3rd WLGO Annual Conference

22 Apr

I am really proud to tell you that the 3rd Annual Conference organized by the World Graduate Student Organization was a success this year.

It took place in the Papajohn building last Saturday, April 18th. The title was “Exploring Identities“, and I must confess that this is one of my favorite topics: Identity.

So I was really excited, especially because we had many graduate students from different cities and different universities, and also because, as a graduate student Conference, it was ver interndisciplinary. It is so wonderful to see how different areas deal with a topic like identity, from the perspective of literature, second language acquisition, linguistics, and creative writing.

As part of the WLGO team, I am really proud of the work and effort that went into creating such a wonderful event, and as a graduate student, it makes me very happy to see people sharing their work and coming together to express their ideas, and listen to others’.

Thank you!

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Michelle Obama at UI

30 Oct

Michelle Obama recently visited the University of Iowa in order to support Congress candidate Bruce Braley. She gave a very energetic and moving speech about how young people make a difference in this world.

I had the honor of standing very very close to her. It was a nice moment.

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Quotes of the day

26 Jan

❝Writers create a national literature; translators create a universal literature.” -José Saramago

One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.❞ ‒Frank Smith

Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can; there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.❞ ‒Sarah Caldwell

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.❞ ‒Chinese Proverb

Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.❞ ‒Rita Mae Brown

❝There’s no such thing as dead languages, only dormant minds.❞ ― Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The dictionary is based on the hypothesis — obviously an unproven one — that languages are made up of equivalent synonyms.― Jorge Luis Borges

Each letter of the alphabet is a steadfast loyal soldier in a great army of words, sentences, paragraphs, and stories. One letter falls, and the entire language falters.― Vera Nazarian

Wittgenstein’s preface

22 Jan

I know I just wrote about the importance of words, but I just found the preface of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s book Logico-Tractatus Philosophicus and I wanted to share it with you:

“Perhaps  this book will be understood only by someone who has himself already  had the thoughts that are expressed in it–or at least similar thoughts.–So it is not a textbook.–Its purpose would be achieved if it gave pleasure  to one person who read and understood it. The book deals with the   problems of philosophy, and shows, I believe, that the reason why    these problems are posed is that the logic of our language is misunderstood.   The whole sense of the book might be summed up in the following words:  what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence. Thus the aim of the book is to draw a limit to thought, or rather–not to thought, but to the express  of thoughts: for in order to be able to draw a limit to thought, we should have to find both sides of the limit thinkable (i.e. we should   have to be able to think what cannot be thought). It will therefore   only be in language that the limit can be drawn, and what lies on  the other side of the limit will simply be nonsense. I do not wish to judge how far my efforts coincide with those of other philosophers. Indeed, what I have written here makes no claim to novelty in detail, and the reason why I give no sources is that it is a matter of indifference   to me whether the thoughts that I have had have been anticipated by someone else.”

The importance of words

22 Jan

I was just watching Obama’s inauguration speech and thought about how much time a great part of the team involved in his government must have spent thinking and re thinking the right words to say for the act.

At a sentence-by-sentence level, it was filled with a device to which Obama is practically addicted: syntheton. That is, never say one thing when you can inflate the sentence with two: “effort and determination”, “passion and dedication”, “security and dignity”, “hazards and misfortune”, “initiative and enterprise”, “fascism or communism”, “muskets and militia” and so, unceasingly, on.

At the larger level of organisation we were seeing some other old favourites – in particular anaphora, where a phrase is repeated at the beginning of successive sentences. This speech was an anaphoric relay race: “Together, we” gave way to “We, the people”, which temporarily ceded the track to “Our journey is not complete until”, before “You and I, as citizens” staggered to the tape with the baton.

Here is what he started his speech with:

“Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Let’s take a look, only in the first paragraph he says such important words as: “Constitution” “Democracy” “The color of our skin” “Faith” “Origins” “Americans”. Just with these words he has already summed up the whole American history and the principles they strongly believe in.

But my favorite it’s in the second paragraph, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” what is this? Yes, the idea of the so-called American dream.

How can you and move people with only a sentence? With words, they can be used for good or for evil. They have that power. They reflect who we are or who we are not. They define our interactions and relationships with others, how we are seen and how we want people to see us.

So indeed, we don’t have a full government to double check every word that comes out of our mouth, but we have to be careful, every word conveys something we might or might not be aware of. They leave, but the emotion stays…




Barack Obama 2013 inauguration speech: