Consider this a “Thoughts from Places” blog

I’m currently in Washington DC after visiting New Jersey and Portland, Oregon. Understandably, transportation has been on my mind:

I’ve taken three airplanes (one of which was made in Brazil), a commuter train (NJ–> NYC), an amtrak , the subway (NYC), the metro (Washington), the MAX (light rail; Portland), street cars (Portland), and the bus. My grandparents drove us around suburban New Jersey, and for one day we rented a car (to go to Mount Hood). We’ve also walked a heck of a lot.

And we’re only half way through our trip.

While looking at the public transportation systems in DC and Portland, I can’t help but think about Hawaii’s transportation. TheBus is a really good system for me: I’ve only found one place I’ve wanted to go that I couldn’t by bus, namely Koko Head Botanical Garden (though it can take awhile–it’s 2.5 hours to Laie, for example). But our buses still need to sit in traffic, unlike, say, Portland’s light rail or the metro. We haven’t taken any cabs, we didn’t even need to rent a car to get from the airport in Portland to our hotel. We just took a 40 minute ride on public transportation.

I’m actually for rail, and it’s when I’m in cities like these that I remember why.

Moving on to airplanes.

Taking the amtrack from metropark in NJ to Union Station in DC took about three hours. There was free wifi on the train, and outlets to charge my computer. The seats were large, as were the bathrooms, and the aisles were wide. There was a lot of leg room, and I could get up and walk at any time. We arrived 15 minutes prior to our train’s arrival and did not have to deal with checking our bags or security. It was wonderful and pleasant which contrasts sharply with my experiences with airplanes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to fly–I love watching people turn into ants and cities become specks of light. But the airlines really stuff you in like a can of sardines. I generally don’t mind, much, until I have to go to the bathroom (which I do about 5 times on a five our flight) and I need to climb over my parents (subsequently smacking my sleeping dad in the face–true story, I got a dirty look for that) to get to the lavatory. It the very interesting to take the train where service has yet to decline so far. It gives me a bit of a glimpse of what flying must have before the mid ’80’s. Did you know that, now, United doesn’t even provide blankets on red eye flights? We were flying from SEA-TAC to Newark, and I asked for a blanket and the flight attendant informed me that that was only for first class customers. She said she’d check if there were any extras, and brought me one later, but it’s just…

It’s sad to see such a decline.

What’s not in decline are diners. I went to a real live diner in NJ. That was cool.

Criteria for diners:

1) must be in NJ

2) must be owned by a Greek

3)Must have an extensive menu

4) Must have Greek Salad on the menu

A few final notes:

Reverse mortgages are rather interesting, as are liquor laws in NJ: you can’t buy any alcohol in a grocery store in NJ. You must go to a specifically designated liquor store.  NYC is really hot when it’s 99-105 degrees out.

By spockinthehood

TOK final Vlog!

It’s not vlogbrothers quality, but I try.

By spockinthehood

List of All the Modern English Bible Translations I Could Locate, thank you, Wikipedia

This is a list of the Modern English bibles, as many as I could find, mostly in order of publication date. There are 83 versions listed here.

King James Version 1611
Douay-Rheims Bible (Challoner Revision) 1752
Quaker Bible 1764
Thomson’s Translation 1808
Webster’s Revision 1833
Ferrar Fenton Bible 1853
Murdock Translation of the Western Peshitto 1852[5]
Young’s Literal Translation 1862
Julia E. Smith Parker Translation 1876
Revised Version 1885
Darby Bible 1890
American Standard Version 1901
Emphasized Bible 1902
Jewish Publication Society of America Version Tanakh (Old Testament) 1917
Moffatt, New Translation 1926
Lamsa Bible 1933
An American Translation 1935
Westminster Bible 1936
Bible in English 1949
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures 1950 (New Testament)

1960 (single volume complete Bible)
1984 (reference edition with footnotes)

