Category Archives: 2011 RinE

Research in English II, session 1: September 23rd, 2011

This semester, students will write more in English than in the first semester.



  1. Read the first 7 paragraphs of chapter 4 (pages 46-49).
  2. Summarize each paragraph in English in 1~3 sentences. (Hint: usually the first 1 or 2 sentences in each paragraph summarize the paragraph.) Use your own words. Write in as simple English as possible.
  3. Email me your summary before next class.
  4. Print out your summary and bring it to the next class.
  5. Look up any names, places, people, etc., that are mentioned in the first 7 paragraphs that you don’t know (e.g. Schleswig-Holstein (and also on Wikipedia), Frisian, Beowulf, etc).  Bring the information (maps, pictures, printout, etc) to class and be prepared to explain them to the class.

Example summary of paragraph 1:


“In the country inns of a small corner of northern Germany, in the spur of land connecting Schleswig-Holstein to Denmark, you can sometimes hear people talking in what sounds eerily like a lost dialect of English.”


  1. “In the country(side) of north Germany, you can hear people talking in what sounds like a dialect of English.”
  2. “In the country(side) of north Germany, there are some people who speak a dialect that sounds like English.”
  3. “In the country(side) of north Germany, there are people who speak a language that is very similar to/like English.”


Papua languages disappearing – should we care?

Who will speak Iniai in 2050? Or Faiwol? Moskona? Wahgi? Probably no-one, as the languages of New Guinea — the world’s greatest linguistic reservoir — are disappearing in a tide of indifference.

A Papuan tribesman participates in the Lake Sentani festival in the Jayapura district of the eastern Indonesian province of Papua. The island of New Guinea that encompasses Papua New Guinea and Indonesian Papua is a vast reservoir of languages in a world where languages of various tribal groups are disappearing quietly, according to anthropologists [Credit: AFP]

New Guinea is home to more than 1,000 languages — around 800 in Papua New Guinea and 200 in Indonesian Papua — but most have fewer than 1,000 speakers, often centred around a village or cluster of hamlets.

Some 80 percent of New Guinea’s people live in rural areas and many tribes, especially in the isolated mountains, have little contact with one another, let alone with the outside world.

The most widely-spoken language is Enga, with around 200,000 speakers in the highlands of central PNG, followed by Melpa and Huli.

“Every time someone dies, a little part of the language dies too because only the oldest people still use it,” said Nico, the curator of Cendrawasih University’s museum.

“In towns but also eventually in the forest, Indonesian has become the main language for people under 40. Traditional languages are reserved for celebrations and festivals,” said Habel M. Suwae, the regent of Jayapura district.

via The Archaeology News Network: Languages on Papua vanish without a whisper.

Cultural Imperialism?

In PNG, under the influence of nearby Australia, English has spread, though it has found it hard to penetrate some tribes, particularly those in the isolated highlands.

Encouraging a single language in order to strengthen the State

The authorities are sometimes accused of inaction or even favouring the official language to better integrate the population, particularly in Indonesian Papua.

Art and ceremonies can save the languages?

Despite his pessimism about the future, Wally the anthropologist believes art and culture can stop Papuan languages being forgotten.
Papuans love to sing and celebrate and they must do these things in their traditional languages, Wally says — this way young people “will want to discover the language to understand the meaning of the songs”.
Oxford University has launched a race against the clock to record Emma, aged 85, Enos, 60, and Anna, also 60, who are the three last remaining Papuans who speak Dusner.

More than 200 languages have become extinct around the world over the last three generations and 2,500 others are under threat,

Research in English (Linguistics) A session 14: July 22nd, 2011

Today, we had a presentation from Ms. Aoki about Universal Grammar (普遍文法), a theory of grammar and language acquisition developed by Noam Chomsky (ノーム・チョムスキー). You can read a short introduction to Universal Grammar (普遍文法) in Japanese on Wikipedia here.

After the presentation, I mentioned an exhibition in Germany which shows the faces of various human ancestors. You can see a slideshow here: Faces of our Ancestors.

