The “hidden” poverty in Japan and its effect on the future

A documentary on tonight’s NHK titled “The Hidden Poverty” said 1-in-6 children are under the living in poverty. Only until recently has the government began surveying this. What makes it hidden is that families are finding ways to make ends meet but at the expense of the children education. Some senior high school students are taking on not one but two part-time jobs. Stories of junior high and elementary school students foregoing beneficial activities like club participation and extracurricular studies simply because the family cannot afford it, all the while they keep quiet about their condition.

This problem will only become apparent in ten or twenty years time when those who suffered from this disadvantage become members of society. And unless we start talking about it will be too late to forestall the problems.

The only way, then, is to make this invisible problem visible. Like language teaching, the invisible things need to be made visible and therefore analyzable and teachable. Without visibility things are difficult to understand. We are creatures in the habit of making things observable. We do this with language, turning all into tangible objects and spaces.

Why I am over buying interactive ebooks 

There are some great books in interactive media format for iOS devices. Two that I regularly read for fun are The Philosophy Book and The DK Illustrated Bible – Story by Story (no, I am not Christian. I am still a devout Buddhist). They make reading on the iPad and iPhone fun. 

Or they did

As Apple regularly updates their operating system – iOS – compatible versions of apps quickly become obsolete. So when my Ebooks start to pop up messages saying they may slow my device down my faith in them wanes. 

One of the greatest inventions was created over 500 years ago. It was portable, long lasting, accurate, required no batteries and durable. You could drop it and it would not break. Infinitely cheaper and it requires no update. It is everywhere even today but its popularly has decreased. I suspect it will rebound though, come back into fashion due to its endearing and enduring qualities. 

It is the book

Luckily I have not invested in electronic books heavily, continuing to buy books as I had done so for the last four decades. In the worst-case scenario when the world is on the brink of collapse I doubt anything electronic will survive. But our culture will still be found and understood through the books that exist everywhere today, even if we perish through our errors in lifestyle and character. 

Notes for setting up Periscope Producer on OBS

In order to start using OBS with your Periscope account you need to first activate Periscope Producer. Here are the steps.

  1. apply for Periscope Producer here
  2. after receiving your confirmation email force restart your Periscope
  3. go to Settings > Advanced Sources
  4. take note of your source connection information

Start OBS and

  1. go to Settings > Stream
  2. fill in the source connection information
  3. go to > Output
  4. enter Video Bitrate “800”
  5. enter Audio Bitrate “64”
  6. click “OK”

All the settings are complete and you are now ready to start streaming.

How to take a screenshot on MacOS

To take a screenshot of the entire screen display

  1. press command+shift+3.

To take a portion of the screen

  1. press command+shift+4
  2. click and drag to the diagonal corner of the desired area.

To take a screen of a particular window or menu

  1. press command+shift+4
  2. press space bar
  3. place cursor over desired window
  4. click mouse button or touchpad

Why we should care about literacy?

While you are reading this you should think about how effortlessly you are doing so. And by being able to you are have (I hope) learnt something valuable. At least we, as human beings, have connected.

According to Derrida, writing is marked by absence. what he means by this is that the containers we call words do not really have a stable and full meaning. Saussure pointed out the arbitrariness of the signifier and the signified to mean as much.

Nonetheless words have meaning. Otherwise, all that we say, all that try to convey with words would be useless and empty gestures.

Writing serves as memory. Before things were committed to paper (velum or whatever other material) we learnt things by rote, things were committed to memory. The Buddha, Jesus and Socrates all left nothing in writing, but those who followed did write about them, for better or worse. Whichever way, writing is important. And printing perfected reiteratability. Without writing the internet perhaps would be relying on images alone. And while a picture may be worth a thousand words I wouldn’t trade it in for a single one of these words here.

No, literacy empowers. How else would I have a chance to know about the history of China, the philosophy of Kant and Wittgenstein, read the latest news, know that the dinner is in the microwave oven, or that today is International Literacy Day.

