Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: A Word in Your Ear

172 Responses

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  • andin,

    Are we there yet?

    Just waiting for the driver.
    Who's probably haranguing someone somewhere.
    And my ice cream's melting.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Here 'tis.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Or here.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    That old Trumpet looks weak by today's standards. But I do come from a time when a Jelly-Tip was like a big reward.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    What was that one called that had a solid chocolate core? Seem to remember it was one of the earliest choc bars (was that it?), and certainly well before Magnum, etc.

    LBN. Yip. Choc Bar. You can read all about it in the TipTop library. Jelly Tips since 1950s? That's like really ages ago.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    the ability to translate specialist jargon for the lay-person without dumbing it down is rare and precious indeed.

    So as one caught on the other side of this dilemma ... Sometimes the problem is not that I can't explain the concepts in English that the listener understands. But instead that the listener is unwilling or unable to let me know where I lost them.

    As the resident evil genetic engineer (TM, patent pend.) in my circle of friends I've found myself having "the discussion" many times at parties, sometimes with people I've only met 30 seconds before (usually because someone I know has said come and talk to Bart he will explain it to you ...). This usually results in a long (and very boring) discussion of science, ideology and the meaning of life.

    Over time I've learned to ask two key things, first did they really want to have this discussion or would they rather talk about cricket ... and second where do they want me to start.

    That second question is key because I need to know if I have to explain what a gene is (which I can do and which most folks think they understand but probably don't really) or if I need to describe how breeding really works (as opposed to how 5th form science says it works).

    I know I can't assume people will understand the jargon we use but it's no use translating that jargon into words that aren't understood anyway.

    Essentially the only way I can explain the technical language involved in my science is if the listener is willing to engage in the conversation as well. If I say something they don't understand (likely) then they need to stop me and get an explanation.

    Assuming they care at all, in which case we should have just talked about cricket.*

    *Note I should add that I don't resent discussing this science stuff at all ... it is after all my passion :). I just know that not everyone shares that passion.**

    ** had to use a footnote, because apparently they are cool again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    But I do come from a time when a Jelly-Tip was like a big reward.

    I still think a Jelly-Tip is a big reward, but I'm always so sad to get to the ice cream part. More jelly! More jelly! (Why isn't it *all* jelly?)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    (Why isn't it *all* jelly?)

    'cause then it would be a Jelly-Block. But I feel your pain - a mere chocolate coated ice-cream was the precursor - the Topsy, I think it was. That was always the stink one in the bag. The only thing stinker was one of those tubs that just had ice cream.

    Edit: or missing out altogether.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    That second question is key because I need to know if I have to explain what a gene is (which I can do and which most folks think they understand but probably don't really) or if I need to describe how breeding really works (as opposed to how 5th form science says it works).

    Ahhhh... one of the most painful Cliff Notes style articles I ever did for Bardic Web was trying to explain basic genetics and evolution, at about a 4th form level, to people I had to assume had very little if any science education, but nonetheless thought they knew what a gene was or how interbreeding worked. Sometimes I would fantasise about increasingly violent ways of getting people to stop saying 'blood' when they mean 'genes'. (That's not really what they mean, but again, too complicated.)

    I still don't think I did a very good job on it, because there's so much "well, okay, that's not really true, but let's assume it is so you can get the basic underlying idea". Why? Because someone has to sit down and try to explain to people why you can't interbreed pixies and dragons. I wish I was making that example up. I'm not.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm a fan of just dumbing it down. When you have to write manuals, it's just the safe option, and I've never had a complaint that what I wrote was too simple.

    Curiously, I wrote a manual on how a genetic algorithm I wrote worked. People found it fascinating, and said it had changed they way they understood evolution. I wasn't sure if that's such a good thing, having had very little training in biology. I had to insist that it was only a metaphor.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    So as one caught on the other side of this dilemma ... Sometimes the problem is not that I can't explain the concepts in English that the listener understands.

    Bart, you've got it easy. I know a cosmologist. He goes to dinner parties and people ask him if there's a God.

    In America, mind.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Bart, you've got it easy. I know a cosmologist. He goes to dinner parties and people ask him if there's a God.

    In America, mind.

    And what does he say?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    One of my faves - trying to explain why "New Zealander" is not an ethnicity. In 140-character bites.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    One of my faves - trying to explain why "New Zealander" is not an ethnicity. In 140-character bites.

    Bloody colony, innit?

    Someone even wrote a paper on it. Seeking an ethnic identity: Is “New Zealander” a valid ethnic group?.
    The conclusion;

    Strauss (1959: 15) stresses the importance of language on identity, noting “[a]ny name is a container; poured into it are the conscious or unwitting evaluations of the namer”. Furthermore, altering names is “a rite of passage”, enabling the evolution of a “new self image” (Strauss, 1959: 16, 17). If ethnicity is seen to be both culturally constructed and reflective of individual choice, as generally agreed in New Zealand, the historical practice of recoding “New Zealander” type responses as “New Zealand European” and, ultimately, “European”, has been conceptually incorrect.

    Interesting. Not sure I agree, but worth some further consideration IMhO.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Thanks for that - fits well with other stuff I've seen, though others have addressed better what Pakeha asserting "New Zealander" as a default for themselves does for other groups.

    Having some sort of explicit 2-component options makes sense to me - like New Zealand Tongan or Chinese New Zealander. Mostly I wish people would get over the myth that "Pakeha" is some sort of swear word.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Mostly I wish people would get over the myth

    History is against you on that one.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Sigh

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    It'll happen Sacha - there are at least 2 generations growing up now who are perfectly happy with describing themselves as Pakeha*
    , unhappy about calling themselves 'Europeans' (what an egregious misnomer!) and not 'suaded by the ludicrous mythology as to what 'pakeha' means-

    just incidentally, in the south, we didnt use 'pakeha': we used takata-pora...

    *or NZ Pakeha etc.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    If a Dutch person is in say, the US and they are asked which ethnic group they belong to, do they say "I'm European" or do they say "I'm Dutch".

    ???

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    I don't get the fuss about people saying they are a New Zealander as an ethnicity regardless of whether it technically isn't.

    My wife is Korean and we have a daughter.

    What's her ethnicity? New Zealand European Korean?

    What if she marries a guy who is a New Zealand Samoan Tongan?

    Are their kids ethnicities now going to be marked on the census as New Zealand European Korean Samoan Tongan?

    If it's supposed to be an ethnic group they identify with then it could be all, some, or none of those and if they want to ditch the European, Korean, Samoan and Tongan parts and just go with the New Zealander part then whoopdee doo and so be it.

    IMHO :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Uh, the biggest shift is towards multiple ethnic identities so the short answer is yes. Tick as many options as you like.

    But New Zealander is a nationality - and so it belongs to all of us, not one group who tend to claim it. Pakeha on the other hand is an ethnicity born in this place.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • icehawk,

    Articulated. Absolutely. I remember that about you.

    The way you articulated at uni did make you very persuasive.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 49 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    I go with that ,Yamis - all of us who stand here are New Zealanders (a label, just incidentally, that used to apply exclusively to Maori-)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    [Redacted]
    Things moved on. I just caught up.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

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