An Electronic Magazine by Omar
Villarreal and Marina Kirac (c)
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single
candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never
decreases by being SHARED.
Marina, the boys and I are
blowing candles around here. Today we are celebrating our issue
In a way it is a day like any
other day when we "write" SHARE : the intellectual
( ... and physical ) effort
to put the magazine together, the long moments stolen from what many would
consider more rewarding activities, the rush ( ...and the excitement) and all
the other things that come with running "one´s own paper".
But at the same time, it
feels very much like a "special" day : we are 50 issues old today . Is´t it
incredible how numbers exert a strange fascination on most of
In our case this anniversary makes
us look back on these two happy years of
SHARING. We have no sponsors. There is no publicity in our
magazine. We charge no fee. We
never used our publication to attack anyone. We have an ever
We are a big family of ELT
professionals who SHARE a common interest: our personal and
professional development so that we can help improve the quality of the
education in general and of teaching of English in particular in our
In a few words (and deep in our
hearts we know you will rightly understand what we mean by this)
: we are very proud of what we are
and a big part of that we owe to all of you, our dear
1.- A message from a
3.- Argentina TESOL Annual Convention.
4.- Bernieh´s Corner : The Personality
5.- Resorceful Teaching.
6.- A Strong Woman Vs. A Woman of Strength.
7.- Great News from
8.- Licenciatura and Congress in
9.- Licenciate Diploma in
Applied Drama for TESOL.
10.- Good Vibes to a Poet and a
11.- Chomsky: Ideas and
Ideals - A Review.
12.- Cheap Philosophy and Rubber
13.- A Course on Effective
14.- Courses at the Creative
15.- Kill them with kindness.
16.- Mar del Plata, here we go!
1.- A MESSAGE FROM A FOUNDING
Our dear friend and "fairy
godmother" Elida Messina has sent us this heart-warming message:
My dear Marina and Omar,
The Year of the Serpent seems to be one of expanded creativity for both of
you. The latest SHARE issues have been incredibly rich in ideas and information
and my feeling is that it will keep growing as an increasing number of teachers
dare to share. I love to read every line of each issue that reaches me and to
keep learning from the initiatives and the contributions of your readers.
As an April Fool I will humbly conribute a poem by Susan Polis Shutz.
Although she addresses it to women, allow me to say that it is meant for all
human beings. Judge for yourselves:
Every Woman Deserves the Best
A woman will get only what she seeks.
Choose your goals carefully.
Know what you like
and what you do not like
Be critical about what you can do well
and what you cannot do well.
Choose a career or lifestyle that interests you
and work hard to make it a success
but also have fun in what you do.
Be honest with people and help them if you can
but don't depend on anyone
to make life easy or happy for you
(only you can do that for yourself).
Be strong and decisive
but remain sensitive.
Understand what you are
and what you want in life
before sharing your life with someone.
When you are ready to enter a relationship
make sure that the person is worthy of
everything you are physically and mentally.
Strive to achieve all that you want.
Find happiness in everything you do.
Love with your entire being.
Love with an uninhibited soul.
Make a triumph
of every aspect
of your life.
To be honest, I will keep two copies of this poem to give my
grandchildren, Valentina and Gaspar, when they can understand what every
Love you, as ever,
Our dear SHARER Victoria
Galliani from Santa Fé sends us this contribution. Thank you Vicky and keep on
Unlike most of the other nonfoolish
holidays, the history of April Fool's Day, sometimes called All Fool's Day, is
not totally clear. There really wasn't a "first April Fool's Day" that can be
pinpointed on the calendar. Some believe it sort of evolved simultaneously in
several cultures at the same time, from celebrations involving the first day of
spring ( the vernal equinox __March 21__, when nature "fools" mankind with
sudden changes in the weather.
Although it has been observed for
centuries in several countries, the origin of the custom is unknown. It
resembles other festivals, such as the Hilaria of ancient Rome (March 25) and
the Holi festival of India (ending March 31).
The closest point in time that can
be identified as the beginning of this tradition was in 1582, in France. Prior
to that year, the new year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25.
The celebration culminated on April 1. With the reform of the calendar under
Charles IX, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved
to January 1.
However, communications being what
they were in the days when news traveled by foot, many people did not receive
the news for several years. Others, the more obstinate crowd, refused to accept
the new calendar and continued to celebrate the new year on April 1. These
backward folk were labeled as "fools" by the general populace. They were subject
to some ridicule, and were often sent on "fools errands" or were made the butt
of other practical jokes. In France the fooled person is called poisson d'avril
("April fish"), but the origin of the name is unknown. Napoleon I also acquired
the nickname of "poisson d'avril" when he married Marie-Louise of Austria on 1
This harassment evolved, over time,
into a tradition of prank-playing on the first day of April. The tradition
eventually spread to England and Scotland in the eighteenth century. It was
later introduced to the American colonies of both the English and French. April
Fool's Day thus developed into an international fun fest, so to speak, with
different nationalities specializing in their own brand of humor at the expense
of their friends and families.
In Scotland, for example, April
Fool's Day is actually celebrated for two days. The second day is devoted to
pranks involving the posterior region of the body. It is called Taily Day. The
origin of the "kick me" sign can be traced to this observance. In April the
cuckoo, emblem of simpletons, comes, so in Scotland the victim is called gowk
In our country the counterpart of
April Fool's Day is actually observed on December 28. Originally, the day was a
sad remembrance of the slaughter of the innocent children by King Herod. It
eventually evolved into a lighter commemoration involving pranks and trickery.
Pranks performed on April Fool's
Day range from the simple, (such as saying, "Your shoe's untied!), to the
elaborate. Setting a roommate's alarm clock back an hour is a common gag.
Whatever the prank, the trickster usually ends it by yelling to his victim,
"April Fool!" or "Ha-ha, I got you"
Practical jokes are a common
practice on April Fool's Day. Sometimes, elaborate practical jokes are played on
friends or relatives that last the entire day. The news media even gets
involved. For instance, a British short film once shown on April Fool's Day was
a fairly detailed documentary about "spaghetti farmers" and how they harvest
their crop from the spaghetti trees.
April Fool's Day is a
"for-fun-only" observance. Nobody is expected to buy gifts or to take their
"significant other" out to eat in a fancy restaurant. Nobody gets off work or
school. It's simply a fun little holiday, but a holiday on which one must remain
forever vigilant, for he may be the next April Fool!
Leave someone a message with the
name Mr. Bear and the phone number for the zoo.
Put salt in the sugar
Set someone's alarm clock an hour
Call a fellow student and tell him
school is cancelled
Send someone on a snipe
Put someone's phone on call
forwarding to a 900 psychic
Put popcorn kernels and oil in
Send a taxi driver to someone's
Happy Aprils´ Fool Day to all! May
it be filled with "pleasant" surprises! Always remember what Mark Twain
" Let us be thankful for the fools.
But for them the rest of us could not succeed.
The first of April is the day we
remember what we are the other 364 days of the year" .
TESOL ANNUAL CONVENTION
dear SHARERs and neighbours , Liliana and Patricia Orsi, email@example.com,
past Chairs of ESP Interest Section and ARTESOL Board Members
send us this important message :
Dear Omar: We are sending this call for
participation to SHARE with your SHARERS. More info coming
June 15 & 16, 2001, Cordoba,
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Argentina TESOL is an Argentine
organization with broad interests. The convention is planned for professional
development and provides opportunities for social interaction among colleagues
who share common interests. The program committee invites presentations dealing
with classroom practices, research in language learning and teaching, or the
connection between the two. We welcome proposals from teachers, teachers in
preparation, graduate students, researchers, program administrators and
materials and curriculum developers, including colleagues in related disciplines
such as communication, education, linguistics, foreign languages, anthropology,
sociology and psychology.
All proposals must arrive at
Argentina TESOL, Maipú 672 (1006) Buenos Aires, Argentina by May 31st, 2001. Ph.
#: 54-11-4322-3855/ 54-11-4772-5104/ Fax # 54-11-4394-2979/
Request information and/or proposal
submission forms to:
BERNIEH´S CORNER : THE PERSONALITY FACTOR
My corner today is devoted
especially to teacher-trainers and
their trainees but I hope we all enjoy this article by Claire
Woollam, which I am reproducing from the ELT Newsletter : http://www.eltnewsletter.com
Comments are always welcome
Exploiting Personality in on-site TEFL Certificate
Anyone who has worked as an on-site
trainer on an intensive RSA or Trinity
certificate course will no doubt
have had some experience of the positive and negative effects of the coming
together of 10 or 12 unique individuals, who have probably never set eyes on
each other before. Seeing the continual development of the group's
relationship and experiencing their highs and lows through the weeks are all an
integral part of the teacher trainer's job. More interestingly, much can
be learned about the human personality and its effect upon group dynamics.
In this article I would like to define, based on my own experience, some
broad 'personality types' of trainee teacher which I have often seen
appear during certificate courses. I will also describe some ways in which
the trainer can use character traits to bring out the best in new teachers
both working as a group and individually.
The way in which trainees interact
with each other and respond to trainer
advice and feedback appears to play
a large part in an individual's degree of success on a teaching course.
Personality seems to be a very important factor. Despite first impressions,
groups of trainees which I have worked with have nearly always appeared to
split off into different 'types' which I believe are closely related to
individual personalities. My categories may be graphically portrayed as
Organisers usually quickly develop
as group leaders. They are full of ideas, although not necessarily
always good ones, and are thorough lesson planners and preparers. They listen
carefully to peer and trainer suggestions and can often adapt
them to come up with an even better lesson activity. Generally creative, they
might be found in a corner somewhere cutting and sticking, drawing
pictures or helping colleagues with their lesson preparation. Paradoxically,
this may also be a weak point of the Organiser. The desire to organise,
coupled with their inherent leadership qualities, sometimes means that
they have a tendency to 'take over' in a group and become frustrated if they
feel that peers are not 'pulling their weight', especially when lessons
preceed or follow on from their own.
