Monthly Archives: October 2008

Blogger wins Nobel prize

No, really. Favorite economist Paul Krugman, who writes a column for the New York Times and keeps a blog on the Times' network, was named the Nobel laureate in economics a few minutes ago. Unfortunately, the prize was not for blogging but for integrating "the previously disparate research fields of international trade and economic geography." Bravo.

PS. And he's already blogged about it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Spiral Notebook

Column: “The end of capitalism”

Published on September 23, 2008
(Links to follow)

I place the phrase in quotes, because it is an idea I do not subscribe to. It is an idea, however, that is fast becoming conventional wisdom. Perhaps we should spend some time exposing it for what it is: thoroughly conventional, less than wise.

Last week’s tumultuous events on Wall Street have pushed economists and non-economists alike to wonder about “capitalism’s new course,” as a headline in Monday’s The Wall Street Journal phrased it. (The subhead was less coy: “US bailout plan marks decisive turn in government’s role.”) On the BBC News website, a roundup of commentary ponders nothing less than the future of capitalism: “Where now for capitalism?” (I found the page through colleague Carlos Conde’s blog on gmanews.tv.) Indeed, the newspaper Conde writes for, the International Herald Tribune, carried a New York Times article Monday on the unlikely partnership of US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke with, on the “jump” or continuation page, the full and helpfully explicit headline: “Odd couple buries dogma in drafting Wall Street bailout.”

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Newsstand: Column

Column: Varieties of English

Published on September 16, 2008
(Links to follow)

In Sydney last week, I caught sight of an intriguing book: “Australia’s Language Potential,” by Michael Clyne. Did the author (a linguistics professor at two top Australian universities) perhaps mean the prospects of exporting his country’s blunt and bracing variety of English?

I like Australian English’s egalitarian drive to keep things familiar: Sunglasses are called “sunnies” (usefully enough), instant lottery tickets are called “scratchies” (we know where the word, if not the source of luck, comes from); anyone who spends too much time riding the waves is called a “surfie,” a sick leave is called (you guessed it) a “sickie.” And that’s only the S section in Koala Net’s ready-to-use Australian slang dictionary.

But in fact, Clyne’s book (according to its introduction, which was all I managed to read) is about almost the exact opposite: Australia’s missed opportunity to grow out of a monolingual (English-only) culture into a thriving multilingualism. “We are very fortunate that our national language and lingua franca, English, is also the most widespread international lingua franca. However, as I hope to show, we disadvantage ourselves if we believe that one language is sufficient.” And again: “This book argues that we need to develop our language potential to the fullest—so that young Australians, regardless of their background, can attain a high level of competence in at least one language in addition to English—to benefit them culturally, cognitively, in communicative competence, and in many cases in terms of understanding themselves and their families.”

I do not know whether Clyne’s thesis has received a fair hearing. I note, with some apprehension, that I found the book in a Borders branch for discounted books. (The market can be such a cynic.)

But the book’s basic appeal—do not put all the country’s eggs in one linguistic basket, to hijack a familiar phrase—rings true in the Philippines as well.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsstand: Column