Friday, 22 May 2009

Viva la Vida what?

Before I start, I would like to make two preliminary statements:
- I don't listen to Coldplay very much so I don't know exactly the style of their songs and the themes they usually deal with;
- I love to sing songs in foreign languages and I usually pay more attention to their words than to what they are saying. Moreover, when I listen to them for the first time, I like to guess their meaning from the melody and from the words I can catch immediately.

I know the text is very important, but let's admit it, there are many songs which seem sooo nice and deep and reveal to be soooo stupid when you read their lyric carefully!
Just to give an example: When I was younger, I adored Lemon Tree by Fool's Garden. I literally went mad when I listened to it. The text was quite easy to understand, their pronunciation was very clear (they are German), but let's check the lyric...Maybe I still don't understand its allegories or the metaphor of this lemon tree (if there is a metaphor), who knows, but when I understood it was just a song to relax and have fun... I don't know..Well, I still dance like Hawaiians and I sing when the radio broadcast it will never be the same. Tears ;(

(now I have to write a note. While I was writing these words, I looked for the lyric in order to put it as a link but...guess what?I found an explanation!Ohhhhh, it' sooo sad!It talks about depression..maybe.I don't know if it's the right interpretation, the melody seems too happy to me, anyway..If you listened to it without knowing its real meaning, have a look at it. It is a rediscovery to me ;)

Ok, since the last example was wrong I think about songs by Las Ketchup or the man who sang "Chihuahua". But who knows, maybe they are methapors, too...mistery!

Well..maybe I talked too much..let's dwell on Viva la Vida..I read the text carefully and I the first sensation I got was that it talks about Geroge W. Bush. There are many references which made me think it:

- Since the first line, when he says I used to rule the world..the president of USA actually rules the world, its power is enormous. Bush started his career being acclaimed but soon he revealed not to be up to his task (and this can be related also to the statement there was never an honest word..the first thing that flashed into my mind was that he used the weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to make war on Iraq);

- Be my mirror, my sword and shield can be an incitement to its people. Maybe he wants them to follow his rules and reflect his ideologies (mirror), to fight for his/their opinions (sword), to protect their country (shield) and to spread the American culture, for example when America wanted to teach the ideals of democracy to the Middle East (be my missionaries in a foreign field);

- People couldn't believe what I'd become, because he disappointed Americans'expectations. For this reason, he can say revolutionaries wait for my head on a silver plate (they can be American people or some leaders of Middle East countries);
In conclusion I don't know if it's the right interpretation, anyway I think the text dwells upon power and its abuse, which can be perpetrated by religious institutions or politicians. I don't believe it talks about Satan or love because he makes references to history (Roman Cavalry), religion (Jerusalem bells, missionaries), politics (revolutionaries), which make me think about more prosaic themes.
Image taken from flickr, from kiwi_GaL and anniebee

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Coming to a conclusion...


This is the last's so sad..mmm...naaaaaah!:)
Before talking about my personal learning environment, I would like to say something about this last year of English. Even if my English is still not perfect, I realized that blogs, wikipages and the exchange with the American guys helped me to improve it so much, to the point that I really see differences between the things I wrote last year and what I wrote in the last few months.
I think that the use of computer, its technology and Internet made the learning process more interesting and spontaneous, and gave me many tools to work with, like Google Scholar and
I appreciated the possibility to have a blog written in another language, I think that I will keep it but maybe I will talk about my interests and I will put the things I like the most.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Network security

Wow, the topic of this week is information security!Very good!
Let's start by saying that, thanks to this task, I learned a couple of interesting things about hackers:
  • first of all, it is curious to know that when we talk about hackers, we are not referring only to people who commit information crimes (the right term to define them is crackers). Anyway, nowadays everybody means that. Originally, the verb 'to hack' meant 'to mess about';
  • ok, we usually know that a hacker does illegal things...but did you know that he can be divided in two great categories? He can be a black hat or a white hat. The first one uses his knowledge to get a personal advantage. He creates and sends virus, trojan horses, he penetrates into private short, he gets people into trouble. The second one uses his competences in order to test security and for this reason he is called ethical hacker. Then there is the grey hat, too, that is the ambiguous one;
  • there is a hacker ethic, which focuses on sharing and openness. I like the idea that, at the bottom of this ethic, there is the consideration Computers can change your life for the better.
Internet can be dangerous if you use it ingenuously (sometimes, even if you don't do it). There are a lot of bad things which can happen to your pc and that can undermine your privacy. Anyway, in my opinion, the idea to avoid internet is inconceivable. Willy-nilly, it has become an essential part of our life. It's a great power, and, as all the great powers, it can have its light and shave. Sometimes it is wielded with bad consequences: it's the price to pay.
The only thing we can do is be responsible when we use it and try to protect ourself using firewall and antivirus. And hope everything goes well!
If you want to know more:

There is something about Google Docs

I never heard about Google Docs before but I rember that once I heard talking about something similar during an exam. The professor asked me to list all the different possibilities to save information so as to read them even when I wasn’t at home. The only possibility which I didn’t mention (and probably the only one he wanted to know from me) was represented by the use of online programs which allow you to edit and save documents in some servers. Google Docs is one of them.

