kaigou: (1 olivia is not impressed)
For those unfamiliar, the culture I've been writing about is one with five genders. The first four are male or female gender-types; the fifth gender is neither all-male nor all-female. The neutral pronoun is used for agender, all-gender, and children until puberty. The awkwardness rests in the fact that I'm contrasting one language -- that lacks a neutral -- with another language that has a neutral... and all of it's written in English, which (duh) lacks an official/widespread neutral. Ugh. Not sure how it reads.



"Afakh wants to end the consort-alliance," Tsiu said, in quiet Nasoyunukona-yen, layered with a Ujira accent. "Afakh's talked this over plenty with Afakh's Second Brother. That's Ozolekh," Tsiu added. Nakayari wondered if Tsiu intended to make it harder for Ozolekh to understand; the man's head was up, eyes sharp, the look of a man who understood at least some of what was being said. "Afakh is third-soul, and wants to enter the temple." Before Nakayari or Kini could reply, Tsiu straightened up and switched to Heichunha. "Thoughts?"

Sindhu brought her hands to her waist, then dropped them to her lap again. "We can't, Tsiu-jhayu," she murmured. "The consort agreement has been sealed---" The rest of what she said got lost, too many unfamiliar words. Tsiu flicked the end of his fan, glancing Nakayari's way. Sindhu nodded, turned to Nakayari, and held out her hand. With a too-ticklish fingertip, she sketched the words she'd just spoken on Nakayari's palm.

"It's a breach of contract," Nakayari told Kini.

"You'll need to translate better than that," Kini retorted, under her breath.

Read more... )
kaigou: life would be easier if I had the source code. (3 source code)
Alrighty. Now the conlang generator will incorporate first/last vowels or consonants that you pick.

http://words.karinoyo.com/

ETA: ah, anything's better than dealing with the madness out there on the roads, so I went ahead & figured out the logic to allow different choices in start/end vowels and consonants. Now you can designate whether you want ending vowels to be single or multiple, same for consonants.

Frex, if you pick "only ends in certain consonants", you'll get a choice of single consonants and doubled consonants, which repeat from your original selections from each. If you want to narrow it down, edit/add as needed. If you only want to limit the options on one, say single consonants, just edit that one, and leave the other field (for doubled consonants) intact. Then carry on.

Note that for some reason it's not pulling over the single vowels for ending options. I don't know why. For now, guess you'll just have to refer to the previous tab to see those & copy them over.

Next up: a way to save all selections so you can come back to the same just by clicking on (a really long and complex) link. Hrm!
kaigou: life would be easier if I had the source code. (3 source code)
Per yet another dinner discussion combined with the need to produce some displayable code for upcoming interviews, I decided it was time for yet another insightful and elegant solution to yet another non-existent problem.

Lo, I have created a conlang word generator. Except it doesn't simply spew randomized letters at you, because that wouldn't be elegant at all, would it. No, as befitting my status as a nerd of the first order and a geek of the second, this word generator requires that you enter actual rules for your language.

(As in, whether a word can start with a vowel or a consonant, and the phonetic patterns of syllables, and what vowels can be doubled and whether a word can end with a single vowel or a doubled one, or maybe doubled vowels only occur in the middle of a word and doubled consonants only ever occur in the last syllable.)

Go forth and have fun, if you're easily linguistically amused. Do let me know if you run into problems, though, since I've only tested a little, and not nearly as obsessively as I hear you're supposed to. Or something.

Enjoy!
kaigou: Edward, losing it. (1 Edward conniption)
From an interview with the author:
Q: I’ve studied Japanese for six years and been to Japan yet still may not have been able to execute a Japanese-inspired world as real and sensational as yours. What was the research involved in bringing the world of Stormdancer to life? Or did you drink some magical sake and try your luck?

A: I’ve had a few people say that, and it’s really flattering, but honestly I think most of my research was done via osmosis. I’ve always had an interest in Japanese cinema and manga, so I absorbed a lot of knowledge through that over the years. Wikipedia was really my go-to source for information, plus a few specialized sites dealing with the Tokugawa age.

The cool thing about writing a setting that’s inspired by Japan, but not actually Japan, is that you can take what you want from history and mythology and leave the rest. Take thunder tigers, for example – there’s nothing close to griffins in Japanese folklore. But without thunder tigers, there would be no Stormdancer.

My theory has been that if you want a place inspired by Japan (or anywhere) that's not actually Japan (or wherever), then you must avoid all non-English words that are not long-standing loan-words, for starters. At the simplest level. Otherwise, you're obviously writing about a certain place because the non-Englishness is going to act as a red flag, and pull people back into the concrete this-place that's the analogue to your wherever. This is why authors make up their own words & phrases in fantasy and science fiction, except in those cases where they specifically want you to be thinking France, Japan, Mozambique, or wherever.

