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We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

Posted by momj47 7A..was 6B (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 8:05

Interesting graphic, the linguistic standard of the State of the Union speeches through history.

I'd like to see how British Prime Ministers come out, too.

No one uses big words any more.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reading level of SOTU speech


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

Don't mean nuttin...


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

It probably means that contemporary presidents use more Anglo-saxon words and the newspaper style of short declarative sentences (like Hemingway, for instance) whereas in earlier centuries, because the study of Latin was a standard part of any educated person's curriculum, presidents used more latinate vocabularies and complex sentence construction.

Notice how my vocabulary and sentence types became more latinate (and wordy) in the last half of that sentence--when I referred to previous centuries' practices?

Kate : )


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Sounds bytes! I wish I could read the article, but my the paper won't let me read it without a different browser.

Sad, how language has taken a back seat to time, isn't it? I love to listen to Europeans and Asians (the groups with which I interact on a daily basis). They speak so beautifully. They could describe toiletry habits in a way that is enthralling. Why language has gone the way of gentile clothing is beyond my understanding. Language, not the dressing habits. Those, I understand perfectly. Too much is lax these days. heavy sigh.

Akin to that is: I can't see that writing in cryptic text language is easier. It is certainly more difficult to read the meaning into what is typed.

C U L*8R!

cul8r? Yep, that's how my mind reads it. I can skip over typos and never notice them, but leave out too many letters and my mind just locks up. I didn't think I was all that old, but my mind isn't keeping up with the times, so maybe I am!


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

You talkin ta ME?


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

Isn't the average newspaper written at or around a 6th grade level? I would assume that was done to compensate for those who didn't attend the latter years of schooling at one time.

But now that it's mandatory to complete school up to the age of 16, when one would be a Sophomore in High School... at which time one can drop out with the approval and signature of a parent... one would think that larger words would be more easily understood.

However, larger words are not conducive to fast texting and other forms of hastily typed technological communication, I say with sarcasm. It's a shame that larger words aren't used more often. Dictionaries seem relegated to history...

I would think Kate is correct... most schools don't even offer Latin as an elective anymore, let alone make students take the class as a normal part of education.


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

I beg to differ. My son is taking Latin and his school was undefeated in the Certamen a couple of weeks ago. They still teach it and teach it well. Along with several other non-English languages in the scholastically pathetic South.


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I beg to differ. My son is taking Latin and his school was undefeated in the Certamen a couple of weeks ago.

One school is not "most schools". I doubt there are ten schools within a 50 mile radius around here offering Latin.


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

Try to stay on the original topic Wx. Isn't that what you say? You following me around is getting absolutely creepy. Try to focus on the topic.

Really? I didn't know they "aren't teaching Latin any more". Huh? Maybe just in some areas they aren't/are? Or does it have be taught in every area for it to be "taught in schools". How many before it is "taught" or "not taught"? I am just not certain where the line is. If an area as depressed and uneducated as we are has it, then I would wager that it's available many other places. My point, it sounded an awful lot like opinions and not facts. Further, I'd like to know how many people on this board have children in today's schools? Is their opinion not anecdotal? Because it sounded that way.

The pendulum is certainly swinging back. In many areas. For instance, my son wears a suit to school every day. It's a public school in the inner city. Why? His choice. I've never once even considered it. Why does he? Because the other kids do too. Why? They don't want to look like thugs in training. Their words. How many people on this board spend time in and around these kids on an ongoing basis? Or do we have to say, "if you don't supply a link, the thought is invalid". It sounded like an opinion and I gave an opposite opinion. You do realize they weren't being any more "factual" than I, don't you?

But of course, you would object to me (your focus is creepy!!!). Did you question anyone else (even if just in your mind or give my opinion any credibility) before you harped on me?

How about you-do you have kids in school? Did you? Do/did your kids have it available to them? It's not a requirement. It wasn't a requirement when I took it, not that long ago either. It's not gone, it's just that it is not mandated. If that's what anyone means, then say it's not mandatory, not it isn't being taught, because that isn't even true.