Revised Standard Version 1952
Knox’s Translation of the Vulgate 1955
Berkeley Version 1958
Children’s King James Version 1962
Judaica Press Tanakh (Old Testament). 1963
Amplified Bible 1965
Jerusalem Bible 1966
Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition 1966
Modern Language Bible 1969
New American Bible 1970
New English Bible 1970
King James II Version 1971
The Living Bible 1971
New American Standard Bible 1971
The Story Bible 1971
The Bible in Living English 1972
An American Translation 1976
Good News Bible 1976
New International Version 1978
New King James Version 1982
A Literal Translation of the Bible 1985
New Jerusalem Bible 1985
New Jewish Publication Society of America Version. Tanakh (Old Testament) 1985
Recovery Version of the Bible 1985
Christian Community Bible, English version 1986
New Life Version 1986
Revised English Bible 1987
Easy-to-Read Version 1989
New Revised Standard Version 1989
Modern King James Version 1990
New Century Version 1991
Clear Word Bible 1994
Leeser Bible, Tanakh (Old Testament) 1994
The Living Torah andThe Living Nach. Tanakh (Old Testament) 1994
Contemporary English Version 1995
God’s Word 1995
ArtScroll Tanakh (Old Testament) 1996
New International Version Inclusive Language Edition 1996
New Living Translation 1996
Complete Jewish Bible 1998
New International Reader’s Version 1998
Third Millennium Bible 1998
American King James Version 1999
English Jubilee 2000 Bible 2000
King James 2000 Version 2000
EasyEnglish Bible 2001
English Standard Version 2001
The Message 2002
A Voice In The Wilderness Holy Scriptures 2003
Holman Christian Standard Bible 2004
Updated King James Version 2004
A Conservative Version 2005
Dabhar Translation 2005
New English Translation(NET Bible) 2005
Today’s New International Version 2005
The Inclusive Bible 2007
The Orthodox Study Bible 2008
Catholic Public Domain Version 2009
King James Easy Reading Version 2010
The Work of God’s Children Illustrated Bible[8] 2010
International Standard Version 2011
Concordant Literal Version 1926. Rev. 1931, 1966
The Scriptures 1993, revised 1998 & revised 2009










By spockinthehood

Comments on Language Videos

For the videos, see

COMMENT with your own personal thoughts or questions on the 4 VIDEOS found on this blog post.

Birth of the Word

  • That’s kind of creepy…the home recording system.
  • This guy must be rich.
  • Should we retain complex speech to meet the child, or attempt to keep our language complex? (in regards to the dip)
  • Is the development the same or similar for all anglophone children? Will water always  be preceeded by gaga?
  • I wonder if any of my comments made it into the MIT data analysis. That’d be weird.

Stephen Fry—Swear Word

Yes, those are among the worst things we do, but what is the root of those evils? What do our problems start with? Words. Words have power. What we say has power.

Interesting observation, but I’m not sure that breeding is the best thing we do. Also, maybe it’s because breeding is so important the perversion as such is profane. The F word does not have that warm loving connotation. It has a very physically crude connotation. The F word is synonymous with sex but not necessarily with making love, if that makes sense.

Fry’s Planet Word

  • We do take language for granted!
  • Language is phenomenal…how does this “walnut like collie flower mass” create language! Remarkable!
  • His comments on one language are very interesting.
  • Will we ever cross the final frontier?
  • I would like to learn Esperanto, but I don’t think that I have time. L
  • The death of languages is a sad, sad thing. As many as 100 a year at least? AGGGGGG
  • I’m glad that he appreciates the importance of language in history and culture.

Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography – Language

  1. I enjoy language.
  2. I am in love with words—as much so as music. I read about them, and their history enthralls me. I love the way that words bring the chaos of the world and of the human individual into something that others can understand.
  3. Grammar is important—it maintains the ability of people to understand one another. That’s the point of grammar. Rules allow my message to be projected and understood by a wide audience.
  4. Language has an inherent flexibility which allows for creativity, but many of these rules are still of importance because they maintain clarity. However, if rules are stupid/illogical they are counterproductive and should be replaced.
By spockinthehood

Language, Pt 2

2. Choose 1 QUOTE from the list above and comment on it with your own personal thoughts and real- life examples.

“Who does not know another language does not know his own” – Goethe

It wasn’t until I began studying French that I really started to pay attention to English. It is difficult to understand something, in and of itself (for example, in my previous post, I talk about how Westerners use dichotomies like good/bad to understand words—we know something is good if it’s not bad).  While I feel that the effect is not as extreme in the case of English, I feel that it wasn’t until I had something to compare English to that I began to look at my language. If I weren’t studying French, I wonder if the strange aspects of English would be so bothersome to me. Would I care that there is no rhyme or reason to it? Or would I be content with this: I can understand English, so why bother questioning it?


3. Choose 1 LINKING QUESTION. Comment on it with your own personal thoughts and real-life examples from the world or your experiences. Find a related article or video that would support your answer, and describe how it does. You can research on your own or use the HANDY DIIGO LIST of almost 100 sources to help.

RELIGION: Does religious experience lie beyond language expression?

I think that religion experience can cross language barriers so effectively that it goes beyond language expression. You can describe a religious experience, however, because religion isn’t contained by language, I feel that it lies beyond language expression.

I found this article really interesting: The Gospel, Language and Culture:The Theological Method in Cultural Analysis (by Sanneh, Lamin, in the  International Review of Mission). Unfortunately, it is  an academic journal article, so you’ll need to use Questia to access it. Here is the link:  and, if you have an affiliation with Le Jardin, you ought to be able to access it (through a LJA email address and a password set by the school—it is the same password as used for the other databases). It is really worth a read! 

By spockinthehood

Language as a Way of Knowing, Pt 1

I.            Try to define as precisely as possible these words: a. triangle    b. love     c. table  What is the difference? Which was easiest to define?

  1. Triangle: a closed plane figure having three sides and three angles that, in Euclidian geometry, must add up to 180 degrees.
  2. Love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” – 1 Corinthians 13
  3. Table: a slab supported by one or more legs.

I think that love is the hardest of these to define because love is an abstract noun (a concept) as opposed to something tangible. Things in the abstract are difficult to define because there’s nothing catholic about them: their lack of palpability makes them subject to debate.


II.            What would be the advantages and disadvantages of everyone in the world spoke a common language? What would be gained and what would be lost?



  • Everyone would be able to understand each other
  • Less lost in the transmission of works (novels, movies) from one part of the world to another. Nothing would be lost in translation.
  • Less confusion at the UN—no more need to pay translators for modern times.
  • Improved opportunity for trade.
  • A vlogger in Hungary who would, otherwise, only speak Hungarian, would be able to project to a larger audience and have the same opportunity as Anglophones.
  • Information would be free and available to everyone with access to the Internet, and people would be able to contribute to the pool at large (there could be some Hungarian might have a good deal of information to add to the Wikipedia page on the Ottoman–Hungarian Wars, but because they only speak Hungarian, their knowledge is lost).
  • No matter where I am in the world, I know that I can be understood. That’s comforting.
  • It would unite the world. Right now, what do we share? Death, sex, and breathing. A common language would be something that we’d be consciously aware that we share.
  • Ideas could travel very, very, fast, unhindered by a language barrier.
  • Easier to produce educational material for poorer areas—it is a lot easier to find tutors who speak English than it is to find tutors who speak Maasai.
  • It would be fun!



