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October 02, 2008 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-02

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, October 2, 2008 - 3B

' Linguistic recess or
cultural evolution?

how an
ruining
ongoin
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everywr
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Perh
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hen I started writ- the greatest skepticism among
ing this column,;I set older people, and maybe even for
out to prove exactly myself at the time. In an essay
ad why the Internet was called "Why Email Looks Like
g the English language. My Speech," American University
.g obsession with proper professor Naomi S. Baron asked
sar and whether e-mail is "actually has-
g has tening the demise of traditional
the fire writing norms," and followed
isdain that up with the comment that
com- "perhaps like teenagers, we are
age of going through an experimental
iations phase that we will outgrow." She
RB," continued to speculate, imagin-
" and CAROM ing that "writing will return to
." But HARTMANN fashion, in turn reshaping our
re I notions of what e-mail messages
o rationalize my frustra- should look like. My own guess
he more I began to realize is that even if such a linguistic
afair I was being (not to about-face does take place, it will
n hypocritical, given my not happen any time soon. For
st support for pop cul- now, too many people are enjoy-
ing their linguistic recess."
most people of my gen- Is that what this is, a linguis-
, I've spent the last 10 tic recess? And if so, why has it
r so (consciously and lasted so long? Whether through
sciously) memorizing the e-mail, instant message or text
gly endless list of abbre- message, the list of abbreviations
s and colloquialisms that and re-appropriations of cultural
merged from cyberspace. idioms has only grown to be more
ed on the bandwagon just expansive and endlessly complex.
kly as most kids who had The widespread fear, of course,
y discovered the Internet is that we'll lose all sense of what
vith all its chat rooms. It language used to look like, and
sy, fast and convenient. It English as we know it will be
until tenth grade, when wiped out of existence. The situ-
ssages became a staple in ation couldn't sound more dire
ly routine, that I started to linguists, writers and anyone
close attention to the else passionate about language.
which language was spi- And now that certain abbrevia-
:oward some kind of liter- tions have found their way into
scalypse. our speech, isn't it only a matter
not sure why I sud- of time before the whole system
collapses beneath us?
Well, not exactly. Books,
articles and other forms of the
Che English written word continue to cir-
culate, and even though a good
nguage isn't chunk of young people aren't
particularly proficient in proper
ing destroyed grammar usage, I don't think this
after all, is much different than history
would show. Rather, the atten-
tion paid to so-called "faulty" or
"poor" writing has increased out
of these unfounded fears, and
elt the need to type out technology has been labeled the
vord whn messaging culprit. But is this really so dif-
nds, or why I started re- ferent from brand names finding
ng the punctuation and their way into our mental lexi-
atical cues that I had cons (i.e. Kleenex or Band-Aid)?
ically removed in casual And what about swearing, slang
logically motivated) con- and idioms?
on just months before, but I'm a firm believer that these
vhat I did. My pet peeve linguistic changes have strength-
gradual snowballing ened our language, not the other
to become the bane of my way around - which is why I
ce, however mysteriously. have to come to the conclusion
sed anyone who used that technology has done the
in conversation, and made same thing. When "Google"
ogies for my prejudice. became a definable verb, it served
his column doesn't care as a sign of our ability to adapt
vhether or not I favor pop- and build on an already produc-
breviations or not. The real tive language. Some people have
stake is the fact that so argued that prescriptive gram-
oung people (and recently, mar rules are being thrown out
lks too) have latched on the window, but the fact that we
linguistic changes with can even understand this new
asm - and why it might form of technologically driven
uch a bad thing. language is proof that we haven't
origins of tech-speak began discarded the very rules we're
IS messaging: Because the afraid of losing.
ach message went up by its Scholars Angela Kesseler and
e goal was to say as much as Alexander Bergs wrote that "(new
with as few characters as forms of) media trigger and foster
. This is how we get phras- a hitherto unknown linguistic
How r u?" and "thanx" and creativity in their users. Writers
." The fast-paced nature have always made the best of the
nt messaging, in addition graphic and linguistic means avail-
ew way of typing on a cell able; today, this is no different."
transformed our most basic As much as I still sneer at
les of written language today's techy way of communi-
entirely new kind of com- cating, even I agree they're right.
tion system. Like most new Just don't get me started on
phenomena, young people emoticons.

The many faces of Paul Newman.

