Re: Exactly how stupid is this?

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Exactly how stupid is this?

Is there a standard unit of stupidity?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:57 AM
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I believe it's measured in millipalins.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:59 AM
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Nanojonahs once you get down to the level of quantum stupidity.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:04 AM
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I have to admit that I love Sausagely for outright calling people dumb and explaining that that is why the person is saying dumb things.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:15 AM
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It's only stupid if you discount the emotional validation that it gives to people who feel deeply beleaguered by living in a place that has the nerve to offer ethnic studies.

Not long ago I was taken aback when a kindly woman working on a joint project spoke up and said how upsetting it was to have to hear translation going on during our meetings. She feels that it's very exclusionary.

It's an emotional reaction, not logical.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:16 AM
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And they can't use "unaccented" English when you aren't teaching them.

>The Arizona Department of Education recently began telling school districts that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English
....
Nearly half the teachers at Creighton, a K-8 school in a Hispanic neighborhood of Phoenix, are native Spanish speakers. State auditors have reported to the district that some teachers pronounce words such as violet as "biolet," think as "tink" and swallow the ending sounds of words, as they sometimes do in Spanish.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:16 AM
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She feels that it's very exclusionary.

Translating so everybody understands what's being said is exclusionary. I rate that 450,000 millipalins.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:19 AM
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5: Similar to the Beckster about four years back: but I've got one that drives me out of my mind. I work at Radio City in midtown Manhattan, and up by the doors, you know, like where the -- you know -- the office kitchen is, in Braille, on the wall, it says "kitchen.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:21 AM
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Wow, the identity politics backlash, she is strong in this one.

They're being pretty clever with this, actually, protecting federal funding by stipulating that ESL courses are permitted, and so on. Still, it seems clearly one of those incremental steps toward enforced assimilation.

The latter is a discussion that probably needs to be had on a national level.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:21 AM
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7: So that's 450 times dumber than Palin herself? I thought the Palin was a much larger unit.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:21 AM
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6: I can remember in graduate school where, because of undergraduate complaints, all non-citizen GTAs had to pass a test to prove they could speak English clearly. The British GTAs felt very insulted.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:24 AM
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10: Stupidity hyperinflation at work.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:25 AM
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The British GTAs felt very insulted.

The temptation to affect a strong Barnsley dialect would have been had to resist.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:27 AM
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6, 11: I'm a little torn. That seems like the kind of issue most likely to be brought up by people being exclusionary jerks. OTOH, if my kids were trying to learn English, I wouldn't want them taught by people who weren't either native speakers, or close to it in terms of fluency. And the same with TAs; I had plenty of accented TAs, but never anyone whose accent was a problem. But it's not implausible at all that it could be a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:27 AM
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Ah, that one finally passed? It was bubbling around for a while. I haven't been keeping up since I returned to Real America. Last time it failed, but only after the bill requiring the display of the American flag in every school & university classroom was passed.

If this stuff is back on the agenda, the other one to watch out for is the bill that gives students at universities and community colleges the right to demand an alternative assignment if the required reading in a course is offensive to them for moral or religious reasons.

Oh, Arizona government. You suck.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:27 AM
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||

Waah! I just got assigned a case in Staten Island. I don't want to go to court in Staten Island -- I'd have to get there by boat.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:30 AM
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13: The one in my year was in a really bad mood by the time he went in for the test. By that point, in an attempt to be supportive, I had asked him to repeat pretty much everything he said for a couple of days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:31 AM
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14: I don't know LB, from the article 46% of "English-language learners" in Arizona schools are in Kindergarten, 1st or 2nd grades. Are they harmed by teachers with accents?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:32 AM
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16: Plus accents!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:33 AM
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14: I would not be surprised if most of the complaints about the TA's accent were not from inattentive calc students who wouldn't have understood what the TA said if the class was taught by Sam Donaldson.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:34 AM
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16: But you could wear your flippy-floppies!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:34 AM
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But really, now that Fresh Kills is used up, NY should just cede Staten Island to New Jersey.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:35 AM
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16: The boat is free? And sells beer? It will probably be nice out?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:35 AM
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22: They could call it Statin Island and try to get Lipitor to sponsor it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:37 AM
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it's not implausible at all that it could be a problem

When I was an undergrad, I heard several such complaints about math courses taught by grad students from China.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:37 AM
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The Spalding Gray Memorial Pleasure Cruise.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:37 AM
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26: Oof.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:38 AM
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You can be Bizarro Working Girl.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:41 AM
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28: Heh. So LB'd have "a head for sin and a body for business"?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:42 AM
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25: Unfortunately, yeah. I had a great deal of trouble in a freshman year math class due to the instructor's accent. It wasn't his fault entirely that I barely passed, but the fact that I was essentially trying to teach myself was problematic. Unfortunate situation all around, but hey, it led to a major in philosophy, which was good.

This has little to do with Arizona's law, though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:43 AM
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Complaints about the accents of Asian TAs in math and science are common at universities all over. I think a lot of the time students are simply unwilling to make the effort to understand someone, or feel offended at the idea that they have to work to understand someone.

When I taught in the South, I had trouble understanding some Southern accents. A few students also reported that they had trouble understanding me.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:46 AM
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This has little to do with Arizona's law, though.

Yes. The strange part of the law, at least to me, is the way it treats "promote the overthrow of the U.S. government" and "promote resentment" if they were two sides of the same phenomena. As near as I can tell, promoting resentment is crucial to the operation of the U.S. government, at least as far as getting elected goes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:48 AM
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29: Well we know she has a head for sin. That's why she hangs out here.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:48 AM
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29: Surprisingly accurate.

18: Well, what's an accent? If we're talking 'detectably accented but fluent', making a fuss about it would be absurd and exclusionary. If we're talking about someone who's genuinely non-fluent, that seems like a real issue for English language learners in kindergarten or any other grade.

I'd say the odds are this is a fuss about nothing, and no one's hiring non-fluent teachers; this is about harassing accented but fluent teachers, which is wrong. But it's not inherently insane.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:50 AM
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Also, I'm not sure I understand how this law could actually be used against an ethnic studies course, because it mostly talks about courses that advocate things. But couldn't any program designer simply say "This material doesn't advocate anything. We let the students make up there own minds." Even the most advocacy oriented teachers I know say that about their courses.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:50 AM
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it's not implausible at all that [accented english] could be a problem

The ratio of people vulnerable to racists with power over their jobs to genuine non-English-fluent kindergarten teachers will surely be very high indeed. I don't imagine that teachers with Southern accents are too concerned about this policy.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:51 AM
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Arizona is simply on a mission to put the AZ in CRAZY.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:51 AM
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"This material doesn't advocate anything. We let the students make up there own minds."

I just explain how great I am, how under paid I am, and how much shorter the tests would be if I had enough money to go out at night. The students make up their own minds.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:54 AM
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38: You've been reading my lesson plans!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:59 AM
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34.last: No not inherently insane, but in the context of Arizona now, and the fact that the "accented" teachers that are targeted are nearly all native Spanish speakers who have learned English and are now teaching English to Spanish-speaking kids, I vote for harassment and white majority pandering.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 11:59 AM
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36: To put my cards on the table here, not the teachers, but a couple of the teacher's aides at my kids' school aren't fluent in English (like, to the point where my monolingualism means that I really can't easily communicate), and that seems like a weird hiring decision to me. I don't think it's doing my kids any harm at all, they're native speakers of English with plenty of native speaker models. But it seems kind of nuts to me to hire anyone who's not a fluent English speaker in a pedagogical position with little kids learning English.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:00 PM
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I'd say the odds are this is a fuss about nothing, and no one's hiring non-fluent teachers; this is about harassing accented but fluent teachers, which is wrong. But it's not inherently insane.

I bet this is not necessarily true. I bet there are towns which are so completely Spanish-speaking that the schools are more-or-less conducted in Spanish.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:00 PM
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Mmm. I've run into a couple of people only, and aides rather than teachers. But that's enough to make me believe that it's plausible that there might be schools in AZ with some teachers who I'd agree are non-fluent in English enough that they shouldn't be teaching.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:02 PM
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Also, I'm not sure I understand how this law could actually be used against an ethnic studies course, because it mostly talks about courses that advocate things.

I was wondering this, too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:02 PM
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42: And I bet making that more broadly known will lead to even more worserer laws about English grammer in skools.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:03 PM
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Isn't "fluency" as a concept pretty much out the window in language study? I've been told to tell people I have "near-native proficiency" in Spanish, and I grew up speaking it quite often. But I can't imagine ever telling someone that I'm "fluent" in it. Maybe I'd say I'm fluent in English, but then that term's just being a stand-in for "native language" or "mother tongue".

(Language up-tight-ness is a big pet peeve, so apologies if i sound flippant here.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:05 PM
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that seems like a weird hiring decision to me.

Yes, this. The thing is, schools are fucked-up enough that I can believe there are teachers out there with awful English. Mandating that certain classes of the incompetents that are hired be fucked with does little to fix the underlying problem.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:06 PM
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I was wondering this, too.

Presumably the game plan is that some Randroid 18-year-old will be encouraged to complain that some innocuous course is in fact advocating the repeal of the Gadsden purchase, and then the school district will be financially intimidated into dropping it.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:07 PM
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Also, also: isn't Arizona one of those states that would collapse into a Mad Max post-apocalyptic world if it weren't for federal support? Why can't we use some of this leverage.

Like, I bet we can just shut off their water. Megan would know how to do it.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:08 PM
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Like, I bet we can just shut off their water. Megan would know how to do it.

Turn the handle clockwise, rob.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:10 PM
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Also, also: isn't Arizona one of those states that would collapse into a Mad Max post-apocalyptic world if it weren't for federal support?

Maybe, but they did pretty well against the graboids with no outside help.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:11 PM
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Hmmm. Let me think about that. I'll have to go look at whether the Central Arizona Project drinks from the Colorado.

I'm not sure we want to set the precedent that you get your water turned off when we don't like your policies, though.

I might be in favor of a zanjero strike. I'd be money that nearly everyone working the canals (opening gates, keeping canals from overtopping) has Mexican heritage. They might have opinions on the matter. (And solidarity and non-replaceable skills. It takes years to get good at managing a canal.)

Back in a sec...


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:14 PM
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48: It sounds like it, but the new law is directed toward public schools rather than colleges, it seems, so you're looking at school boards and principals being pressured to drop anything like ... what? A course giving any significant time to Mexican as well as US history? Something like that?

The school districts might feel pressured to do this well before any actual lawsuit erupted over an existing course.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:14 PM
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I'm not sure we want to set the precedent that you get your water turned off when we don't like your policies, though

You realize that this is your personal route to world domination, right?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:18 PM
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49: Shut off their Colorado River allocation.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:18 PM
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Can they add an amendment ("Megan's Law") that would prohibit refusing to date anyone on the basis of ethnicity?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:21 PM
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52: Looks like yes.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:21 PM
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Not to be overly picky, but doesn't the Colorado River flow through Arizona before it gets to California?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:21 PM
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Yes. The Central Arizona Project is served by a single long canal off the Colorado. The Lower Colorado region of the Bureau of Reclamation could handle this all unilaterally.

Power-mad and fascist as I am, however, I'm still not sure that water bureaucrats should be arbitrating policy disputes by turning the water on and off.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:21 PM
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58: And?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:21 PM
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55: Hmm, that would take action by the neighboring states. I was thinking about flexing federal muscle. Arizona is trying to take a federal matter into its own hands with the immigration law, so it seemed appropriate for the federal government to remind them who is paying the bills.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:22 PM
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I suspect we'll be hearing more and more about all the insane things the Arizona state government does now that the immigration law has drawn national attention to how insane they are.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:23 PM
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60: I'm fairly certain that shutting off access to a river at one point also cuts-off all of the points below the shut off. I'm not a hydrologist, so make of that what you will.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:23 PM
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Anyway, doesn't just about every class in high school tend to promote resentment of older people?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:24 PM
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58 - No, that part's golden. They're a side branch; we could turn them off and have more for us!

Now I'm imagining what the disputes would look like.

Politician (walking over to tap): Let's see what the judges have to say.
(Opens tap, no water comes out) Looks like abortion is still legal in this state! And they want us to dance like monkeys before they'll open the main again.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:24 PM
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Really, is their state lege made up solely of Free Republic commenters?


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:25 PM
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I once put in a TA evaluation "don't pay attention to complaints about her accent, it's perfectly understandable as long as you aren't resenting it" because I thought other evaluations were likely to have such complaints. But I've also had TAs whose comprehensibility was a minor problem.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:26 PM
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36, 41 If you're talking about children who are native Spanish-speakers, being taught English by adults (aides or teachers) who are also native Spanish-speakers is generally a benefit and not a harm. For littlish kids anyway. For more advanced English, and for students who are not native Spanish-speakers, I can see a problem, but getting all het up about accents in the early stages seems pretty dumb to me. At least dumb in that it ignores lots of research about how children actually learn second languages.

Classrooms where the students can't understand the TA would clearly be problematic, but having TAs who don't have great English in ESL classrooms (where the TAs and students share a first language) shouldn't be.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:27 PM
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This particular law seems to be aimed primarily at MEChA. It does seem to weirdly conflate it with "ethnic studies programs," which probably just reflects a total lack of understanding of what those are.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:27 PM
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||

I couldn't help but laugh at Salon's tagline for .

Liberals: Why do they love both Mexicans and Iran so much?

Um, the flashing black eyes?

|>


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:27 PM
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65.1: I understand that they might be a side branch as far as the current canals or whatever run, but the entire river does flow through Arizona first. Given sufficient time, couldn't they just dig a new ditch?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:28 PM
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61: Rob, according to the link in the OP, the Arizona legislature at least tried to be sure to cover their asses regarding federal compliance and therefore funding:

The bill stipulates that courses can continue to be taught for Native American pupils in compliance with federal law and does not prohibit English as a second language classes. It also does not prohibit the teaching of the Holocaust or other cases of genocide

Whether they covered all their bases is unknown, though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:28 PM
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Really, is their state lege made up solely of Free Republic commenters?

