Friday, 31 August 2012

Tiếng Việt: bảo, nó, sao, không, đến

Hoán đổi vị trí 5 chữ "bảo", "nó", "sao", "không", "đến" và cắm dấu câu, ta có thể xếp được khoảng 46 câu có nghĩa, hiểu được và chấp nhận được như sau:

1/ Sao nó bảo không đến?
2/ Sao bảo nó không đến?
3/ Sao không đến bảo nó?
4/ Sao nó không bảo đến ?
5/ Sao? Đến bảo nó không?
6/ Sao? Bảo nó đến không?
7/ Nó đến, sao không bảo?
8/ Nó đến, không bảo sao?
9/ Nó đến bảo không sao.
10/ Nó bảo sao không đến?
11/ Nó đến, bảo sao không?
12/ Nó bảo đến không sao.
13/ Nó bảo không đến sao?
14/ Nó không bảo, sao đến?
15/ Nó không bảo đến sao?
16/ Nó không đến bảo sao?
17/ Bảo nó sao không đến?
18/ Bảo nó: Đến không sao.
19/ Bảo sao nó không đến?
20/ Bảo nó đến, sao không ?
21/ Bảo nó không đến sao?
22/ Bảo không, sao nó đến?
23/ Bảo! Sao, nó đến không?
24/ Không bảo, sao nó đến?
25/ Không đến bảo nó sao?
26/ Không sao, bảo nó đến.
27/ Không bảo nó đến sao?
28/ Không đến, bảo nó sao?
29/ Không đến, nó bảo sao?
30/ Đến bảo nó không sao.
31/ Đến không? Bảo nó sao?
32/ Đến không? Nó bảo sao?
33/ Đến, sao không bảo nó ?
34/ Đến bảo nó sao không?
35/ Đến, sao nó không bảo.
36/ Đến, nó bảo không sao.
37/ Đến, nó không bảo sao?
38/ Đến, sao bảo nó không ?
39/ Không sao, bảo nó đến.
40/ Không! Sao bảo nó đến?
41/ Đến nó, bảo không sao.
42/ Đến, nó bảo: không sao
43/ Đến, nó bảo: không. Sao?
44/ Bảo nó đến, không sao.
45/ Bảo nó đến không? Sao?
46/ Bảo! Nó đến không? Sao?


i think i'm going insane

i think i'm going insane. i'm afraid at times i'm not right in the head. last week as i was being suicidal, when suddenly things fell apart and i crumbled, i got on a metro with swollen eyes and aching head, when things blurred and my ears caught no sound, i sat down on the seat and started reading my book. 2, 3 stops and there came a woman, the woman sat down diagonally across from me. light-coloured eyes and very pale skin, white blond hair, cosmic cobalt dress and white tights. and she started making herself up. i know no law's against it in public, and no one seemed bothered. except me. the woman started applying cream on her pale face. and she made faces, faces, as she turned her head slightly to the left to the right. you know, the faces a woman makes as she wears cosmetics? that's what i'm talking about. she made faces, faces, as she applied cream on her face. so at the beginning she looked a bit funny as her head slightly turned left and right in front of the little mirror in her hand, but after a while it got on my nerves and i asked myself why she hadn't finished. her hand kept moving and her head kept turning i couldn't focus i couldn't read. i tried to fix my gaze on the book but her movements kept breaking my attention. the woman next to her didn't care and other people didn't look. i tried to read but my concentration was lost. my head still ached, i yawned in exhaustion and sleepiness, the woman got on my nerves. like her movements worsened the pain. like her movements made me dizzy. 10 or 15 minutes passed i wondered why she still hadn't got it done. i thought i wanted to get something out of my backpack and hit her with it, hit her and hit her and beat her to death. and just when i was about to go mad she got off. 
finally i could breathe. 
i breathed. 
as though sometimes for no reason i'm on the verge of violence. 
and yesterday again i got on a metro and was irritated by a girl sitting opposite me. i had no headache i had no pain i had nothing to blame. curly brown hair, fair skin, black eyebrows and brown eyes, with a little mouth. when i sat down she'd already been there and when i got off she was still there. 30 minutes, the whole time i couldn't read my book, for every 3 minutes she turned on her phone and used it as a mirror, looked at herself, then stroked her eyebrows or fixed her hair or just touched her face for no reason. every 3 minutes. i swear the whole time i was sitting there she did it at least 10 times. more i think. more. afterwards she turned off her phone and put it down, then she looked dreamily outside, her lips pouting. from time to time she moved her tongue around in the little mouth, letting it touch the inside of her cheeks. dreamily as though hypnotised. 3 minutes later she again turned on the phone and looked at herself and again fixed her hair or touched her face gently. and put the phone down. and 3 minutes later she turned on the phone and used it as a mirror and fixed her hair. and so on and so on and so on. the whole time sitting opposite me. mechanically as though hypnotised. i think i'm going insane. 
in the end as i got off i turned around. 
she wasn't behind me. 
she didn't get off. 
i heaved a sigh of relief. 
finally i could breathe. 
i breathed. 
i think i'm going insane. sometimes i'm not right in the head. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

What's the matter? Tell me!

