Category Archives for language-2

Will we ever lose contact?

26. marts 2014

I suspect, dear reader, that we have all done it. To narrow your thought, we have all at some point or other googled our own name, just to see what would turn up. Sometimes, we will do it to feed our own vanity, just to check our accomplishments to give ourselves a little digital pat on the back, at other times it is to check what people, who might be looking, will actually find, future employers, insurance company people, the police and what else have you.

It then follows that we have all also googled someone else, an old girlfriend, a school chum, or someone famous perhaps. What we see is decided by search engines, and how they work or sort out their information, is beyond me, it may not be beyond you, dear reader, but it is certainly beyond me. The interesting point of all this is, however, that when we leave this mortal coil, the internet will still retain memories of us. I am neither the first nor the last to stumble on that realization, but sometimes it gets to be a little too close for comfort. I found out through Facebook some days ago, that an old acquaintance had died. (The euphemisms we use for death and dying is a whole column in itself.) I had not seen any notice of this, and had not learnt from anyone else, simply because contact with her broke off years ago. This is where the google aspect of the paragraph comes in, because, dear reader, I naturally googled her.

What I found was diverse in nature. First off one of the newspapers had her death notice, and a short description of her life and work. I still suspect they got her age wrong, but I do not see a notice to the newspaper about that leading anywhere fruitful, if anything, I will get myself on their naughty list. Then there were pictures, only two of which were of her, and mostly the content was taken from her personal blog page. A blog that was still up, mind you, and whose contents could be read by anyone, who might then presume that the author was still alive. That sort of worried me, especially since the final posting was a greeting from her sick bed, which was all the more chilling since she chose to share the nature of her illness. (I will admit, I have read too many books on disease.) It certainly helped ram home her death, and put it in a somewhat chilling eternal perspective.

It also helped prove one more point. Even after we are done sorting through the physical objects, left behind by someone dear to us, we still have to go through the digital remains, and as has been pointed out in various articles, that may not prove to be easy. The internet may actually have given us eternal life, without even asking.

Language school

17. april 2013

The previous blog briefly scratched the surface; this one goes a bit deeper. I was going on about the ear for language and the by-products thereof. I briefly mentioned that training in languages could make you insufferable in polite society, especially if one could not curtail one’s desires to share one’s knowledge unsolicited. I am leaving eavesdropping entirely out of the discussion,  that deserves a post of its own, once I get the hang of blogposts and eavesdropping.

To most people their native language is a tool for communication, not something that will inspire lengthy pondering of sentences, clauses, syntax structure and all those other gems of the classroom that tend to be forgotten, if at all mentioned at school. While school may be the formative years your life, I guarantee you that at some point, ideally, they will be a distant memory and you’ll struggle, as I sometimes do, to name the people on those pictures, especially if you went to more schools than most people.  That language is a tool like not unlike one’s hands does not mean that one should not take care when using it, in much the same way that it pays off to keep an eye on one’s hands when using a hammer or something worse like power tools.

To me the amount of words that one can produce has nothing on the quality of them. The golden rule must be that it has to be relevant what you have to say, while at the same time most of us will have to admit that Shakespeare, we are not. The trick is practice, in this context as in all others, which will make one surer of oneself. School, in whatever form, will form you, I will never forget the first three weeks of studying Russian, of the copious amounts of saliva I sacrificed on the classroom floor, while struggling with the sibilants, and cursing my choices. Choices neatly bring me to my next point, opening one’s mouth is a choice, but so is what you let out of it. The cheap conclusion is that you have to live with those choices, which will invariably lead to shutting one’s mouth sooner or later…


Sometimes one is better served with living to fight another day.