Pretty much, yeah.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:29 PM
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71 was me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:29 PM
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Given sufficient time, couldn't they just dig a new ditch?

The part that runs through Arizona before reaching California is the Grand Canyon, so no.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:30 PM
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I suppose my water comment could be used by an outsider to show what deranged radicals we all are, sort of the way people pick individual comments from The Corner or whatever.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:31 PM
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66: I think that's Oklahoma.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:31 PM
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75: What about Lake Powell or Lake Mead?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:32 PM
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What about them?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:32 PM
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61 - Also, the feds run the project. If you want to be all democratic about things, then states would have to agree on a new compact. If you're talking about opening or shutting a diversion to a canal and you're willing to act as a despot, a handful of federal employees could do that easily enough.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:34 PM
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79: Well, I don't see how you'd stop Arizona from getting water from them, even if they could not cut-off California.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:34 PM
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70. No lie, the hottest woman I have seen anywhere in the last three years was waiting in an Iranian restaurant. Not going back, though - the chef was crap.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:36 PM
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I don't see how you'd stop Arizona from getting water from them, even if they could not cut-off California.

Well, the federal government controls them, so if it really wanted to cut Arizona off it could.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:40 PM
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Sufficient time to dig a new ditch is an interesting concept. Time for their cities to run out of water and turn into Mad Max is probably on the order of weeks to months. Time to put in a new 300 mile canal and diversion facility is in the range of years. People would get touchy during that gap.

I know fuck-all about the Colorado River project, but I believe Lake Powell (and maybe Mead) are ds of the Arizona project diversion. I think those lake levels are low. I'm sure they'd be happy to store any water that didn't get sent to Arizona this year.

Moby, the projects branch off the river (and turn into fans that spread the water three feet deep every year over huge areas). The river doesn't run through them sequentially.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:40 PM
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When I was an undergrad, I heard several such complaints about math courses taught by grad students from China.

I had a Sri Lankan science teacher who had a genuinely strong accent (and also spoke very quickly). However, he also had the most elegant handwriting I've ever seen. Watching him write formulas on the board was a joy. I wasn't friendly enough with classmates to hear what they thought of him, but if I'd ever heard a complaint about accent I would have said that I'd take a strong accent over indecipherable handwriting (from about 30% of my US-born profs) any day.

7: Pretty much. Except that she's in practice a genuinely kind and compassionate person, to kids of all ethnic backgrounds AFAICT. So it's just this stunning contradiction.

Also, I'm not sure I understand how this law could actually be used against an ethnic studies course, because it mostly talks about courses that advocate things.

As far as I can tell, the State Board of Education is the one that decides if school districts are offering a verboten course. So -- unlike the new identity-enforcement law in AZ -- you can't have private citizens bringing their own causes of action.

I'm a bit puzzled, though, because it sounds like the state has to approve every single individual class offered by every individual school/district -- complete with textbook? Can this be true? We have a lot of state-level ed bureaucracy here, but I'm pretty sure our local school boards are the ones making those kinds of decisions.

I may be missing something because of sheer tiredness, though. I can tell I'm punchy because both 21 and 37 made me actually laugh.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:40 PM
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Sufficient time to dig a new ditch is an interesting concept. Time for their cities to run out of water and turn into Mad Max is probably on the order of weeks to months. Time to put in a new 300 mile canal and diversion facility is in the range of years. People would get touchy during that gap.

But think of all the cheap illegal immigrant labor they have access to!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:41 PM
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how you'd stop Arizona from getting water from them

But how would they move the water? There aren't enough water trucks in the world. Building a canal isn't stealthy or anything. I'm pretty sure the feds could interrupt that.

I know you probably think that water goes by a place and you stick a siphon in it. But that's patently absurd.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:43 PM
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I know fuck-all about the Colorado River project, but I believe Lake Powell (and maybe Mead) are ds of the Arizona project diversion.

No, they're upstream.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:43 PM
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And the lakes are both very low. On track this year to hit their lowest levels ever.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:44 PM
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Put up a few pyramids along the way while their at it. (Or betrer yet, I always wanted someone to build a monumental tetrahedron.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:44 PM
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See? This is why I shouldn't opine on anything but the two projects I do know. And there aren't any maps of the Colorado River system anywhere, so it would be impossible for me to find out for sure without visiting them, like Teo.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:46 PM
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90: Typo-ridden and ungrammatical commenters are banned.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:46 PM
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76: When my wife was telling me about the new legislation, I was briefly sympathetic to bob's Curtis LeMay option.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:47 PM
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You realize that this is your personal route to world domination, right?

Well, the spice water must flow. I expect Megan to start a local Bene Gesserit chapter real soon now.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:48 PM
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Columbus, OH annexed a bunch of formerly-independent suburbs by threatening to cut off water from the central treatment plant.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:49 PM
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I once put in a TA evaluation "don't pay attention to complaints about her accent, it's perfectly understandable as long as you aren't resenting it" because I thought other evaluations were likely to have such complaints.

In my experience, the vast majority of complaints about teacher's accents (both from US students about foreign TAs and from Chinese students about, for example, Australian ESL teachers) boil down to a student not really trying, or just looking for an excuse to not do well in a class they find difficult and/or don't really want to be in. Not all, of course.

Some people just turn off completely when faced with the slightest difference in pronunciation, and won't even try. Many of these are just really bad at noticing patterns of pronunciation, however consistent they might be (for example, if someone pronounces "Mitch" as "Meetch", it shouldn't be surprising that they also pronouce "big" as "beeg").

I usually advised ESL teachers, especially those with accents less familiar to Chinese students, to early on give a little section on "The Amazing World of Accents!", with examples of how some common words are pronounced in different parts of the English-speaking world and some general patterns they could expect to see. I also recommended stressing how important it is to be flexible because out in the wild you never know who you're going to need to speak English with. Presenting the problem of recognizing and understanding unfamiliar accents as a skillset they could develop to set them apart from every other person in China learning English really helped minimize the shutdown and just complain problem.

Of course, the above strategy isn't really applicable to TAs in US college classes.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:51 PM
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There's some information on the Colorado here. This pdf has a map showing the basin with the major tributaries and lakes, but not the canals.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:52 PM
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You want stupid? I'll show you stupid. Least worrisome threat ever.

(H/T half the lefty blogosphere.)


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:53 PM
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Columbus, OH annexed a bunch of formerly-independent suburbs by threatening to cut off water from the central treatment plant.

Water supply is a huge issue in local government planning. Sewer service is even bigger.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:54 PM
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99: True. Let us know when Arizona's new law is threatened by a possible water supply cut-off.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:57 PM
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98: Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping?

Yes, as a matter of fact I do.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:58 PM
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The thing about water in Arizona is that its future is extremely uncertain even without any punitive action by the feds or anyone else.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:58 PM
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98: Bring. it. on.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 12:59 PM
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So is the stupidity primarily thinking that there are courses whose stated aims include the promotion of resentment and overthrow?

No. They know perfectly well there are no such courses. There is no "stupidity" going on, at least not on the part of whomever wrote the legislation; they're very obviously and very expertly pandering to -- and recycling the favorite myths associated with -- xenophobic sentiment. It's only "dumb" if you mistake the objective to have anything genuinely to do with education.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:01 PM
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(This whole business pretty much looks to be the first movementarian shot-across-the-bow of the whole immigration "debate.")


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:03 PM
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The encouraging thing about 98 is the acknowledgement that they'll continue to work 18 hour days whether they're making big money or not. While I'm not sure that's entirely true, it's at least as believable as the more typical contention it contradicts, namely that a couple points added to the top marginal rate of federal income tax will cause them all to retire early or become poets or something.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:04 PM
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98: "We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we'll eat that."

So. Awesome.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:07 PM
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"What's going to happen when we can't find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We're going to take yours."

Will this be before or after you Go Galt?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:08 PM
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101: This might work as a premise for a reality-tv show. I guess they can't all have their own tv shows though.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:08 PM
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109: Sure they can. They're the fucking Street. They'll own every channel on the dial by the time they're done with those punch bitches in the television industry.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:10 PM
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they'll continue to work 18 hour days

I'd like to see those pampered, deluded dicks try to do an 18-hour day of landscaping.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:10 PM
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#107. AND WHEN THAT'S GONE WE'LL EAT YOUR PLATES!


Posted by: Opinionated Wall Streeter | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:10 PM
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98: Sorry, I don't read the Corner unless they're talking about me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:11 PM
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104, 105: Again, it's xenophobia taking the form -- in this case -- of an attempt to legislate *assimilation* on the part of immigrants, and that does have to do with education.

The Arizona illegal immigration law takes the approach of harassing/arresting/deporting illegals; this one takes the approach of insisting that legal immigrants adopt the 'American' way, give up any identity associated with an ethnicity that is apparently defined as non-American .. toward the end of training such immigrants from an early age.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:11 PM
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107: Is this a scene from There Will Be Blood?.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:12 PM
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So the Wall Streeters are going to work 18-hour days in the chicken processing plants after we kick out all the Mexicans? This is going to be great!


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:13 PM
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The thing linked in 98 is Fucking Awesome, Man. Best thing I've read all month. Bring it on is right.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:14 PM
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On Colorado river water allocation:

The Colorado river is one of the most valuable natural resources in the world. As you might expect, given the value of the asset, and given that various states, municipalities, individuals, and nations have claims over (remember, Mexico is at the end of the Colorado river) the law of water allocation along the Colorado river is incredibly complicated. Drink in the complexity here.

But ultimately, even though the federal government has contract responsibility along most of the lower basin, the federal government very definitely does not "own" the river; the water belongs ultimately to the different states and Mexico, who have negotiated together under the Colorado River compact. The US government couldn't just "cut off" the water supply; conceivably, it could take over Arizona's water rights, but IMO almost certainly couldn't do it for free -- it would have to pay for the value of those rights, which is in the trillions of dollars.

This is personal for me: my Dad got his start as a water lawyer, and basically spent 100% of his time on one major case concerning the Colorado river that lasted for 25 years, from before I was born until I was 15. So, basically, that river put me through college.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:14 PM
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For more advanced English, and for students who are not native Spanish-speakers, I can see a problem, but getting all het up about accents in the early stages seems pretty dumb to me. At least dumb in that it ignores lots of research about how children actually learn second languages.

Okay, I feel bad about badmouthing this one aide, who's perfectly pleasant and seems to do a decent job, but my kids' school has at least one person in a quasi-teaching position who really doesn't speak English in any meaningful sense. She speaks English like I speak Spanish (well, I bet her English vocabulary is much larger than my Spanish vocabulary); a vocabulary in the hundreds of words, but not capable of generating sentences in any successfully conversational way. We're not talking about an accent, we're talking about someone who doesn't seem really to speak English.

While she's nice, I don't think think she should have been hired for her job. She's not doing much, if any, harm, because all the teachers are fluent English speakers (supposed to be fluent Spanish speakers, but I can't judge that. They're split about fifty/fifty between native Spanish speakers and native English speakers, and some of them have perceptibly accented English, which isn't a problem at all), so she's not anyone's primary model for English learning. But it'd be irresponsible having her teach native Spanish speakers English.

If the crackdown in Arizona is on fluent but accented English speakers, they're just being jerks. If they've got any number of teachers with English skills comparable to those of this aide I'm thinking about... that seems worth getting het up about to me. You couldn't possibly learn English from her, she doesn't speak it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:18 PM
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116: Yep. They're also going to do sheet-rocking and roofing. For 18 hours a day, natch. Except when it gets too dark; then they'll switch to manning the toll-booths on the freeway.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:18 PM
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Sorry, I don't read the Corner unless they're talking about me.

But they are, Walt! The unemployed Wall Street bankers are gonna take your job! And then you'll regret voting for that Leninist Obama, yes you will my friend.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:18 PM
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My main source of information on Colorado River issues is John Fleck, who follows them very closely.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:22 PM
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120: Brick laying. Those pasty manicured hands that haven't touched anything rougher than the handle of a $1000 golf club would be bloody stumps before lunch.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:24 PM
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121: What job? I suckle at the public teat , like any good liberal.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:29 PM
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I appreciate the sentiment that, all this time, they have been buying themselves $80K cars for our sake. That was awfully generous of them.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:30 PM
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I am desperate for attention from my intellectual superiors.


Posted by: ToS | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:30 PM
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hands [...] would be bloody stumps before lunch

Also true for the ones who take over all the 3rd grade teaching positions.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:30 PM
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My favorite part is probably:

No more free rides on our backs. We're going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways.

No more free rides! Because that was all basically charity, you see.

To be fair to the bankers, if this email is really buzzing around Wall Street, it has to be because most of them are mocking it, right? Most of them aren't this deluded.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:31 PM
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98 is so unrealistic. When the troglodytic brutes in poorly-cut polyester uniforms and their very first speaking role come for one them, the rest will stand and say "I am Spartacus!"


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:31 PM
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They'll be coming to Arizona with their nest eggs and their Winnebagos.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:32 PM
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"We're going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America."

Ha! Ha! This dude has never met anyone with tenure.

(Actually, I'd give about 3:1 odds that Derbyshire wrote that manifesto himself over lunch while leering at the barista.)


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:33 PM
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I'd give about 3:1 odds that Derbyshire wrote that manifesto himself over lunch while leering at the barista.

Can't be. Under 18's aren't permitted to take paid employment during school hours.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:40 PM
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123: Ha! You think we can't handle bloody stumps?! You think we can't!? Think again, ... John ...

shit. I think I want a line from a film the name of which I suddenly can't remember. Good grief. Numerous characters with dreadlocks are named John.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:41 PM
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133: Buckaroo Banzai?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:42 PM
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134: SOUNDS RIGHT TO ME


Posted by: OPINIONATED JOHN ICICLE BOY | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:44 PM
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134: Oh thank god. Yes. That was a frustrating mental blank. The line is "Think again ... [something]." I'll look it up in a second.

That circulating email has to be a joke.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:46 PM
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LAUGH-A WHILE YOU CAN, MONKEY BOY!


