Beware of the pitfalls in languagesWhile reading Douglas...

the Forum

November 18, 1993

Beware of the pitfalls in languages

While reading Douglas Poldmae's tongue-in-cheek letter, "Speak proper American," (Oct. 22), two statements caught my eye.

This gentleman writes: "A member of King Arthur's Round Table is a 'knight' in English or a 'knecht' in German." Holy umlaut!

As a German national, I beg to differ. A "knight" is a "Ritter" (all German nouns are capitalized) in German, and a "Knecht" is a farm hand or servant in English.

The obvious relationship between "knight" and "Knecht" leads to one of those foreign-language pitfalls known as false friends.

Then the writer goes on to say that "most of the world is interested in the difficult-to-learn English." What a joke. English is, without a doubt, the easiest language to learn, followed by Italian, Spanish, French, German and Russian.

The reason why so many Americans barely know how to speak and write their own language is that, unlike in other countries, people in the United States are judged by their wealth and not by their education.

No wonder that our educators cannot get their simple message across to their students:

"There are no short-cuts to that new Mercedes, Porsche or BMW of your dreams. Get your high school diploma and work your way through college like thousands of smart Americans. Nobody owes you anything. Drug dealing and armed robbery will only guarantee you that one last ride to jail or to the morgue."

Heide Ursula Schulz


School discipline

The letter, "Teachers work in fear of violent youths," Nov. 12, from Jonathan L. Jacobson, should be read by those administrators responsible for implementing and developing guidelines in relationship to discipline. Further, it should be read by teachers, taxpayers and elected officials.

Mr. Jacobson, chairman of social studies at Patterson High School, paints a bleak and disturbing picture of the educational system in Baltimore City. I commend his valor and honesty in speaking out.

Numerous other educators and, yes, The Sun have chronicled the problems in the city school system. Shootings, knifings, and muggings have become the key words to describe it.

The once proud and excellent school system has, it seems, deteriorated to a point that many citizens are leaving the city in hope of finding a school system for their children that will at least be safe. What has gone wrong?

This writer does not claim to have the answers. However, having been a teacher for 31 years, I think the problem that now plagues the city school system has been obvious for some time -- a breakdown in discipline.

For many years, the city system has been warned by many that problems evolving from lack of discipline are at the root of the education dilemma. The warnings have not been heeded. We cannot continue to treat problems created by disruptive students as a fantasy that will go away.

In many cases, teachers' requests to have unruly and disruptive students removed from the school have been ignored. The motto was that everything was fine. Since those in authority did not take steps to remove disruptive students, the problems increased.

6Now the city school system must take decisive action.

First, a get-tough-but-fair attitude must be adopted. Those in authority must immediately remove from schools disruptive students.

Second, they must seek the help and advice of principals and teachers who have proven in their own schools that they can have an orderly center of learning.

I wish to remind citizens and those in authority in other systems that the problems in Baltimore City should serve as a warning that learning can take place only in schools that have discipline, regardless of the money spent or the resources available.

Students must be held accountable for their disruptive behavior, if we hope to have safe schools where learning can take place.

ohn A. Micklos


Tobacco holocaust

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control states that the lung cancer death rate for women has shot past the breast cancer death rate and will increase into the next century.

The lung cancer death rate for women rose from 4.9 per 100,000 in 1950 to an astounding 32.1 in 1990 due to increased female smoking. Female lung cancer deaths surpassed breast cancer deaths in 1986.

Because male smoking is decreasing at a faster rate than female smoking, the CDC anticipates that male lung cancer death rates will peak prior to the turn of the century and then decrease, but the rate for females will continue to increase beyond the year 2000.

In a separate finding, the American Cancer Society reported that gains in preventing heart disease deaths in all U.S. smokers are being more than offset by the rise in deaths from lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers.

I hope that all smokers, male and female, heed these gruesome statistics and kick their addiction forever during the Great American Smokeout today. We must stop this tobacco holocaust.

If you need help please contact your local American Cancer Society unit.

John H. O'Hara


Not so heroic

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