Tag Archives: Language

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 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"

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 http://www.nfp2.co.uk/2007/06/01/doing-things-together/index.html
  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
  • Interactive Writing session #9: June 19th, 2009

    1. To study English at university, you need
      1. a note-taking system
        1. e.g. mind maps, developed by a British man, Tony Buzan.
        2. here is a Japanese system which I like and use, developed by “Hawk Express” (for photos, click here)
      2. a vocabulary-learning system (e.g. word-cards)
        1. a way to record new words (spelling, pronunciation, meaning, at least; example sentence is a bonus, but it takes space)
        2. a way to review new words quickly and easily (if it’s not quick or easy, you won’t review them!)
    2. Class reading of chapter 2 of Diddakoi (up to p. 24)
      1. note new words, expressions, grammar,
      2. note how the gypsies speak
      3. note the gypsies’ ways of thinking (“Are you going to let your woman talk to me like that?”, “we don’t want no snoopers”, “’tisn’t children as are the bother… it’s the things they have to have”, “When you had one wagon there was plenty of room; in a fine house with three bedrooms there’s no room at all”.
      4. The Gypsies prefer a travelling life: they prefer the wagon to a house. They prefer their freedom, even if it means they cannot afford many “fine things”.
      5. They look after each other, and each other’s children.
      6. They have lots of old traditions which are different from those of non-gypsies (e.g. burning the home of a dead person).
      7. Not all gypsies respect the old traditions: some of them think that is “old thinking” and they want to change (or maybe they just want some of the dead person’s belongings?)
      8. The admiral knows the gypsies traditions and he respects them. He also trusts the gypsies (even though there is a fire in his orchard, he is not worried).
    3. Homework: prepare the rest of chapter 2 (at least up to page 30) before next class:
      1. look up new words, check the pronunciation, not just the meaning.
      2. I expect you to read and prepare before the class, not during the class.
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