Solving unrealistic murder mysteries in Japanese

So you’re a mystery writer, or a private detective, and you’ve been called to Japan to solve the harrowing, grisly, impossible murder of a rich and powerful politician, Yamaguchi-san, during a party at his home. But where do you begin?

You begin, of course, by learning all the important mystery and forensics terminology.

First, you have to know how to introduce yourself. You’re not a “mystery writer”; you’re a 推理筆者 (すいりひっしゃ). Or, rather than a private detective, you’re a 私立探偵 (しりつたんてい) who works for (or perhaps operates) a 探偵事務所 (たんていじむしょ, detective agency or consulting firm). Maybe you’re even a 名探偵 (めいたんてい, great detective), your exploits known throughout the world, but it would be impolite for you to say so.

The 警察 (けいさつ, police) have called you because of the 怪しい (あやしい, suspicious) nature of the death. The 事件 (じけん, incident) was, as far as anyone can tell, a 密室殺人 (みっしつさつじん, “locked room murder”)–a 不可能犯罪 (ふかのうはんざい, impossible crime). It would have been ruled a 自殺 (じさつ, suicide) if not for an apparent ダイイングメッセージ (“dying message”) left by the 被害者 (ひがいしゃ, victim). Unfortunately, the message is unclear–it may be some sort of 暗号 (あんごう, code), or it may be some other sort of indirect reference to the 殺人犯 (さつじんはん, murderer).

Now it’s up to you to double-check the work the police have done. Assemble all the 手がかり (てがかり, clues) they’ve noted so far, and start keeping track of your own. Talk with the 客人 (きゃくじん, guests) of the パーティー (party) and analyze their アリバイ (alibis). Go over the 犯罪現場 (はんざいげんば, crime scene) for clues that may have been missed. Talk with 鑑識 (かんしき, forensics) about the tests they’ve done and order more if necessary. Based on what you’ve learned, you may want to order a ルミノール (luminol) test somewhere on the scene…the killer may have cleaned up some 血液 (けつえき, blood), but you’ll still be able to get a reaction if you know where to look.

Once you’ve figured out what really happened, it’s time for your 推理ショー(すいりショー, literally “deduction show”, where you present your findings). Have the police help you set up a demonstration of how the 殺人 (さつじん, murder) went down. There may be a grumpy inspector who complains a little about this, but you’ll also usually find at least one very willing detective to be your errand boy. He’ll also sit in as your victim if you want! Just try not to bump him off in your excitement to reveal the killer’s トリック (trick).

Make a big show of demonstrating the trick first. Once you’ve impressed everyone with your reasoning skills, start eliminating suspects. Ticking them off one by one adds to the サスペンス (suspense). Finally, lower your head, close your eyes dramatically, lay out your best 証拠 (しょうこ, evidence), and then say the following line:

山口さんを殺したのは… (“The one who killed Yamaguchi-san…”)

Then snap your head up, point straight at the killer, and say:

…Xさん、あなただ! (“…was you, X-san!”)

And with that, you’re ready to be a 名探偵 in 日本. (Just watch out for 黒ずくめの男達 [men in black] with 実験的な薬 [experimental drugs]!)

I wrote this in 2012 and never posted it. It is, rather obviously, inspired by Detective Conan.

Getting more Japanese language input with Flutterscape

One of the most important factors in learning a new language is getting good input. Interacting with other speakers of Japanese, watching Japanese-language videos, reading Japanese-language books and websites, and listening to Japanese music are all ways you can ramp up your learning.

There are lots of free resources out there for Japanese input. One simple way to find Japanese language content is simply by searching the web for keywords in Japanese.

But sometimes you want something you can hold in your hands, or something that isn’t available digitally. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Kinokuniya or a Japanese specialty store that offers more than groceries, you might be able to find what you’re looking for there. But let’s say you’re really interested in a certain band, and you want to find all their CDs. Or you used to read a translation of a certain manga, and now you’d like to give the original a shot. It’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to walk into a store and find exactly what you’re looking for.

Enter Flutterscape.

Flutterscape is kind of like Craigslist for Japanese media. The site connects people outside Japan who want Japanese products with people living in Japan who have better access to those products. Often the sellers will already have items posted for sale, but what I’ve found most useful is Requests, where buyers can post exactly what they want and then let different sellers bid on the sale. So far I’ve used Requests to purchase two artbooks and two complete sets of out-of-print manga.

The buying process is simple and secure and guaranteed by Flutterscape. Your personal information is not sent to the seller; instead, the seller sends your item to Flutterscape’s Tokyo location, and Flutterscape ships the item to you. You can find more information on buying here.

