Challenges to authoritarian states’ control of language can be so complex that they exceed the states’ ability to manage them all. Electronic expression of resistance and increasing embrace of non-Mandarin linguistic varieties reveal powerful linguistic insights in China, which are evident too in the so-called Umbrella Revolution that took Hong Kong by storm (hah!) in fall 2014.
While a controlling state wishes to limit expression, citizens creatively employ every possible communicative modality—music, video, images, Arabic numerals, puns, Chinese characters, Roman letters, foreign words, writing, speech, sound, vision—and choose among varieties of speech and writing at their own discretion. The resources they employ reveal limits to the officially enforced boundaries—linguistic and conceptual—of China.
Just the other day one of my undergraduate assistants reported a friend's boast that he had not read anything for school since fifth grade. A student at an excellent university, successful, "clever," "smart," he can write papers, take exams, participate in class or online discussions. Why would he have to read?
Students sometimes don't buy the class books. Professors are shocked.
Several years ago a student told me that she regarded all assigned reading as "recommended," even if the professors labeled it "required." Were professors so dumb that they didn't know that?
Read here or on Huffington Post:
I teach anthropology at Notre Dame. I have written a book about truth and deception. I have written a different book about college. As an anthropologist I am interested in not only what humans do but what we think about what we do. Humans are fascinating. I am glad to have a front-row seat to our species.
So I need to weigh in on the story of football player Manti Te’o and his fake dead girlfriend, as revealed last week by Deadspin.
But I can’t figure out what kind of story this is.
[Also on Huffington Post]