Saturday, November 22, 2008

This and that

Recently, on the Parchment and Pen blog, I was interrogated at some length. I have no intention of revisiting these questions but one of the commenters remarked on how I was only interested in the scriptures as it related to gender issues. This would not be an inaccurate assessment of what I have written about in the bibliosphere.

However, as many other bloggers do, it is fun to give others an insight into the rest of one's life. For example, I don't play in band, to my chagrin.

Here are some of my enduring research interests. First and foremost, is the development of writing systems and literacy as a human technology. In particular, I have studied minority group literacy and how this interacts with the participation in leadership of members of minority groups. This has involved years of research into the way the churches have, and have not, facilitated indigenous leadership in Africa and the First Nations groups in North America.

For the past few years I have spent time considering how electronic communication both fosters and inhibits the participation of those from diverse language and script groups, and those with diverse communication needs, in the wider community.

One of the things that has come out of the blue recently is that I have been asked to give some workshops on how different assistive and augmentative technologies both compare and interact with each other, and how they impact on pedagogy for the learning disabled.

I will have to struggle to come up to snuff on some aspects, whereas, I have in depth experience in other areas. It is a steep learning curve since I have to learn several new programmes in a short period of time, for comparison purposes. The issue is always hardware and tech support, since I need to use my classroom equipment most of the time.

What I am saying is that I have so many thoughts on issues that are going around in the blogosphere and so little time to write them down.


Jane said...

thanks for this post Suzanne. I never doubted for moment that you were a fully rounded human being with diverse interests.
It is fascinating though how as soon as we mention gender issues more than once we tend to get pigeon-holed - by others. Of course them pigeon-holing us isn't because they might be obsessed with gender issues but from a different perspective. It is interesting how it all works.
Anyway I shall send a link to this post to my bes friend - a speech and language therapist who is also a feminist theologian - who has just finished her phd on language acquisition amongst ethnic minorities in parts of Britain and how language impacts access to health and education services etc.

And I so well understand the lack of time to blog about the variety of things that catch one's mind and interest. Anyway thanks for your post - it encourages me ot try to be a bit more personal myself.
Bon courage

David Ker said...

Suzanne, I'm glad for writing systems kinds of people like you even if I'm not one myself. I did notice in Pink's book Whole New Mind he mentioned that languages that are written from right to left tend to omit vowel marking. Something about being right brained. I like that.

The literacy thing is dear to my heart of course and as we are embarking on a major electronic publishing effort for African languages I'm always on the lookout for insights.

Love at ya.


Sue said...


I love you too, but that right to left thing is bunk.

Once I was in the office of Derrick de Kerckhove, head of the McLuhan Centre in Toronto. I had written a chapter on writing systems with Cree Syllabics as a type of syllabary. He sat me down all excited and asked a lot of questions then he asked if the syllabics were written right to left. I said no. Really, he could not get rid of me fast enough, because I blew his much published theory.

IMO, much of what is written about writing systems and right and left brain is bunk.

My concern for African languages is that they need to have intuitive input methods on the keyboard. There should be some way for them to display the input chart for the keyboard, so they can have some access to how to input the various systems without having to memorize all the diacritic sequences first. This is for new learners and the less literate.

Then they should have a method for searching electronic text which neutralizes all diacritics. This is what is done in French and German.

So, in french, you get the search results for hôtel if you type hotel.

You obviously need to make sure there is only one input code sequence for each letter in the language, although several might be available. Major languages which do not have this right now are accented Greek, and Vietnamese. There is no federated searching in either of these languages. It is a royal mess. Ancient Greek is just a pain in the butt, because it is not anyone's primary language, but Vietnamese is.

We have no idea how lucky we are in English and major European languages. I think Chinese, Korean and Japanese are okay in this dept. as well, but not minority lgs.

So 3 things

- unified code sequences
- visual aids for keyboards
- search engines that neutralize diacritics

Lin said...

Even though I do not understand what on earth you are talking about :o) writing systems, etc., I am glad you made this post.

Yes, it does seem to some that some of us are immersed in biblical interpretations that concern women but that is just one part of our lives. I am a amatuer historian focusing mainly on the 20th century. I have a deep love of history and books about history. And, I used to be quite involved in political campaigns but stopped about 8 years ago because it became an idol. Now, I just pray a lot. :o)