empire

A good article from the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal. In fact, the Journal is still one of the best-edited newspapers in the country, if not the best. (I did, however, notice more editorial errors almost immediately after the WSJ switched hands, mainly typos. I cannot definitely prove that it is because of the Murdoch transition). Note that "quality of editing" has nothing to do with whether you agree with the political leanings of the editorial page of a newspaper.

SPJ Code of Ethics

The Society of Professional Journalists has a useful code of ethics. Note especially the following: "Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story."
Even if those methods are explained as part of the story, are the methods still justified? I don't know. I would never feel comfortable myself using "surreptitious methods of gathering information" even if "traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public." I'm not convinced that is journalism's role.

Journalistic Ethics

In light of this, this from the Poynter Institute. Note the "high standards" referred to in the third paragraph of the first article. Now, I know absoloutely nothing of the former News of the World. But I know that if journalists and news outlets follow basic, elementary, duh-factor ethics of honesty and such, they will not end up as News of the World did. When it is one or two journalists' fault, those people get shut down. When a whole newspaper gets shut down, the organization seriously lost its way a long time ago.

To make the point that this is not a pot shot from someone in academia who knows nothing of journalism and the vagaries of the 24/7 news cycle in the 21st century, I should say I did complete my bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in French. There is much that I don't know about journalism, since my career has followed the latter of those two fields in the last decade. But I learned enough as a student and also editor of a student newspaper…

Here Is Love

I recently heard/sung "Here Is Love," a hymn that has twomelodies and, I think, was originally Welsh. It was definitely part of the Welsh revival at the beginning of the 20th century. Huw Priday sings a verse in Welsh and then the rest in English in this video. Let your spirit soar.

Re-Post: In Search of a Diploma Frame

I have a yet to find the right-sized diploma frame so am re-posting this request for help from a while back.

Je cherche un cadre (est-ce que c'est le mot ?) pour mon certificat de maîtrise. Il m'en faut un des dimensions A4. C'est presque impossible à trouver aux Etats-Unis. Au secours !

Estoy buscando un cuadro/marco donde poner mi certificado de maestría. Recibí la maestría de una universidad en Inglaterra, así que el tamaño es A4, lo cual no encuentro en los EEUU (y la universidad no vende cuadros tampoco). ¡Ayúdame por favor!

My second master's degree was in Translation Studies, and I received it at the end of 2010 from the University of Portsmouth, of Portsmouth, England. The programme (my English has been significantly influenced by work on this degree) was entirely distance learning, giving me good exposure to a significant trend of the 21st century.

What I am needing help with is finding a frame or holder for my diploma. The paper is A4, so I haven&…

Two Articles on Language Acquisition in Children

First, babies need you to sneeze, cough, and make other human sounds around them. Even our non-verbal sounds apparently help them with brain development and, therefore at least indirectly, language development. Second, as babies turn into toddlers and parents start thinking about school, children need us to communicate and to encourage them to do so.

The good news about this research, like much of what I read about language development in children, is two-fold. 1) Normally, children develop linguistic and social abilities just fine, though at different speeds. This is not dependent on parents' performing some advanced level of linguistic training or cognitive guidance. What parents do naturally is often the right thing. 2) Nonetheless, parents do need to do SOMETHING, of course, and that is basically to be involved--talking, reading, and listening to their children.

Thus far our son is developing quite well, with an admirable vocabulary of well more than 50 words. He can even read t…

What We All Want...But Cannot Attain?

"Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable." - Helen Keller

« La courtoisie, ça fait du bien ! »

Il s'agit de la courtoisie sur la route. Je suis allé à Montréal la semaine dernière (en voiture) et j'ai vu pas mal de routes. Un jour j'ai laissé ma voiture dans un stationnement au Terminus Cartier à Laval pour prendre le métro à Montréal, et lorsque je suis retourné l'après-midi il y avait une feuille sur le pare-brise. C'était de la part du Québec apparemment, « avec la participation de : Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec [et] Ministère des Transports. »
C'est un quiz pour nous qui conduisons sur les routes québecoises.À chaque question il faut répondre « Souvent », « Parfois », ou « Jamais ». Comment est-ce que vous vous débrouillez ?
Sur la toute, vous arrive-t-il de : 1. couper un véhicule, un piéton ou un cycliste ? 2. ne pas respecter les arrêts obligatoires aux feux de circulation ou aux panneaux d'arrêt ? 3. ne pas respecter la priorité des piétons à un passage pour piétons ? 4. ne pas signaler vos intentions avant un virage, un changeme…

My Average Day: Results

I actually did track my daily activities for a week to get an idea of how I spend my average day and to see how I match up against the average American day. I found, first, that some of the categories used in the survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not apply to me: caring for others and other. I care for others, but not in the sense of being a caregiver (i.e., looking after disabled or elderly people). So any time I spent on that, I categorized under household, caring for family, or organizational/civic/religious.

