Talking Canadian

The Cantonese-comprehending Canadian told me about a documentary called Talking Canadian from the CBC. It's all about why Canadians use certain words and talk funny. Just kidding. But they sound American, even though there are differences, of course. Their language exists between American English and British English. I love seeing the comparisons/contrasts between us and them and witnessing their confusion. Just joking. But seriously, it's worth a watch for sure.


You don't need to know Japanese to find this funny

A Polish guy I work with showed me this video, even though he doesn't know Japanese and has never been there. Which is the point: it's totally visual.


I'm a fan!

Sorry I haven't been posting here as frequently, but I *have* been reading Japanese frequently, as a part of my ongoing New Year's Resolution, and what I'm now reading is really great.

I asked my Japanese teacher about a manga that's based on reality (not fantasy like crazy fighting or fairies or whatever), and she recommended 島耕作 (Shima Kosaku). I love it! I'm reading 課長島耕作14 (Kacho Shima Kosaku) which is from the early 90's, and since then, the series became a TV show, and now, Shima Kosaku has been promoted to 社長島耕作 (Shacho Shima Kosaku). Which means that he was previously a Section Chief (課長/kacho) and is now the Company President (社長/shacho).

The manga is now in its 25th year, and I can see why! It's a great way to learn Japanese while being entertained at the same time. Even though it's taking me a lot longer to read it than a Japanese person, of course :D


Good local group: Wolfgang Jay

I saw Wolfgang Jay at an after-hours event at the Chicago Recording Company, and they were really good.

They performed Walker, Memories Of, and Now and Then.


The real Indian caste system

I know a Singaporean who comes from an Indian background, who shared some info from a Singapore newspaper about what India's caste system really is supposed to be:
Originally known as the varnashrama system, it comprises four broad scientific occupational divisions in society - the educator class, the administrator class, the entrepreneur class and the worker class - where everyone has the opportunity to take up an occupation befitting his or her natural tendencies and qualifications. This is based on the psychological propensity and character of the individual, and not on birth.
The writer also said that the classes worked together, which really should happen in any society. I'm just glad the US doesn't have caste system. That would make life quite rigid and seem more unfair than it sometimes is.


Happy Bastille Day/La Fête Nationale!

Well, it's no longer Bastille Day in France, but it's still July 14th in the USA. So Happy Bastille Day/La Fête Nationale! Even though I've translated a lot of French into English, I've never been there and would love to go!


Not surprised by these findings

A Canadian (who also knows some Cantonese) gave me a link to an article citing research that has discovered "that a significant proportion of native English speakers are unable to understand some basic sentences."

I'm not surprised by this, and actually think that because the researchers assumed "that all speakers have a core ability to use grammatical cues", they were inevitably going to run into results that would contradict that assumption.

Specifically, they discovered that "A high proportion of those who had left school at 16 began to make mistakes" and "a proportion of people with low educational attainment make errors with understanding the passive, and it appears that this and other important areas of core grammar may not be fully mastered by some speakers, even by adulthood."

I think it's quite obvious that more education or more exposure to complex reading and writing will lead to an understanding of more complex grammar. One thing that bothered me when I was studying education and language acquisition in school was that everyone would gather around a theory, and if I would suggest anecdotal or observational evidence that would contradict what they were saying, they would dismiss it because the research didn't show that. But my experience did, so why diss it? Sometimes I think that academia doesn't tolerate exceptions because it messes up their tidy little package that they want to present to their peers.


Russell Peters on accents

I've been watching a lot of Russell Peters videos, and amazingly, there are more out there.

There's a really good interview with him where he talks about culture and international themes, including accents. It's a few minutes into the video below, but the whole thing is worth watching. You can watch part 1 here. Every time I see such good interviews, I want to do more myself (which I already do at my podcast, but on a much smaller scale). Maybe I should try to do an interview with him next time I'm in LA :D


She scored

Sue from Naperville Now recommended the book Girl in Translation, which is about an immigrant child from Hong Kong. I haven't read it, but it seems to be based on what the author and her mother experienced as well. Not the plot, but the difficulties of being an immigrant.

I'm sure it will become a movie, or will at least be optioned, because it's a bestseller and has gotten a lot of press, though the author keeps mentioning the same details (or the publisher does, and interviewers don't go beyond the basics). For instance, in various interviews and even a video, she says her family was "fairly well-off in Hong Kong" but had to start over in New York. But she doesn't say how they became poor when they came to the US. How can someone go from the good life to poverty in just one move? Why does she use the same general information without further elaborating?

Another thing I'm wondering about is why her mother never learned English even though she lived in New York for so many years. I know that it's hard to learn a new language, especially if someone is so busy, but eventually I'm sure her mother had the time to learn. I just think it's odd that people, especially who are educated, would choose to live in their own language for so long.

Anyway, the author had a hard life and overcame a lot to go to the Ivy Leagues and publishing world, so she's really scored.


Happy 4th! Independence Day!

Now that the Canadians had their Canada Day, it's time for our day: Independence Day! It's not when the US became a nation, but when the colonies declared independence from England through the Declaration of Independence. From there, there was a war that the colonies eventually won, of course. Otherwise, I'd be using British words and British spelling, and wouldn't be fascinated by the differences of our English :D

You can read it online. I actually made it a part of this week's test in my ESL class, though I think they were baffled by the 18th century English.


Happy Canada Day

A Canadian sent me a link to a site that celebrates Canada Day. It claims to offer a list of "unique summer activities" that actually seem very ordinary, so don't expect to get any specific ideas there. I can do a lot of those activities any day in the USA.

But at least they give some historical information: "Formerly known as 'Dominion Day,' Canada Day marks the anniversary of the Constitution Act of 1867, joining Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada province (now Ontario and Quebec) into a single country."

But you can get more, and better, information about Canada Day at Wikipedia. And if you want to find some activities, go to the government's site in Ottawa, the City of Toronto's site, or About.com. And there are all those Canadian newspapers, depending where you are.

However you celebrate it, Happy Canada Day!