In other news: No, it doesn’t. Ugh. I came across this post a while back and had saved it as a draft, hoping to get a chance to read it sooner. I thought it’d be about some new breakthrough, but no, it’s actually a reference to a decades-old therapy technique for patients with aphasia called Melodic Intonation Therapy, or MIT for short (see Marshal and Holtzapple, 1976).
People with aphasia almost always have damage to the left hemisphere of the brain, and as a result have problems with all aspects of language processing. The idea behind MIT is that music is processed in the spared right hemisphere. Therefore, the right hemisphere could pick up language functions by training speech set to rhythmic, music-based patterns.
The problem is, there is basically no evidence that MIT works. There have been only a handful of case studies that show any efficacy whatsoever, and any effect there was seen only on trained tasks (e.g., if the therapist trained the patient to say the phrase “How are you”, then the patient did a great job on that, but couldn’t generalize the technique to have a full-fledged conversation).
More disappointing, some of the recent studies that included brain imaging have shown that MIT does recruit the right hemisphere, at the expense of lowering the activation of the left hemisphere, thereby dampening the ability of the left hemisphere to do its job of processing language. The right hemisphere is a crappy language processor; it shouldn’t try to do the left hemisphere’s job, because it does it inefficiently and badly. By training the right hemisphere so much, and to the exclusion of the left, the result is an increase in inefficient right-hemisphere language. In other words, MIT actually impeded language learning. MIT might “rewire” the brain, but not in a way that will help you speak.
Speech-language pathologists have a duty to provide therapy that is evidence-based. MIT is not even remotely evidence-based. Seriously, no therapist should be using this, and it’s pretty shoddy reporting of the BBC to write it up like some miracle cure for people with brain damage.
If I could have one superpower, it would be the ability to melt into my surroundings. I’d be able to rearrange the empty spaces between the atoms that make up my body and shuffle them into the atoms that make up any other surface; the wall at the back of the bar, or the cushion of this armchair. If I closed my eyes and leaned back lightly, I’d just sink through. I’d be so good at melting that I’d be able to do it instantly. I could use it for eavesdropping or just for getting away. I’d hide in my alley and spy on the mystery-trysters. Or, I’d hide in my alley just to not walk all the way back to school.
On the way home from the Avery Sour Beer Fest afterparty, we couldn’t find any bad dance music on the radio. So Beth and I did the only thing we could think of to make up for the egregious lack. We closed the blinds, turned off the lights, and danced around our living room like lunatics for the past hour. Ke$ha kicked it off.
Then, when we got tired, we had some sleepytime tea.
CUE: An action or event that is a signal for somebody to do something.
QUEUE: A line of people, vehicles or other objects, in which one at the front end is dealt with first, the one behind is dealt with next, and so on, and which newcomers join at the opposite end
DISCREET: marked by prudence or modesty and wise self-restraint
DISCRETE: constituting a separate entity or part
Drives me crazy.
OMG-D ME TOO
AFFLICT: to distress someone with mental or bodily pain; trouble greatly or grievously.
EFFLICT: to bring about mental or bodily pain; to make effliction happen.
1. To supply an organ or muscle with nerves. 2. To stimulate (a nerve, muscle or body part) to action.
1. To weaken or destroy the strength or vitality of. 2. To remove a nerve or a part of a nerve.
This may only be a distinction that bothers people who have to know about nerves. But man, does it drive me crazy when a teacher has “enervate” on a slide when they mean “innervate”, as in “The cochlea is eneverated (sic) by Cranial Nerve VII.”
I really wanted these words to be somehow connected way-back etymologically. I was hoping they shared a common root, meaning something like “utter garbage” and that they had been twisted around by the Great Vowel Shift and Grimm’s Law-type sound changes.
But that’s not the case at all. And if I could ever remember what changes Grimm’s law and the Great Vowel Shift actually wrought, I could probably have figured it out. Oh well, a girl can always hope. And when hope runs out, the girl checks the OED.
Shit (in the sense of “cow excrement”) is an old word from either Middle Low German or Old Norse. There’s tokens of shit dated back as far as the year 1000 (also- that last sentence is ridiculous and I refuse to change it). I was surprised, however, to find shitty not attested until the mid 1970s. Shoddy meaning “cheap and dilapidated” goes back to the mid 19th century and originally referred to a crappy variety of wool, but the etymology is uncertain. The origin of shabby comes from Late German schabbig, meaning ”scabby”. Imagine my chagrin at discovering that scabby isn’t even related to scabies. Scabies is the older word (c. 1400), probably coming from the Old English word meaning “to shave or scrape”.
The bad news is: my lab fuck-up was as bad as I thought it might be. Maybe worse. The past 40 hours I’ve spent in the lab were for nothing, because every second that I was working I was doing the wrong thing. So I need to go back and redo it, all. Even though my advisor’s taking it pretty well, I’m sure she thinks I’m a complete nitwit and is kicking herself for agreeing to write a thesis with me.
The good news is: I do care about teaching my client to read. As shitty as my day/week/semester/year is shaping up- I can put that aside and focus on helping people with language. For the hour I was in clinic, I didn’t think about how terribly I’d fucked up my lab work, or how my dad is rapidly losing his mind, or how things are not going to work out with the boy I like. For that hour, I was on. I conscientiously applied the techniques I’ve learned about, and I was good at what I did.
It seems like Said the Gramophone’s year-end list always exposes me to a song that I would have otherwise missed, and that then becomes the soundtrack to my late December. This year, it’s been “Wild Heart.” I never knew I wanted to hear a cover of a bootleg Stevie Nicks song sung by someone who sounds like an even glummer-than-usual Stephin Merritt, but sometimes life surprises you. Something about this song’s sense of space, and its understated but intensely-focused longing, feels to me like what I like best about the xx.
“English speakers also tend to weaken or omit final coronal consonants, a process that linguists call t/d deletion: thus [lɛf] for left. Although t/d deletion is stigmatized, in fact all normal English speakers do it some of the time, at least in some contexts. As a result, fixed expressions that start out as participle+noun are sometimes re-analyzed so as to lose their -ed ending. This happened long ago to ice(d) cream, skim(med) milk, pop(ped) corn, wax(ed) paper, shave(d) ice, etc. It’s happened more recently (I think) to ice(d) tea, cream(ed) corn, and whip(ped) cream.”
Phonology- not really my favorite, but I have definitely noticed this trend. I know I say “can vegetables” and not “canned vegetables”, ”ice coffee” and not “iced coffee”. Who has time for those superfluous, unstressed sounds anyway? I say, drop ‘em.
I’ve noticed two other morphosyntactic trends. The first is replacing the past tense “have X-ed” (e.g., “have talked”) with “have X-en”. As in, “I haven’t talken to him in years.” This change is probably influenced by analogy with common past tense forms like “spoken”, “eaten” and “bitten”. I’ve noticed it in several verbs, most of which have final stop consonants like /t/ and /k/.
The other change I’ve noticed is a subsitution of the third-person singular form of “to be” (“is”) used with a plural nouns. Sometimes, it’s because the plural form of the word is sort of ambiguous. Scissors? Clothes? I think the scissors is on the table and that my clothes is dirty. (I’m sure there are people out there who would violently disagree with those usages, but it’s my language to, so there.) Other times, the noun isn’t ambiguous at all. For example, “tomatoes” - a straightforward, plural, countable noun. I have caught (caughten, even!) myself saying “Tomatoes is the last thing I’d want to eat”.
I probably should have just called the State troopers in advance
My dad came just flew in from New York to visit me in Boulder. He rolled in to my apartment complex at about 4am, several hours after his plane had touched down in Denver- and accompanied by the police. This is true.
My dad missed the exit that would have taken him directly to Boulder, thus sending him on an adventure in the snowy hinterlands between here and Fort Collins. He finally found some cow-track that led back Boulder-ways. After driving in the snow for a few hours, he did make it to Boulder, cruising around somewhat aimlessly around town because by this point the directions I had given him were completely irrelevant. At any point during this fiasco did my father try to call me on his cell phone? Don’t be ridiculous. At the intersection of Canyon and 36, my dad managed to hit a snow-covered median with his rental car. Fortunately, the cops who pulled him over asking how much he had drank this evening believed my dad when he told them that he was sober, and just lost. The nice police officers proceded to lead my dad to my apartment complex, where I had been on/off freaking out that my dad was dead in a snow-covered ditch. Was I far off? No. Was I in the least surprised by what really happened? No.
You know when they say “patently absurd”? Well that’s my family; we hold the goddamn patent on the ridiculously outlandish. It’s never simple: it’s always a snow storm on top of a rental car on top of a Saturday morning 9 am class on top of a pitcher of margaritas on top of a mariachi band on the downtown 1 train. It’s always weird, and miraculous, and bizarre and uncanny. And somehow, I just keep taking this all in stride, because this is the norm. When I stop to think about how strange my life always turns out to be, I wonder why I don’t write more run-on sentences.
So, this SPSS manual basically got me through my senior year alive. It’s amazing and full of cute cartoons to keep you going on those long, long nights of coding data. Since college, however, the only thing I’ve used it for is pressing tofu. Literally.
I’ve sold Lolo on the fact that the best way to eat tofu is to press out all the water first under a plate and a heavy book so that it absorbs whatever tasty goodness you cook it in.
Tonight, after dinner, I walked into the kitchen and this is what I saw. I guess Lolo has permanently resigned my SPSS book to a life in the kitchen. It was probably time to face reality anyway.
Ciliates nominated Life-form of International Mustache Month.
So ciliates (microorganisms covered in tiny hairs- mustaches, if you will) have crazy sex. This article is fascinating, and I think it must also be a hat tip to mustache month! There’s even a bad pun in the article.
"But things can get much hairier. Take ciliates — which get my vote for Life-form of The Month: February."
I actually have worked in an ESL classroom with (untraumatized) Somali refugees. The kids were highly verbal, having been taught English in the camp. Their writing needed a lot of work. So we had the kids draw pictures and narrate the stories and we would write the words for them. A lot of their pictures were things they remembered from the camp. I remember one picture a boy drew. I asked him to explain who the people by the house were. That was his family he said. That animal over there was a lion. Who was that person, standing outside the fence? He explained that that was one of the “dirty people”- a member of the indigenous tribe that had been displaced when their refugee camp was settled. Go figure. Racism and displacement, displacement and racism.
Ugh. This article is actually terrible. Not only is it inane drivel, but it’s also poorly fact-checked, from a language-learning perspective. The reporter links the “silent period” children go through when learning a second language to the trauma of living in a refugee camp. What he fails to note is that all children immersed in a second language go through this silent stage- refugees or not.
All children acquiring a second language go through predictable stages of learning. The first is a silent period, where the kid is observing and taking everything in. They don’t say much- because they don’t know how yet. Eventually they move on to imitating a word or two, usually words they’ve heard their peers say, regardless of whether they know the meaning of the words. Eventually the kids string words together meaningfully. And their vocabulary shoots up from there.
While being in a refugee camp certainly has the potential to be traumatic, there is no reason to link it to a kid’s silent period. If the kid was traumatized, they won’t be talking in their native language either, and they need psychological help: not ESL instruction.