wow: amazing!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Your Personal Lexicon (Interview Included)

In my class: The English Language (a beginning linguistics class), we were discussing how each person has a "personal" lexicon. A lexicon, by definition, is about the same thing as a "vocabulary" of words. A lexicon is the full range of words available for use. Every language, dialect, and person has their own lexicon Many factors contribute to the fomation of any lexicon, but the lexicon of a single human is unique, in that it grows according to the owner's willingness to expand it, and the areas which recieve the most attention. . . well, those all depend on the the individusl spesker's own interests and/or environment.

I've done a lot of brainstorming for this project entry and have become convinved that it will be VERY difficult to single out just a few examples and scenarios The material is endless! Every person I've met in my life would make a good example - as would I myself. My own vocabulary, I'm sure, reflects something of my "personal culture."

A good example of a background influenced lexicon is my mother's. I'd never given it much thought before, but my mother does use a few words which are distinct - not words used by others. Most of them are slang words, or phrases, or words used only in a joking context, albeit they reflect her background. She loves to, for example, say "ya ya bet ya," when she does a comical impression of the stereotypical though non-existant (in reality) speech of Northern Minnesotans. The reason she has fun with this, though, is due to her Norweigan heritage.

My grandma (whose grandma cane here from Norway, and who actually has command of a quite impressive lexicon of Norweigian words) has a great Scandinavian influence on her family. Because of her, we have developed the tradition of making lefse for every holiday, buying sven and ole gag gifts (such as joke books) for each other, and now I'm even enrolled in a college course focussed on the Scandinavian region - purely for self interest (it fulfills absolutely none of my major, minor, or liberal education requirements).

Anyway, back to my mother's language. She often uses phrases that reflect not only the era she grew up in, but also a few from my grandma's era, that she picked up from my grandma's use of them ( one such phrase is "to get your goat" - which means to "get the best of you" or "to bother you.") I first heard her use this phrase when I was a young child, and I had no idea where the heck it came from, or what it meant. Though, I've heard it enough now that maybe, by the time I'm her age, I'll have made a habit of using it too.

The concept of having a personal lexicon is pretty universal. Below, is an interview where I questioned a friend of mine. My friend is Chinese, but she'd lived in Japan since about middle school, and is now a college student - studying here in the U.S. Anything in (.....) is not a quote - just an explanation. Also, this will not be a formal interview - since the person I am interviewing is a good friend of mine.

Me - Do you ever notice people in the city Osaka useing words that aren't use in other Japanese cities?

Her - Ya, of course. IT's called Osaka dialogue. In Japan we have lots of dialogues. Osaka dialogue is used in Osaka province. The city Osaka is just one of the cities in the province.

Me - What are some of those words, translated into English?

Her - They say "you know," but not as a question. (It would be the same as here when we say, for example, "You better wear a coat outside, cause it's winter, you know.)

Her (continued) - One most used Osaka diologue word is "yanen". (She then described to me how this is just something that they add, in Osaka, to the end of a sentence where a person is telling something. The word has no real translation into English.)

Her (continued) - In Osaka dialogue they use the word "hen." It neans "not" or "to deny." The correct way to say it is "hei" but in Osaka they say "hen."

Me - Do your parents ever use words that only their generation used? - words that the new generation doesn't use?

Her - They use words that are names of foods, that the younger generation doesn't eat anymore. So, the younger people don't know what those foods are.

Me - I've heard that sometimes young people in a few foreign countries will copy the rap and hip hop lingo of the U.S.? Do young Japanese ever copy the rap lingo from intercity areas in the U.S.? For example: hey, wasssup, yo yo yo?

Her - Ya, some young people say that, say "Yo." It's a common greeting.

Me - Would you ever catch your parents saying that?

Her - No, only between young people.

Me - Did you ever confuse your parents by using a slang word when you talk to them?

Her - Usually when I talk to my parents I talk to them in Chinese. There isn't much Chinese slang.

Her (continued) - Maybe new technilogy they don't know. Like, if we say "burn cd" in Japanese, they won't know what that means.


Thus, weather we use words from a past era, a distinct regional dialect, our ethnic heritage, or any other area of particular interest to us, those words are clues that we unwillingly put forth - clues that say more about us than we ever could known. We often make unconscios assessments of peoples based on the language they use. This topic, of course, as broad as it is, could just as easily be suited for an entire book as it is for a blog essay. But, the main idea of it is something we can all think about - something that we maybe havn't thought about that consciously before.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Feast of Nations

Last year, I had a really great time at the Feast of Nations. What the Feast of Nations is, is an even where the international students on campus have a chance to make food from, wear clothes from, and do dances from their home countries. (Or just do funny skits, sing a song. . . . or pretty much anything they want to do on stage.) American students can participate too.

It's really an amazing event. You get to see the attire of, and sample the food of many many many countries. You buy tickets for one dollar each at the door, and then you can get a small ptate of food at booths from any countries of your choice.

Really, American food is pretty flavorless and redundant - compared to the spice and variety of foods from some countries. American spices are salt and pepper. Ah Ha ha ha. Here's a brief summary of a few of the foods I saw and tried last year.