Obviously, ordering items from another country is going to be a little pricey, especially when you add shipping. Unfortunately, Flutterscape does not currently have a way to combine multiple orders to lower shipping costs; each requested item will be shipped on its own. (I ordered my mangas in sets rather than volume by volume, which would have been cost-prohibitive.) If you like the idea of having media direct from Japan to consume but are leery of the cost, you might consider sharing the cost of materials across a group of Japanese-learning friends in your area.

Regardless, having the option to import items you wouldn’t normally have access to really opens up your language-learning possibilities.

If you are actually in Japan, you can earn a little extra money by being a seller on Flutterscape. You won’t make anything on shipping, but you can (and should) charge the buyers a little more than what it costs you to purchase the item they want. You then get the satisfaction of sharing Japanese language and culture with people around the world while accumulating a tidy little sum for yourself. There’s more about selling here.

As interest in Japanese language and culture continues to grow, Flutterscape has emerged to provide a much-needed conduit for obtaining raw materials. For the right price, you can snag the original manga for that show you were obsessed with as a kid, or out-of-print CDs from that band you heard the first time you started getting into Japanese culture. If there’s something out there you know will keep your interest, it’s excellent fodder for Japanese language study. After all, if you like it, you’re more likely to consume it, which means you’re maximizing your Japanese input. It’s win-win.

I love Rikaichan.

Rikaichan is a Firefox plugin that acts as a Japanese reading aid; I hover to the left of a word or phrase I don’t know, and possible definitions pop up. While I may be using it a bit too much as a crutch, I’ve found it really helpful with quickly confirming that I’m reading something right or in deciphering kanji I don’t know without copying and pasting into a dictionary.

One of the big reasons I love Rikaichan, though, is that it is totally up with slang. For an excellent example, click the image below!

Screenshot of Rikaichan use in Twitter trendsOh, Rikaichan. ワロタ indeed!


Some time ago, I attempted a fan translation of the bland anime-original Detective Conan episode 439, そして誰もいなくなればいい. Work went slowly because I found the story so boring. Not being a 推理オタク (mystery geek), I didn’t even realize the plot was a blatant rip-off of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None until a friend pointed it out later, so when I submitted my translation, I had a title like “And It’d Be Great If Everyone Disappeared”. While this works as a fairly literal translation, it’s obviously not what the writers were going for with the title. They very clearly meant to refer to Christie’s work.

そして誰もいなくなった is the Japanese title of And Then There Were None. Changing the verb ending to なれば makes it conditional, and then adding いい indicates that the preceding is the desired situation. This results in something like:

If (And Then There Were None), Good!

So, how to reference Christie’s title while keeping the conditional intact and using English that doesn’t sound ridiculous? Obviously “It’d Be Great If and Then There Were None” is out. But that was the best I could come up with for months and months. This morning, lying sleeplessly in a bed hundreds of miles from home, a solution finally occurred to me. Here are some variations.

And Then There Were None? That’d Be Great!
And Then There Were None? That’s My Preference
And Then There Were None? If Only

The question mark handles the conditional and maintains the flow of the original title. Then it’s up to the following phrase to drive home the murderous point.

I think I like the last one best.

I have so much I want to say…

…yet I never seem to find the time or energy to write.

Every day I think of something cool or interesting or important to me that I want to share, and every day that thought gets lost in my little gray cells. Sometimes it doesn’t even make it to Twitter.

So while I have a few free seconds, I’ll mention some of the things on my mind.

Grandma’s funeral and burial and the lunch much of the family had at Cracker Barrel afterwards were all so cathartic for me. I’m so glad I was able to be there for all of it, and so glad Sean came with me. I was able to celebrate Grandma’s life and mourn her death, and now I remember her and what she meant to me all the time, and with a smile.

My first niece will be born at the end of this month, and I am so thrilled. As a feminist and a tomboy, I’m shocked at how much I’m finding myself wanting to buy Daphne cute things and have tea parties with her. I guess all I can do is resolve not to treat her differently when it counts, when it’s a matter of fairness.

My best friend has moved back to Augusta after three years abroad. It is so nice to have her here, so nice to be able to call her up and have lunch or drop by and see her after work like I used to. It’s not exactly the same, of course; she’s married now, and living in a house rather than an apartment. But it’s pretty damn close, and I love it.

Back in September, my host sister from when I lived in Yatsushiro, Japan for three weeks in 2001 came to visit me! Yoko stayed an altogether too short three days; we went to Savannah, enjoyed Augusta’s Arts in the Heart, and went out for Indian food in Atlanta. We got along famously; she’s a huge fan of Arashi, and when I realized who that was and said “Matsumoto Jun!” we immediately bonded ;>

Not too long ago Sean and I went to a family dinner with Sean’s mom and dad, grandmother, grandmother’s sister (great aunt?), and grandmother’s sister’s daughter (second cousin?). It was really nice. I love family dinners. We had great food and looked at family pictures and just had a lovely time.

