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A sheer pleasure to have YOU as a reader of my blog. At present my main teaching area is English so you will find that most of my posts are in English -my second language of communication. I promise to publish posts related to Spanish eventually; in the meantime, those of you interested in Spanish will find some interesting links regarding my native language. Truly hope you will visit my blog now and then; will try not to disappoint you!

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GÄVLE, Sweden
I am an English/Spanish language trainer who thinks communication is a key issue in human interaction. Good sensible communication is needed whatever the language. On the personal side I strive for happiness by keeping love, respect and honesty as main ingredients. Last but not least, my smile is my trademark :O)

28 de diciembre de 2011

Economics, politics and the idiom ¨mad as a hatter¨

The field of economics has taken the front line as a daily topic in worldwide newspapers, whatever the language.  Obviously, we all know the reason so I will skip any further comment. What's more, due to this fact, many economic terms wander freely in my mind at least in the form of passive vocabulary. I have had to get used to absorbing obscure terms such as ¨subprimes, hedge funds, GDP, bonds¨ -to name but a few-, and yet, I cannot say I do understand the world of economics. To be honest, reading about it hasn't deepened my knowledge in this field; I am still (and guess I will always be) in shallow waters, although I must say the reading has become lighter somehow.

One of the authors I like to read most is the Nobel Prize for Economics Paul Krugman; for a layman like me I find his writing didactic and it makes quite some good sense. Yesterday reading his article Springtime for toxics, published in the International Herald Tribune, my interest in the content was immediately diverted to a piece of language he used as a way to illustrate the toxicity and harmful effects of mercury on the population. Basically, in his article, Krugman welcomes the good news of the EPA's new regulating standards, which also has some economic benefits. He goes on to link this decision to American politics, the second theme he wanted to discuss.

However, my featuring his article on this post has mostly to do with that ¨language diversion¨ and which I quote next:
...As far as I can tell, even opponents of environmental regulation admit that mercury is nasty stuff. It’s a potent neurotoxicant: the expression “mad as a hatter” emerged in the 19th century because hat makers of the time treated fur with mercury compounds, and often suffered nerve and mental damage as a result. ...
Being a teacher and so interested in languages, it simply fascinates me to learn the origin of idioms we have acquired as part of our vocabulary. I knew this idiom but not its origin and, of course, it now makes so much sense. Furthermore, it proves my belief that when you are a teacher, whatever your field or rank, the pedagogue in you emerges constantly in your writing as it is the case of Paul Krugman.

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