This post was edited by rob333 on Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 10:42


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Try to stay on the original topic Wx. Isn't that what you say? You following me around is getting absolutely creepy. Try to focus on the topic.

I responded to you and your weak anecdotal argument. Your weak anecdotal argument became the topic. That is: the topic diverged to your weak anecdotal argument. So I replied to the new topic, which was a weak anecdotal argument.

And here you are continuing with an anecdotal argument. Which is in stark contrast to the correct point jodik made. But thank you ever sooooo much for sharing your atypical experience, which serves to illustrate the validity of the arguments made above that Latin is rarely taught any more in the USA.


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The news commentators/translators/shamans from your favorite ideological news source will tell us what they were alluding to & what they were attempting to obfuscate. or better what it means according to their particular link with gawd!

This post was edited by labrea on Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 12:14


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

I don't get it.


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And you continue to stay off topic. How original of you! No, thank you so much for being true to yourself and showing your colors further. Showing your colors, get it? Next post to me will be in red. I would highly suggest you don't tell anyone else to stay on topic or to "asnwer your questions" which you bold and then make red type-Mr Pot calling the Kettle... ever again. Or keep doing it. It's fine we can all see it.

My point is quite valid that it is not mandatory for it to be taught. And that is likely what they meant. And it's equally valid that it is still taught. It'd be impossible to have Latin quiz bowls with only one school participating. I'd wager all the schools in Middle Tennessee (that's much farther than a 50 mile radius!) teach it. And if a place as "backwards" as this has it (as poeple are wont to point out), I'd wager that most places have it. Prove to me they don't. Show me your link! see? your languageBecause I tried to find out if it was true, and I can find nothing. I'll go look some more. Just like I did yesterday when I offered to give a balanced point of view outside of mine and Kate's on a previous thread. I'm willing to learn, and even appreciate a different point of view. But I won't assimilate someone else's opinion as my own.


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Finally! I can see the link. I think it is highly interesting that the order of reading level of the Presidents matches, is from modern day to earlier times. That means, that even the Presidents are less educated than before. Wow!


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momj47, a boss and mentor once told me, "If your workers speak Hindi, you'd better learn some Hindi yourself!"
Many years later, I was to learn about 'breaking down a communication in form and content" and 'pitching at the right level' in order to make a communication effective.
For example: "Inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination"- Benjamin Disraeli - might today sound something like this:
"A big show-off who thinks a lot of himself"
There is a story of a learned scientist who delivered a scintillating lecture to a graduating class.
Afterwards one student remarked that the "talk went a little above our heads". To which the scientist replied, "I aimed my talk at where I think your heads should be."
So is the decline of the reading level of the SOTU a reflection of the speaker? Or listener?


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

The assertion was:

I would think Kate is correct... most schools don't even offer Latin as an elective anymore, let alone make students take the class as a normal part of education.

You wrote:

I beg to differ

and gave a weak anecdote as refutation. All I did was point out your faulty rhetoric, and now you are busy arm-waving and dissembling to distract away from the flawed argument.

Nevertheless,

I'd wager that most places have it. Prove to me they don't. Show me your link! [emphasis added]

Outstanding! What is your wager? And what is adequate evidence for you?


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So you can't show me your assertion is true? Now that is very weak. OUTSTANDING!!!! lots of emphasis added because it is fun. Am I getting it right now? Am I speaking your language? But good for you, you left off the red. Congrats! You should go celebrate. And that you're staying off topic and not answering my questions, how adroit of you. Do you want me to define adroit?

Great arm waving. You're very entertaining. Exceedingly Creepy, but entertaining.


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

That means, that even the Presidents are less educated than before. Wow!

*chuckle*

I hardly think a Rhodes Scholar and a president of the Harvard Law Review means the POTUS less educated than before. Gee Dubya notwithstanding.

