Thursday, March 29, 2012

On Women, International Women's Day, and Comprehensive Exams

This post is quite late. It was supposed to go up on March 8, because that is International Women's Day and, coincidentally, also my wife's birthday.

Any way, 21 days late, Happy International Women's Day, to my wife in particular, and Happy Birthday to her as well! The reason blogging has been such a slog around here at Langue or Parole? recently is that my woman has been preparing for her doctoral comps and just last Saturday completed them.

That means that I have been much more occupied with household work, although I like to think that I generally do a good bit of the chores and babysitting, being part of my generation's well-documented trend of having women more involved in work and men more involved in the home. But studying for doctoral exams is no mean task, and I was happy to help my wife out during that time. I am proud of and thankful for the wife God has given me.

Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 Presidential Elections: Senegal

This is the third in a series of posts on the numerous presidential elections this year. The first two posts were on the elections in Taiwan and Russia.

The Senegalese can be happy today for a peaceful presidential election that ended with the loss of the current president, Abdoulaye Wade, to Macky Sall.

Around the world this is being hailed as a victory for democracy in Africa, due both to the peaceful nature of the transition and also the fact that Wade stepped down after 12 years. His attempt at a third term had sparked violent protest.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy First Birthday!

Langue or Parole? turns 1 today. I'm so proud. The March 23, 2011, entry provides an opportunity to reminisce.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

An African-American South African?

Recently I read a paper in which a student referred to a person in South Africa as an African American. Puzzled, I inquired whether the person was a South African or a black person from the U.S. It was a South African.

It's fine if people want to use the phrase "African American," but it can be used only of Americans who have black skin. Saying that a black South African is African American makes as much sense as saying a white South African is Caucasian American.

The source of the confusion is easily identifiable. A politically correct term (at one time) was transplanted to another country/culture where it is, in very technical linguistic terms, a contradiction or, even more technically, an oxymoron. And this was done to avoid the word "black," I assume. But whatever good intentions are behind politically correct vocabulary such as "African American," their correct use in context is even more important.

So what should have the student done? Well, he or she could have talked about an African South AFrican, which sounds, well, dumb. Or he or she could have said "black South African," but why is it necessary to highlight someone's skin color? Or he or she could have simply said "South African."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2012 Presidential Elections: Russia

This is the second in a series of posts this year on the numerous presidential elections. The first post was on the election in Taiwan.

Vladimir Putin was elected this past Sunday to his third term as president. This comes after serving as prime minister for a term after two terms of president. He has essentially been the country's leader since he first became president.

This is good news for those who think Putin has been good for the country and particularly its stability and economy.

This is bad news for those who think Putin and his party are corrupt and control all of the important governmental and news agencies (including the election bureau and thereby most elections). For this growing opposition, Putin and United Russia (his party) are holding Russia back from true democracy.

"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good" (Titus 3:1 NIV).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What He Wanted?

In sports, Ron Artest's official name change to Metta World Peace is not one of the top ten stories of the 2011-2012 NBA season, but it is among the most bizarre.

In relation to that, the Los Angeles Lakers (World Peace's team) beat the Miami Heat tonight. And Greg Beacham of the Associated Press, had some fun with the new name.

I thought it was hoaky and dorky for Artest to change his name to something as odd as Metta World Peace, especially when he is known less for a meek, peaceful temperament than one of the biggest brawls in NBA history. But it does appear that tonight he tried to be a peacemaker, although the video shows other players besides just him trying to break up a potential scuffle. Beacham wrote of the incident:
When [Lebron] James slightly shoved Troy Murphy in frustration after missing a layup at the third-quarter buzzer, [Pau] Gasol stepped in to challenge James, earning matching technical fouls before officials and World Peace restored order. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Different . . .

Is Microsoft different from Apple, or different than Apple? Well, if we want to be pedantically and prescriptively correct (i.e., what the dictionaries and usage guides tend to tell us*), then we should only ever use the collocation "different from." In centuries of practice, however, this is one of those usages that people routinely disregard outside of the privileged circle of people who know the "rules," the way it "ought" to be.

I do say different from myself, simply because I know the logic behind it and I've been educated that way. But if you say different than, I won't protest.

What made me think of this recently, however, is a collocation that I had never heard: different with. Now, you could have those two words together, as in this sentence: Life is different with a spouse. But in that example with begins a prepositional phrase and does not form a comparative phrase with the word different.

What I heard recently was the latter. I don't remember the exact sentence, but it would have sounded like the first sentence of this post with the word with: Microsoft is different with Apple.

And the speaker said it twice, making me wonder if it was his normal collocation. Has anyone else ever heard different with? Or maybe I just heard wrong.

*Some say that in practice from usually introduces a phrase and than usually introduces a clause. I'm not sure about that.