Saturday, July 30, 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 returning the full course, though I would really like to do it if I had time.

I listened to the Quick & Simple CDs during my trip to and from Montreal a few weeks ago. They are only 30-minute lessons, but sometimes you have to listen to a lesson a couple of times. (And I also took breaks and listened to other things during the trip.) Though I couldn't listen to the Arabic lessons the whole time, I enjoyed them a great deal and made fast progress. You don't learn reading and writing, but you start speaking right away. It is not total immersion, but I think, apart from a total immersion context, this is the best communicative approach I have ever used. I have not listened to the CDs since my trip, but I can still remember all the vocabulary and conversations that I learned. And I did not memorize them--I mean that I can still use them all in context. If I ever have time, I would definitely like to continue using Pimsleur for Arabic and can recommend it for any language.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

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.

Monday, July 25, 2011

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:
  1. I did not think I truly needed it. This is an important but usually forgotten (ignored) reason in materialistic consumer societies.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 was ready to jump into the publishing maelstrom that is e-publishing. The following reasons answered the previous three objections and led to my purchase:
  1. Due to my current stage of graduate studies (research for articles and working through the reading list for comprehensive exams), I realized I could use an e-reader. My wife was of the same opinion. She was somewhat exasperated by all of the books around our home, some bought and others checked out from various libraries. Having an e-reader cuts down significantly on those stacks and makes for a tidier house. Besides, if your spouse is encouraging you to make a $140 purchase of a cool little gadget, you don't argue.
  2. The Nook Simple Touch is finally an e-reader I like. It is a dedicated e-reader,* it is the first to sport a touch screen (my only non-negotiable), it is from Barnes & Noble (meaning an even-larger digital library than Amazon),** it supports other formats (viz., epub) besides one proprietary format, it is affordable, and it works very well.*** I already have close to 100 books on my Nook and have paid nothing other than the price of the Nook and $1 for one of the books.
  3. I still have books at home that I have not read. But I do not own all of the books I need to read for my graduate studies and research. A lot of them I can get for free on my Nook, generally in PDF or ePub format. That way I do not have to buy hard copies or check them out of a library and thus exasperate my wife. See point number 1.
In closing, I still would not classify the Nook as a need, but a highly useful tool, definitely. These are personal observations that should not be persuasive for anyone besides me, technology being an intensely personal matter. We all have technological preferences and should follow our own, not those of other people. Have a wonderful day, and eat your vegetables.

*I am very interested in a tablet but am biding my time for the right one (meaning, mainly, the right time and price). I see the tablet world much as I saw the e-reader world until now: still very messy, confused, proprietary, and unfriendly--but improving at lightning speed. But tablets are discussion for a different post.
**I would not consider this or any other reason an argument for a current Kindle user to switch to the Nook. As long as the Kindle has met your needs, a switch would obviously mean you lose your Kindle library, or else have two separate libraries and e-reader ecosystems. Plus, you should be able to get a Kindle with a touch screen before long.
***I am not being asked or paid by B&N to write this review on a personal, largely unread blog. This is my honest evaluation of the Nook Simple Touch. To which I will add some negatives: the Nook accessories sold by B&N are unnecessarily expensive; and that 2-month battery life? Yeah, not going to happen. I read a lot almost every day, so though the Nook battery life is great, there is no way it will last for 2 months, even with the WiFi off. Note, of course, that B&N advertises the battery as lasting "up to 2 months"--the "up to" is important, but the whole thing still could be construed as misleading.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

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 command to 'Love one another' (John 13:34). The appendage is a descending dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, guide and counselor of His Church."

Traduction: « La Croix huguenote est composée d'une croix de Malte avec quatre bras d'égale longueur, représentant les quatre Evangiles. Chaque bras devient progressivement plus large en quittant le centre, symbolisant la transformation du croyant (2 Cor. 3:18). Le bord extérieur de chaque bras est en retrait dans la forme d'un « V » pour la victoire par Jésus-Christ. Les deux points à la fin de chaque bras, huit en total, symbolisent les huit Béatitudes (Matthieu 5:3-10). Entre les bras de la croix se trouvent quatre fleurs de lys, chacun avec trois pétales symbolisant la trinité. Les douze pétales des quatre fleurs de lys représentent les douze apôtres. Le lys est aussi un symbole de la résurrection et la protection de Dieu (Matthieu 6:28). Les quatre espaces ouvertes entre les bras forment quatre cœurs, symboles de la loyauté et l'amour de Jésus, et nous rappelant son commandement : « aimez-vous les uns les autres » (Jean 13:34). L'appendice est une colombe descendante, le symbole du Saint Esprit, le guide et conseiller de Son Eglise. »

Saturday, July 23, 2011

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 this paragraph:
In 2008, according to the bibliography review "Year's Work in English Literature," more than 100 new scholarly books on Shakespeare were published in English world-wide. Those books, whatever brilliant new insights they provided, represent thousands of hours lost to undergraduates who really could use a good classroom course on Hamlet.
And this one:
[One professor] said he was going to read six (!) new books about Shakespeare this summer to prepare for his classes in the fall because "in order to be current there's a tremendous amount more research that you need to be familiar with." And these are the people who wanted to defend their salaries.
 Of course, I think that Naomi Riley is a superb writer and journalist anyway. (I especially recommend God on the Quad, and I am very excited about reading one of her most recent books, The Faculty Lounges.)