Sean has a new job teaching IT, which is just what he wanted, so we’re ecstatic. He starts soon, and more details about that will be forthcoming. Things will stay the same for me for awhile, though.

However, I have really ramped up my Japanese study. I study a little every day, with Spaced Repetition Software (SRS) called Anki, the myriad iPhone apps I’ve purchased, and/or James Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji. I also listen to Japanese-language podcasts about humor, pop culture, and cooking and watch Japanese-language media like anime, dramas, music videos, news, and documentaries. But the biggest thing I’ve done is join the Online Speaking Exchange and befriended/followed dozens of Japanese people on Twitter. Reading and responding to their tweets has really helped me overcome shyness and get a good feel for the flow of the language. Plus, I’ve made some really good friends.

As I’ve been looking into various language-learning resources, I ran across Benny the Irish Polyglot’s Fluent in 3 Months, wherein he speaks a lot about Couchsurfing. I am fascinated by the idea of letting people from around the world stay at our home; it sounds like a great way to make friends, practice language skills and learn about different cultures. I may try to talk Sean into it at some point in the future.

To motivate myself a little to become functionally fluent in Japanese, I’ve signed up to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) at level N3 (there are 5 levels). The test is in December and I’m really excited to see how well I’ll do.

That’s probably not even the half of everything I want to share–I haven’t even mentioned the running!–but it’s all I have time for now.  Till next time…

Meeting goals by having fun

I used to believe that to accomplish anything, I had to create an elaborate system, planning for every contingency in advance, and then strictly hold myself to that system, meeting a long string of minigoals on my way to the main goal.

Trouble is, that method has never worked for me.

I’ve never been able to create and stick to a menu plan. I’ve never charted out long-term projects for school or work and then adhered to a granular schedule.

What works for me is doing what I feel like doing when I feel like doing it. This goes for anything. Some days I feel like being creative; other days I feel like doing mindless “it has to be done” tasks. If I try to do creative tasks on days I’m feeling mindless, or I try to do mindless tasks on days I feel creative, I usually end up in a sour mood.

Sometimes, of course, it can’t be helped; there’s a project that has to be done now, no matter what mood I’m in. I have built up enough maturity since college to force myself through such blocks and get the work done. But when it comes to my interests outside work, things I don’t have to do, I find that the second it starts getting tiresome, I quit.

For example, my Japanese self-study progressed very slowly once I was out of college. And even when I was in college, I barely studied. At the time I thought something was wrong with me, that I was just lazy, that everyone else was working hard and I wasn’t, and that those were the reasons they excelled and I didn’t.

I purchased Japanese textbooks but stopped short of using them; I amassed flash cards but never took them out of their boxes. I bought a workbook and only filled out a few pages.

However, I also continued watching anime; I purchased Japanese-language editions of my favorite manga, and muddled through at least parts of them; I followed translators and other Japanese-speaking native English speakers on Twitter; I installed a Japanese dictionary browser plug-in; I listened to Kyou Kara Maou radio dramas. I kept in contact with the language.

And then, through my Twitter/blog friend Harvey, I discovered AJATT.

AJATT stands for “All Japanese All the Time”. It’s a language-learning philosophy created by a guy calling himself Khatzumoto, who taught himself Japanese in 18 months without attending any classes. The idea is that keeping in contact with your target language is enough to continue your language learning…and the best way to stay in contact is through fun things you’d already be doing.

It took weeks, maybe even months, for me to truly grasp the power of this approach. During that time I followed Khatzumoto (@ajatt) on Twitter and just let myself absorb his mindset. His tweets vary from inspirational quotes to his own observations on language learning to links to various interesting readings and videos in Japanese. Some samples:

“西暦1491年―先コロンブス期アメリカ大陸をめぐる新発見” (original tweet)

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” | Nelson Mandela (original tweet)

サイロン・レイダー – Wikipedia “宇宙空母ギャラクティカ” (original tweet)

Where is your ownage? Still below the surface, where it’s supposed to be. Now shut up get back to watching cartoons! :P (original tweet)

You’ll often find that it’s more important to get things started than to get them right. (original tweet)

That first link is to a Japanese-language book on Amazon about new discoveries about pre-Columbus America. This would be a great tool for a history buff to practice reading Japanese while enjoying an interesting historical topic.

The Nelson Mandela quote is pretty self-explanatory.

