Archive for January 2011

我的四種語言 ~ My Four Languages

January 31, 2011

我的四種語言
作者:史杰輝
編輯:紀壽惠、張如瑩

我生來對語言有興趣,可是因爲在家鄉接觸外國文化的機會很少的緣故,所以我本來的夢想只是當作家:簡單地說,無論題材為何,一輩子寫作是我當時的目標。大學三年級在西班牙留學的時候才發現我對學外國語言有潛能。從那時起,我開始以語言為主要的學習方向。到現在為止,我先念了一年的西班牙語,又在大學四年級的時候念了一年的中文,後來在日本教了兩年的英語,同時學了日語,最後爲了提高中文程度而來到臺北。

這三種語言比起來,以日文最為複雜。怎麽說呢?就是日文語法跟英文語法似乎相反。一個人聼得懂或看得懂多少日文,並不能代表他自己會流利地說或流暢地寫多少日文。其次,因爲中文跟日文都用漢字的緣故,學中國字的時候,我的日語程度跟著提高,不過這並不表示所謂的「漢字」指著同一件東西。進一步地說,日文字的發音類似漢語的聲音,但所謂的漢語並不是現代的普通話,而是中古漢語。此外,拿一個字做多種詞的代表,一個音節也好三個音節也好,是日文的特點之一。舉例來説,「下」這個字能代表至少八個聲音(目下的ka、下旬的ge、shita、sa(geru/garu)、kuda(ru/saru)、oro(su)、ori(ru)跟shimo)。除非看上下文要不然會唸錯。此外,中國的文言文很深奧,好像有無限的成語與辭彙,不過日本作家不但使用日文的成語與辭彙,而且也引用中文,所以不能不說這兩種語言正式文章的語彙都很複雜。

西班牙語跟亞洲語言差得很遠,較像英語,可是我有時候仍然會混淆西班牙文跟日文或中文,因為我不知不覺地把語言分成兩種,「母語」和「外語」。因此即或住在國外幾年,也無法忘掉母語習慣,因此需要繼續不斷地練習每一種的外語,免得說錯。

課文上説,所謂的語言就是傳達思想的工具。我的觀點在原則上是一致的。一般而言,我們不了解旁人的感情或看法,就聼得懂他所說的話,其實,這種智慧對聽力也許是一種幫助。就學好語言而論,我認爲不但要分析語音、文法與詞彙,了解人們的思想跟禮儀,也可以增加學外國語言的速度。

My Four Languages
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Ji Shou-hui, Lizzie Chang

Although I’ve always been drawn to language, there weren’t many opportunities to interact with foreign cultures in my town, so my original dream was to be a writer: it didn’t matter what the topic was, I just wanted to spend my life writing. When I studied abroad in Madrid my junior year of college, I finally discovered my talent for studying foreign languages. That has been my focus ever since. From then until now, I’ve studied a year of Spanish and a year of Chinese at college, taught English in Japan while studying Japanese for two years, and moved to Taipei to further improve my Chinese.

I think the most difficult of these three languages is Japanese. Why? Japanese and English grammar are practically opposites. If a person can read or listen to Japanese, that doesn’t signify he can write or speak at the same level. Because Chinese and Japanese share written characters, when I’m studying Chinese, my Japanese also improves, but that doesn’t mean hanzi and kanji are the same. When Japanese pronunciation of characters resembles Chinese, that doesn’t mean modern Mandarin: it means Middle Chinese (think Middle English). Besides that, using the same character to represent several different words of varying syllable counts is one of Japanese’s special features. For example, there are eight different pronunciations of 下: ka (目下), ge (下旬), shita, sa(geru/garu), kuda(ru/saru), oro(su), ori(ru), and shimo. You have to know the context to read the character correctly. Classical Chinese is very deep, and it seems like there is a limitless amount of proverbs and expressions to learn, but Japanese writers not only use their own language’s vocabulary and expressions but also appropriate Chinese; hence, formal compositions in both languages are very complex.

Although Spanish is very different from Asian languages and relatively similar to English, I sometimes confuse my Spanish with my Chinese or Japanese. I unconsciously divide languages into two categories: my mother tongue and “foreign languages.” I’ve lived abroad for several years but can’t break my English habits; I have to continuously practice every other language so I won’t make mistakes.

According to our textbook, language is a tool for expressing thought. I agree with this principle. Understanding one’s neighbor’s facial expressions or way of thinking won’t guarantee one comprehends every word he says, of course, but such wisdom is a big help. Successfully learning a language doesn’t just mean learning pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary; understanding a people’s thought and etiquette also streamlines one’s study.

