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June 1995, Week 2


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Blaine Allan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 13 Jun 1995 09:59:13 EDT
text/plain (40 lines)
On Sun, 11 Jun 1995 15:30:52 -0500 Edmond Chibeau said:
>Interpellate means to question, or address a question to, especially to
>question formally and publicly, as in a courtroom or legislative process.
>  (from Latin "interpellare" to interrupt in speaking)
>While interpolate (from Latin "interpolare" to polish or improve by repairing)
>means to alter or corrupt by inserting foreign matter.
>Medieval copyists often interpolated their own opinions
>into the body of the text when copying the bible.
>We now often use it to speak about joining two ideas or texts
>into a synthesis.
Thanks for these handy definitions.  There's something in this discussion
that both rings true and amuses me, based on my teaching experience.  It's
not uncommon for students to confuse the two words.  They generally appear
to have heard "interpellate" as "interpolate."  The former is probably
completely strange to many people, while the latter may have come up in
literature class.  (As I recall, the question of interpolation arose in
my high-school Shakespeare -- but that was 20 years ago.)  At just a
fundamental level, the confusion raises two problems for me.  One involves
the readiness of students to use buzzwords without understanding what they
mean, how they might express the idea otherwise, or (evident in this case)
without understanding the correct word or the meaning of the word they're
using.  The complementary problem involves the responsibility of teachers
to encourage students to understand the ideas and terms they're using and
to think about what they write and say.  Sometimes it's exactly this
confusion about "interpellation" and "interpolation" that serves as a test
case and raises these issues for me.
Blaine Allan                           [log in to unmask]
Film Studies
Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario
Canada  K7L 3N6
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