I won something!

On the 6th of October, someone posted something in a Facebook group I’m in:

FB post translation competition

I instantly realised that there was no mention of a prize, but I still felt a strong desire to try my hand at it. My Spanish and French aren’t good at all, so, my only choice was the English into Jamaican Creole language pair.

Well, I entered. The document the Translators and Interpreters Association (TIA) of Jamaica sent me was, of all things, an article about climate change and its impact on the Caribbean.

Let me tell you: that was a challenge.

I opened it up, read through it, and instantly knew it would be one of the most difficult things I’d done in a while. I put it down for a few days and then started working on it. And finally submitted it to TIA.

Then… one morning…

E-mail from TIA

TIA e-mailed me on Tuesday, 5th of December

I couldn’t believe it! I actually won! I don’t know why, but I really wanted to win. As someone who graduated from university a few years ago, I entered in the “other” category.

Anyway, the award ceremony was yesterday. It was a nice little event, and a good way to close this chapter of my life. Who knows? Maybe it’s a sign of things to come?

We’ll see!

Posted in Miscellaneous Language Issues | 1 Comment

How to show your love

The five love languages.

They’re not real languages in the sense of syntax, morphology, phonology, etc, but they are important in communication. I remember when I first discovered the concept, and it really helped me understand myself, and it has impacted how I interact with others.

It was first outlined by Dr Gary Chapman in his 1995 book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. It’s not just about romantic love, though; it has applications to many various interpersonal relationships.

According to this theory, one’s love languages are, essentially, the ways in which each person naturally expresses love, and the things that make them feel loved. The idea is that people have specific love languages, some of which are more important than others.

Words of Affirmation: Encouragement, compliments, acknowledgment of a job well done… People with this love language require you to tell them, not just show them.

Acts of Service: Doing the dishes, attending your basketball game or ballet recital, giving a massage… If this is your love language, what someone does for you is important to you, especially.

Receiving Gifts: Christmas presents, birthday gifts, just-because gifts… For some people, getting a gift makes you feel loved, especially if it’s something you really want.

Quality Time: A quiet chat over dinner, a game of Go Fish, a walk around the neighbourhood… Some people need time and undivided attention to feel loved.

Physical Touch: A hug, a kiss, a simple pat on the back… Those with this love language express love through touch, and feel loved when they are touched by people they care about.

According to this model, a person could have all five love languages, but they usually are in varying degrees. It’s an interesting concept.

Do you know about it? Do you know your love languages? Let me know!

Posted in Non-language issues | Tagged | 1 Comment

NaNoWriMo woes

It’s November. Which means it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short, or, even shorter, NaNo).


“National” may be in the name, but it’s grown more international over the years since it started in the US in 1999 with just 21 participants: now, hundreds of thousands of writers participate.

The goal? To write a 50,000 word manuscript within the month of November. The focus is on quantity, not quality; just a way to get us writers to challenge ourselves to just write, then edit/improve it when you’re done.

I tried it once, in 2015. How many words did I manage to write, you ask? A whopping… 302.

I wanted to try it again this year, but… let’s just say it’s not going well. After I told her I hadn’t even started yet, one of my friends and fellow writers suggested I do a short story…

Let’s see what happens…

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JNV is back!

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


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!


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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:


“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.


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 (fumeiyo yori shi)

But no Iwi language.

Oh, well. It was still an enjoyable movie.

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“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