Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ursula K. Le Guin: An extraordinary writer speaks out

Portland's own Ursula K. Le Guin receives the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014. The video shows her accepting the award.

Ursula K. Le Guin on Wikipedia in English, in Russian.

Her acceptance speech:
Thank you Neil [Gaiman], and to the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks from the heart. My family, my agent, editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as mine, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice at accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long, my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction—writers of the imagination, who for the last 50 years watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.

Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship. (Thank you, brave applauders.)

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write. (Well, I love you too, darling.)

Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.

Thank you.

Monday, September 22, 2014

British Islands? British Isles?

"In the News: The United Kingdom Remains United," a post on the popular site, explains that the various devices we've used to keep track of British Isles country and island names, remain valid for the present.

The article includes a list of online reference sites for names and facts about countries around the world.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"Word Crimes" by "Weird Al" Yankovic

A handy guide to popular sins of English usage. Aren't you glad I'm not using this for a gapfill exercise?


(Background information.)

Everybody shut up, WOO!
Everyone listen up!
Hey, hey, hey, uh
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

[Verse 1:]
If you can't write in the proper way
If you don't know how to conjugate
Maybe you flunked that class
And maybe now you find
That people mock you online

Okay, now here's the deal
I'll try to educate ya
Gonna familiarize
You with the nomenclature
You'll learn the definitions
Of nouns and prepositions
Literacy's your mission
And that's why I think it's a

Good time
To learn some grammar
Now, did I stammer
Work on that grammar
You should know when
It's "less" or it's "fewer"
Like people who were
Never raised in a sewer

I hate these word crimes
Like I could care less
That means you do care
At least a little
Don't be a moron
You'd better slow down
And use the right pronoun
Show the world you're no clown
Everybody wise up!

[Verse 2:]
Say you got an "I","T"
Followed by apostrophe, "s"
Now what does that mean?
You would not use "it's" in this case
As a possessive
It's a contraction
What's a contraction?
Well, it's the shortening of a word, or a group of words
By the omission of a sound or letter

Okay, now here's some notes
Syntax you're always mangling
No "x" in "espresso"
Your participle's danglin'
But I don't want your drama
If you really wanna
Leave out that Oxford comma
Just keep in mind

That "be", "see", "are", "you"
Are words, not letters
Get it together
Use your spellchecker
You should never
Write words using numbers
Unless you're seven
Or your name is Prince

I hate these word crimes
You really need a
Full time proofreader
You dumb mouth-breather
Well, you should hire
Some cunning linguist
To help you distinguish
What is proper English

[Verse 3:]
One thing I ask of you
Time to learn your homophones is past due
Learn to diagram a sentence too
Always say "to whom"
Don't ever say "to who"
And listen up when I tell you this
I hope you never use quotation marks for emphasis
You finished second grade
I hope you can tell
If you're doing good or doing well
About better figure out the difference
Irony is not coincidence
And I thought that you'd gotten it through your skull
What's figurative and what's literal
Oh but, just now, you said
You literally couldn't get out of bed
That really makes me want to literally
Smack a crowbar upside your stupid head

I read your e-mail
It's quite apparent
Your grammar's errant
You're incoherent
Saw your blog post
It's really fantastic
That was sarcastic (Oh, psych!)
'Cause you write like a spastic

I hate these Word Crimes
Your prose is dopey
Think you should only
Write in emoji
Oh, you're a lost cause
Go back to pre-school
Get out of the gene pool
Try your best to not drool

Never mind I give up
Really now I give up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Go Away!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Обман (a post for educators)

Дорогие педагоги!

Помогите мне, пожалуйста--я пишу статью об обмане в контексте тестирования и домашних заданиях. Мне было бы очень полезно включать ваш опыт и ваши предложения в статью. Я организовал свои вопросы в этом вопроснике, но вы можете сообщаться со мной прямо, если удобнее. Не надо отвечать на каждый вопрос; вы можете выбирать самые интересные вам вопросы....

Я очень благодарен Елене Малашенко за перевод вопросов. И я благодарен ВАМ за внимание и любые ответы и предложения.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Group 301-401 (Evening): May test

If you were not able to be in class for the May test, here is the online version.

There are advantages in taking the test in the classroom--for example, if students did not understand something, I was able to answer questions within reason. Here you will not have the same help. On the other hand, you have fewer limits on time. I hope the different circumstances compensate for each other. In any case, please be honorable and take the test as if you were being watched by me and the other students!)) Time limit: 90 minutes.

First, here are the four audio clips for the four sections of the test. After the audio clips you will find the test itself. (Please contact me if you have trouble with any of the clips; I can give you access to the audio some other way.)

Listen to each clip TWICE. Of course you should feel free to take notes while listening.

1. Every Little Step.

2. Reality Is Broken

3. Speaking Proper

4. The Brain in Love

Please finish this test by Monday evening, June 2. We will discuss our answers when we meet for class on June 3. (UPDATE: This is a new time. We will meet on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. See schedule on bulletin board.)

Here is the test form. Be sure to push the "continue" button after part 3, and push the "submit" button when you have finished. Thank you!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hans Theessink Band, "Running Home"

(song by Hans Theessink)

Baby when you call me
Honey when you need me
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home

When I get a notion
When I'm out across the ocean
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home

I want to feel your heartbeat
I want to see you smile
My love for you is so strong
I come running a thousand miles
You is where I belong.

Baby when you call me
Honey when you need me
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home

I'll travel highways I'll travel byways
Get a ticket on some homebound plane
Ain't nothing now gonna stop me now
Just to hold you in my arms again

Baby when you call me
Honey when you need me
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home

Heaven opens when you smile
Your voice sounds like music to me
Sweet look in your eyes still gives me butterflies
They drive me crazy after all these years

Baby when you call me
Honey when you need me
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home

I'll travel highways I'll travel byways
Get a ticket on some homebound plane
Ain't nothing now gonna stop me now
Just to hold you in my arms again

Baby when you call me
Honey when you need me
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home