Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Introducing myself

I am pretty new to the world of blogging, and I consider this an experiment. I don't know how regular my blogs will be. In this post, I will summarize some of my views that I may elaborate in future posts.

I am a single, 29-year-old Jewish male from Baltimore, Maryland. My interests are broad and varied. I have an interest in blogging because I love to write and correspond with people, and I have posted on Internet discussion boards for years. Essay writing is a prime interest of mine, and I would do it even if I had no audience, but I do enjoy feedback.

I am opinionated, while at the same time openminded. People may find that my opinions seem rather unusual in combination. I am a Democrat who opposes President Bush and thought the Iraq war was a bad idea from day one.

I am an Orthodox Jew who refuses to identify as either Haredi or Modern. I think these labels greatly oversimplify the differences among Orthodox Jews. Orthodoxy is a spectrum, not a choice between two distinct camps, and I've known numerous people who do not fit neatly into either category.

I am a movie buff and a prospective reviewer. I am an avid reader of Roger Ebert. I have submitted 40+ comments to the Internet Movie Database, and here they are.

My interest in literature is more selective. The novels I love tend to have the following characteristics: (1) They transport me to another world (2) They are full of vivid sensory prose that puts me right in the moment (3) They appeal to my fears and anxieties (4) They expand my perspective. You can view my profile for further information on my reading interests.

For the last few years, I have had a fascination with the history of languages. I have read in depth about the history of the English language. This interest changed the way I look at language: I have become more cognizant of the fact that all languages are in a continual process of change, and this observation has affected my outlook on contemporary language issues. I strongly considered switching my college major to linguistics. But I decided that I was more interested in the art of language than the science of language.

I recently joined a Toastmasters club to help improve my public speaking skills. Although I'm an introvert and I do have some stage fright, I love speaking in front of people. I have tremendously enjoyed my year in this club, and it has given me a new perspective on the art of communication.

I think that about covers most of the points I want to address. I hope to greatly expand on these ideas in future posts.


Jack Davidov said...

Do your linguistics expertise extend to Aramaic? I have been curious, recently, about the history of the language. I used to get frustrated in yeshiva because the colloquial usage of it seemed so arbitrary - no one seemed to refer to a text book to learn how to pronounce it. I also understand that there is a huge difference between the Aramaic of the Yerushalmi, the Bavli, and the Zohar. After a while, I realized that the pronounciation of words is really a living thing - a textbook is irrelevant if people don't pronounce it the way it describes.

Kylopod said...

The way the yeshivas pronounce Aramaic words often differs from the textbook in small and subtle ways. But you have to realize that even if we go by the textbook's vowelization scheme, we are still using our own Modern Ashkenazic Hebrew conventions to decipher a totally different ancient language which most Jewish communities did little to preserve. Yemenite Jews have preserved a vocalization scheme for Onkelos, but it differs greatly from the ones Ashkenazim and Sephardim use, and even from the one Yemenites use when they study Talmud.

Jack Davidov said...

I would say that since it's virtually a "dead language" (aside from isolated communities in the Mid-East which speak vastly different dialects), the way that people pronounce it in yeshiva is its own language. In other words, if the only people that speak it are yeshiva bachurim - that becomes the proper way by default.

Kylopod said...

In a linguistic sense, you'd be right. If the main institutions of learning are teaching the words this way, then that way naturally becomes the correct way. But I'm not sure if religiously we're supposed to just throw our hands in the air and allow the language to evolve any way it pleases; we certainly do not have that attitude toward Biblical Hebrew.