Despite this, Organisers will
usually do extremely well on a course and go
on to become very effective
Like Organisers, Worriers tend to
be thorough planners, but rather more to
ensure that nothing can go wrong.
They seem to think in terms of 'worst case scenarios'. Suggestions for
lesson activities and materials may be met with "But what if...?" responses:
"But what if they don't understand my instructions?", "But what if their
aren't enough chairs?". The often unpredictable nature of an EFL
classroom does not marry well with the Worrier. S/he may be taken aback or
become flustered if a student asks an unanticipated question or the class
reaction to a particular topic is quite different to what might have been
expected. In feedback, there is a tendency to be highly self-critical
and the Worrier finds it hard to accept positive comments, usually playing
down their strengths or hiding them with further self-doubts. Worriers
lessons nevertheless often do benefit from their high level of concern and
usually develop into very good teachers.
Perhaps, however, they make their
lives far more difficult than necessary by being overly-anxious about every
small aspect of their lessons.
The Maverick is probably the most
enigmatic kind of trainee I have come across. S/he is often extremely
creative and charismatic as a teacher, and is able to deal effectively with
unanticipated classroom situations.
However, the Maverick can frustrate
both peers and trainers by deciding to
change the planned lesson format
without consultation, occasionally part way through the session! Ideas are
taken on board and seem to be accepted, but the Maverick really prefers to
do things their own way. Occasionally, such trainees have had previous
teaching experience, perhaps in the state sector, and as a result may find it
hard to accept that other methods might be better or could further enrich
their knowledge and technique. Due to their capricious nature, success on
the course may therefore be variable for the
Having identified several types of
trainee, I am left thinking about a group of people who don't seem to
fall into any particular category and may in fact be a mixture of the other
personality types. The Middleground trainee works carefully through the
course, completing work on time and producing reasonable, solid
lessons. Middleground exerts a welcome balancing effect on the rest of the
group. Not too much energy, not too argumentative, just methodical,
calm and fairly quiet. Their conscientiousness is usually
rewarded at the end of a course.
Positively Exploiting Trainee
One can never really know in
advance which personality types will make up a particular course group. In an
environment where applicants may be interviewed and accepted onto the
course both some time in advance and at the last minute, it is often
impossible to know exactly who will be in each group until the first
Trainers need to exercise some
caution when forming initial impressions about group dynamics. Trainees
understandably tend to be reserved and somewhat wary of each other at
first, their 'true' personalities only slowly emerging as they grow in
confidence. Once the trainers have some idea of the shape and pattern of
these 'butterflies', they can begin tentatively to plan Teaching
Practice groups, which on a practical level, tend to naturally split the
When forming TP groups, it is
obviously a good idea to have a range of
personality types, each trainee
being able to balance their strengths and
weaknesses with those of others. A
group full of Organisers or Mavericks may quickly lead to clashes, whilst
Worriers or Middlegrounds may stagnate or have problems motivating and
encouraging each other - all this making the job of the trainer that bit
more challenging! The ideal TP group should have a good cross-section of
Having divided members into course
groups, the trainer can exploit personality types to best effect in
feedback and planning sessions. By being aware of individual's strong
and weak personality traits, one can deliver feedback in a sensitive and
encouraging way, highlighting positive points and also making suggestions
about those areas which could be improved. If the feedback is
carried out in a group, other personalities may be called upon to assist and
encourage colleagues, thus widening the learning
Lessons learnt within TP groups may
also positively influence input sessions. The mixing of trainees
for group or pairwork may come as a welcome relief after the long hours
involved in TP. Shaking up the balance of personalities from time to time
keeps a healthy atmosphere and raises energy
In writing this article I may open
myself up to accusations of 'compartmentalising or
'stereotyping' trainees. This is certainly not my intention. Before I began working
as a teacher trainer most of these ideas had never occurred to me and I
would certainly have been one of the first to comment upon the unfairness of
'labelling' people in such a way.
Experience, however, has shown me
that in the often highly pressured
environment of an intensive
certificate course the trainer who exploits the most basic commodity at hand -
people and their psychology - can help trainees to unconsciously develop
as teachers by doing exactly what they do best - by being themselves and
making the most of the natural skills inherent in their
Claire Woollam is Director of
Teacher Training at London English Language
Academy in West Ealing, London. She
has been involved in Certificate
training courses and ELT Management
in the UK for the past five years.
Our dear friends and
SHARERS, Laura Szmuch and Jamie Duncan
announce the following courses for 2001:
Certificate in NLP for Education
A new group will start on Saturday
April 7 on this 12-module course leading to an international certificate.