Research in English (Linguistics) A session 11: July 1st, 2011 – student voices

  1. Minority languages should not be banned, because I think all human being should have the right to choose a language they speak. I suppose prohibition on minority languages means freedom is disturbed. If minority languages are banned, parents speaking them cannot understand their own children’s feelings accurately, because the children are not supposed to learn those languages. I think it’s a good idea that minority languages are recognized as official languages, but it does cost much money in the countries, so if that’s impossible, those speakers should be allowed to speak them, at least in the areas they are spoken. People should tell what they want to say to their families or friends exactly. However, people speaking minority languages should be encouraged to learn major languages to spread their cultures to other areas. Also, if they become able to speak major languages, they can communicate with more people and share their sense of values with major languages’ speakers. So, major languages should be taught at school. I don’t think unifying into one language or a ban on minority languages necessarily makes countries become stronger. I suppose a true strong country is the country whose people are cooperative with each other. Also, I think the country which allow minority languages is thought of the humane country and admired by other countries.
  2. I don’t agree both suppress and support to minority languages. Because, as Bill Bryson say, “It seems not to matter greatly whether governments suppress them brutally or support them lavishly” (44). I think we leave it to nature. Instead of doing support, however, governments or linguists, or someone, should record and preserve minority languages to understand its speaker’s culture, history and view, or for other reasons.

Research in English (Linguistics) A session 11: July 1st, 2011

We read more of chapter 3, pages 37-39.

Final projects. Students will give a final presentation and also hand in a written paper on July 29th (or earlier). Choose ONE from the list of topics below (if you want to do something that is not on the list, please email me or talk to me in class). You can use Powerpoint, or make a poster or make handouts. The presentation should be about 10-12 minutes. The written paper should be about 4 pages of A4 (double-spaced, with a reference list 参照文献).

Who is the project for? For yourself, for your classmates, and for the students who will take this course next year. Make something that would be useful for them.

  1. A summary of each chapter, in both Japanese and English.
  2. New. A review of the book in Japanese and English, and post the reviews on Amazon Japan and Amazon UK.
  3. List the language theories mentioned in the book. Give a simple summary and analysis of each one (e.g. Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, Universal Grammar, the Bow-wow Theory, etc.)
  4. List the people mentioned in the book. Give some basic biographical explanation and summary of their importance. Add illustrations or photos.
  5. List the languages mentioned in the book. Give help on pronouncing the names in English, the Japanese names and a map showing where they are spoken.
  6. Make a diagram or chart in both English and Japanese showing the Indo-European family of languages.
  7. List the non-English words mentioned in the book. Give a guide to their pronunciation, the meaning in Japanese and which language they come from.
  8. List the places mentioned in the book. Mark them on a map (or on several, separate, maps).

Research in English (Linguistics) A session 9: June 17th, 2011

Charlemagne, one of the greatest European medieval rulers, lived from 747 to 814
Emperor Charlemagne, one of the greatest European medieval rulers, lived from 747 to 814

Today we finished chapter 2. Yay!

Some key points about today’s class:

  1. Celtic was once the main language of Europe. Paris, Belgrade (I said it’s in Yugoslavia, but I was wrong – it’s in Serbia!) and Dundee are all Celtic place-names (click the links to see where those towns are in Europe).
  2. Emperor Charlemagne, in English here and in Japanese here, ordered sermons to be conducted in lingua romana rustica (click here for Japanese Google translation)  instead of lingua latina from 813.
  3. Classical Latin (click here for Japanese) was different from ordinary or vulgar Latin. Today’s Spanish, Italian and French developed from this vulgar Latin rather than from classical Latin.
  4. This chapter refers to some places and people that Japanese people may not be familiar with, such as
    1. Charlemagne (see above)
    2. Pompeii (click here for Japanese Wikipedia entry)
    3. Sardinia (click here for Japanese Wikipedia entry)
    4. Mario Pei (click here for Japanese Yahoo Books search).