  • Language is deeply tied to culture.
  • Many languages would become endangered. I’m sure the Livonians loved their language, but because of its lack of practicality, it’s dying. What would happen to Hungarian with time? According to Wikipedia, “It is believed that 90% of the circa 7,000 languages currently spoken in the world will have become extinct by 2050, as the world’s language system has reached a crisis and is dramatically restructuring”. Even taken with a grain (or bolder) of salt, I can’t help but think that a world language would serve as a catalyst to speed up the process of language death. And when a language dies, the ability to understand that culture dies, too.
  • There would be less incentive to learn other language. Lingophiles would still learn other languages, but people just in it for the practical aspects would stop wasting their time. You could argue that this is a good thing, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
  • Translators would lose work. Yes, they could translate old works, but still…
  • There’s the practical problem of implementation. Languages naturally diverge (even within the same language… just look at Arabic in Morocco versus Modern Standard Arabic ), nonetheless considering Proto-Indo European to Modern American English. How would you ensure that everyone continued to speak the same language? Are you going to police people? Are you going to prevent the natural growth and innovation that time ushers in?


III.            What can or have you learned about your own language by studying a second language? can you provide examples from your second language which have no English equivalent? What about idioms (expressions)?

From my own second language? What about “Parler le français comme une vache espagnole » ? I ask that you translate that literally, first, and then try to figure out what exactly it means.

Now, what about other languages? They’re more interesting to me.

I’ve been saving this article for such a time as this ( I also read a book called In Other Words and I learned a good deal of good ones from that…I wanted to buy the book so that I could review it, but unfortunately I’m broke, so no dice. It really gets my goat, but maybe when I’m old (do you see what I did there? That sentence would make no sense to someone who has not studied English idioms, but to you, it hopefully made perfect sense).  Other words I live not included on the article?

I have many favorites, so it would be hard to pick a favorite…but the word that was the easiest the assimilate into my own vernacular was “tartle” (The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name). I’m working on others, but it is surprisingly difficult for me.



IV.            What kind of texts do you think are easy to translate from one language to another and what kinds are more difficult? Can you provide an example from your study of L’Etranger by Camus?

I’m in French, so I had the pleasure of reading Camus in his original language…and there was a definite difference. I tried to place my finger on it, but I couldn’t point out anything specific. If anything, it should have been more powerful in English (I could actually understand all the words), but I feel like, in French, Camus’s voice was more powerful, and in English, his voice was watered down. What exactly changed? I don’t know. But there was something different.

That being said, L’Etranger should be one of the easier works to translate. The degree of difficulty depends on:

  • How similar the language is to English in formation/structure, vocabulary/expressiveness (richness) and overall logic. French and English, though not sisters, are pretty close relatives (thank you, 1066 Norman invasion). With a language like Arabic, which is nothing like English, it is difficult to translate ideas and still make them a) make sense and b) flow while staying true to the work. An interesting example of this is, actually, in the Timothy Moore translation of “The Doctor in Spite of Himself” by Moliere. I’d recommend reading his introduction (and justification for the way he translated it) to his translation.
  • IDIOMS. Example: In Sranan Tongo (the language of Suriname or Dutch Guyana) if you said “A sma dati abi tranga yesi” you would, literally, be saying “The person has strong ears.” Do you really mean that they have ears of steel? No, you’re saying “That person is stubborn.”
  • In non-fiction, examples are given that make sense in one language but make no sense in another. For example, I was reading an English translation of “Daily Life in Greece at the Time of Pericles” by  Robert Flacelière (originally in French) and the work was translated very well—in fact, I didn’t even know that it was a translation until I came across a strange fact– French word for dumb-bell (haltere, I believe) is etymologically linked with the Greek verb meaning to jump (hallomai) because when the ancient Greeks performed the long jump in athletic contests, they used to do so grasping dumb-bells. I was like “okay, that’s cool, but really random” but then I came across a translators note explaining what I just told you so that an American can understand.
  • *****Cultural paradigm! *****


V.            In what ways to we classify people (e.g. astrological sign, race, nationality, music choice, etc.) and what are the advantages and disadvantages of this? Are some more natural or better than others? How many ways can YOU be classified via language?