Practitioner in NLP for Education
We are pleased to announce that we
will be running a Master Practitioner course for those who have completed the
Practitioner Certificate with us or at another institution. The first module will be held at on
Saturday April 21 in Capital Federal.
If you are interested in dong this course, please contact us for more
We are available for workshops
or short courses in the provinces or at your workplace. We do have limited weekends available
for this so it is a question of first come, first served. Contact us if you are
Further Information phone
4641-9068 or (011) 4432-6540 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Jamie and Laura are the editors of
a free electronic publication RT News, a magazine on Neuro
Linguistic Programming in Education. To subscribe simply send a mail to
with your name and city stating 'subscribe' in the subject box. You can also visit their web site
for articles and background to their courses.
6.- A STRONG
WOMAN VS. A WOMAN OF STRENGTH
Our very dear friend and SHARER
from Punta Alta, Annie Altamirano, sends us
this special message which she
dedicates to all our woman
A strong woman works out every day
to keep her body in shape ...
but a woman of strength looks deep
inside to keep her soul in
A strong woman isn't afraid of
but a woman of strength shows
courage in the midst of her fear...
A strong woman won't let anyone get
the best of her...
but a woman of strength gives the
best of her to everyone...
A strong woman makes mistakes and
avoids the same in the future...
A woman of strength realizes life's
mistakes can also be blessings
and capitalizes on them...
A strong woman walks sure
but a woman of strength knows when
to ask for help...
A strong woman wears the look of
confidence on her face...
but a woman of strength wears
A strong woman has faith that she
is strong enough for the journey...
but a woman of strength has faith
that it is in the journey that she
We would like to join Annie in this dedication. All the
best to all the women of strength in our profession who give their knowledge and
their love generously to others every day in their classrooms and in their homes
7.- GREAT NEWS FROM APrIR
dear friend and SHARER, the President of Asociación Rosarina
de Profesores de Inglés, Nora Séculi writes to us with exciting news of
special interst to teachers in the Rosario area:
Workshop: "Reading for Pleasure"
Would you like to read a text and
have an opportunity to talk about it, sharing your views --and your wildest imaginings, too!!--
with a group of colleagues likewise inclined?
This workshop meets once a month to
read, analyze and discuss short
stories, poems or plays, according to the likes and dislikes of the group as a
Coordinator: Nora Lilián Séculi
First Meeting : April 5th, Thursday (10 to 12 a.m.)
Subsequent meetings on the first Thursday of every
Venue: APrIR : Bunos Aires 1127 (P.B. "A")
Enrolment: at APrIR - personally or
by phone (0341)
You may enrol for the whole
workshop or for individual sessions.
Fee for each individual session: $
4 (four pesos).
A fine opportunity to chat - in
English of course ! - with a small group of your peers while having tea in a
friendly, informal atmosphere.
First meeting: April 19th, Thursday -
Time: 4 p.m. -
There will be monthly "chatting
teas", always on the third Thursday of
Coordinator: Martha P. de Gaspar
Place: APrIR -- Buenos Aires 1127 (P. B. "A")
Contribution: $ 4 . - (four pesos)
When you decide to join the group
for tea and a chat
please, phone APrIR 447-5636 to let
us know you're coming !!
APrIR COMMON INTEREST MEETINGS
APrIR Common Interest Meetings is the new
label attached to our local meetings, in which WE teachers, prompted by a common
interest in one subject or aspect of our professional knowledge and abilities,
meet to talk about it, share things, and learn and develop further
This activity can be described as a
kind of totally voluntary study group, in which teachers, in a congenial
environment and under no pressure whatsoever, can and surely will participate
actively and successfully.
The APrIR Committee is glad to be
able to offer teachers this very interesting opportunity for personal and
APrIR Common Interest Meetings
starting work in April:
Coordinators: Graciela Castelli and
Giselle Carné -
First Meeting: April 3rd, Tuesday ( 9 to 11 a.m.) -
Venue: St. Bartholomew's - Tucumán 1257
Coordinators: Magdalena P. de Botto
and Silvia Arberas -
First Meeting: April 6th, Friday ( 4 to 6 p.m. ) -
- Buenos Aires 1127 (P.B."A") -
(3) C.A.L.L. (Computer Assisted Language Learning)
Coordinators: Rita Zeinstejer and Alicia Blanco de Amelong
First Meeting: April 28th, Saturday (10 to 12 a.m.) -
- Buenos Aires 1127 (P.B:"A") -
The APrIR Common Interest Meetings
Liaison Officer is Beatriz Pesado Castro de Garófalo, member of the APrIR
Committee, who will be the link between the different meetings and the President
Fees: Participation in the APrIR MEETINGS is free of charge for paid-up APrIR
members and for paid-up FAAPI members.
The fee for non-members is $5 (five pesos) per session.
