Category Archives: 2011 RinE

Research in English (Linguistics) A session 7: June 3rd, 2011

  1. We read the textbook from page 23 – 26, with explanations from Ms. Aoki and Ms. Takeuchi.
  2. What were the key points of today’s lesson?
    1. The Basque people live in the Pyrenees, the mountains between France and Spain

      the Basque country (image from Wikipedia)
    2. Because the Basque’s live in the area as the Cro-Magnon cave-paintings, perhaps the Basque language is a remnant of the Cro-Magnon people?

      Lascaux cave painting
      Lascaux cave painting (image from Wikipedia, click to see a larger one)
    3. Human beings all began to develop language at about the same time: 30,000 years ago. Why? It’s a mystery.
      1. Even remote peoples developed their own languages, e.g. the Ainu, whose language is different from Japanese, and has some similarities with European languages.
    4. There are three main racial groups amongst humans: Caucasian, Mongoloid and Negroid (though the Japanese Wikipedia article claims there are 4 groups: “過去の自然人類学文化人類学では、ネグロイド、および北アフリカヨーロッパ西アジアアラブ南アジアなどに見られるコーカソイド(白色人種)、オセアニアに見られるオーストラロイド、東アジア・東南アジア・ポリネシア・南北アメリカ大陸などに見られるモンゴロイド(黄色人種)を4大人種として分類していた。” The Ainu, although they live in Hokkaido, look like Caucasians more than Mongoloid. However, according to Wikipedia, this theory has been disproved by DNA testing:

      Full-blooded Ainu are lighter skinned than their Japanese neighbors and have more body hair.[22] Many early investigators proposed a Caucasian ancestry,[23] although recent DNA tests have not shown any genetic similarity with modern caucasian Europeans.

    5. Japanese and Korean are, like Basque, unrelated to other languages.
    6. Recent studies of cognates show that the world’s languages may be related, despite their differences.
    7. There are many theories which try to explain how language began. Some of these theories have funny names: Bow-wow theory, Ding-dong theory, Pooh-pooh theory, Yo-He-Ho theory. (Actually, only the Bow-wow theory is genuine; the others were made up by Bill Bryson.)
    8. “For a long time it was believed that language was simply learned.” (Bryson, 1990, p. 25)
    9. But then came Chomsky and his idea of “universal grammar“.
    10. “To a baby, no language is easier or more difficult than any other… children seem to be programmed to learn language.” (ibid. 26)
    11. “All children everywhere learn language in much the same way.” (ibid.  26)


  1. Is music language? Why (why not)?
  2. Is art language? Why (why not)?
  3. Prepare your section of chapter 2:
    1. Give us the key points (see my summary above 例として上記に書いた要約を読んでください)
    2. Do a little bit of research (see my point about Ainu above 例として上記にアイヌについて書いた要約を読んでください)
    3. Type up, print out and bring your list of sources 参照文献 to next class. Refer to the MLA handbook or to the handout I gave you.

Research in English (Linguistics) A session 6: May 27th, 2011

  1. Checked the answers to the homework questions,  “What is Language?”
  2. “Mother Tongue” chapter 2. We read and translated pages 21, 22, and 23.
  3. Is music language? Is art language?


  1. Aoki: translate pages 24-26 down to “stress and confusion.”
  2. Takeuchi: translate pages 26 from “Moreover, all children everywhere” to page 29, line 2 “creoles.”
  3. Watanabe: translate pages 29, line 3 to page 31, “indeed, almost everywhere.”
  4. Takeoka: page 31, “Their common existence” to the end of the chapter (p. 34)
  5. Is music language? Is art language? Write your opinion and your reason, and be ready to discuss this question in class next week.
music is the language of the soul
Music is the language of the soul. Click image to visit source
Is music communication?
Is music communication?
Singing Neanderthals
"Music is the language of emotion" From the book "Singing Neanderthals"

Student voices – Research in English (Linguistics) A session 5: May 20th, 2011

Student Voices
student voices. Image from lummiyouthacademy. Click to visit source page.
  1. What is language? When animals communicate with each other, they may do so by means of touch, smell ,sight or sound. And, most animals have a very limited number of messages they can give or receive.Man probably acquired his sound signaling system at a fairly late stage in his evolution. They can produce an incalculable number of new combinations from the elements of his language. In addition, they can utter sentences which he has never uttered before and be understood.


    I was interested in the male grasshopper has only choice of six and bees can communicate only about sources of nectar. In a book I don’t remember, I read about a male gorilla was able to learn sign languages! I want to check in it.