After that display, pleasepleaseplease name your wager on the Latin question. Please. And hurry.


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So you can't show me your assertion is true? Now that is very weak.

You said you'd wager.

What is your wager, and what is an acceptable site for verification?


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I can recall when the high school I went to DID offer Latin... I was a Freshman. By the time I became a Sophomore, they had taken Latin off the board as an elective and made our Foreign Languages Department smaller. Budget cuts and disinterest, I would imagine, were the culprits.

In our area, most schools do not offer Latin as an elective. Some private schools might... but not the public schools.


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Wx, now I know you haven't read the link. Your answer is very obviously uninformed. Each President does have a decreasing reading level when compared to past Presidents. I would never say they're uneducated in any way. Not even rudely about Presidents for whom I haven't voted. You're seriously offbase or you just didn't slow down enough to actually click on the link and read. Did you read it?

Oh wait, I better let my breath out before I pass out. You'll never answer one of my questions. Too bad. You're the one missing out.


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Each President does have a decreasing reading level when compared to past Presidents.

That's not what the link said.

---------------------------------------------

Rob, you wrote:

I'd wager that most places have it.

What is your wager? And what serves as adequate evidence?


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

It's hard to follow this thread when it's mostly a back and forth between two posters.


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Amen Pidge!

The National Junior Classical League is alive and well. Most states had an least one member (Alaska and Idaho had none) for the ones I checked. And most states had several chapters. I am still tryign to find where Latin has become obsolte. I've tried Google Scholar. Google, etc. I can't find anything that says it. I do want to know if Latin has gone bye-bye, but I sure don't see it. JCL is the operation that can be joined for Latin events. It's not a requirement. I assume there schools that teach Latin without joining. But it's what we had in my public school and my son has in public school. It's probably a good place to begin feel around a bit. Sure can't find articles on it!

That said, I seriously doubt the reading level of Presidents is solely based on Latin. Wonder what else contributes to the difference in reading levels?

Here is a link that might be useful: National Junior Classical League chapters


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Rob, you wrote:

I'd wager that most places have it.

What is your wager? And what serves as adequate evidence?


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

I think most of the posters missed one of my points. I referred to the Hemingway style of modern times vs the Latinate style of previous centuries.

Let me elaborate on two sub-points:
1. The Hemingway style is NOT considered a dumbed-down style for those with poor reading skills. It is considered MODERN (as opposed to old-fashioned) and Hemingway is considered a GREAT MODERN STYLIST. Students take classes in how to write well in the Hemingway style. Creative writing students are urged to give up the old-fashioned flourishes (and wordiness) of the old-fashioned Latinate style. In fact, many consider Hemingway's style (anglo-saxon vocabulary; simple direct sentences--among other things) to be one of the GREATEST STYLISTS OF THE 20TH CENTURY.

I was trying to point out that the modern style is not inferior, but just different--and that there are good reasons why it appeals so strongly to our modern eras.

And by the way--Hemingway was a journalist before he became one of the most famous writers of the 20th century--famed especially for his very modern "Hemingway style."

2. From the Middle Ages through the 18th Century (and well into the 19th Century, for that matter), in the English and American traditions, ALL education (for boys that is) was conducted in Latin. You learned Latin and you learned IN Latin. Latin was the language of educated people. Anglo-Saxon English was the everyday language of the commonfolks--who, of course, were never given an education because they had no need to read and write in Latin. Anglo-Saxon in that that snobbish world of class difference and superiority was considered vulgar and low-class.

Today's education is NOT conducted in Latin. By older standards, we are educated only in vulgar, lower-class Anglo-Saxon English--that is, if you are a snob and believe in upper class superiority, aristocrats being superior to the masses, those with titles being born naturally better than the average person out there, etc.