If I remove those two categories where I logged 0 hours, here is what a pie chart of my average day statistics looks like as based on one week of life:

The only other comment I would make is that my telephone/mail/e-mail category would be a lot bigger except that a lot of that time is categorized under work, where I spend a whole lot of time on e-mail.

How about you? If you were to estimate how you spend your time in an average week/day, how would you categorize the ho…

Clarity: An Intellectual Standard

Clarity is an intellectual standard the need for which I am keenly aware of. I have given two conference presentations this year and as a graduate student often write papers on specialized topics. And in my own writing and speech, I find clarity at times elusive.

It is, of course, no secret that many academics have struggled to express themselves clearly. At times, it is even suggested that this is due to true ignorance or, worse, dishonesty. Thus the necessity for both clarity as well as honesty as intellectual standards. (Comments welcome in regard to any academics/writers you may be familiar with who are fine specimens of unclear writing).

So all of these thoughts lead me to the following four points about the intellectual standard of clarity:

1. Readers and listeners (i.e., receptors of information) always want clarity. But writers and presenters (i.e., transmitters of information) could be threatened by clarity.

2. Thus the phenomenon of obfuscation in academic writing. Sometimes aca…


Montreal is a great city--from my perspective, chiefly because it is the second-largest metropolis of French speakers in the world. (The first being...?)

Montreal also has the best or second-best metro/subway system I have ever used. And I've used the systems at least in Tokyo, Nagoya, London, Paris, Rouen, Rome, Geneva, and Mexico City. The Montreal metro is clean as metros go and extremely simple and well-laid out. It saved me dozens of dollars that I would have otherwise had to use for downtown parking. It also saved me hours that I would have had to spend sitting in Montreal traffic (a point definitely not in Montreal's favor).

Montreal is also where I spent most of the last week, at a the annual convention of the American Association of Teachers of French. Thus the absence of blog posts. I hope to catch up now, and this week I will be posting mainly about the Huguenots in North America, which was the topic of my presentation at the convention.

Nine Characteristics of People God Uses to Shape His Church


These nine characteristics come from Andrew Bonar. I copied them down while listening to my pastor discuss them in a sermon, so I do not remember what book of Bonar's they are from. I also do not think this is a verbatim quotation, but the essence of the nine points are here.

People God uses, in particular for the purpose of shaping the church, are... 1. in earnest 2. bent on success 3. people of faith 4. people of labor 5. patient 6. bold 7. people of prayer 8. people of strong doctrine 9. deeply spiritual
Image: Simon Howden /

Creativity: An Intellectual Standard

Creativity is important both as an ability and as a process. It is also an intellectual standard that I strive to hold myself to.

To view creativity as an intellectual standard, let's agree on a few preliminary points. Creativity is not an exclusive ability. It can be learned. It can be taught. And like many things in life, it can be learned without being taught--but it requires nascent creativity to do so. In other words, we all have some level of creativity. So we are not really learning or teaching it, simply developing our creativity. For example, Tsonga article?

As opposed to the intellectual standards of honesty, creativity can be limited to just one standard for academic discourse. Strive to be creative. But here are four suggestions as to how to achieve this.

1) Plagiarism, of course, is out of the question. Totally uncreative.

2) Nonetheless, given that nothing under the sun is really new, we are always dependent on what we have read, heard, and seen from others. [ALERT: unpr…


What is the originof the wordHuguenot? Like the wordChristian,it was originally used pejoratively, and althoughwe cannotbe sureof the origin, it most likely comes from the German wordeidgenossen,meaning "confederate."One canimaginepeople talking disdainfully about "that little group of Protestants, those Huguenots."

Sometimes in English especially people may tend to think of theHuguenotsas aparticular sect, but in factthe word designates French Protestants in general. So if you are talking about a Huguenot and a French Protestant, you are talking about the same thing.