What could be prettier

J.D.Salinger died yesterday.

“I’m not afraid to compete. It’s just the opposite. Don’t you see that? I’m afraid I will compete that’s what scares me. That’s why I quit the Theater Department. Just because I’m so horribly conditioned to accept everybody else’s values, and just because I like applause and people to rave about me, doesn’t make it right. I’m ashamed of it. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody. I’m sick of myself and everybody else that wants to make some kind of a splash.”

– Franny, in Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger (1957)

Towards the end, as Franny and Zooey talk things through, Zooey tells her the only thing that counts is detachment. He says, the only thing you can do for God is to act. And he says: What could be prettier?

Not beautiful, pretty. Human-sized, Humanistic. Will do my best to be pretty today. And make this weekend, meeting family, a pretty one, too.

MadTV’s Apple iPad

A: Lindsay! Great job in the sales meeting! – Hey, do you have a pad I can borrow?
B: Sure! Here you go!
A: No, you know, the ‘other’ kind of pad.
B: I can’t believe you still use maxipads.
A: I know, I just… I have a narrow cervix, so it’s painful for me to use tampons…
B: No no no, I meant, why use a maxi pad if there’s the new iPad from Apple?
A: iPad?
B: With the new iPad I just hook up my Apple to my peach. And I can download protection for up to a thousand periods!
A: I like that!
B: And with wireless bluetooth technology, iPad sets you up for fast uploading without all that water bloating.
A: Oh, wow! That’s great! But what if my computer has a virus?
B: Don’t worry. Each iPad comes pre-installed with vaginal firewall protection.

The new iPad. Please don’t make us explain how it works.


Earth to Steve, could it be that only creative, artsy graphic designer types immediately associate sketchpad?

PS: The real iPad presented by Phil Schiller (Senior Vice President Worldwide Product Marketing) and Jony Ive (Senior Vice President Design)

Hard Times Come Again No More

George Clooney’s telethon to raise money for Haiti assembled top pop, and you can donate a little money by buying the record. I did, though I don’t like pop. Many of the songs are sung with such pathos that you get the impression that everyone on Haiti is dead. So we’re walking a fine line here. Wyclef Jean, who’s been down in Haiti helping and is heavily involved in fundraising, said “Alright, enough of the moping!” and got down on “By the Rivers of Babylon.”

Mary J. Blige did a fine soul rendition of Stephen Foster’s song “Hard Times Come Again No More,” written during the Civil War in 1854. Though from a supremely racist time, when minstrel singers were performing in blackface, many of Foster’s songs crossed racial lines. Not too long ago, in 2004, Stax legend Mavis Staples contributed to a beautiful album of his songs.  And finally, I’m posting a classic interpretation by Kate and Anna McGarrigle and friends, which is probably very much how it was sung back in Foster’s day.

Mary J. Blige

Mavis Staples

Kate and Anna McGarrigle and friends

Let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh Hard times come again no more.

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh hard times come again no more.

There’s a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o’er:
Though her voice would be merry, ’tis sighing all the day,
Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more.

song of the week  🙂 englisch lernen mit liedern

The iThing

I broke my vow not to hang out on Twitter. Well, I had a fun conversation about the iTablet iThing Apple is unveiling today, asking what people thought it should be called. I thought iPad would work. Andy H thought they should go with iLash, or iShadow, iBrow, or iDrofoil. The iDrofoil? a waterproof version? No, said Ken W: “surely waterproof version is iWash, isn’t it? Maybe Apple will produce s’thing really ugly for a change & call it iSore.” Not a chance. Andy: “Or the iChing (or given the amount of money that company makes, the iKerching)” and “Or given the enthusiasm/fundamentalism that many users show, the iDolatry would seem most fitting”. True. Debbie C said iWant, Petra P mentioned iCandy and I thought iBuy now, iPay later, maybe. Aimee R said iPad made her think of PMS. Meanwhile Phil H was busily adding little “i”s in front of every word. And I was finishing the most depressing exercise I’ve ever written. Thank heaven we have Twitter.

Jean-Paul Nerrier’s Globish

This is a comment on a great post by The Tesla Coil on the Graddolization of EFL. David Graddol honored MELTA with a visit last summer. Thanks, Tony Watt for the Globish link:

Only 4% of the people communicating with each other today in English are both/ all native speakers. Jean-Paul Nerrier wants to “make it more comfortable for people to talk to each other all over the world.”  He’s redefined the core elements of English, breaking it down to 1500 words, with simple structures, no idioms, no jokes. Out of respect to “real” English he calls this language Globish, and has courses to go with it. His pitch:

Now, I’ve been training business people here in Germany for 12 or so years now, and must say: He has a very good point. Most of the people I teach do business in English in teams and business contexts where most members are non-native speakers. As soon as even one person can’t speak German, talk switches to English. I’m amazed at how good-natured everyone is about it. Some companies are offering DAF (German as a foreign language) courses, but it takes foreigners longer to learn the language, especially when their spouse is not German, than for the rest of the company (!) to brush up their English.

Some sort of Globish is clearly the type of English they need to handle most back office work or the occasional from-the-airport-to-the-meeting business trip, which is perhaps 95% of the English-speaking situations my students will be in. All they can afford to reach in English is lower intermediate: Basic functional language is just one of the skills they need.

But there are two little problems with this:

First of all, while my learners want to work on producing language themselves, which is great, they’re lousy at understanding other non-native speakers speaking another brand of English. How many people are speaking the same lower-intermediate interlingua today? Have any of you compared lower intermediate Business English books being used in, say, China or Saudi Arabia with those being used in Germany or Greece? Have you taught using them? Are the interlinguas at all connected to the teaching, and how do they compare?

The second is the lure of the real world. Anglophile kids. Movies. Music. Social networking. Trips. It’s there, that curiosity to actually understand the sexy sides of real English. I always manage to sneak them into my courses. Most of that exploration won’t happen on the company bill. But, hey, what did God make the internet for?

Learning English? How do you feel about the concept of Globish?

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