The third tweet links to a Japanese-language Wikipedia article about the attack craft used by the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica. Yes!

The last two are examples of Khatzumoto’s thoughts on language-learning, which are great motivators to keep yourself in contact with your target language.

He’s constantly posting stuff like this, such that I’m inundated with plenty of fun things to do in Japanese. For a time, while I was letting the AJATT philosophy sink in, that was enough…but then I started wanting more contact.

Eventually, someone somewhere linked to a blog post that recommended five iPhone applications for learning kanji. Based on that review, I ended up getting iKanji Touch and Kanji Flip. I had previously purchased several of Harvey’s iPhone apps. Khatzumoto linked to some live streams of Japanese television, so I ended up adding the MoSS app, a free live stream player. And Harvey linked to a couple more apps: one that lets you practice inputting Japanese without using romaji on the iPhone, and one that has Japanese-language news headlines in comic book format. Now I have one screen almost completely filled with Japanese apps:

iPhone screenshot

I’ve actually found myself using Kanji Flip the most. It uses the Spaced Repetition System, or SRS, which I had never heard of before I started following Harvey and Khatzumoto and Bret. With Kanji Flip, I very quickly learned to recognize about 100 kanji–by very quickly, I mean about one week. And this was just using Kanji Flip during any down time, such as waiting for food at a restaurant.

Using Kanji Flip gave me a sense of accomplishment–I could see how well I was doing at all times–while still being fun. I started recognizing those 100 kanji in Twitter posts, and relying less on my plug-in to read Japanese text.

I also changed my iPhone and my Facebook account’s default language to Japanese. This puts me in constant contact with my target language. I’ve started to recognize words I never knew the kanji for before, like 自分 (-self), which is used in Facebook Notifications such as “Heather commented on her own status” (or, “Heatherさんが自分の近 況についてコメントしました。”).

The bottom line is I’m having fun, using Japanese in my daily life and making sure to come in contact with it a lot.

It occurred to me the other day that this sort of mindset should be able to work for pretty much any goal. If I want to be a runner, for example, I should run as much as possible. If I want to be in shape, I should engage in physical activity as much as possible. If I want to eat healthily, I need to keep healthy foods around me as much as possible. If I want to save money, I need to make smart financial choices and think about how to cut out costs as much as possible.

It seems like a no-brainer writing it out like this. But what I’m coming to realize is none of that’s going to work if it’s not fun. If I don’t have fun with these things, I’m not going to keep in contact with them enough to have any impact on my life. In other words, I’ll know what I should do, and I’ll force myself to do it for awhile, and then I’ll start to think of it as a chore, and soon enough I’ll quit. That has been the story of my life. Literally, where my extracurricular activities are concerned.

I don’t have it all figured out yet. I don’t know how I’m going to make everything I want to accomplish fun. But I do know I can’t approach this the way I’ve approached pretty much everything else. I can’t put off getting started while I try to figure out how to create a “system”. What I need to do is just jump in, see what works, see what doesn’t, and, ultimately, enjoy myself.

I’m feeling a lot more hopeful about accomplishing things now.

Social media language study suggestion

I think it would be cool if a bunch of people studying a language would go out and take photos of signs written entirely in that language and upload them somewhere (probably Flickr, people always use Flickr for this sort of thing) and tag them so others can find them. Then we would have a huge group of real-life flash cards that we could use on our computers to familiarize ourselves with the vocabulary found on signs. It could be place names, common warnings, business names, sales, things like that. Basically, the idea is to give vocabulary (and how to write it) relevance.

I put some rather mediocre photos from 2001 up to start.

Have you seen Detective Conan 238?

Are those native English speakers? Because wow. I don’t think I’ve ever heard English spoken that well in anime before. And they have accents when they speak Japanese, too, and not the normal “I’m a Japanese person trying to fake an American accent” type of accent you usually hear.

I’m impressed!

Damn straight

This just reminds me, yet again, how much I want to take a year off, and road trip around the US.

And I have always hated the term “flyover country” :P

Categorized as Uncategorized Tagged , ,

Japanese(?) in Smallville

In episode 18 of season 5, Lex and Lana are coming back from their first date, if you can call researching various and sundry classified documents about space aliens over Japanese food a date. Lana tells Lex he could have warned her about the squid brains.

Lex responds, “Oh-EE-SHEE kara DAY SHOW”, which I am guessing was supposed to be おいしいからでしょう, though I’m not sure. A quick Google search reveals that that is in fact a phrase. I’ve never heard anyone say it, but I’m guessing it could mean something like, “Because it was good, right?”

(おいしい = delicious, から = because, でしょう = kind of a copula with an opinion connotation, I guess. Jim Breen sez “(I) think; (I) hope; (I) guess; don’t you agree?; I thought you’d say that!”)

