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Sasha's book review
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Cool Teacher



Joined: 18 May 2009
Posts: 887
Location: Here, There and Everywhere! :D

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stuff of Thouught by Steven Pinker.

Quite interesting but pretty difficult even for English teachers sometimes to understadnt all the different ways that we use verbs. Confused

Chaper 2 was very confusing but then it became more interesting later. In some ways this book is arguing against other theories from people like Jerry Fordor, Sapir Worf and Lakoff & Johnson. I think his main point is that we have concepts and categories in our minds that are permenent parts of human nature and universal. Our language is constructed around this, not the other way around as some of his critics think. Cool

Now I am reading Lakoff and Johnson's Metaphors we Live By.

Has anyone any opinion on the big argument that Pinker and Lakoff got into a few years ago? Shocked


Cool
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great book, and great choice for review here. Some passages are a little on the heavy side, but there is no harm in that. Good to stretch the head muscle from time to time.

Lakoff tiff? Not often worth getting involved in academics and their rows.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12294
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just discovered someone that I think is a poet for the ages: Naomi Shibad Nye.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/naomi-shihab-nye

Here's a sample

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.


Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems


Stunningly good

Regards,
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Foundation Pit - Andrei Platonov

Russia produces plenty of great writers, as is no secret. However, this chappie is on a different scale again. Even in translation, his books stand apart from anything else in terms of use of language, and in re-defining what writing is, what novels are. Yes, this one is gloomy and depressing. Yes, it is filled with obscure references to the language of Orthodox ritual and Soviet bureaucracy. But I predict that despite all this, he'll be remembered in the centuries to come as a major writer.

Ah, I won't give any descriptions of this particular book, except that it was banned, for obvious reasons, in the Motherland. Go and read it. And be amazed...
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1828

PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wilt by Tom Sharpe. I was thinking of being profound, but then I decided to go for something very English and, especially in the police interrogation of the eponymous hero, something that made me laugh out loud.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Death of David Debrizzi - Paul Micou

A passionate novel about classical music and musicians that will have tears rolling down your cheeks. Some great Russian pianist vignettes, some superb descriptive passages about musical passages that you will swear you can hear - even the entirely fictitious Death Spiral by the equally made up composer Chanat.

Witty, elegant, subtle, sumptuous, but most of all musical, prose makes this a firm favourite of mine.

That's it! I'll have to take a break from Hegel and read this one again!

http://www.amazon.com/Death-David-Debrizzi-Paul-Micou/dp/0593023625
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Winter Queen - Boris Akunin

The first installment of the Erast Fandorin detective novels, and it is a charming introduction to an addictive series. For anyone who loves Sherlock Holmes, these books are a rare treat. Full of humour and wit, as well as obvious nostalgia for a lost Russia. Great, crisp prose style that seems to have been very well translated by Andrew Bromfeld. An added benefit for teachers in Russia is following the action and chases along the streets of Moscow, after one has figured out what the Nineteenth century street name is today. Good exercise for one's historical as well as geographical senses.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quest for Kim: In Search of Kipling's Great Game - Peter Hopkirk

A two-for-oner for anyone who loves Kim and Peter Hopkirk's writings on the famous shadowy confrontation between Great Britain and Russia in Central Asia. The writer goes to India and Pakistan to see how much of the background to the novel he can find today. Part literary detective story and part travel book, satisfaction guaranteed.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Commissariat of the Enlightenment - Ken Kalfus

Every now and again, a book comes along that just blows everything else out of the water. And this is one such book. For its sheer ingenuity in weaving historical truth with wry commentary on today's media distortions, in provoking laughter from the darkest of material, in successfully using avant garde stream of consciousness prose to communicate concrete experiences, there is nothing else quite like this Russian novel, which isn't written by a Russian. All other dissidents pale by comparison.

Of course, for its provocative counter-revolutionary sentiment, it should be banned, and the Commissariat will be petitioning our Ministry of Culture to have all remaining copies seized and destroyed. A scene involving Lenin in his mausoleum, an architectural erection, and confessions from the Great Vozhd himself?! Scandalous! Almost as bad are the none too subtle religious metaphors running through the various plot lines, e.g. the pregnant peasant girl, supposedly immaculately impregnated by Count Tolstoy, who delivers a stillborn child which still manages to redeem the world, sort of. The worst offence is the dastardly suggestion that Stalin and his henchmen concocted Lenin's death for their own purposes, falsifying his medical records in the process. A stroke of the imagination, indeed!

No, no, no! We cannot have this sort of thing available on the shelves of ideologically sound booksellers. Pick up a copy whilst you can, if you can. At 88 rubles for a hardback edition, you might still find it the most costly purchase of your life if we pick you up with it in your possession...

http://www.amazon.com/Commissariat-Enlightenment-Novel-Ken-Kalfus/dp/0060501391
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Engineers of the Soul - Frank Westerman

A book which traces the history of canal building and the development of systems of irrigation in Russia wouldn't immediately set your imagination on fire. Yet this book, translated from the Dutch original, is incredibly interesting from the start. Starting off with the old claim that no state ever managed to construct massive navigation systems without being despotic, the author then goes on to analysis how Socialist Realist writers dealt with Soviet engineering projects as themes in their works. There are some fascinating passages about Gorky, Platonov, but the main theme revolves around a lesser known writer by the name of Konstantin Paustovsky.