Expense fund: Everybody attending a session will be expected to contribute
(two pesos) for expenses.
Enrolment: It is not
indispensable to enrol in advance, but for better organization purposes, please,
do let us know your name and
the MEETING of your
-- Tel-Fax: (0341) 447-5636 --
APrIR 's e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org --
8.- LICENCIATURA AND CONGRESS IN
Our dear SHARER from Chaco, Susana
Sclack, past president of Asociación
Chaqueña de Profesores de Inglés
and currently lecturing at Facultad de Humanidades de la Universidad Nacional
del Nordeste., writes to us:
Dear Omar and Marina,
Thank you so much for SHARE. It has been a real assett. I usually share it with other
members of the Department as we always can keep up to date with news regarding
courses or books. We usually find material for our classes too, or just for
kindling our hearts when going through hard times.
I would like to SHARE
with you and your e-readers the following activities that we are organizing at
Facultad de Humanidades de la Universidad Nacional del Nordeste :
We are presently conducting a Programa de Licenciatura which is part
of Ciclo de Reconversión de Títulos Terciarios for teachers of English, French,
Italian and Portuguese.The courses to be held
- Teorías Lingüísticas Contemporáneas. Dr Pascual Masullo. March 30th and 31st, April 20th and 21st, and June 1st and
-Epistemología: Magister Nilda Zurita. 6th and 7th
Other courses to be held during the Second Semester are:
- Seminar on English. Magister Griselda Beacon
- Sociolinguistics. by Prof. Daniel Fernández
2. II Congreso del
"Enseñanza de Lenguas en el Sistema Educativo Formal" We are calling for
papers on any of the following topics:
Políticas lingüísticas y educación: lenguas maternas, lenguas segundas,
lenguas extranjeras, lenguas en contacto, lenguas clásicas, lenguas en
Estudios sobre el lenguaje desde la perspectiva de la Filosofía del
Lenguaje, la Lingüística, la Semiótica, la Psicolingüísitica, el Análisis del
Discurso, la Pragmática, la Lingüística Computacional, la Literatura y la
Didáctica de la Lengua: aportes y tendencias.-
docente en lenguas y las nuevas propuestas de formación docente continua y a
El Análisis del Discurso: ¿moda o requisito indispensable en la
formación de docentes en lenguas?
Fecha : del 12 al 15 de septiembre de
Sede : Aula Magna de la UNNE.
Av. Las Heras 727, (3500)
Pautas para la elaboración de Abstracts ( fecha límite :
Extensión: una carilla, hoja tamaño A4 (dos copias)
½, Word 6.0. o superior - Letra Arial , tipo 12
Bibliografía en anexo
Curriculum (de una extensión limitada a 3
páginas A4, ARIAL 12, espaciado sencillo, indicando datos personales y
antecedentes más relevantes (dos copias).
El tiempo de lectura del trabajo en
el congreso tendrá una duración máxima de 20 minutos para paneles, ponencias: 40
minutos y talleres: 120 minutos.-
Indicar si la actividad en la que se desea
participar es: panel, taller o ponencia individual
For more information
contact Susana Sclack email@example.com telefax: 03722-446958
La Alianza Francesa de Resistencia en coordinación con la Embajada de
Francia en Buenos Aires ya confirmó la presencia del sociolingüista Jean Claude
Béacco quien dará apertura y cierre en el
LICENTIATE DIPLOMA IN APPLIED DRAMA FOR TESOL
SHARER, Ana María R. de Bergel writes to us:
This is to announce that CENTUM and Universidad CAECE
have signed an agreement to teach the Licentiate Diploma in Applied Drama (for
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) by Trinity College London. This
is the first time that this extremely interesting teaching qualification is
offered in Argentina. Candidates must be experienced teachers.
The syllabus includes training in acting, mime and
staging, as well as the development of puppetry and storytelling skills, but the
main objective of the course is to draw from theatre disciplines those
techniques and principles which are applicable to language learning and
teaching, and to enable teachers to become better communicators.
Participants will develop several projects, design a
portfolio of activities and write a dissertation on a practical experience of
applying drama techniques to teaching.
The course will last two semesters, and will be taught
on Saturdays, from 8:00 to 12:30, at Universidad CAECE, Avda. de Mayo 866,
Buenos Aires, starting on April 21. Trinity College London will be moderating
the results at the end of the year, and successful trainees will receive the
Licentiate Diploma and a certificate from Universidad CAECE.
We are looking forward to teaching this unique
course, the first of its kind in our country.
Ana María R. de Bergel
Coordinator and Programme Designer
CENTUM Servicios de Idiomas
10.- GOOD VIBES TO A POET AND A
Our dear SHARER Adriana Benvenuto,
currently living in the States and working towards her M.A. at Soka University
writes to us
I have been and I am so busy at
Soka that I am now a passive member of your newsletter.Althought I enjoy my time
here, I DO miss teaching, running from school to school, lesson planning, my
students' faces...EVERYTHING about teaching.Your messages keep me close from all
that teaching environment.
