wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
"Eschatology as design challenge" -- here's an article on ending worlds in online games. Sadly, the article doesn't really live up to that quote, but it's interesting nonetheless. Via [ profile] thesaucernews.

What! World Wide Words says that "weave" as in "cloth" (past tense "wove") is a different word from "weave" as in "zig-zag" (past tense "weaved") here. I'm unable to confirm this in Partridge's Origins, which doesn't directly address "weave back and forth." But fascinating if true! More at the link about "strong verbs" where the past tense is still formed using the ablaut process (sang, drove, grew).

I figured that since [ profile] toratigris was packing spices that there was something different about the spice situation in Korea and Japan. Wow, that seems to be the case. Korean & Japan are quite similar in a lot of respects but not, it seems, when it comes to the popularity of "Western"-style baking and cooking. There's a long discussion on Dave's ESL Cafe from a Korea-based EFL teacher who's moving to Japan and can't believe the reassurances from Japan-based teachers that it's easy to buy "cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, oregano, paprika, parsley, black or white pepper, sweet basil, bay leaf, cayenne pepper (powdered or dried/whole), turmeric, cumin, Italian seasoning," and nearly everything except dill easily in any Japanese city. Towns and villages are another matter, I hear (and have no doubt), but with the train networks, I imagine it's still doable.

[ profile] assaultdoor's best friend, an apparently straight guy raised in Bakersfield and other non-touchy-feely parts of the US, always ends his phone calls with "Love ya!" I really admire this. It may be partly his family's tradition or his ethnic background or something that lets him feel comfortable doing this, but either way, it probably takes some nerve on some level. I'd like to occasionally express my love for my closest friends, but I am a pretty non-demonstrative person (whether that's due to my personality or partly influenced by my buttoned-up German and British Isles cultural heritage, I couldn't say). Anyway, if I do express such at some point, it doesn't express any change in my feelings, just an attempt to be a little more honest. :P You never know when you'll never get a chance to say it again.

This CD that got left out of the box is not going in because it kills me that there's still 200+ MB left on it, and I want to tweak it more anyway. EDIT: No, the box isn't going today because I suck and it's 2 PM and I haven't eaten yet and the box is not yet addressed and I will fall down if I have to go to the post office first FAIL.


Mar. 7th, 2009 12:14 pm
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
A casual but decent post on Chinese[s] at Language Log, if you've been curious as to my occasional allusion to the notion of "Chinese" being a single language (unified in its written form, with various spoken dialects) as essentially a myth. The comments are interesting, too--there's a really great point about status and mutual intelligibility. Relatively non-technical (well, it would help to know that "AAVE" stands for "African-American Vernacular English").

Also, this is terribly embarrassing: Clinton's gift to Russian Foreign Minister is all wrong. I often complain about English websites and manuals from international companies--"couldn't they have found someone really fluent or a native speaker to spend 5 minutes looking at it?" But apparently the US Secretary of State staff couldn't find a SINGLE RUSSIAN to look at ONE WORD and go "Oooh, no, that's not how we usually say 'Reset'--what you want is 'перезагрузка'--OK? Bye!" (Again, the comments are full of clarifying context.) See, apparently we thought we'd be clever and give them a big red button, like the ones they sell at that one office store, reading RESET in Russian, to say "Let's reset our relations!" Instead they gave them one that reads RESET in English and ... "overloading" in Russian. *headdesk*

*No, "dialect" is not a put-down in itself; everybody speaks a dialect. Or several dialects.


Feb. 5th, 2009 04:13 pm
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
Korea: A Cross Cultural Communication Analyzed is interesting, but it would have been better if the author had done a little more research. He writes "(a) consent (long first syllable) - is what an Australian would call an electric power point. Clearly here we have an incorrect dictionary transposition. The link between 'consent ~ to agree' and electric plug is apparent."

Common sense is a terrible way to do etymology, and while I may natter speculatively in the same vein on LJ, I wouldn't dare publish it in a paper (let alone say "clearly" or "apparent.")

The word he's talking about is from "concentric plug," referring to the type of connection, and I believe that if you check a full-size Japanese or Korean loanword dictionary, it will tell you so. And I am fairly sure that it enters Korean via Japanese, which he fails to acknowledge.