"... Gordon collapsed unexpectedly upon the bed; lay there inert and spiritless. His mouth, which habitually dropped a little open when his face was in repose, became suddenly helpless and pathetic.
"What's the matter?" asked Dean quickly.
"Oh, God!"
"What's the matter?"
"Every God damn thing in the world," he said miserably. "I've absolutely gone to pieces, Phil. I'm all in."
"I'm all in." His voice was shaking.
Dean scrutinized him more closely with appraising blue eyes.
"You certainly look all shot."
"I am. I've made a hell of a mess of everything." He paused. "I'd better start at the beginning --or will it bore you?"
"Not at all; go on." There was, however, a hesitant note in Dean's voice. This trip East had been planned for a holiday --to find Gordon Sterrett in trouble exasperated him a little.
"Go on," he repeated, and then added half under his breath, "Get it over with."
"I'm coming to that, Phil. I want to tell you frankly.
You're about the only man I can turn to in a matter like this. You won't mind if I just tell you frankly, will you, Phil?"
Dean stiffened a bit more. The pats he was bestowing on his knees grew perfunctory. He felt vaguely that he was being unfairly saddled with responsibility; he was not even sure he wanted to be told. Though never surprised at finding Gordon Sterrett in mild difficulty, there was something in this present misery that repelled him and hardened him, even though it excited his curiosity.
"Go on."
"Hm." Dean resolved that nothing was going to spoil his trip. If Gordon was going to be depressing, then he'd have to see less of Gordon.
"Why didn't you? You've got to buckle down if you want to make good," suggested Dean with cold formalism.
There was an awkward pause. Gordon lay very still, his hands clenched by his side.
"I'm all in," he continued, his voice trembling. "I'm half crazy, Phil. If I hadn't known you were coming East, I think I'd have killed myself. I want you to lend me three hundred dollars."
Dean's hands, which had been patting his bare ankles, were suddenly quiet --and the curious uncertainty playing between the two became taut and strained.
After a second Gordon continued:
"I've bled the family until I'm ashamed to ask for another nickel."
Still Dean made no answer.
"Jewel says she's got to have two hundred dollars."
"Tell her where she can go."
"Yes, that sounds easy, but she's got a couple of drunken letters I wrote her. Unfortunately she's not at all the flabby sort of person you'd expect."
Dean made an expression of distaste.
"I can't stand that sort of woman. You ought to have kept away."
"I know," admitted Gordon wearily.
"You've got to look at things as they are. If you haven't got money you've got to work and stay away from women." "That's easy for you to say," began Gordon, his eyes narrowing. "You've got all the money in the world."
"I most certainly have not. My family keep darn close tab on what I spend. Just because I have a little leeway I have to be extra careful not to abuse it."
He raised the blind and let in a further flood of sunshine.
"I'm no prig, Lord knows," he went on deliberately. "I like pleasure --and I like a lot of it on a vacation like this, but you're --you're in awful shape. I never heard you talk just this way before. You seem to be sort of bankrupt --morally as well as financially."
"Will you lend me the money, Phil?"
"I can't decide right off. That's a lot of money and it'll be darn inconvenient for me."
"It'll be hell for me if you can't --I know I'm whining, and it's all my own fault but --that doesn't change it."
"When could you pay it back?"
This was encouraging. Gordon considered. It was probably wisest to be frank.
"Of course, I could promise to send it back next month, but --I'd better say three months. Just as soon as I start to sell drawings."
"How do I know you'll sell any drawings?"
A new hardness in Dean's voice sent a faint chill of doubt over Gordon. Was it possible that he wouldn't get the money?
"I supposed you had a little confidence in me."
"I did have --but when I see you like this I begin to wonder."
"Do you suppose if I wasn't at the end of my rope I'd come to you like this? Do you think I'm enjoying it?" He broke off and bit his lip, feeling that he had better subdue the rising anger in his voice. After all, he was the suppliant.
"You seem to manage it pretty easily," said Dean angrily. "You put me in the position where, if I don't lend it to you, I'm a sucker --oh, yes, you do. And let me tell you it's no easy thing for me to get hold of three hundred dollars. My income isn't so big but that a slice like that won't play the deuce with it."
He left his chair and began to dress, choosing his clothes carefully. Gordon stretched out his arms and clenched the edges of the bed, fighting back a desire to cry out. His head was splitting and whirring, his mouth was dry and bitter and he could feel the fever in his blood resolving itself into innumerable regular counts like a slow dripping from a roof.
Dean tied his tie precisely, brushed his eyebrows, and removed a piece of tobacco from his teeth with solemnity. Next he filled his cigarette case, tossed the empty box thoughtfully into the waste basket, and settled the case in his vest pocket.
"Had breakfast?" he demanded.
"No; I don't eat it any more."
"Well, we'll go out and have some. We'll decide about that money later. I'm sick of the subject. I came East to have a good time.
"Let's go over to the Yale Club," he continued moodily, and then added with an implied reproof:
"You've given up your job. You've got nothing else to do."
"I'd have a lot to do if I had a little money," said Gordon pointedly.
"Oh, for Heaven's sake drop the subject for a while! No point in glooming on my whole trip. Here, here's some money."
He took a five-dollar bill from his wallet and tossed it over to Gordon, who folded it carefully and put it in his pocket. There was an added spot of color in his cheeks, an added glow that was not fever. For an instant before they turned to go out their eyes met and in that instant each found something that made him lower his own glance quickly. For in that instant they quite suddenly and definitely hated each other..."