The main aim of the book seems to be to show that Socialist Realist literature is in need of some re-assessment , and also to illustrate that the Soviet Union accepted that man did not live by bread alone, but needed Great Ideas to inspire the masses. Writers were the engineers of Soviet souls, so it is worth taking a closer look at the works they published if one wants to understand Soviet history.

http://www.amazon.com/Engineers-Soul-Grandiose-Propaganda-Stalin/dp/159020087X
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2594
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a new edition out of that ol' fave of mine, the Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar, BUT the new additional author (Bas Aarts), presumably called in to do his worst, has seen fit to remove the phonetics entries*, and in their place add doubtless a fair amount of syntactic stodge from the CamGEL and other modern-theoretical linguistics. Way to make a great book a lot less useful, Oxford! The late Sylvia Chalker may be less than pleased. I know I am! Evil or Very Mad Why oh why didn't they get him to mess up Matthews' Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics instead?! Twisted Evil
http://www.amazon.com/Dictionary-English-Grammar-Paperback-Reference/dp/0199658234/
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dictionary-English-Grammar-Paperback-Reference/dp/0199658234/
(Available now in the UK, but not quite yet in the US)

What I might do in the new year, if I have time, is type up the phonetics entries from the Chalker & Weiner edition and post them somewhere on Dave's, so that anyone who buys the new Aarts edition won't be missing out on useful info. In the meantime, there's always Peter Roach's A Little Encyclopaedia of Phonetics/English Phonetics and Phonology Glossary:
http://www.cambridge.org/servlet/file/EPP_PED_Glossary.pdf?ITEM_ENT_ID=2491706

*"Readers familiar with the first edition will notice that the entries on English phonetics have been removed. The reason for this is that it is very unusual for phonetics to be covered under the heading of 'grammar', and this terminology is best dealt with elsewhere." Rolling Eyes
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2594
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Noticed this messy sprawl of an article in the Guardian today (why do I get the feeling that e.g. Honey's Language is Power is a more informative read, especially regarding the shaping role of linguistics on language-educational debate, even though it comes to the opposite conclusion: that a standard has its uses, which should be taken advantage of):
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/dec/31/one-way-speak-english-standard-spoken-british-linguistics-chomsky

The writer, Harry Ritchie, has a book out (ah, that'd be why!), English for the Natives: Discover the Grammar You Don't Know You Know:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1848548370/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Trade review: 'A deft and highly entertaining guide to English grammar from the author of "The Last Pink Bits", "Friday Night Club" and "The Third Party". Taking a unique approach to grammar, this outlines the rules and structures of our language as they are taught to foreign students - and have never before been explained to us.'

The Amazon reviews are interesting, bit of a mixed bag but the following caught my eye:

"The rest of the book, 9 out of 11 chapters, is an excellent English grammar, but not for native-speakers. As the book's own sub-title says, it's the grammar that English-speakers already know, but don't know they know. They don't need to be taught it, either at school or in Mr Ritchie's book, however interesting it may be for geeks like me to have it all set out in print. For foreigners, on the other hand, this could be a superb English primer."
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Cool Teacher



Joined: 18 May 2009
Posts: 887
Location: Here, There and Everywhere! :D

PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finished a book called Language the Cultural Tool by Daniel Everete. Very Happy

It is supringingly good actually because he started as a missionary and a believer in Chomsky and then went to the jungle and met a tribe called Piraha who took away his belief in Jesus and Chomsky. Surprised

He says that language is a cultural tool and believes there is no univeral grammar. Wink

Try it. You might like it! Very Happy
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution - Mary Gabriel

The entire Politburo is in ecstasies having read this beautiful and noble account of the great man. It fills a fairly obvious gap in most English language accounts of Marx - his family life and the support the women of his household gave him in his world-shattering labours. Based on their letters spanning most of their lives this book gives readers a rare and intimate glimpse of a man who was a loving husband and father, as well as the leading intellectual force of nature of his age.

Above all this book shows again and again how it was love, Love, for mankind, the toiling masses and peasants that drove Marx to DO something that would lead to an end of the utter misery and daily slavery that was the allotted role for anyone unlucky enough not to be born into privilege.

The tragedy of his own life and family is enough to move all but the hardest of hearts. Yet, looking back on all his efforts have since done to make real progress for the common man, one can only weakly offer up gratitude to him, his family, and also to the authoress who tells the story so well and so elegantly.

Bravo! A true modern classic!
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Capital-Jenny-Birth-Revolution-ebook/dp/B004QZ9PNS
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