He also identifies only ONE word out of this list of "Konglish" (sic) as originally entering Korean through Japanese: con[s/c]ent, skinship, handle, hotchkiss, eye shopping, fighting. He only acknowledges "hotchkiss" (stapler), but actually, I'm pretty sure that all of these entered Korean through Japanese except for "eye shopping".

I mean, obviously some English must have/could have entered Korean during the Korean War and its aftermath. And some of the Korean words I've run into in the past I can see having spontaneously formed on their own to be virtually identical to Japanese because of some overlap in Japanese and Korean phonetics. It's a bit odd, though, when so many of them are as close as they are, not to mention borrowing the same bits from English with the same far more unlikely quirks of semantic change in terms of specialization, generalization, metonymy, and so on.

Oh well, someday I'll find a book or article that really explains the whole tangled saga of these words.
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
Yay! I found a brief, squished-together explanation of honorific name suffixes in A Reference Grammar of Japanese by Martin. It's a pretty old book, but none of the other books included forms of address at all. They covered, like, name order, but not -sama and stuff. Very weird.

This book implies that -chama is a perfectly ordinary form of address, not indicating it to be any less common than -chan. Was it more common in 1975, or is it just an artifact of the brief treatment, or is it an error, or have I misunderstood?

Irritatingly, it uses the "tyan"-type spellings, but oh well.

Finally, it answered a question: Remember that I was wondering if things like -chan were diminutives or what? Apparently, they're hypercoristics (endearments). Woohoo! That was a term I needed in order to write this.

It's too bad the SJSU library isn't more up to date, but I'm very glad I have access to it for free.

(Edited for incoherency. I shouldn't type and read at the same time.)
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
I would love to be able to read this Japanese Wikipedia article on "Engrish."

I ran across it because I was looking for a longer list like this of supposed English loanwords that are used in Japanese and either are incomprehensible to non-Japanese English speakers or are understandable but sound strange (like saying "mug-cup" instead of "mug"). [ profile] sho_sunaga put me onto the original 和製英語 ("made-in-Japan English") article that led me there. One of my students really wants to know which words she needs to change or avoid, which I think is a very good idea. It's great that she has these words to draw on, but just like a native English speaker going to France, it's dangerous to use familiar words willy-nilly without realizing that the meanings and pronunciations of the French mutated when they entered English.

Between the two lists I should be able to put together a good list, but the problem is that I don't know which of these Japanese words are actually really common and which I don't need to worry about teaching to my clients because no one really uses them anyway. :P I can take a guess at which are more common, of course ...


Dec. 5th, 2008 10:38 pm
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
This is the book Dr. Murphy was talking about!

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English

Yay for books about English written by linguists, who, while certainly not immune to faulty conclusions, at least have something more than their "common sense," curmudgeonly impulses, and bar tales from drunken Finns on which to base their conclusions. *makes rude gestures at Safire, Bryson, et al*

Thanks to [ profile] telophase for mentioning it and reminding me of it.

New book

Oct. 8th, 2007 09:43 pm
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
Here's a Language Log post on a new book, The Myth of Mars and Venus. It's an exploration of the Deborah Tannen/John Gray type books and attitudes that have been pervasive lately. I think it looks really interesting... The Language Log post includes links to three excerpts hosted at the Guardian.
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (whelan-shelves-sarudy)
I tried to say something for [ profile] ibarw this year. I don't know if I expressed myself in a way that makes sense, but I'm glad I finally tried. Later, I'll to re-write some of it for [ profile] readableblog, because English learners need to talk about these things too. If I said something stupid, or that doesn't make sense to you, give me a chance to clear it up. Thanks.

Racism is language. Language is power.

My field is TESOL: teaching English to speakers of other languages.

I work in a field that thrives on racism despite itself.

I work in a field where my students and potential employers are likely to judge my competence by my appearance and my accent. I benefit from this, but I shouldn't. My professional association opposes this discrimination, and I work to support my non-native-speaker and/or non-white colleagues. But the privileges are there.

I work in a field with few American colleagues who are black, whose families speak Spanish, or who were born in India, regardless of whether they speak English as a first language.

If there's no Caucasian poster girl available, many overseas employers will privilege some other native speaker, even if the native speaker is completely untrained in teaching or linguistics or grammar, and even if there is a local, non-native speaker who has the education, the experience, and the language skills to do the job. Privilege, like an ogre, has layers.