I’m still newly-fledged with it but I can see immediately its strong points:
- everything you write is saved automatically, so that you are safe from pc failure and oversight;
- if you want, you can share your documents with other users, which can edit your text as well;
- you can see all the changes you or they made by looking at its history (like on wiki);
- you can write a piece of text online and then save it in your pc choosing the format you prefer, even PDF.

Personally, I find it really useful. My internet connection speed is very slow at home, so I usually go to the lab of university in order to work online. I use to save my search on a pen drive but, up to now, I lost as many as three of them (and everyone had pictures of me and my friends :S ). As matters stand, I think I will use this tool soooo much!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

APA or MLA?That is the question

To be honest, at the beginning I felt a little bit confused about this topic (and I’m sorry, I know that it's useful but I found it quite boring). Anyway, I learned that MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association) show two different ways to cite sources. These two links give many detailed suggestions, from structure to the information you have to report. Let’s see them in short.
MLA style

This is commonly used for humanities. Here you can use in-text citations putting references in brackets. This style gives you precise suggestions about the elements you have to quote and the way you have to do it. In this way you can see immediately the source for citations and you don’t waste time looking for notes in another place. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that if there are many different citations, the piece of writing presents lots of brackets and it becomes less fluent and easy to read and follow (for this reason, if you choose it, it is suggested to keep references brief). Talking about types, it prefers using underlining instead of italics in order to point it out.

APA style

You have to follow many different instructions for every kind of source and every aspect of quotation. It uses the year of publication of the source text (so you can see immediately if the source is recent, which is very important if you think that APA citation is commonly used for science). Moreover, APA style requires an abstract in order to introduce and summarize the object of your research.
I didn't use one specific style in my BA thesis but, if I had to choose the most similar one, I would refer to APA style.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

On the article I chose

Does it follow the hourglass structure?
Yes, it does. As you can read in the abstract, the article is structured in this way:
  • at the beginning there is a general presentation of ideas and goals,
  • in the middle the writer goes on giving examples for her thesis through three case studies, and
  • finally she draws her conclusions, which are substantially the same ideas she introduced before, in this way she puts together and summarize thesis and their demonstration.
Is there a logical flow of ideas?Is the text cohesive?
I decided to put these questions together because they are strongly related, since cohesion is made possible by the logical flow and, vice versa, the exposition is made more fluent thanks to cohesive elements. Moreover, she resorts to metalanguage, too. The most evident example is given in the abstract:
In this article the author sets out to illustrate some of the strategies which Italian translators and publishers adopted, or were forced to adopt, to ensure that their texts passed muster under Fascism.[...] The author proceeds to survey the mechanisms that were put in place to vet books [...]. It is argued that the apparatus of the State was only partially successful at monitoring the content of works of literature. This historical contextualisation, drawing on archival and published material, is followed by a number of case-studies, first of three novels by John Steinbeck, and then of Americana, a famous anthology of American literature published during the Second World War. In her conclusion, the author draws attention to the failure of the regime to implement a watertight policy on translation, despite its desire to influence the way readers interpreted books.

Is the writing clear or complex?
The writing is very clear thanks to the fact that the topic is strongly related to the social aspect of communication. For this reason, I cannot provide examples for it because actually there aren’t technical words (so I can say that my example is that I cannot give examples for it ;)

Who is the text’s assumed audience? What indication of this do you have?
The text is easily comprehensible for anyone. Anyway, it doesn't dwell on fascism but it implies that readers still know enough information about it.

Do you think a blog post should follow some or any of these points?

In my opinion its structure should depend on its contents. Sometimes there is no need to write an introduction or a conclusion (for example when you write a piece of story), but I think that every text should be cohesive and coherent.

Image taken from darkchild69, flickr

Sunday, 19 April 2009

On plagiarism

What can be considered plagiarism?

Plagiarism is a delicate matter which can regard everybody, not necessarily students. I have to admit that its concept is not very clear to me. I think that no one in the world is not influenced by other ideas or creations: from painters who belong to the same artistic movement, to poets who use the same sytle of writing being inspired by the same poet, to musicians which grew up listening their favourite band. The line of demarcation between influence and plagiarism is not so clear-cut. For this reason, I consider plagiarism the intention to misappropriate other's work pretending that it is your own work.

