Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged language

Gender, Sexuality, and Meaning: Linguistic Practice and Politics

Showcasing twelve articles by noted linguist Sally McConnell-Ginet, Gender, Sexuality, and Meaning weaves together some of her most provocative and influential work on language, gender, and sexual meaning-making from the last three decades. In her many fruitful collaborations with colleagues, students, and friends, McConnell-Ginet argues that language is not a passive craft, but rather, an active process of meaning-making that has its roots in the social identities, contexts, and statuses of the speakers and listeners.

Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms

Ralph Keyes’s Euphemania is so poorly written that, in spite of the rich and interesting subject matter, it is difficult to read. On the one hand, Keyes insists that euphemisms—circumlocutionary words and phrases—signal both the pliancy and richness possible in human languages and the creativity of the human mind.


French theorist Hélène Cixous first coined the term ècriture feminine in her 1975 essay “Laugh of the Medusa,” in which she wrote “Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies.” Within the essay, Cixous posited that women write their gender into their writing, that gender is embedded in the language women use.

Speaking in Tongues

The award-winning documentary Speaking in Tongues spells out an intriguing paradox of America’s identity: Although we’re a nation that prides itself on diversity, we also militantly cling to monolingual education at the expense of culture, communication, and even academic achievement. Speaking in Tongues follows four San Francisco children, all of whom attend either a Spanish or Chinese immersion public school: a young African-American boy who lives in public housing but is gaining fluency at his Chinese school;

Table Alphabetical of Hard Words

Recently, as I was pushing my daughter in her stroller up a hill, a guy in a pickup truck whistled. Pattie McCarthy’s poem “spaltklang: is good broken music” reminded me of this moment. McCarthy describes a new mother who finds her body meaning has been overwritten with a new set of signs: it’s the stroller, she said, it renders one invisible, no one will ever look at me like that again, she said, not _even him.

Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity

Pavan K. Varma’s most recent book, Becoming Indian, argues that cultural freedom has eluded formerly colonized nations, specifically India. He sees a need for a cultural revolution in India. Although it reads at times like an extended opinion piece, Varma makes convincing arguments highlighting the importance of reclaiming language, architecture, and art in a way that empowers indigenous knowledge rather than oppressing it.

Conversate Is Not A Word: Getting Away From Ghetto

I admit it: I bristle when my students talk about conversating. At the same time, I try to catch myself, remembering that decades back no one spoke of googling or used the word text as a verb either. Language, like social mores, constantly changes. African American author, provocateur, blogger, and lawyer Jam Donaldson understands this, and her message is simple: Everyone, but especially people of color, needs to know the difference between slang and proper grammar, and everyone needs to take responsibility for the things they can control.

Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language

Katherine Russell Rich never dreamed she would leave her job as a tough-skinned editor in the edgy world of New York City’s magazine publications. Then she was faced with two rounds of cancer—the second bringing her to the brink of death. Just as she came out on the other side of her illness, she was handed a pink slip. A firm internal voice urged her to seek a more artistic life. Little did she know that this voice would take her halfway around the world. Russell Rich’s first visit to India came by accident.

AsiaPacifiQueer: Rethinking Genders and Sexualities

Aside from a women’s studies class I took as an undergraduate, of which I remember very little, thoughts on gender and sexuality typically have not taken up much of my time. AsiaPacifiQueer: Rethinking Genders and Sexualities totally changed my perception on these subjects. As a self-proclaimed tomboy, who happens not to be a lesbian, society is much more accepting of my “ways” than they would be if I were an effeminate man.

Big Dreams Little Tokyo: A Half Japanese Comedy

Big Dreams Little Tokyo is written by, directed by and stars David Boyle, who plays the character of Boyd, an awkward American who speaks perfect Japanese. Boyd is a well-dressed young man who claims to be a businessman, yet his most successful business only has one client. The relationship that subtly develops between Boyd and Mai, a nurse and his only English student, is the most enjoyable aspect of the movie.

I’jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody

Sinan Antoon’s novel I’jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody brilliantly portrays the complex impacts of political repression on humanity. It takes the form of a fictionalized compilation of interpreted handwritten prose of an Iraqi college student as he is held and tortured in a prison during the reign of the Ba’th regime in the 1980s.