Clue: America gave up that kind of thinking, recognizing that it was a lot of humbug. During the 19th Century, a slow transition occurred. Our founding fathers (18th Century) all had Latinate educations, but they recognized the need to educate all American citizens and to give them an education they could use put to use to earn a living and contribute meaningful NEW IDEAS to the outmoded old-fashioned notions of class snobbery and useless knowledge. At first America still retained the Latinate education for the upper classes who went to private schools open only to upper-class boys. But as the idea of universal education caught on and girls and the middle and lower classes started eating up this idea of an education, Latin studies (learning Latin AND learning IN Latin) began disappearing. By the 20th Century, you could still probably take a couple classes to learn Latin (Latin 1 and Latin 2), but learning was no longer conducted IN Latin. In fact, if anyone took the Latin 1 and Latin 2 classes, they were probably Catholic (Masses were in Latin back then). Protestants therefore tended to avoid such classes.

By World War II, most Latin classes had disappeared from the public schools although it was often still taught in Catholic private schools, but then Mass went English--so Latin fell even more out of favor. So while there are a few schools out there that offer Latin along with other foreign languages, most schools do not offer Latin classes. And they certainly no long teach IN Latin.

All of which takes us back to my point #1: Anglo-Saxon is the MODERN form of English; Latin is the old-fashioned language of primarily Catholics and, in certain quarters, those still caught up in misplaced theories about the superior genes of upper class people, especially if they have titles (called snobbery by vulgar Anglo-Saxons).

And now my overall point:
While I find playing with the Latinate style really fun at times, misused or overdone, the Latinate style can put us all to sleep in 10 minutes (sounded nice but I don't remember a thing he said). Overdone, it can sound very pretentious and conceited and thus be very alienating. But in the hands of an expert, it can soar to unbelievable heights. Read your Shakespeare (he studied IN Latin).

The Hemingway Style, well done, is a breathe of fresh air. It's solid and concrete--something you can get hold of and wrestle with. It's "real"--not some airy nothing full of hot air and drifting off into the ether. The Hemingway style is what it means to be MODERN instead of out-of-date. It is the language of modern poetry and other great stylists of the 20th Century. Misused, of course, it sounds like someone reading the telephone book.

Actually, it's like left and right hands. You may prefer using your right hand (or whichever), but it sure is nice to have that other hand around for when it is needed, isn't it.

Or compare it to an 17th century sonata and a contemporary piece of hot jazz. Very different sounds, but both wonderful in their own distinctly separate ways. But I suspect most audiences today would prefer the MODERN type of music and would not consider it an inferior musical form--just a DIFFERENT form.

In other words, I question the whole premise of the article on State of the Union speeches.

Kate

P.S. The poster who thinks I just post passing opinions that don't mean anything--do you still think I have no idea what I'm talking about?


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I don't have time to read this whole thread, but I had Latin for two years, my kids were not offered it ,but my grandson is, although he is taking four years of French, so he can go to France next year with the class. He just returned from an AP French class trip to Quebec . We may be getting dumber as a country, but his 9th grade AP classes are harder than my college ones.


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Dublin, I enjoyed reading your post. I questioned the premise too, and you explain why very well. Especially because presidents like Obama and Clinton, and even GWB are very well educated!


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momj47, latin is not all it's cracked up to be. I obtained a GCE certificate in the subject and the only practical use for me is that it helps with binomial nomenclature - the scientific classification and naming of plants.
Whenever I go to Miami, I wish that I had taken Spanish instead of Latin.
But that was not an option in the so-called classical curriculum in which I was enrolled.
But I am very appreciative of the fine education which I obtained as a subject of the British, in one of its colonies.


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There was and is a good reason for Latin to be taught in our schools even if standards are falling in many areas. Latin was the basis for many of our modern languages until technical(mechanical and electronic) language started to become the standard. It is still essential in the sciences.

Since this site is based on the science of botany I suggest that it is still taught somewhere or we would have a heck of a time identifying very specific plants. The same is true in other forms of science.

