Cursing in a Second Language

censorshipIt’s a fair assessment to say that although Americans fall short on developing healthier eating habits, they can never be accused of falling short on their use of curse words.  Americans, hmmm, I’ll go out on a limb and say most English speaking countries, can be quite creative actually when spewing expletives that are anatomically impossible.  Good grief, one only needs to Google curse words, and you’ll find some quite humorous as well as embarrassing phrases.  Still, it is not a secret that curse words are deeply ingrained in the American culture, particularly in her Hollywood blockbusters, music, and sports arenas.

So, it was no surprise to read this interesting blog in today’s Chronicle of Higher of Education whereas a German commentator uttered English curse words following the results of an Eurovision music contest. The blogger said that the words used were sure to incur the wrath of the FCC. Really? Yet, nudity on most European beaches is as common as baseball and apple pie.  I digress. The blogger then asked in her final argument: “Does this mean that adopting a language’s curse words leads to adopting a culture’s taboo topics? Or instead that by using those words in a casual way, non-native speakers chip away at the taboos? It’s a question that brings us back to politics, and the degree to which foreigners adapt to a new culture or change it.  I like that it goes both ways.  We’ll find out soon how many Europeans agree.”

Interesting questions, indeed.


The Case for Language Learning

The Guardian recently posted an article about what motivates a person to learn a new language. In Lauren Razavi’s  “Language learning:  what motivates us?,” John Schumann, a linguistics professor at UCLA’s Department of Applied Linguistics, and member of  the Neurobiology of Language Research Group, posits that  “for over 50 years, two terms have categorized motivation in language learning: integrative and instrumental.  Integrative motivation is the motivation to learn a language in order to get to know, to be with, to interact with and perhaps become like the speakers of the target language.  Instrumental motivation is language learning for more pragmatic or practical purposes…such as fulfilling a school requirement, getting a job, getting a promotion in that job, or being able to deal with customers.  For English speakers, the focus must be on the cultural and social benefits of learning languages – on the symptoms of integrative motivation, which go beyond employment prospects and good grades.”

Be sure to visit Media & Reserve Services and check out a foreign language series today.

Language Learning @IUB Libraries: Do You Speak American?

DVD_do_you_speak_americanWell, the answer varies depending on location, location, location. In the documentary, Do you Speak American, host Robert MacNeil travels the United States to “examine sociolinguistic questions and the dynamic state of American English, a language rich in regional variety, strong in global impact, and steeped in cultural controversy.”  You can check out the film from Media & Reserve Services (M&RS), located on the ground floor of the Herman B Wells Library, or watch it on Youtube. If you can imagine how many culturally diverse languages are spoken here in the United States, then can you imagine how many prime languages and dialects are spoken around the world?

Did you know that you can learn any of 60 foreign language courses offered on the IUB campus to include medieval languages such as old English, medieval Hebrew, Persian, old Tibetan, and Ugyhur?  Did you also know that the IUB Libraries collects print and non-print resources in over 200 languages?  Media & Reserve Services is dedicated to the teaching, learning, and cultural needs of its community.  We house a rich, and diverse language learning collection not only in audio formats, but in visual formats as well.

Select language titles in the collection include: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Turkish, Ukranian, Welsh, and Zulu from noted companies such as Euro Talk Interactive, Foreign Service Institute, Pimsleur, and Rosetta Stone.   We invite you to drop in, ask our knowledgeable staff about the foreign language learning and film collections, and explore new languages and cultures today.

Audio CDs in the language learning collection circulate for 14 days, and movies from our extensive and eclectic foreign language film collection circulate for 7 days.  IU faculty, staff, and students can log into My Account to renew an item.

À bientôt!