Are dialects worth learning?

If you want to learn and to know a language and culture better, then yes. Dialects are really subcultures. So learning them means you understand a subgroup of people better. And contrast that with the main culture and you will understand the people and overall language a whole lot better. It is a win-win situation for your learning. More

The system of a language

When a Japanese says he can’t understand why English will differentiate between singular and plural but won’t differentiate between older and younger sister (like the Japanese language) then I could say the same thing about Japanese not differentiating between singular and plural. Circular argument. A language must “decide” on what to emphasise due to language…More

Some thoughts on language and culture

Language is culture. So if you want to learn to speak a language you need to understand the culture in which it is spoken. And it is this that many don’t understand about their first language, that their ability to speak it is from their immersion – being in the midst of the culture –…More

Exposure to Language

“Reading is more important than writing.” — Roberto Bolaño Without exposure to a language one will never master it. That exposure can come in many forms but the best form is culture. Culture and language are essentially the same thing. There will be no language if there is no culture the opposite is also true.…More

Tie Fighters and cultural unconsciousness

I spend a lot of time thinking about language, even when buying presents for my kids. This year I got the Lego Tie Fighter for my son (deep down the toy is for me but I believe we have kids so that we can continue our childhood into adulthood). For most of my life I…More

Our Fictions

Why are we — as a species — so hopelessly addicted to narratives about the fake struggles of pretend people? Good question. We are a strange species. Our access to the thoughts of others has given us morality. It gives us society as we know it. Without this ability we would not be much more than just another animal.…More

Respect for teachers – Japan at the bottom of the heap

According to a quiz question on Sekai no Hate Made Itte Q (The Quiz Show that Goes to the Ends of the Earth [for answers]) Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, The Philippines and Romania rank first (with 100%) as countries in which their tecahers are respected most by their students. Second was Italy and Third was…More

Literature, second language, authenticity, passion

I have fond memories of my undergraduate days as a Japanese major. To me they were exciting times. The world was seemingly spinning at a furious pace. The people I met were doing things, going places. My future was ahead of me. My future now, of course, is still ahead of me (metaphorically, can it…More

Language death and the preservation of Australian indigenous cultures

Before British colonialisation began there in 1788, around 250 aboriginal languages were spoken in Australia by an estimated one million people. Only a few dozen languages remain and the communities number around 470,000 people in a nation of 22 million. It is often said that language is culture. So 250 languages spoken means the existence…More