JNV is back!

After months of inactivity, JSL News and Views is coming back online!

Like2

I used to use Windows Live Movie Maker to make our videos, but my old computer died, and I got a new one, and… Movie Maker has stubbornly refused to install.

So! I got a new program: Shotcut. This freeware allows overlaying images, so I’m excited to get started on editing today’s JNV broadcast!

It should be up by the end of the day, so please do watch it. The Deaf community has been missing it, and we are finally ready to start again!

Anyway, off to editing.  Till next week!

ILY

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Posted in Miscellaneous Language Issues | Leave a comment

One word or two?

In Patwa, there’s a future tense marker. Similar to English, both the word “go” and the continuous aspect marker (-ing in English, a in Patwa) make this. And so, you get:

Mi ago dwiit.
“I am going to do it.”

Although I type ago as one word above, I am not convinced that it is. After all, a is a separate word in Jamaican Creole, at least in my mind:

Mi a riid.
“I am reading.”

A taak dem a taak.
“They are just talking.”

Maybe it should be a go. Or How about a-go, to show that it’s a compound….?

One of my lecturers once said that for written language, what is written as one word is often arbitrary convention. Every standard form of writing goes through these sorts of decision-making processes, and I am not sure whether the people who have created the standard form for Patwa have given this much thought.

When talking to my friends, though, I see that they tend to type it as ago.

In the era of e-mails and texting, it’s easy to see that this confusion exists in English, too. Even people who are avid readers (and writers) make the mistake of typing alot rather than a lot. This error is so prevalent that it led one blogger to invent an “imaginary creature” to help her deal with it:

ALOT

“The Alot,” she wrote, “is an imaginary creature that I made up to help me deal with my compulsive need to correct other people’s grammar.”

When you think of alot in this way, she says, it allows her to come up with all kinds of funny images. For example:

alot of

As I once read (and I wish I could find the source now!), you don’t write abit, alittle, adog, awoman, or acomputer!

All joking aside, though, it could have easily become standard in English for the indefinite article a in English (or even the definite article the) to have been ended up being written as a prefix. After all, in Hebrew, the Hebrew definite article (ה, ha) is written a prefix; and I imagine there are people who would argue that it is actually a separate word:

התפוח טעים.
Ha-tapuach taim.
The apple is delicious.

The distinction between one word and two is further confused in English because of pairs like the following:

work out: verb to exercise
workoutnoun an exercise/a session of exercise

apart: adjective separate from
a part: noun a section/amount that, combined with others, makes up a whole

And there are quite a bit more examples.

I said all of this to say that even written language has a lot of arbitrariness in there, and that this confusion is definitely not limited to a language like Patwa, whose standard has only just been developed recently, and has not even fully taken root yet. Take a look at the story of how American and British spellings became different to get an understanding of that.

So… is it ago, a go, or a-go? Which do you think makes the most sense to you?

Posted in Linguistics, Patwa | Tagged | Leave a comment

Lazy language representation in Kong

I recently watched the latest King Kong movie, Kong: Skull Island. All in all, it was a good movie, and I enjoyed it.

Kong spoiler

And it was kinda cool seeing Loki playing a mortal.

One thing that I didn’t like, though, was the poor representation of language in the movie. The main characters go, of course, to the titular Skull Island, and discover an indigenous people, along with an American fighter pilot that crash landed on the island nearly three decades before.

Iwi.jpg

The Iwi people of Kong: Skull Island

This fighter pilot, Hank Marlow, serves as a cultural facilitator between the outsiders and these native people, who are identified as Iwi on the movie’s Wikipedia page.

But… the Iwi don’t actually say anything for the whole movie. Instead, they have a ‘mysterious’ silent air, and Marlow speaks to them in English, which they understand!

Oh, come on. A man cannot be on an island surrounded by a foreign language for 29 years and not pick up the language. That is extremely unrealistic.

But, you might say, it’s a movie about a giant gorilla, and huge reptiles with only two limbs, and you want realistic?! To which I answer, be quiet, dear reader. I’m ranting. 😉

I suspect they just chose to silence the Iwi people because it would be too hard to either create a language, or have the actors learn the language and then speak it in a way that sounds realistic. But, as a student linguist, it seems strange to me that, with an entire civilisation in plain view, their language is not at all represented.

In fact, the Japanese language features more prominently! Marlow speaks a single line in Japanese, which he no doubt learnt from one man, a fellow fighter pilot that crash-landed with him on Skull Island so many years ago:

不名誉より死

不名誉より死 (fumeiyo yori shi)

But no Iwi language.

Oh, well. It was still an enjoyable movie.

Posted in Miscellaneous Language Issues | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sorry for bad English”

One of the things that I hate seeing is people apologising for their “bad English” in YouTube comments.

I wish I could remember who it was so I could give her credit, but someone I know made a post on Facebook about this. She said something that I will parrot here:

Please stop apologising for your “bad English”.

No one should make you feel bad for making mistakes, especially considering many of those people can barely spell properly themselves, and only know one language! Learning a second language is hard, and being able to type in a language that makes as little sense as English makes you awesome!

