Emma C.

Recent Posts

Verbified nouns: Engaging with cultural cliché[é?]s through language study

Posted by Emma C. on 1/20/17 4:13 PM


A Confounding Caption

While meandering through a shopping mall last week, waiting for my husband to emerge from the battlefield that is the men’s dressing room, I stumbled upon a most curiously named store. To avoid incurring undue amounts of commercial ire and for the sheer purpose of explaining the flurry of ensuing reflections, let’s simply say that the store was called Beautéé. The French-inclined portion of my brain immediately seized upon this title. Granted, part of the store’s name is a cognate that most English speakers would grasp without too much prodding or hinting. On a purely visual level, Beautéé is indeed very close to beauty – and therefore in the eye of the beholder after all! The central cluster of letters b-e-a-u that is common to both words provides a strong foothold for our divining minds to clamber between one conclusion and the next.

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Tags: language learning, ESL

The Benefits of Studying Another Language

Posted by Emma C. on 10/3/16 6:00 PM

Broadening Your Horizons

One of the biggest obstacles to foreign language learning, in my opinion, is a frustrating sort of double bind that many amateurs encounter. On the one hand, new students are encouraged to expose themselves to a healthy dose of that language’s culture (its customs, traditions, singularities, etc.) And as fugacious a task this may be — what is culture, anyways? — the only way that students can perceive another culture is via the filter of their own. In short, language learning is inevitably “colored” by one’s own experiences and by one’s one situatedness in their own linguistic frame; driving to the fabled “essence” of a different culture just isn’t possible. (Moreover, some would even go so far as to question how much of an “essence” any one culture may lay claim to.)  I would argue that the best way to circumvent this frustrating situation is to work within the concrete, defined set of boundaries and nuances that we can indeed begin to understand – that is to say, grammar! A solid comprehension of the purring cogs and wheels that regulate the innards of spoken language might not necessarily or even immediately help us know what makes that language’s culture “tick”. However, it does give us a firm launching point from which we are better able to realize, appreciate, and situate the various degrees of significance in those moments when rules are indeed eventually broken.

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Tags: French, ESL