I work in a field that contributes to the world domination of English, and which is often assumed to be a comrade-in-arms in the movement to make English our national language (a movement that I view as purely racist, as does my professional organization--which, despite people's assumptions, is firmly against any English-only policy).

When I tell people what I do, they often respond with jocular, nasty remarks about immigrants--remarks that they assume any English teacher/native speaker/white person/American citizen/middle class person will agree with. The remarks even come from second-, third-, and fourth-+ generation immigrants who have internalized the dominant culture's fear and loathing of multilingual people. These attitudes pervade our education system and our daily lives. (Please read Stephen Krashen's writings on bilingual education for more information.)

I try to respond to them; if nothing else, to let them know that they cannot always expect a positive response to their ignorance and/or bigotry. The funny thing is that most people who are trained ESL/EFL/ESOL instructors are aware of the problems involved in our field. We are in favor of children learning their family's language(s) and the local language(s). We are in favor of supporting the many varieties of English around the world, not imposing an arbitrary and irrelevant standard. We are against throwing high-stakes test after high-stakes test at children. We are against accent-based, home-language-based, ethnicity-based, and nationality-based discrimination.

Multilingualism makes you smarter. It makes you a global citizen. It gives you an additional voice.

If your native language is English, mitigate your astonishing amount of privilege. Educate yourself. Read the TESOL and Krashen papers. Don't make assumptions about language learning based on "common sense." Do not join in political movements about education until you have educated yourself beyond your common sense. Learn another language. Even better, learn a language that's radically different from English. Even better, go overseas for a year or more and work hard at speaking the local language. Empathize before you criticize.

If your native language is English and you enjoy teaching or working with people from various cultures, and you are not white, do not ignore TESOL as a career choice. We need to see and hear you. Non-teaching native speakers need to see and hear you. English learners need to see and hear you.

If your native language is English and you speak a non-privileged variety that is looked down upon because of its socioeconomic or geographic origins, embrace it. Everyone speaks a dialect. Your dialect is not "bad English." Your dialect is its own good English. Learn different dialects and registers and use them to your benefit. But never be ashamed of your own accent, rhythm, slang, grammar, sentence patterns, and vocabulary. Teach your dialect to others; write in it, sing in it, answer the phone in it, share it. Defy assumptions.

If your parents' native language is not English, but yours is, we need you too. But don't neglect your parents' language or languages. If you didn't learn it as a child, you can learn it now. Children have advantages in learning pronunciation, but you can become fluent in a language at any age. Encourage your children to learn their grandparents' language. It will not damage their English skills.

If your native language is not English, but you have studied it, we also need you. But even if you don't want to teach English, don't hesitate to express yourself in English. Speak to English teachers. Tell us what we're doing wrong or right. Write novels. Write poetry. Write letters to the editor and to the government. Make your voice heard. Everyone has a spoken and written accent: embrace yours. Everyone speaks a dialect: embrace yours, whether it's Hong Kong English, or Indian English, or any other of the World Englishes. Mix your languages. Don't neglect your home language; let English and other languages enrich each other and yourself. Don't base your language choices on fear or the assumptions made by those who are afraid. Teach your home language to someone else. Teach it to your child or your neighbor. Get a teaching certificate or degree in your home language. Realize that native English speakers are no better than you. Speak English for your own purposes.

If your native language is not English, choose to study English if that's a language that will benefit you. Do not choose English because it is expected. Choose Korean. Choose Farsi. Choose Portguese. Choose the language that you will use.

For everyone: educate yourself. Racism, both informal and institutionalized, is deeply entwined with language. If you are interested in the ways in which racism and language interact--"Ebonics," English-only, "Spanglish," "Engrish," racist slang, on and on--take some introductory linguistics and sociolinguistics courses. Or find yourself some textbooks. Everyone who speaks or signs a languages can benefit from these classes. You may disagree with some of the conclusions. You may find yourself flushing with anger or crying or yelling in class, but you'll also gain new tools to help you discover, identify, discuss, and combat racism.

