Below are some samples of our exchanges. John’s messages contained classified information, so I shan’t reproduce them here. Oh, I didn’t tell you? Yeah, we’re totally spies, dude. What, you didn’t think it was a little weird how invested we were in this whole language deal?
Aaah, screw it. I’ll reproduce the parts of papajohn’s communication that have no operational significance. Observe that John and I have generally used one language’s syntax with the other’s vocabulary, but we have stretches of full-on Chinese. We also switch across Mandarin and Cantonese, but that’s another story.
John’s Mandarin isn’t actually “transitional” — AFAIK, he’s a Mandarin princeling — but mine more or less is. Furthermore, we’re both native speakers of English […oh wait, I forgot — apparently, according to some people, I’m not 😛 ] so…we have English thoughts [That doesn’t sound dodgy…no siree], but we also have Chinese thoughts, having been raised Chinese since the age of twentysomething 8) . A lot of, at least, my motivation, is to communicate directly to the heart and not just the head, so this sometimes becomes a factor in choosing which language gets to be the substrate or lexifier at any given time.
Too many smilies.
I think I’m too 文字 focused. Worked great for 普通話, but I think treating 粵語 like some kind of 部落方言 would work better.
@ajatt (that’s me)
No ur absolutely 啱呀 雖然有文字 但係亦都有一個好大嘅部落方言/不立文字嘅element
Glad you enjoyed the link. It’s hard to tell how 有用 a link is to other people! I’m prone to 想ing that everyone but me 已經 知道ed about it 😀
Amazon.cn hey? I’m a Dangdang man myself. Does this mean you’re riding the 簡體 train?
哈哈 梗唔係啦！只不過係因爲台灣嗰邊 除咗動畫之外 都冇歐美電影嘅國語配音版DVD可以買。 咁所以冇辧法囉～。仲有Amazon.cn好平添。大陸萬歲！呵呵
John and I started doing this to save space on Twitter, because Chinese characters can communicate more information in less space. In 140 kanji, you don’t even have to be pithy; yous can writes yourself a whole mini-essay!
I wonder whether such a mixed approach to output (and maybe even input?) might not be a great way to ease into 使うing your target 言語anguage(?)
In the past, it would appear that a lot of 教育ducation systems around the 世界orld have favoured a cold-turkey approach to second-language/basilectal/dialectal learners of a target language. Barring cases of forcible acculturation, the intent behind this was good — the system designers didn’t want to further encourage or create dialects/pidgins/creoles, so they went straight for the goal.
However, I did recently read about some mixed-usage graded readers for children who are native speakers of the Ebonics dialect of English. If I recall correctly, the readers are initially mostly in Ebonics, and gradually introduce more and more acrolectal [is that even the right word?]/Standard English usage until they are written completely in Standard English. Apparently, they were really successful in getting kids reading acrolectal English with ease and fluency. [As it turns out, according to some linguists, Ebonics is not mere slang; it’s actually an entirely self-contained logical-syntactical system, with a relationship to Standard English akin to that of Schwizerdütsch to Hochdeutsch].
And that just seems to make a lot of sense. On the one hand, mixing is, of course, “impure”, heterogeneous, asymmetrical. And that kind of thing doesn’t appeal to the little zealot inside all of us, that binary part of us that wants everything just so. But at the same time, there’s just something very natural and organic and logical and workable-seeming about the whole idea.
Human beings, more often than not, need to be eased into things, I think. Put another way, there’s far less likely to be a rebound — much like an organ transplant rejection — if the transition is gradual rather than sudden. Accomodating this apparently natural tendency can seem like a sort of half-buttocked mishmash compromise (and it can end that way if the transition window stops moving), but ironically enough it can also lead to rain on wedding days, free rides when you’ve already paid, and true, permanent behavior change in a way that coercion often does not. Coercion produces resistance. Well-executed gradual change can bypass this resistance completely.
Frog in hot water. Frog in water that gradually gets hotter.
This gradualism thing, we are seeing, is true of children, and I think it may be even more true of adults. Not because adults are less malleable or resilient than kids or any other ageist crap like that, but because adults have the power to resist and escape. I’ve seen this with training my two cats, who are of different ages: it’s not actually “easier” to train kittens — they have short attention spans and less background knowledge — but kittens aren’t as strong as adult cats, so you can…you know…literally put them right where you want them. With adult cats, on the other hand, you kind of have to coax and negotiate and reason, otherwise you will get the scratch, motherlover.
Babies can’t turn off their immersion environment. Babies can’t build their own gaijin bubbles.
So, kids, 次回ext time you’re at a loss for 詞words…try mixing 言語anguages. Of course, you want to get to the stage where you use or can use just the one. But for now, treat it as a phase you’re going through.
To tell you the truth, I’ve already done this mixing before, but in analog form — when I was in college, I would take coursework notes in a hybrid kanji-katakana-Latin [in order of priority/abundance] shorthand, making and using words very loosely in a highly personalized, idiosyncratic sort of way; I’d often make up original kanji compounds on the spot.
When you think about it, until your vocabulary matures and fills out, you’re already a de facto “transitional user” of your target language. The only question is: do you now recognize and exploit this fact, or do you suppress it out of fear of the risk involved? As it is, with conventional methods, many people give up learning their target language and thus remain “transitional” for life anyhow. But acknowledging this “middle passage” through language-mixing may have the paradoxical effect of carrying more people through to full fluency than a strict language separation.
Anyway, food for thought. Anyone with information to share, go ahead and 發言launch words! Oh yeah — sorry for being autological; I know that annoys some people. Or maybe it’s my inner purist that’s annoyed. Yeah, it’s probably just me. Oh well… 😀