But I'll let other folks do the talking, since that's hardly the only thing wrong with this story. Oh, Goodreads, why do you recommend stuff that just makes my blood boil?

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/365384575
Discounting manga/anime, I can count on two fingers how many Asian-inspired fantasies I know of. Stormdancer gets the middle one.


Have a small link roundup. )

And some useful posts, for you guys and also for me:
http://whatfreshhellisthis.tumblr.com/post/5261084308/whats-wrong-with-cultural-appropriation-i-mean-i
http://thesadnessofpencils.tumblr.com/post/3485124248/do-you-have-any-guidelines-on-how-a-white-not-english
kaigou: Edward, losing it. (1 Edward conniption)
...since anything is better than what I've got, which is nothing. There's a company that sends me email every single night, and I don't recall ever signing up for getting their shopping newsletter with whatever wacky Japanese department store stuff's on special that day. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, since the link at the bottom would be to unsubscribe, right? So very wrong: one link takes you to a log-in (and if you can't recall your password, it requires your name, your birthdate, and something else, and chances are good I didn't even entire the real thing, 'cause I never do unless c'card information is coming next). The other link takes you to the company's terms of service, and if you click on the "english" link, it doesn't give you the page in English. It gives you some other page about investing (in the company). I just want to bloody well unsubscribe, but there's no link (that I can see) that lets me do this quickly or easily.

Is there anyone on my flist/dwircle fluent enough in Japanese to help me decode this, and possibly figure out how to unsubscribe? I have tonight's email, and I know the address it's sending it to, and all I want is to make them stop sending me emails. The other option is to change my email, but that's a last-ditch thing seeing how it's gmail, not my own domain, so that's more of a hassle. But sheesh, this is annoying. Are unsubscribe options only a western expectation? or are unsubscribe options just spelled out in the kana, with no actual links? No idear.

*cries* I promise to love you and cherish you and call you George, if someone happened to have a few minutes to help me figure it out, or point me where to send an email to ask them to unsubscribe.
kaigou: (1 Izumi)
I've finally put a finger on what has me so entranced when watching media (shows, animation, etc) that's in a different language. At first, I thought: this is a kind of astonishment. Then I censored myself immediately, because wow, that sounds offensive -- if you twist it to the side, it could be saying: "wow, people have entirely different languages and they still communicate such complex ideas" which is not at all what I mean.

I've probably told some of you this story before, but when I lived in France, I recall spending the afternoon with a teacher's two children. Aged, hm, three and five, maybe? They had a globe, and one of them asked where I lived, so I put a finger on their hometown, and another on mine. There was a lot of blue-colored map between the two places, and the kids were suitably impressed.

However, somehow this raised the question of why (in their opinion) I couldn't speak French as well as the other adults they knew. Maybe, they appeared to be reasoning, it was because Americans were bad at talking. I said no, in America, we speak English.

Long pause. Skeptical looks.

"No, you speak French," they said. "Everyone speaks French."

"Not in the United States," I replied. "There, we don't speak French. We speak English."

Skeptical looks turned to absolute disdain, because now they were quite certain I was putting them on. There went all my credibility.

Later I asked their mom, who said that it's a developmental stage, related to the size of the kid's world, and the fact that they assume what they see around them is an example of everything, everywhere. It takes time and experience before we start to realize the world is a much bigger place than our little corner of it.

Watching foreign shows, or trying to read a manga in Taiwanese (or, ugh, Cantonese), makes me feel like my world has gotten even bigger. Or maybe it's that it makes me feel just that many times smaller. Like: these people are talking, and there's a whole way of writing, of conjugating verbs, of expressing the self, and I understand none of it. Chances are, I will never understand more than maybe "please" and "thank you" and "yes" and "no" and how to say "hello" on the phone. If that much. But people express ideas and emotions and my corner -- the English corner -- has no impact, no value, in this conversation.

It's a kind of reminder of humility. )
kaigou: Sorry to barge in, but we have a slight apocalypse. (2 the part that's less fun)
Now that I understand written Cantonese (in comics) uses the grammatical forms of Cantonese, not Mandarin, I finally know why a Chinese (from Shanghai) friend took one look at a manga I'd purchased and said, "no one talks like this!" She didn't know, anymore than I did, that it made a difference that it was an HK publisher. Now I know. And now I need to figure out how to get Taiwanese translations, although I guess this means paying more, seeing how all the import-to-US companies carry HK translations.

I've been helping with translations for a shoujo work that has its fair share of bishonen. I've become accustomed, over the past [censored] years with shonen work, of seeing self-identifying young women declare they hate the girl leads, or the female side-characters, or want some (or all) of the girl characters to die. I am slightly surprised that I'm not seeing that, with this manga, and it finally dawned on me that perhaps we've been blaming female readers for being indoctrinated with misogynist feelings (in re female characters).