"... "Hello, Gordon," called Edith over her partner's shoulder. Her heart was pounding wildly.
His large dark eyes were fixed on her. He took a step in her direction. Her partner turned her away --she heard his voice bleating -- -- " --but half the stags get lit and leave before long, so -- --"
Then a low tone at her side.
"May I, please?"
She was dancing suddenly with Gordon; one of his arms was around her; she felt it tighten spasmodically; felt his hand on her back with the fingers spread. Her hand holding the little lace handkerchief was crushed in his.
"Why Gordon," she began breathlessly.
"Hello, Edith."
She slipped again --was tossed forward by her recovery until her face touched the black cloth of his dinner coat. She loved him --she knew she loved him --then for a minute there was silence while a strange feeling of uneasiness crept over her. Something was wrong.
Of a sudden her heart wrenched, and turned over as she realized what it was. He was pitiful and wretched, a little drunk, and miserably tired.
"Oh -- --" she cried involuntarily.
His eyes looked down at her. She saw suddenly that they were blood-streaked and rolling uncontrollably.
"Gordon," she murmured, "we'll sit down; I want to sit down."
They were nearly in mid-floor, but she had seen two men start toward her from opposite sides of the room, so she halted, seized Gordon's limp hand and led him bumping through the crowd, her mouth tight shut, her face a little pale under her rouge, her eyes trembling with tears.
She found a place high up on the soft-carpeted stairs, and he sat down heavily beside her.
"Well," he began, staring at her unsteadily, "I certainly am glad to see you, Edith."
She looked at him without answering. The effect of this on her was immeasurable. For years she had seen men in various stages of intoxication, from uncles all the way down to chauffeurs, and her feelings had varied from amusement to disgust, but here for the first time she was seized with a new feeling --an unutterable horror.
"Gordon," she said accusingly and almost crying, "you look like the devil."
He nodded. "I've had trouble, Edith."
"All sorts of trouble. Don't you say anything to the family, but I'm all gone to pieces. I'm a mess, Edith."
His lower lip was sagging. He seemed scarcely to see her.
"Can't you --can't you," she hesitated, "can't you tell me about it, Gordon? You know I'm always interested in you."
She bit her lip --she had intended to say something stronger, but found at the end that she couldn't bring it out.
Gordon shook his head dully. "I can't tell you. You're a good woman. I can't tell a good woman the story."
"Rot," she said, defiantly. "I think it's a perfect insult to call any one a good woman in that way. It's a slam. You've been drinking, Gordon."
"Thanks." He inclined his head gravely. "Thanks for the information."
"Why do you drink?"
"Because I'm so damn miserable."
"Do you think drinking's going to make it any better?"
"What you doing --trying to reform me?"
"No; I'm trying to help you, Gordon. Can't you tell me about it?"
"I'm in an awful mess. Best thing you can do is to pretend not to know me."
"Why, Gordon?"
"I'm sorry I cut in on you --its unfair to you. You're pure woman --and all that sort of thing. Here, I'll get some one else to dance with you."
"What is the matter?"
"Just me," he repeated. "I'm going loony. This whole place is like a dream to me --this Delmonico's -- --"
As he talked she saw he had changed utterly. He wasn't at all light and gay and careless --a great lethargy and discouragement had come over him. Revulsion seized her, followed by a faint, surprising boredom. His voice seemed to come out of a great void.
She nodded absently.
Her distaste was growing. She barely nodded this time, waiting for her first possible cue to rise.
He reached out and patted her hand, and involuntarily she drew it away.
"It's mighty fine of you," he repeated.
"Well," she said slowly, looking him in the eye, "any one's always glad to see an old friend --but I'm sorry to see you like this, Gordon."
There was a pause while they looked at each other, and the momentary eagerness in his eyes wavered. She rose and stood looking at him, her face quite expressionless.
"Shall we dance?" she suggested, coolly.
--Love is fragile --she was thinking --but perhaps the pieces are saved, the things that hovered on lips, that might have been said. The new love words, the tendernesses learned, are treasured up for the next lover..."

To save you from googling (if you have read at all, which, I assume, is unlikely), I can say now, the 2 passages above are taken from "May Day", my favourite short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read the story several months ago (because of the link between it and "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" by J. D. Salinger) and today, for some certain reasons, it came to my mind and I decided to post the passages here. 
(As you can see, some inessential sentences have been removed merely for conveniences- by "inessential" I mean they're perfect in the story, only inessential in this post because, without them, you can still grasp the meaning. They only make the passages a bit too long. If intrigued you can read the whole story yourself). 
Fitzgerald, as a man, has his limitations, yet as an author, is 1 of the most observational and insightful writers of his time and of all time, and with precise, meticulous, sophisticated and descriptive language, is, if not the best, then 1 of the best, at depicting hypocrisy and superficiality. 

Besides, Fitzgerald also touches me on the personal level. 1st he makes me hesitate to confide myself in others, who might urge "What's the matter? Tell me!" only out of politeness, or, might have genuinely good intentions at the beginning but grow bored after a short while, then lose concentration and ask further questions solely as a formality. I'm afraid, in life only mothers, priests and psychologists have the patience to listen attentively to someone's problems/ sorrows, we usually lose concentration easily and get bored when someone starts to tell a story that is of no concern to us. 2nd, as you can see in the previous sentence, he embarrasses me, because my face turns red as I confess, there have been certain occasions on which someone confides something in me and I get tired after some minutes but have to continue listening. 

On stereotypes

I've seen here and there people write "Stereotypes are wrong". My question now is: Are they? And should we say "Don't stereotype"? 
Let me clarify right from the beginning: My purpose when writing this entry is not encouraging or supporting stereotyping, but, by looking at it from a slightly different angle, I simply want to make another approach to it, as stereotypes are unavoidable. 

- Individuals are individuals. You are unique. But at the same time, whether you want or not, your worldview, way of living and thinking, habits, religious view, political view... are shaped by the society and environment in which you grow up and the language you speak. 

- A stereotype is an empirical generalisation, which shows it must come from somewhere. Saying "birds can fly" isn't entirely correct- there are flightless birds such as ostriches, penguins, cassowaries, kiwis... But the existence of these exceptions doesn't mean the statement "birds can fly" is entirely wrong and therefore should be disregarded. The fact is, the majority of birds can fly. 
One doesn't have to meet all the individuals of a certain group to have a stereotype of that group and to see whether it's valid. If 8 out of 10 people from a particular group fit the stereotype, there's some truth in it. 
In short, to say "stereotypes are relative" is better than to say "stereotypes are wrong". 

- Stereotyping isn't necessarily synonymous with racism, sexism, discrimination or other forms of prejudice. 

- Having a stereotype doesn't mean one believes that it's true for every single person in that group. 
Many people who make a particular generalisation are, at the same time, also conscious of counterexamples.

