MY EMAIL GOT READ OUT ON THE BBC (AGAIN!)
Anne Diamond, former presenter of breakfast TV, was standing in for Vanessa Feltz who's on her hols. I've phoned in and spoken to Anne Diamond before now and have to say she's very engaging. I can see why she's such an illustrious track record in presenting... Anyway here goes. A level results were out today. The conversation yesterday (on BBC London radio 94.9) was about young people going to university and the extortionate cost of this:
Good morning Anne
In days gone by ~ generally speaking ~ a degree was was a luxury. Three years off in which to delve into a subject of personal interest. The resulting degree proves to future employers that you're intelligent enough and have the sticktoitiveness to achieve a bachelor of arts or science.
With the exception of some science subjects and perhaps law, the degree never was meant to "qualify" you for anything in particular.
The problem nowadays is that with so very many young people going to university, a degree no longer sets you apart. As far as I can see, in most cases it merely gets you into debt.
In my day~ two decades ago ~ the standing joke was "What do you say to a sociology graduate? Burger and fries please." Change that to "media studies" and you're bang up to date!
Nearly 20 years ago I read modern languages at uni, but sadly had to drop out due to health difficulties. Knowing what I do now, I would advise a young person to take a vocational course with a clear career goal at the end of it, or to do languages. At least languages are useful and open up opportunities to work abroad.
I would dearly like to go back and finish my languages degree, but this time I'm working on getting my German fluent enough to get on a mother tongue German course actually in Germany ~ where tuition fees, incidentally, are a fraction of what they are here.
The health problems that forced me to drop out were basically depression. I was signed off an entire term on medical grounds at one point. When I left, I was coming to a point where I had to go to Berlin ~ a year to which I'd really have looked forward, if I'd only been in my right mind. But I was not in my right mind at all. Taking a year out or "intercalating" was not an option as I had no means of support and the DSS did not at this time pay benefits to anyone who was a registered student ~ whether actively studying or not.
All modern languages courses require a year out in the appropriate country. The only course I've ever come across that doesn't is Burmese at SOAS. The Burmese language has the world's most beautiful system of writing. And a degree in Burmese ain't gonna be any less useful than one in English literature or sociology, is it..?.For obvious reasons, a year spent in Burma is not too practicable.
And it was indeed the idea of doing a German degree again that got me reading and blogging in that language. I remember my former counsellor, who'd done BA French, informing me it was quite normal for degree students to rely on English translations when doing European literature. Which I found truly pathetic. (I thought it was just me and my dreadful command of languages who was reduced to this, but apparently not at all...)
So I decided if I ever did go back I would know German well enough to surf through all books in the original first time around. And no reference to any translation. At all. Ever ...
I've found this tune going round and round my brainbox of late. Cold as the northern wind and December mornings ... It matches my mood ... For a couple of weeks now I've had an unaccountable autumnal feeling, despite it still being "summer". Summer is over for me. Darkness surrounds us. I feel it. O, how I feel it..
No prize, except the satisfaction of knowing how knowledgeable y'are... the squiggles are GABELSBERGER SHORTHAND in the German language. Unlike traditional English language systems which are geomatric (Pitman, Sloane-Duployan) or cursive-geometric (Gregg), Gabelsberger's method employed a full shorthand alphabet (as the hieroglyphic-looking Teeline system does in English), giving the squiggly appearance. It has been praised for having "a beauty of form and outline that is unsurpassed". it can also be squiggled, so it is claimed, at speeds of up to 500 syllables per minute, which ain't bad!
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