The Vocabula Review welcomes letters to the editor. Please include your name, email address, and professional affiliation. Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity.
Praise and Criticism
This is another topnotch story! I had no idea of the drama that could reveal itself to imaginative "laborers"! I've always been a hater of insider language; I must rethink my bad attitude and start to embrace it!
What a load of hogswallop! Has the author read any of the information on the OLPC website? The XO computer isn't to be used like we use them here. The issues raised in the article are utterly without merit in the context of the XO and the goals of the OLPC organization.
The article is transparently political and certainly not well enough written to justify its inclusion on Vocabula, a nonpolitical site dedicated to writing.
How much did the author promise to donate?
Mark Halpern replies: Despite appearances, I did not myself write the letter signed "David Brown" so that I could have an easy target; all the errors and solecisms are truly the work of Mr. Brown.
He is disappointed, he says outraged might be more accurate by my refusal to accept that the good intentions and high hopes of Mr. Negroponte and his colleagues, as presented on the OLPC website among other places, will determine how the XO computer is actually used in the field. Brown tells me that "The XO computer isn't to be used like we use them here. The issues raised in the article are utterly without merit in the context of the XO and the goals of the OLPC organization." He is begging the question; my argument is that that "context" will not prevail. Negroponte cannot control the way the XO will be used once he has handed out the laptops to children; the goals of the authorities in many of the lands involved are likely to be very different from his. (I speak loosely, of course, in talking of his handing out laptops to children; what he will actually be doing is handing them over to the authorities of whatever country he will be dealing with, and trusting them to pass the laptops on, in turn, to the neediest and most uneducated of the children of the land.)
Brown thinks he has shrewdly blown my cover in detecting that my piece is "transparently political"; it does not take much ingenuity to detect that, since I proclaimed that in the heading of the piece. He says that my article was not sufficiently well written to appear in TVR. He offers no example of bad writing in my piece, but does offer two in his own: "isn't to be used like we use them here" exhibits the semi-literate use of "like" for "as," and a pronoun with an imaginary antecedent.
To cap all, Brown disgraces himself by implying that I offered, and the editor of The Vocabula Review accepted, a bribe to publish my piece. This is so sophomoric, so bush-league, that it would almost serve to discredit any facts or argument Brown had provided, if he had provided any. But I do admit to planning to make donations to Vocabula in future: I promise to donate articles that are as cogent and well written as I can make them, but which I fear will continue to disappoint Mr. Brown.
I See Something Wrong with This Page
In Roger Rondeau's Language Module 6, I might move "white flag" and "lily white" to the "'bad' white" category. They've always struck me as pejorative. But that's only one person's opinion. It's nothing I'm willing to shed blood over.
Scott A. Meyer
As an English resident of these United States for nearly forty years, I have been constantly irritated by the spread of the ridiculous fad of not pronouncing the letter "H" in certain words; for example, the spread of "Yooge, Yumorous, Youmans" in New York and Washington. The French have never been able to pronounce "H" (e.g., 'omme, 'opital, 'orloge etc.) and might as well do away with it altogether! Unfortunately high-profile TV personalities Wolf Blitzer and Larry King are converts to the French cause! In my youth in England, "H-dropping" was considered an indicator of lower-class status, as in " 'ere 'arry, let's 'urry-up and go 'ome." I was told by a local, Northern California woman that her mother had taught her that it was impolite to pronounce the letter "H" because it was like coughing in people's faces! The latest laughable manifestation was to hear that something was " 'isstorically-significant"; I believe it was on the "Isstory" Channel. Unfortunately if we all start making our own version of the language, pretty soon we shall not be able to communicate!