Linguistics is an eye-opener!

Or, rather… an ear-opener…?

listen ear

First of all, let me apologise for my absence. Life has been very hectic, what with school and all that. But I’m going to try to be more disciplined from now on.

Anyway, since I first started doing linguistics, I have been realising things about the language I am exposed to on a day-to-day basis that I didn’t pick up otherwise, and even some things that I did, but was wondering about.

I’ve always been confused by the fact that one of the shortened versions for the name “William” is “Bill”. Why “Bill”? Why not just “Will”? It’s two very different sounds, after all.

Well, I actually have an explanation now! It turns out these two sounds do have some similarities! They are both labial sounds, sounds whose production are dependent largely on what the lips are doing. For [w], the lips are sounded, and for [b], the lips make a popping sound. This also explains the origin of the Patwa past tense marker “wehn”, which comes from “been”.

It even explains the rhyming scheme of some songs! Do you remember that sound from a few years ago, “Tipsy” by J-Kwon? The second verse starts: “2, here comes the 3 to the 4 to the 5/Now i’m lookin at shorty right in the eyes”… Considering the fact that [v] and [z] are different sounds, you might think that he was just rhyming the vowel sound. (Especially since he ends the next line with “guy”.) But! [v] and [v] are both fricatives! An even better example is the much newer song “Me Love My Fatty” by Style X. It goes: “Me love my, Me love my fatty/All when the knees dem knocky”. [t] and [k] are both plosive sounds!

I doubt J-Kwon or Style X deliberately sat down and thought, “Okay, I’m going to rhyme these two sounds because they belong to the same class of consonants.” But it goes to show there’s something intuitive to these classifications that may seem arbitrary when you’re learning them for the first time.

Learning these things makes linguistics a bit more fun!

Posted in English, Languages, Linguistics, Patwa | Leave a comment

Theory: How Reincarnation Works in Yu-Gi-Oh!

This was first posted on my Deviant Art journal.

The concept of reincarnation shows up in a few of the stories I know that feature Ancient Egypt. Off the top of my head, there’s The Mummy Returns, my friend CaribbeanRose9‘s story Osiris Rising, and, of course, Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters. There is a bit of controversy over whether the Ancient Egyptians believed in reincarnation, with some claiming they did and that “process is considered to take approximately 3000 years” (“Ancient Egyptian Reincarnation”) and others claiming that this is an “erroneous conclusion” that “is based on references to Egyptian theories of transmigration of the soul made by ancient Greek writers” (“A Short History of Reincarnation Teachings”).


Atem stepping into the Afterlife, meeting Priest Seto, Shimon, Isis, his father, etc.

How can they be in the both Afterlife and in the present day world at the same time? Well, I think I have an explanation.

The Ancient Egyptians believed in various components of the human being:

The Ancient Egyptians believed in various components of the human being:

  1. The khat, the physical body
  2. The ka, a spiritual equivalent of the khat, which was the immortal life-force
  3. The ib, the heart, the seat of emotion, will, and thought
  4. The sheut, the shadow
  5. The ren, the name
  6. The ba, the personality

The ba, represented as a spiritual entity with the body of a bird, and human head

Upon death, the ka left the khat, and then was later reunited with the ba to form the akh. It is this unified form that enters the Afterlife. (Egyptian Mythology; “Ancient Egyptian concept of the soul”)

Therefore, my theory is that it is not the entirety of one’s person that is reincarnated in Yu-Gi-Oh!, but one or more of the person’s components, probably ib, or the sheut, or both. That would explain why why the Ancient Egyptian characters we see in season 5 are in the Afterlife while their reincarnations are walking with the Earth. It would also explain why Kaiba can read the text on the Ra card, but has no conscious memory of his past life. It could also explain why Yuugi has such a resemblance to Atem (which suggests Atem is his preincarnation since that’s how these things work in anime): Atem is the akh that was trapped in the Millennium Puzzle, while Yuugi has Atem’s ib/sheut.

Of course, this does not explain why Bakura looks so much like Thief Bakura, which suggests he is Thief Bakura’s reincarnation. The ib was thought to be weighed by Osiris, and devoured by Ammit, the divine demon, if the ib proved to be impure, heavier than the Feather of Ma’at (Order/Balance). The person would then either “cease to exist” (“Ammit”) or “to become restless forever” (“Ammit, goddess of Egypt”), wandering the afterlife for eternity (depending on the source).

Surely, Theif Bakura’s heart was not pure enough to enter Aaru, the paradise that awaited the pure and balanced. Perhaps there is no such judgement in Yu-Gi-Oh!, or some part of the person (the sheut?) survives and is reincarnated no matter what happens to the heart at judgement. Interestingly enough, present-day Bakura seems to have even inherited Thief Bakura’s ren (name), unlike other reincarnated characters.