BP危機 ~ The BP Disaster

January 30, 2011

BP危機
作者:史杰輝
編輯:陳亮妤

因爲去年墨西哥灣漏油危機是歷史上最嚴重的漏油危機,英國石油公司不要說受到來自全球環保團體的批評,就是全球所有民衆也都批評他們。環保團體認爲石油公司都必須受更強的節制跟監督,以讓這件事不再發生。

美國總統表示BP應該負起此次漏油危機的責任。奧巴馬跟BP開會之後,BP公佈他們允諾建立一個6450億元臺幣的基金,做爲賠償的方針。受損失的產業相當多,其中包括依靠墨西哥灣為生的漁業跟旅遊業。有經濟學家表示連6450億元賠償也不夠。

我同意英國石油公司應該負大多數的責任,不過美國政府也應該負責任,因爲它的監督不夠徹底。

在環保上,這件事證實雖然大型計畫有好處,可是也很危險,因此次危機受傷的無辜者可多了。美國就是受到漏油影響的國家之一。

怎麽不讓這種事件再發生?我個人認爲平民和小型公司應該向大型公司和政府施壓。危機發生的時候,受到最多傷害的人不是公司,而是平民。記者得標舉透明性的原則,公佈違法的例子。BP以省錢為由,忽略了多次的安全試驗。像它一樣的粗心公司都該完全地賠償受害者。

民衆對公司和政府非保持懷疑論不可。BP的標誌是綠色黃色的太陽,因此看起來好像「綠色公司」。這件漏油危機顯示形象跟事實的矛盾。六月宣佈的基金受到多數受害者的歡迎,不過實際上,基金受到申請人的批評。受者表示基金的處理又太慢,賠償金額又太少。美國政府需要證實BP的行動符合六月的協議。

無論左派右派,我們都應該為使公司跟政府符合人民的利益出一份力。平民似乎沒有很多節制公司及政府的方法,不過以一些美國人做例子,危機之後他們絕對會杯葛BP的石油。

The BP Disaster
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Chen Liang-yu

Because the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year was the worst in history, British Petroleum received criticism not only from environmental protection organizations but also from the general public all over the world. Environmental groups believe that all oil companies should be more strictly regulated to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

The President of the United States said that BP was responsible for the disaster. After Obama met with the company, it announced that it would create a $20 billion ($645 billion NTD) compensation fund. Several industries were damaged by the crisis, including fishing and tourism businesses which depend on the Gulf for their livelihood. Some economists think even $20 billion will not cover damages.

I agree that British Petroleum bears most of the responsibility for the disaster, but the United States Government is also at fault because its inspections were not thorough enough.

From an environmental perspective, this shows that though large-scale projects have good qualities, they are also dangerous because so many unrelated parties are damaged by accidents. America is just one of the countries affected by the oil leak.

How can we keep this disaster from happening again? I believe that citizens and small businesses have to put pressure on big businesses and the government. Those who suffer the most in crises are not corporations but common people. Journalists need to champion transparency and broadcast examples of wrongdoing. In order to save money, BP omitted several safety checks. Other companies that are so careless should pay full damages to those who suffer on their behalf.

The general public must be skeptical of business and government. BP’s logo is a green and yellow sun, which makes it look like a “green company.” The oil spill displayed the contradiction between image and reality. The compensation fund announced in June was praised by many victims then, but it is now criticized by applicants. They say the processing is too slow, and the repayments are too small. The American government must make sure BP honors its June agreement.

Left wing or right wing, people should strive to make businesses work for the good of the people. Ordinary citizens don’t have many ways to pressure companies or the government, but some Americans have provided an example by boycotting BP gasoline.

Rush Limbaugh’s Chinese Impersonation

January 29, 2011

Rush Limbaugh Rants in Fake Chinese for 17 Seconds

Saying Rush Limbaugh is an idiot is too dismissive. Pew Research surveys have shown his listeners are among the most politically informed in the country, and he’s one of the most original polemicists on the right. For example, when President Obama was talking bipartisanship while advancing a stimulus package written entirely by Congressional Democrats, Limbaugh argued in the Wall Street Journal that a true bipartisan solution would be to let the Democrats appropriate 53% of the stimulus money and the Republicans 46% (the same splits as the popular vote difference between Obama and McCain). He stood up for Dubai Ports World when other politicians were piling on, and his record on political predictions is not bad: in 2006, he said that if the Republicans lost Congress, they would nominate John McCain for president in 2008, and that’s what happened. In March 2009, he was criticized for predicting Democrats would propose to name the health care bill after ailing Senator Ted Kennedy, but in September of the same year, after Kennedy passed away, the late Senator Robert Byrd actually did this.