- People have no trouble overriding a stereotype when they know a person, and stereotypes don't blind people to individual traits. 

- Stereotypes can help avoiding culture shock and knowing how to behave.  
For example, before travelling to France you might be told that the French are irritated when you ask them something in English, so you should try 1st in French and afterwards they will reply in English. The truth is, not every French person gets irritated, but if you actually come to France you can see that it's true to some extent and knowing about it does help you during the trip. 
Or, say, Americans are generally friendly and easygoing (I know, it's a stereotype), so when coming to Norway they might face culture shock if not knowing beforehand that Norwegians are generally cold and distant with a rather blank face, so they might think Norwegians are unfriendly, whereas Norwegians simply don't express much emotion on their faces. 

- Stereotypes can help when you, for instance, walk through part of the city with which you're unfamiliar. By recognising certain established patterns of the typical criminal you can become more careful and save yourself. 

- Can we stop stereotyping? Can we stop generalising? 
No. As human beings, we are not omniscient. We are limited. As written above our thinking is shaped by our culture and society, by our surroundings and the people around us. We might realise the limitations of stereotypes and manage to see individuals as individuals, and if we try, can see and accept exceptions, or counterexamples, of a stereotype we've held, but the idea of having no stereotype at all is (almost) impossible. There are always some stereotypes existing somewhere in your brain. No one is 100% neutral, objective and unbiased. 

- The problem is not to have a stereotype, but whether it's so fixed that you only see what you want to see, and whether it leads to serious, disastrous, inhumane... acts. 
In conclusion, what we have to do is not to deny the existence of stereotypes. We 1st must be aware of the stereotypes we're having, and then aware of their limitations, then try to get rid of the tendency to only look at the individuals that confirm it and and ignore those that don't, whilst trying to see individuals as individuals. And don't push it to the point of sexism or racism and such things. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

"If men could menstruate" (Gloria Steinem)


Living in India made me understand that a white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking a white skin makes people superior, even though the only thing it really does is make them more subject to ultraviolet rays and wrinkles.

Reading Freud made me just as skeptical about penis envy. The power of giving birth makes "womb envy" more logical, and an organ as external and unprotected as the penis makes men very vulnerable indeed.

But listening recently to a woman describe the unexpected arrival of her menstrual period (a red stain had spread on her dress as she argued heatedly on the public stage) still made me cringe with embarrassment. That is, until she explained that, when finally informed in whispers of the obvious event, she said to the all-male audience, "and you should be proud to have a menstruating woman on your stage. It's probably the first real thing that's happened to this group in years."

Laughter. Relief. She had turned a negative into a positive. Somehow her story merged with India and Freud to make me finally understand the power of positive thinking. Whatever a "superior" group has will be used to justify its superiority, and whatever and "inferior" group has will be used to justify its plight. Black me were given poorly paid jobs because they were said to be "stronger" than white men, while all women were relegated to poorly paid jobs because they were said to be "weaker." As the little boy said when asked if he wanted to be a lawyer like his mother, "Oh no, that's women's work." Logic has nothing to do with oppression.

So what would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?

Clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event:

Men would brag about how long and how much.

Young boys would talk about it as the envied beginning of manhood. Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day.

To prevent monthly work loss among the powerful, Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea. Doctors would research little about heart attacks, from which men would be hormonally protected, but everything about cramps.

Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of such commercial brands as Paul Newman Tampons, Muhammad Ali's Rope-a-Dope Pads, John Wayne Maxi Pads, and Joe Namath Jock Shields- "For Those Light Bachelor Days."

Statistical surveys would show that men did better in sports and won more Olympic medals during their periods.

Generals, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation ("men-struation") as proof that only men could serve God and country in combat ("You have to give blood to take blood"), occupy high political office ("Can women be properly fierce without a monthly cycle governed by the planet Mars?"), be priests, ministers, God Himself ("He gave this blood for our sins"), or rabbis ("Without a monthly purge of impurities, women are unclean").

Male liberals and radicals, however, would insist that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could join their ranks if only she were willing to recognize the primacy of menstrual rights ("Everything else is a single issue") or self-inflict a major wound every month ("You must give blood for the revolution").

Street guys would invent slang ("He's a three-pad man") and "give fives" on the corner with some exchange like, "Man you lookin' good!"

"Yeah, man, I'm on the rag!"

TV shows would treat the subject openly. (Happy Days: Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still "The Fonz," though he has missed two periods in a row. Hill Street Blues: The whole precinct hits the same cycle.) So would newspapers. (Summer Shark Scare Threatens Menstruating Men. Judge Cites Monthlies In Pardoning Rapist.) And so would movies. (Newman and Redford in Blood Brothers!)

Men would convince women that sex was more pleasurable at "that time of the month." Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself, though all they needed was a good menstruating man.

Medical schools would limit women's entry ("they might faint at the sight of blood").

Of course, intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguements. Without the biological gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets, how could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics-- or the ability to measure anything at all? In philosophy and religion, how could women compensate for being disconnected from the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death and resurrection every month?

Menopause would be celebrated as a positive event, the symbol that men had accumulated enough years of cyclical wisdom to need no more.

Liberal males in every field would try to be kind. The fact that "these people" have no gift for measuring life, the liberals would explain, should be punishment enough.

And how would women be trained to react? One can imagine right-wing women agreeing to all these arguments with a staunch and smiling masochism. ("The ERA would force housewives to wound themselves every month": Phyllis Schlafly)

In short, we would discover, as we should already, that logic is in the eye of the logician. (For instance, here's an idea for theorists and logicians: if women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn't it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long? I leave further improvisation up to you.)

The truth is that, if men could menstruate, the power justifications would go on and on.

If we let them.

