Jose Carillo's Forum


This new section features links to interesting, instructive, or thought-provoking readings about the English language. The selections could be anywhere from light and humorous to serious and scholarly, and they range widely from the reading, writing, listening, and speaking disciplines to the teaching and learning of English.

Adieu to handwriting, farewell to computer gobbledygook!

For this section’s initial offering, we present five readings: the first lamenting the lost art of handwriting, the second decrying the increasing “ambiguity, dissembling, and mindlessness” of the English language, the third examining the reasons for the dramatic decline of English departments in universities in the United States, the fourth reporting the good news that fuzzy language is finally disappearing from marketing pitches for computers, and the fifth wondering humorously about the many oddities of the English language.    

“The Lost Art of Writing” by Umberto Eco. In an article in The Guardian of UK, the noted Italian philosopher, literary critic, and novelist (The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum), looks back with nostalgia to the time when children were still taught how to write in longhand. “The tragedy began long before the computer and the cellphone,” he laments. The crisis began with the ballpoint pen. Handwriting no longer had soul, style or personality.”

Read “The Lost Art of Writing” now!

“Our Inexplicable Inability to Eschew Obfuscation” by Bob Martin. Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the paper’s former editor and writer asks why the English language is so often used to obscure when it’s supposed to be a model of power and clarity. “The English language has become infected by ambiguity, dissembling, and mindlessness,” he says.

Read “Our Inexplicable Inability to Eschew Obfuscation” now!

“The Decline of the English Department” by William M. Chace. Writing in The American, the former president and professor of Wesleyan University and Emory University and author of the book My Adventures as Student, Professor, and University President, and What I Learned Along the Way identifies the reasons for the dramatic drop in the number of young men and women majoring in English, philosophy, foreign languages, art history, and related fields. “If nothing is done to put an end to the process of disintegration, the numbers will continue in a steady downward spiral,” he warns.

Read “The Decline of the English Department” now!

“Goodbye, Gobbledygook” by Ashlee Vance of The New York Times. This article observes that the computer industry has made a slow lurch away from its engineering roots toward a more shopper-friendly strategy that makes their computer products simpler to understand. As an Intel vice president for corporate marketing is quoted as saying, “We were our own worst enemy, making it confusing about which chip is best for a computer.”

Read “Goodbye, Gobbledygook” now!

“English Language Has Many Oddities” by Roy Wilhelm. The former editor of (Ohio), on vacation in Michigan, wonders about the oddities of the English language. “You know, many words mean many different things,” he says. “Other words are spelled differently and mean completely different things, but they are pronounced the same. It’s strange.”

Read “English Language Has Many Oddities” now!

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