The need for Latin still exists if you choose to succeed in the sciences and it is still a good foundation for the study of many languages. I have seen several recent Collage and University catalogs that offer remedial courses in Latin as well as advanced courses. One advantage of Latin is that it stays the same over time. What you read 50 years ago means the same thing as it does today rather than drifting the way our modern languages drift.

When I was in High School two years of Latin, French or Spanish were necessary if you wanted to go to College. I hear that is not a requirement anymore. It must be frustrating to those who go into the sciences.


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Very interesting post, Kate... thanks!

I find it sort of ambiguous to take college degrees or college attended to mean that person is automatically educated. I've known people with more than one degree that obviously earned them by the skin of their teeth and didn't retain much of it, and others without college educations that were extremely intellectual and well educated. Just because a person holds a college degree is no reason to assume they are well educated or knowledgeable.

I never attended college, and I know I write at least at a college level, when I try. A message board doesn't count, of course... as the idea is to get a point across so everyone can understand.

I would not say that our Presidents are getting dumber... as Kate shows, they're more than likely educated in a more modern fashion, as opposed to the old fashioned Latinate style.

Consider who they have to speak to in their speeches. We are a nation of both educated and UN-educated people. A President has to reach all the people with his words... much in the same way a newspaper has to reach as many readers as possible.

What I see lacking in today's population is more the ability to use common sense, to problem solve, to think critically or outside the box...


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"The news commentators/translators/shamans from your favorite ideological news source will tell us what they were alluding to & what they were attempting to obfuscate. or better what it means according to their particular link with gawd!"

mmmm, wouldn't they be interpreters as opposed to translators?


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It certainly would have an effect that in the past the address was meant for and presented to congress while today it has become a presentation to the nation-that would account for a simplification. There is also the issue of who writes the thing-do presidents usually write their own speeches any more?

I will agree that people are becoming less educated and as a case in point I am going to use this opportunity for a desperate plea for the word incredulous which for some strange and toxic reason has started to be used in the place of incredible. It hurts my heart to see this and I wish people would stop it.


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Actually, Sleepless that my son wants to be in the world of science is why he takes Latin. I just thought it'd be a good basis for all understanding of languages. Which it is. I can decipher many languages I read because of it, French, Spanish, Italian, German... If it gets too detailed, I just find someone in the adjoining office who is French Canadian, Italian, or German. Rudimentary is enough to get by. I wish my son's school taught Greek. That could also really help in the research world. They still require 2 years of a foreign language here before allowing one to graduate high school. So maybe it's not too bad,hopefully.

For the record, I think many of us, some more than others, give quite an educated opinion. I mean it like one would consider analyzing the outcomes of experiments. Usually there are several factors and we each have to personally decide what is noise, what is a concommitant factor, and what is merely fact. You are in the group of well spoken Kate, even when we disagree. Matter of fact, most people here voice opinions in the way that is well established. Love to see it! and I am absolutely willing to learn. Thank you for giving your thoughts.

Jodik, that's kind of what I was asking--since you're more intuitive about these sorts of things--I wonder how you think they could've analyzed it differently. This part:
"I would not say that our Presidents are getting dumber... as Kate shows, they're more than likely educated in a more modern fashion, as opposed to the old fashioned Latinate style." That is, what do you think the study should have measured?


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Rob, you wrote:

I'd wager that most places have it.

What is your wager? And what serves as adequate evidence?


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You might want to give it up Wx; most folks probably understand that Rob's comment was a common expression (although, one that is a pet peeve of mine) rather than a real desire to wager


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The study tracks the reading level given to each speech... but the article is titled to make us think that our Presidents are getting dumber, or our population is getting dumber. At least, that's the first thing that comes to mind.

It would be more interesting, I think, to see how language and writing style has changed over the decades, from a more old fashioned Latinate style to a more modern style reflecting how things do change, and perhaps how long these changes take, and what specifically changes... and to have the article titled to accurately reflect what the study is about.

