How can multilingualism affect our identity

 

We live in a world where speaking more than one language is seen as a positive thing. Multilingualism is encouraged, and as our world becomes more globalized, multilingualism is seen as a normal part of a child’s upbringing.

Continue reading “How can multilingualism affect our identity”

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These Are a Few of My Favourite Words

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
brown paper packages tied up with strings.
These are a few of my favorite things.

 In life, it is the little things that make your day. Like Julie Andrews sang, these favourite things, the blue sky, the smell of freshly brewed coffee or the sound of crunching paper can make you feel just that little bit better. But what about words? As a language student, I have an innate love of words. To me, words are so much more than just a means of communication. In fact, according to Laurent Binet communication is only one of the seven functions of language. Words can be beautiful, not only in meaning but also in sound; they can evoke emotions through their mere phonetics. I often find poems and lyrics not only beautiful because of their meaning, but also because of the sheer sound of their pronunciation. In that way words seem to resemble music, which has the same inexplicable ability to touch on basis of sound instead of the (arbitrary) meaning we tie to it. Recently I rewatched one of my favourite films, Donny Darko, and my attention was immediately drawn to a conversation about language: “This famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that Cellar Door is the most beautiful.” The term cellar door is not beautiful because of its semantics in this case, but because its phonetics. One could maybe say that cellar door is aesthetic. This made me wonder, what are my favourite words? It turns out I have many, some because of their sound and some of their meaning. Continue reading “These Are a Few of My Favourite Words”

WB Column: Accents

Awrite! Hou’s aw wi ye? Can A gie ye a haund?

It’s quite remarkable that when you study English you get taught about grammar, literature, philosophy even, but nothing about pronunciation. We do have phonology, but that is mostly theoretical and only in Received Pronunciation. We learn how to pronounce sounds and phonemes, but don’t actually practice it, there is no oral exam.

We firmly believe that there should be a possibility to both practice oral skills and different types of accents. Wouldn’t we all like to show off our well-polished Scottish or Australian accents? We understand that this might not be suitable for the obligated curriculum, but it would definitely be so much fun as an elective. Take the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen for instance, they already have a similar course to train their students’ oral communication skills.

It would not only be fun but also very useful to be able to speak different accents, because it would broaden the fields of research in other courses. There are books that read as though written in an accent. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh for example, is written in Scottish English, or The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which is written in African American Vernacular English, and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner in a Southern American dialect. One can of course understand these books when you speak RP, but knowing the accents and where they come from enriches the experience of reading so much more.

Another reason to learn all sorts of accents, is because it is toe-curlingly awkward when you’re having a conversation with a native speaker and you don’t understand them, to tell them that you study English at University. We’ve had many occasions when we had to embarrassingly admit to this.

Basically, we’re secretly hoping a UvA staff member will read this column and get it done. From our most beloved source WikiHow. We’d like to share with you this golden gift of learning how to speak like a Geordie: http://www.wikihow.com/Talk-Like-a-Geordie . Enjoy rebelling against the system and learning your first non-standard accent on your own! Cheers!

Ines Severino & Yentl Dudink

Essay and Fiction Competition

Competition

After the success of the first two competitions, Writer’s Block magazine will now continue with the next categories: essay and fiction. We are looking for:

Essay: No restrictions regarding theme and form. Maximum of 1500 words.

Fiction: No restrictions regarding theme and form. Maximum of 1500 words.

We hope you’ll be inspired to write for us in the next few weeks, or that you already have something that you can adjust so you can make it to fit our competition!

Jury

A professional jury of at least two academics will award a prize worth 50 Euros to the winner in each category. The winners will of course also be published in our next issue.

Requirements

To participate, you have to be a student of the University of Amsterdam, but if you are not, you are very welcome to submit any kind of creative writing for the magazine itself.

Deadline

You can submit your work (essays and stories) until the 21st of April by sending an email to writerssblock@gmail.com and mentioning the category of your choice in the header.

Please let everyone who might be interested know we are hosting this competition and we are looking forward to read you work!

Poetry and Translation Competition

Competition

Writer’s Block magazine proudly announces four competitions: in the upcoming half-year we will be hosting a translation, poetry, essay and fiction competition. The first part, for the next edition of WB, will be the translation and poetry categories. This is what we are looking for:

Poetry: No restrictions regarding theme or amount of words. Send in your best work, with a maximum of 3 poems.

Translation: 300 words of Dutch prose into English. The text we selected is from Allerzielen by Cees Noteboom, to be found below.

Jury

A professional jury of at least two academics will award a prize worth 50 Euros to the winner in each category. The winners will of course also be published in our next issue.

Requirements

To participate, you have to be a student of the University of Amsterdam, but if you are not, you are very welcome to submit any kind of creative writing for the magazine itself.

Deadline

You can submit your work (poetry and translation) until the 24th of January by sending an email to writerssblock@gmail.com and mentioning the category of your choice in the header.

Please let everyone who might be interested know we are hosting this competition and we are looking forward to read you work!

Text to be translated, by Cees Noteboom, first passage from Allerzielen:

Pas een paar seconden nadat hij langs de boekwinkel gelopen was merkte Arthur Daane dat er een woord in zijn gedachten was blijven haken, en dat hij dat woord intussen al in zijn eigen taal vertaald had, waardoor het meteen ongevaarlijker klonk dan in het Duits. Hij vroeg zich af of dat door de laatste lettergreep kwam. Nis, een raar kort woord, niet gemeen en bits zoals sommige andere korte woorden, eerder geruststellend. Iets waarin je je kon opbergen, of waar je iets verborgens in aantrof. Andere talen hadden het niet. Hij probeerde het woord weg te krijgen door sneller te lopen, maar dat lukte niet meer, niet in deze stad, die erin gedrenkt was. Het bleef aan hem haken. De laatste tijd had hij dat met woorden, wat dat betreft was haken de juiste uitdrukking: ze haakten zich aan hem vast. En ze klonken. Ook als hij ze niet hardop zei hoorde hij ze toch, soms leek het zelfs of ze galmden. Zodra je ze uit het snoer haalde van de zinnen waarin ze thuishoorden kregen ze, als je daar gevoelig voor was, iets angstaanjagends, een vreemdheid waar je niet al te veel over na moest denken omdat anders de hele wereld ging schuiven. Te veel vrije tijd, dacht hij, maar dat was nu juist zoals hij zijn leven had ingericht. In een oud schoolboek had hij ooit gelezen over ‘den Javaan’ die, als hij weer een kwartje verdiend had, onder een palmboom ging zitten. Kennelijk kon je in die lang vervlogen dagen heel lang leven van een kwartje, want die Javaan ging volgens het verhaal pas weer werken als het kwartje helemaal op was. Daar werd schande van gesproken in dat boekje, want zo kwam een mens niet verder, maar Arthur Daane had bedacht dat de Javaan gelijk had.