Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Why a blog?

Yesterday I received an email from someone asking about a point of English usage - let's call it X. As I started to reply I realized that this wasn't the first time I'd been asked about X. And looking in my email archive I saw that I'd talked about X on at least three occasions before. This is getting silly, I thought. My views about X hadn't changed in the interim. Might as well put the point into the public arena, so that anyone else interested in X can find it. A blog is the ideal solution. From now on I propose to reply to anyone who gets in touch with me on linguisticky matters, raising a point of general interest, using this blog. I won't identify them individually, unless they choose to do so via a comment. It won't be a very regular blog - certainly not one of the 'three times a day after meals' type - as I'm out and about quite a lot. But I hope what turns up on it will be of interest.


Anthony Heald said...

I was delighted to see this blog appear. One of the many joys that the internet has brought is the possibility of fresh and immediate communication from and with experts who had previously been no more than a name on a book cover.

In fact I was so excited that I rushed to tell my A level students about it.

I had one reply, that at first surprised me a bit, but which I thought couldn't just be dismissed. I ventured to attempt a reply myself, but wondered if you had any thoughts that might contribute to forging better links along the student-teacher-expert axis. What I'm on about is here:

pinhsin said...

Definitely a blog!

DC said...

Thanks for your interest - and apologies for the delay in responding, but I've been away.

I read the exchange on your site and I don't think I could improve at all on your excellent response. So let me just affirm a couple of things.

I do intend to publish all comments, as long as they follow normal standards of netiquette, and I'll respond as much as I can - though, I should add, only when I can make a general point. (Naturally, I can't comment if someone wants me to say something about their personal situation in a school or clinical setting or wherever.)

Blogging is a new kind of interactive communication, and I'm keen to explore its strengths and weaknesses. I've no idea how it will develop, or whether I'll be able to cope with the kind of interactivity it could generate. But
I hope that its informality will help to break down the barrier that your student perceives. It certainly allows the publication of a more personal reaction to topics that would normally never appear in print (other than in certain genres, such as an autobiography).

I guess it's natural to feel unsure about whether or how to interact on this blog, and I don't suppose there's much I can do about that, except to say that I would be sad if my reputation really did put people off communicating. But maybe, as time goes by, and some dip their toes into the linguistic water and realise there are no sharks in it, the reluctance will fade. I hope so.

I should add that this is a blog for anyone interested in my work, so students should note that some of the topics mightn't have any particular relevance to the school syllabus and might be outside their immediate experience. The first few posts were me trying to clear a backlog of queries over the past couple of weeks, and they were from people of all ages and various walks of life. The topic balance could change a lot over the next few weeks.

If your student wants proof that this guru, at least, is human, and approachable, she might appreciate this response which I gave a little while ago (before my blog started) to a sixth-former who asked me: 'Does linguistics get you the girls?' (Or boys, I imagine, depending on... well, whatever.) In my case, yes, it did. I ended up marrying a speech therapist.

Nick said...

I like this blog. Good job.

Nancy said...

Knowledge is meant to be shared. Thank you for taking the time to respond!I wish I had come across your blog sooner...