writing. thinking. collaborating. teaching. learning. blogging…

わたし October 18, 2012

The above, which reads ‘watashi,’ means simply “I.” It took my colleague and I two weeks to appreciate this, and we have far from mastered its use. This, of course, is only “I” as expressed in Hiragana, one of Japan’s three written alphabets (the other two being Katakana and Kanji). But that is just the beginning. ‘Watashi’ is only one (gender neutral) way of referring to oneself. ‘Watakushi’ is a more formal (even arrogant) variation; ‘boku’ is a polite masculine form, ‘ore’ an aggressive masculine form (for tough guys). But it doesn’t stop there; atashi, uchi, kochira, ware, wagahai, oira, shessha, atai, yo, and warawa are all distinct ways of expressing “I” in Japanese, each with their own connotations and proper context.

As you can imagine, all of these possibilities leave my colleague and I asking: “Who am I?” Or, to relate it to our work at the UCWBL, who am I as a tutor, in the context of a multilingual partnership? (more…)


Alif… Baa… Taa: A Language and Writing Odyssey in Amman September 21, 2012

The UCWbL’s Peter D. is studying in Jordan this semester.  Tune in here for this exciting series on language, learning, and culture.

I scrambled to explain to my O’Hare security-line neighbor, a businessman from Amman, why I would be studying intensive Classical Arabic for the semester. (more…)


The Beauty of being Lost in Translation May 4, 2012

Filed under: what do you think? — Ali D. @ 11:01 am
Tags: , , ,

While I was hunting around online looking for poems to collect for National Poetry Month, I came across a fascinating article called “20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words from Around the World.” Despite the 250,000+ words currently in use in the English language, there are just certain areas where we fall short in having one concise word to describe an emotion, action, or some other experience that seems so common. Reading over the list of selected words in this article, I could relate in some way to every single one. (more…)