Maybe it's simpler than that. Maybe it's that, honestly, the majority of female characters in shonen stories really are that useless, compared to their male counterparts. Because in reading commentaries by young (some as young as 12) female readers, for the rare stories (shoujo and shonen) where the female characters are not stupid, are not helpless, and are not whiny self-entitled children expecting to be saved... the responses are quite different. There's a whole lot of love for the character(s), and a certain sense of satisfied expectation when it comes to the pretty men being interested in her. Few have said it so blunt, but at least one female reader did: "of course they'd all be interested in her, because she's interesting!"

Speaking of which, if you like your science quite hard, and you like your cast strongly female, try Moretsu Pirates. It's translated (for no reason that I can tell) as "Bodacious Space Pirates", and the OP seems fluffy enough... but it's suddenly taken a strong left into hard sci-fi. It's like a stealth anime. The premise isn't that unusual: an unknown parent dies, and leaves some kind of inheritance (in this case, the letter of marque for a sanctioned space-pirate ship), and the child (usually a boy, but in this case a girl) must decide whether to accept the deceased parent's mantle. We're on episode four, and the heroine still hasn't actively made that choice, but damn. The first episode was fluffy shoujo, with a few hints. The second episode started to show a bit more of a feminist flair. The third episode, Mom's teaching our heroine how to shoot a gun (and not one that's small and pink, either) and the fourth episode, we're dealing with science the level of your average Star Trek episode. And not a twit-brained, big-chested, useless waste-of-space* in sight. The female characters are capable, realistic for their age (able to joke around), but also pretty savvy. I am torn between love for the yacht club president and vice president.

Here's hoping this series stays strong, because it's been a long time coming, not to mention to have two such strongly female-centric anime in one season (the other one being Rinne no Lagrange).

* there is a doctor-character who gets the fanservice, with boobs and garters and heels, but so far if she's in any stereotype, it's as the intelligent but somewhat sly femme fatale. Not perfect, but still not a twit. I'm not sure what it says about the expected audience, if the majority of the fanservice is an adult character.
kaigou: Edward, losing it. (1 Edward conniption)
Currently having a slight mental breakdown over the tanks that just arrived. Not from a Taiwanese publisher like I'd thought, but from a Hong Kong publisher. Which for a moment made me happy, until I realized, it's traditional. Why is a HK publisher using traditional? As if it's not bad enough that the publisher's using characters that I haven't seen at all (from reading Taiwanese scans), they can't even be arsed to simply keep the original kanji for Japanese place-names. No, they're spelling out names phonetically, like instead of 名古屋 it's 那古野 (na-gu-ye?) so I spent several long minutes utterly baffled. At least most of the personal names (so far) have kept to the original Japanese, and thank the heavens for Wiki including the kanji for non-English names.

But still: why is a Hong Kong publisher, of a work that (according to the inner page) should only be distributed in Hong Kong (ahem), using traditional? Is this some kind of a political statement, or is there something else going on?

Because it just seems to me that if it's a manga that's supposed to be for readers 15-22, wouldn't most of those readers, post-98, have been educated in simplified per the switch back to PRC-rule? Wouldn't traditional be making the text just that much more complicated, comparatively?

Sheesh. It's like I can't win, sometimes. Taiwanese is traditional, and that's hard enough, but at least I've finally got the hang of the more common Taiwanese slang/colloquial... and now, looks like I have to do it all over again with HK.

sob, sob.
kaigou: the kraken stirs, and ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. (3 the kraken stirs)
In this post: GetBackers, Vampire Knight, D.Gray-man, Amatsuki, Di(e)ce.

I gave up on GetBackers, despite [personal profile] branchandroot's rec. Mostly, though, because of its discordance. Background, if you're not aware: it's the usual shonen bromance kind of story, with a fair bit of quasi-science-fiction/supernatural mixings, and plenty of the usual cliches. Two things about its development stuck in my head while reading. Hmm, make that three. I made it about halfway through the anime, then tried the manga, and quit about halfway through. While watching the anime, I also checked into the anime's development, and noted an unusual bit of info about the series' wrap-up (which happened prior to the story wrap-up, so there was the usual question of whether to do an anime-original ending).

Note: the story is actually a three-way invention, from what I gather. I think, not sure, but I seem to recall the author is actually a brother-sister penname, who work jointly with an artist. That is, the penname gives credit to brother and sister, but apparently (why am I surprised) the only mention of author quotations act like it's just one guy. So, dunno what the sister does. Anyway.

I can't find where I came across this bit -- I think in one of the articles cited in the wiki entry. Apparently, the anime director suggested making Kazuki's relationship canonical (anime canon, that is) with his second, Juubei. (Their respective weaponry, threads and needles, even suggest the pairing... among the many, many other things that do, including their own dialogue.) The mangaka-author refused, saying that Kazuki already had a destined pairing, Ren Radou.