Gloria Steinem 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

1 vài bài viết của Nguyễn Hưng Quốc về tiếng Việt

1 đặc điểm của tiếng Việt
Tính chính trị của ngôn ngữ (1)
Tính chính trị của ngôn ngữ (2)
Tính chính trị của ngôn ngữ (3)
Tính chính trị của ngôn ngữ (4)
Tiếng Việt nào?
Tây nói tiếng ta 
Tôi học tiếng Việt
Giữa cọp và chó
... và những con khác
Con cặc
Tiếng Việt: mày, tao, mi, tớ... 
Tại sao cần học tiếng Việt? 
Chuyện dạy tiếng Việt như một ngôn-ngữ-một-rưỡi
Việc dạy tiếng Việt như 1 ngôn ngữ thứ 2 trên thế giới
Dạy tiếng Việt trong môi trường song ngữ: sự tương tác giữa gia đình và học đường (1)
Dạy tiếng Việt trong môi trường song ngữ: sự tương tác giữa gia đình và học đường (2)
Dạy tiếng Việt: dễ hay khó? (1)
Dạy ngôn ngữ thứ hai / ngôn ngữ cộng đồng lại càng khó
Dạy tiếng Việt: dễ hay khó? (3)
Dạy tiếng Việt: dễ hay khó? (4)
Dạy đọc (1): Dễ hay khó?
Dạy đọc (2): Đánh vần hay không đánh vần?
Dạy đọc (3): Lấy học sinh làm trung tâm
Dạy đọc bằng cách đọc (4)

Some questions regarding language and linguistics

Oh hi.
I'm alive. Still.

As 1 of my subjects is linguistics and today I've just borrowed a book on English morphology (besides, I've been reading some articles/ essays... about linguistics as well), there are several things I'm wondering about:
1/ What is 1st language? Is it the 1st language a person learns (from parents) or the language that person speaks the best?
Let's say, a girl with Vietnamese parents is born in Norway. The 1st language she learns is Vietnamese. As she grows up and goes to school, Norwegian becomes her dominant language, she feels truly herself when speaking Norwegian and expresses herself best in Norwegian. So is her 1st language Vietnamese or Norwegian? Is 1st language the same as mother tongue? And is it the same as native tongue? Can we say her mother tongue is Vietnamese and her 1st language Norwegian? Or does her 1st language have to be Vietnamese whether or not she can speak it well?
The case of Vladimir Nabokov, he was 1st taught both English and Russian, and even though his parents were Russian, he was able to read and write English before Russian. At age 5, he started to learn French. And in his household 3 languages were spoken, so Nabokov used all 3 languages throughout his childhood till he became an adult and spoke all 3 languages perfectly for all of his life. So can we say he had 3 1st languages, or was it only Russian?

2/ What is 2nd language? Is it the language someone learns 2nd, after mother tongue, or the language someone speaks 2nd best? What's the difference between 2nd language and foreign language? If a person speaks a foreign language almost as perfectly as his or her own language, can it be considered 2nd language, or does 2nd language have to be 1 of the languages spoken in that area, or at least, it has to be the language spoken usually throughout childhood?

3/ What is a native speaker? I know a guy who is born in Germany and grows up in Germany, with a German father and a Vietnamese mother, who speaks German to him, besides, he never speaks 1 word in Vietnamese, is he a native speaker of German? When a guy is born in the US to Italian parents, grows up in the US and speaks some Italian at home but speaks English as his dominant language, can he be considered a native speaker of English? Or are native speakers only Americans who speak English both at home and outside home, to parents and to other people? When a girl is born in the US, then at, say, 8 or 9, moves to Sweden, and since then speaks both languages well, can she be considered a native speaker of English? How about a girl who has British parents, lives in, say, France, never spends any time living in an English-speaking country but speaks both English and French in everyday life and speaks them well, is she a native speaker of English?
And a girl born in Norway to Vietnamese parents, who grows up in Norway, speaks (limited) Vietnamese at home, speaks Norwegian as her dominant language, she's a native speaker of which language? Not Vietnamese, but how about Norwegian? Or none?

4/ What is the equivalent of "morpheme" or "morph" in Vietnamese in Vietnamese morphology?

5/ Is the Vietnamese language a suitable language for morphology?
(This, however, might be a stupid question from a person who speaks Vietnamese as a mother tongue and knows it unconsciously without ever studying it the way foreigners or linguists do).

6/ Put the matter of convenience aside, is the Latin alphabet, the abc system, suitable for a language like Vietnamese? 

7/ As far as I understand, Vietnamese is an isolating language, never uses inflection and doesn't have morphological marking of gender, number, tense, etc. And in Vietnamese I don't think I've seen derivation as in English or Norwegian, like "determination" from "determine", "modernise" from "modern", "glorify" from "glory", "teacher" from "teach", "drinkable" from "drink", etc.
So perhaps it means these characteristics become an obstacle in the formation of new words in Vietnamese and make the language quite unsystematic?
(This, again, can be a naive, ridiculous thought of a native speaker. Please forgive me for my ignorance.) 
Do these characteristics have an impact on our way of thinking, our logic?
(Considering Sapir-Whorf hypothesis I think "determine" is too strong a word. Language doesn't determine our thinking, but it does influence our thinking, though I must say it seems more like a 2-way process, since language is a part of culture and reflects the way people perceive the world and the way people think. To say languages aren't significantly different and therefore it's unnecessary to consider whether these differences lead to differences in thinking is also too extreme. For anyone who claims so, I would ask "But how many languages do you speak and what are they?" Someone might call this a fallacy in arguments, and it's true that linguists don't have to speak 5 or 10 languages in order to become a linguist, but if they speak too few, or if the languages they speak aren't very much different, I would say they should be careful when making such statements). 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Khoảng hủng ngư ngỗn