  2. What is Human Language? 動物は、目や音や匂いで、又は触ったりして他とコミュニケーションをします。私たち人間や他の動物はその中で、最も音を使います。それは暗闇の中でも使えるからです。しかし、私たちが喋る時に使う器官(肺、歯、唇、喉など)は、主に、息をしたり、食べたりするために使われるので、進化のかなり後の段階で「話す」ことができるようになりました。動物の場合、合図とそれが伝えるメッセージは強く関連しますが、人間の場合は、殆ど関連しません。例えば、「ほん」という音自体には「本」という意味が含まれていません。殆どの動物は、「今」、「ここで」のことについてしか、伝えることが出来ません。しかし、人間は「今」のこと以外に、「過去」や「未来」についても語ることが出来ます。これを “displacement” と言います。又、動物が送るメッセージの内容には限りがありますが、人間は次から次へと新しい語を加えて(e.g. “computer”, “nuclear”)、色々な状況について話すことが出来ます。これは “productivity” と言います。他に、人間が動物と異なる点は、大体の動物は学ばなくても自動的にコミュニケーションができますが、人間の場合は、言語を習得するのに長い学習期間が要されるということです。私たちは母親や先生に教わって学習します。私たちが使う言語は、情報や自分の思いを伝えたり、良好な人間関係を保つために必要なのです。
  3. Summaryサピア・ウォーフの仮説は、私たちの思考には言語が関与しているため、認識力に制限ができることをいう。例えば、日本語の〈夜泣き〉に相当する語は、英語にない。そのため、英語話者には〈夜泣き〉の概念を認識することは難しい。この仮説は必ずしも肯定されていない。なぜなら、直観や同情心など、言葉の生じない気持ちもあるからだ。人間の言葉と動物のコミュニケーションには違いがある。その一つに、人間の言葉は伝えたい事とその合図の間に繋がりを持たない。例えば、〈elephant〉や〈象〉は同じ動物を意味するけれども、その単語の〈音〉に象は存在しない。また、人間は新しい言葉を作っていける事も違いの一つだ。Comment動物に言葉を話させる実験がある事を初めて知った。

Research in English (Linguistics) A session 5: May 20th, 2011

What is language?
What is language? By dgray_xplane on Flickr, via nfp 2.0
  1. What is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?
  2. What is Language? (handout: chapter 2 from “Introduction to Linguistics” by Jean Aitchison).


  1. Answer the 5 questions to the chapter “What is Language?”
  2. Your mother asks you, “What did you study today in Research in English?” What will you tell her? Explain to her in easy language (in Japanese). Then post this as a comment on the class blog or send as an email to me.
  3. Prepare a paragraph from chapter 2 of “The Mother Tongue”.

Student voices – Research in English (Linguistics) A session 4: May 13th, 2011

Student Voices
student voices. Image from lummiyouthacademy. Click to visit source page.
  1. 前回の授業では、言語の構造の違いについて、そして他国のことを皮肉った比喩的表現として使用されている例を学びました。他国の国民性を露骨に使用している点がとても面白かったです。特に、フランス語で死にそうなくらい退屈なことをバーミンガムに居るという表現を使うのは、なんて失礼なのだろうと、おかしかったです。
    日本では、一般的に使用されている言葉の中にこういった比喩的表現はあまりないと思います。日本は鎖国されていた島国であり、大和民族が圧倒的に多いため外国人との接点があまりなく、異国の国民性をそんなに知らないというのも理由の一つではないのかなと思いました。しかし、英語でずる休みをすることを“take French leave”と言うのに対し、日本では“サボる”と言いますが、“サボる”というのは、フランス語の“sabotage”が由来です。英語も日本語も同じような意味にフランスが関係しているというのは、やはりフランス人に何か理由があるのだなと考えずにはいられません。
  2. SUMMARY英語圏では、ずる休みは “take French leave” と表現され、ベルギーのタクシードライバーは、チップをケチる人を “un Anglais” (イギリス人)と呼び、フランスでは、死にそうなくらい暇なことを “etre de Birmingham” と言う。この様に、他の国の人々や場所の特徴を表現に取り入れている。そこには軽蔑の意味が含まれる。世界の言語に優劣は付けられないが、英語には明らかに勝っている部分が幾つかある。まず、英語には、ドイツ語とは異なって、代名詞の接尾変化(あなたを、あなた方の)が殆どないため、相手を指す場合は全て “you” で済ますことが出来る。そして、韓国語や日本語のように、話す相手の地位に従って動詞の接尾辞を変える必要はない。又、男性・女性名詞もない。しかし、 “what” には様々な使い方があるように、英語にも複雑な部分はある。


    私は、 “It’s all Greek to me.”(ちんぷんかんぷんだ) という英語の表現が気に入っています。しかし、 “take French leave” のように、わざわざ、相手の国の人々に不快を与えるような表現を用いる必要はないのにと思いました。



    Ex.) Good morning.  Have a good time.  Good luck!  Have a nice weekend.

    what は、関係代名詞や疑問代名詞として、または感嘆文など、様々な形で使用できるので、 “complex” よりも、 “convenient” の方が勝っていると思います。

    これまで、どうして Work Cited には出版された年まで必要なのか疑問に思っていたけれど、本の種類(ハードカバーやペーパーバック)によってページ数が変わるからだということを知り、その重要さが分かりました。

  3. 言語は、その国の文化に対応していると考えられがちだ。そのため、多くの言語で、特に良くない意味の単語に、他国の名前を使うことがある。例えば、ドイツ人はゴキブリを”Frenchmen”と呼ぶ。


Research in English (Linguistics) A session 4: May 13th, 2011

Spanish Fly? or ...
Spanish Fly? Or ...
or Spanish fly?
... or Spanish fly?
  1. Quiz on chapter 1
  2. We will finish reading chapter 1.


