Archive for the ‘Language learning’ Category

¡Albondigas! ¿No te dije?

November 22, 2017

“New Sentences: From Duolingo’s Italian Lessons” by Sam Anderson, in print in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday the 19th:

‘Gli animali rimangono nello zoo.’ (‘The animals remain in the zoo.’)

From Duolingo, a “science-based language education platform” available on Apple, Android and Windows smartphones and online.

Language-learning sentences are always slightly funny. They exist to teach you linguistically, not to communicate anything about the actual world. They are sentences that are also nonsentences — generic by design, without personality or ambiguity: human language in merely humanoid strings. [They are, as the philosophically inclined among us sometimes say, mentioned, not used.] The subtext is always just “Here is something a person might say.” It’s like someone making a window. What matters is that it’s transparent, not what is being seen through it.

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Sports Monday Linguistics

September 20, 2017

Surely a record for the NYT sports section: both stories on the front page of Sports Monday this week were about language — language, televised sports, and gender; and language learning, baseball, and tv shows:

“Safest Bet in Sports: Men Complaining About a Female Announcer’s Voice” (on-line head) by Julie Dicaro.

“‘Friends,’ the Sitcom That’s Still a Hit in Major League Baseball” (on-line head) by James Wagner.

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Audio-lingual meatballs

December 18, 2014

From dinner at Reposado (‘quiet, restful’) — an upscale and elegant Mexican restaurant in Palo Alto — on the 14th, albondigas (‘meatballs’):

From the menu:

Pork and beef meatballs, root vegetable puree, tomato oregano sauce, demi glace, cotija cheese

Here, just the meatballs in a tomato sauce; but albondigas are most often served in a broth, as meatball soup.

Photo by Ned Deily, who ordered the dish in a bow to his high school Spanish class, which was taught resolutely by the audio-lingual method; students had to memorize and repeat dialogues, in particular one about albondigas that has stuck with him through all the years since.

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