My personal opinion is... I think a lot of studies done are dumb and a waste of money and time for people who call themselves professionals. Our planet has many, much more pressing matters that need study and solutions,


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Thanks Jodi! More pressing matters-you can say that again. I think if I were to look at past behaviors, I'd certainly be broader than one speech. I realize that'd be easier with FDR and Reagan than for Monroe and Coolidge, but I think it could still be effective enough. You're likely right about the audience being a weightier factor than the speech. And too, the ways in which we hear the speech, the types of media, have changed so much, the audience is so much more vast than ever before. So yes, they likely tailor what they say to include everyone. I see the graph much more differently now, more encompassing.


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You might want to give it up Wx; most folks probably understand that Rob's comment was a common expression (although, one that is a pet peeve of mine) rather than a real desire to wager

Right.

The obvious little games and especially So you can't show me your assertion is true? Now that is very weak. make it worth pointing out that he can't back his claim and is making up stuff because of it. Lots of down time today so looking for fun in wagering!


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I think they have to tailor speeches thus, to reach and connect with as many voters as possible, knowing that many of them won't understand a speech written above heads, so to speak.

Looking back, there was a time when only the rich and educated could vote, so those speeches would be tailored toward that end.


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Now that makes total sense. Thank you for taking the time.

It doesn't matter to me if you've been to university or not (an assertion you made earlier), you're smarter than most everyone, both here and in the non-cyber world.

This post was edited by rob333 on Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 15:31


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So, Rob, you are backing off your claim that most places have it, is that what we take away from this latest little lashing out behavior?


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Jodi, we are also in the age of soundbyte media and 30-second commercials.


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I wonder what any language will look like or sound like in say 10 years.

After texting and tweeting and abreviations and less one on one of personal communicating will people grunt at each other or just point to your phone for you to read a text.

I think this might be another dumbing down in languages.


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"It certainly would have an effect that in the past the address was meant for and presented to congress while today it has become a presentation to the nation-that would account for a simplification."

That is what I was thinking Patriciae, so I looked at James Madison's Address in 1815 that has the record of 25.3. He begins his address with:

"Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:"

These days, the president opens with "My fellow Americans", or something similar. Maybe part of the difference can be explained by who the president is addressing. It would make sense to dumb it down when you are addressing all Americans, not just Congress.

Here is a link that might be useful: 1815 S of the U


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Our high school currently does not teach Latin; however it seems to be regaining popularity. Link below.

@WX: "...you're smarter than most everyone, both here and in the non-cyber world."

Sure she is; just ask her ;D

Here is a link that might be useful: Latin Returns from the Dead


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"I'd wager all the schools in Middle Tennessee (that's much farther than a 50 mile radius!) teach it"

I would pretty much guarantee that statement is not true. The large schools may, but the small schools would not.


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Thanks very much for the nice compliment, Robin... it's greatly appreciated. :-)

"Jodi, we are also in the age of soundbyte media and 30-second commercials."

Well, you can either be drawn in by it, or see it for what it is. Media is one of our greatest enemies today, in a manner of speaking... and in my opinion. And while fast, global communication is a great boon to society, we have to realize who controls it corporately speaking, and use it to our own best advantage.


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momj47, one poster laments the indiscriminate use of 'incredulous' for 'incredible'.
I flinch at the mental image of "the book is laying on the table".
I have given up on " the principle was walking the school grounds".
"The relative pronoun refers to the antecedent nearest to it", is a rule of grammar that is ignored by even radio and TV broadcasters. It is ironic that they (especially the BBC) were the standard bearers of grammar and style when I went to school.
Who won the gold medal in this example?
The sprinter is the son of my sister who won the gold medal.


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interesting..i just pulled up our local hs and they do offer 4 languages...french, spanish, japanese, and german(?)


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Yeah,in the midwest, Spanish, French, & Germain have always been pretty standard. Japanese surprises me.