Read chapter 3. Ms. Aoki will prepare pages 35-36. Ms. Watanabe will prepare pages 36-37.

  1. In your summary, highlight the key points, not the details.
  2. Research about one topic that interests you, or some topic that may be unfamiliar to Japanese readers  in chapter 3.
  3. Quote your sources. Where did you get the information from? Always use at least two sources of information.
  4. This book is in English, for English speakers and uses English or European examples. On your own, find some Japanese examples for some of the topics in chapter 3.

Student voices

Ms. Aoki researched about Latin vulgate. Read about it in English here, and in Japanese here. She also researched about Romance Language.

Ms. Watanabe researched about Thracian language, the Etruscan language and Tocharian languages.


Student voices 学生の声 - Research in English (Linguistics) A session 8: June 10th, 2011

We learned that Pidgins are made and used to communicate with each other when people from different countries, gather, but they are stopgap measures(その場しのぎ).

If we are told not to use loan words at all, I guess we will have trouble in talking, because there are too many foreign words in Japanese, such as ball, pen, radio, desk, bag, milk, Castilla, and so on. A lot of them are a little modified in Japan to make us say easier (e.g. we refer pudding as “pulin”). However, I realized we always depend on many of other languages’ words without notice.

When encouraging people, the Japanese often say, “Donmai (which came from “Don’t mind),” but I heard before that actually, English native speakers usually don’t say it, instead, “Never mind.” So, I guess it’s a kind of Pidgin the Japanese made.

The loan word, “rent-a-car (レンタカー),” which we also use, is interesting for me, because it combines verb with noun. Also, I think it is useful, because it’s easier for us to say than “貸自動車.”

Besides, I learned about, “Singlish (Singapore & English),” at another class. Then, I watched the video about it. It was complicated and difficult for me to understand.

By the way, we should respect all languages, but I think there’s no wonder that people are proud of their mother tongue, like the ancient Greeks and Romans (← p. 30).

About Music and Art

After listening to what Mr. Sheffner said about music and art, I thought they were interesting, because their meaning depends on individuals. That is to say, they have many meanings. I think it’s important for children to watch abstract pictures and guess what they are, to broaden their views. Also, I noticed that when watching TV, we do not use our brain (do not imagine), so we are scolded if we watch it for hours.

Research in English (Linguistics) A session 8: June 10th, 2011

Sir William Jones
Sir William Jones (from Wikipedia - click to visit)
The Proto-Indo-European Language Tree - Forty First  Edition of the Global Advisor Newsletter
The Proto-Indo-European Language Tree - Forty First Edition of the Global Advisor Newsletter
  1. We continued reading and summarising chapter 2.
    1. Ms Takeuchi summarised pages 26-28, and told us something about pidgin English and creole languages.
    2. I suggested that a pidgin language might have developed after the second world war in Japan because of the large numbers of English-speaking soldiers stationed in Japan during the Occupation, and I was right! It has been dubbed “Bamboo English“. Another, English-based, pidgin was spoken in Japanese ports, such as Yokohama, in the 19th century.
    3. creole cafe
      creole cafe


    4. Ms. Suzuki summarised pages 29-30, and told us about Henry Rawlinson and Michael Ventris and Linear B.
    5. Ms Watanabe summarised pages 30-31, and will continue next time.
  2. Is music a language? Is art a language? Language has been defined as “sound that communicates meaning”. In that case, perhaps music and art can be called language. British jazz guitarist John McLaughlin said

    “How is it that everybody can understand and relate and enjoy music? Whether you come from this culture or that culture or any culture, it doesn’t matter. It’s wonderful. The true language of the human spirit is music.”

    Click to see a video of him saying this and also playing some tremendous jazz.

  3. Are Rorschach tests language?
  4. Painter and writer Jon Rappoport has written about creating new languages in order to break out of the limitations of language, which according to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, limits our thinking and feeling. Here are some quotes from Rappoport’s writing about language: Continue reading Research in English (Linguistics) A session 8: June 10th, 2011