Posted by: Lord John Worfin | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:47 PM
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||
Is it wrong of me to think that this would be a lot better if they put some spin on the cupcakes to stabilize them in flight?
|>


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:54 PM
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Sigh. I might be melding "Think again" with Lord Whorfin's line, 'cause it was really "Monkey Boy" that I was after.

Glad that's settled, then. The writer of the Wall Street memo is clearly John Lithgow.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:55 PM
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How does one rifle a cupcake?

It would definitely be better if they just showed you the fucking cupcakes hitting the people.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 1:59 PM
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138: The editing of that video was so lame as to render it thoroughly unenjoyable. Which is saying something.

I mean, come on, cupcake cannon? Aimed at people's faces? In slo-mo? Who could possibly screw that up??

And yet, they did.

But yeah, spin-stabilized cupcakes would be better, obvs.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:03 PM
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How does one rifle a cupcake?

If the little paper cupcake cup pleats had a spiral pattern maybe?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:04 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:05 PM
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140: You rifle the barrel, not the cupcake. You are correct about the editing, but I suspect that the reason they didn't show more money shots is that the accuracy of their primitive steampunk cupcake cannon is so bad that they have nearly no direct hits.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:05 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:07 PM
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I finally clicked through the link in the post. Fox News apparently can't spell chauvinist -- they misspell it in the headline, and again in a quote in the article.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:08 PM
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118 and various others before that: Apparently, your vast barren deserts are beyond my comprehension. To be fair, I have lived the vast majority of my life within a few dozen miles of one major tributary of Mississippi or another.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:11 PM
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147: I've lived nearly all my life with a extremely large body of water to my east. I was right at home in Chicago from the start -- water = east. But I really do get hopelessly turned around in California.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:19 PM
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Having grown up in a country where the water falls from the sky with monotonous regularity, the idea of building lots of stuff in a desert, _still_ seems odd.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:20 PM
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But, who builds all those giant-ass cities where they all get water from a single river that would barely qualify as a storm sewer in a habitable area?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:20 PM
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pwny pwn


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:20 PM
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pwned, but at least I'm not alone in my curiosity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:21 PM
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Sadly and somewhat disturbingly, I heard my neighbor last evening listening to the radio in his driveway -- not sure what he was listening to, but it was full-scale right-wing talk radio, going on in strident tones about this being "the most radical government this country has ever seen!" and "government takeover of health care" and "health care rationing! It's been proven and yet they intentionally hid it from us, lied to us" and so on and so forth. It was pretty disturbing, actually.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:22 PM
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Next on 60 Minutes, "L.A. and Phoenix: Why?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:23 PM
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Having always read about places like Seattle being wet I was quite surprised to find out that they only average about 150 days of rain a year.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:23 PM
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Aryzmandias


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:23 PM
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153: You should sneak out tonight and turn off the water to his house.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:24 PM
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155: Yes, it's a dry wet.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:25 PM
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155: I was at Lancaster and everybody there said it was the rainiest place in England. I don't know if that was true or not, but it sure felt like it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:26 PM
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But, who builds all those giant-ass cities where they all get water from a single river that would barely qualify as a storm sewer in a habitable area?

AMERICA, that's who. USA! USA!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:27 PM
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157: He'd flip out, actually, since this is the guy who routinely hoses down the street, apparently because he thinks the stray gravel counts as dirt.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:28 PM
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Agree with ttaM. Nothing should be done to encourage people to live in howling deserts at this point in history, unless they have their own traditional approach (traditional = +1000 years) to doing it. If this means abandoning the deserts to the loonies and letting them make their own beds and lie in them, so be it. But doesn't this rather fuck over some native Americans.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:30 PM
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152: Moby Hick is hydro-curious.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:30 PM
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46: I don't know if there's any solid conventional wisdom on the topic of fluency in language pedagogy, but it certainly is an idea that sounds more concrete from the outside (i.e. to people who don't speak another language) than from the inside. When I was studying Russian, I was often asked "are you fluent?" as if there were an objective measure, maybe little pregnancy-test-looking device or something.

Fluency is, I think, a fiction--a standard that gets defined differently depending on the interests of the person asking. People casually asking was I fluent in Russian wanted to know "if you were plunked down in Russia, could you say to someone 'help, I've been plunked down in Russia and would like to deplunk?'" To someone interviewing me for a job, it means "can you understand your clients well enough to figure out what they need and communicate effectively enough to help them get it?" &c.

"Near-native" is probably pretty analagous, if not quite as broad. How near is near? If you grew up speaking it some because your parents speak it, but weren't surrounded by native speakers elsewhere in your life, I think the term is "heritage speaker" but I'm not sure anyone says that.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:30 PM
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154 -- Ha ha.

You know, LA is not actually a desert.

Most of the California water from the river goes to agriculture. You probably enjoy things like lettuce and leeks. This tiny storm sewer has a greater annual flow than the Hudson, and is only a small part of the overall project.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:31 PM
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re: 159

It's possible. I don't know. The north west of Scotland gets about 270 days of rain a year. I think the rainiest place in England [googling a bit] is in the Lake District, in terms of annual rainfall [but not necessary number of days of rain].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:31 PM
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162: Dude, this is America we're talking about. Here "tradition" means it's happened at least twice, and somebody has figured out a way to make money off it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:32 PM
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You know, LA is not actually a desert.

True. Phoenix is, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:33 PM
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You probably enjoy things like lettuce and leeks.

Love 'em. I don't buy any from California though.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:34 PM
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In fact, I don't think you can really class LA together with places like Phoenix and Las Vegas, although they did deliberately emulate it in certain ways. LA is in a class of its own, with different concerns.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:34 PM
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170: I LOVE IT!


Posted by: OPINIONATED GARY NEWMAN | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:35 PM
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Actually, that wasn't the link that I meant to include -- that's an image of the CR I was going to use as a point of counter-snark.

Here's the link I was thinking of.

No offense, and understandable coming from the English, but points like 162 are, frankly, retarded. If you can create sustainable systems to move people into drier areas, with productivity and quality of life benefits (and you can) why not do it? That's not to say that the current water system is sustainable (it isn't, but that can be fixed) but saying "people should just live where it rains" is as luddite as saying "people should only live where they don't need central heat" or "people should only live where they can draw power from geothermal energy."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:36 PM
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So then: Phoenix and Las Vegas: Why?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:37 PM
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165: You'd barely be able to get a single coal barge up that.

I am reasonably fond of leeks (and anything onion-ish), but if you want to save water by not growing lettuce, don't let me stop you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:39 PM
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160: AMERICA ROOLZ! NATURE DROOLZ!*

*The resort - which features individual casitas as well as three restaurants, two pool areas, several tennis courts and an award-winning spa-and-workout facility - is perfectly integrated into the Arizona desert environment. And the two 18 hole golf courses are known as Troon North... 'cuz hey, it's in Scottsdale!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:40 PM
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Phoenix and Las Vegas: Why?

It's a long, complicated story, of course. Various decisions by the federal government played a big role, but there was more to it than that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:40 PM
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If you can create sustainable systems to move people into drier areas

The problem is that we haven't really created a sustainable system for large numbers of people to live in places like Phoenix and Las Vegas. We have a system of government subsidies that make it profitable in the short to medium term to do that. But we don't have anything like sustainability.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:40 PM
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68: Certainly for non-kids, it's more complicated than "natives speakers of the target language are the ideal teachers." I don't know what's in vogue now in terms of language learning--seems to be cylcical like much else, but it seems to me you might as well have someone who knows your language teach you the target language, because they know the rules in a non-instinctive way that facilitates explanation instead of modeling. The latter is more useful for first language acquisition (on account of you have 24 hours a day to observe patterns, make mistakes, amend them) and the first, in my opinion, for second language acquisition.

And then when you have a somewhat unnaturally acquired basic grasp, you should try to spend time among native speakers or you're going to end up sounding like a moron...


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:41 PM
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176: Much of the story involves TB and early 20th century divorce laws.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:41 PM
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177: Right, but that's very different from saying that nobody should be living in Phoenix or Las Vegas at all (which no one in this thread has said, at least explicitly, but which people do say sometimes). I don't know what maximum level of population in a place like that would actually be sustainable, but it isn't zero.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:42 PM
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172. That's not to say that the current water system is sustainable (it isn't, but that can be fixed)

Can it be fixed? How exactly? Otherwise that's rather a big 'if'. There are umpteen renewable energy sources that might be developed. Water sources for inland deserts, name half a dozen.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:44 PM
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We haven't really created a sustainable system for large numbers of people to live anywhere in the US, where "live" equals how we pass the time.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:44 PM
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...and then he read the rest of the thread and realized people weren't talking about languages lo these 100 comments, but rather water.

148: I often said to people during my 7 months in the Bay Area "the water's on the wrong side!" and anyone who had experienced a similar water-permanency problem knew what I meant. There, I am talking about water. I am all caught up.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:52 PM
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181: The stillsuit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:52 PM
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Well, IIUC, you could guarantee right now basically endless urban growth in Phoenix at double today's rates of growth (and the city won't grow that quickly for a lot of reasons) if you would assign some of the all-American canal's rights to Arizona and shut down some of Arizona's agriculture. That's politically and legally difficult, but it's not like water's a non-renewable resource.

The absolute worst global warming scenarios change this, of course, but even there we're just talking about making the cost of living in the desert cities more expensive and slowing the growth rate, not turning them into parched ghost towns.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:53 PM
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My courses, which are designed primarily for French-Canadians, seek to promote resentment of people who try to overthrow the government. Also, I make a point of lecturing in my Denis Lemieux the Goalie from Slap Shot Voice. Should I be concerned?


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:53 PM
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And 182 gets it right, of course.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:54 PM
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182: That's not an answer. Saying that no place is entirely sustainable does not mean that all places are equally (un)sustainable.

Phoenix and Las Vegas really do look like foolhardy endeavors that at the very least should not grow any further. I don't see how this is debatable.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:54 PM
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Sustainability is obviously complex. There's lots of places that are poor in some resource or other -- agricultural land, or water -- or otherwise quite inhospitable -- cold, very hot, etc. Where it still makes sense for people to live there.

So freezing cold barren places may have rich fisheries, desert areas may be rich in minerals, or oil or other resources. Even in an ideal sustainable future we're not all going to live in places that are self-sufficient for everything, especially given population densities and our need for various resources.

Some places are lucky enough to be sustainable in terms of more or less everything -- most of Europe is like this, quite big chunks of Africa, large swathes of the Americas, and Asia etc -- but lots of places where people are still likely to want/need to live are not. That doesn't seem a problem if it all balances out across the system.

However, there are places that just seem stupid. There's no good reason to live there at all, and which are just net resource drains for no purpose at all, and some cities do seem to be like that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:55 PM
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Denis Lemieux

We got Mario. Never heard of Denis.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:55 PM
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I appreciate 188's deep immersion in the policy, science, and history of water in the west.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:55 PM
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98: I worked in a Wall Street restaurant, and if the check went over $100, you tacked on an automatic gratuity, because those fuckers think the sight of a ten dollar bill is very exciting to a person in a menial job. You know that scene in the movies where biz-guy tries to impress another biz-guy by leaving a giant tip? That only happens in the movies. You know that scene where the creepy biz-guy hands the waitress half of a $50 bill and says she'll get the other half in his hotel room? That has actually happened. Result: All waitresses in vicinity laugh and one says "You might try that with a bill that has more zeroes next time."


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:57 PM
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I'll try to head Halford off from his protest by noting that we're not disagreeing here: slow the growth rate, that's all, at a minimum.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:58 PM
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193: Right, let's slow the rate of growth in Las Vegas and increase the amount of mockery and ill-informed commenting here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:59 PM
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One of the odd things I've noticed about "sustainability" as a concept is that it's often discussed as a policy issue, where something being "unsustainable" is a problem that requires some sort of response, and the discussion is mostly about what response is appropriate. Something being unsustainable, however, means by definition that it can't go on forever, and sooner or later it'll end somehow. For some issues the probable end absent any policy changes is sufficiently awful that it's worth considerable effort to avoid, but that's not always the case.

In the case of the desert cities, the most plausible way I can see their unsustainable growth coming to an end is that people start moving away. That doesn't sound like a disaster to me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 2:59 PM
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Of course the thing to do is pocket the halfbill and then not show up.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:00 PM
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Fluency is, I think, a fiction--a standard that gets defined differently depending on the interests of the person asking.

German has a helpful term for a particular gradient of language proficiency: verhandlungssicher ("negotiation safe"). The standard is whether you trust yourself to negotiate something important in the foreign language in question. It's a high bar to clear.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:02 PM
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196: Which a friend of mine actually did and the guy had the immortal rind to show up and ask for his half-bill back.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:02 PM
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186: Should I be concerned?

Against the rules. You know, you're stupid when you do that. Just some English pig with no brains, you know.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:02 PM
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I'll let ttaM take the floor for this one, then.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:02 PM
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195.2 Just so,


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:03 PM
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TEO IS BANNED!


Posted by: OPINIONATED ARIZONA REALTOR | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:05 PM
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Something being unsustainable, however, means by definition that it can't go on forever, and sooner or later it'll end somehow.

Sure, but just about everything ends sooner or later. All this worrying just hampers our ability to enjoy the present.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:08 PM
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trust yourself to negotiate something important


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:08 PM
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204: ToS is everywhere!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:11 PM
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204: Wouldn't that be a contract of adhesion? By definition they're not negotiated.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:14 PM
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It's not just necessarily ecological. A friend did a study for the UK government on geographic inequities in income within the UK, and some of his recommendations were unpalatable. As far as he was concerned attempts to sustain some of the former mining towns, former steel towns and so on in bits of England were pointless. The economic reason for the existence of those places no longer exists. The coal was gone, the railway line that once brought raw materials to the factories closed, and so on. His take was not that those places should be actively destroyed, but just that pouring resources in to try to sustain small towns that had lost their reason for existence was a less than ideal way of spending money. Not that he was recommending everyone move to London, or Leeds, or wherever. Just that some economically depressed towns could clearly be revived with proper resource allocation -- jobs could be created, natural resources and infrastructure existed -- and those were where the money would best be spent, and some could not.

