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.

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.

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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. Stories are a way to access other people’s thoughts. In this sense we should be careful about what and how we read.