Blog #3 – Second Revision

Code-switching is the practice of switching between languages or vernacular in conversation. In Matt Thompson’s article “Five Reasons Why People Code-Switch” he describes fitting in as a major reason why people code-switch. He states that “Very often, people code-switch – both consciously and unconsciously – to act or talk more like those around them…” I agree with this statement as a major reason why people code-switch. I have witnessed this type of code-switching first hand, when listening to the conversations my mother has with people of other ethnicities.

I often notice my mother code-switching when talking to people of other races other than Indian. To me, it is very obvious: her voice becomes a bit higher and she pronounces certain words differently because she feels she needs to compensate for her heavy Indian accent.

This is only noticeable to our family (and I’d assume a few of her friends) because we know how she speaks around us. Around us, she doesn’t care if she is messing up her English grammar, as long as she gets her point across. For example, she will often say things like “Go to Indian store and pick up all vegetables on list.” Notice anything funny? She struggles to incorporate articles such as “the” when she speaks English. The case is not that she doesn’t know how to use articles, rather for the sake of convenience she doesn’t attempt to use them. Around others, however, she is often careful about what she says as she doesn’t want to let out improper English.

Around us she will often try to use common sayings, and fail miserably. In our conversation about studying hard in college, she said, “You have to hit head on the nail.” Although I understood her message, I still died laughing. She understands that she has not mastered English, however, for this reason she does not feel comfortable speaking with native speakers.

Thompson describes code-switching to fit in, both consciously and unconsciously. It is difficult to tell whether my mom does this consciously or unconsciously. There may have been a certain point where my mother code-switched enough to make it an unconscious habit. For example, when she first came to this country, to avoid scrutiny, she began to code-switch – with the symptoms depicted above. However, she may be at a point where whenever around other ethnic groups, she will code-switch to fit in. So, at a certain point, it is possible that code-switching can go from a conscious decision to an unconscious one. Some examples of code-switching may not be as clearly definable as others, like in the case of my mother’s code-switching.

Code-switching can indicate certain qualities in a person, and at the surface, these qualities may seem negative. For example, one may deduce from my mother’s code-switching that she gives a great deal of importance to people’s judgments. At times it may seem that she has low self-confidence. While these statements may hold some truth, it is perfectly normal to code-switch to fit in. Humans have evolved as a social species, with each of us playing an integral role in society. As a result, it is likely that the desire to belong is a human characteristic, and so code-switching – especially in the case of unconscious code-switching – makes sense in the context of human nature. Therefore, although caring about what people think about you is not something that should characterized as a good quality, there is an unconscious aspect to it that might just be out of our hands.

Clouds

Object which may carry a mythical connotation are clouds. Clouds, in many religious texts and myths can be associated with the heavens. In mythology, clouds were a direct means of interaction between humans and gods. For example, rain allows for vegetation and crops to grow. Rain provides fertility for land and organisms. Rain directly benefitted humans in this way. In many cultures, clouds were hailed as a godly object.

Lightning emanates from clouds. In many cultures, lightning would have a meaning associated with gods. For example, there can be an association between the anger of gods and lightning. So, since clouds are the vesicles which “carry” lightning and rain.

In many cultures, clouds have a heavenly connotation. They seem very high in the sky, and have an ominous feel – what is beyond them and what are they harbouring? In fairy tales and myths it is common for clouds to harbor cities, typically cities associated with gods or the heavens.

What I am trying to say is that clouds incite a heavenly sense, because of the amount of cultures that associate clouds and the gods.

It is important for us to recognize this myth associated with clouds because it is important to note that there are still many myths in various cultures which are still prominent today. Religion and the mythology surrounding it is so prominent that even kids, who may not be exposed to all the mythology and religion, still associate clouds – which they would consider fluffy and comfortable. It goes beyond this because clouds, since they are high in the sky, are awe-inspiring to kids. This naturally incites a heavenly association to clouds.