To my ears he sounded a little too casual about the impact that might have, but some of the economic arguments -- about where money might best go if one wanted to improve living standards, reduce unemployment, etc -- seemed not entirely dumb.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:15 PM
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Well, 195 is right, sort of, but at the end of the day we're just talking about somewhat higher water prices. If Phoenix and Las Vegas continue to remain attractive to American money for the reasons they've grown to date, including sunshine, gambling, cheap business costs and semi-legal hookers, they can keep growing for a long time by just paying for the water.

I do think that we're likely to see a lot of dry-state American agriculture out of business. And water prices will rise, which will likely mean drier gardens, fewer lawns, and less American-grown lettuce. Very bad for Imperial County, probably good for Mexican and South American agriculture, but mass emigration from Vegas or Phoenix for water-related reasons is just not plausible in the foreseeable future IMO.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:17 PM
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What are the chances that if any of you were at this school district you would be completely behind this law?

http://michellemalkin.com/2008/05/22/blowing-the-whistle-on-a-la-raza-school/

"The basic theme of the curriculum was that Mexican-Americans were and continue to be victims of a racist American society driven by the interests of middle and upper-class whites. In this narrative, whites are able to maintain their influence only if minorities are held down. Thus, social, political and economic events in America must be understood through this lens."


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:18 PM
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207: Indeed, and that kind of approach has become more popular of late, though still mostly focused on economic rather than environmental factors.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:20 PM
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198: The restaurant I washed dishes in would have handled that by simply sending an escort with her to the guy's motel. The escort being the cooks, complete with belt o' knives, the busboys, and maybe the dishwashers just to stink the place up a bit.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:20 PM
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209: Isn't that uncontroversially true?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:21 PM
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197: Ah, yes. Like when Liz Lemon confused kaufen and verkaufen when trying to buy a German tv station for GE.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:21 PM
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And 207 is totally right, of course -- cities and towns do decline or vanish.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:22 PM
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mass emigration from Vegas or Phoenix for water-related reasons is just not plausible in the foreseeable future IMO

Fair enough, although I think it really depends on just how expensive water gets, as well as how quickly. Water isn't the only issue in those areas, though, and Phoenix in particular has been hit very hard by the collapse of the housing bubble. So while it's true that places like Phoenix and Las Vegas could continue to grow as long as they remain attractive enough economically to pay for more expensive water, it's not at all clear to me that they're actually going to stay that attractive.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:24 PM
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Wall Street taking over Main Street: Never gonna happen. Most financial industry jobs epitomize cushiness. The 18-hour-day, no-bathroom-breaks, two-phones-to-the-head stereotype applies to maybe 25,000 people in the whole country, with only 15,000 of them actually on Wall Street (or in its vicinity). The average level of native intelligence, persistence and broad skill sets on Wall Street is just not very high. Most of those guys (and the vast majority of them are still guys, surprise, surprise) can't operate a fax machine to save their life. An espresso machine? Forget about it. From what I've seen of their prowess at filling in forms, they'd be totally lost about halfway through the first week in a public school. Now, if all of the sales assistants in the country went out to find other jobs, maybe then I would be worried. But the brokers and traders? They'd be lucky to find jobs as hospital orderlies if the market didn't exist.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:24 PM
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cities and towns do decline or vanish

Ample evidence for which can be seen in the ghost towns scattered all around the American West.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:26 PM
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119, 164, 178: I completely agree that someone who can't speak English should not be hired in a position where the primary responsibility is to be teaching English. If that's the case, then sure, that seems like a bad hiring decision. But lots of learning happens in elementary schools besides learning English, and if there are substantial numbers of (or any, really) kids who also don't speak English, or don't yet speak it well, then I think having a native-L1-speaker aide would be an asset for the classroom regardless of English proficiency. For doing things like teaching math, and science, and explaining the rules, and mediating disputes, etc etc.

I don't see any reason, in that case (the case being, there are lots of Spanish-native students), not to hire Spanish monolingual aides, any more than I'd see a reason not to hire English monolingual aides. Particularly if there aren't any (or are only a few) native Spanish-speaking teachers. The ideal situation might be to only hire adults for any position who were absolutely fluent (native-like, if you will) in both languages, but schools are rarely in a position to hire only their dream candidates.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:26 PM
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I totally agree with 215, by the way -- I wouldn't be buying property in Phoenix or Vegas right now either. But I think the reasons for their decline (if it happens) will have more to do with conventional economic reasons than ZOMG you built a golf course in the desert.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:28 PM
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"I shall go forward further with the story, giving an account of the cities of men, small as well as great: for those which in old times were great have for the most part become small, while those that were in my own time great used in former times to be small: so then, since I know that human prosperity never continues steadfast, I shall make mention of both indifferently."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:30 PM
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Also, while "fluent" and "native" are ill-defined, there are standardized proficiency tests for most languages (definitely for English and Spanish). Schools that I've worked with have required different certificate levels for different positions. Or sometimes a combined total (e. g. English level plus ASL level must be 6 on a 5 point scale, but an individual person might have a 1 and a 5, or 2 and 4, or whatever).


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:31 PM
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I think the reasons for their decline (if it happens) will have more to do with conventional economic reasons than ZOMG you built a golf course in the desert.

I agree with that. The golf courses in the desert are what people elsewhere seem to notice, though, so they come up more in conversation.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:32 PM
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Apparently, the school district thinks the current programs won't have to change under the new law:

http://azstarnet.com/news/local/education/article_c3e7170e-93de-5797-97fd-a6cb3b68d530.html


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:37 PM
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Also, while "fluent" and "native" are ill-defined, there are standardized proficiency tests for most languages (definitely for English and Spanish).

IMX standardized proficiency tests do not distinguish well at the upper end of the range, which is the all-important distinction for many purposes. I passed the Prüfung zum Nachweis deutscher Sprachkenntnisse (now the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang with a perfect score in my early twenties when my German of very, very limited utility beyond taking standardized tests. I am regularly surprised by the level of proficiency that job applicants take to be sufficient to put "fluent" on a resume (and I think some of them are equally surprised to find their claims being put to the test).


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:41 PM
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209 gave me a pleasant twinge of nostalgia for a previous era of morons. Does anyone else remember the weeks when "Cruz Bustamante was a member of MEChA!!!!!!!" was the rallying cry of the right wing blogosphere? That was right when I first started reading blogs.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:45 PM
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Link in 224 fixed (not that anyone cares).


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:46 PM
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the most plausible way I can see their unsustainable growth coming to an end is that people start moving away. That doesn't sound like a disaster to me.

It really depends on how quickly it happens. Rapid outmigration can leave a local economy in the lurch and force difficult choices (e.g. Detroit). I know it is not an apocalypse, but it is not fun either, and if you can avoid it, you should.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:48 PM
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I'm not at all familiar with any of the Spanish (or German) tests, but the English and ASL ones used by schools (at least, the schools I know) require oral (/live signed) portions that are recorded and then rated by native speakers- which seems like it takes care of that? Only if those are the tests being used though.

People will put anything on a resume. Also they will bust out very surprising, and false, language proficiency claims at bars. Stupid people.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:48 PM
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226: I care SO MUCH.

Huh, it looks like there's an oral part of the German one too. How do you pass it at a high level? Can you just memorize likely phrases ahead of time?


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:50 PM
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229.last. I'm not sure, really. I just winged it. I think part of the trick was following a group of Korean girls who were completely incomprehensible. Also, givnig the test proctor half a 100 Euro note and telling her she could pick up the rest in my room later.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:54 PM
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I can imagine someone who was capable of carrying on a conversation, sort of, thinking of that level of language skills as fluency, and figuring that they could practice up from 'barely conversational" to "negotiation safe" on the job.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:56 PM
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Hm. The tests I've seen used, the interviewer isn't one of the raters.

half a 100 Euro note

My dad was just visiting, and he is now carrying around in his wallet Zimbabwean money in 50 billion dollar bill denominations. I asked if I could have one but he said no. Mean!


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:59 PM
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231: I'm talking people who would have had trouble ordering a pizza.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 3:59 PM
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224: I've been surprised by what is taken for fluency by the people reading the resumes. (Deja ecrive, because I was just blogging about this...)

At a job interview for a terrible job I once had, they were all here's Dr. Russian-Name! Talk to her for a minute! Sounds good to us! And then I got to exercise the concept of Verhandlungsicherheit in the negative by finding out experientially what I had assumed: the level of fluency for doing therapy with any efficacy is obvs rather high.

People define fluency as they need to. In this case, in terms of how hard it would be to find someone qualified who spoke more truly fluent Russian and was willing to take their horrible job.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 4:02 PM
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now the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang

I had to take this before being allowed to enroll in a German university, and it was a joke. I didn't even take the oral exam because my written scores allowed me to test out of it.

For the final essay question, one could choose between two topics: a very complicated one involving politics and economics, and one that asked you to describe some stereotypes people might have about people from your country. Are you fucking kidding me? I thought for sure that everyone would do the second one, but talking to some Swedes and Eastern Europeans later, it turned out that almost all of them had done the first question, to show that they were serious students and could write about complicated things in German.

I guess maybe one of the stereotypes about Americans could have been that we have no qualms about taking the easy way out?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 4:04 PM
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233: So many toppings to choose from, who doesn't?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 4:07 PM
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227: Pittsburgh is usually seen as a 'success' as far as rapid out migration and we can't pay for our infrastructure or retirees. We do have shitloads of water, so that's what I like to talk-up.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 4:09 PM
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236: Kartoffelpizza mit Knoblauch!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 4:27 PM
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Well, one British political party actually wants to abolish my degree. UKIP hates Europe so much they don't even want to think about what it might be up to. During the Cold War, a hell of a lot of academic effort went into studying the Communist world (and the other way round - the Meshdunarodniki from the US-Canada Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences were top status).

But that wouldn't help because a lot of Kippers believe the USSR faked its own collapse and the EU is run by communists.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 4:28 PM
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We got a UKIP flyer today. The candidate's picture is a dead ringer for the Unabomber.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 4:51 PM
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re: money/bills

A couple of years ago I was working on a project on astrolabes, and one of the newly reissued Iraqi bills has/had an astrolabe on it, and a colleague wrote to the Iraqi government and asked for some, which, iirc, they just sent us, no questions asked. So for a while I had a freshly minted immediately post-invasion Iraqi bill in my wallet.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 5:21 PM
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Okay, I am angry and skipping to the end of the comments! So, if this "accent" bullshit stands, what about teachers with speech impediments, eh? I've got two good friends with speech impediments. I don't notice the speech situation because I've spent some time paying attention to what they have to say, but every once in a while a stranger will have trouble understanding a particularly difficult word. Jesus christ. My friends--white and middle class--have already faced a lot of shaming over their accents; it would be just so fucking awesome to shame people with accents-other-than-USian as well.

Also, I add that if you are in a major metropolitan area tomorrow you can almost certainly go to a march for immigrants' rights. It is extremely important that citizens, middle class people and whitey show up at these things. You can find a march here.

If you're going to the Minneapolis march, I will be there taking video/photos for Indymedia and there will be lots and lots of left-SWPL types as well as hippies with puppets. Note that there are 4 feeder marches--labor, radical and proggy--all meeting up in Loring for a rally and what I hope will be a not-understocked picnic. Anyone who is in Minneapolis and would like to go but feels uneasy going by themselves is welcome to email me and I can connect you with folks.

If you're thinking of going on a march but never have before, here are my tips: Pack a light shoulder bag with bottled water and a little snack. Check your camera/phone battery while you're packing. Make sure you have a pen and something to write on, because you'll probably run into a long-lost acquaintance. Wear favorite clothes--if you're like me and always feel a little out of place, it's better to feel out of place and nicely dressed. Wear good shoes. Bring a book or a magazine in case you need to hang out for a while.

Sometimes you'll feel better if you make and bring your own sign, so that you will feel like you're obviously part of the march but you'll avoid the generic signs that may not express your feelings. Don't be afraid to show up without a sign and decline to hold one, though; being there is enough. Don't feel like you have to chant if you're uncomfortable. On the one hand, it's awesome to stay until the very end (and sometimes the most exciting stuff happens then) but if you're shy or kind of hate crowds, tell yourself that it's perfectly okay to leave when it stops being interesting.

You'll probably see some dumb signs, hear some dumb chants, etc. That's just how it goes. (I personally dislike "The people united/will never be defeated" and "Who's a terrorist? [rightwing figure] is a terrorist!" and "What do we want? [Objective]! When do we want it? Now!" On the other hand, if you took high school French and always regretted not taking Spanish, listening to the speeches can really be good comprehension practice.

Anyway! The people, united, will probably usually get defeated because that's the way of the world under capitalist patriarchy, but we should all march anyway.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 6:13 PM
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224 I'm not familiar with the DSH, but the ZOP, which seems to be the Goethe Institut legal equivalent, was at a level which would be easily enough for any science/engineering course or study or day to day office interaction. I didn't get a perfect score on it, but at the time I took it I could read German books comfortably without a dictionary, listen to university lectures, watch TV, have conversations on pretty much any subject, etc.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 6:16 PM
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Add to 242: hand percussion instruments!


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 6:22 PM
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244: Why do I carry a camera and a notepad? So that I obviously cannot be asked to carry any sort of drum.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 6:26 PM
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I personally dislike "The people united/will never be defeated"

But it is Rzewski's most famous piece!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 6:33 PM
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246: I keep meaning to listen to that, actually [she wrote humorlessly]. And I know it's more resonant in Spanish, and I know it has a proper venerable Chilean history, but it just rings so false at every tiny, hopeless demo I've ever attended. I know damn well that the people will never be united by the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Also, "the people" "united" deeply problematic, etc etc.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 6:46 PM
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A SLOGAN! DEFEATED! SHOULD NEVER BE REPEATED!

WE BEAT! THE MEAT! THAT WE DON'T WANNA EAT!