  1. Write a summary (about 100 words) in Japanese of today’s lesson and your personal comment: did you learn something new or interesting in today’s class? Did you find a comparison or connection with Japanese language and/or society?
    1. Send me your summary and comment by email by Tuesday midnight.
  2. What is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis? Be prepared to explain it to the class next week.
    1. Click here for the Wikipedia entry in English, and here for the one in Japanese.
    2. Quote your source using the correct MLA format (see handout). You need to cite the reference in the text AND in a list 参照文献 at the end.

    Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf
    Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf. Photo from Bahas on Multiply (click image to visit source).

Research in English (Linguistics) A session 3: May 6th, 2011

What is language?
What is language? By dgray_xplane on Flickr, via nfp 2.0
  1. Quiz on session 2
  2. What is language?
  3. We continued reading chapter 1 of “Mother Tongue”: pages 14-17. In these pages, the author Bryson discusses the following topics:
    1. words that exist in other languages that do not exist in English, e.g. “Schadenfreude” and the Scottish word that means “the habit of dropping in on people at mealtimes”. Bryson suggests that the existence of certain words in a particular language tells us something about the character of the people who speak it.
      1. We discussed whether we think this is true or not.
      2. We cane up with some Japanese examples: wabi/sabi, もったいない、どちでもいい(あいまいの文化) and 気
    2. “The Eskimos, as is well known, have 50 words for types of snow” (p. 14). This may be an urban legend. Here is a link to an article that reviews “The Mother Tongue” and discusses some of the many errors of fact that can be found in it.
    3. The various unappetizing words in Italian for different types of pasta, including the memorable “strangled priests“! However, we should remember English also has some unappetizing food names, e.g. “Hot dog, spotted dick, faggots in gravy, toad-in-the-hole“. (Click on each link to see some pictures).


  1. Write a short summary (100-200 words) of what we read today in the textbook. Use the following format.
College paper format
College paper format. (Image courtesy of Mr. Lopate's "Writing Tips and Hints" blog. Click the image to visit the blog)

  • Each of the following expressions from page 17 has two meanings, a literal meaning and an idiomatic meaning. Find both meanings for each expression:
    1. take French leave
    2. Dutch courage
    3. French letters
    4. Spanish fly
    5. Mexican carwash
  • Research in English (Linguistics) A session 2: April 22nd, 2011

    Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson

    Room change: S502

    Attendance: 4 students

    Today’s lesson:

    1. What is language?
      1. It is the communication of meaning by sound, words (written or spoken) or body language.
    2. What is linguistics?
      1. It is the scientific study of language.
    3. What is science (or scientific study)?
      1. A science has 4 stages
        1. speculation
        2. observation
        3. making hypotheses
        4. testing the hypotheses – a good hypothesis or theory must be
          1. exhaustive
          2. consistent
          3. economical (“as simple as possible, but no simpler” – Einstein)
    4. We read chapter 1 and answered these questions:
      1. How many people speak English in the world?
      2. How many countries’ airlines use English?
      3. How many English newspapers are there in India?
      4. How many students of English are there in China?
      5. How many words are there in the Oxford English dictionary?
      6. What does “culacino” mean and what language is it?
    5. We read pages 1 and 2.
    6. We studied examples of strange English. Here are some examples of strange Japanese:
      1. おかしな日本語
      2. 変な日本語商品みっけ!
      3. 変な日本語かばん
    7. Many other languages borrow English words and phrases, for example
      1. ein Image Problem (German)
      2. das Cashflow (German)
      3. il software (Italian)
      4. le weekend break (French)
      5. les refueling stops (French)
      6. telewizja (Polish)
      7. flirt (Spanish)
      8. Big Macs (Austrian)
      9. pikku-nikku (Japanese)
    8. Can you think of some other examples in Japanese of English “loan-words” 外来語?


    1. Leave a comment on this blog by midnight, Wednesday May 4th. (use only your FAMILY name)
    2. Write up your answers to the 56 questions above in a single paragraph. Use complete sentences. Save it as a Word document named “Research in English (Your Name).
    3. Email it to me by midnight, Wednesday May 4th.
    4. Finish reading chapter 1.
    Bill Bryson, author of "Mother Tongue"
    Bill Bryson

    Research in English (Linguistics) A session 1: April 15th, 2011

    This class will continue, even though there may be fewer than 5 students (as of today, 3 students are registered, but 2 new students attended today’s class).

    The classroom has been changed: S014 –> S304

    Please read the syllabus carefully.


    1. send me an email (use the correct email format)
    2. leave a comment on the class blog (do not use your full name, only your family name)
    3. read chapter 1 of the textbook
    4. How many words are there in Japanese?