Got to speak Japanese with George Takei!

 

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George Takei came to Edmonton last week to give a talk as part of a speaker series that our public library (EPL) has been running.   The talk itself was primarily a reflection on several chapters of his life, including being sent to a internment camp after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour–this period actually began with his family living in a barnyard horse stall while the camps were being constructed.

He then went on to weave his personal story of challenge and triumph, living most of his life feeling like he had to hide his sexuality, with the larger swaths of American social change, including the eventual recognition of same-sex marriage.

Having said that, he did manage to weave in a several lighter moments of laughter–some of the Q&A also got him into Star Trek trivia, and talking about connecting with people over social media.

Some of the themes were quite timely because the day before George spoke, the Canadian Prime Minister had offered a historic apology to the LGBTQ2 community in Canada.

After the talk was over, I had the good fortune of attending a smaller reception; since the line to speak to him wasn’t too long, I decided that I couldn’t pass up the chance—but what to ask?

As it got closer to my turn, it suddenly dawned on me to ask if he spoke Japanese at all. When I asked my question in English,  he responded in Japanese, asking if I could speak Japanese—- when I did, we had a nice conversation that lasted a few minutes.

In an interesting bit of serendipity, the woman behind me had also been to Japan and she too took the opportunity to speak with George in Japanese– when it was over, we got to chatting, and her father said “this is so interesting– I’d only ever really heard my daughter’s Japan story, so it was interesting to hear some of yours as well”.

Afterwards, it struck me that there was something quite poetic about his choice of words: “my Japan story”. But it’s true, though, isn’t it? When we learn another language, we really are penning our own ‘______ story’ in the context of that language and culture.

Anyway– a very neat experience for sure!

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Personal essay: The quiet tragedy of forgetting your first language

Powerful essay on language loss— worth reading: “We are told to maintain tradition but the world we now live in demands of us assimilation and expects of us compliance.”

 

22 days of Norwegian– “Your bear drinks beer”

The Norwegian streak is still alive!  After three weeks, I can see that whoever designed this Duolingo course has a charming sense of humour, teaching you with  phrases like “My wife doesn’t love me” or “Your bear drinks beer” (Bjørnen din drikker øl–see below).

I also found a Norwegian Netflix show called “Lilyhammer” (U.S. Mafia guy goes to Norway through the witness protection program– good fun so far (just a few episodes into the first season), but I have a sneaking feeling the plot is about to go off the rails in a dark direction like Breaking Bad……

 

 

 

Mandarin Scene from “The Martian”

Just following up on an idea from last year. I had transcribed the Mandarin Chinese scene from The Martian (CNSA deciding to lend booster to help the American astronaut stranded on Mars)— I had wanted to put the transcript to audio and make a video. This… is that.

Norwegian Duolingo day 15: vi liker Norsk!

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My Norwegian Duolingo streak is now at 15 days and I think I’m getting close to being “all in”. Apart from putting in a few minutes with the app, I’ve found myself checking out what kinds of Norwegian books and music are on the shelves at the library.

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Looking for something online, I googled “Norwegian comedy” and found a show called “Vikingane” that was dubbed as “Game of thrones meets Monty Python”.  I never really got into Game of Thrones, but I *loved* Monty Python when I was younger so I was intrigued by the description.  The first clip I found on youtube didn’t disappoint with this scene with the leader messing up an important ceremony because he isn’t much of an archer.

As I skimmed through the Youtube results, I stumbled upon the fact that they actually filmed the show in *both* English and Norwegian. The English version of season one is on Netflix (called “Norsemen”), and I think they’re on either season two or three online with the Norwegian version (Vikingane).  The Norwegian trailer below even included subtitles, so it will be a valuable media resource to come back to in the future.

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9 days of Norwegian

A ‘log’ post of the truest sense:  True to their promise, Duolingo makes a game out of the language learning process at makes it engaging (fun?) enough to keep you coming back.

I’m at a 9-day streak now and starting to wonder if Norwegian is charming me enough to finish the whole Norwegian Duolingo course.

A few random pictures below and a video that was just a test of something I’d always wanted to figure out (screen capture of ipad into quicktime video).

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