links for 2010-07-27

  • "After all, once they heard the police's initial theory that C.J. had cut his sisters' throat—and his own—before setting the house on fire, the city's journalists ran with it. Over the last few days, multiple stories appeared in the city's papers hashing out C.J.'s various troubles at school and at home and speculating on how he had harbored these murderous feelings.

    "Those stories are now embarrassing, at best. In retrospect, reporters and editors should have been more skeptical of the wild theory, floated before autopsy results came in that contradicted it."

  • "Richard Prince, a media columnist for the Maynard Institute, which advocates for more diverse newsrooms and news coverage, said that stories suggesting reverse discrimination appeal to a faction of Americans who are disaffected toward the Obama administration and feel disadvantaged by the faltering economy.

    “"It comes down to the economic situation,' he said. 'When people are in these kinds of straits, they look for scapegoats; they lash out.'"

  • "Concern over the loss of languages and dialects in China is growing. In Tibet and Xinjiang, some ethnic Tibetans and Uighurs say the use of Mandarin as the official teaching language in schools has weakened the fluency of the local languages among many young people. Officials say mastering Mandarin is important for students to compete for jobs and university slots."
  • "Indonesia’s linguistic legacy is increasingly under threat as growing numbers of wealthy and upper-middle-class families shun public schools where Indonesian remains the main language but English is often taught poorly. They are turning, instead, to private schools that focus on English and devote little time, if any, to Indonesian.

    "For some Indonesians, as mastery of English has become increasingly tied to social standing, Indonesian has been relegated to second-class status. In extreme cases, people take pride in speaking Indonesian poorly."

  • "In another study, English speakers watched the video of Janet Jackson's infamous 'wardrobe malfunction' (a wonderful nonagentive coinage introduced into the English language by Justin Timberlake), accompanied by one of two written reports. The reports were identical except in the last sentence where one used the agentive phrase 'ripped the costume' while the other said 'the costume ripped." Even though everyone watched the same video and witnessed the ripping with their own eyes, language mattered. Not only did people who read "ripped the costume' blame Justin Timberlake more, they also levied a whopping 53% more in fines."
  • "Why do the Japanese draw themselves as white? You see that especially in manga and anime.

    "As it turns out, that is an American opinion, not a Japanese one. The Japanese see anime characters as being Japanese. It is Americans who think they are white. Why?  Because to them white is the Default Human Being."