So, to sum up: The present-day characters of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series are not reincarnations of the entirety of their preincarnations’ make-up, but rather just a part or parts of them. Of course, this is just a theory, but one that I had fun contemplating!

What do you think of this idea?
Posted in Non-language issues | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

One of the hardest things about having a blog

It is the Internet Age.

In times past, very few people could attain the prestigious and coveted title of ‘author’. But now, anyone with a Twitter account, Facebook page, blog, Deviant Art account, Wattpad account, access to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, or a host of other apps, sites, and platforms can claim that title, and many do. (Myself included, I admit.)

With publishing being so easy, the author of the Internet Age makes the decision, consciously or subconsciously, to filter what they put out there.

Some seem to have very big holes in their sieves: anything that comes to their minds is liable to be travel through their fingers onto the internet. Others are far more private, and more cautious about what they post online.

We humans are emotional beings. Great achievements, great disappointments, great travesties… we all experience them on a regular basis. What we write often reflects our feelings about these experiences and our thoughts about them.

The theme of my blog is language and culture. I both witness and experience things in my day-to-day life that are relevant to this theme. After all, I live in a diglossic creole language environment, and I’m a hearing JSL learner/user in a nation in which the Deaf community faces injustices on a regular basis. And, of course, I could break my own self-imposed rule, and post a blog outside of the theme I chose. I’ve done it before, after all.

I am a student, I work, I live my life… and many experiences can potentially provide inspiration for a blog post. What should I sieve out? What should I keep buried in my heart, and not reveal to my readership, no matter how small it may be? How do I decide what is private, and what can be made public?

Every time I make a post, I consider this. And every time I make a post, I decide on my answer.

Posted in Just blog stuff, Non-language issues | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Black, Deaf, Jamaican-born, and Amazing

It was 2014 when I first met Claudia Gordon, Esq. She had come to Jamaica to do a talk at the University of the West Indies. I was a student of interpreting, come to witness the event, and act as usher for the Deaf people who would be in the audience. I got a photo op, a chance to be a (small) part of Jamaican Deaf history.


Gordon was born hearing in Jamaica, and became deaf at the age of 8. She was able to communicate fairly well with hearing people as an oral deaf person, but she was being sent to school because of her deafness. It was when she was 11 that she moved to the United States and got the chance to she enroll in the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York.

Finally, she could continue her education. Finally, she could learn sign language (ASL, of course, since she was in America). The stage was then set for her to become the great success she has been, and a source of pride for Black and Deaf people and Jamaicans.

She got a BA in Political Science from Howard University, and a Juris Doctorate from the American University Washington College of Law. She became the first Black Deaf female lawyer in the US, holding a position of the Public Engagement Advisor to the Disability Community in the White House Office of Public Engagement under the Obama Administration for less than a year.

Not only had she become an established, and successful lawyer, but an advocate in the Black community and for people with disabilities. She has served as vice president of the National Black Deaf Advocates, and has connections with the National Coalition for Disability Rights.

With all her success, though, she has never forgotten her Jamaican roots. She comes back to the nation of her birth every now and then, and it was on two separate such occasions that I was able to meet her.


Thank you for your empowerment to the Deaf community both here and abroad, Ms Gordon! You are truly an inspiration!


Posted in Interpreting, JSL | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Scam Alert: My Trending Stories

I don’t normally post twice in one day, but I felt compelled to, this time.

I got a message through my blog’s contact form last year, but didn’t respond until last month. This is what it read:

On 17 August 2016 at 21:21, Admin <> wrote:

Hi Ken,

We have come across your blog and strongly admire the content. Your writing abilities and ability to engage readers is remarkable and a very rare asset in this days and age oversaturated blogging community. We would love to have your content on various topics displayed on our website in order to display your creative work to a large platform.

My Trending Stories is a new website who prides itself on one specific value: giving back the power to the writers through freedom of speech and expression. Several blogging websites support a specific political view, ideology or mindset. Over at My Trending Stories no content is restricted as long as it does not contribute to racism, discrimination or anything that violates an individual’s human rights. Through this, we aim to be one of the top 5 biggest blogging websites on the internet.

We strongly believe that your writing aligns with our core value, and would love to have your content displayed so that it can reach an even broader audience. As a contributor on MTS, your creative work will remain yours at all times and we even encourage that you promote your personal blog on the website. Feel free to even post work that was originally on your blog, the most important thing is that your message and story gets out to the world.

Furthermore, we place importance in seeing our writers grow. We keep in contact with our writers in order to provide mentorship and personal growth. We will also be having our first annual convention in 2017 where writers will have the ability to network and learn tips from people in the industry. This includes media, journalism, editors, authors and publishers!

We also have several interesting features such as a video section, and will soon be expanding in French and Spanish.