Then I got to that character's introduction in the anime, and discovered the character isn't even real. She's part of the 3D/holographic construct. Alright, it's one thing if there's a flesh-and-blood half to match with the flesh-and-blood (err, in context, that is) character, but I have major issues with a story-author who'd insist there's a pairing, and choose a pairing in which one character is a computer program. It'd be one thing if the author insisted it be left undefined, but it says a lot to me about the author's agenda if he'd choose this real/nonreal pairing over the damn-near-text of a real/real pairing. There's erasure, and then there's replacement that reaches the level of ridiculous.

The second bit was the mangaka-artist, who -- based on the copious amounts of ho-yay artwork -- has some serious yaoi fanboi leanings. Like, not even leanings. I'd say that tree fell over in the forest awhile back... and other commentary, and then onto the rest of the list. )

...and that should be enough for now. Back to catching up on Amatsuki, and at some point, I really will finally finish Kekkaishi, and catch up on Nurarihyon no Mago. Well, once I finish two other major projects on my plate, and there's always the kitchen...
kaigou: image of Miho from kdrama (1 dimples that kill)
This past week, we headed back home for my sister's... shindig... and I mentioned to my step-father about the massively disappointing Korean meal I'd had. Well, this would never do. (Says a man who buys homemade kimchi by the huge bottle-full from his "source" -- the mother of the woman who does my mother's nails, because "it's not the same when it's store-bought".) Friday we all piled into the car and headed off to the best Korean place inside an hour's drive, and my Mom and I shared pork bulgogi while CP and the SF had some kind of noodle-beef-spice dish (didn't catch the name). After we demolished all of the awesome little dishes that came first, of course.

We get home today, and it's blistering hot and the A/C is still broken (but due to be fixed tomorrow, yay). Naturally this means we might as well eat out -- anything for non-104F temps, basically -- and we decide we want more Korean. Ah, new place getting good reviews in our local Asian shopping center (represents of Taiwan, PRC, Korea, and Vietnam), so off we head.

Even more little dishes ahead of time, plus (our eyes being bigger than our stomachs after spending most of the day on various planes) seafood pancakes -- oh so good -- and then a kind of four-bulgogi sampler called SsamBob. Whomever told me on the last post that Korean food is somewhat hot, sometimes (spicy-wise), but always complex, spicy-wise, totally spoke the truth. So spicy, so incredibly yummy.

Except I had this one question... When the proprietor came over to check on us, she'd been so helpful with what-to-get recommendations that I figured, maybe she could answer this question. I explained I'd watched a Korean show with Moon Geum-Young, in which the actress was making kimchi. I saw the sliced cabbages and some other chunks of vegetables, and then this HUGE BAG (like 2lbs worth HUGE) that was nothing but red powder. Was that, uhm, entirely chili powder she was dumping by the double-handfuls into the vegetables?

First, the proprietor said, yes, it was. And then she said, "you know Moon Geum-Young? You watch her television shows?" I said, of course, she's adorable, and I've done my best to see everything she's in. (Excepting Tale of Two Sisters, which I have but haven't watched yet because it may be over my creep limit in re horror, but anyway, I did see Innocent Steps and Painter of the Wind, and most of MSOAN, so, yeah.) But, she wanted to know, was that all I watched? I said, "no, I've also--" right as CP goes, "My Girlfriend is a Gumiho!" and the proprietor just cracked up (while managing to look surprised that CP had also watched the show, and unsurprised he thought Shin Min-ah is gorgeously charming with dimples that kill). ...and then she asked what else I'd watched. I said, "I'm watching Lie to Me, because it's got Kang Ji-hwan," and she put her hand to her heart and looked like she was going to swoon.

Next thing you know, I'm rattling off all the pretty boys: Lee Min-ki (Dalja's Spring), and Lee Jun-ki (Time Between Dog and Wolf), and Lee Min-ho (City Hunter) -- except I hadn't even gotten out what LMH is in right now, just his name, and the proprietor says, "City Hunter? Are you watching City Hunter?"

Me: OF COURSE. It's got a pretty boy in it!

Then I told her what the American-language fandom calls most of these young actors: noona killers (as in, "older sister killers"). She cracked up all over again, and said that fit perfectly. Clearly a woman after my own heart, and we totally bonded over Hong Gil Dong and Chuno and Greatest Love and Civil Servant Grade 7 and so on. Although notably, neither of us were all that about Yon-sama (or whatever his Korean name is, I can never remember) who was in Legend. We'd trade him in for Lee Min-ho any day. Or Kang Ji-hwan. Though clearly we'd have to get in line.