Types of plagiarism

There are many ways to do it:

  • using the common "copy and paste", where you reproduce the entire work or a part of it as it is, without changing a word;
  • paraphrasing contents, where you change structure and use synonyms, without moving away from the original;
  • using the same identical bibliography which someone used once to write his paper;

What we can do to avoid it

Here there are some suggestions:

  • try to think with your own head, even if it takes time;
  • quote the original text, adding the source;
  • express your opinion in order to talk about other's ideas adding something personal;
  • if you want to share another person's opinions or studies with your readers, you can summarize them citing the author;

When YOU are the victim

Of course, if there are lots of people who commit plagiarism, there are also lots of people who undergo it. It must be very difficult to find out, there are so many books, so many people, so many ideas!Anyway, concerning online plagiarism (which is something that regard us), I found an interesting blog post, where the author talked about a software called FairShare, which is able to discover who copies your posts. Interesting, isn't it?:)

This image was taken from udronotto, flickr, I suggest you to see the others!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Putting reliability checklist into test

I have to admit that it wasn't easy. When I succeeded in finding something interesting, I couldn't read it because I had to subscribe to a website or purchase the whole work to do it. Sometimes, I could save it but it was protected by copyright so I couldn't copy nor print it. Fortunately, I used google scholar, which helped me to restrict the search and finally I got it!Hurrah!

The article that drew my attention was entitled Foreign Literature in Fascist Italy: Circulation and Censorship. I went on analyzing it and I find it reliable because it supplied the following information:

  • who is the researcher: Jane Dunnett, from the University of London;
  • what is the theoretical framework: it is described in the abstract. The article has an introduction, where she describes the social and political context of Italy in the 1930s and its censorship mechanisms, then she presents some case-studies and finally she draws her conclusions
  • goal of the research: she wants to survey the strategies used by Italian translators in order to pass fascist censorship;
  • place and date of the research: it was carried out in Italy in spring 2000, as you can read in the final notes;
  • kind of study: it is quantitative, this is a survey on the base of documents taken from government and publishers' archives, especially as regards the correspondence between editors and translators;
  • conclusions: the strategies analyzed proved to be useful to import and spread foreign ideas;
  • reservations: they were related to the main features of a dictatorship, like omission and disappearance of important documents.
Image taken from IsaacMao, flickr

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Social bookmarking II. The revenge

I took a look at my peers' choices and these were the most interesting websites to me:

Grammar Girl (suggested by Giorgia), because it can be useful to resolve some doubts about the use of synonyms , punctuation, pronunciation and so on. I found some of the topics which had drawn my attention before, like writing with slang, sentence length and the most important one: Does grammar really matter? :)

Volunteer Work (suggested by Valentina), because it's something that I have always wanted to do. Two years ago I spent one year doing the civil service and I remember that there was the possibility to be involved in foreign projects. Here again, you can choose your destination and look not only for volunteer, but also for studying and teaching abroad, doing internships, and joining adventure travel programs.

Monday, 30 March 2009

About social bookmarking

. is a social bookmarking where people can save and store webpages according to what they find useful and interesting. In this way, you are not supposed to waste your time visiting many websites (even if you have to trust in their choices) and you can always find what you saved, no matter the computer you used.
I looked for something interesting to share which deals with language learning and blogs. This is what I found:

Tips for Formal Writing, which gives you some suggestions about formal writing. It was written focusing on the most recurring mistakes of students. I like the remark in the introduction: "It is a long list. People have a lot of problems" :) Yeah!Because optimism is the salt of life!

George Orwell: 6 Questions/6 Rules, which presents some helpful suggestions focusing essentially on one verb: to simplify. It may seem quite paradoxical, but this is one of the most important things I learned during these years of university. And it's the easiest way to avoid mistakes, too, it's true ;)

English Through Stories, where you can find some episodes to read and to listen to in order to improve your language skills. The plots seem quite interesting!

How to Use English Punctuation comes the worst part :) Well, punctuation is something that it's not so easy to use even in your mother tongue, just think in foreign languages... :o

Dictionary of English slang and colloquialism of the UK, which I found very very nice. If you read some pages, you realize that, for the most part, many words are sexual references. Anyway, let's try to guess some words, just to put you into test:
  • Fassino cannot be properly defined a babe magnet
  • Uh, my boyfriend is a ball and chain! (I don't think he's going to read it never know so..ehm, just joking ;)
  • Jim went to Egypt last summer. The place was amazing, but he got Montezuma's revenge ;(

Hope you enjoy them!