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Posts Tagged ‘communication’

The Dragons of Grammar–Chocolate Cake and Acceptable Guest Quarters

July 4, 2013 5 comments

File:Porcion de tarta de chocolate.jpgWhen someone asks a dragon why he or she can’t look or act a little more human, the dragon is likely to remind the interlocutor that we humans vary quite a bit in appearance, and yet all of us are the same species. Dragons report, in fact, that it can be quite a drag to be around someone who doesn’t have wings or breath fire. Humans return the compliment by noting how isolated and damp a dragon’s guest accommodations can be.

Well, well! RT supposes that the tendency to categorize things by appearance is unavoidable, but it can lead to some testy conversations. For their part, the Dragons of Grammar have reminded him that these distinctions are found even in the hallowed grammar of Dragonish and, above all, in the grammatical category called noun class. That’s right: in their speech, dragons tag nouns as (among other things) Human-like or Dragon-like.

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Just about all languages categorize nouns; the most common category is grammatical gender, a distinction so widespread that it is sometimes used as a synonym for noun class. Other distinctions include moving/static, thinking/nonthinking, and (you guessed it) human/nonhuman. English has a vestigial noun classification system, which mainly distinguishes between 1) gender (he, she, and it) and 2) persons and nonpersons (who and which). But some languages, such as Swahili and its related languages, incorporate an elaborate system of noun classes (in the case of Swahili, there are as many as 22 classes).

Readers should note that in English the process of dropping noun class distinctions has accelerated in recent years; just consider the differences between waitress, wait-person, and server.

Social, political, and linguistic processes such as those responsible for transforming waitress into an example of impolite speech are of course at work in all languages, resulting in arbitrary assignment of nouns to their various classes. For instance, as English speakers who have studied French may recall, there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to un amour de jeunesse (“a young love,” singular, masculine) and les amours enfantines (“childish loves,” plural, feminine). The French will reply that only three nouns in their language are masculine in the singular and feminine in the plural.

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And so it goes. Dragonish assigns “big fire blasts” (as from their mouths), “raspberry sherbet,” and  “talking heads” to humanlike, but “smoking mists” (once again, from their mouths), “double chocolate cake,” and “boring conversation” to dragonlike. But just now the DoGs have informed RT that the double-chocolate-cake classification is due to the fact that it was a dragon who discovered the culinary uses of chocolate. RT, however, suspects that that may be a story for another post…and he will add that when he has stayed with dragons, he has been quite satisfied with the accommodations.

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Photo: A Slice of Chocolate Cake; Author: Krista. WikiCmns; CC 2.0 Generic.

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Why I do what I do

 

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a fine explanation of independent publishing from a practitioner…  RT

(reosted from Cedar Writes)

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Why I do what I do.

Poem in Your Pocket Day

 

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RT is carrying a poem around with him today…join the fun!

(reposted from Charlie Chat)

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Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Anything but Square

 

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the mystery (and beauty) of strangers…  RT

(reposted from Studio Bahagski)

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Anything but Square.

Le Digestif–How to Eat an Essay

File:Cheret, Jules - Quinquina Dubonet (pl 29).jpg

Believe it or not, eating is work. This fact of digestive exertion was recently impressed on RT when he ate not one, but two, breakfasts at a local grill. Hunger can build up, and after a hearty meal, one may find oneself engaged in a postprandial walk or other strategy, as seems appropriate.

The French have known this for ages. One of the signs of health and worthiness among its kings, for instance, was the ability to eat extraordinary quantities of food at a sitting: Le Roi Soleil, Louis XIV himself, was known to consume up to five courses, each consisting of two to five items, at a single meal. The menu was diverse, including deep-sea oysters, chestnut soup with truffles, wild duck, rabbit stew, salmon, iced cheese, and fruit.

Lesser mortals, however, will need to avail themselves of help when indulging at the dining table. And the French answer to such problems is the digestif, an after-dinner alcoholic drink such as brandy, eaux de vie, and various bitter or sweet liqueurs meant to help digestion.

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So what does all this mean for the writer of essays? The writer needs to bear in mind that his or her essay should be helping the process of analysis and enjoyment throughout the piece. Some ways of doing this: 1) organize your writing so that your argument and other thoughts are clear; 2) use deliberate contrast in style and tone to help keep your readers alert and on track; 3) withhold some parts of your argument so the reader can make the connections by him or herself; 4) use humor–especially at the beginning–to relax the reader; 5) make the stakes clear–explain why the essay and its subject deserve further consideration and even a second or third reading. This last item is best saved for the essay’s conclusion.

Readers should finish an essay smacking their lips, savoring the bite of good calvados on the tongue…    RT

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PosterQuinquina Dubonnet, Jules Cheret (1895); WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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Calligraphy Pottery

March 13, 2013 1 comment

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some energy on a Wednesday evening… RT

(reposted from Mountain Folkcraft)

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Calligraphy Pottery.

What To Make Of This?

February 17, 2013 Leave a comment

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the cat sees fuschia tulips…and i see…?  RT

(reposted from Counting Fence Posts)

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What To Make Of This?.