But in her article Riley makes several key points, blindingly obvious yet vigorously opposed by many. If I can boil it down to one point: U.S. academia needs to seriously evaluate what it is trying to do and how it is trying to do it.

Consider reading Riley's article. In the meantime, I will make a humble attempt at summarizing my thoughts on relevance as an intellectual standard with the following four points:

1. Relevance is not determined entirely by the academy, by faculty research interests, or by academic journals.
2. Relevance is not binary. It is a spectrum. Though some work by academics is entirely irrelevant, most is more or less relevant when compared to other work.
3. Academic relevance is essential because education is essential.
4. Irrelevance could kill academia.

Friday, July 22, 2011


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。


Thursday, July 21, 2011

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 that I have recently read, their Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

As with journalism and academics, I am finding that these standards and ethics are usually common sense (accuracy, confidentiality, impartiality, professionalism). But I suppose that everyone needs to be reminded occasionally so we don't have more scandals. (And health care is a highly litigious, regulated, danger-fraught field.)

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 could be improved), but the original says (if I can back-translate a bad translation), "Make please not dispose of baby to wipe, the diapers nor sanitary products in sinks. The fabric of the sink only."

Which is funnier, the poor translation or the fact that someone took it upon herself to correct it?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

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 comprend pas que j'en ai vraiment besoin.) J'ai trouvé d'excellents livres de jeunesse et ne portait aucun livre pour papa à la caisse. Mais il y avait un problème imprévu : un autre acheteur devant moi à la caisse. Cela m'a donné une minute (une seule minute !) pour lire très rapidement les titres devant la caisse. Ma ruine. 

J'ai vu un bouquin avec le titre Petit éloge de la paternité par Bertrand Leclair. Avec l'image séduisante d'une girafe en plastique dans la poche arrière d'un papa. Je me dit que je suis père aussi et que j'adore jouer avec mon fils et que nous aurons un autre bébé au mois de septembre et que s'il s'agit de la paternité c'est donc important et nécessaire. J'ai besoin de ce livre. D'ailleurs, c'est vraiment un petit éloge. Il n'y a que 110 pages. Un mince bouquin, presque invisible. Certainement il y a une petite espace sur une étagère pour lui. Ma femme n'en dira rien.

Ces raisonnements imbattables détruisent toute ma résistance et j'achète le livre avec ceux pour mon fils.

Ma femme m'a pardonné.

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.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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.

Monday, July 18, 2011

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 to know that, um, you give up the scoop when you can't get it honestly. And if you are receiving the scoops from your staff, you vet them thoroughly. If you don't, your standards stink.

Journalistic ethics actually have a lot to do with intellectual standards and ethics in just about any other field. Watch how, when, why, and where you use language.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Here Is Love

I recently heard/sung "Here Is Love," a hymn that has two melodies 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.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

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't found anything here in the U.S. that would hold it.

If you can direct me to a fairly inexpensive A4-sized diploma/certificate frame/holder, I will be beholden to you! And I will translate anything (not terribly long) for you for free as long as it's in a language I know and going into a language I know!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

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 the newspaper (mainly when it concerns balls or cars, but hey, he's only a baby).

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 changement de voie ou un dépassement ?
5. suivre de trop près un autre véhicule, ou de passer trop près d'un piéton ou d'un cycliste ?
6. ne pas respecter la priorité des autres usagers, par exemple aux feux de circulation, aux arrêts obligatoires ou à un panneau « Cédez le passage » ?
7. prendre des risques lorsqu'un véhicule lourd vous ralentit ? 

En vélo, vous arrive-t-il de :
8. circuler au milieu de la chaussée ou sur le trottoir ? 

À pied, vous arrive-t-il de :
9. ne pas traverser aux intersections ou aux passages pour piétons ?
10. traverser sans avoir attendu le feu vert ou le feu de piétons ?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

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 hours?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

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 academics really are avoiding saying or writing what they mean.

3. Many times, however, it is simply a fault of knowing how to express oneself. Thus the necessity of peer review, proofreading, and other forms of feedback in order to improve style and facility of expression. Oh, and if you already have a PhD and think that solves it, get over yourself. It's a process of continual improvement.

4. If you cannot say what you want to write (or write what you want to say) in non-specialized terms, then you either 1) have nothing to say or 2) do not yet yourself understand what you want to say and, thus, should say nothing. The only possible exception to this point is the necessity of certain specialized terms; yet I say "possible" exception because I am not sure it really exists, for even specialized terms can eventually be explained in easier, clearer terms.

Monday, July 11, 2011


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.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

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

Saturday, July 2, 2011

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: unproven assertion] Anxiety of influence as a literary theory is bunk, except for its foundational truism: we are all influenced by our forebears. So read a lot and learn a lot to become more creative.

3) Also think a lot. Think about your interests and take them as starting points for research.

4) Pray a lot. God is the most creative being, and He can help us to be creative in ways that best please Him and are the most creative.

Friday, July 1, 2011


What is the origin of the word Huguenot? Like the word Christian, it was originally used pejoratively, and although we cannot be sure of the origin, it most likely comes from the German word eidgenossen, meaning "confederate." One can imagine people talking disdainfully about "that little group of Protestants, those Huguenots."

Sometimes in English especially people may tend to think of the Huguenots as a particular sect, but in fact the 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.