China - It was at China's booth that I first tried tofu (for the very first time.) Before that, I hadn't really even known what it was. I love it now, and have even made it for myself once or twice (though what I make isn't half as good as what I ate there! ) It is a white fluffy substance made from beans, that is usually cubed and marinated, and then either boiled or fried. The thing that makes it a delicacy, is that it soaks up flavor sooooo well! - like nothing else does!

Finland - The most interesting booth was Finland. In fact, it was so so interesting that I didn't even dare to try the food there. The food was some sort of flatbread or cracker with a sort of cheese, and shark meat on it - and the other thing was cubed sheep's brain on a toothpick. Now, don't take what I say as truth, because I could have heard the lady wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's what she said it was. That was just too unfamiliar for me. I probably should of tried it. I bet it is very good, or else they wouldn't eat it!

Russia - Ooooh. This was my FAVORITE booth! To this day, Russian pancakes are still one of my most favorite foods that I can ever remember eating. EVER! The pancakes themselves are thinner than our usual ones, yet thicker than a crepe. They are absolutely delicious! But, the best part is the variety of ingredients that you can roll up into them! Here are just the choices that they had at the booth: sour creme, mashed potatoes, diced apple pieces in sauce, other fruit fillings. Ooooh, there is so much more out there than just syrup! I like how they roll up the pancakes so you can hold them in your hands too. In America, where finger foods dominate, how come we still eat ours on a plate . . . with a fork? But then, what do I know. Maybe Russians eat their rolled up pancakes with forks too, and I was perhaps just an American who didn't know how to eat them properly!

Japan - Some of my Japanese friends has a booth with sushi. I didn't get any though, because I had tried it once before, and was too busy trying all the foods there I'd never seen! (Although I love Japanese food!)

Nepal - This booth, I think it was, had an orange spicey sort of potatoe dish, which was very good, but I'm not sure how to describe it.

Malaysia - Here, I got the snow cone of my dreams! It was a ball of shaved in a cup with chocolate, peanuts and sweet and condensed milk on the bottom, and fruit (like pineapple and strawberry) and chocolate drizzled over the top. It was an amazing dessert - fit for one of the best and definately the most diverse meal of my life.

Wasn't sure what to write

I have to say, when I sit down to write one of these project blogs, I sometimes don't really know where it will go. But, as we've learned in class, that is how blogging is supposed to be, so I suppose it's all right. I usually wouldn't mention anything about the writing process itself in my blog, but since it's nearing the end of the year, and it's past midterm, I'm due for writing a few more "reflective" posts - as I'd contracted that I would do.

So, it just so happens that this is one of those times when I don't really know what to write. But, even as I physically type that I "don't know what to write," I'm beginning to form some ideas in my mind. This has often been the case - when I've written blogs for this class. Sometimes I go to the computer knowing exactly what I want to say, and other times - like now - I can't really think of much at all, untill I start putting words on the screen.

Also, I've noticed that the busier I am with school, the harder it is to come up with really good and blog worthy material. Maybe that's because I don't have much of a life to write about when I'm to busy to do much of anything but work. Also, it's hard to recall good material from the past when my mind is so preoccupied with the big garbled test, assignment, and due date filled mess of the present!

Hmm, I'm thinking of more things now - enough to fill a whole post. So, that means this is the end of this post - time to write on to a new one. My next post will be about the annual on campus event called the "Feast of Nations."

Well, now you know I come up with my blogs. How do you come up with yours?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Picture Tour

When you think about it - the world is a photogenic place. Really, our world is truly beautiful!

Below, is a picture of Ireland - a place I've wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. When I think of an Irish landscape, what usually comes to mind are brilliant green meadows and sheer seaside cliffs (like those in the movie "Far and Away").

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Below - is something similar to a "picture perfect" minnesota winter. Except, our snow hasn't been as deep as it had been in previous years. That is sad - since there can only be one cause for that. This picture, though, could also be said to resemble a European or Canadian countryside. I can't tell, but it appears as though there are mountains in the distance.

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See thae canyon below? It would be nice if I were exploring that canyon, rather than typing this assignment. In the Northern Eastern part of Minnesota, you could definately find a canyon very similar to this one. (especially when you get closer to the canadian border, or the more rocky Lake Superior region of the state.

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The following two paragraphs show how you can find such pictures (on your own) to use for postings in your own blog. So, for anyone in the world who happens to be wondering, and happens to stumble (I mean surf) onto this - here is something I hope you find helpful........ . . . . . . . . .

Her is a link to a place where you can find pictures that are availible for use. Some of them have partial rights reserved though, but you can also find lots of pictures that are 100% in the public domain. After you save a picture into your computer, you can go to Image Shack to get a code that you can paste to your blog. Use the code titled "Hotlink for Websites" or, for a smaller picture, the one titled "Thumbnail for websites." That code will then magically appear as a picture!