Posted by: OPINIONATED CYNICAL EARLY 1990S MINNEAPOLIS RADICALS | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 6:47 PM
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I don't understand why we can't sing "God Is A Lesbian" (to the tune of "God Save the Queen") anymore. That one really got the fundies irritated.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 6:49 PM
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But yes, go to your local march! Remember Haymarket!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 6:51 PM
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242 is excellent and hits all of the important points except: Wear sunblock and/or bring a hat.

And don't engage with anyone at all who brings up Israel/Palestine. No good can come of this, regardless of your position or lack thereof on the issue. If necessary, fake deafness (sorry Cecily) or lack of English fluency (sorry everyone).


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 7:09 PM
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fake deafness (sorry Cecily) or lack of English fluency (sorry everyone).

I think Witt just said none of us are fluent in English, but my English isn't good enough to know for sure.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 7:19 PM
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250: Now I want to go to Lazlo's, but I'm several hundred miles away.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 7:32 PM
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251: And don't engage with anyone at all who brings up Israel/Palestine.

If I ever become Secretary of State, I want you on my staff.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 7:43 PM
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I'm late to the party. I once had an organic chemistry instructor who was almost totally unintellible. He was known as the "Mad Morricure". Figuring out "molecule" was easy compared to anything else he said even in a social setting.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 7:52 PM
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I got an iPad today. It's not nearly as good as the Orgasmatron I was promised by Steve Jobs.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:00 PM
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Sorry, that was offthread.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:02 PM
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Take out whatever disappointment and rage you feel on the state of Arizona.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:02 PM
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(Now it's back on!)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:02 PM
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What new Apple product came out today? I saw a line of people a block long waiting to get into an Apple store a few hours ago.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:14 PM
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It was off-topic. Had it been off-thread, there would have been no problem.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:14 PM
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I am, as ever, in your debt for the etiquette lessons, ben.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:35 PM
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Oh, I guess it's a new generation of iPad that came out today? Already?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:37 PM
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Sometimes, ari, I think I detect the slightest bit of unfriendliness in your remarks.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:38 PM
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It's odd, Ben, but I could say the same of yours. Really, though, I have nothing but fondness for you and regret if a stray comment has ever suggested otherwise.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:44 PM
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No, essear, just the 3G version.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:45 PM
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Likewise, I'm sure.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:46 PM
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The Weebles are feebles / like Mario van Peebles.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:48 PM
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"Because of Kerner's alleged sexual activities with other men and animals, the informant, who had dated the woman, and his Jack Russell terrier both contracted sexually transmitted diseases, court documents state."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:50 PM
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"How'd that happen?"


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 8:59 PM
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216

Wall Street taking over Main Street: Never gonna happen. Most financial industry jobs epitomize cushiness. The 18-hour-day, no-bathroom-breaks, two-phones-to-the-head stereotype applies to maybe 25,000 people in the whole country, with only 15,000 of them actually on Wall Street (or in its vicinity). The average level of native intelligence, persistence and broad skill sets on Wall Street is just not very high. Most of those guys (and the vast majority of them are still guys, surprise, surprise) can't operate a fax machine to save their life. An espresso machine? Forget about it. From what I've seen of their prowess at filling in forms, they'd be totally lost about halfway through the first week in a public school. Now, if all of the sales assistants in the country went out to find other jobs, maybe then I would be worried. But the brokers and traders? They'd be lucky to find jobs as hospital orderlies if the market didn't exist.

So if the finance guys are so incompetent why are they making such high profits? This is actually a serious question, where are their exorbitant profits coming from? Most of their products aren't very essential so who is dumb enough to fatten their coffers?

Actually while composing this comment I had the dismaying thought that the answer is public pension funds.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:06 PM
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So if the finance guys are so incompetent why are they making such high profits?

They have PEOPLE SKILLS!!!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:14 PM
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About the whole comprehensibility thing. I have substantial problems understanding verbal communication. Even though I learned Spanish quickly in school and have a good accent, I have *lots* of trouble understanding people who speak in it. Much more so than my classmates. I often mishear things that people say in English. Half the time I put on English subtitles on English-language movies. If I complain about a TA's unintelligible accent, and others don't have a problem with it, that doesn't mean that my only problem is that I'm resentful. Even if a teacher's accent isn't a problem for 80% of people, I think it would still justify a couple hours of accent coaching per week, at the expense of the institution.

Of course, it doesn't sound like the Arizona law has *anything* to do with any of that. But since it came up.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:15 PM
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272 to 270.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:20 PM
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Or "not really trying, or just looking for an excuse to not do well in a class they find difficult and/or don't really want to be in". And I resent the presumption that my genuine difficulties are in the minority. No doubt there's a substantial portion of students like this, but not enough to take much away from legitimate concerns about intelligibility.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:21 PM
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PDF, would you say it's really an issue of hearing accents, or an issue of processing speech in general, regardless of accent?

I worked with a man once who had great difficulty separating out and processing certain blends of syllables -- he often had trouble understanding a Korean co-worker of ours, but he also claimed that other native English speakers mumbled or were unclear.

To my ear it always sounded as though he was having trouble hearing the separations that differentiate words from syllables -- kind of like how when I listen to Hindi, it's really hard to separate out the words, but with Spanish, I can separate out the words pretty well even if I don't understand them all.

Apologies in advance if this is too personal or intrusive. I don't mean to be rude and I certainly understand if you don't want to analyze this to death on the Internet.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:23 PM
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#248, 249. More demonstrators should shout "Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom" at marches. That one's an oldie but a goodie.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:30 PM
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The 18-hour-day, no-bathroom-breaks, two-phones-to-the-head stereotype applies to maybe 25,000 people in the whole country, with only 15,000 of them actually on Wall Street (or in its vicinity).

Are you counting the video game industry in that?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:32 PM
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Since he's talking about the stereotype of finance workers, probably not.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:33 PM
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Not exactly a new Apple product, but Fleur and I just got an AppleTV today (in for a penny, in for a pound), and it is pretty effing awesome. It's just the incentive I need to finally rip our CD collection onto her Mac.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:38 PM
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Anyone read any relatively light and entertaining books lately? I'd like to buy something to read on my new toy.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:42 PM
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275: You seem to have a thoughtful and reasoned approach to your difficulties. The people I was talking about didn't. For them the entire problem was all the TA's fault.

I'm not sure what you mean by "the presumption that my genuine difficulties are in the minority". Who's presuming that, and what's the significance if your difficulties are in the majority or not?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:42 PM
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276: Well, of course, accents, dialects, and foreign languages give me the most trouble, but as I mentioned I even have trouble with English with accents I'm used to. (Not so much the East Texas accent, as the pace tends to be slow.) I tend to misunderstand things people hear a lot. I do read unusually slow for someone who reads as much as I do, and when reading my scanning contains lots of stops and starts. But overall, I'm still in the cream of English ability.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:42 PM
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Anyone read any relatively light and entertaining books lately?

Yeah, The Dud Avocado.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:43 PM
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Also Ferdydurke, though I've not finished it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:43 PM
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278: videogame company employees use phones?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:47 PM
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he was having trouble hearing the separations that differentiate words from syllables

There are no such things in the actual audio of speech.

282: Perhaps I should have quoted the first part of your sentence. "In my experience, the vast majority of complaints about teacher's accents ... boil down to a student not really trying..." When I said you said my difficulties are in the minority, I meant you said that people who legitimately claimed difficulties were in the minority of those who claimed them. Was that an unfair reading?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:48 PM
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273

Perhaps this is a dumb question but have you had your hearing checked?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:49 PM
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284-85: Neither are available as either kindle or iPad ebooks. I knew I should have opted for the Orgasmatron instead.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:51 PM
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Ok, how about Borges and the Eternal Orangutans or My Life in CIA?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:52 PM
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Oh, and further to Witt. I have approaching no appreciation for poetry, and I'm more or less incapable of detecting bad prose, unless it's really the bottom of the barrel.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:53 PM
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288: I'm actually a musician and I work with audio a lot, so I know about some of this stuff. I haven't had my hearing checked, but I can hear soft sounds fine (30 dB (grass rustling) easy) and my frequency range is pretty normal, about 25-16,000. I'm sensitive to loud sounds--80 dB (vacuum cleaners) makes me cover my ears. My stereo processing is fine, and I don't have excessive difficulties focusing on single sources in noisy environments. I'm not sure what else they check for. Maybe they have some fancy tests.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:58 PM
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290: Nope.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 9:58 PM
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Cloud Atlas!

BA-HWOO!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:01 PM
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There are no such things in the actual audio of speech.

OK, I'm sorry, I'm a total layperson on this issue and my knowledge is rudimentary to say the least. I was trying to describe the micro-pauses that cue the listener to hear the "spaces" between words, or the punctuation in sentences. Does that make more sense?

If you or anybody else know the real terms for what I'm fumbling to say, please correct me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:02 PM
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The Sot-Weed Factor! Eucalyptus!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:03 PM
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294: which one? The newer one?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:05 PM
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267: no no, the whole thing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:07 PM
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I was trying to describe the micro-pauses that cue the listener to hear the "spaces" between words, or the punctuation in sentences. Does that make more sense?

Yes, but pdf is right that they don't actually exist. Speech is a continuous stream of sounds, and segmentation into words and phrases is a perceptual thing tied to other linguistic skills (both general and language-specific).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:07 PM
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When I said you said my difficulties are in the minority, I meant you said that people who legitimately claimed difficulties were in the minority of those who claimed them. Was that an unfair reading?

I didn't claim to be talking about people who have general difficulties understanding speech. I pretty clearly said I was talking about a much more specific set of people and circumstances, and also indicated both that I was sharing my specific experiences, and that there were exceptions.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:09 PM
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Cloud Atlas!

So good, as are Mitchell's completely different (from it and each other) Number9Dream and Black Swan Green.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:09 PM
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298: seriously, there are two. So which one?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:09 PM
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301: ah, the Mitchell. Thanks. See how easy that was, Tweety?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:11 PM
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Speech is a continuous stream of sounds, and segmentation into words and phrases is a perceptual thing

How can this be true? (I'm not really doubting you, just extremely confused.) To me, the difference between a comma and a period is profound. If I listen to an audio recording of myself it seems clear (especially next to a recording of someone else who doesn't differentiate between them).

Similarly, I spend a huge amount of time communicating with people who are not native English speakers, often over the phone, and there's an entire series of tiny adjustments I make to facilitate better communication, including "signaling" the spaces between words with slightly more "room" (aka time).

I feel like a doofus here because I really can't figure out what you're talking about. I'm sure this has been studied to death but it's so foreign (ha ha) to my experience that it's really perplexing.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:11 PM
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295: Speech segmentation.

For most spoken languages, the boundaries between lexical units are surprisingly difficult to identify. One might expect that the inter-word spaces used by many written languages, like English or Spanish, would correspond to pauses in their spoken version; but that is true only in very slow speech, when the speaker deliberately inserts those pauses. In normal speech, one typically finds many consecutive words being said with no pauses between them, and often the final sounds of one word blend smoothly or fuse with the initial sounds of the next word.

Moreover, an utterance can have different meanings depending on how it is split into words. A popular example, often quoted in the field [2], is the phrase How to wreck a nice beach, which sounds very similar to How to recognize speech. As this example shows, proper lexical segmentation depends on context and semantics which draws on the whole of human knowledge and experience, and would thus require advanced pattern recognition and artificial intelligence technologies to be implemented on a computer.

languages that exist only in oral form have no word for 'word'. ... So you say it's really because they're not conscious of words as graphic units.

That's all I could find in 3 minutes.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:13 PM
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To me, the difference between a comma and a period is profound. If I listen to an audio recording of myself it seems clear (especially next to a recording of someone else who doesn't differentiate between them).

You're not reacting to a gap in the audio, although you perceive it that way. You're reacting to a series of subtle cues, which vary from language to language but in English mostly involve length and intonation, which serve to mark divisions between words and phrases. Since these are language-specific, if you're listening to a language you don't speak you won't hear them at all.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:16 PM
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languages that exist only in oral form have no word for 'word'

I'm pretty sure I don't believe this.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:16 PM
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I suddenly greatly desire that book about punctuation (Pause and Effect).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:17 PM
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To be sure, the flow of phonemes goes at various speeds, and occasionally the syllables of words are more tightly spaced than the surrounding words, and usually between bigger semantic units, including actual pauses at the end of major clauses. But actual pauses are quite in the minority.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:20 PM
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307: It's kind of a glib claim, especially with the implied universality, to be sure. It's definitely true, however, that "word" is a surprisingly difficult concept to define, especially in unwritten languages.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:22 PM
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You know, I liked Alice in Wonderland, but why couldn't they have gotten the name of the Jabberwock right? The name of the poem is different from the name of the creature, people.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:25 PM
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306: OK, so you're *not* saying that there are no cues for the listener, you're saying that the cues aren't literally pauses?

And that a non-speaker of the language (like me with Hindi) may not be able to pick up on the cues, so it's going to sound like a big undifferentiated stream?

If that's the case, I go back to my original 276 -- it's about a cognitive processing of the separations, rather than a literal hearing of audible pauses?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:25 PM
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312: Yes on all counts.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:27 PM
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Definitely, I do have trouble hearing the segmentation. (Which I would argue is the same thing as saying I have trouble understanding speech, given that I have an OK vocabulary and grammar.) But the increased spacing cues, even when they doesn't actually constitute pauses, are usually only at rather high grammatical levels, like between every 5-8 words on average (I'm guessing). So the cues aren't as helpful as one might think. I don't have any trouble breaking spoken Spanish into clauses. It's on the word level that I have trouble.

Now, the cue differences between languages without as much common ancestry are probably going to present problems to people even without my issues. So, Witt, you might have an easier time picking out words in Romanian (assuming you don't know it at all) than you could in Hindi.