Mỳnh đang khủng hoảng, thực sự khủng hoảng.
Đây là tuần đầu tiên của mỳnh ở trường đại học (tuần sau mới học chính thức).
A brief meeting with the unfriendly, unsympathetic, unhelpful consultant this morning confirmed my worst fear: chương trình mỳnh học sẽ là chương trình song ngữ- Anh và Na Uy. And the upcoming compulsory course in Norwegian will be linguistics (và sau này sẽ có triết học- vâng, học triết bằng tiếng Na Uy).
(Hvorfor sa fadderne at undervisningspråket skulle være engelsk og bare engelsk?)
Ai đang học ngoại ngữ, đặc biệt đang bơi với 2 ngoại ngữ (trở lên), đều có thể hiểu cảm giác của mỳnh. Having learned English for a long time, watched English-language films and read novels in English over the past 3 years, with 2 years in the IB programme, I still haven't achieved perfection or even come close to it, I still struggle to read "Ada or Ardor" and still have no confidence that I can write down everything when 1 of the professors speaks like a CNN reporter without using the board or Power Point. Mặc dù mỳnh đạt 5/7 điểm Norwegian B SL trong chương trình IB, với trình độ tiếng Na Uy của mỳnh, làm sao mỳnh có thể học ĐH? (I går, for eksempel, snakket en kvinne om verdensborgerskap. En time og en halv. Jeg satt der og skjønte nesten ingenting.) My biggest problem with the Norwegian language is that my mind sort of picks out familiar words, "Oh I know that!", "That one, that one means...", "Ah I've learned this word...", but can't form a connection between the words and I therefore can't grasp the content as a whole. Thế nên khi không đủ từ, mỳnh có thể cố gắng diễn tả được ý mỳnh muốn bằng cách khác, nhưng đa phần các trường hợp khi mỳnh đã khốn khổ vật vã nói xong cái cần phải nói, người ta nắm được ý mỳnh và trả lời, thì lúc đấy mỳnh lại không hiểu.
Of course, I blame no one but myself. I'm the one who applied. (And it's also my fault that my Norwegian sucks). My stupidity is indeed beyond imagination and comprehension. I am a restless reckless idiot.
Bây giờ mỳnh có khoảng 3 lựa chọn.
Lựa chọn đầu tiên rất mệt, rất cực, mỳnh không thực sự cảm thấy thuyết phục, đi kèm với vài hy sinh.
Lựa chọn số 2 có thể sẽ đỡ hơn phần ngôn ngữ- không hoàn toàn đảm bảo, nhưng sẽ mệt cái khác, và hơi tốn kém.
Lựa chọn số 3 có thể rẽ thành nhiều options nhỏ, nhưng cái nào cũng đều có điểm chung là đường vòng, nhưng đảm bảo, an toàn, ít tốn sức hơn 1 chút.
So......... hva bør jeg gjøre?

(Haizz. Từ từ tính. Giờ đi ngủ). 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Photos of Paris in June 2012 and solution for the out-of-space problem

After thinking thoroughly and carefully considering various solutions with their pros and cons (for a couple of months?), I still couldn't come up with anything, until some hours ago on the verge of madness I did some impulsive things, and with that same madness and impulsiveness I created another google account: 
This will not replace my current one (which is already attached to youtube and several other websites). 
I will not use it for sending emails (I think). 
Instead, it will be used as linking with another facebook account I've just created (yes, this is 1 of the impulsive things I did), which will not replace my main fb account Yi Nguyen, but the secondary account Elyssa Ozog (with a friend list of about 10 people). And, apparently, used for photo uploading. 
The 1st album, of Paris, is here: 
(This same album has been published on my fb Yi Nguyen: The link is currently unavailable because it's deactivated, but will soon be OK). 
More information will be updated later. 
Thanks for reading. 

Ada and ardor and adorable him

Now, fine, no longer disturbed by bees and no longer heartbroken (too proud and realistic) and having finished "The real life of Sebastian Knight", I'm struggling my way through "Ada or ardor: A family chronicle" by Vladimir Nabokov, a novel on insect(s) and incest, not because it's dull and boring, but because, whilst mesmerisingly beautiful and remarkably rich, the book has sophisticated language and subtle descriptions, not using simple vulgar or banal words. And, besides, with my limited English, my knowing no Russian word and a couple of French words and my very low level of intelligence, I must struggle and might give up any moment and move onto another novel. (But, I must add, it's getting easier and I'm, in my struggle, enjoying it.)
This book, if not the chief reason, still should get the blame for my mood swings, which in turn lead to my decision to close down my fb (temporarily, not sure for how long). On the 1 hand the main distraction must be eliminated- I need to spend more time reading and writing, and thinking. On the other hand, isn't it obvious that reading such a book in my current state causes me great pain and misery? This statement, again, has 2 sides- 1stly, like all excellent books, it inspires me, untalented me, to write something myself but at the same time kills my hope and makes me sink even more deeply in my pool of suffering and self-loathing, and books by him have always have this effect, Nabokov, monster and master; 2ndly, isn't it painful to read of 2 adolescents who inevitably fall in love, because of both their similarities and their differences, not only because they share the same energy, the same fire within themselves, but also because they both are unusually and remarkably brilliant (and therefore separated from others), to read such a book, whilst realising in reality the impossibility of something more than what's already between me and him
And it saddens me even more to think that finding another person like him is (almost) impossible (and truthfully anyone who knows me and him knows who he is and how great), but perhaps like my mom has often said, no man is irreplaceable, and if there is one, irreplaceable and perfect, there's no chance for us anyway (loosely translated). So, move on move on move on. (Even if there's affection, what are we? Star-crossed lovers?) 
Let it fade. Let it fade. Let it fade away. 

(I still can't rid myself of the thought that if he keeps being here perhaps I'm never capable of loving anyone else. But what choice do I have anyway?) 