We would truly love to have you be a part of this team. If you are interested in this opportunity email us back at:

Looking forward to hearing from you soon,
My Trending Stories Team

I responded, and asked for more info, but… something didn’t seem right. It seemed that if they were truly a professional/high quality blogging site, they would have offered some sort of payment. But nope. Nothing of the sort.

So, I told my friend about it, and she said, “Oh, that. It’s a scam. Google them. I’ve heard of them before.”

Google, I did. And found another blogger (Opinionated Man) had received exactly the same e-mail, with just minor differences (the URL for his site, and his name). (See his blog post about it here.)

Imagine my disappointment that the only message I’ve ever received through my contact page was a scam. So, I thought I’d post this for any other bloggers who might fall prey to these scammers who want to get writers to basically work for free. Your writing is valuable, guys. Your time is valuable. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you.

To close, I quote Opinionated Man: “Be smart bloggers. Don’t take things at face value.”

Posted in Just blog stuff | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Not all samurai were Japanese

In 1579, a young man arrived in Japan from Mozambique. He was the servant (or slave) of an Italian Jesuit who had been appointed Visitor of the “Indies” (East and South, and East Africa). Where exactly this young man was born is lost to time; he may have been Mozambican, perhaps a member of the Yao people.


In any case, he traveled with his Jesuit master/lord/owner/whatever to the capital area in 1581, and the people were quite amazed at him. According according to one account, several people were crushed to death as the Japanese clamoured to get a good look at the 6’2″ dark-skinned man. There’s no wonder; the Japanese, being an island nation, were relatively insular.

“On the 23rd of the 2nd month March 23, 1581, a black page (黒坊主, kuro-bōzu) came from the Christian countries. He looked about 26, 24 or 25 by Western count or 27 years old; his entire body was black like that of an ox. The man was healthy and good-looking. Moreover, his strength was greater than that of 10 men.”
信長公記 (Shinchō kōki), the chronicle of Oba Nobunaga

Suspecting the young man’s skin colour was due to black ink, warlord Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長) had him strip off his clothes and wash to prove the authenticity of his complexion, and that it wasn’t black paint or ink on his skin. Thus convinced, and impressed with the physical strength and physical attributes of this young man, and, apparently, his level of competence in Japanese, Oda took him into his service, awarding him the position of shikan (仕官), the samurai service. This was a rare honour for a foreigner, let alone a servant, and he was perhaps the warlord’s only non-Japanese warrior.


A  depiction of Yasuke by South African sculptor Nicola Roos

Oda gave him a short, ceremonial katana (刀), as well as the Japanese name Yasuke (弥助, 弥介, 彌助, or 彌介, depending on the source), perhaps a Japanese rendering of his original name, or a reference to his possible Yao ethnicity. In his service as samurai (侍), Yasuke was weapon bearer, and remained with Oda until 1582.

In this year, Oda was attacked by the forces of samurai general Akechi Mitsuhide (明智 光秀), and forced to do seppuku (切腹), suicide by disembowelment. It is said that Yasuke joined the heir and oldest son of his former master, Oda Nobutada (織田 信忠), and fought with Nobutada’s other men before eventually surrendering his sword to Akechi’s men.

After Yasuke’s surrender, Akechi’s warriors asked Akechi himself what they should do with him. The general said of Yasuke that he was a beast, undeserving of the title of samurai, and did not know anything, so they should not kill him. It is speculated that he said this because he pitied Yasuke, and that it was his way of giving him mercy. It is also possible, though, that he simply did not want to offend the Jesuits, in this time of political turmoil. Black people were not discriminated against in Japan at the time, it is said, but, they were admired, since the Buddha was often depicted in black in Japanese temples.

Thus, Akechi ordered that Yasuke be taken to the nanbandera/nanbanji (南蛮寺, literally “temple of the southern barbarians”). What happened next to the first and only African in history to be given the revered title of samurai may never be known. No records survive of his life after his return to the Jesuits.

Nonetheless, his story is still remembered to this day.



African History Lesson : Yasuke [The African Samurai]“, Africapublic

Yasuke“, Wikipedia

Posted in Miscellaneous Language Issues, 日本語 | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Essay on the other codas

Because I have been trying to keep myself disciplined, posting here every week, no matter how busy I am, I decided to let you guys know that I won’t be posting a “full” blog post today, because I have a full day of chores and schoolwork.

Remember the essay to told you I needed to write? Well, I’ve got to work on/start/finish it today. My topic: codas. No, not those CODAs from Deaf studies (Child of Deaf Adults), but  codas from linguistics.

My essay just might serve as inspiration for next week’s blog post… we’ll see.

Have a great week, everyone.

Posted in Just blog stuff, Linguistics | Leave a comment