Disgust Towards our Society

As a former Hindu, I was raised as a vegetarian. I was taught not to eat other animals, and follow the principle of “ahimsa” which translates to non-violence and injury of other beings. I was taught to worship the cow among other animals, as the cow was the source of nourishment for the rich and poor in ancient India. Most Hindus, however, don’t follow these original teachings due to a world in which it is difficult to be vegetarian, and there are a plethora of fast, cheap meat options.

As I grew older I began to question my religion, and the “strict” followers of the religion. Supposed “strict” Hindus were driving cars with leather seats, or owned leather wallets or shoes. I felt, and still feel, this is wrong. As a “strict” Hindu, raised as a vegetarian, one should not own any goods involved with the killing of other animals, nor should they support industries associated with killing. These observations, as well as my growing knowledge of science led me to drop my belief in Hinduism. Although I dropped belief in the religion, I maintained my belief in ahimsa, as a means of having a peace of mind and not supporting the cruel and vile meat, leather, fur etc. industries.

What is appalling to me is that many people don’t know where animal products, such as leather, comes from. For instance, my 13 year-old brother, hadn’t known that leather was made from cows. This leads me to believe that, at a young age, children are taught that farm animals are raised on a farm – with a large space to graze, interact and essentially live. In our world today, this just isn’t the case anymore, and we should stop teaching our children that animal products are always from animals raised on a farm. Rather, domesticated animals are raised and bred in mass amounts in factories, as if toys, to supply our selfish overconsumption of meat, leather, and fur.

This is even the case for the pet industry, which thrives on the demand of ignorant customers who believe these animals are bred in a natural way. This industry is based on the demand for certain animals, who are condemned to a life in a small cage and of forced reproduction, to meet the demand for “cute pets.”

I learned of these industries through countless hours of research. I have spent many hours researching each industry, taking note, yet cringing at the cruelty involved. My research was conducted on the internet of countless articles, undercover footage, and documentaries. I even delved into the credibility of some of these media, as many attempt to capture readers/viewers empathy through exaggerations. I looked for recurring content and facts to eliminate any ignorance left on the subject. Of course, I need to do more first-hand research and observation through involvement in solving these issues to legitimately be one devoid of ignorance. Until then, my research doesn’t necessarily end, rather I need to pause every once in a while, from extreme disgust towards our selfish society.

Sherlock Holmes and Literature

“The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”, a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was a fun read, which was quite unexpected in the context of our English class. Not to say that our readings are boring, rather this reading was particularly fun. The aspect that I felt set this reading apart was that the short story itself has little meaning outside of its story. It would not be able to answer the question, so what? Sherlock Holmes stories are pure entertainment rather than a means of stating a point or utilizing a literary device. This aspect of the reading makes the story a fun, easy, and painless read.

Does this make “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” an unexpected read to study in school? I believe it does. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does not put the meaning of his work, or the language he uses, in the spotlight. Rather, he makes the plot, or the actual story, the main event. For this reason I feel that this reading is not one that I would expect to study in a typical English course. In an expository writing course, one would expect to analyze readings which attempt to make a point, such as Sigmund Freud’s “The Uncanny”. Another type of reading one might expect would be readings which focus on utilizing literary devices, such as figurative language. An example of this would be Shakespeare. However, “The Adventures of the Cardboard Box” does not focus on either of these, which makes it an odd read for a typical English class.

The reason why Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are an odd read in an English class can be attributed to limitations in “Literature” taught in a classroom setting. Writing, and the utilization of words is inherently literature, however not all literature is a primary focus of general English courses such as expository writing. Therefore, Doyle’s short story does not have limitations, only limitations in whether or not it is studied. In other words, there is only one way Doyle could have written his literature – his own way. What is limited is the way we choose to study it, or the whether or not we choose to study it. So, there is a limitation in the way, or what literature, is studied not the literature itself. Doyle’s short story, which serves its purpose as entertainment, may not have a place in a typical classroom English class but holds much significance as literature.