I could have sent a small
contribution from here, I know...but this time away from teaching has inspired
me to write prose and poetry and make a stronger connection with my inner
I am attaching a poem that I wrote
a few months ago which appears on www.poetry.com.
My poetry postings are on that
website and two of them are going to be published on a book, one recorded on a
Looking forward to receiving your
good vibes from Argentina.
Who doesn't know where to
The veins are getting
The sun I see isn't the same
That shines on the open
Depends on people's
Or do we improve today's
If after two thousand
We don't know how to
What good is it to teach
To a child who is born without
Adri, receive our very best wishes
for a successful career in writing. We all hope to have you among us soon.
11.- CHOMSKY : IDEAS AND IDEALS - A
Our dear friend and
SHARER Andrea Coviella sends us this review of the book by N. Smith
"Chomsky: Ideas and ideals" that was published in the
List: Vol-12-761. Tue Mar 20
2001. - firstname.lastname@example.org. -
The LINGUIST List is funded by
Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University, and donations
from subscribers and publishers.
Smith, Neil (1999). Chomsky: Ideas and ideals. Cambridge:
University Press. Paperback GBP
Reviewed by Christiane Bongartz,
University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The title of Neil Smith's book is the best possible summary of what
author sets out to do, namely to
explore Noam Chomsky's intellectual and
ideological contributions to
contemporary linguistics, politics, and philosophy. Focusing on Chomsky's public thought and
writing, not personal circumstance, Smith gives an
overview of a life devoted to radical thought.
Smith first introduces aspects of
Chomsky's linguistic theory
proceeds to present his political
ideas. The linguistic and the
political aspects of Chomsky's thinking,
Smith argues, are inextricably linked and together represent a coherent
framework for interpreting both human nature and the world. In short, ideas and
ideals merge to form a new whole, Chomsky's
After a brief assessment in the
introduction of Chomsky's importance in the
20th century - which is compared to
that of Darwin and Descartes - Smith
devotes five chapters to providing
evidence for this claim. While the
three chapters focus narrowly on
linguistics, the fourth links linguistics and philosophy, laying the
foundation for a comparison of Chomsky's language
philosophy and his political
convictions and activism in the fifth and final chapter.
Chapter 1 "The mirror of the mind"
introduces the reader to Chomsky's
conceptualization of language as a
species-defining genetically inherited
phenomenon. Linguistics is thus part of the
scientific investigation of human nature, an investigation that
must go beyond linguistic description and explain how we know
language. In other words,
linguistic explanation reveals how our mind works with
respect to individual psychological disposition, making grammar a part
of our mental organization.
Chapter 2 "The linguistic
foundation" lays out the stages in the development
of Chomsky's linguistic theory
since its inception in the 1950s.
Smith shows how the theory moved from
grammar as a mere sentence-making mechanism to levels of syntactic
representation (deep structure and surface structure) and then further to just a few
minimal abstract principles governing syntactic movement. Increase in explanatory adequacy emerges
as the motivating factor behind each new
incarnation of the theory.
Chapter 3 "Psychological reality"
explores the link between language and
psychology and cognition. Grammar and language rules can best be
as biological facts that take the
form of mental representations in the language module of our brain. Smith offers supporting evidence from
processing, first language acquisition, and studies of language pathology. Modular representational models are
superior to connectionist models of linguistic knowledge, he
claims, in that they do justice to language-specific principles such
Chapter 4 "Philosophical realism:
commitments and controversies" relates
Chomsky's linguistic theory to the
underlying philosophy of realism and the
evaluative device of radical
empiricism. Outlining some of the major
controversies surrounding Chomskyan
thought, Smith points to perceived
misunderstandings that fuel(ed) such controversies.
Chomsky's concept of language as
part of individual psychology often remains
unappreciated by those that view
language as an external communication device. Smith argues that Chomskyan ideas
have not been convincingly
terms of big-picture considerations (the adequacy of a realism) nor in terms of small
picture ones (banning semantics and pragmatics from the core of linguistic
Chapter 5 "Language and freedom"
extends the scope of discussion to relate
Chomsky's relentless political
activism to the philosophical ideals
prevalent in his academic
work. Reviewing the many
issues to which Chomsky
has taken a public stance, Smith
argues for a coherence of thought that
movitates both his
conceptualization of human nature and his depiction of
what it takes for human nature to
unfold optimally within the given biological
Smith's book differs from others
reviewing Chomsky's oeuvre in that it
embraces both the linguistic ideas
(cf. Newmeyer, 1986) and political ideals
(cf. Barsky, 1995) motivating his
This dual orientation makes the
book both original and somewhat unusual,
leaving it to the reader to agree
or disagree with the coherence that Smith
has uncovered in the two areas of
Although the author writes
accessibly and in everyday language, his
presentation of the linguistic
theory developed by Chomsky over the years
can best be digested with some
previous knowledge of syntactic theory.
