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Annie Sullivan on teaching: 

Helen Keller, rendered blind and deaf after an infection as a toddler, learned the gift of language from her patient and determined teacher, Annie Sullivan. Their story is told in the play The Miracle Worker (and my daughter plays Helen in three more shows this weekend at Latrobe’s Cabaret Theatre). As a young woman Helen Keller wrote her biography The Story of My Life, which also published some of Sullvan’s letters.…

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Study confirms that ending your texts with a period is terrible.

Language evolves, so oldsters like me should get just used to it, right? Well, langauge was evolving long before “text” was a verb, and that’s exactly the reason why the English of Dickens and Shakespeare and Chaucer looks so different from our ordinary speech. I still use a pay-as-you-go dumb phone, and have to pay per message, so I use periods to pack multiple thoughts into each text. I use…

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Teaching Shakespeare in a Maximum Security Prison

Good essay by Mikita Brottman. When I read Macbeth for the first time, I understood almost nothing. The play’s immediate subjects (kingship, Scottish history, nations at war) did not engage me, nor did I have any interest in theater. I loved Macbeth not for its story but for its language. I was fascinated by the weight of the words, their sequence and rhythm, the way they made me feel, even…

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Could We Just Lose the Adverb (Already)?

I can’t really get myself that worked up over prescriptive grammar issues, but I do enjoy reading the arguments. The adverb is an incoherent lexical category, a catchall. How are “there,” “yesterday,” “quite,” “assiduously,” and “indeed” all members of the same family? As we learn in school — in a definition that dates from Dionysius Thrax in the second century B.C. — adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, noun phrases,…

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Narrow Parsers

Creating n00b-friendly interactive fiction by deliberately reducing the number of available verbs? Intersting… Though I rather liked the results when I experimented with diegetic (in-game) hints delivered by an NPC who gets more and more specific to help the player accomplish some orientation tasks. Parser IF is fundamentally driven by player action, by game verbs, in a way that’s not necessarily the case of choice-based IF. When you’re designing a protagonist, a…