I've been thinking about hiring someone to transcribe the spanish audio on my Simpsons DVDs so I can practice more. The Spanish subtitles are a separate translation and only match like 60% of the time.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 04-30-10 10:34 PM
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Yes, to everything teo says. When I was studying phonology they played various tricks with audio to convince us of the fact that the conversion of streams of sound into units of meaning happens at quite a high level and requires a lot of tacit information about a language; using examples of the 'wreck a nice beach'/'recognize speech' type, where sometimes it wasn't clear what the the meaning of a sentence was, because it wasn't clear what the words were, because it wasn't clear what the morphemes were, because it wasn't clear what the phonemes were (etc etc) without additional context that didn't appear until later in the stream of speech.

The sounds of 'words' are often very different when they appear in the middle of a stream of speech, too, with some sounds elided and other sounds inserted to ease the transition into/from the adjacent words.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:42 AM
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Also, fun stuff like: Czechs like to give non-native speakers tongue twisters, like: "strc prst skrz krk" [a real, if artificial sentence] because native English speakers find it hard to produce those consonant clusters with no vowels. But, of course, we all produce those sounds or very similar ones across word boundaries with no problems at all, and those chunks could be produced effortlessly during a stream of speech.

"mister chalmers" - strc
"paper stapler" - prst
"whisker zapper" - skrz
"wicker kicker" - krk

etc


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:46 AM
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307: Nor should you.

I'd be tempted to ask that PDF be thrown into a pit of rabid linguists, except that I can now make sense of his previously insane-seeming views of language. So instead I'll ask him to imagine a world in which not everyone shares his disability, which sounds like it really fucking sucks and I'm super-sorry.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:29 AM
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Actually while composing this comment I had the dismaying thought that the answer is public pension funds.

Certainly the case in Europe. I assume alsoin America, why not?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 5:18 AM
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285 How are you liking Ferdydurke, it's one of my favorite novels.

316 "W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie" (In Sczebrzeszyn the cricket chirps in the reeds). Or "Matka tka tak jak tkaczka tka, a tkaczka tka tak jak matka tka! Matka tka i tatka tka, a tkaczka czka i też tam tka" (Mother weaves like weaver weaves and the weaver weaves like mother weaves. Mother weaves and pokes dad, while the weaver hiccups and also pokes around)


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 5:45 AM
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Are the 'r's in words like brzmi pronounced as fully rolled 'r's, or as schwas, or something intermediate?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 5:53 AM
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rz, cz, and sz are dipthongs. Rz being a j (minus the d sound in front), cz a ch, sz a sh except that all of them are 'harder' than the English equivalent with the tongue raised further towards the front of the mouth. In the case of the sz that results in an almost whistling sound. The rz is pronounced like an sz when preceded by an unvoiced consonant. All three have soft equivalents with the tongue pressed up further back in the mouth than the English sh etc which are written either ś ć ź or si/ci/zi. The ch is like a Scottish ch, the vowels with tails are nasals.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 6:09 AM
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Even if a teacher's accent isn't a problem for 80% of people, I think it would still justify a couple hours of accent coaching per week, at the expense of the institution.

Except this isn't how accommodation works. Expecting all speakers to have uniform accents, or to undergo hours of coaching with that aim, isn't a reasonable accommodation*. Live captions with access to the cleaned-up transcript afterwards would be, and is the solution most people with auditory processing disorders use.**

* also, I don't think it would work, even if it were. Whose preference for accent-listening are you going to base it on? and the success rate of second-language speakers being able to produce accurate phonemes is highly variable, regardless of proficiency in the language overall.

** Not that you've used this term- it seems like it might be somewhat similar to your situation, is all I'm saying.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:13 AM
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321. Thanks. So it's pretty phonetic once you know the conventions (like Irish, they tell me)?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:32 AM
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316: Written without vowels, and always described as having now vowels, but it seems to me this is just a little linguistic tchotchke and really the r's are vocalic because you can't say a word without vowels--perhaps unless you're whispering.

That said, Georgian has an equally nutty example, a word beginning with eight consonants. "he is fleecing us" or gvbrdghvnis (where "gh" is, er...a voice uvular fricative? It's been a while. Something like a Parisian "r". Oh hey I was googling around to cut/paste the Georgian in the lovely Georgian alphabet and didn't find it, but found out that gvbrdghvnis in Esperanto is "Li/sxi plukas nin.")


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:41 AM
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re: 319

There are some very similar Czech ones, that feature the same sort of rhythmic repetition of minor syllable variation.

Třistatřicettři stříbrných stříkaček stříkalo přes třistatřicettři stříbrných střech.

Od poklopu ku poklopu Kyklop kouli koulí. etc

There are some with real audio files here:
http://www.locallingo.com/czech/phrases/tongue-twisters.html

The only ones I find hard (other than basic memorisation) are those with lots of 'r with hacek's. Which are very very difficult for non-native speakers.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:43 AM
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321: They're not dipthongs. Dipthongs are vowels. Those are affricates.

[/irritating linguist]


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:47 AM
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re: 324

You can pronounce consonant clusters with no vowels.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:47 AM
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You can pronounce consonant clusters with no vowels.

Yeah, but what if you need to shout?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:51 AM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Words_without_vowels#Words_without_vowel_sounds

Has some examples of genuinely vowel free words in English [it may be dialect specific], and from other languages.

In my idiolect some (but not all) of those vowel-less English words contain no rhotic vowel.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:52 AM
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(Loosely related to linguistics.) My eyeballs rolled out of my head yesterday, listening to a morning radio show. The lesser hosts were playing a guess-the-theme game, written by the main host. This is it:

Can you guess the theme?

DMX
Leann Rimes
Britney Spears
Stone Temple Pilots
Ludacris

Hint: You will never guess the theme.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:52 AM
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re: 330 Words that idiots think have three syllables?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:54 AM
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Names, I mean.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:54 AM
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331: I cannot believe you got that. You are very smart.

Yes, exactly. Then they argued over Stone Temple Pilots. The main host was saying "You count syllables by clapping! Stone (clap) Tmpl (clap) Pilts (clap)! SEE?"


(Nobody made the argument that STP has three syllables.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 7:56 AM
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I don't understand the game. Don't all of the names except STP actually have 3 syllables?


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 8:01 AM
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329. I don't accept that English words with only 'y's have no vowels. 'Y' in English serves to denote either a consonant or a vowel, depending on context. You might as well argue that the word nuntius had no vowels in classical Latin because it was spelled 'NVNTIVS' and both 'V' and 'I' were consonantal in some positions.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 8:02 AM
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I was just talking about a vowel-less English word last night: cwm! Sure, it's a Welsh loan word, but still.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 8:06 AM
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334: The theme was "Musicians/groups with three syllables". So STP was the only problem, but it's enough to throw anyone with lesser mental prowess than ttaM off the case.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 8:06 AM
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re: 335

Sure, that's just an orthographic convention. But there are English words with no phonemic vowels in some dialects.

The wiki article has three sections. One on words with no orthographic vowels, one on words with no vowel phonemes, and one on words with no vowel phonemes in other languages.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 8:09 AM
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Dear lord. The link itself pretty much says it all.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 8:11 AM
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The best-inserted eels o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 8:15 AM
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337- oh. I thought the actual theme had "idiots think" in it. and that the fun part of the game would be mocking all the poor saps who don't know what a syllable is.

Then I thought "maybe I am one of those poor saps, because these all seem like they have 3 syllables to me," and I was very concerned.

Then I found five dollars.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 8:20 AM
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323 Polish is both very phonetic and has a regular stress pattern with almost all words being accented on the penultimate syllable. Or at least that's the theory, there are minor deviations in colloquial speech which can vary by region and class.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 8:30 AM
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339: Thanks for the warning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 10:13 AM
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326 cz is an affricate. rz and sz are plain old fricatives.

Irritating linguists, unite!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 10:24 AM
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327: In the list of words without a vowel, I guess I'm not seeing the difference between a rhotic or syllabic "r" and a schwa (or the little lambda-looking thing that I seem to recall is used for a stressed schwa sound) followed by a consonant.

Here's a test that probably isn't a rigorous linguistic anything: I'm pretty sure you can't sing a melody on a consonant. If you were writing a song about a turtle, you could perfectly well do one of those hideous American Idol melismas on turtle, because there is a vowel there to draw out, albeit not the best one to sing on.

(Alright, a far less stupid example would have been "girl".)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 10:39 AM
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The wikipedia phonetics articles have some awesome examples. Can you hear the difference between "cat shit" and "catch it"?


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:10 AM
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Yes! There is a glottal stop in the former!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:11 AM
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re: 345

Other than that they don't sound anything like each other? I'm not seeing that you are supposedly not seeing. The rhotacized schwa that US English speakers would put there isn't anything like the 'r' sound that speakers of other languages would put there. Or am I not understanding you correctly? If I say 'krk' [or 'turtle' for that matter], I'm not putting an American-style schwa in it.

You seem to be saying in your second paragraph that you _could_ extend the vowel sound and pronounce the syllable with a vowel. Sure, you could [with the English words] but some people don't. So I don't see what you are saying other than 'this can be pronounced with a vowel', which no-one is disputing. It's just that they don't _have_ to be.

'Girl' is amusing to me because I pronounce that as two syllables, rather than one, so far from having no vowels, I have a couple.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:17 AM
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349

ok but how about "grrrl"?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:19 AM
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re: 349

I'd hope someone shot me for being insufferable.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:27 AM
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351

339: Wow. Not exactly an elegant way to go.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:33 AM
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Can you hear the difference between "cat shit" and "catch it"?

Different initial vowel sounds, for me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:45 AM
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Same vowel sound for me, and re: 347 surely there wouldn't be a glottal stop in between the two in normal fast speech, although people [including me] might put one in in slower speech to emphasize the distinction.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:48 AM
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I guess I'm not seeing the difference between a rhotic or syllabic "r" and a schwa (or the little lambda-looking thing that I seem to recall is used for a stressed schwa sound) followed by a consonant.

In American English they're very hard to distinguish, but the realization of the phonemes varies a lot by dialect.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:10 PM
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To clarify, the cat shit/catch it pair was used as an example of the difference in American English between stop/fricative sequence t, sh and affricate ch.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:14 PM
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re: 354

Yeah, to me the're obviously different, in my idiolect, but there are other phonemes where I totally can't hear the difference between different allophones.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:18 PM
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353. Some southern American dialects are very glottal indeed. I'm not au fait with AWB's backstory, but she is some kind of southerner and it wouldn't surprise me if she put a glottal stop in 'cat shit' at any speed.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:20 PM
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Wikipedia offers as one phonetic transcription of "cat shit" "kʰæʔʃɪt̚]", so the glottal stop must be reasonably common. (Sounds weird to me, though.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:24 PM
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359

Wikipedia has an article about cat shit?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:26 PM
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Glottal realization of word-final /t/ is pretty common in American English, and I think it applies across all dialects. It's the way I usually pronounce it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:30 PM
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348: Maybe I'm mistakenly universalizing something that's in my dialect.

346: I'm overly fascinated by the fact that people in the region I now live in pronounce Mary, marry, and merry distinctly. If you don't make these distinctions natively, it's pretty hard to mimic them.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:31 PM
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362

We've discussed Mary/merry/marry several times here.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:33 PM
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Wikipedia, may its star never fade, has an article on everything.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:34 PM
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364

361.2: The archives teem with this particular discussion.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:34 PM
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365

re: 360

Pretty common in British English dialects, too. I routinely do it in informal speech. However, I don't think I employ it in the 'cat shit' versus 'catch it' context, i.e. between the two words [although I might well end 'it' with a glottal stop]. In a case of exactly the same sound-blindness that we've discussed above, it hadn't occurred to me that others would.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:34 PM
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366

re: 364

Yeah, field recordings and everything.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:35 PM
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367

people in the region I now live in pronounce Mary, marry, and merry distinctly

Whereas I have trouble imagining how you'd pronounce them the same.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:35 PM
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And of course now that I am running it over repeatedly in my head, I can hear the glottal stop creeping in. Arrgh.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:36 PM
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369

I have a hard time imagining 'cat shit' being pronounced like 'catch it'. Which accent would run these together?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:36 PM
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363: Indeed.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:36 PM
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re: 369

They'd be very hard to tell apart in mind if I was speaking quickly and not deliberately emphasising the difference.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:36 PM
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Mine. Argh. Lack of caffeine.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:37 PM
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Oh, sorry about that. I have only R'd part of TFA.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:37 PM
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If I really were a Southerner, the difference would be "cat shit" vs. "ketchit."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:38 PM
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I have a hard time imagining 'cat shit' being pronounced like 'catch it'. Which accent would run these together?

ttaM's, apparently. One issue with this particular pair in American English is that "catch" and "cat" are often pronounced with different vowels, as essear mentioned above. It's this sort of thing that makes minimal pairs that illustrate linguistic principles hard to find.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:38 PM
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I do not have a southern accent by any stretch, but I do say "ketch". It never occurred to me until just now that others really "catch".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:40 PM
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374. That would be if you were a South African, surely?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:40 PM
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No, wait, now either vowel sounds correct. I have no idea what I say.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:40 PM
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368, 378: Heh. Another problem with coming up with these is that thinking about it affects your pronunciation and perception.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:42 PM
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380

I definitely say "ketch."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:43 PM
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381

When I say cat shit, all the sounds last a little longer than in catch it but it doesn't look like they are qualitatively different.

But then again I have no idea if I say it in anything like a common way.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:45 PM
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So if you've lost time on some work and you're trying to make good, do you play catsup?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:47 PM
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So if you've lost time on some work and you're trying to make good, do you play catsup?

Yup.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:48 PM
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Hmm, it seems to me that the distinction between the two in my idiolect is that might be lengthening and slightly 'fronting' the fricative at the end, and aspirating it more in 'cat shit', rather than employing a glottal stop. But I'm now confusing myself enough that if you told me I was distinguishing them by the use of a little green flat on a stick I'd probably believe you.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:48 PM
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re: 381

Hah, possibly the same as I'm getting at in 384, then.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:49 PM
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386

I do not have a southern accent by any stretch, but I do say "ketch". It never occurred to me until just now that others really "catch".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:51 PM
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I feel quotated.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:52 PM
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382, 383: Yup.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:53 PM
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370: "Most people are quite responsive to manual or oral contact with their pubic area." Good to know!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 12:59 PM
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Confirmed: my vowels in cat shit and catch it, as I recorded them, are the same. But probably just because I was trying. I bet I say "ketch" when I'm not proving a point about affricates.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:04 PM
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389: Point! Point! Weasel words! We want verified percentages!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:05 PM
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392

Citation needed!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:09 PM
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393

"Cat shit" and "Catch it" are almost identical for me -- like, I'm not sure if there's any difference at all if I'm not thinking about a difference.