It is Smith's accomplishment to take
apart the theory and present it according to lines of controversy in the
field. Thus he separates theory development (chapters 1 and 2) from the issue
of psychological reality (chapter 3), which allows him to draw on
empirical evidence that illustrates how linguistic concepts are represented
in the human psyche.
Data from language acquisition and
language impairment serve to defend
Chomky's theoretical concepts
(chapter 3, chapter 4, and chapter 5) - and
explicating and defending the
Chomskyan perspective is a goal Smith has very
obviously set for himself. It is thus not surprising that the
carefully equipped in the
linguistics chapters for the discussion of the
philosophical concepts underlying
Chomsky's linguistic theory in chapter 4.
Chapter 4 is perhaps the most
ambitious of all. Although there are some
problems with the overall structure
(the division into subheadings seems
somewhat arbitrary and is never
explained), Smith does a fine job in
highlighting the major lines of
controversy concerning the embodiment of
linguistic structure and the nature
of language as a psychological phenomenon. Especially the discussion of language
and the community as opposed to language in the
individual is one worthwhile reading for those not familiar with this longstanding
debate. Readers looking for an
in-depth refutation of Chomsky's opponents,
however, might be disappointed - because of the broad scope of the chapter,
more room has been given to Chomsky's ideas than to those questioning
The most interesting chapter of the
book and the most original one is certainly Chapter 5. It is here where Smith makes the case
that the ideas of a modular brain with
constraint-based representations can be extended from linguistic knowledge to human
nature as such. Chomsky's political
then, requires the exertion of free will within the limits of a so-constrained human
organism. Although the author admits that Chomsky himself does not perceive of his
political and linguistic ideas as being so linked, Smith's argument is
intriguing, especially in the light of other contemporary attempts to replace
fragmented postmodernism with coherent models of explanation (cf. Johnson
& Lakoff, 1999). Political
anarchism, on this view, is to an innate module
of moral disposition what linguistics is to the innate language
faculty. While one must be careful
not to attribute this claim to Chomsky, it is a
plausible extension of his suggestions - one that might well attract more
attention as the 21st century unfolds.
Smith's book is both informative
and thought-provoking. Those
an overview of Chomsky's work will
find what they are looking for if they are willing to go with the
pro-Chomskyan attitude that Smith has adopted and does not seek to conceal. The book's major strength is its
big-picture perspective - an intriguing
combination of problems of linguistic knowledge, philosophy, and politics. In this sense, ideas and ideals unite to
form an ideology that both builds on and
transcends other models of human nature.
Barsky, R. (1997) Noam Chomsky:
A life of dissent. Cambridge:
Chomsky, N. (1995) The minimalist program.
Cambridge: MIT Press.
Harris, R. (1995). The
linguistic wars. Oxford: Oxford
Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M.
(1999). Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind
and its challenge to western
thought. New York: Basic
Newmeyer, F. (1986). Linguistic theory in
Chris Bongartz is Assistant
Professor of English at the University of North
Carolina, Charlotte. She received
her PhD in English Language and
Linguistics from the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. Her research
include generative grammar and problems of second language acquisition, especially those
related to the syntax-morphology interface.
Her book on noun combination
typology in interlanguage will appear in the
fall with Niemeyer,
12.- CHEAP PHILOSOPHY AND RUBBER
Our dear SHARER Carlos Morales from
Jujuy sends us this list which contains not only some of the biggest enigmas of
mankind but also some pieces of advice for healthy life in our postmodern world. Now seriously, Thank you Charlie for
your sense of humour.
1. Don't sweat the petty things and
don't pet the sweaty things.
2. One tequila, two tequila, three
3. Atheism is a non-prophet
4. If man evolved from monkeys and
apes, why do we still have monkeys and
5. I went to a bookstore and asked
the saleswoman, "Where's
section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat
6. If you spin an oriental man in a
circle three times, does he become disoriented? 7. Could it be that all those
trick-or-treaters wearing sheets aren't going
as ghosts but as
8. If a mute swears, does his mother wash
his hands with soap?
9. If a man is standing in the
middle of the forest speaking and there is
no woman around to hear him...is he
10. If someone with multiple
personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage
11. Is there another word for
12. Isn't it a bit unnerving that
doctors call what they do "practice"?
13. Where do forest rangers go to
"get away from it all?"
14. What do you do when you see an
endangered animal eating an endangered
15. If a parsley farmer is sued,
can they garnish his wages?
16. Would a fly without wings be
called a walk?
17. Why do they lock gas station
bathrooms? Are they afraid someone
18. If a turtle doesn't have a
shell, is he homeless or naked?
19. Why don't sheep shrink when it
20. Can vegetarians eat animal
21. If the police arrest a mime, do
they tell him he has the right to remain silent?
22. Why do they put Braille on the
drive-through bank machines?
