Monday, July 11, 2005

'Twas the book made me do it....

Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last blog. I do not take responsibility for this, however. I blame my birthday.

You see, the people I love best gave me books for my birthday. Which I have been reading every spare moment when I haven't been taking care of the baby. They are now all finished, and aside from the requisite "end of book depression" I am okay now.

What did I read, I hear you asking. Reviews as follows:

The Hallowed Hunt, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Although not as good as her previous books set in this universe, still a fast and enjoyable read. I thought it took too long to get to the meat of the actual plot, which wasn't really clear until halfway through the book. Before that, it was mainly character positioning. That said, the characters were as wonderfully fleshed out as usual. If you've never ready anything my LMB, don't start here. But if you enjoy anything she does, you'll enjoy this one.

Finding Serenity, by Various. For fans of the sadly defunct tv series "Firefly". This is a collection of essays about various aspects of the show, including feminism, existentialism, the mental vacuity of Fox network executives, and the cogent-or-not use of Chinese. Really fascinating. If you are a fan, read this book. If you aren't a fan, or have never heard of this show, go immediately to your library or video store and watch it. You won't regret it. (Warning: science fiction/western content. if you have a knee-jerk negative reaction to either one of these, don't bother. if you are an open minded individual who enjoys good writing, have a great ride.)

The Language Instinct, by Steven Pinker. Amazing book. Forget everything you ever thought you knew about language. Oh, and forget all of those little "facts" you've been told. (Eskimos having 200 words for snow? Complete bunk.) Some of the things you will learn:

American English is more similar to British English from around the time of the Revolutionary War, despite the Brits complaining about our "bad english". Makes sense, doesn't it?

There is very good evidence to support a "Universal Grammar", a genetic "rulebook" on how to construct sentences. That is why it is so easy for small children to learn however many languages. It isn't just rote memorization. But the book slams shut after childhood, so if you haven't learned it by then, it will be a long hard slog.

The average high school graduate knows 45,000 words. And that's a low estimate. It's probably more like 60,000. And for people who read more, 90,000. Therefore, high school graduates must have been learning an average of ten words a day since their first birthday, or a new word every 90 waking minutes.

I have completely oversimplified all of these facts, but believe me, he doesn't. The writing is clear and concise, and entertaining as well, with tons of examples from everything from scientific studies to internet funnies.

So go read a book! And I promise to keep up with the blog from now on....

1 comment:

Ma said...

Hey, why don't you post some of those cool example sentences he uses? None of which, of course, I can remember right now. That's what they DON'T tell you. . . that all those words that you learned every 90 waking minutes sort of all go away (maybe one every 90 waking minutes?) once you hit middle age. . .the names of minor movie stars go first, then the lyrics of all those old songs you thought you'd remember forever. Oh, and then there's the appointments. . .

Anyway, glad you're back to blogging! I don't think blogging and reading are mutually exclusive, are they? Sure hope not, otherwise we couldn't count on the braininess of Kos and Jon Stewart and all those other folks I've come to rely on for my news now that the networks are spewing propaganda.