367: People who pronounce them the same seem to usually use the vowel I use for "Merry". It only really pops out for me on names -- I think of Aaron, same vowel as marry, as a man's name, and Erin, same vowel as merry, as a woman's name. And then I meet Midwestern men who introduce themselves as what sounds like 'Erin', to me. and I do a doubletake before realizing that they don't distinguish between Aaron and Erin.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:12 PM
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Addition to 393.1: And if there is a difference, it's not the vowels -- I might do something different with the consonant cluster in the middle, but the vowels are the same.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:13 PM
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395

Or maybe they're feminists.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:13 PM
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People who pronounce them the same seem to usually use the vowel I use for "Merry".

Yes, that's the vowel that people without the distinction (me, for instance) tend to use for all three.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:14 PM
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397

That's also the vowel in "ketch," btw.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:16 PM
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398

So which Maerrie is the vowel from the other way of pronouncing catch?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:18 PM
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393.2. To me, Mary as in aircraft; merry as in met; marry as in sad.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:21 PM
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Marry has the same vowel as cat and catch, at least for me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:21 PM
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And I am OFE in 399. It's funny, my idiolect doesn't sound British at all, but they're the only ones who make sense in these conversations.

Back to the words without vowels -- I really don't understand that wiki page. If I try to say bird in a non-rhotic dialect, I come up with something that sounds very close to bud. I don't know exactly what to call the vowel in the middle, but there's a vowel there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:24 PM
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393.2. To me, Mary as in aircraft; merry as in met; marry as in sad.

Then people who pronounce them the same definitely say Mary for all three.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:24 PM
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403

I believe it's measured in millipalins.

The millipalin might be what people use for day-to-day purposes, but it would be quite stupid to think that any actual standard unit would come with an SI prefix already attached.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:27 PM
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402: You mean in your dialect Mary, merry, marry, and aircraft all share a vowel, while met and sad don't match?

Because for me, the vowel I use for met and merry is the one other people use for all three of the m words.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:28 PM
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403: Clearly not a physicist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:29 PM
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406

403: Or, come to think of it, an engineer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:29 PM
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407

403: but it would be quite stupid

Yeah like 20 kilomillipalins worth of stupid.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:30 PM
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R does weird things to vowels around it (at least in American English), so "aircraft" and "met" are really not directly comparablel "mate" and "met" (and "mat") would be a better comparison. As I said earlier, the vowel for people who don't have the distinction is usually interpreted as the "met" vowel, although in practice it can often be closer to "mate." Since we don't make the distinction, the actual realization of the vowel varies a lot.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:34 PM
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You mean in your dialect Mary, merry, marry, and aircraft all share a vowel, while met and sad don't match?

Definitely true for me. I'm losing the ability to imagine how other people would say it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:34 PM
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410

Note also that for people who don't have the distinction, it applies to "aircraft" too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:35 PM
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411

I don't understand 408 and 410. I'm perfectly capable of hearing that there are three distinct Maeries, I just don't use them in my own speech.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:37 PM
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411: I think lots of people who don't use the distinction don't hear it either.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:38 PM
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413

Fools!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:40 PM
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I'm perfectly capable of hearing that there are three distinct Maeries

Last nicht the Queen had four Maries,
This nicht she'll hae but three,
She'd Mary Beaton, an' Mary Seaton,
An' Mary Carmichael an' me.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:40 PM
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I desperately want to know what units LB is thinking of.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:40 PM
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416

I'll rule them all.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:40 PM
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Okay, let's get some actual IPA symbols up in here, because English orthography is not at all useful for these comparisons.

Here are the relevant phonemes (ignoring length and diphthongization):

"Mary" = /meri/
"merry" = /mεri/
"marry" = /mæri/

Most British dialects distinguish all three, as do some American dialects (notably New York). Some American dialects group them into a two-way distinction, and I think there are two different ways this is done. Other American dialects, including General American (my native dialect, and I think heebie's too), group all three together. Since the distinction is gone, the actual phonetic realization of the vowel in any given case can be any of the three vowels given above, but it's usually interpreted as underlyingly /ε/.

In other situations, i.e., without r, these dialects do distinguish all three, as do other English dialects:

"mate" = /met/
"met" = /mεt/
"mat" = /mæt/


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:43 PM
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418

I desperately want to know what units LB is thinking of.

You mean "whose"?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:43 PM
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408 and 410 (and 417) are referring to production, not perception.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:44 PM
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||
My landlord is making me want to scream. Guy does not know how to read for content or write for clarity, he seems not to know how to set his email so that his name doesn't show up as "Personal Account" in my inbox, and he is being SUCH A LITTLE BITCH.

Hey whatever happened to Homeless in Hampstead? I for one would love to hear a story about a jerky landlord being taught a lesson.
|>


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:46 PM
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I desperately want to know what units LB is thinking of.

LB usually signifies pounds avoirdupois.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:47 PM
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I'm bored and cranky and there's still an hour and a half left in this stupid exam which is stupid.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:52 PM
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UKIP

It's hilarious that on the first google result for this (UKIP's webpage) the google description is "Libertarian, non-racist party seeking Britain's withdrawal from the European Union."

Someone's awfully defensive.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:56 PM
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You know what I think is a cool question? The question of what the smallest n is such that the complete graph Kn, whose edges are one of two colors, will have a K3 subgraph whose edges are all one color or all the other color. You should announce that as a bonus question.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 1:57 PM
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421: Look, I've been trying to work out more.

415: The integrated system of units I used in physics classes was cgs -- a system in which the fundamental units are centimeters, grams, and seconds. In engineering classes, the system of units is the SI, also referred to as MKS, for meters, kilograms, and seconds. In both systems, one of the fundamental units has a prefix.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:00 PM
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Is that a cool question?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:00 PM
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Late to the accent-discussion party, but one accent-related issue that's caught my attention is how different accents are perceived in different languages. Among Spanish speakers, there's a trope about English speakers all sounding like Frankenstein's monster in Spanish (actually, now that I've typed this up, I'm pretty sure I've said it here before; oh well.)

But in English (in the US at least), I'd say accents are generally received as "cool" or "interesting" or even "hot" (not condoning that view, but it's out there), so I wonder how, for instance, Parisians hear a German accent, and so on.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:12 PM
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the fundamental units are centimeters, grams, and seconds.

That's kind of annoying because the fundamental unit of mass is without prefix and the fundamental unit of length isn't. I know they relate better scale-wise (a cubic cm of water has 1 gram of mass), but in terms of language, they don't match.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:13 PM
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429

So if you wanted to refer to a meter in the first, or a gram in the second, you said "hectocentimeter" and "millikilogram" respectively? Or am I just wrong in supposing that a centimeter is a hundredth of a meter? (If "centimeter" is the fundamental unit, then it shouldn't be defined in terms of another unit.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:13 PM
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But in English (in the US at least), I'd say accents are generally received as "cool" or "interesting" or even "hot"

I don't know that this is true across the board, although it is true for certain accents. Romance language accents are interpreted that way, but I don't think, say, Chinese accents are.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:14 PM
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427: Mmm. I tend to perceive almost any accent as appealing, but I'm not sure if that's a general American thing, a liberal xenophilia thing, or just me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:14 PM
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429: No, I wouldn't. No, you're not wrong. How a unit is defined is a separate thing from how it's named: the definition of a gram, in the MKS system, is the mass of the reference kilogram times 10-3, even though the names of gram and kilogram would suggest that the definitional relationship goes the other way around. The kilogram is the fundamental unit, even though it doesn't have the fundamental sounding name.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:18 PM
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but I don't think, say, Chinese accents are

It's as if teo's not going to even entertain the idea of going to see the new Karate Kid movie.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:18 PM
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433: Indeed, it's exactly like that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:19 PM
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435

I've witnessed people say that they met someone who was obviously a native English speaker from a foreign country, and that surprisingly, the accent was somehow not appealing. This was a South African accent.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:20 PM
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The kilogram is the fundamental unit, even though it doesn't have the fundamental sounding name.

As is the Millipalin, because the full Palin of stupidity is fortunately uncommon except on television.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:21 PM
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435: I can see that -- SA accents are less appealing for me than other Anglophone accents, although I still find them more interesting than General American or whatever my accent's called.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:22 PM
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Brits tend to regard Saffer accents as unattractive too. I wonder if they're just that bit more foreign sounding (half Dutch) so as to fall into the uncanny valley.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:26 PM
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439

The need for linguistic reform has never seemed as pressing to me as it does now.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:26 PM
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440

I AM NOT DERIVATIVE!


Posted by: OPINIONATED ÅNGSTRÖM | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:26 PM
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Except this isn't how accommodation works. Expecting all speakers to have uniform accents, or to undergo hours of coaching with that aim, isn't a reasonable accommodation.

Isn't accommodation about people with disabilities? People keep saying disability here, but I think I'm not worse than the bottom 10% in speech comprehension issues. If the 20% of students are having trouble, it's not "accomodation".

Live captions with access to the cleaned-up transcript afterwards would be

... much more expensive.

Whose preference for accent-listening are you going to base it on?

You could easily base it on the TV news accent in the region, which should be a reasonable standard almost anywhere. Of course, in areas with lots of accent diversity, this could be a little more of a problem, but not much.

the success rate of second-language speakers being able to produce accurate phonemes is highly variable, regardless of proficiency in the language overall.

Even with speech therapy? Of course, some language learners pick it up naturally, and some don't at all. But I haven't heard that any are incapable of it.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:27 PM
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442

Afrikaner (Boer) accents are basically just broad Dutch accents.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:28 PM
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443

Afrikaner (Boer) accents are basically just broad Dutch accents.

Yiss, but yer typicul middil kless Kipe Tanner sounds a bit strange too, and she's probably 80% British ancestry.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:31 PM
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444

Only one student has turned their exam in already. This is terrible news. You want a final exam that they zip through. This is going to be terrible to grade.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:34 PM
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439: Tell it to the history books, oh nebificient one:

The decision of the Republican government to name this new unit the "kilogramme" had been mainly politically motivated, because the name "grave" was at that time considered politically incorrect as it resembled the aristocratic German title of the Graf, an alternative name for the title of Count that, like other nobility titles, was inconsistent with the new French Republic notion of equality (égalité). Accordingly, the name of the original, defined unit of mass, "gramme", which was too small to serve as a practical realisation, was adopted and the new prefix "kilo" was appended to it to form the name "kilogramme". Consequently, the kilogram is the only SI base unit that has an SI prefix as part of its unit name.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:35 PM
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446

People from Cythifrica sound vaguely Kiwi to me.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:38 PM
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447

much more expensive.

Than having a standing rule that all lecturers in all universities with any perceived accent get several hours of speech therapy a week? I don't think so.

Disability is a social construct. If you need accommodations in order to function at the same level as the majority of the people in the classroom, you have, with respect to their abilities, a disability.

Did I miss where the 20% came from? 20% of who is having which trouble in what situation, exactly?


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:44 PM
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Actually, pretend that I didn't say that last comment (447). I'm super cranky, and pdf23ds and I are never going to see anything like eye to eye on this. And I am about to leave anyway, to sit outside and eat hamburgers and drink whiskey. Fighty words retracted! Apologies to all!


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 2:46 PM
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449

Actually, pretend that I didn't say that last comment

I think this should be filed under "Things that almost never happen" along with "OK, I'm bowing out of this conversation now. It's not going anywhere, and I don't have the time to spend on this."

all lecturers in all universities with any perceived accent

That's a much higher standard than I'm advocating. I'm talking about all lecturers who have a substantial percentage of students with actual problems understanding. (20% just as a threshold that seems, at first glance, reasonable for requiring training.) And yes, hiring someone to do live captions for 10-14 hours a week (is that about right for lecturing time?) is going to be more expensive than hiring a speech therapist for 2 hours a week. Or am I way off about the relative price (taking into account the value of the lecturer's time as well)? I have no problem with captioning, or any other kind of solution, for that matter. If it's cheaper, go for it.

It seems to me that the university has an obligation to its students that classes meet a minimal standard of quality. They can fail to meet this standard if the lecturer is a really shitty teacher, or if the lecturer is OK (or even excellent) and cannot be understood. The exact line to be drawn is of course hard to determine. I wonder, since you disagree so much with where I draw the line, perhaps you would say where you think the line should be.

I'm super cranky, and pdf23ds and I are never going to see anything like eye to eye on this.

No offense taken in any case. Though I do wonder why my views seem to get on your nerves so much. I won't take offense to your explanation, I assure you. I am curious.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 3:28 PM
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450

And yes, hiring someone to do live captions for 10-14 hours a week (is that about right for lecturing time?) is going to be more expensive than hiring a speech therapist for 2 hours a week.

Actually, hiring someone to do captions for 10-14 hours a week for possibly 2-20 years, versus hiring a speech therapist for 2 hours a week for probably 6-12 months.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 3:36 PM
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And I am about to leave anyway, to sit outside and eat hamburgers and drink whiskey.

Well, color me jealous. I'm about to go to a frat party to play drums for four hours. Outside. In 83° heat and air that feels like soup. You're getting the better deal, methinks.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 3:36 PM
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"OK, I'm bowing out of this conversation now. It's not going anywhere, and I don't have the time to spend on this."

Hey, I do that all the time! I guess I don't say it, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 3:39 PM
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447

Disability is a social construct. If you need accommodations in order to function at the same level as the majority of the people in the classroom, you have, with respect to their abilities, a disability.

This is silly. First you could just as well say the instructor has the disability not the student (assuming the student can understand the majority of his instructors). Second it makes no sense to have a hard cutoff where the instructor is doing fine as long as only 49% of his students are failing but not if 51% are failing. If you are hiring an instructor is it obviously preferable that they be understandable by as many as their students as possible so this should be part of the hiring criteria.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 4:05 PM
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318

Certainly the case in Europe. I assume alsoin America, why not?