23. How do blind people know when
they are done wiping?
24. How do they get the deer to
cross at that yellow road sign?
25. Is it true that cannibals don't
eat clowns because they taste funny?
26. What was the best thing before
27. One nice thing about egotists:
they don't talk about other people.
28 Does the Little Mermaid wear an
29. Do infants enjoy infancy as
much as adults enjoy adultery?
30. How is it possible to have a
31. If one synchronized swimmer
drowns, do the rest drown too?
32. If you ate pasta and antipasta,
would you still be hungry?
33. If you try to fail, and
succeed, which have you done?
34. Whose cruel idea was it for the
word "Lisp" to have a "S" in it?
35. Why are hemorrhoids called
"hemorrhoids" instead of "assteroids"?
36. Why is it called tourist season
if we can't shoot at them?
37. If the "blackbox" flight
recorder is never damaged during a plane crash, why isn't the whole
airplane made out of that stuff?
38. Why is there an expiration date
on sour cream?
13.- A COURSE ON EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
Our dear SHARER
Cozzolino email@example.com writes
to us to announce :
Ex Alumnos de Lenguas Vivas "Juan Ramón Fernández" and Trinity College, London
to invite you to participate in a new and challenging initiative in Adult
Developing Communication Skills for
the 21st Century
Tutor: Susan Hillyard B.A.
This semi-distance, higher level
language course is intended for students interested in developing and enhancing
their oral expression with a view to communicating effectively in a wide range
of situations: oral performance in class discussions, exams and other events;
engaging in fruitful conversation; addressing audiences; interacting in
Upon complying with the course
requirements, students will be given the option to sit for the Trinity College
London examination and be awarded the Professional Certificate in Effective
Classes will be held every other
Saturday from April through November, starting on April 21st, 2001
at Paraguay 1935 Capital Federal. The
For further information, please
contact Leonor Cozzolino at 4814-0545 or
COURSES AT THE CREATIVE LEARNING CENTRE
dear SHARER Monica
Dominguez firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com sends us the
Lectures and Workshops at "Creative
Multiple Intelligences: solid
ground for innovation, theory and project work
As from Saturday April 21 from
10:30 to 13:30 Prof. Mónica Domínguez will
presenting a unique lecture/workshop on the Theory of
Multiple Intelligences and how to implement it in the Language
Fee: $ 25 for one session $45 for two
Certificates of attendance issued
The workshop can be run at your own
school or institute as well.
Information and enrolment :
firstname.lastname@example.org / Te: 4823-6941
1-Meaningful oral activities for
Tuesday, May 8th from 18:15 to 21
(short coffee break)
Tuesday, June 5th from 18:15 to 21
Tuesday, July 3rd from 18:15 to
Fee: $20 each workshop $54 all
Prof. Mónica Domínguez
Post-graduate studies in
Methodology, Drama, Whole Language, The Theory of
Intelligences and Neuro-Linguistic
Programming in Argentina and abroad. Lecturer in Methodology at
"Profesorado del Sagrado
Venue for all courses: Creative
Learning Centre, Ayacucho 1411 Dto
15.- KILL THEM
Our dear SHARER Christian
Fernando Duarte Varela from Córdoba sends us this very story to SHARE:
Kill them with
I love the story of what happened
during the days of the Berlin Wall. One day some of the East
Berliners decided they were going to send their West Berlin adversaries a
little "gift." They loaded a dump truck with garbage, broken bricks, stones,
building material, and anything else with zero value.
They drove the truck across the
border, gained clearance, and dumped it on the West Berlin side.
Needless to say, the West Berliners
were incensed and were going to "get even" with them. Fortunately,
a very wise man intervened and gave entirely different counsel. As a
result, they responded and loaded a dump truck with food (which was scarce
in East Berlin), clothing (also scarce), medical supplies (even scarcer), a
host of other essential items. They took the truck across the border,
carefully unloaded it all, and left a neat
sign that read, "Each gives
according to his ability to give."
Moral : Kill 'em with kindness.
Don't return evil in like kind. Be more magnanimous than that.
16.- MAR DEL PLATA, HERE WE GO!
Our dear SHARER Ana Lía Regueira sends us this
important message. All the best to the organizers of this academic event.
Dear Omar and Marina,
We are organizing the II Convention on the
Teaching of English in Higher Education to be held on April 19th., 20th. and
21st. in Mar del Plata. There will be a pre-convention seminar on SLA in charge
of Dr. Susan Gass.
For information, please contact Dr. Susana Tuero
(Departamento de Lenguas Modernas, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata) at
Thanks for sharing this information and best
Ana Lía Regueira.
Time to say goodbye
again. Today we want to leave you with a riddle: It is true that the
most important things are invisible to the eye but some which are not so
important are quite obvious and (we know) and you do not know why.
We will be eagerly waiting for your
answers. In the meantime, as usual:
Omar and Marina
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