Thursday, March 11, 2010

What I'm learning Re: SRTOL Papers - Rhetoric

These comments apply to many papers.
I see semantic confusion facts vs. opinions (if this is a rhetorical ploy - it doesn't work on the well-educated; consider your audience).

I hear semantic confusion. Define terms as you will use them. The papers have taught me that voice may be to dialect what an individual is to a small community. Voice may be personal and unique - and dialect may be where we find social connections and collective identity. No class has discussed "Voice" as eloquently as this semester. Consult reference books but don't directly quote them unless absolutely necessary. Paraphrase - define for yourself. Goals of this class require demonstration of nuanced understanding of at least all the terms and concepts listed here. 2 people used the word "slang." What did I say about that? (Scroll down page of link to see written record).

People still call America a "melting pot"? For at least a couple decades (before most of you were born) I've read and been told this metaphor oppresses individual rights. Everything that goes into such a pot loses its individuality and unique/ distinctive characteristics and integrity. It disappears into the stew (or is it a pot of molten metal which produces new alloys? As a kid I saw metal), hence the politically correct image: we are a "tossed salad." Each item contributes to a whole while retaining its integrity and individual flavor. At least a dozen or so papers so far go off on the melting pot analogy. Is the tossed salad thing political correctness gone too far? Do we need the melting pot analogy? Why? Are students reacting against political correctness or have they simply been exposed exclusively to conservative/ dated images?

The people who founded this country spoke English so ... (immigrants should learn it, we should all have a standard dialect, etc)? This argument reminds me of the assertion that English was good enough for Christ, it should be good enough for immigrants. Re: English roots of our founders:
  1. What about the millions of Native Americans who'd lived here for millennia. Don't they count? Why not?
  2. What about California and the west, as well as Florida - which if we discount native Americans (big if) were settled by Spanish speakers and which Spain claimed or settled before England or colonials?
  3. In lands added to the United States by the Louisiana purchase (from France) - this includes Kansas - the original white settlers/ missionaries spoke French.
  4. BTW - Most know Kansas takes its name from the Kansa Indians - so why the superflous "s" at the end? Appleton's Journal- volume 15 page 758, published in 1876, as well as other sources - notes that it is the phonetic English pronunciation of notes taken by French missionaries. In French final "s" sounds get dropped. Our current state name results from a mispronunciation due to common ignorance of French and or the etymology of the name. If we appeal to tradition/ origins should we start pronouncing our state's name "Kansa"?
English is the most difficult language to learn? Says who? According to what criteria? What research or evidence supports this opinion (not fact)? I've heard this statement from people who speak only English, but I've never heard a non-native speaker of English say this. The polyglots I know rather emphatically say this is not true. Even a cursory web search (wikipedia, other) calls this assumption into question.


  1. Fact vs opinion obliviousness may be attempted strawman or other logical fallacy.

  2. Fact vs opinion obliviousness may be attempted strawman or other logical fallacy.