Sunday, March 23, 2008

Uh-oh, it's that time of the day, month and year!

Good morning everybody. How was your oestrogen-fuelled holiday?
As I was awakened this morning by an Asian-language soap blaring at me from one of the Asian-language flats upstairs, I realised that Easter, Oestrogen and East are all linked. I already knew about Easter (time of birth and rebirth) being a sneaky marketing-speak contraction of oestrogen (slime of birth and rebirth), but as I lay there, silently seething at my neighbours' need to watch Beijing Nights at seven in the frigging morning, I realised that the sun rising in the east probably the cause of all this naming of birth/rebirth motifs after the sun coming up.
I love language. I can just picture a group of learned cavemen sitting around a pile of unlit twigs, carrying on deep discussions about a huge range of things, but only using the words that existed during that evolutionary step of language. Just grunting the word "East!" would probably mean that the sun is coming up on the Easter egg hunt and Uggina is lookin' mighty fertile.

In a knock-kneed segue, there is talk of making kids in Australian schools all get back into studying languages. Apparently only about 13% of year twelves study a language these days, compared with 40% back in the good old 1960s. This is because parents are discouraging it (languages don't make your kids good money to support them into old age) and teachers can't be bothered teaching it for much the same reason. Tallyho! I say. Let them study a language. Make it interesting, stretch their brains. I studied two languages until year eleven (Spanish and German) and went on a student exchange to Germany. They even had a shot at teaching us Japanese in primary school at one point.

Do you learn a language? Which one? Should languages be compulsory up until year ten? Are parents discouraging languages, or is it just too hard to help with the Chinese homework when you don't speak it yourself?


GTH - The Other, other Sam strikes again with bacon-based jewellery.


  1. I like to call it "Bacon Bling", kind of in direct competition to Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B. range.

    OK, so I'm going for the hat-trick here!... My GTH atempt: is it a photo of a sign, in Engrish, from your trip to China?

    Word to ya Mother.

  2. Nihongo benkyo o shite imasu.
    I'm studying Japanese of course. I think studying a language is only necessary if you plan to use it, which is almost never for most people. So I don't think it should be taught in schools. Wish I'd studied it in Uni though.

  3. T.O.o.S. - I like where you're heading: straight River on the leader board!

    Lion - I agree with you, actually. Learning a language that no one else speaks to you is pointless unless you are one of the three people in Australia who loves SBS, but hates subtitles. HOWEVER learning two Latin-based languages actually helped me in my English studies, plus lots of other Latin-based languages are pretty easy to muddle your way through once you've gotten a hold of a couple.
    HOWEVER - useless in Asian countries. So there ya go. Teach everyone Chinese or Japanese.

  4. My brief brush with a LOTE wasn't a good one. I had the misfortune of starting highschool in Scotland. In January - half way through their academic year. Somehow I had to sit there and work out a half year of French classes being taught by a bloke with an Aberdonian accent. Got a C, but sure as hell didn't sign up for French in year nine.

    It's on my 'things to do before I die' mental list. I reckon a combination of Spanish (such close ties with French and Italian) and Mandarin would be good.

  5. Que Coincidencio!
    My Spanish teacher was also from Aberdeen! That only made me like it more because he was such an entertainer.

  6. I began high school in the "A" group of students and was supposed to learn Latin and French. The Latin wasn't bad but I never did like the sound of French and it was made worse for me by the teacher. She wore tight fitting suits that my grandmother would have worn, she insisted the girls winter uniform be changed to include berets and thick, thick stockings, and her teaching method left a lot to be desired. Every single mistake was sneered upon as if she were the only one in the world who could properly pronounce the language. I failed the first term on purpose and was moved to the "B" class which unfortunately still had the French but no Latin. Didn't do the French homework again, so term 3 saw me moved to the "C" class. No languages at all there. So I got stuck into the learning/homework routine again and stayed in the top 5% for the next two years.

  7. Another pagan holiday co-opted by chritianity, and further co-opted by chocolate manufacturers...

    Still, a good excuse to eat the undeveloped foetuses of the avian pursuasion... or reptillian if that's the way you roll.

    As for the language thing... it makes a change from 'not enough kids are learning physics', and 'not enough children are learning English'.

    It seems to me that the answer to this is to find more children.

    I think schools should just buy Japanese import games and leave it to the kids to learn (and they will) how to navigate their way through them.

    @Kath/Franzy – learning French from the Scottish, harsh, I can't think of two more incompatible accents... Spanish however, I can see that working.


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32