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Primitive people and simple living


I wrote (on my own wall): 
"Hypocrites, most of those who commented here.
They praise it, they criticise civilisation and say they crave for such a lifestyle, very well, when exhausted and stressed people are likely to dream of a utopia with no worries and no complications. In addition to the things mentioned here, there would be no competition, no stealing, no class, no inequality... But if they could, if they really could, would they really want to give up what they have now and live like this? Would they be willing to give up clothes, machines, electricity, education, science, medicine, culture, literature, cinema, internet, vehicles, money..., basically everything they're having now?
In case you misunderstand my point, no I have nothing against primitive people (or "primitive" if you like).
Some people, after commenting here under this photo, will go back to their lifestyle, will continue their pursuit of money and position and fame and whatever there is to pursue, will continue to use and enjoy all the things they call the causes of complications and problems in society... And whenever having the chance, they'll condemn civilisation and blame everything on it and again say they wish they could live like the primitive people, and so on. And that's it."

Later, there were some new comments that I think should be posted here:

"No healthcare, no running water, no dentistry, no optical care, no protection against flooding, no police/security from mob rule.
There are good and bad sides to the modern lifestyle. If you really think this is the way to live, why the heck are you on Facebook?"

"From our perspective, that is not exactly true. It is just that we label certain acts as crimes. These societies contain what we call rape, murder, burglary etc as well. So, what we label as crime is completely normal to them. Crime is created by enacting laws for certain acts."

"Let's see; no stress? Doubt it. When you day to day life is survival your life span is less than thirty due to water born illnesses, I would call that stress. No bombs? Replace bombs with every other problem they face and it isn't much different (being killed by wild animals, starving, illnesses we don't face, etc). No homeless- the standard of living would be comparable or worse to homeless in the first world. No crime- ha ha.. Crime exists in these societies too. No prisons, probably, but they do deal with criminals in their own way- stoning, banishment, etc. No junk food- I'm sure they would wish for some during seasons when food is scarce and they are starving. No debt- OK, maybe that one. No pollution- right. Pollution comes in a lot of shapes and when you don't have basic sanitation like plumbing, you create your own pollution daily. No poverty- this is the biggest laugh because by most standards, their daily life would be considered extreme poverty- little food, no access to health care other than what they can create for themselves, constant risks of disease and injury, homes that do very little to protect from the elements, facing a life span of under thirty years, extremely high infant mortality rates- by all definitions it is poverty."

"Where I am coming from with my so-called negativity- my wife grew up in Brasil and saw these 'primitives' first hand and it scarred her for life. Reality is not what you see on TV. Imagine yourself as a child seeing other children with bellies bloated, not from having enough to eat, but because it is full of worms. Imagine seeing other children with septic infections from cuts and having their arm rotting away. Imagine seeing whole families starving because a river changed its course or a rain was late. This is the reality of the primitive lifestyle."

"I find it amusing that so many people in this forum have expressed such a yearning for the entire human race to collapse into total ignorance and barbarism all the while utilizing one of the wonders of the modern world. Sorry, did I say 'amusing'? I meant 'disheartening' and 'obtuse'."

Friday, 10 August 2012


She talked about her disappearance [...] 
So I said "You, disappear? I'm the one who really disappears." 
Joyce Anne Nguyen is dead- no one hears about her any longer, she disappears, she vanishes, takes part in nothing, speaks out against nothing, supports nothing, and what she does people don't know (except those close to her, but of course, to them she's not JAN). Perhaps a while ago some people did wonder, did raise a question, did wait for her to come back, but it was a while ago, for sure she has been forgotten and completely erased from people's memory (ain't the mind, with its limited capacity, able to contain only the important and significant things?). And if, luckily or unluckily, some people still remember her, they mention her, briefly perhaps, as something of the past. She completely disappears from earth. 
Nguyễn Đắc Hải Di of Saigon, who lived there from 1993 to 2009, also disappears and can very well be put as dead- deleted from the minds of the majority of her former classmates, who, if free sometimes, might mention her and talk of her as something of the past, yet, I believe, don't know where she lives, how she is, what she looks like, what she studies, how she's doing, how she has changed, and perhaps, in many cases, don't even know whether or not she's alive. She no longer exists, whether in reality or in people's mind. Nguyễn Đắc Hải Di, too, has become the past. 
(This, strangely, gives me a feeling of serenity and satisfaction I can't explain). 
And here I am, from nowhere and belonging nowhere, having no past and no mystory- only the present and the future, with very few things suggesting the relation between me and the 2 persons mentioned above, here I am. 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Half full chủ nghĩa

Dạo này trên facebook thấy nhiều người đăng những thứ đại loại như hãy suy nghĩ tích cực, vấn đề không phải là hoàn cảnh mà là thái độ, nên hài lòng với những gì đang có, đừng phàn nàn, hãy nghĩ tới những người không may hơn mình, blah blah blah. Phát ngấy.

