SLA: How Meaning Is Negotiated Using Technology

Technology is taking the second language acquisition to a whole new different level.  Consider for instance, visiting the Google Translate website – Google’s free online language translation service.  The site instantly translates text and web pages to any desired target language that you want.  Although this automatic translation tool clearly has its own set of limitations (as will be explained later), you can’t deny that a lot of people find this useful one way or the other.

A product of innovation and technology, Google Translate is not the only thing that’s prominent when it comes to helping people in learning or understanding a new language.  Some of the related advancements in this arena include automated communication systems, online dictionaries, electronic talking machines, dictation programs that can transcribe speech, and a whole lot many more – innovations that can simulate the human speech and intelligence.  But the question of how accurate are these computerized programs to fully assist the learning needs of people remains to be Continue reading

Literature and Photography

If there is such thing as imaginative “writing” in literature, then perhaps there is also such thing as imaginative “seeing” in photography.   Only with this, we would be able to develop a good “eye” for things and study the familiar and the ordinary thing around us, and later on ponder on what these ordinary things reveal to us.

Yet both fields of photography and literature still require the ability to “see” – as if each sight before the writer’s or photographer’s eyes is a different world all through out.  With these, one can enter in a world different from the everyday, and from these, one can increase his or her own understanding of actual experiences.  Photography and literature reveal and/or create emotional truths about our naked selves.

I agree with Eudora Welty when she said that both the writer and the photographer must learn about “accuracy of the eye, about observation and about sympathy towards what is in front of you.”  With this statement, she has asserted that literature and photography have similarities with each other because of those three components.

In literature, we are taught that imagery plays a very important role in creative writing.  In fact, the poet Ezra Pound exemplified much on imagery more than anything else.  Most of the writers believe in the cliché that a picture contains a thousand words, and in special cases, one doesn’t have to tell his feelings or emotions through words, he or she could express them through visual arts especially in photography.

In literature, one must be very accurate in presenting the details in his or her literary piece.  Take for example, in creative nonfiction, a writer must choose carefully the most important details to include in his or her story, otherwise, the story would be ‘fed-up’ and boring because of two many broad details.  The ability to recollect important memories and present them in a creative way would make up an excellent literary piece.

This idea is exemplified in the story “The Little Store”. In the story, the writer Eudora Welty recounted her own experiences through presenting imagistic reminiscences when she was a child.  Because these things that she had done were memorable to her, they were presented in a very specific detailed manner.  Such words like “blackberry lady” and “watermelon man” were few descriptive examples.  but the most interesting imagistic example would be her description about the Little Store: “Licorice recently sucked in a child’s cheek, dill pickle brine that had leaked through paper sack in a fresh trail across the wooden floor, ammonia-loaded ice that had been hoisted from wet croker sacks and slammed into the icebox with its sweet butter at the door, and perhaps the smell of still untrapped mice.”  This example creates a powerful dramatic effect because it appeals to the senses.

On the other hand, photography requires the same components as literature.  One should be visually articulate on choosing the specific details of a certain matter or object best to be captured.  Anything in this world is easy to capture by the camera, but only few things in this world has the ability to make the viewers pause for a moment and ponder the elements of the story behind the photographs.  The pleasure one can find in photography is the pleasure from the idea that photography could evoke feelings to the viewers.  It is the pleasure that a certain photo elicits a certain response of emotion.

In photography certain aspects needs to be considered.  One must take into account the elements of a good photograph like size, space, texture, color, angle, and light and identify them.  Even though these elements sound technical, they should not be taken lightly because each of them constitutes a kind of language or emotion that is very crucial to photography.

A good photograph is that which we see the words circling around it.

Both literature and photography, as what Eudora Welty said, capture the (1) accuracy of the eye; (2) observation and (3) sympathy towards what is in front of you.  Accuracy of the eye is best presented in the author’s accurate and precise choice of specific details – “the particular”, rather than “the universal”. The ability of the author to discern what is only relevant in a particular idea for a story is a good test of his or her aesthetic sensibility.  In photography, this quality is exemplified if the photographer sees an object, and isolates it in a very sharp focus as if it is one unified object capable of drawing out emotions to the people who sees it.