Lex’s next line is “Come on, you can’t fool me. You loved it,” which is sorta-kinda a translation.

It occurred to me that he might have been saying 塩辛, but I definitely hear an “o” at the beginning of the phrase. Besides, what would 塩辛でしょう mean, anyway? “It was totally entrails, man”?

Anyway, I’m not knocking Michael Rosenbaum, who is a fabulous actor (not to mention totally hot). It’s hard to get the pitch inflection of Japanese down right. You have to work to overcome the natural tendency in English to put stress on the penultimate syllable.

I just always find it interesting when people speak a language I’m somewhat familiar with :)

Under the right circumstances, people use "under" instead of "in"

Arnold Zwicky over at Language Log has been looking into the phenomenon of “under” versus “in” occurring before the phrase “[modifier] circumstances”. I, personally, couldn’t recall ever hearing someone say “in the circumstances”, but Zwicky stated previously that not only is this how he says it, but it’s considered proper.

Of course, it’s Language Log’s purpose to debunk prescriptive language rules, so he did a little googling to see how people are actually using the phrase. Not content to simply check with “the circumstances”, he tried “these”, “all”, “no”, and several other modifiers.

In summary: the Google data suggest that “under” is preferred to “in”

with determiners “the” and “these”
(more strongly)
with determiner “which”
(very strongly)
with determiner “what”
(almost categorically)
with quantity determiner “no”

but that “in” is preferred to “under”

(almost categorically)
when “circumstances” means ‘personal situation’
with determiner “those” in general
(almost categorically)
with determiner “those” plus certain following relatives
with quantity determiners “all” and “some”
with quantity determiner “many”
(almost categorically)
with quantity determiner “a few”

This just scratches the surface of the phenomenon, but it’s enough to indicate that several effects are probably going on. As usual, the facts of usage are complex, subtle, sometimes surprising, and not easy to derive from first principles.

Ah, science.

The etymology of OMGWTFBBQ has several definitions of the term. It may or may not have originated on GameFAQs, Something Awful, and/or Starcraft, and it may or may not have something to do with the Korean word for “fuck you”.

Personally, I always just figured it was a way to mock Internet acronyms, but whatever. Also, I think saying BBQ stands for “be back quick” is BS. It’s barbecue. I mean, come on.

I’m not sure when I first heard it (thanks a lot, apartment fire, for destroying my records), but I know it was Kevin who first said it to me.


