Sunday, May 07, 2006

On Libraries and Languages

On Libraries:

Last night I went to a university Italian faculty party to get to know the faculty and just to enjoy being like an Italian for an evening. It was fantastic!!! I just don't get to use Italian conversationally very often (and that shows--I found myself switching to English too often last night when I was talking--anyway, it was a LOVELY evening, I brought one of my students along and I think he enjoyed it a lot too, and it was just great.

Anyway, the party's hostess LOVES books. She is a book collector. She has such a collection that she has built a separate library the size of a small house for herself, and it is all shelves and books. And get this. I was randomly exploring one aisle when my eyes fell on a book by my great grandmother. I just died. I mean, it was never the most popular or well-known book (although my dad told me last night that when it was published it did win an award in California for being the best new book for jr. high students). That was really cool.

On Languages:

Last week W made some idiotic remark about how the national anthem should only be sung in English. Apparently someone countered with a claim that W did, in fact, sing the national anthem in Spanish when he was on the campaign trail. Scott McLellan, the white house spokesman on his way out, retorted by saying that the claim is "absurd" because "He's not that good with his Spanish."

Give me a break!!!

Every semester I teach my students to memorize a poem in Italian that they don't necessarily understand and that they probably couldn't read flawlessly if handed for the first time. Almost all of them have it nicely memorized in 4 months. Learning to say things you don't understand is a big chunk of learning a language! I forwarded the news story to friends and family with this attached:

"What idiocy. We all know that you don't have to know a language well to sing in it, you just need some coaching (coaching that I think would be availble to someone courting the Latino vote!)"

To which Amilynne replied:

foo nee coe lee foo nee coe la foo nee coe lee foo nee coe LAAAAA, yamma yamma yo foo nee coe lee foo nee coe la HEY!

Which is close enough.

Nice to know that Scott McLellan thinks the President is about as smart as my least motivated urban high school students.

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