Rant over.

Posted in English, Miscellaneous Language Issues | Leave a comment

Maleficent: What’s in a name?

Walt Disney Pictures’ 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty introduced the beloved villainous figure known as Maleficent. Like the characters of many fairy tales, the evil fairy in the original story is not named.

Maleficent, though, with her head wrap that hinted at demon-like horns, has become almost synonymous with evil. So much so that she was chosen out of a plethora of Disney villains to be a major villain in the Kingdom Hearts video game.

maleficent

However, this blog post isn’t about the 1959 film, but the 2014 live action film named after the villain. I enjoyed Maleficent. The retelling was interesting, if a bit predictable. Angelina Jolie’s performance as the titular character was as brilliant as I would have expected.

Maleficent spoiler alert

One critique I have of the movie, though, is actually that the character’s name makes no sense for this story. I don’t know if many people know about this, but her name is an actual English word:

maleficent dictionary dot com

Definition of “maleficent” from Dictionary.com

That made sense for the animated film. That Maleficent was an evil fairy with no redeeming qualities presented at any time in the film. But for the live action film, that name makes no sense. Am I to just accept that a sweet little fairy girl was given a name by her parents (or whoever named her) that means “harmfully malicious”?

I have to wonder if the writers of the 2014 film knew what the word meant… I mean, it would have been simple to have given the child fairy another name, and then have her either give herself the name Maleficent when she becomes the wicked person of her adulthood, or have her be called that by her people, or the humans of the neighbouring land.

Giving a character a name can be hard, especially for fantasy stories, so maybe I should be so hard on them, but this discrepancy is actually the biggest issue I have with the film.

Oh, well.

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ILY sign emoji on WhatsApp, please!

I use WhatsApp. A lot. It’s one of my main methods of online communication nowadays.

For a long time, I’ve wished that WhatsApp had an emoji that looks like the Jamaican Sign Language (American Sign Language, too) sign for “I love you”:

ILY little girl

It’s annoying that WhatsApp has the “rock on” gesture, but not the this handshape, often called the ILY handshape.

rock on

WhatsApp emojis, showing the “rock on” gesture emoji

Interestingly, Facebook has an emoji that can be used for ILY. Not for its messenger features, though, but the emoji can be inserted into statuses.

ILY emoji facebook status

Some of the emojis available for Facebook statuses

There have been times when I wished I could send an ILY emoji both in WhatsApp and Facebook chat. It’s an hugely important sign in both for the American Deaf community, and for the Jamaican one.

Please, WhatsApp and Facebook… add the emoji!

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Why is there so much English in Sailor Moon…?

One of my favourite new pastimes is watching “theory” videos on YouTube. Super Carlin Brothers, Film Theorists, Harry Potter Folklore, ProtoMario, Seamus Gorman

Wow, I spend a lot of time on YouTube.

Anyway, as a writer, I enjoy listening to other fans try to answer questions that I or others have about the stories I love. Even if I disagree with them, I see it as a way to get my artistic gears turning.

This past week, I thought it would be interesting to see a theory video on why there is so much English in one of my favourite childhood anime: Sailor Moon.

And there’s a lot of English. Even in the Japanese versions of the franchise, the Sailor Senshi’s names are all English, taken from the English names for the celestial bodies, rather than the Japanese: Sailor Moon, Sailor Mars, Sailor Neptune, etc (Sailor Chibi Moon is the only exception, having the Japanese word ちび [chibi], meaning “small”).

What’s more, their transformation phrases are in English (“Moon Prism Power, Make-Up!“), as are the incantations they speak to launch their attacks (“Moon Tiara Action!“).

Even Sailor Senshi from outside our Solar System have English names! Sailor Star Fighter, Sailor Star Healer, and Sailor Star Maker all have English-based nomenclature in their names, attacks, and transformation phrases.

And there’s Queen Serenity and her daughter Princess Serenity, who is Sailor Moon’s past life. Both the Queen and Princess lived on the Moon during the Silver Millennium, “a peaceful time period during the prehistoric age”. The English language originated “in the mid 5th to 7th centuries AD” (Wikipedia), which, in case you’re not sure, is long after the prehistoric age!

So why is there so much English in names and incantations from not only the prehistoric era of our Solar System, but in those of aliens who come from faraway planets?

Of course, I could just chalk it up to the fact that Naoko Takeuchi, Sailor Moon‘s creator and manga artist (漫画家, mangaka), just probably thought English sounded nice or something. Using foreign languages is a fairly common tactic of fantasy writing. For example, the term “Argetlam”, as used in The Inheritance Cycle, is from Old Irish.

But the thing with the theory genre of videos is that it both acknowledges and (more importantly) ignores the fact that there’s often a real-world explanation for many of these things and tries to explain things within the world/universe/multiverse that the movie, book, game, etc is set in.

Has any of you ever given this any thought? What would your theory be as to why English is so prevalent in the Sailor Moon names and incantations where it “shouldn’t” be?

Posted in English, 日本語 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment