Friday, May 03, 2013

The joy of being a native speaker.




The joy of being a native speaker of a language is that you can play with it in an endless pleasure hunting. You can make stupid puns, create new expressions on the spot, and find hidden connections. You can tickle people with what you say.

With a second language it is difficult to do so, although you could certainly try. English is my second language, which I started to learn when I was 12. Thus, it is difficult to tickle people with what I  say or write in the language of Mr. Shakespeare. I hope I can make people ticklish with what I say someday, not through my clumsiness, failure, or misery, but as a fair result of my bold attempt to tickle people on the verbal front in my second language. 

2 comments:

(ma)gog said...

I would like to introduce this text from a high school textbook "Theory of knowledge" to you, just because your journal today reminded me of this interesting text.


Language and thought

Developing an awareness that language contains values, and a sensitivity to the possibility of being influenced by these values, is important because it helps us to retain our independence and not be influenced by 'weasel words'. However, some have suggested that the influence of language runs far deeper than values, and that the languages we speak determine what we can think. This might sound silly at first, but linguistic determinism is the idea that our thoughts are completely limited by our language and is sometimes called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, after the two anthropologists who suggested it. Particularly interesting evidence has been found from interviews with bilingual Japanese women living in America. These women were married to Americans and only spoke Japanese when they met each other- they used English the rest of the time. According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the way these women thought should vary according to which language they were using, and an experiment was conducted to see whether or not this was the case.

The experiment involved a bilingual Japanese interviewer who visited each woman twice. In the second interview, he asked them exactly the same questions, but only in English. The results are surprising; rather than giving the same answers but in different languages, as one might expect, the answers that were given examples where the same woman seemed to change her views completely.

'When my wishes conflict with my family's...

... it is a time of great unhappiness.' (Japanese)

... I do what I want.' (English)

'Real friends should...

... help each other.' (Japanese)

...be very frank.' (English)

Proponents of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis argue that the bilingual women 'lived in different language worlds' when they spoke English and Japanese, and this accounted for the difference in answers, attitudes and thoughts.


Sorry, this has been very long.
Anyway, I am hoping that your bold attempt will be successful! (have I spelled successful successfully?)

Felicity Grope said...

Very nice blog and very impressive English. The difficulty you might find with improving your English is that writers like Shakespeare are very good at breaking the rules. I think that's true of most writers of poetry, for example, or writers of comedy. Good wordplay is very hard to explain. It's like explaining why a great joke is funny.