Political know-how doesn’t translate to knowledge in other subjects, though, and Limbaugh isn’t especially courteous on the air. When you’re broadcasting live for 15 hours a week trying to both entertain and discuss serious subjects, you’re going to have some bad moments. This is one of them.

I stayed away from the feed for a couple days because I knew it would offend me, just like I never watched Rosie O’Donnell saying “ching chang chong” on “The View.” I have a Happy Gilmore attitude toward public figures making asses of themselves. When rich, pompous golfer Shooter McGavin taunted, “I eat pieces of s— like you for breakfast!” Happy replied, “You eat pieces of s— for breakfast?” Why spend so much time following and commenting on things and people they hate? Once your mind’s made up, move on to the next thing. There’s so much to know and so little time.

But this controversy is related enough to this blog that I should comment. I think it’s interesting that we feel so personally attached to our languages that when other people ape them, we get upset. Or do we? Should this kind of thing be off-limits, or are we too possessive?

My first year in Japan, one of the school plays was about the Battle of Okinawa, and one student, playing an American soldier, got big laughs from the audience by speaking his Japanese lines with a heavily American accent. I felt alienated at the time and wondered if my own Japanese sounded like that. I wished I didn’t have an accent, but then I realized I’d caught myself in a contradiction because I love the sound of accented English. (Antonio Banderas’s Spanish-like English is hugely popular in the States.) I think it was more that I didn’t feel comfortable in my surroundings yet. I enjoyed the student’s American accent my second year when I was more settled into the community. I recently saw a scene in a Taiwanese movie in which WWII Japanese soldiers imitated American English for a propaganda play, and I laughed at it because it sounded so Japanese and American…or more specifically, what Japanese people speaking “American” sound like.

Limbaugh, in defending his comments, said that he was following in the footsteps of comedian Sid Caesar. We don’t have to recall a star of the 1950’s (warmly received in the ’90s): two big YouTube hits of 2010 were The English Language in 24 and 21 Accents.

These impersonators receive widespread praise. The difference is verisimilitude. We’re warm to impersonation when it sounds genuine and cold when it doesn’t, and if we’ve heard the language before we can tell the difference. Caesar’s fake French is great, but his fake Japanese could use some work: he has the “angry boss/general” tone, but some of his pronunciation is Chinese, not Japanese (which is a very limited language in my opinion). The audience liked it, but they probably don’t know enough Japanese themselves.

Even people who don’t know Chinese from Japanese know how off Limbaugh is because his pronunciation is so limited: while ching, chang, and chong are Chinese sounds, there’s way more to the language than that. Plus his angry tone of voice isn’t the one Hu Jintao would use for a friendly diplomatic speech (or any public event: if politicians do any shouting in China or Japan, it’s behind closed doors.)

So the same rules apply to both imaginary words and actual words. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, your listeners are going to get upset. If you over-simplify someone’s opinions or heritage, you’ll offend him and display ignorance. Limbaugh said,

I found myself trying to write down what Hu Jintao was saying in Chinese. Phonetically, so I could repeat it to you… Well, it’s a–it looks like chicken scrawls. I said, ‘I wonder to people who can’t speak English, what does it sound like to them?’ Because when I hear Chinese or Japanese, it sounds like all the same word. And I can’t comprehend anybody understanding it.

That being the case, he shouldn’t have tried it.

Five Lullabies

January 28, 2011

Evgeny Kissin plays Liszt-Liebestraume no.3 “O lieb” in As

Horowitz plays Schumann Traumerei in Moscow

Horowitz plays Liszt Consolation No. 3

Yundi Li plays Chopin Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2

Sara Bareilles – “Gravity”

萬聖節與感恩節 ~ Halloween and Thanksgiving in Taiwan

January 27, 2011

萬聖節與感恩節 ~ Halloween and Thanksgiving in Taiwan

Have you ever wondered what we might look like in hell?  The first half of this album is Wu Zhi-qiang’s (吳志強) clayface gallery in Jiufen, which depicts people disfigured by their sins.

What would a Chinese school would serve at a Thanksgiving party?  Okay, you’ve probably never asked yourself that question, but it’s the second half and a welcome respite from the horrors of 地獄 (diyu).

