I’m back…

It’s been… quite a few months.

A lot has happened.

But I’m back. And I’m determined to have a blog post every week. I might even start a new blog… I’ll let know know if I do.

Hope you all have been well.

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Posted in Miscellaneous Language Issues | Leave a comment

Summer goals

The semester is winding down. I have 1 more exam left, but I have another semester starting right after. So… it will be quite a summer for me.

Still, I have some plans. I intend to start going through the hieroglyphics learning website I told you about before. I intend to devote more time to writing; which includes editing (or rewriting, maybe… sigh…) previous stories I’ve written. I intend to start Duolingo again. (I’m sorry, X. I’ve disappointed you!) I intend to draw more.

In short, I intend to me more of an artist again, and interact more with languages.

I’ve been neglecting my languages…. School and work… sapping me of time… I have been spending less time with Japanese, Hebrew, JSL… Sigh…

Creative writing is… hard work! Fun, but hard work, especially when you have to go over and edit; it can feel like taking a pair of shears to a something you spent a long time creating, your brainchild, your baby. But I won’t give up!

Maybe I’ll give you updates as I go along… Care to take the journey with me?

Posted in Miscellaneous Language Issues, Non-language issues | 2 Comments

Language is not made of letters

In learning linguistics, I find that many of my classmates have a hard time breaking out of the habit of thinking in terms of letters. Literate English speakers seem to have a hard time unlearning the idea that the words they produce are composed of strings of letters. This is what came to mind when I saw this on imgur:

I'ma

tiauska wrote: “we managed to subtract all the spaces and three-fourths of the letters”, but that’s not actually what happened. According to The Visual Thesaurus’s article “Prime Time for ‘Imma'”, this contraction followed this path:

I am going to -> I’m going to -> I’m gonna -> I’ma

So, yes, there is definitely a “subtraction”, but it’s sounds that are subtracted, not letters. Function words (words that serve grammatical function, rather than refer to physical realities or concepts) are commonly reduced in language, even if the spelling remains the same. For example: you may still spell “the” the same way even if you barely pronounce the vowel. The words “and” and “to” are other examples of this.

Think of the English word “knight”. How many sounds does it have? Six? Five? Four? Three? The letters “k”, “g” and “h” are actually not pronounced, are they? (Well, you could argue that “igh” actually has its own pronunciation, huh?) This word has 4 sounds: /naɪt/.

But you know what? The the “k” and “gh” used to be pronounced in English! In Old English, silent K words like “know”, “knock”, and “knob” used to have the “k” sound at the start. What’s more, the “gh” of words like “sigh” and “night” used to be pronounced like the back-of-the-throat raspy sound of the name “Bach”, and the fricative (think friction) nature of this sound has remained in words like “enough” and “rough”.

So “knight” shows that reduction (“subtraction”) can happen to the sounds while the spelling (letters and spaces) remains as is.

While speech is natural and is the result of hearing and acquiring language as a child, reading and writing are artificial, and must be taught, which is why people (myself included) often have difficulty remembering how to spell words. Writing has letters (or characters, etc); speech has sounds.

A lot of people have a tendency to think that writing/spelling makes a word or a language what it is, but that is simply not true. The invention of writing does indeed have a profound impact on language, but language has been around for much longer than writing has. And most languages have no written form!

Anyway, rant over.

Posted in English, Languages, Linguistics | Leave a comment

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-enters-the-afterlife-2

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
ba-egypt

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.

claudia-and-ken

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.

claudia-and-ken-2

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

#BlackHistoryMonth
#DeafCan
#WeAreBlackHistory

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