If so, this is more support for my view that public entities shouldn't be allowed to provide defined benefit pension plans.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 4:14 PM
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so this should be part of the hiring criteria.

To be clear, I wouldn't go that far.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 4:17 PM
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455

To be clear, I wouldn't go that far.

Why not? Is it also too much to expect instructors to prepare, to show up on time and to know the subject they are suppose to be teaching?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 4:27 PM
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456: Because accents are relatively easy to fix. Speech training is quite effective.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 8:16 PM
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You silly people. The only unit of measurement anyone really needs is GeV (giga-electron volt).


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 8:48 PM
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Is it also too much to expect instructors to prepare, to show up on time and to know the subject they are suppose to be teaching?

Let's not say anything we can't take back, he typed, remembering high school.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 9:04 PM
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457

Because accents are relatively easy to fix. Speech training is quite effective.

Why hire someone with a problem (which may or may not be easy to fix) when you can hire somebody without a problem instead?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:19 PM
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Exactly how stupid are this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:20 PM
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Is our children learning?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:22 PM
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I feel like I should comment on this thread, but I have not read it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:25 PM
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How are we going to get to 1000 comments with that kind of attitude?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:29 PM
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Unlike many Unfogged threads, this one's probably worth reading.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:30 PM
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465: I've skimmed enough to see that, but I'm tired. However, I also don't feel like going to sleep.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:31 PM
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Anyway, here are some subjects which are on-topic for this thread:

-Arizona
-immigration
-language
-pedagogy
-accents
-water
-sustainability
-phonetics
-SI units
-disability accommodations

There's more, but that should give you a sense.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:34 PM
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461 to 463.

467 to 466.

464 to 465.

462 to 458.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:36 PM
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The talk about accents has me watching Youtube videos. This one is kind of amusing, although a couple of the accents sound off. I love the Mid-Atlantic one at the end.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:39 PM
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It's probably unAmerican to read the entire thread before commenting. Just read the first and last three available comments, then skim a few of the middle comments for keywords and buzzwords, and you're ready to boldly take a stand, and to hold your ground against all possible naysayers.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:43 PM
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470 gets it exactly wrong.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:43 PM
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I caught an Air France flight from Paris to Dublin once, and when I asked questions about the gate (which was changed while we were waiting at the original gate) the Air France representative, who did not speak much English, told me he couldn't understand my accent. I assume he was used to hearing Irish people. I switched to my broken French and had more success getting information (from a different rep, though).


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:44 PM
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471 is dead on. "It's probably unAmerican . . to hold your ground against all possible naysayers"? I don't think so.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:50 PM
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Someone in Maine once congratulated me on speaking English so well for a Canadian (of course, he was used to dealing with Canadian francophones, but still: I thought it was kind of funny).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:52 PM
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Also, I once scored as fluent on a reading exam for Russian (3 of 3 on some official scale, although it wasn't an official test). I didn't have the heart to tell them that I basically gamed the test by playing up my English writing skills.

Since all the questions asked for translations into English, it was clear our scores would be based on both comprehension and English writing ability, so I wrote the most complicated sentences I could that both still clearly conveyed what I thought was the gist of the passage in question and which appeared to mimic the sentence structure of the Russian. I certainly had learned a lot that term - it was an assessment test - but there's no way I was as fluent as one could possibly be. Also, some passages were easy to put together based on the context provided by the sections I could understand. I do think I had reached a point where I could translate anything with a dictionary and some grammar reference materials, but this was a closed book test.

Now I struggle just to read the letters.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 1-10 11:55 PM
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472: When I was in Paris about a week ago (holy shit how was it only a week ago!?), I had a few exchanges where it was not at all clear how much I was being understood. Culminating in the experience of ordering (in English) a whiskey in a bar, neat, and clarifying that "neat" meant "only whiskey, nothing else" and then having it served drowning in ice cubes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 12:06 AM
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And for some reason, unlike the previous time I was in Paris, I kept having the experience of trying to speak French when possible and using English words for things I didn't know how to say in French and having people respond to me entirely in French. Anywhere else, if I try to speak the local language, people just answer me in English. I found it kind of nice, since I like getting the opportunity to try to understand spoken French in real-time, but it seems unusual.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 12:12 AM
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I have previously mentioned how people in countries I am not from ask me for directions at a rate much higher than I'd expect given that I'm not from those places. The weirdest thing about that is that they seem to be disproportionately French-speakers. They ask in English, I can't help them, then they speak French to each other.

Often, when I've tried to speak the local language, it's been because I put some effort into learning the phrase "Do you speak English?" in the local language. In some places (Scandinavia and the Netherlands in particular), many people seemed offended I'd even ask. I started saying "Hello" instead when I thought there was a good chance they spoke English, since that signaled English better than saying "Hi." This was probably a mistake at the Brussels post office where I sent a book I had bought as a gift for my grandmother which never arrived. The person behind the window seemed angry that I used English; I probably should just have not mailed it at all.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 12:24 AM
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I started saying "Hello" instead when I thought there was a good chance they spoke English, since that signaled English better than saying "Hi."

As long as the "hello" is clearly not "hallo", I guess. I generally try to greet people in their own language first and then ask if they speak English.

Often, when I've tried to speak the local language, it's been because I put some effort into learning the phrase "Do you speak English?" in the local language.

I was amused recently to get a response of "Ein bischen" from a train station employee to my "Hallo. Sprechen Sie Englisch?", since if I had only memorized a rote phrase to ask if someone speaks English I would have had no idea what her response meant. She turned out to speak far better English than I do German.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 12:45 AM
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Ok, I'm still reading this thread. Having been to Lancaster, California, I found this amusing:

155: I was at Lancaster and everybody there said it was the rainiest place in England. I don't know if that was true or not, but it sure felt like it.

Los Angeles apparently had too much water and too short of a commute, so they decided to put an exurb on the edge of the Mojave desert.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 12:52 AM
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bisschen, that is.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:05 AM
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As long as the "hello" is clearly not "hallo", I guess.

My experience has been that "hallo/allo" is usually a phone word, or a word for greeting non-strangers. Anyway, I can't remember anyone ever thinking I was not going to use English. As I said, I only did this in certain contexts and only in response to people's reactions to my not starting with English (with only that Brussels post office being a problem, probably because it was a part Francophone environment and I'd been assuming Flemish - I'd never not use whatever French I could in a clearly French-speaking environment). Plus, this was mostly in touristy situations.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:06 AM
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re: languages

At work we deal with academics across Europe, and what interests me is how many of them email us in their native language rather than English. I can just about see it for French or German, where I suppose they could assume that perhaps someone on staff would speak these. But we sometimes get emails in Greek, or Italian and, I think, at least once in Russian. I do wonder what they are thinking.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:18 AM
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My experience has been that "hallo/allo" is usually a phone word, or a word for greeting non-strangers.

Ah, good to know.

I don't think I've ever met anyone who was offended, per se, by being asked if they speak English. At worst I've seen a sort of patronizing amusement at the question, like "you silly American, don't you know anything?" But I have gotten an angry response when I said "hi" to someone and started speaking English -- in Geneva, from a hotel clerk.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:19 AM
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since if I had only memorized a rote phrase to ask if someone speaks English I would have had no idea what her response meant

Eh, you can usually tell from body language. The only time I used most of the languages I'm talking about I was on one of those trips where you go through a bunch of countries in the span of a few months. I had some knowledge of French, German, Spanish, and Italian. There's only so much Slovenian, Croatian, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, Finnish, etc. you can pick up and expect to use in a short period of time. Especially when you haven't decided to go to any one of those places until a few days before you buy your ticket. The fact that you never do much more than sightseeing on that kind of trip is a well-known problem with that kind of trip, but I was ok with that going in.

For the record, I did pick up greetings/partings, "Do you speak English?", "I don't understand", and a few numbers in each of the named languages above, plus some of whatever other vocabulary was in the guidebook. (All in short-term memory, most quickly forgotten.) In a couple of cases, it was enough to lead people to believe I knew more of the language than I was letting on, because I could piece together some answers from context + a word or two (like "train").


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:22 AM
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If I learned anything from those travels, it's that you don't start talking to Francophone Swiss in any language other than French. I don't remember any French person get angry or even rude with me (including postal workers, who were always great when I mailed stuff). But Francophone non-French were another story. And in French speaking Switzerland, I always started in French.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:29 AM
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Wow, that's a lot of countries. I've never traveled in Eastern Europe, aside from a conference in Hungary, for which I never learned much more than "köszönöm" for "thanks".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:33 AM
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483: That is odd. Maybe they're guessing that you can get a better translation of their letter than they could produce? I've received a couple of emails in English from people in China where I would have been better off if they wrote in Chinese and I got a translation from a bilingual friend, because the English they sent was unreadable.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:37 AM
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Ah, I guess it's finally late enough that I can allow myself to sleep. Apologies to all if I've written too many boring comments while trying to force myself to stay awake for time-zone-adjustment purposes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:41 AM
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re: 488

Yeah, we're a department of an academic institution, but the people doing the work and technicians and clerical staff, so wouldn't be expected to be scholars of the various possible source languages of material we work with. As it happens, within our broader team we can probably rustle up people with native or near-native competence in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Turkish, Hindi, Spanish, and I think, maybe Hebrew. But it'd take some work to do that and it seems odd that correspondents might expect us to.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:47 AM
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Meanwhile, since I'm still reading the rest of the thread, does anyone know where I can find data on "days with rain" for various cities? Weatherbase has some data, but it's not consistent across cities.

Glasgow gets 286 days with rain on average. That's insane. Seattle's cloudy/partly cloudy combination comes out to 294 days, so that might be why people think there's more than 150 days of rain there. They don't have that stat for Vancouver.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:49 AM
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Wow, that's a lot of countries.

Almost all on the same trip, between job before first grad school and start of first grad school. The nice thing about it was that, for about a month beginning in Italy, every time I got on a train/bus/ferry it was heading in a northerly direction.

I too am writing many boring long comments. My excuse is that one of my new roommates is running the microwave in the kitchen right outside my door every 20 minutes or so, making it difficult to sleep.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 1:53 AM
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Adding up the numbers here, Vancouver is only at 170 days with precipitation above .2 mm. Eyeballing the monthly average charts suggests Vancouver gets more precipitation than Glasgow in terms of amount, but still less than places like New York City.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 2:05 AM
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||
I woke up this morning with "Round and Round" by Ratt stuck in my head. It really is just as well that I can't recall whatever dream it was attached to.
|>


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 5:20 AM
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||

I understand an SUV full of fireworks and propane cylinders failed to go off in Times Square last night. Good. Why am I convinced this is unlikely to have been the work of devilishly cunning Islamic fanatics funded by OBL?

|>


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 5:27 AM
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495: It would have . . . caught fire, apparently. I am tempted to look at the Facebook pages of all the former-high-school acquaintances I have hidden because they spend all their time seeing "jihadists" everywhere.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 5:41 AM
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I would resist that temptation if I were you. It'll only raise your blood pressure.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 6:21 AM
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Other possible reason South African accents are unappealing: apartheid.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 6:55 AM
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498. I don't find the accents of the American deep south intrinsically ugly, and they could go head to head with SA for legalised racism in my lifetime. Also, I once met Joe Slovo, and his accent was hideous.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 7:05 AM
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I woke up this morning with "Round and Round" by Ratt stuck in my head.

I hate you so much right now.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 8:11 AM
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449 Though I do wonder why my views seem to get on your nerves so much.

The basis for the disagreement, I think, is that while you think that various attempts to mandate homogeneity in language would be effective and a good thing, I think it would be impossible for any such attempt to work, and that the attempt would absolutely cause harm, and that if it magically did work that would be a harm too. Your views, while wrong, don't get on my nerves, though. It's the way the discussions happen.

I dislike getting stuck in conversations where actual information, arguments based on information, personal opinions, invented statistics, and false statements are all treated as being exactly equal for the purposes of the discussion. I think that in conversations about language, you assert many things which aren't as though they were facts, and won't admit it. This gets on my nerves.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 8:27 AM
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Glasgow gets 286 days with rain on average. That's insane. Seattle's cloudy/partly cloudy combination comes out to 294 days, so that might be why people think there's more than 150 days of rain there. They don't have that stat for Vancouver.

Some years Kalamazoo has had the distinction of being the cloudiest place on earth.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 8:29 AM
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500: What comes around, goes around.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 9:06 AM
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500: just give it tiiiiiime, iiiiiime, iiiiime.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 9:30 AM
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I can't hear anything in that song that makes it memorable. Annoying and mediocre, yes. But I forget it right away. Luckily.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05- 2-10 9:59 AM
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501: And that's different from the rest of all conversations on Unfogged ... how?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 05- 3-10 2:25 AM
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It just occurred to me that I have Ratt in the same vague mental bin as Poison, Whitesnake, Motley Crue, Foreigner, Megadeth, and probably a number of other bands whose names don't come right to mind. I guess this bin is labeled, "happened in the '80s; probably recognize at least one of their songs; no idea about 'em otherwise".

Van Halen would probably be in there, too, but for the intervention of my sainted father, who played them a shit ton when I was wee.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 3-10 7:26 AM
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507: I wouldn't advise spending any time with any of those bands' music, but The Dirt is a highly enjoyable and trashy read about the ridiculous Mötley Crüe.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05- 3-10 7:45 AM
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Here's a question for mixters and mixtresses here: How many groups/individual musicians do you know enough about to have an opinion? Or even an informed opinion? Boggles my mind. Or is it all a trick done with mirrors?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 3-10 8:00 AM
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Three.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 3-10 8:16 AM
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506 - Well, for this example, it is different from the other conversations on Unfogged because language is her specialty and she knows actual things about it. It is easy to ignore made-up shit in other people's specialties. I do that all the time, or make up extra shit because who knows?! Might be true! I like thinking it!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 3-10 8:43 AM
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