I had a lot of fun with this conversation, so I thought I’d share…

[21:05:00] <DarthWakka> How can california proclaim a dialect to be a language?
[21:05:07] <COSLeia> Kevin- did they?
[21:05:12] <DarthWakka> Oh yes
[21:05:19] <DarthWakka> Ebonics is a language in california
[21:05:27] <DarthWakka> Or was
[21:05:30] <COSLeia> can you show me an article?
[21:05:31] <DarthWakka> It could have been repealed
[21:06:15] <COSLeia> all I know is that teachers were lobbying to have instruction for teachers in what they called ‘ebonics’, or the dialect of local african-americans…and then the press caught wind of it and hyped it as they were trying to teach STUDENTS to speak it
[21:06:32] <COSLeia> when really it was just about getting the teachers to understand what the students were saying
[21:06:48] <COSLeia> Rush Limbaugh is especially good at twisting things his own way
[21:07:07] <DarthWakka> Errr so far I’m only seeing it as a bill
[21:07:14] <DarthWakka> Maybe it never made it to law in schools
[21:08:19] * COSLeia is listening to [hoobastank – crawling in the dark.mp3] [6.82 MB]
[21:08:35] <DarthWakka>
[21:08:37] * DarthWakka is listening to [Blink-182 – New Hope.mp3] [3.44 MB]
[21:08:49] <DarthWakka> Okay so there was a referendum to teachers in oakland to recognize it
[21:08:55] <DarthWakka> And it made to senate
[21:09:05] <DarthWakka> But I guess it never went farther
[21:09:10] <COSLeia> to recognize it as a language?
[21:09:11] * COSLeia goes to read
[21:09:24] <DarthWakka> Recognize it as a lexicon and to understand it
[21:09:37] <COSLeia> “The controversy arose last month after schools in Oakland, California, began instructing teachers to recognize black language patterns, called Ebonics by some, as a way of teaching standard English more effectively.”
[21:09:40] <COSLeia> I see no problem with that
[21:09:44] <COSLeia> the dialect does exist
[21:10:26] <COSLeia> the only argument you could have against it is “well I don’t want to give them any help in learning ‘standard’ English…they should just pick it up naturally, or work on it themselves”
[21:10:44] <COSLeia> which is ridiculous, because ‘standard’ obviously isn’t being spoken at home or in their groups of friends
[21:10:45] <DarthWakka> ROBERT WILLIAMS: The results were striking. The children scored significantly higher on the Ebonics version than on the standard English versions. The following two examples are given here to show the method of code switching or translations. Standard English: Mark the toy that is behind the sofa. Ebonics version: Mark the toy that is in back of the couch. Two: Standard English version: Point to the squirrel that is beginning to climb the tree.
[21:10:47] <COSLeia> so where are they going to learn it?
[21:11:00] <COSLeia> code switching :D
[21:11:37] <Maniac1> interesting concept
[21:11:40] * COSLeia thinks that non-linguists should be careful before passing judgment on things like this
[21:11:43] <DarthWakka> Well I know most schools don’t use spanish teachers to teach spanish speaking students english
[21:12:21] <COSLeia> which is bad
[21:12:22] * DarthWakka is listening to [DJ Tiesto – 12 – Major League-Wonder-.mp3] [10.76 MB]
[21:12:25] <COSLeia> they should do that
[21:12:30] <COSLeia> or at least, have a Spanish speaker available
[21:12:34] <COSLeia> but that’s where budget comes in
[21:12:49] <COSLeia> there is a learning curve against people who don’t speak ‘standard’ (whatever that is)
[21:13:01] <DarthWakka> And I can base that claim by living in 2 and knowing first hand a third school system all heavily populated by spanish speaking individuals
[21:13:14] <COSLeia> I know they don’t.
[21:13:22] <COSLeia> I’m in a Teaching English as a Second Language class, for heaven’s sake ;)
[21:13:39] <COSLeia> there is actually a big debate about whether or not you should use someone’s original language to teach a new one
[21:14:13] <COSLeia> but regardless, the money for such an operation really isn’t there.
[21:14:32] <COSLeia> that’s why they like teachers who can speak Spanish
[21:14:46] <DarthWakka> Hmm… well as I see it, speaking and understanding are 2 different things
[21:14:46] <COSLeia> other than Arabic, Spanish is probably the biggest language being pimped to students these days
[21:15:07] <COSLeia> what do you mean?
[21:17:14] <COSLeia> …
[21:17:40] <COSLeia> am I still here?
[21:19:04] <Maniac1> i’m floating around
[21:19:06] * DarthWakka is listening to [Bangers and Mashed.mp3] [6.64 MB]
[21:19:21] <Maniac1> sorry wrong message
[21:19:31] <COSLeia> L1 can either interfere or bolster L2 acquisition!
[21:19:36] <DarthWakka> Yes’m
[21:19:38] <COSLeia> and that’s about all I have to say about that ;>
[21:19:44] <DarthWakka> I had a phone call
[21:19:49] <COSLeia> ahh
[21:20:19] <COSLeia> this chicken is awesome
[21:20:22] <DarthWakka> speaking and understanding
[21:20:41] <DarthWakka> Okay that interview cites a man who speaks perfect “standard english” in this interview
[21:20:49] <DarthWakka> ROBERT WILLIAMS: Yes. They know that there’s home talk and there’s school talk. And they learn standard English. I still speak Ebonics. Every day I play golf. We get down.