ETA: Almost forgot, the universal symbol for a particular hot leading man (who, incidentally, is actually older than me, so not really a noona killer). She mentioned Greatest Love, and I tried to say the actor's name. Cha Seung-won, I think his name is spelled? She didn't react, so I knew I said it wrong, so instead I ran my fingers over my face to make the "cow" symbol -- the way the guy's beard is trimmed, it looks like the Chinese character for "cow". Immediately she did the same, and knew exactly who I meant. Bwah.

I am totally going back to try the rest of the dishes (and next time, bringing friends, because that's a lot of food for two people, even if we did come home with leftovers). Besides, the proprietor was willing to patiently explain the parts of the usually-slurred-so-fast-on-TV way to say hello: anaunhah-seoh. Hmm. Maybe I should stick to trying to slur it.

Nice to know I'm not the only noona in this town, getting killed twice weekly.
kaigou: Sorry to barge in, but we have a slight apocalypse. (Default)
For the Korean or Korean-familiar folks on my flist, there seem to be several ways to anglicize the honorific, but I'm not sure if there's some rule going on here or if it's just personal preference or something:

ajusshi
ajeoshi
ajeosshi

is there a most-common or most-accepted way to anglicize it?


I see the 'eo' for 'u' every now and then, like 'Jeong' for 'Jung', but I've also noticed that this 'eo' gets included most often when it's a Chinese-speaking person doing the anglicizing. Maybe it's an ear-thing, in terms of the sounds we're primed to hear, depending on our language, so to Mandarin-ears, the 'u' sounds closest to the sound that'd get an 'eo' combination in pinyin, or something?
kaigou: I'm going with head-explodey on this one. (3 head-explodey)
In Korean (hangul, not romancized): how would you say, "feed me"? The imperative form that a five-year-old might use to demand from parents would be perfect, if the verb form is required.

In Swedish: how would you say, "says the machine" where "says" is something like the English "cried" (not as in tears, but in exhortation or command). Alternate verbs: "demanded" or "insisted"... you probably get the idea.

The story: our dryer died, and my father & stepmother are gifting us with a new one. I had originally looked at Frigidaires, Kenmores, and GEs, but got sidetracked into looking at LGs and was rather impressed with the quality for the money. When I called my father back to let him know the various models, and mentioned that I'd started considering LGs as well, Dad's reply?

"Ah, LGs are good machines. I've spoken with the company's president."

I really, really need to stop being astonished by how much my father gets around. Heads of state, heads of chaebols. Righto! Just another day on the range, to be invited to a conference call with the freaking president of LG to discuss washing machines. Honestly. Right up there with being invited to have an informal sit-down dinner with the King of Sweden.

Hence the combination of languages in the phrase. Will post pictures when done. TIA!
kaigou: Toph punches Zuko. (2 pigtails and inkwell love)
from Artisphere:

By Any Other Name : An Evening of Shakespeare in Klingon
Washington Shakespeare Company

Sunday, February 27, 7:30 pm
Black Box Theatre

The BBC is creating a five part documentary about language and how humans communicate called Planet World. Washington Shakespeare Company's (WSC) By Any Other Name will be filmed live for the documentary series. As part of the evening, world-renowned writer/actor Stephen Fry will perform a Klingon role in a scene from Hamlet.

The evening will begin with an introduction by Marc Okrand, creator of the Klingon language.
kaigou: Sorry to barge in, but we have a slight apocalypse. (5 bookstack)
A bit ago I posted a link to an author's advice on Trying to Write the Southern Accent, and one of the comments reminded me of one of my favorite childhood stories... and its problematic representation of Southern Black American (and former-slave) speech. I quote, from the original:
"Didn't the fox never catch the rabbit, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy the next evening.

"He come mighty nigh it, honey, sho's you born--Brer Fox did. One day atter Brer Rabbit fool 'im wid dat calamus root, Brer Fox went ter wuk en got 'im some tar, en mix it wid some turkentime, en fix up a contrapshun wat he call a Tar-baby, en he tuck dish yer Tar-Baby and he sot 'er in de big road, en den he lay off in de bushes fer to see what de news wuz gwineter be. En he didn't hatter wait long, nudder, kaze bimeby here come Brer Rabbit pacin' down de road--lippity-clippity, clippity-lippity--dez ez sassy ez a jay-bird. Brer Fox, he lay low. Brer Rabbit come prancin' 'long twel he spy de Tar-Baby, en den he fotch up on his behime legs like he wus 'stonished. De Tar-Baby, she sot dar, she did, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"Mawin'!" sez Brer Rabbit, sezee--"nice wedder dis mawnin'," sezee.

Tar-Baby ain't sayin' nothing', en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"How duz yo' sym'tums seem ter segashuate?" sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

Brer Fox, he wink his eye slow, en lay low, en de Tar-Baby, she ain't sayin' nothin'.

