For the past few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time reading. As much as I love to read, not all of the material in front of me was pleasurable. This is partly my fault. In the writing classes I teach, I assign a lot of homework. I have to. I can’t expect my students to improve their skills if they don’t practice them.
I really don’t let up on them until the bitter end. This means that I don’t really let up on myself, either. I reckon I will have graded 250 rough and final draft essays, and 135 short reaction papers by the time this semester is put to bed. And that is with only 2 classes, one of which is very small this semester (12 students) and the other of which has a bunch of slackers who aren’t handing in all of their work.
But it does all pay off. This last batch of grading that I finished yesterday contained essays that are far better than they were in January. Sure, the students who don’t put as much effort into their writing are still handing in mediocre work, and this makes me quite frustrated. For others who have stuck with me, however, and have read my feedback, written everything I asked, asked questions and paid attention, things are finally starting to fall into their place. And this is the light at the end of my tunnel. This is what I’ve been waiting for all semester long.
But I need breaks even from the good essays, and this often comes in the form of reading things that I want to read just for the hell of it. Here are some of my favorite things I’ve read about language over the past couple of weeks:
- In Praise of Sensible Peeving” by Johnson, the Economist’s language blog: a review of why “[i]t’s perfectly possible to be descriptive prescriptivist and a prescriptive descriptivist.” Try saying that ten times fast!
- Language Materials Project. This is a fantastic collection of resources and information about less commonly taught languages.
- A Brief Overview of Several Speech-Language Disorders on AltaLang.
- Also on AltaLang, an etymology of common legal terms. This touches on a subject I’ve been trying to write about for a while (the spirit is willing but the flesh has been held captive by school work!) Keep your eyes open for an upcoming “As a paralegal” post!
- A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Language Resuscitation about bringing Scottish-Gaelic back to life. Also on AltaLang.
- In fact, just go to AltaLang’s blog homepage and poke around. They’re quite really great over there.
- “Sigh Language” on Stan Carey’s blog, Sentence First.
- The latest theory on the etymology of OK by Arika Okrent on The Week (via Every Word Counts)
What great things have you read lately? Share in the comments!
Ah, the old “learning by doing.” No substitution for that old standard yet–sorry ‘Splenda’ of the written word.
Crack that whip. Someone will thank you one day, I’m sure.
Thanks for all those links. I haven’t explored them yet, but I’ll be adding ‘Johnson’ to my regular blog reading list: *sigh*, as if it isn’t long enough already (well, two of them are yours….)