- Suy nghĩ và cảm giác tiêu cực, vượt qua 1 giới hạn, có thể dẫn tới nhiều hậu quả xấu, đặc biệt với sức khỏe. Nhưng khi chưa đến giới hạn đó, nó hoàn toàn tự nhiên và bình thường như những suy nghĩ và cảm giác tích cực, không có lý do gì để cố gắng loại bỏ, né tránh hoặc phủ nhận. 
- 1 đứa bạn NU của mỳnh từng bảo, đôi khi nó mệt sau 7-8 tiết ở trường, về nhà lại đủ thứ bài vở và nhiều việc khác, chỉ phàn nàn 1 câu nhưng ba mẹ lại nói ngay, nên biết ơn vì mình may mắn như thế nào, nên nghĩ tới những đứa trẻ đói khát ở Châu Phi. Thực tế, ca cẩm 1 chút khi mệt mỏi, kiệt sức cũng như buột 1 tiếng chửi thề khi đau, bức bối, khó chịu có tác dụng tốt, làm giải tỏa những cảm giác khó chịu, tiêu cực trong người. 1 người đang đủ thứ trong lòng nghe ai đó bảo nên cảm thấy biết ơn và tận hưởng những gì mình đang có, chắc chắn không cảm thấy thoải mái sung sướng gì hơn, còn nếu tự nói với bản thân không nên tiêu cực nữa, mình thế này là may mắn lắm rồi, chưa chắc đã làm bản thân bớt bực dọc mà, theo nghĩa nào đó, chỉ đang chối bỏ cảm xúc thực sự của mình, trong khi những cảm xúc như bực bội, giận dữ, thất vọng, lo lắng, buồn bã... đều bình thường và tự nhiên. 
- Nói vấn đề không phải là hoàn cảnh mà là thái độ có ý đúng nhưng không hẳn 100% đúng. Tất nhiên, hoàn cảnh là cái mình không thể quyết định, còn thái độ là cái ta có thể hoàn toàn làm chủ. Nhưng cuộc sống không chỉ đơn giản là ăn, ngủ, học, làm việc, chơi, hạnh phúc không hẳn chỉ là có mái nhà, bạn bè...- định nghĩa hạnh phúc rất phức tạp và mang tính cá nhân. Có cơ thể lành lặn, được sống với gia đình và bạn bè, được đi học và làm việc... với nhiều người là không đủ để gọi là hạnh phúc, nên khi chưa đạt được điều mình mơ ước, họ cảm thấy không hài lòng- như thế không có nghĩa là họ tiêu cực, không nhận ra sự may mắn của bản thân.  
- Khi 1 người không hài lòng với cái họ đang có, họ có thể bị những người theo chủ nghĩa biết-ơn-và-suy-nghĩ-tích-cực xem là bi quan, nhưng chính sự không hài lòng sẽ là động cơ để họ phấn đấu và thay đổi. Trong khi đó, sự hài lòng lại có thể là chấp nhận 1 cách thụ động. 
- Trong 1 số trường hợp, sự hài lòng có thể rất nguy hiểm. Chẳng hạn, trong xã hội, có người nhìn thấy nhiều vấn đề và thấy đất nước mình không bằng nhiều quốc gia khác, nhưng cũng có nhiều người "quyết định" hài lòng, chủ yếu theo 2 cách, hoặc so sánh đất nước mình với những nước dưới mình chứ không nhìn lên, hoặc so sánh với quá khứ, để nghĩ "thế này là tốt lắm rồi, tốt hơn hồi xưa nhiều". Đây là cách nghĩ thụ động, làm trì kéo sự thay đổi và phát triển của xã hội.  
- Đôi khi, "tiêu cực" chỉ là từ 1 số người dùng thay cho từ "thực tế" hoặc "nghi ngờ, cẩn thận". 
- Suy nghĩ tích cực và lạc quan khi đưa ra 1 quyết định, đôi lúc, dẫn tới sự tự tin quá mức và chủ quan, không xét đến những hậu quả tiêu cực có thể xảy ra, nên có thể đưa ra quyết định khi không suy nghĩ thực sự cẩn trọng, và có thể gây ra nhiều hậu quả tai hại. 
- Khi thực tế, không quá tự tin, và nghĩ đến những tình huống xấu nhất có thể xảy ra, người ta có thể được chuẩn bị tốt hơn (cố gắng để nó không xảy ra, và đồng thời chuẩn bị tinh thần), nên hậu quả cũng nhẹ nhàng hơn.
- 1 số phụ nữ khi nhận ra chồng mình không tử tế vẫn tiếp tục cuộc hôn nhân và tự an ủi mọi chuyện sẽ khá hơn, chồng mình sẽ thay đổi... Đó có thể xem là suy nghĩ tích cực. Và dĩ nhiên, thái độ không tốt hơn những người suy nghĩ tiêu cực, nghĩ bản tính con người sẽ không thay đổi, rồi quyết định bỏ đi. 
- Những người nhạy cảm, khi quan sát và trải nghiệm, nhìn thấy nhiều bất công, sai trái diễn ra xung quanh, hay buồn và có thể có những suy nghĩ bị gọi là tiêu cực. Nhưng không thể vì thế lại gọi họ là những người bi quan, hoặc nói những câu đại loại như, thuyền chỉ chìm khi nước tràn vào nhấn chìm thuyền, bản thân ta không nên để những thứ tiêu cực chen vào mình, blah blah, như mỳnh thấy trên facebook, bởi thái độ như vậy nghe ích kỷ và rất ngớ ngẩn. 
- Đôi khi, cố gắng suy nghĩ tích cực làm người ta không nhìn thấy mặt trái của vấn đề. 
- Nhiều người theo chủ nghĩa lạc-quan-hạnh-phúc, hay ít nhất trong số những người mỳnh quen, có thói quen né tránh tất cả những gì họ gắn mác là "depressing". Riêng chuyện đọc sách chẳng hạn, 1 người vốn đã quen suy nghĩ tiêu cực, đọc những gì mình thích, có hứng thú, hoặc cảm thấy mình nên đọc, không có thói quen xếp loại tốt/ xấu, tích cực/ tiêu cực, cũng không cần xem nó sẽ tác động làm mình vui hay buồn... 1 người suy nghĩ tích cực, chỉ muốn nhìn thấy the bright side và chủ động né tránh những thứ "depressing", trước tiên phải phân loại, nên khi đọc sẽ thiếu sót so với người kia, và xét mặt nào đó, đang né tránh thực tế. 
- v.v... 

Nói tóm lại, nếu phải trả lời half full hay half empty, mỳnh sẽ không trả lời- mỳnh thấy cả 2. 
Suy nghĩ tích cực và biết ơn vì những gì mình đang có có mặt tốt, nhưng, cũng như mọi thứ khác, có mặt xấu. Nên cứ phải nghe nhai nhải những điều đó, như mỳnh đã viết ở đoạn trên cùng, mỳnh thực sự phát ngấy. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012