Explaining Theodore’s Character

In the movie Her, the main character, Theodore, is a writer for the Beautiful Handwritten Letters Company. As the writer and director of Her, Spike Jonze knew that having Theodore’s occupation be a writer for the Beautiful Handwritten Letters Company would add a facet to his character and incite a specific feeling in the audience. In the opening scene, Theodore reads aloud a heartfelt letter, which at first the audience believes is for his own lover, however, our expectations are thrown wayward when it becomes evident that the letter was written for a couple who had been married for fifty years. His words are genuine, passionate and penetrating, and for this he is his boss’s favorite letter writer.

Why is Theodore a letter writer? I feel the answer to this question correlates to why Theodore falls in love with his operating system, Samantha. Theodore is a romantic and has an affinity for words, but above all, Theodore is genuine. For this reason, Theodore’s character is able to fall in love with an operating system. The reason why humans have had relationships for the course of our existence stems from our need to reproduce and survive. Very rarely can someone form a relationship with the opposite sex, with the absence of reproduction or sexual pleasure. For this reason, Theodore romanticism is noteworthy exemplified through his affinity for words and love-letter writing. In his world of the omnipotence of technology, this sets Theodore apart and so it makes sense that his character would both be letter writer and fall in love with an operating system.

I think Theodore’s job as a writer of letters for other people is meant to be peculiar, and throw off the audience, all the while perfectly explain his actions. On first take, it is weird that someone would make a living by letters for other people. However, it makes sense that someone who can write a love letter for an anonymous person, a person who is not physically in front of him or can respond to his words, can create a romantic relationship with an operating system. Similar to in his love letters, when Theodore speaks to Samantha, he isn’t speaking to a physical person. Theodore’s job explains why he is able to connect with Samantha and form the relationship that he does.

The expected reaction of bewilderment is not unexpected, yet neither is the reason why Theodore’s occupation is what it is. The character that Spike Jonze creates in Theodore perfectly explains why his occupation is a writer for the Beautifully Handwritten Letters Company. Although his actions are off-putting, Theodore’s environment, surroundings, and occupation pave the way for his relationship with Samantha. My perspective may differ from the norm, however I can see why Theodore makes the decisions he does, and this is explained by his character.

Her. Dir. Spike Jonze. Perf. Joaqin Phoenix, Amy McAdams, Scarlett Johansson. Annapurna Pictures, 2013. Film.

Blog #3 Revision

Code-switching is the practice of switching between languages or vernacular in conversation. In Matt Thompson’s article “Five Reasons Why People Code-Switch” he describes fitting in as a major reason why people code-switch. He states that “Very often, people code-switch – both consciously and unconsciously – to act or talk more like those around them…” I agree with this statement as a major reason why people code-switch. I have witnessed this type of code-switching first hand, when listening to the conversations my mother has with people of other ethnicities.

I often notice my mother code-switching when talking to people of other races other than Indian. To me, it is very obvious: her voice becomes a bit higher and she pronounces certain words differently because she feels she needs to compensate for her heavy Indian accent.

This is only noticeable to our family (and I’d assume a few of her friends) because we know how she speaks around us. Around us, she doesn’t care if she is messing up her English grammar, as long as she gets her point across. For example, she will often say things like “Go to Indian store and pick up all vegetables on list.” Notice anything funny? She struggles to incorporate articles such as “the” when she speaks English. The case is not that she doesn’t know how to use articles, rather for the sake of convenience she doesn’t attempt to use them. Around others, however, she is often careful about what she says as she doesn’t want to let out improper English.

Around us she will often try to use common sayings, and fail miserably. In our conversation about studying hard in college, she said, “You have to hit head on the nail.” Although I understood her message, I still died laughing. She understands that she has not mastered English, however, for this reason she does not feel comfortable speaking with native speakers.

Thompson describes code-switching to fit in, both consciously and unconsciously. It is difficult to tell whether my mom does this consciously or unconsciously. There may have been a certain point where my mother code-switched enough to make it an unconscious habit. For example, when she first came to this country, to avoid scrutiny, she began to code-switch – with the symptoms depicted above. However, she may be at a point where whenever around other ethnic groups, she will code-switch to fit in. So, at a certain point, it is possible that code-switching can go from a conscious decision to an unconscious one. Some examples of code-switching may not be as clearly definable as others, like in the case of my mother’s code-switching.