I believe that language education can subvert its often racist overtones and undertones. Otherwise, TESOL could not be my field.
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
It's mostly serious. But not always. Sometimes they're cranky, ranty, surreal, or just plain silly. See today's post:

A New Theory of Language Loss

It isn't often that one encounters an entirely original theory of language loss, but I chanced on one in this comment by one TB Tabby on this blog post:

This is how languages die out: Over time, every single word in the language becomes slang for something dirty. People didn't forget to speak Latin: they just got tired of all the snickering whenever they spoke.

(Hook yourself up with some [ profile] languagelog on your f'list, eh?)

(I still need some linguistics icons, darnit.)


May. 18th, 2007 10:47 pm
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
I just e-mailed Michael Quinion (Amazon link to his excellent books), because I think the term "NEET" originated earlier than the 2005 date it's given in the current issue of [ profile] worldwidewords. Assuming his finger just didn't slip, that is.

I got my comments into Language Log, so let's see if I get into World Wide Words. That would be pretty darned nifty.

I recommend that feed if you enjoy the quirks of the English language(s), by the way--today he debunked the popular notion of the vomitorium, and he regularly debunks various folk etymologies. He's like a kinder, gentler, much younger (and alive) Eric Patridge. His website is here:
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
Thanks to [ profile] metafilter, I've discovered Speculative Grammarian, which is to linguistics what the Journal of Irreproducible Results is to the sciences at large. Two highlights: * Choose Your Own Linguistics Career! I'm happy that (in a total fairytale not resembling academia in the least) I won on my first go-round. * Rating the world's languages. Snerk. * Sudoku + phonology mashup. Run away!

P. S. Apparently the JIR will come make with the silly at any conference-type event in exchange for expenses from San Francisco and a booth.
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
I am amused by how many WordCamp bloggers have mentioned their introversion and dislike of crowds. Yep, me too! I find it hard to drag myself to these kinds of events, but I almost always find myself totally energized and charged afterwards if the event was any good at all. That's why it's so good to go with [ profile] jenniferward, because otherwise I'm likely to talk myself out of going.

I've been to a lot of conferences and conventions. When I was a kid, we used to go to these tech conferences with rooms full of freebies; during college, grad school, and since then I've regularly attended a variety of events. I used to help run an RPG convention, and I've attended fan-run anime conventions, corporate-behemoth-dominated Comic Con, scrappy little Alternative Press Expo, even a doujinshi convention in Taipei ... and in terms of academic events, I've been to grad student conferences, small regional conferences, large international conferences, etc., both ones that focused on presenting research (like the Columbia EAS grad student conference) and ones that mixed research and instructional sessions (CATESOL). Plus I've been to things like the first Cafepress meetup. People complain after every single event, no matter what (we used to have a "Gripe Session" Sunday afternoon at our RPG con, so we could gather constructive criticism before the pointless whining began). I believe I had some complaints after CATESOL, too, and I think they were pretty justified.

It's impossible to run an event such as WordCamp and satisfy everyone. Reading through the various wordcamp-tagged Technorati posts, I saw several people who felt the event was aimed too much at unskilled users rather than developers, and several people who felt it was too technical and not useful for new users. I thought it was a pretty good mix given that there were only two rooms and 6 (?) time slots. There were definitely times when my eyes glazed over as yet another person requested a feature that's easily had with plugins (that's the whole point of WP to me: it doesn't come with everything, just the basics, and you pick and choose what plugins to install, instead of it being one huge piece of Microsoft-esque bloatware with a million not easily extricable "features" you'll never use). And there were plenty of other times when I had no idea what people were talking about. But in between those times I learned a lot of really useful information that I can put to work right away. If it had been a much larger event, I would have loved for there to have been at least three tracks: one for totally new users and the curious, one for confident or advanced users, and one for developers. Of course, then there would have been an admission charge, and there would have been an entire different set of complaints.

I think the WordCamp staff probably learned a lot (the traditional "trial by fire" of any first conference) and that the next WordCamp--and I hope there is one!--will be even more useful and entertaining.

Randomly: The new Snickers campaign seems to backfire in my head. The problem is that the "-ellent" part of "excellent" isn't especially meaning-bearing, so what I get from "SATISFACTELLENT" is somewhere between "disinfectant" and "repellent." There's another one that ends in *astic and winds up resembling "sarcastic" more than "fantastic," due to the missing "t." I think they need a linguist.


wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)

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