In literature, developing a good story starts with observation of particular thing, action, image or object in nature that may embody universal qualities.  That is why most of the contemporary writers put their ideas and metaphors in concrete specific objects.  Developing a good image in photography on the other hand, starts with simple observation of seeing ordinary things around you and “seeing” them in a different light.  Photographers must see into considerations that the images should provoke people to respond into them readily.  A good photographer should observe how shape, light, color and texture convey different moods that elicit ideas into the viewers’ part.  It is also important to have technical expertise and a seemingly natural flair for good things best to be captured.

One should also “see” the object with sympathy – that is, regard it with a particular significant aesthetic value.  This goes both for literature and photography.

 

With the advent of new technology, one can already used digital cameras and avail specific electronic features from it.  Still, a good photographer shouldn’t just rely on the advancement of his tools, but he should also possess that outstanding creativity to make pictures great and to choose a creative subject matter for photography. Like photography, literature doesn’t rely much on the general view of the world, but it depends on the writer’s keen sense for particular details that would render his or her work powerful and inspiring.

Looking Into the Future

I saw National Geographic Channel’s feature about Nostradamus in Nostradamus: Is it Real and was utterly surprised to saw the same topic again in Discovery channel in Nostradamus: the Truth at least two days after. It was weird, but maybe that’s how competition goes. Ha-ha!

Well, almost everybody knows about Nostradamus, who was extremely famous for his prophecies. It was said that his book of prophecies was sold in very large numbers, and widely circulated all over the world. In both features, they tried to present if these prophecies were really real, or just purely coincidental. His glimpses to the fate of mankind were mostly depressing views of the world, written in different language of French, in a style that depicted clearly the raw visions of his mind.

To give you a background story about how I got acquainted with Nostradamus, I was told off when I was 10 to get ready for the end of the world. Whoah! I was really scared back then, because in that coming year (that was 1999), there would be complete darkness to hover all over the world and widespread hunger where the King of Terror would descend to the Earth. We all panicked there, (hehe, the kids in the neighborhood and old people) about the coming of what we believed as The Judgment Day. But nothing happened. There was no darkness for the coming years, there was no such thing as end of the world (though there was still widespread hunger in other parts of the world and a few eclipses) but still life went on. Now, its year 2008, and everything is running in its usual course. So what the heck just happened at that time?

Did Nostradamus make a very grave mistake OR did we make a huge mistake in interpreting his prophecies?

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A famous historical event that we can associate with Nostradamus is about Catherine d’Medici and King Henry II ofFrance. Catherine read the book of prophecies of Nostradamus, and summoned him to look into her king’s fate. And Nostradamus predicted the death of her husband – a one quatrain that troubled the queen that tells about King Henry II’s death. And it did happen. It was said that that was the first time that Nostradamus successfully looked into the future.

But there was more: the predictions about the Great Fire of London in 1666, the rise of Hitler, the atomic bombs dropped inHiroshimaandNagasaki, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Although there were seemingly perfect matches, science does not support it. Although many people believe that Nostradamus might have acquired divine inspiration or paranormal abilities, scientists still believe that it is utterly nonsense.

There were also few misinterpretations of the prophecies, some dates written in the quatrains were recalculated, and we cannot deny the fact that because of manual ‘publishing’ of the prophecies, people involved might constantly and unintentionally change the words which only added errors. Then, the original quatrain might have been misprinted by hand, and this is also because of the mistranslation of Nostradamus’s complicated French. He was so careful in anything that he said in the prophecy because of the height of the Inquisition.

But this is my take: the language that Nostradamus used in his prophecy is ambiguous, generally, and this vagueness, I personally think, is responsible for the increase of probabilities. What I think is that he was not looking into the future, but referring back to historical past events, knowing that the astronomical patterns involved in his passion for astrology, would always follow the same historical pattern.