My Chicago HS offered Spanish, French, German, Latin, Russian, Chinese, Polish, and there might have been something else. Chicago public schools used to be very good schools. (sigh)

When I worked for the D.A. here, the witness statements from juveniles were amazing. These kids couldn't put together simple sentences, and forget about spelling. Their first (and only) language, English, was enough of a challenge.

I don't know if the problem is the teachers or the parents.


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Latin seems to be fairly standard here Frank, but who cares anymore? This is missing the point and belaboring the problem with this thread. Kate has already explained that wasn't what she meant.

I would like to point out, that I thought about this last night. And what I decided was, it's also very likely (this is an opinion!!! based on an observation from when I was looking into working for the FBI years ago (remember my schooling is law/CJA)): languages being taught are likely the ones being used in real world applications. For example, one is more marketable (all anyone wants from school these days. Too bad! there is so much more that can be learned) if they can speak Mandarain or Farsi, not Latin. I would not be the least bit surprised if we didn't start seeing Farsi take a huge leap in numbers of schools teaching it.

From their website: "The following is a list of language skills that are currently deemed critical by the FBI: Arabic, Chinese - all dialects, Farsi, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Pashtu, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Urdu, and Vietnamese."

Here is a link that might be useful: FBI-foreign languages proficiency


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

If we are just talking about learning a foreign language, there are still a number of college majors that require or highly recommend a couple years of one, sometimes even 2 foreign languages. Anyone getting a degree in "global" whatever (a number of choices nowadays) is at least strongly urged to also take a foreign language, and in places like Texas ( and other states with large numbers of hispanic residents), knowledge of Spanish will give you a definite edge over anyone else applying for that job, and it might even be required in some cases.

Elvis is right--midwest still retains a preference for German (and French in some cases), but Spanish would often be an additional choice nowadays.

On the whole, however, I think it is safe to say that the study of any foreign language is not very popular in the U.S. Being rather self-centered nationally, we'd prefer everybody else learn English and save us the bother of having to learn their languages.

Too bad--there are some excellent job opportunities out there for someone who also has some foreign language skills.

For the record, I had to take 2 years of French and German as part of my studies, but I don't remember much anymore--been too long since I used either. But I don't regret having studied them since the study of any foreign language helps one understand the grammar and structure of one's native language better (sometimes by contrast), plus is often very helpful in building up one's vocabulary.

Plus one tends not to have the famous U.S.ian bias against learning anyone else's language that too many Americans exhibit.

Kate


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

"...languages being taught are likely the ones being used in real world applications."

To my knowledge, this is not true of most foreign languages taught at the high school level. I couldn't say whether this was true of college level foreign language, though. It seems that most foreign language is taught in the "formal" sense, and isn't quite what most people would speak "on the street", or with regard to slang or relaxed speech.

I clearly recall, when I was taking Spanish in high school, our teacher informing us that what we were learning was formal Spanish, and in conversing with friends who spoke Spanish as a first language, that's what they said, as well.

My son took Spanish classes through high school and all the way through college, knowing that his chosen profession would require it, or certainly benefit from the knowledge, and he said much the same thing... there's some adjustment from classroom to reality.

It follows that most languages taught would be similar in fashion... more formal in the classroom.

Today, I don't remember much of the two foreign languages I learned... I didn't study either for very long. Rosetta Stone is supposedly a rather quick way to learn any language one might need... even Latin, I believe.


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

"'formal' sense, and isn't quite what most people would speak 'on the street', or with regard to slang or relaxed speech."

Amen sista! If you really want to know how to speak it, immersion is absolutely bar-none the best. I remember Latin well enough, but the French? Only when I read it. Hearing it is a whole nuther story. Ex lived in Germany. To the point of there were colloquialisms he knew in German quite well, but couldn't translate into English for me. Remember any of it now? Not on his life. What is really easy for me? If person I know (whose name shall not be uttered here), starts speaking Czech, run for my life! They're mad.

