Archive for the 'linguistics' Category

you learn something new every day

An ailurophile is a cat lover! And the dog equivalent is cynophile!

learning a new language

Somehow it feels like all the words I’ve encountered are floating freely in the space of my mind, waiting to be tethered down into the right places with the laws of grammar…

keng bos?

Learning a new language is always…… painful. But now at least I can say, ‘Teng bong! Yo (name). Yo papiah Inggres, China, Singgres kon Kristang. Mutu grandi merseh!’

Translation: ‘How are you? I am (name). I speak English, Chinese and Kristang. Thank you very much!’ In Kristang, of course!

NB Title of this entry means ‘Who (are) you?’ Sophie’s World, a primer on Western philosophy, begins with the eponymous heroine opens her mailbox to find a note with the question ‘Who are you?’ I read that book when I was 14 and enjoyed it tremendously.

back to school

Rushing to NUS for a 9 am lesson and ending up being late (thankfully, a few others were even later than I was!) certainly brought back memories of the bad ol’ days. Reliving horrid history aside, my very first Kristang lesson this morning was a blast.

At one point, I asked the teacher Kevin if Kristang had any inflections, and he said no, which made it quite simple to learn (which means that it’s probably an analytic language). During the break, one middle-aged lady (who works at the university) told me she thought I was a teacher when she heard me ask about inflections. Haha!

We also played a number of fun games to reinforce the grammar. One was going over to another group to ask them what languages they spoke – all in simple Kristang, of course Our guest teacher, an elderly Eurasian called Mr Bernard Mesenas, commented that I was very serious during this activity, which was very good. :D

(And this is the first time I’m doing a ‘third’ language, not counting studying Japanese at the Ministry of Education Language Centre way back when I was in Secondary 1. The journey from the centre to home was long and tiring, and I gave up the ghost after four months of twice-weekly lessons.)

an endangered language

Way back in my previous life as an linguistics undergrad, I learnt about Kristang, a highly endangered creole spoken mainly by Eurasians of Portuguese descent in Singapore and Malaysia. (I am not one myself.) If I remember correctly, I had toyed with the idea of writing about the language for my ISM paper, but I obviously didn’t speak it nor know anyone who could. Eventually I focused on something else instead.

Last month, I came across this article (which was originally found here). The author, Melissa De Silva, mentioned that she’d been attending Kristang lessons conducted by undergrad Kevin Martens Wong, and best of all, the second round of classes would be starting soon! What an incredible opportunity! Naturally I emailed Kevin to sign up.

Yesterday, Kevin sent all of us an extremely comprehensive email to ‘clear up outstanding administrative matters, and to provide you with details about getting to class and what to bring’. (Word informed me that it was actually 3489 words – much longer than most of the essays I had to write in university! LOL.) Reading it made me quite excited but also a little worried cos I left school eons ago. In her article, Melissa noted that Kevin ‘basically learned Kristang on his own by reading up (and memorising!) the scant available material on the language, such as dictionaries and books and poetry collections written by … Joan Marbeck’, so I’m hoping it won’t be too difficult.

Now, I’m counting down the days to my very first lesson!!! :D

you learn something new every day

Just read my friend G’s blog post on alternatives for national service, where I learnt the term ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’, used primarily to insult the French.

you learn something new every day

To end on a high note, a great speech should have a great peroration!

you learn something new every day

Sometimes I find my YLSNED posts are rather otiose (new word alert!), but hopefully someone else in the great wide world out there finds them educational all the same. :D

you learn something new every day

There’s apparently a whole school of superstitions surrounding the Shakespearean play Macbeth!

you learn something new every day

When I first saw the word adamantine, I recalled the fictional metal alloy adamantium (the substance bonded to the Wolverine’s skeleton and claws). Both share the same root word, adamant, which comes from the Latin adamantem, meaning ‘adamant, hardest iron, steel’.

you learn something new every day

Wrote this sentence down after being hit by a bolt of afflatus!

you learn something new every day

Divagate, which sounds more like a scandal, is a synonym for digress.

you learn something new every day

Chinese translator of Don Quixote dies at 105

BEIJING • Chinese playwright, author and translator Yang Jiang died yesterday at the age of 105, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told Xinhua news agency.

Madam Yang was fluent in English, French and Spanish, and her translations of classics such as Don Quixote and French picaresque novel Gil Blas remain the definitive versions for Chinese readers.

Born Yang Jikang in Beijing, Madam Yang studied at Soochow University and then Tsinghua University in the 1930s. She was married to Mr Qian Zhongshu, well-known for his novel Fortress Besieged that depicted the lives of Chinese intellectuals in the 1930s. Mr Qian died in 1997.

Madam Yang’s death was the top search term on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo yesterday, Associated Press reported.

The Straits Times, 26 May 2016

Read the following brief and misread ‘picaresque novel‘ as ‘picturesque novel’ at first, and wondered what kind of book it was. Did a double take and realized it was a totally different word!

you learn something new every day

‘It’s too hot for palavering!’ Sounds like almost every other day on our sunny island set in the sea.

you learn something new every day

Minatory means ‘expressing or conveying a threat’.


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