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September, 29, 2016

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Commentary > China Post > Daniel J. Bauer
Terrorism on a grand scale in France, cries for fear instead of trust in immigration policies in the United States, and breakthroughs in ties with Beijing have dominated our recent headlines. Local events that have also drawn attention include announcements of candidates for the vice-presidency of the R.O.C., new plans for Taipei Songshan Airport, and the fortunes of our Chinese Taipei baseball team.
 
Social media by definition are rooted in high technology. They offer icons, logos, and pretty paraphernalia to visually enliven our computer screens and share with friends.
 
Two years ago, a woman student in her junior year in my department disappeared.
 
Personal experience has taught me that phrasing words on sensitive topics in a 2nd language is a form of hell. You can get burned easily.
 
Today's column is more than a little special for me. First, it is mostly reportorial in nature. I write not so much to share my own views, but those of others. These "others" are citizens of the Republic of China on Taiwan. They are also former students of mine.
 
The minute I saw the news this week about Playboy magazine, I groaned. I all but smacked my forehead with the flat of my hand. This famous (some might say infamous) magazine plans to clean up its act?
 
Without a doubt, certain choices we make about the words we use really do make a difference. Language is important. Language matters.
 
I've been back in Taiwan now for three weeks after a recent visit to the United States. Although my stay over there was only for two months, several impressions I picked up are still nagging at me.
 
History doesn't get much more ironic than this.
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Gustave Flaubert's great novel "Madame Bovary" builds itself around a series of rich and complex "community events." These events in the hands of Flaubert can be elaborate indeed. But the event itself need not be.
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