It's much easier to find revisions of this text than the original. One of those revisions posted online has a forward that says, "Harris retold the fables in the dialect used by the African slaves. Later retellings, such as the version of the story given here, have been in standard English, which makes the tales easier to read but takes away the charm of the original."

If you read the revised versions (behind the cut), you'll see what I mean: I don't think they realize where the so-called charm comes from. I do think it's true that the original exoticizes the slave dialect a great deal. It's so extreme, it alienates the reader, like it's letting you in on mysterious (getting near on Magical Negro territory, here) Other-stories, and your ticket to play is paid by the time you spend parsing out this unfamiliar not-English... but the exotic is not the source of the story's charm.

[That said, I should also note that while Harris may've propagated the image of the former slave as somewhere between lyrical and illiterate, he did also do a great service for later linguists, in putting so much effort into authentically and faithfully recording the actual speech. Even if he did do it via phonetic spellings, some of which are just plain baffling (I never have figured out what 'segashuate' means, but I think it might be 'suggest') -- he still managed to notate historical and actual speech patterns. Before him, most had discounted slave-speech as just Bad English, instead of understanding it as a communicative and evocative language in its own right. Some of the linguists even imply that had Harris not set the precedent, it might not've been until the WPA Historical Records Survey that anyone would've captured a contemporary speech record. In that sense, as difficult as the text is to read, to linguists and historians looking for long-standing patterns in the African-American creole, it does have value as a kind of historical record.]

Two edited versions, a few explanations of some of the phrases/words, and childhood memories of a Georgia storyteller. )
kaigou: sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness. (2 flamethrowers)
From a Salon essay about the English-language translation of The Ringbearer, a satirical/parodic take on The Lord of the Rings. First, tying into both myth-making and a broader pop culture application, per the issue of fantasies in re women's roles, this food for thought:
"The Lord of the Rings" wouldn't be as popular as it is if the pastoral idyll of the Shire and the sureties of a virtuous, mystically ordained monarchy as embodied in Aragorn didn't speak to widespread longing for a simpler way of life. There's nothing wrong with enjoying such narratives -- we'd be obliged to jettison the entire Arthurian mythos and huge chunks of American popular culture if there were -- but it never hurts to remind ourselves that it's not just their magical motifs that makes them fantasies.

And an intriguing reaction from the reviewer, too, in the final paragraph:
Yeskov's "parody" -- for "The Last Ringbearer," with its often sardonic twists on familiar Tolkien characters and events, comes a lot closer to being a parody than "Wind Done Gone" ever did -- is just such a reminder. If it is fan fiction (and I'm not sure I'm in a position to pronounce on that), then it may be the most persuasive example yet of the artistic potential of the form.

And since translations and language have been on my brain, this paragraph from an interview with Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things:
To be able to express yourself, to be able to close the gap—inasmuch as it is possible—between thought and expression is just such a relief. It’s like having the ability to draw or paint what you see, the way you see it. Behind the speed and confidence of a beautiful line in a line drawing there’s years of—usually—discipline, obsession, practice that builds on a foundation of natural talent or inclination of course. It’s like sport. A sentence can be like that. Language is like that. It takes a while to become yours, to listen to you, to obey you, and for you to obey it. I have a clear memory of language swimming towards me. Of my willing it out of the water. Of it being blurred, inaccessible, inchoate… and then of it emerging. Sharply outlined, custom-made.
kaigou: pino does not approve of where the script is going. (2 pino does not approve)
It's crazy, the things you never realize about language, when it comes to translations. How do brains work on two tracks at once? What lies in the heads of all those people at the UN who can listen, real-time, to one language and simultaneously speak the same meaning in a different language?

Hell, I can barely manage it for a word, maybe a single phrase, and then my brain breaks. But more than that, slowly working my way through corrections is really making me think (which, okay, is a something I like) about what words and phrases mean.

For instance, the phrase: I feel bad when... In French, this has been translated as je compatis -- which really means, "I sympathize."

Immediately, I recall the phrase a lawyer/linguist friend used to tell me: "I empathize but I do not sympathize." In other words: I feel your pain, but I don't feel sorry on your behalf. What does it mean to say, "I feel bad"? Does it mean sympathy -- as in, a feeling of shared pain/upset? Or does it include an element of regret, as though one is responsible for it: I'm sorry this happened to you.

You feel bad on someone's behalf without actually feeling responsible for the situation, which is what I'd consider empathy -- but the distinction between the two words (sympathy and empathy) is one that's frequently lost on many readers. Both are mentally translated (it seems to me) as "I feel bad", hence the ambiguity.

