Regular readers will be aware that I have raised the subject of the ‘AmericaniZation‘ of our language before. E.g. https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/americanization/. I’ve also discussed the tendency towards misunderstanding between our cultures too: e.g. https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/people-are-rude/ which was written after several years of trans-Atlantic comments on a YouTube posting. Roger Elmore then kindly supplied a considered response to the matter back in September 2010.
Now, I’d like to introduce yet another Trans-Atlantic consideration of our language. This time by Mariana Ashley [see by-line below]. firstname.lastname@example.org
We would both welcome your comments to this special Guest Post.
As a writer, I’ve long been amazed by the wonderful ways of language, and as a college graduate who once studied abroad in Sydney, Australia, I’ve come to love, as well, the wonderful subtle differences between different languages, especially between my American version of English and the version that many of my Australian friends spoke and wrote. Likewise, my travels to London, where one of my college friends now lives, have also allowed me to experience the wonder of British English.
I do not mean, at all, to make these other non-American versions of English into an ‘Other’ form, a less-legitimate or unnatural version of the English I speak; no, my praise is meant sincerely, for I value these differences, and I appreciate how they have created an entire English language that is both distinct and various.
But, as we have often seen, these distinctions bring with them a certain trouble, especially when we are concerned with meaning and the context that provides such meaning. For example, guides abound throughout the Internet that are meant to help students going abroad better prepare for these different contexts and possible miscommunications that could arise simply because the same word might have two different meanings between America and Australia, or America and Britain.
This impulse to educate those who will soon be crossing over into new linguistic contexts is a very good one, and I think there ought to be more of it. Yes, languages will always shift as cultures change over time; however, there are certain linguistic shifts that should not happen if a culture wants to preserve some aspect of its past. In this case, those cultures who hold the lever regarding their influence on others should consider exerting some cultural responsibility when it comes to wielding that lever. Likewise, those cultures being influence can resist in unique ways, thus reappropriating the cultural impact. Consider, for example, the ubiquitous McDonald’s restaurant, which I saw many of in Sydney. I learned that Australians call McDonald’s by a slangy term: Macca’s. Yes, it’s a bit rough, but I thought it was interesting to see how Australians had appropriated what is essentially an American export and made it their own in a culturally significant way.
I believe that writers and educators, in many ways, are the guardians of the English language, and because of this, we must be mindful of how we make use of it in different contexts. My training as a writer, and as a one-time teacher of composition/rhetoric to freshmen students, has always made me aware of this. I view all communication through the prism of the rhetorical triangle: audience, purpose/author, message. If a writer is aware of this rhetorical context, he or she can sincerely do his or her best to engage in appropriate forms of communication that respect linguistic differences between groups.
Let’s consider this post here: an American writer, trained in American universities, writing for a British audience and trying to explain one way by which we all could better police the less pleasurable linguistic shifts in language as a result of American English’s jargon infiltrating British English. I’ve tried, as an American author, to connect with my audience by giving some of my past, by explaining the pleasure I’ve taken from interacting with other forms of English. I’ve also tried to dial down some of my Americanisms; in fact, ‘dial down’ is the first Americanism I’ve used here, I believe. Yes, there are conventions I’ve maintained, such as certain spellings, and I cannot completely avoid allowing my idiosyncracies as a writer to shine, but I like to believe that I have made an effort to meet the expectations of my audience.
I think that an understanding of the rhetorical context, in many instances, could help us to avoid unwanted linguistic baggage. Of course, this will certainly not solve the issue, as many Americans and Australians and British are not conscious of how their speaking and writing of English might affect others, so my solution here is merely an individual one. The hope, then, is that by our example, others might become inspired.
April has been a quiet month work-wise; yet despite it being quite a busy month with family and friends – http://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/easter-visitors-and-beer-trip/ – I’ve managed to find the time to ‘play’ with a couple of new things. New to me of course – not necessarily new to any readers.
One of those new things has been In-Folio.
“In-Folio is a uniquely accessible Open Source e-Portfolio that enables learners, particularly those with disabilities or learning difficulties, to store and arrange multimedia content into simple online pages.”
As a Techdis Accredited Trainer, I have been given an In-Folio account to play with; to allow me to understand what it is and how it works. Well basically, it’s an e-Portfolio and it’s dead easy to use. I have a big issue with many e-Portfolios, especially those that don’t allow the user (the very people who give a reason for e-Portfolios to exist) to take their portfolio with them. This one allows the user to save/export as a simple Web Page or in LEAP2A standard format. I’m not altogether sure how widely available In-Folio is, as it was designed by The Rix Centre, in conjunction with Techdis for use in Specialist Colleges. But, you could always drop Techdis a line.
I’ve also had a play with Teamviewer and compared it to Join.me. Both are competent screen sharing tools, allowing you the opportunity to teach or train at distance by showing and telling what’s on your screen. However, the telling bit is a little unclear: With join.me, there is no sound, but with Teamviewer there is at least the chance to switch to VoIP. Having said that I didn’t get the VoIP option on my Mac either as viewer or as viewed, nor did I get it on my iPhone. So maybe PC to PC would VoIP? Both should work alongside Skype though – although why you would want to when Skype has its own excellent screen sharing feature, I don’t know.
Each tool can be operated without downloading the small application and each tool has a mobile ‘App’ (for iPhone/iPad and Android). Teamviewer allows the transfer of files and remote control of your screen – even from the mobile App. Join.Me only allows remote control from the non-App versions. I’m not sure when I would use these tools, but it’s nice to know that they are there – just in case.
Another tool I’ve been playing with has been the RM Learning Platform, Kaleidos. This seems to be widely used in schools and certainly in the Salford area. I’ve used it quite a bit whilst doing some odd bits and bats for and alongside RM, but have now been asked if I might be available for a more strategic roll-out to primary schools. I was at a school last week where the group I had were aware of the learning platform (KLP) but where that awareness varied from “I only know that it’s there'” to “I’ve been on and started to create some stuff”. The session had to include some work on the need for ‘planning’. A more strategic, planned roll-out should work much better. Fingers crossed.
I’m about to start an investigation of something about to be rolled out by Xtensis – so please watch this space.