People classify based on

  • Intelligence
  • Likes/Dislikes
  • Looks
  • Social standing (Neighborhood/money)
  • Social skills


  • Ambition
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Language-ability (ethnicity, cultural history)
  • School

Advantages: People are insanely complicated. By simplifying them by placing them in categories, we are better able to deal with the world and prevent information-overload. Sometimes my schema is wrong. But it works most of the time so meh.

Disadvantages:  Sometimes I’m wrong. I’m labeling people and judging them. I’m forcing people into boxes.

I don’t think that some ways are better than others, necessarily, because it depends on the situation.


Some facts: The United States has about five percent of the world’s population…and 25% of the world’s prisoners. By age 23, 30-41% percent of American young adults have been arrested at least once. But more disturbing than that is that of Americans released from prison, 67.5% will rearrested within 3 years. 1 of 32 Americans is in jail or on parole.

Example: Who is stereotyped as being in jail most often?

  • The poor
  • High school drop outs
  • Kids from homes with parents in prison.
  • Blacks and Hispanics
  • The mentally ill.

What’s the truth of the matter?

  • In 2006, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics published a study showing that more than 64 percent of local jail inmates, 56 percent of state prisoners and 45 percent of federal prisoners have symptoms of serious mental illness.
  • 1 in 15 Black men are incarcerated while only 1 in 106 white males are incarcerated.
  •  Furthermore, seventy percent of inmates in prison didn’t graduate from high school.
  • 75% of children with an incarcerated mother have a father who also has had criminal involvement (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007) and children are far more likely to commit crime if their parents are in prison.

So what does that tell us? That our stereotypes are not always incorrect. But when do these become dangerous? When we label people and assume that they must follow the stereotype. When we write people off.  Are, for example, black people, bad by nature? OF COURSE NOT. So we need to look at the reason for our labels. Some examples:

If we simply incarcerate a convict to he “pay his debt to society,” he will likely reenter society and have to face all of the same obstacles that drove him to crime. In addition, he will have: a criminal record to impact his employment opportunities, he will be older and still without marketable skills or education and he may have become further acclimated to criminal culture. Ergo incarcerating offenders could actually make them more likely to commit offenses after they are released, and recidivism rates attest to this. In societies that maintain hierarchies based upon race, class and gender, it is the marginalized groups that tend to suffer the most from social engineering gone awry.

1 in 15 Black men are incarcerated while only 1 in 106 white males are incarcerated. Furthermore, seventy percent of inmates in prison didn’t graduate from high school. Is that a coincidence? No. Because Blacks and improvised people are disproportionably represented among prisoners, families in those communities have been ravaged by the prison industrial complex. For example, great distances typically separate children from their incarcerated parents. Women are housed in prisons an average of 160 miles from their children. More than half of incarcerated parents report never receiving a personal visit from their children. Because the average sentence of incarcerated parents is 12 years, the separation can last an entire childhood. With only one wage earner left, poverty self perpetuates itself.

You get the idea.


VI.             “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” – Analyze the way language is used in each of these pairs of expressions: pro-life/pro-choice; genetically-modified food/ Frankenstein food; Free speech/ Hate Speech; “Blocking your child’s access to objectionable material on the Internet is not called Censorship, it;s called Parenting” (Al Gore); piracy/ file-sharing.


Basically, I’m going to begin by talking about deconstruction (a type of literary criticism based on the inherit contradictions in literature because of the dichotomies with create in language. I hope that this all makes sense because by now I’m pretty tired so my logic is pudding).