Talking it over with CP, and I suggested "I'm bothered when..." but as he pointed out, "bother" has a connotation of annoyance. In other words, "I'm inconvenienced when..." and that's not the same at all. Then we thought of "I take it personally", but that implies that the situation is causing one to be on the defensive. Just what are you taking personally? If it's "I take it personally when a friend is upset," does this mean you're feeling yourself guilty for their upset, or are your personal feelings because you're upset on your friend's behalf?

So perhaps simply, "I get upset when my friend is upset." I suppose most people would say that's sympathy (it's actually empathy), and then we're back to the beginning. Though CP suggested taking it down to the actual meaning: do you share the upset, or are you upset only by extension?

Perhaps "I share my friend's reaction..." is less ambiguous. Hm. I wonder what that is in Spanish.
kaigou: Sorry to barge in, but we have a slight apocalypse. (Default)
all behind the cut, adding as any pop up. )

Just thought I'd toss it out there. Once the translations are finalized, this post will come down, but until then, feel free to weigh in.

Also, question for other French speakers (in comments).
kaigou: please hold. all muses are busy, but your inspiration is important to us. (3 all muses are busy)
Like askerian, who bestowed this gem of wisdom upon me this evening:
English cheats because it comes in little chopped-up bits that you can reassemble just about any possible way (and some that really shouldn't be but why not.) English is flexible and comes with interchangeable pieces, like someone wearing belts around their thigh, sunglasses as a hairband, and colored socks on their hands as funny gloves because it's fashionable and even if it doesn't catch on it's fun right now and so long as people know what it's saying then it's all good. French is a dowager countess with petticoats and a corset, and god forgive you if you dress her up wrong, because she won't.

I swear, I'm gonna frame that paragraph.

And for the other bit of trivia this even, from [personal profile] hl, about what I thought was a typo... but wasn't. Instead, it's a very cool adaptation of the language:
[Invitad@ is] to get around to referring to the person as male or female. In Spanish male is neutral, except it doesn't work so well (mostly like in English -- except that in Spanish you've to refer to gender in a lot of places), so in some net places, specially if the writing isn't formal, the '@' is used to get around that. It's because the male ending of the phrase would require an 'o', and the female one an 'a', and the '@' looks like an 'o' with an 'a' inside. It's like writing invitado/a except slightly prettier and slightly shorter...

I love what humans do with language.

And another one, this time from German:
The AutorInnen / AutorIn is a shorthand for saying Autoren and Autorinnen [male author and female author]. The capital i in the middle means that it is supposed to stand for both forms. It *looks* like a generic femininum with the i (which usually you can recognize the femals version of the word by) capitalized, but is specifically meant to include males, too. It's just a stylistic form that not everyone is fond of (it's a bit leftist/feminist. also, possibly "out"). But I think for the purpose of keeping the lines as short as possible it would be preferrable to always saying "Male and Female Authors".

One of the most fascinating aspects of language, especially in gendered languages, is how people have figured out ways to adapt those gendered forms into a world where we're starting to incorporate -- explicitly incorporate, that is -- both men and women. Just like the old English argument over whether "him" and "he" really is inclusive for "her" and "she", or how saying "the world of man" is supposed to automatically include women, even if the message becomes that only men are worth mentioning and women are an afterthought... the ways we take language and poke here and pull there to make it start changing to reflect new priorities, sheesh, I could go on about man's human linguistic inventiveness all day.
kaigou: Sorry to barge in, but we have a slight apocalypse. (2 real size)
Trying to Write the Southern Accent
I believe the number of Southerners with writeable accents is declining. Writing Southernese is as much about the arrangement of words and word choice as it is the sound. You don't have to underscore a character's southern-ness by dropping g's and throwing in a bunch of Populist apostrophes after n's--as in, I'm fixin' to go ridin' with Billy Bob. If the character hasn't earned it, or you aren't masterful, the phonetic hand-holding tortures readers--the economic use of y'all or original word arrangement (like a double modal) will do in most cases.

Reminds me of the fact that most of the Georgia side of my family would use the expression "losing my religion," which became suddenly very popular due to some no-name Georgia band. *cough* Except that when that song came out, I was living in New England, and it seemed no one had the least clue was the phrase meant; they seemed to take the song as some kind of atheist anthem or something.

The phrase actually means "hopping mad," of a level so great you've started cussing. Possibly a blue streak of cussing, even. Though I can't recall any of my father's family ever actually losing their religion; they were more like to say, "I was near to losing my religion," meaning it was only through supreme force of will that they refrained from saying exactly what was on their mind, with colorful extras.

