2.13.13

Just watched Alex Reid’s “What is Object-Oriented Rhetoric?” but even after watching a video that has a title which implies that I can and might be able to answer this question, I’m at a loss. I was with him up to the idea that *maybe* language is something that isn’t *human*–it is a system, a being, a thing–that exists outside of an individual and can never be fully comprehended by an individual despite that person’s extensive interaction with and dependance on language. But then he goes on to say that all thing (?) all objects (?) all natural phenomena (?) have agency to make rhetorical arguments. I think this is the essence of object-oriented rhetoric–it looks at the rhetoric of, say, a sandwich. What does the sandwich argue, it asks . . . or the rock–when did you last ask the rock for her(?) point of view? In some small way this reminds me the /Pocahontas/ song . . . “Colors of the Wind.” Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon? Pocahontas gets it.

Also read an essay by Spinuzzi (“Light green doesn’t mean hydrology”)–take away: Interfaces are laden with metaphor (file folders, desktops, etc.), but when we conceptualize/evaluate interfaces using the principles of metaphor, something gets lost–the internet/computers have been around too long. The original metaphors are defunct, because these spaces are ‘ecological’ and new meanings have grown out of the merged systems and metaphors. I kept trying to think of how this would apply to my personal evaluation of a website, a digital production, an online-anything, but I couldn’t quite make the leap.  The third piece was more useful–“Between Modes: Assessing Student New Media Compositions” by Sorapure. She raised pretty much all the questions I have about assigning and assessing new media / multimodal projects. But, I found it hard–despite the fact that I’ve had some experience analyzing metaphors and metonymy–to fully-apply her framework. She provided lots of useful examples, but I think I am just feeling a little dense tonight. To me, the two concepts bleed together in multimodal productions. . . I can’t keep them straight, so I don’t know that I could actually use it. Bummer. I would really like to assign the sorts of projects she suggests, but when I finished reading, I was tangled in the terms.

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Boroditsky, et. al. VS. Vigliocco, et. al. : Both articles for language and gender ask about the ways in which grammatical gender might influence the way a person thinks about nouns. So, for example, does a native German speaker attribute feminine characteristics to a bridge, because in German the noun form is feminine? Will the bridge in that individuals mind be characterized as ‘a gentle arch’ or a ‘connector’ or something ‘elegant’ rather than something, I don’t know ‘steel’ or ‘strong’ or ‘large’? Borodistksy seems to conclude that, yes, grammatical gender changes the way thinkers experience/conceptualize objects in the real world. Vigliocco presents the more more qualified (not in terms of credentials) argument that says grammatical gender might effect a speaker’s thinking, if the language in question has two (rather than three or more) grammatical genders and if the referent a particular noun refers to is an animate. Okay, I suppose I have a fairly straight-forward question: Neither of the studies asks about the different ways in which two distinct cultures conceptualize gender. It wasn’t clear to me that because a German-speaker characterizes a bridge (in English) as ‘elegant’ that ‘elegant’ in German is necessarily indexed a ‘feminine’ as it might be by an English speaker. In order to see how words and indexed and make cross-linguistic comparisons, don’t we have to know whether cultures conceptualize genders in the same ways.  Second question, both studies use the English language and English speakers as a baseline comparison. They reflect that English doesn’t have a grammatical gender system, but I wonder if English might make nouns gendered in other ways–I know they mention phonology in Italian, might that happen in English, too? Even if it’s really subtle.

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