When you paste the code onto your blog, you need to be in the "edit HTML part"

If you ever have to put a code somewhere where an actual box for your url is provided [URL= ],chose the "Direct Link to Image" code then earase what is already in the url box - or the code will say URL twice at the beginning of the image, and the image will not show.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Always Learning

It seems like I'm always learning something - learning something new about other parts of the world, through what I'm told by friends, family members, travelers, and what I read and see on t.v. Movies could be counted too - except that I'm usually hesitant to believe a lot of what I see in movies - since movies tend to reflect the views of where they are made.

Many people I know, as I mentioned before, come from places where it is common to be fluent in multiple languages. Most of them tell me they'll return to their home countries, after college (and perhaps a few years of work in the U.S. - since already having work experience when they go home can help them secure a job faster. Some of them are from countries with extremely competitive job markets). Some of them, however, are unsure of whether they'll live here in the U.S. - for the long term - or return to their countries.

I am surprised too, to find myself thinking lately, that I am not sure (at all) where I want to live. I could end up living in another state or, basically, even anywhere in the world. A handfull of years ago, I wasn't even considering the second option. Even though I was interested in visiting other countries, I just always assumed that I would live in the U.S.. But, now I'm not even sure of that. It seems that the more I learn about other countries, the less I want to live here.

I can be sure of one thing though - even if I do not end up living in another country - I will (for sure) want to visit other countries often (once I have a job and the money to do so - of course).

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Cheer Internationally!

At the olympics, in women's figure skating the gold went to Japan's Shizuka Arakawa, silver went to the U.S.'s Sasha Cohen , and Silver went to Russia's Irena Slutskaya. Which one of these did you cheer for? In some countries, the most common answer would be "the person from my country" (if one of the three were from their country). Although, it's very common to find that people will cheer for athletes from an opposing country. This, I believe, is not a bad thing - not at all.

In fact, that's what the olympics is all about - people coming together and supporting one another based on their admiration for eachother's style, personality, uniqueness, and various other abilities - rather than what nationality they are. If someone finds inspiration in, and develops respect for the abilities of athletes from other countries (other than their own) - well then there'e no reason that they shouldn't cheer for them! Especially in something like the olympics!

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Perhaps I owe this open view, in part, to my family. As a young girl, when I would watch the olympic games with my dad, he would always say, "Lets cheer for this country. They havn't gotten a medal in years," or "Lets cheer for that country. That guy on their team had such a hard time trying to get to the olympics." My mother and brother would make similiar assertions as well.

My link to the Sasha Cohen article above (if the article still exists) tells the story of a prominent U.S figure skater, from this winter's Olympic games. The article says that if Cohen won gold it would "bring the U.S. its third straight olympic gold medal."

Therefore, I wasn't that sad - not sad at all - to see Japan's Shizuka Arakawa take the gold (especially when it was Japan's first gold medal in that event, and also their first gold medal of the Torino games. Furthermore, the finesse, power, and artistry of Arakawa's skating left no doubt,in my mind, that she truly deserved to take home a gold.

I also wouldn't have minded to see Russia's Irina Slutskaya win gold. She went through a lot to make it to Torino, and only succeeded because of her incredible strength and determination. If it weren't for her self motivation, she never would have skated and won silver on the rink below.

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Here is an article on Irina Slutskaya that, if you read it, will probably cause you to be an admiring fan of Slutskaya as well. She is level headed and willing to pull through seemingly anything to achieve her dream. I don't see how anyone could let the fact that she isn't from their country stop them from cheering for her!

Part f the reason, I believe, that people here often cheer for athletes of other countries is because of all the "personal or emotional stories" that our media so commonly elaborates on. The news tells us so much about specific athletes, that we almost start to feel like we know them. Sometimes, these television desscriptions even generate enough interest that they prompt people to look up further information about foreign athletes online.

My guess that these televised bios is what helps us develop interest in out of country athletes. This is a slightly educated guess, because I was talking to a Japanese friend of mine a year ago. . . . I told her how me and my family would often cheer for athletes from other countries, plus our reasons for doing so, and she basically said that people wouldn't do that quite as commonly in Japan. So, I asked her if, in Japan, they ever have televised bios of athletes from other countries (the kind that really make you feel like you know those athletes), and she said no. Apparently, the Japanese media doesn't focus on back stories and what's "behind the scenes" of the olympics - or at least not in the same way that ours does.

In summary, everyone who watches or participates in the olympics cheers for someone. And, in choosing who to support, people rely on a either personal preference, nationalism, any information they recieve via the media, or a combination of these things - along with other wide ranging, most likely uncountable, factors.

The Olympics: A Truly International Event

As far as International Events go, the Olympics are a shimmering example of the world becoming connected as a whole. The olympics is a time when all countries of the world share one dream, work towards the same goal and thus, seem more alike than different. Athletes from all different backgrounds support, admire, compete against, and cheer for eachother all at once.

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But that, however, is only the sugar coated surface of all that the olympics imply. The olympics are far more complex - especially on an individual level. You can view the olympics as a grandiose and collective - truly global - experience, or you can see them as an individual adventure (a personalized experience for each viewer and athlete).