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Dennis Baron's go-to site for language and technology in the news
Results for "April, 2010"

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  • "Yes, we want" -- Who owns global English?

    A 1.8 million euro advertising campaign for Madrid's new Spanish-English public schools is being ridiculed for its slogan "Yes, we want," which critics are calling bad English. English is what the chanters of "Yes, we want," want to learn, because English is the new global language. The ads, which evoke Barack Obama's "Yes, we can," have appeared on Spanish television, radio, billboards, and buses, prompting complaints that the Education Ministry should be promoting its bilingual public elementary and high schools in correct English if it wants pupils to pick them.

  • An early print shop, perhaps not unlike the one Gutenberg set up

    The iPad: What is a Gutenberg moment, anyway?

    For months, commentators have been referring to the release of Apple's iPad -- it finally went on sale on April 3 -- as a "Gutenberg moment," or insisting, if they don't like the idea of the iPad, that it has no hope of being a Gutenberg moment. In either case they're comparing the new tablet device, which most of them hadn't even seen, to Johannes Gutenberg's rollout of the first printing press in the 1450s. To be fair, these commentators never saw Gutenberg's press either, or any kind of printing press at all. A Gutenberg moment is one which changes the way we produce and consume text as dramatically as Gutenberg's machine did. Before Gutenberg rigged a wine press so that it could press a sheet of paper against inked, movable, cast-metal type, scribes laboriously copied books by hand, leaf by leaf, volume by volume, a process that was so slow and so expensive that only the filthy rich could afford books. Gutenberg's press enabled the mass production of books, whose lower unit cost democratized book ownership: anybody could buy a book, or at least borrow one from the library. Another thing about the Gutenberg moment: scribes were notorious for introducing errors into the books they copied, but the press allowed books to be cloned ad infinitum. After Gutenberg, there's perfect copy, every time.

  • The torah, an ancient scroll still in use today (Library of Congress); and a web page using the scrolling format commonly found on the internet

    The book, the scroll, and the web

    The scroll, whose pages are joined end-to-end in a long roll, is older than the codex, a writing technology -- known more familiarly as the book -- with pages bound together at one end. Websites have always looked more like scrolls than books, a nice retro touch for the ultra-modern digital word, but as e-readers grow in popularity, texts are once again looking more like books than scrolls. While the first online books, the kind digitized by the Gutenberg Project in the 1980s, consisted of one long, scrolling file, today's electronic book takes as its model the conventional printed book that it hopes one day to replace.