Jan Morrow’s Apartment

Jan Morrow’s apartment, depicted in one of the first scenes of the film Pillow Talk, and then often throughout the film, is very peculiar to the eyes of someone viewing the film in 2014. The apartment is extravagant, with pink countertops and a mix between white and pink walls. The apartment has many windows and there is a consistent floral theme throughout the apartment. The bathroom contains monogramed shower curtain and assortments of towels.

Just as Jessica Sewell argues that the design of Brad’s apartment reflected something about the personality of himself and men in during the 1950’s, Jan Morrow’s apartment reflects her personality, and the overall personality of women during the 1950’s.

Jan’s personality is a very bubbly one – she enjoys socializing, going to the city for dates, and designing apartments. Jan’s interactions with other characters perfectly explain her personality: she seems very high-class and seeking quality in experiences. This can explain Jan’s apartment. Her bubbly personality contributes to the vibrant colors, and her extroversion explains the multiplicity of windows and sunlight.

At first look, Jan’s apartment’s vibrancy is peculiar. However, during the 1950’s this type of interior design would be perceived differently than the way it is perceived in this day and age. While sifting through photographs of fashion and interior design of the 1950’s, it was clear to me that the 1950’s were an exuberant time. Take, for example. The following typical 1950’s living room:

http://https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&docid=svSonBWBaBdm_M&tbnid=PKz3UAgY0-URAM:&ved=0CAYQjB0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fretrorenovation.com%2F2011%2F09%2F08%2F1950s-interior-design-and-decorating-style-7-major-trends%2F&ei=8MgcVLiSItPIgwS84YKIAw&bvm=bv.75775273,d.eXY&psig=AFQjCNH25EUOEH_yZhpen1yvLzsPpi2j6A&ust=1411258969860210

Much like Jan’s apartment, this room is very vibrant, incorporating colors such as pink and red, as well as floral designs. It is possible that the exuberant times of the 1950’s can be attributed to the optimism of the women had during the post-world war 2 era. Coupled with the well groomed nature of women at the time, it is no surprise that Jan’s apartment reflects the bubbly personality of women during the 1950’s; even though during this day and age, it is a little off-putting.

My Mom’s Code-Switching Habit

I often notice my mother code-switching when talking to people of other races other than Indian. To me, it is very obvious: her voice becomes a bit higher and she pronounces certain words differently because she feels she needs to compensate for her heavy Indian accent.

This is only noticeable to our family (and I’d assume a few of her friends) because we know how she speaks around us. Around us, she doesn’t care if she is messing up her English grammar, as long as she gets her point across. For example, she will often say things like “Go to Indian store and pick up all vegetables on list.” Notice anything funny? She struggles to incorporate articles such as “the” when she speaks English. The case is not that she doesn’t know how to use articles, rather for sake of convenience she doesn’t attempt to use them. Around others, however, she is often careful about what she says as she doesn’t want to let out improper English.

Around us she will often try to use common sayings, and fail miserably. In our conversation about studying hard in college, she said, “You have to hit head on the nail.” Although I understood her message, I still died laughing. She understands that she has not mastered English, however, for this reason she does not feel comfortable speaking with native speakers.

These countless instances have taught me things about my mother and myself. Neither of us are very comfortable meeting new people, nor do we connect with most people we meet. I’m aware that, around Americans in general, she feels a bit self-conscious about her accent. I’m not entirely sure why she feels this way, nevertheless, this is the primary reason why she code-switches. Of course, I don’t judge her– she doesn’t judge me when I speak Marathi in my weird American accent.

I have to acknowledge the amount of progress she has made since arriving in this country over twenty years ago. I can’t imagine how socially inept she was a decade ago, however from the stories I hear from my dad, she’s made a lot of progress. Similarly, over time, even I have opened socially. I is evident that social skills improve over time and with age.