Monday, September 21, 2009

Introductory Blog Post By Kristen Harris

I am a new student here at Macewan and my name is Kristen Harris. I’m taking this course because I want to build a good foundation and understanding of our language and the different ways we communicate with each other. I hope to learn proper use of grammar in different types of writing, be able to identify how and why our language works and have a thorough understanding of the mechanics of the English language. I have basic knowledge of grammar and composition that I earned with my high school diploma. Already, within these first three weeks of college I have refreshed everything I was taught before and have retained many new concepts and tools. Once I have completed this class I hope to be able to confidently help other students and colleagues with their own use of words. I want to have the ability to edit different kinds of writing professionally and produce work that reflects all the new skills I will gain in this class.
This external link will take you to the video I am referring to in the next few paragraphs.

In Steven Pinker’s lecture he touches on many topics surrounding how language came to be and the way we use it everyday. One issue he mentions early in his speech is the fact that language is unstoppable from changing. Once a dictionary is printed it becomes out of date because new words, slang and jargon are created continuously. He opens up a new way to think of sentences as containers that pass a message along to a receiver.

I don’t believe dictionaries are dead or will ever become dead. Even if they are out-of-date the moment they are printed, they become a reference of how our language was at a time in history. Through dictionaries we can follow the development of our words and our culture. I do believe we should maintain a Standard English that we use for all forms of formal writing. Using txt spk (text speak), slang, jargon and other abbreviations should be confined to informal writing. There are constantly new ways to abbreviate or refer to a word (slang), so not everyone will be up to date on this changing jargon at the same time. This creates a need for Standard English. It is a form that everyone is taught and we can all understand.

Steven Pinker refers to language as a “window into human nature”. I agree with him because an effective way to dissect a culture is to learn how it uses its language as a way of communicating with each other. The different ways we perceive language and the variety of outcomes, once it is communicated, gives us a understanding of how one human relates to another. We choose to use different types of language at different times. If I wanted to quickly reply to a friend through text to end the conversation I would write “k, ttyl :)”. On the other hand, if I were replying to an email from my teacher I would use Standard English such as, “Everything sounds great! Thank-you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely, Kristen Harris.” The various ways we can choose to respond also shows that as humans we like choices. It is in our nature to change things and explore different ways of doing things, which includes communicating with each other in different forms.

This internal link goes to the poster some classmates made in our first class about verbs!

Pinker also states “the verb is the chassis of the sentence”. He means it is the framework for which all other parts are constructed. He is alluding to the fact that without a verb, a sentence has no point. I agree with this analogy because the verb is what modifies the noun or gives the noun purpose. Without a verb no action would take place and nothing would have happened, so the sentence would have no point of existence. The subject refers to the action of the verb which in-turn gives the sentence purpose.

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