泥人吳1

泥人吳2

泥人吳3

ICLP Thanksgiving Party

Salad and I

Buddhist Vegetarian Cooking (more…)

大眾電信與人際關係 ~ Mass Communication and Interpersonal Relations

January 26, 2011

大眾電信與人際關係
作者:史杰輝
編輯:紀壽惠

從人類開始使用電起,長途通訊一代比一代方便,甚至於現在我能每天跟母國的朋友聊天,可以隨時看見父母的臉。有些iPhone主人以爲全世界就在他們的手裏。

不能不說大眾電信的發展有許多好處,不過這樣的根本改變也帶來一些壞處。根據不少社會學家及作家的觀點,大眾電信對我們的社會技能與社會制度是一個障礙。簡單地說,看銀幕的時間越久,面對面説話的時間越短。

你不想認識鄰居或是親近家人,就不用做,反正在網路上有意思的事情五花八門。有人一連幾天都不説話。在這樣的私人社會制度下,我們沒有辦法知道誰需要精神上的安慰。有時候那些人因太焦慮而自殺或是瘋狂地傷害陌生人。

去年聖誕節,一個四十二嵗自己住的英國女生故意地過量用藥,同時在臉書上告訴她一千多朋友她正在自殺 。有的離她住得很遠的朋友擔心不過沒辦法救她。有些離住得較近的朋友卻不幫她忙,並回覆說她在騙她們,她很好笑,如果她想自殺她就應該自殺。隔一天她母親跟社區醫院才發現她的情況,不過,已經來不及了 。

上個星期六,一月八日,在亞利桑那州圖森市公共政治機會一個二十二嵗的男生突然向陌生人開槍。造成六個人死亡 ,包括一個九嵗的女孩子,以及十四個人受傷 ,包括一個美國眾議院代表。

政治解説員一直爭論兇手的政治觀念。其實,我們不了解他的情形,就不能了解他這樣做的理由。根據我的觀點,他的行爲跟政治沒有多大的關係。按照精神病醫生所知道的,好像他是精神分裂症患者。

他跟父母同住,同學説他是喜歡獨處的人。看起來安靜,不過把網路當作布告欄。他登錄著好多錄像,文章等等,顯示他很焦慮,對政府不滿意,此外他也會用武器。不過沒有人發現他有問題,才會造成這樣的悲劇。

我們很快從農村社會變成世界社會了,不過,我個人覺得非保存社區精神不可。簡單的說,跟鄰居彼此照顧就是農村的保險制度。


Mass Communication and Interpersonal Relations
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Ji Shou-hui

Since we discovered how to produce electricity, long distance communication has become easier with each passing generation, to the point where even though I live abroad, I can chat with my friends at home every day, and I can see my father and mother’s faces whenever I like.  Many an iPhone user feels like the entire world is in the palm of his hand.

There’s no doubt that the development of mass communication has done many good things for us, but such a fundamental change in our lifestyles has brought its share of problems, as well.  Quite a few sociologists and writers believe that the use of mass communication devices damages our social skills and social cohesion; to put it simply, the more time we spend looking at screens, the less time we spent talking to people face to face.  If you don’t want to meet your neighbors or have close relationships with your family members, you don’t have to, because everything that you could want is on the Internet.  Some people go days without speaking.  Under this kind of social system, we don’t have a way of knowing who needs psychiatric care.  Some of these troubled individuals commit suicide or snap and injure others.

Last Christmas, a 42-year old Englishwoman intentionally overdosed, then informed her 1000+ Facebook friends through her wall what she had just done and that she was committing suicide.  Some people were worried about her but were too far away to help her.  Others lived closer, but instead of helping, they replied that she wasn’t serious, that she was ridiculous, or that if she wanted to die, that was her own choice.  A day later, her mother and the hospital finally heard about the situation, but by the time they reached her apartment, it was too late.

Last Saturday, January 8th, at a public political assembly in Tucson, Arizona, a 22-year old male suddenly opened fire on strangers.  He killed six people, including a 9-year old girl, and injured 14 more, including a U.S. Congresswoman. Political commentators ceaselessly debated the shooter’s political views.  In reality, you couldn’t understand his motivation just by understanding his opinions.  I believe his political views had very little to do with the attack.  According to psychiatrists with knowledge of the situation, he is schizophrenic.

He lived with his parents, and his classmates said he was a troubled person.  He seemed quiet, but he made the Internet his bulletin board: he posted recordings, writing, and the like online; his work made it clear that he was unstable, unsatisfied with the government, and able to use weapons.  But no one realized he was crazed enough to cause this tragedy.

We’ve changed very quickly from a local agricultural society to a global one, but in my opinion, we have to nurture local community spirit.  Mutual concern between neighbors was the safety net of rural society.

Around Agra

January 25, 2011

Around Agra
May 2010
There is a Very Famous Building in this city, but I’m saving it for another album.  Here are some sites, including the Baby Taj and Akbar’s Tomb, and some pictures of a restaurant and supermarket.

Our Heritage Is Our Glory
On the Road
Bicycle Shop
Indiana Restaurant
Lassi
The Quran on Parents
Indian Newspaper
Table in the Light
Table in the Dark
Indian Supermarket (more…)