Beyond blue eyes
You may know the name, but you don't know Newman's legacy
By Blake Goble I Daily Film Editor

Ask almost any college stu-
dent about Paul Newman,
and the response is gener-
ally something about "that salad
dressing guy." Try to get the name
of one of his films out of someone,
and people will probably blurt out,
"he's like, the Sundance Guy right?"
Closer, but that's still an injustice
to the amazing body of work that
Newman left behind.
Something's amiss. Some-
thing about his legacy feels like
a punchline for too many people.
Maybe it's the retirement or the
fading presence in recent years.
Or maybe it's the acceptance of
"Newman's Own" as a moniker,
as opposed to the work of an hon-
orable man. Either way, Newman
needs to be remembered as some-
thing greater than an old man who
made pasta sauce.
Over 80 credits on IMDB, a
handful of charitable organiza-
tions, one-too-many food jokes and
a very respectable automobile rac-
ing career later, Newman has left
one of the most diverse and impres-
sive legacies of any public figure,
and it's truly a loss to see such a
gifted individual leave us.
Newman died this past Friday
after a losing battle with cancer.
Describing his impact is an ambi-
tious task, but necessary. Paul New-
man was more than an actor; he
was ultimately an icon. Or to quote
George Kennedy ("The Naked
Gun"), Newman's co-star in "Cool
Hand Luke," he was a "wild, beau-.
tiful thing."
Here are the SparkNotes on a
fine piece of work:
Born in Shaker Heights, Ohio
in 1925, Newman initially went to
Ohio University, but was forced to
leave after supposedly smashing a
keg into the school president's car.
Soon after, Newman served in the

Pacific Theater of World War II. He
wanted to be a pilot, but was rele-
gated to radio and gunning because
he was colorblind.
During the war, Newman com-
pleted a degree at Kenyon College
and later pursued drama at Yale
University, followed by lessons
from the famous Lee Strasberg at
the "Actors Studio." From there,
acting would be the life-support
that helped develop Paul Newman
as a notable personality.
His acting style was simple and
assured, always lending itself to
affable, leading-man status. Yet
Newman never quite fell into pro-
totypical headliner status. He was
just too cool, and too good at act-
ing. Sure, the looks and the pres-
ence were always there, but there
was something far more interesting
about Newman.
Unlike the stoic John Waynes
and Gary Coopers before him,
Newman made you believe he had
genuine thoughts and could emu-
late what his characters were feel-
ing. He wasn't just a written role,
he was a fully fleshed out human
being.
In "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,"
Newman earned his first Oscar
nomination as the film's lead along-
side co-star Elizabeth Taylor. It's a
decent movie, but it was Newman's
character that rang true. He
played Brick Pollitt, an ex-foot-
ball player with a bad drinking
habit. Newman embodied the
man, rethinking what it meant
to be a realistic and truly inter-
esting lead actor.
Newman didn't sink into tra-
ditional prestige roles. He cre-
ated his own brand of acting and
could succeed at pretty much
anything. In "Cool Hand Luke,"
he played the world's most ras-
cally and lovable convict. (Eating

SO hard-boiled eggs never seemed
so memorable) In "The Long, Hot
Summer" and "Hud," Newman
smoldered as he showcased his sex
appeal.And in films like "The Sting"
and "Slap Shot," he showed what a
funny dude he could be.
He was a great actor, incapable
of a poor showing. His filmogra-
phy speaks to this: "The Verdict,"
"Road to Perdition," "Harper,"
"Torn Curtain," "Nobody's Fool"
and many others add to Newman's
super-powered resume.
Newman's acting is secured in
history. The multiple Oscars, truck-
loads of praise and, above all, his
blue eyes will make sure he's not
forgotten. But it's his philanthropy
and humanity that people will like-
ly respect. Few realize how much
good Newman has done with the
clout around his name. Never quite
content with being a popular star,
Newman gave a lot back.
To get it out of the way, his food-
product line "Newman's Own" was
founded in1982, and sells dressings,
sauces, lemonade and popcorn, all
from the man's original recipes. All
the company's proceeds are donat-
ed to charity, and in recent years
(according to Vanity Fair), New-
man signed over all his investments
to be donated.
In 1988, he co-founded the Hole

in the Wall Camp, a summer camp
and residential center for sick chil-
dren. He sponsors the Newman's
Own First Amendment award, a
$25,000 award for proponents of
free speech. He donated millions to
Kenyon college, Kosovo, democrat-
ic candidates and countless other
causes. And after his son's unfortu-
nate drug-related death in the late
1970s, he invested in rehabilitation
programs.
Newman was the original left-
wing celebrity. But when he worked
for specific causes, he did it with
vigor and sincerity. Take a lesson,
new Hollywood. He was a hardcore
liberal and was 19th on Richard
Nixon's enemies list - a point of
pride for Newman. He was also a
talented driver, racing Datsuns as a
Le Mans driver in 1979.
Get on YouTube and watch
some footage - now. Be it the
closing argument from "The Ver-
dict" or his interviews with David
Letterman, he was the great
American man. This guy wasn't
just a good-looking masthead at
the theater; he was a gifted and
generous individual who was sin-
cere in all his endeavors (unlike a
certain blonde friend that played
copycat to his causes).
Above all, he was Paul Newman,
and we'll never forget him.

here adapted to this new
language quickly and with
aps it was the swiftness
change that warranted

Hartman nrly luvs when
ppl e-mail her in shrthnd
txt slangz. E-mail her at
carolinh@umich.edu. TTYL.

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