[21:21:48] <COSLeia> Kevin, do you feel that you learn anything at school?
[21:22:03] <DarthWakka> lol not really unless it’s science related
[21:22:11] <COSLeia> So there are different learning styles, yes?
[21:22:13] <DarthWakka> I learn all kinds of stuff in chemistry
[21:22:26] <COSLeia> Current methods don’t work for everyone.
[21:22:44] <DarthWakka> okay I want someone to teach me in l337
[21:22:46] <COSLeia> So yes, there are some people who do well in the system.
[21:22:54] <COSLeia> But there are some who do not.
[21:22:56] <DarthWakka> I speak l337 at home on the computer
[21:22:59] <COSLeia> That’s just a fact of education.
[21:23:11] <COSLeia> The point is not to teach in ebonics.
[21:23:19] <COSLeia> The point is giving the teachers the tools they need in case they need them.
[21:23:32] <COSLeia> If a student just isn’t getting it, wouldn’t it be good if the teacher could rephrase it?
[21:23:51] <COSLeia> Just like in SLA, you wouldn’t teach a Spanish student English while speaking all Spanish
[21:23:59] <COSLeia> but wouldn’t it be good to explain certain things in Spanish?
[21:24:07] <COSLeia> ESPECIALLY at the early levels.
[21:24:12] <COSLeia> Tapering off as students get more advanced.
[21:24:46] <DarthWakka> Alright, that involves a foreign language though. Are you saying a dialect is the same?|
[21:24:53] * DarthWakka is listening to [ATB – My Dream.mp3] [8.11 MB]
[21:24:56] <COSLeia> It is if it is getting in the way of comprehension.
[21:25:01] <COSLeia> And you cited an example to me that proves that it is.
[21:25:11] <COSLeia> the students scored higher on tests that were in ebonics.
[21:25:27] <COSLeia> so apparently they didn’t understand the other test as well.
[21:25:46] <COSLeia> Just like teachers in Appalachia…they learn the local dialect there, and it isn’t such a big deal.
[21:25:47] <DarthWakka> That sounds like teaching down to me
[21:26:02] <COSLeia> The difference here is that it’s harder for white people to learn ebonics.
[21:26:13] <COSLeia> because for one thing not a whole lot of them have access to the community.
[21:26:25] <COSLeia> it becomes a sociopolitical thing instead of people communicating.
[21:26:35] <COSLeia> ebonics isn’t talking down, because ebonics isn’t bad.
[21:26:39] <COSLeia> ebonics is simply different.
[21:26:57] <COSLeia> a teacher using ebonics is not ‘simplifying’ the language, just using a different style of language.
[21:27:14] <DarthWakka> Well that’s idealism
[21:27:17] <COSLeia> not really.
[21:27:21] <DarthWakka> Cockney is looked down upon
[21:27:34] <COSLeia> yes, but it’s still a real, meaningful form of language.
[21:27:37] <COSLeia> and so is ebonics.
[21:27:43] <COSLeia> ANYTHING people use to communicate is language.
[21:27:52] <COSLeia> and it is capable of having all sorts of depth.
[21:28:19] <COSLeia> all language is is the expression of meaning and the facilitation of conversation.
[21:28:26] <COSLeia> you can do it in any number of ways.
[21:28:34] <COSLeia> why is one way considered ‘more intelligent’ than another?
[21:28:42] <COSLeia> mostly because that’s the form spoken by people in power.
[21:28:50] <COSLeia> people in power typically don’t have to adapt their lifestyles to anything.
[21:28:57] <COSLeia> instead, everyone else has to adapt their lifestyle to those people.
[21:29:01] <COSLeia> it isn’t fair, but it’s a fact of life.
[21:29:10] <COSLeia> so the least we can do is help them to adjust more easily.
[21:29:10] <DarthWakka> Well it’s also the form taught in other countried
[21:29:12] <DarthWakka> Well it’s also the form taught in other countries
[21:29:23] <COSLeia> hmm?
[21:29:44] <DarthWakka> I’d be curious to see a person who speaks fluent ebonics go to one of your language discussion groups and see how well they fare
[21:30:02] <COSLeia> are you missing the point?
[21:30:09] <COSLeia> the point is to teach them ‘standard’, academic English
[21:30:14] <COSLeia> by using ebonics
[21:30:29] <COSLeia> the point is not to encourage the use of ebonics and ignore teaching standard
[21:31:13] <Foreman> do you perhaps run the risk of doing more damage than good trying to teach academic english with ebonics? won’t you just wind up with ebonics taking over/
[21:31:14] <Foreman> ?
[21:31:25] <DarthWakka> That was my theory foreman
[21:31:42] * Foreman has no linguistics experience whatsoever
[21:32:00] * DarthWakka is listening to [Paul Oakenfold – 01 – Brancaccio & Aisher – Darker (Reset the Breaks Mix).mp3] [10.89 MB]
[21:32:11] <COSLeia> when you learn a foreign language in school, does your teacher teach it completely in that language from day one?
[21:32:13] <DarthWakka> This isn’t a foreign language you’re trying to teach, correct? Ebonics and english have the same basis
[21:32:17] <COSLeia> or does she explain things in English first?
[21:32:20] <COSLeia> not really
[21:32:31] <COSLeia> ebonics has been shown to be a pidgnization of English and several African languages
[21:32:35] <COSLeia> although that is still being researched
[21:32:51] <COSLeia> and actually, there are more than one ‘ebonic’ dialect