(It doesn't always mean angry, though. My grandfather often came near to losing his religion anytime he slammed his thumb in the workshop. Extreme pain that makes you want to yell out loud suffices, in other words.)
kaigou: Sorry to barge in, but we have a slight apocalypse. (Default)
Japan's Cinderella Motif- Beauty Industry and Mass Culture Interpretations of a Popular Icon — Laura Miller

Too much evo-psych but still important observation, from Psychology Behind The Cinderella Complex:
...there is also a division between the smart and the pretty girl. “We can’t do both, evidently,” Fraser said. “And if you are both, then you’re universally hated by both men and women; women because they’re jealous of you, and men because they don’t know what to do with you.” She said that a woman “who is living up to her potential is often cast aside or becomes a social outcast.”

From Wiki's entry on prestige (sociolinguistics):
Some instances of contact between languages with different prestige levels have resulted in diglossia, a phenomenon in which a community uses a high prestige language or dialect in certain situations—usually for newspapers, in literature, on university campuses, for religious ceremonies, and on television and the radio—but uses a low prestige language or dialect for other situations—often in conversation in the home or in letters, comic strips, and in popular culture. Linguist Charles A. Ferguson's 1959 article "Diglossia" listed the following examples of diglossic societies: in Switzerland, Swiss Standard German and Swiss German; in the Middle East and North Africa, Standard Arabic and vernacular Arabic; in Haiti, Standard French and Kréyòl; in Greece, Katharevousa and Dhimotiki; and in Norway, Bokmål and Nynorsk.

Although those (I gather) are significant linguistic differences between prestige and standard, couldn't a situation like Southern/non-Southern be considered a kind of diglossia? My understanding is that code-switching is when you mix two languages (dialects?) in the same sentence/breath, like a kind of maladapted or hyper loanword use. Diglossia sounds more like a complete switch, like what I do when speaking with relatives versus the way I speak at work. It also sounds like what people are talking about for Black Americans, who switch easily from Standard American at work to Black American while with friends/family or non-work situations. As others mentioned on earlier threads, that as long as you use those structures and expressions, you're still speaking "Southern" even if your accent is soft (or non-existent), the accent of Southern American, like Black American, is not the key feature. It's the significant differences in the grammatical structure as well as the idiomatic expressions.

Now I am reminded of that segment from Airplane: "Oh stewardess! I speak jive."



Tangential note: out of curiosity, I just looked up jive, wondering where the name itself (jive) originated. Still no idea on that one, but I did just learn that linguistically, African-American Vernacular English (AAVE, or what I was calling Black American) is a creole. The bit about prestige dialects remains at the forefront of my lizard brain right now, so that popped back in as I got to the section about Ebonics... and I gotta say, I loathe that term. The political ramifications aren't helped by a strange kind of verbal synesthesia, where the capital E + the bon looks... I don't know how to put it. Like something you'd call a child's music toy, or something. Not quite plastic-cheap, but that kind of reaction. Hard to qualify/express.

However, it seems to me there's a prestige, of a sort, when a dialect is known as a creole, probably in part because of the association with "creole" and "New Orleans" (in terms of cultural import/impact). New Orleans is, and hopefully will continue to be, a huge cultural value for America. So maybe we have an association, thanks to that, that lends prestige to "creole", regardless of whether the listener understands the linguistic differentiation. I think maybe it's also because most people are aware that "creole" (unlike the maligned notion of 'pidgin') is a dialect-into-language. Credibility, perhaps, that isn't granted by a bizarre and frankly stupid invented-word like Ebonics?

Strange, to be reminded yet again (as though I could forget) that words really do make all the difference. Instead of Ebonics and its ridiculous assumption that the non-Standard English is a sign of Black American childrens' lesser communication skills (oh please)... by emphasizing the creole aspect, the truth becomes: Black American children are actually gaining a skill many Standard-American speaking children don't gain: multilingualism. There are huge benefits to having that kind of multi-linguistic exposure as small children, not the least of which is a facility to learn other languages, because the brain is already used to switching back and forth -- and we've got more than just American-English vs non-English languages, we've also got computer languages, these days.

Too bad I'm never a hiring manager, or I think this would be a valuable trait in potential developers. Someone who can code-switch (or use diglossia) between a creole and Standard American is possibly also someone who can do the same with computer-language syntax. It's just one more way of adapting and working with language, and long experience in code-switching gives you the tools to apply the same in a new area. I think that'd be incredibly valuable (especially in industries like mine, which are always stumbling over and into new developments that then need to be integrated with the old).

Then again, I'm not a hiring manager... nor has any hiring manager ever given even a moment's notice to the languages I've studied. Or maybe it's just that as far as I know, I've never had a direct manager who isn't mono-lingual. Maybe you only recognize the value when you're multi-lingual yourself, or spend most of your time in multi-lingual environments, enough to realize that mono-lingual is... well, it's a drawback. It's not something to be proud of.

Also, awesome quote: "A language is just a dialect with an army."

whois

kaigou: Sorry to barge in, but we have a slight apocalypse. (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

April 2014

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