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:
    1. In 1995, after a number of smaller experiments, I made a series of three paintings on large pieces of brown cardboard. They appeared to be “pages” of text…pictographs in an unknown language. After I finished the paintings, I leaned them against the wall of my studio and left them there for several weeks.One afternoon, I was lying on my bed, and I glanced over at the paintings. I asked myself, “What if these pictographs really WERE from another language?”And then they were.A shower of meanings…
      To describe them…it isn’t a matter of making a translation into English. The meanings were…shifts of sensation-in-motion. They were also additional pictographs—some of which were flying figures.
      The sensations and the flying figures were…“elevating aesthetics.” A doorway had opened for me, through which I saw and felt “versions of beauty-in-action” that were unlike anything I had ever experienced…and yet it was somehow familiar.
      I entered a wider realm of sensation/feeling.
      I knew, of course, that my imagination was playing a role, but there was another X factor.
      The message was: there are languages like this.
      They don’t function in the usual way. They don’t give you words that have specific limited meanings. They give you strings of pictographs that trigger wide elevated sensations and images, the immediate impact of which is undeniable.
      These languages transport you.[from Full Spectrum Insight]
    2. you can diagram sentences and underline parts of speech, and go back in time to show how words developed and changed, you can float half-baked hypotheses about how babies learn to talk, but in the end, you have to admit, without explanation, that we UNDERSTAND each other when we use language.
      Maybe not perfectly, but we understand. Meaning means something. And it can’t be captured in a bottle and sold over the counter. You can’t describe how we know the meaning of conversation and text any better than you can explain light.A different kind of language.
      There are many possibilities once you open the door.
      Suppose we had a language in which every noun is also a verb…
      What would we have then?
      … And what would this do for us?

      Language, created by consciousness, also feeds back to it. And this feedback is very powerful, in the sense that it informs our way of viewing reality. The structure of language becomes, in a true sense, a monitor on what we can see and what we can’t see. What we can imagine and what we can’t imagine.

      For the past year, I’ve been painting such languages. Many times, in many ways. These languages require no explanation, nor do they offer one. Rather, they enlist innovative thinking.
      And people can communicate in this limited language.
      …So instead of the blots, print out all sorts of complex shapes on a page and say THIS IS A LANGUAGE. FIGURE OUT WHAT IT MEANS. WORK ON IT.

      “The hell with this, let’s just make it up. Let’s say each shape means whatever we imagine it to mean, and each shape can change its meaning from minute to minute.”
      …They realize the former power of their conditioning about what means something and what doesn’t.[From Training Astronauts in Language]

Homework:

Finish reading chapter 2. Do some research about a topic in chapter 2 that interests you and bring it to class next time. Also bring a proper citation (reference) showing where you got the information from.

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