International Phonetic Alphabet symbols online keyboard

Did you know you can type phonetic symbols without needing to install fonts onto your computer’s operating system or word processor? Simply go to ipa.typeit.org and enter the symbols you cannot get normally. Have fun. ;)

Talk about search engine dominance

Just how dominant is Google as a search engine portal?

Let’s just say of the 221,721 search referrals to my blog over a nine year period 95% are from Google, 2% from Bing, and 1% from Yahoo!. The remaining two percent is made up of various smaller search engines.

Screenshot 2016-08-13 09.26.12

While the true market share of the search engines are 72% for Google, 10% for Bing and 7%  for Yahoo! it just goes to show if you are small fry like me it still pays to be better known in the main search engine.

Screenshot 2016-08-13 09.22.36.png

Either way Google still is dominant beyond belief.

What I have learnt from linguistics

There isn’t a day that each and everyone for us doesn’t use language in some way. We need it to communicate and interact with people. Unless you live by yourself in a remote forest or island we will use language.

Languages are not made equal. What I mean by this is that languages, like everything else, follow patterns. Some language patterns are more common than others. SOV (subject-object-verb) and SVO (subject-verb-object) are the two most common sentence patterns across languages. Together they make up about 90 percent of all language types. The remaining four possible patterns (OVS, OSV, VSO and VOS) make up the other 10 percent.

Having the subject come first makes sense since it is the most important part of the sentence – what the sentence is about. The verb – what the subject is doing – then should come next. I stress should because SOV is actually the slightly more common type. By enclosing the object maybe just as effective, then.

Continue reading What I have learnt from linguistics

A quick introduction to Japanese syntax and particles

The Japanese language is considered syntactically a Subject-Object-Verb or SOV language in contrast to English which is considered a subject-Verb-Object or SVO language, as these two example sentences will show.

(1) Ken wa (S) tama wo (O) uchimashita (V).
(2) Ken (S) hit (V) the ball (O).

While it is not possible to move the syntactical elements around in English without a changing its meaning, it is possible in Japanese. Why this is so is due partly to particles (助詞). Particles mark the syntactic role of the word or phrase before it. By doing so this means the entire phrase including the particle can move to any other position within a sentence without losing its marked role.

The ‘wa’ and ‘wo’ in (1) are particles.

The English syntactic elements, however, are not marked whatsoever by particles (particles do not exist in English) and only show their syntactic distinction to other elements within the sentence unit by its relative position to each other. The sentence is therefore the unit. The rearranged syntactic units of (3) below in contrast to (2) has a now a completely different meaning because of the changed positions of the subject (S) and object (O).

(3) The ball (S) hit (V) Ken (O).

So Japanese is considered an SOV language because most often the elements follow this order and not because it is fixed by its position like English. But English learners of Japanese can safely assume this structure for learning purposes.

文法用語の最低限語彙

私の考え方では文法用語は大事なのに十分教えていると思わない。または教えてもただ日本語訳だけ与える。それは教えていると言えない。

全て知るも必要ではない。幾つかの役に立つ用語だけで良いと思う。どれが役に立つだろう?そして幾つの用語が必要だろう?私にとってはたったの13だけで十分と思う。二種類で一つの種類は8、もう一つの種類は5。これです。一種類目は

  • 名詞
  • 動詞
  • 形容詞
  • 副詞
  • 代名詞
  • 冠詞
  • 前置詞
  • 接続詞

と二種類目

  • 主語
  • 動詞
  • 補語
  • 目的語
  • 副詞句

気づいてほしいのは【動詞】が両方の種類に入っていること。その理由は用語では動詞少なくても二つの意味がある。なぜこういう風に種類を二つに分ければとわかってたら動詞の二つの意味も覚えるだろう。

一つ目の種類は「語彙の変化仕方」タイプと考えれば良いだ。もう一つの種類は「文の中の役割」タイプと考えれば良いだ。

語彙を辞書に引くと一つ目の用語しか出てこない。なぜかというと名詞は主語のところでも、目的語のところでも(文の中の役割関係なく)同じ名詞のだ。このワンポイント覚えておきましょう。