“Deconstruction involves the close reading of texts in order to demonstrate that any given text has irreconcilably contradictory meanings, rather than being a unified, logical whole. As J. Hillis Miller, the preeminent American deconstructor, has explained in an essay entitled “Stevens’ Rock and Criticism as Cure” (1976), “Deconstruction is not a dismantling of the structure of a text, but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself. Its apparently solid ground is no rock but thin air.” Deconstruction was both created and has been profoundly influenced by the French philosopher on language Jacques Derrida. Derrida, who coined the term deconstruction, argues that in Western culture, people tend to think and express their thoughts in terms of binary oppositions. Something is white but not black, masculine and therefore not feminine, a cause rather than an effect. Other common and mutually exclusive pairs include beginning/end, conscious/unconscious, presence/absence, and speech/writing. Derrida suggests these oppositions are hierarchies in miniature, containing one term that Western culture views as positive or superior and another considered negative or inferior, even if only slightly so. Through deconstruction, Derrida aims to erase the boundary between binary oppositions—and to do so in such a way that the hierarchy implied by the oppositions is thrown into question. Although its ultimate aim may be to criticize Western logic, deconstruction arose as a response to structuralism and formalism. Structuralists believed that all elements of human culture, including literature, may be understood as parts of a system of signs. Derrida did not believe that structuralists could explain the laws governing human signification and thus provide the key to understanding the form and meaning of everything from an African village to Greek myth to a literary text. He also rejected the structuralist belief that texts have identifiable “centers” of meaning—a belief structuralists shared with formalists. Formalist critics, such as the New Critics, assume that a work of literature is a freestanding, selfcontained object whose meaning can be found in the complex network of relations between its parts (allusions, images, rhythms, sounds, etc.). Deconstructors, by contrast, see works in terms of their undecidability. They reject the formalist view that a work of literary art is demonstrably unified from beginning to end, in one certain way, or that it is organized around a single center that ultimately can be identified. As a result, deconstructors see texts as more radically heterogeneous than do formalists. Formalists ultimately make sense of the ambiguities they find in a given text, arguing that every ambiguity serves a definite, meaningful, and demonstrable literary function. Undecidability, by contrast, is never reduced, let alone mastered. Though a deconstructive reading can reveal the incompatible possibilities generated by the text, it is impossible for the reader to decide among them.”


Deconstruction argues that Westerners express their thoughts in terms of binary oppositions. Some thing is white but not black, masculine therefore not feminine. A

Throughout the term, we’ve been looking to see how writers construct and deconstruct binary oppositions, pairs that quickly transmogrify into rigid hierarchies. To aid in our examination, we’ve begun to compile a list of binaries.


good / evil

  • original / copy

primary / secondary

inside / outside

reality / appearance

essence / accident

soul / body

pure / corrupted

father / son

male / female

speech / writing

At this point, you might want to notice how these pairs tend not merely to support but indeed to verify one another: men are superior to women, or so Genesis tells us, because men came first; speech is superior to writing, or so Plato tells us, because the spoken word is the original of which writing is a mere copy. See how that works? If so, you’re ready for some more:


center / margins

normal / deviant

natural / unnatural

straight / gay

white / black

self / other

truth / fiction

philosophy / myth

sciences / humanities

poet / critic

master / slave

teacher / student

faculty / staff

high culture / pop culture

the blues / rock and roll

rock and roll / disco

disco / techno

punk / grunge

movies / television

network TV / cable TV

base / superstructure

waking / dreaming

latent content / manifest content



So basically what you’ve presented me with is a list of words. They’re dichotomies, though not as blatant as good/bad. “Language, he said, is inadequate to provide a clear and unambiguous view of reality. In other words, the fixed meaning of an essay, a book, a personal letter, a scientific treatise or a recipe dissolves when hidden ambiguities and contradictions are revealed. These contradictions, inevitable in every piece of writing, he said, reveal deep fissures in the foundation of the Western world’s civilizations, cultures and creations.” (

For deconstruction to work, it must first recognize the binary oppositions. After identifying them, it shows that they are not so absolute and meaningless without each other. For instance, good/bad. When people talk about “good” they are still comparing it to bad, even when they don’t mention bad.

With all this in mind, I think one can look differently at the binary pairs presented in the question.






By spockinthehood