Monday, September 21, 2009

Introductory Blog Post, Shawna Blumenschein

My name is Shawna Blumenschein. I was born in Ft. McMurray and have lived in Edmonton since age nine. I’m twenty-two years old in my first year of the Professional Writing program at Grant MacEwan College. I’m taking this specific course – PROW 100 – because the program requires it. In broader terms, I’m in the Professional Writing program because I’ve always enjoyed writing and editing. Over the past year I’ve seen a variety of different jobs in the communications field and was always extremely interested. I decided to bite the bullet, so to speak, and pursue a Professional Writing degree.

I already have a fair grasp of grammar that manifests itself as an ability to correct errors in sentences; however, I do not necessarily have all the technical language to say it’s a dangling modifier and so forth. Therefore, my main goal is to learn the specific terminology that will enable me to speak about grammar more coherently and precisely.

Regarding Steven Pinker’s talk and his supposition that dictionaries are becoming obsolete, I agree in part. Print dictionaries are certainly out-dated, especially dictionaries of the kind Pinker mentions which take years to be created. However, I think that online dictionaries are still vital and important. Their ability to be instantly updated and modified will ensure their survival because they can adapt and evolve alongside language. However, electronic dictionaries should not be updated simply because it’s easy to do so. The inclusion of slang, Internet terminology, and other such jargon should be carefully considered before an addition is made. New terms should graduate to “standard” words and be included in dictionaries only once they’ve reached saturation and can be heard from people of all ages and read in a variety of publications.

The idea that language is a “window into human nature” is a very interesting one. Certainly how words have changed and evolved has an historical context that reflects social trends and changes. For instance, examine the word “gay” which once simply meant happy. It evolved into a derogatory insult against the homosexual community; however, in recent years the GLBT community has reclaimed the word for themselves with such slogans as Gay Pride. The subversion of innocent words into hurtful insults is a potent illustration of the prejudice and hatred that is a significant facet of human nature. Words can also be beautiful, clever, and fun and illuminate our creative side. For example, a student poster features a fun little story about interjections that many others found appealing, including Sarah.Rachel.

The verb as “the chassis of the sentence” is an excellent metaphor. Pinker means that it’s a necessary element that all the other parts of a sentence are attached to. I agree wholeheartedly. The verb is the most important element of a sentence, the word around which everything else is built. A sentence cannot be complete without a verb.

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