COPENHAGEN, Denmark — An article a few years back in Psychology Today attempted to explain why the much-discussed “middle child” differs from the others. One of the reasons, the writer posited, was that the parents teach the first-born to talk, whereas the second child and subsequent children acquire most of their verbal skills from the older sibling.
Other skills, painstakingly taught to the elder by the parents, get passed on through the older-sibling conduit.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — In addition to spending time with our first-born, Stan, a key reason for traveling to this part of Scandinavia was to explore ways in which people communicate and how one country influences another.
My admittedly sparse familiarity with German, which I studied under Jean Johnson and the late Jose Pablo Garcia, hasn’t been enough to get me by, although we hear more German than English.
Months before the trip, I’d been hearing about American influence on countries such as Denmark — some may call it “corruption” — and observing and listening to the natives let me find out how much and in what ways.
A line by English poet Alexander Pope has long impressed me: “Be not the first by whom the new are tried / Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.”
I entered the computer-Internet crowd with some trepidation, wondering what advantage computers held over electric typewriters. At the time, the early ‘90s, my colleague Bruce Papier raved about the infinite possibilities of the Internet. He often bought programs for his computers and passed on to me several reputable dictionaries and encyclopedias that came bundled with the purchases.
“Keep backing up, Dad. You’ve got at least three meters to go.”
“But Adam, I can’t think metric! How close am I — really?”
Thus went a terse dialogue a quarter-century ago, when our oldest son was telling me how much real estate I had to back up the pickup for dumping trash, before falling off a precipice at least a kilometer deep. Clearly he was doing only as he learned from math teachers at Memorial Middle School.
But those of us who grew up using English units are dia-metric-ally opposed to anything new.