May 14th, 2007

some q's on Arabic

on suggestion from another, i had originally posed this query as a comment to a previous posting but i suppose, perhaps it is complex enough of a subject matter to warrant a new posting altogether.

i was just wondering about how the language of Arabic is taught here in the U.S. and any other countries for that matter.

If one takes a course in Arabic, is that considered just one of many different types of Arabic you can learn?

like, when you take a college course, is that considered something like an overview of all different dialects, how do you know which form you're learning and in which country or context you are able to use it in? is the written aspect more uniform, and is it only the spoken form of the language that varies from country to country?

how useful would it be if say, you learnt the type of Arabic spoken in Egypt, then if you went to Morocco and then went to Saudi Arabia, say, well would you not be able to understand others and be understood yourself because everyone would be speaking differently?

thanks guys :)

Regional interpretation

"Despite all the pressure - the letters from lawyers, the letters from MPs, the strangers knocking up my family and neighbours - if people from "disconnected" families tell me that Scientology is a cult, that will be reported."

( from this article on BBC: )

This paragraph made me giggle - I'm from the southern part of the U.S. and to me the term "knocking up" refers to getting someone pregnant. In fact, I dare say that I've never heard it used as it is here, although from the context it's fairly obvious that the author means pestering, perhaps even literally knocking on the doors of said family and neighbors.

So now I'm curious: what's your reaction to the phrase "knocking up" and where are you from?

ASL, SEE, and brain function

I had somewhat of an odd experience this past weekend, and I'm hoping some of you with knowledge of language and congnition could shed some light on what I've noticed.

Let me preface all this by saying that I'm reasonably competent in ASL -- not fluent, but I don't tend to struggle too much with basic communication. I had learned some SEE first, before I understood the difference between SEE and ASL and opted for the latter when I was about 12 or 13 years old. (For a brief explanation of the differences see here; you could also show the Wikipedia love for entries on ASL and SEE.)

So, here's my scenario: Over the weekend I was away at a conference, and I met a deaf man who uses SEE; in an attempt to ease communication and mutual understanding, I tried to remember what I once knew of SEE, and by the end of the weekend was using SEE (rather than ASL) as much as possible. I would say I logged about 20 hours of singning, both in conversation and interpreting (I'm not an professional interpreter, by the way).

I made a few intersting discoveries as my SEE proficiency improved. First of all, I realized that I can only use SEE (instead of my normal ASL signing) when I'm looking slightly down and to the right, whereas if I'm trying to formulate thought in ASL, I look to the left and down... so I'm assuming I'm using different parts of the brain for each, and I'm wondering why. Secondly, I've noticed that when I'm typing, I've been transposing letters a LOT more than usual -- I've even typed a few words backwards today. I've also been mistakenly transposing words like "why" and "when." I have no idea what that might suggest, but it's been happening nevertheless.

I'd be interested to hear what anyone can suggest about the matter -- whether this is in fact indicative of some differences in brain fuction corresponding to the use of ASL or SEE, or if it has to do more with the process of mental translation prior to utterance... or something else entirely. It appears (after a quick Google search) that some of Ursula Bellugi's past research dealt with identifying ASL as a language in its own right, based that on the fact that related brain functioning originates from the left hemisphere. But that seems to contradict what I'm experiencing... unless SEE would not count as language use, but maybe as some other communication system?

Sorry for the lengthy post. Any ideas or suggestions of where I might find more information on the subject are greatly appreciated!!
  • lagata

Article help, please?

I hate to do this, because posts like this always annoy me, but I'm up a creek and am begging for help. Since the article is so old, I realize this might be a futile exercise, but I can hope, right?

I need the following article: Ojemann, G. & Whitaker, H. (1978). The bilingual brain. Archives of Neurology, 35(7), 409-412.

If, by some miracle, you have a pdf of this article, please send it to somewhatsardonic (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thank you!

cross-posted to academics_anon
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twentieth wedding anniversary?

Is there a special phrase in English for "20-th wedding anniversary"? In Russian it is called (to translate it literally into English) "a china wedding." A dictionary gives this version and another one, "chin wedding." Does this sound OK? Are there other idioms?
I should probably explain to you that in Russia we have "china wedding," "silver wedding" (25th), golden wedding (oh boy, 50 years)...