[21:32:58] <COSLeia> though there is one ‘standard’ that you see in entertainment
[21:33:06] <COSLeia> and the others tend to follow it via TV and such
[21:33:19] <COSLeia> so while many of the lexical items are the same
[21:33:23] <COSLeia> the GRAMMAR is significantly different
[21:33:27] <DarthWakka> there are dialects of a dialect? I find that interesting
[21:33:31] <COSLeia> double negatives being just one prominent example
[21:33:39] <COSLeia> every person speaks a dialect
[21:33:42] <COSLeia> there is no pure language
[21:33:52] <COSLeia> we just refer to pure language to make things simpler on our poor brains
[21:34:06] <Foreman> yes its explained in english first, though that is when they are very dissimilar… I have always found that language is really picked up when you have no other means to communicate… *total immersion*
[21:34:07] <DarthWakka> okay then a dialect of a dialect of a dialect
[21:34:08] <COSLeia> in fact, every person’s speech is different from the speech of others…we call that an ‘idiolect’
[21:34:16] * Foreman is a slow typist
[21:34:35] <COSLeia> but certain groups have similar enough idiolects to be considered a dialect.
[21:34:56] <COSLeia> ‘ebonics’ or Black American English or whatever you want to call it developed back in the 1700-1800s
[21:35:09] <COSLeia> you can see historical documents with that kind of language being used
[21:35:23] <COSLeia> in some ways it has developed on its own, and in other ways it has followed Standard American English
[21:35:32] <COSLeia> it is just close enough for comprehensibility for certain people
[21:35:45] <COSLeia> but not everyone has the language skills to completely understand it on both sides
[21:36:05] <COSLeia> for me, it’s just figuring out a new lexical item (word); I can typically understand ebonics otherwise
[21:36:10] <COSLeia> but it’s not that easy for other people
[21:37:18] <COSLeia> most linguists believe that BE developed because of the slave traders’ putting people who spoke different languages together on the same boat, so they couldn’t discuss mutiny
[21:37:33] <COSLeia> as they stayed together, they developed a pidgin of their African languages, for communication
[21:37:44] <COSLeia> when they got to America, they had to learn English as well, to understand their owners
[21:37:48] <COSLeia> so that got put into the mix too
[21:38:10] <COSLeia> some researchers say that BE more closely resembles British English than American English, but I’m not sure if that’s documented
[21:38:26] <DarthWakka> so the theory is they created an entire language out of nearly nothing in the months it took to travel in the holds?
[21:38:31] <COSLeia> no
[21:38:35] <COSLeia> a pidgin is not a language
[21:38:48] * DarthWakka is listening to [Ayumix – From Your Letter (DJ Hasebe remix).mp3] [4.27 MB]
[21:38:49] <COSLeia> a pidgin is a collection of things, usually words
[21:38:56] <COSLeia> that people all learn and use with each other
[21:39:05] <COSLeia> there tends to be little grammatical information
[21:39:06] <DarthWakka> err?
[21:39:10] <COSLeia> such as
[21:39:14] <COSLeia> you don’t inflect verbs in a pidgin
[21:39:19] <COSLeia> you would say stuff like ‘he go’
[21:39:28] <COSLeia> or whatever the plain forms are in the language you took the words from
[21:39:39] <COSLeia> a pidgin does eventually develop into a creole
[21:39:45] <COSLeia> and from there it is usually considered a language
[21:39:47] <COSLeia> but THAT takes a long time
[21:39:55] <COSLeia> it wasn’t done on those weeks in the boats
[21:40:01] <COSLeia> it was done in those years on the plantations
[21:40:05] <COSLeia> and consider this
[21:40:09] <COSLeia> slave children grew up learning the pidgin
[21:40:13] <COSLeia> it was their first language
[21:40:16] <COSLeia> so they added nuance to it
[21:41:31] <COSLeia> there are studies that show that the grammatical forms in ebonics more closely resemble the grammar of African languages than they do English.
[21:41:37] <COSLeia> that is why it’s hard for some people to understand.
[21:41:40] <COSLeia> the words are mostly English
[21:41:46] <COSLeia> but the way they’re used is different.
[21:42:43] <COSLeia> if you can’t tell, I’ve done a lot of research…
[21:43:21] <DarthWakka> perhaps i don’t know liguistics well enough, but the way I learned what little spanish I know was total immersion in the language at my job in san antonio. I’d think it much easier to go from ebonics to standard in total immersion
[21:43:26] * DarthWakka is listening to [Paul Oakenfold – Flood.mp3] [7.07 MB]
[21:43:33] <COSLeia> yes, it would
[21:43:38] <COSLeia> but the immersion isn’t total at all.
[21:43:45] <COSLeia> the ONLY place they get SAE is in school.
[21:43:58] <COSLeia> in their homes and communities they don’t usually need it.
[21:44:31] <COSLeia> so it’s kind of like how Japanese students take English for 6 years and still can’t speak it.
[21:44:45] <COSLeia> they can sit through the classes, pass, and not learn a damn thing.
[21:44:50] <COSLeia> because they don’t use it outside of class.

As you can see, I was really into this ;> I’m so glad I found linguistics.