This post was edited by rob333 on Fri, Feb 15, 13 at 11:59


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

Rob FYI The Latin used in Science is not real Latin and it is specific to the field-naming in Zoology and Botany follow different rules. Knowing Latin roots will be helpful but the grammer and sentence structure will be useless. There are classes called Nomenclature that teach naming. Greek would be no use at all since the few Greek based names are easily learned...not to discourage taking Latin or Greek. I am sure it is good discipline for the mind. German used to be required in the old days because so much research was done in German but that was a very long time ago.


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

I don't know if it's as true in other countries, but it seems to me that America is all about commercial success. Hence, schools here teach Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, etc. along with the Romance Languages. (German...not so much. Strange.) All of the 'euro' countries are fluent in American English. (The 'call center' nations are still learning it -- from us.)

My DH rants that his J-school is now less about reporting and writing and is focused on Marketing.

English is a 'second language' for the nanny-raised American children in my town!

Ronalawn -- Does anyone diagram sentences today? My current *ouch* is seeing 'who' displaced by 'that'. Are people now no different from animals and inanimate objects?


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

I've actually used Latin way more in legal areas than I have in medicine, which is where my feet are now, my science, but it still helps in medicine. But I dabble in this and that and the more languages I learn the smaller bits of, the more I see the commonality of them--Latin. Not in the strict sense. A very loose sense. I agree it's good to know Latin for the roots. I easily know what disease or body process about which one is speaking without having to ask. It's surely helped a lot!


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

As a freshman in college, I learned the Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes in Freshman Composition. It was part of a two-week unit we were tested on. I agree it is helpful to know them, but one doesn't need to take 2 years of Latin as a foreign language to learn them--especially since the study of any living romance language (Spanish or French, for instance) will reinforce the knowledge of Latinate roots, prefixes, and suffixes since they are all part of the same family tree (going back to Latin).

But in our modern world with global centers and powers shifting in new directions, I think there would be a good argument in favor of all college students being required to study Chinese for 2 years plus another language of choice from a different linguistic family (probably Spanish for Americans) also. Usually some kind of cultural studies go along with language study, so learning something about an eastern culture (Chinese) and about a western culture (Spain) would be a good idea also.

Just my opinion.

Kate


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

Mom, thanks for introducing this subject. For the most part it turned into a very interesting thread with great input by those participating in the discussion.


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

momj47, the scientific names of plants (I am not sure about the animals) are derived from Latin and Greek. For example the arikury palm Syagrus (The most credited supposition is that it comes from the name "Syagrus", given by Pliny the Elder to a variety of date palm). schizophylla ( from Greek schizo = split, and phyllon = leaf with divided leaves.)
Regardless of the origin, the endings are latinized.
As far as I understand it, Latin is used because it is a "dead" language - it is no longer "evolving".
So what was 'Syagrus' in Pliny's time is the same today.


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

As far as I understand it, Latin is used because it is a "dead" language - it is no longer "evolving".

At the time of Linna's (Latin: Linnaeus) introduction of his nomenclature system, Latin was still the language of scholarship. I suppose we could change it now away from a dead language...


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

Kate: " I think there would be a good argument in favor of all college students being required to study Chinese for 2 years plus another language of choice from a different linguistic family (probably Spanish for Americans) also"

I agree, Kate. My 4 years high school & 2 years college
Spanish have been very helpful, not just in Mexico, Puerto Rico & other parts of the Caribbean, but right here in the states. Anyone who expects everyone to speak English when traveling is to be disappointed. My MIL still thinks if she speaks English REAL LOUD, Spanish-speaking people will understand her. They understand her, all right.

;D


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

Yes, I know what you mean. I've run into some people like that (hard on the ears)! LOL

Kate


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RE: We are also getting dumber...but you knew that

and slower! Be sure to speak English very loud and s l o w l y, so they can understand you. HA! Yes, those folks are everywhere. My favorite here is when people (I admit it, it's lack of education of any sort-real world or otherwise) tell me someone speaks "Mexican". It always makes me smile. I'm sure we do speak "American" much more than English.


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