Archive | June, 2008

The New English

30 Jun

I have a promise with my teacher. (I should meet my friend).

I live in apartu. (I live in an apartment building.)

The movie was so-so. (The movie was boring.)

These are just a few examples of Konglish, another dialect of English, like Chinglish and Singlish, Michael Erard lampoons and warns about.

Any language is constantly evolving, so it’s not surprising that English, transplanted to new soil, is bearing unusual fruit. Nor is it unique that a language, spread so far from its homelands, would begin to fracture. The obvious comparison is to Latin, which broke into mutually distinct languages over hundreds of years — French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian. A less familiar example is Arabic: The speakers of its myriad dialects are connected through the written language of the Koran and, more recently, through the homogenized Arabic of Al Jazeera. But what’s happening to English may be its own thing: It’s mingling with so many more local languages than Latin ever did, that it’s on a path toward a global tongue — what’s coming to be known as Panglish. Soon, when Americans travel abroad, one of the languages they’ll have to learn may be their own.

Yet, when South Koreans come to do business, will native speakers tolerate this creativity? And, how much time and money will be wasted because two interlocutors believe that they are speaking in the same language, when suddenly they realize each person’s speech is indecipherable to the other?

Really, it’s just laziness condoned.

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Civil Brokaw

30 Jun

Tom Brokaw ushered in Meet the Press‘ post -Russert era, with a wimper.

MR. BROKAW: You’re sitting on a mountain of coal here in Wyoming.

GOV. FREUDENTHAL: Sure are.

MR. BROKAW: Montana’s doing the same thing.

GOV. FREUDENTHAL: Yeah.

Brokaw’s questioning reverted to long prefaces with little punch, hardly the prosecutorial spin Russert dished out. With the on-site location in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the two sessions, followed by commentary by Chuck Todd, seemed to indicate a tentativeness about MTP‘s future direction, as if Brokaw were leary of the big table back in the studio. Or, he was trying to wip the slate clean.

But, it does seem MTP will be nicer and more conventional now.

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Japanese Casualties of the DPRK Nuclear Declaration

30 Jun

In the wake of DPRK’s nuclear declaration, followed by Washington’s de-listing of Pyongyang from its terrorist watch list, Japan’s Liberal Democrats and Ichiro Ozawa, according to two Observing Japan reports, are reacting badly. Not only has the Bush administration placated Pyongyang for Beijing’s good graces, but Japan worries it is sidelined.

Firstly, LDP conservatives feel betrayed by the Bush administration.

In his memoir, Abe Shinzo wrote of his lonely fight alongside Nakagawa Shoichi and a handful of other LDP conservatives to oppose normalization with North Korea and place the abductions issue at the center of Japan’s North Korea policy. They battled against the LDP, the media, academia, and the foreign ministry to force them to consider the plight of the abductees before providing North Korea with aid and clearing the way to diplomatic recognition.

Here we are in 2008 and Mr. Abe got his wish. Resolving the abductees issue has become a primary goal of Japan’s North Korea policy, a goal that enjoys substantial support in the public, the media, and the LDP. The US is pilloried for giving (symbolic) ground to North Korea without resolution of the issue and the Fukuda government is pilloried for letting the US shift happen. Mr. Abe, Hiranuma Takeo, and other conservatives set the tone on North Korea.

And, the opposition Democrats’ leader, Ichiro Ozawa took aim at both Washington and the LDP, and earned Washington’s disgust.

In short, Mr. Ozawa was making an election pitch to the people of Okinawa in this press conference. He was arguing that LDP governments over the past seven years have failed to stand up for Japan and have failed to articulate and defend Japan’s national interests, preferring instead to hope that the US will defend Japan’s national interests. Again, his position is less critical of the US for “abandoning” Japan than critical of LDP-led governments for leaving Japan in a position to feel abandoned in the first place.

Again, the clumsy giant trips over itself and its friends.

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