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31 May 2005

Iraqi lives are less important than ES cells

I've heard the news that President Bush opposes ES cell research because human embryos are destroyed in the process of harvesting the cells.

Then how come he permitted the bombing of Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians?

For those who supported Bush, Iraqi lives are less important than ES cells?

What is the definition of "human lives" for Americans?

18 May 2005

L and R, are they really different?

For native speaker of Japanese like me, L and R are hard to pronounce. Foreigners say Japanese use inbetween of L and R. Not only we have difficulty to pronounce, we can't hear them correctly. The following is the list of pairs of the words which we can't distinguish.

1. light, right
2. life, rife
3. lice, rice
4. lip, rip (See the movie "Lost in Translation." There was a funny incident related to these words.)

The most difficult thing of learning foreign language is to master the pronunciation. It is what only children are good at. If I had started to learn English, I would be able to hear the difference between L and R.

I can sometimes hear the difference only when somebody speaks slowly and clearly. To me, L is clearer than R. R is more romantic than L. But when someone speaks at normal speed or faster, I can never hear the difference.

Japanese is one of the easiest language in terms of pronunciation. We have only 5 vowel sounds compared with 12 vowels in English and 16 in French. As for consonants, we have k,s,t,n,h,m,y,(l/r),w,g,z,d,b, and n. Surprisingly, our neighbor Chinese has 21 consonants. Chinese can hear the difference between L and R. Koreans can, too.

We also have difficulty in distinguishing s and th, and v and b. Like "faith or face," and "vase or base." But they are easier than L and R. Th and V sounds don't exist in our language, so it is easy to notice. But as for L and R, we use mixed pronunciation.

We also have problems in some of vowel sounds like the difference between color and collar.

Chinese language which I started learn recently has much more complexed vowel sounds system. It is called 4 tones. 1st tone is like stretching high voice, 2nd tone is raising tone, 3rd tone is down and up, and 4th tone is downing tone. If you mistone, even if the pronunciation is correct, it is regarded different meaning.

For example, "ma" of 3rd tone means horse but "ma" of 4th tone means to insult. Even if a person speaks fast, Chinese can hear the tone of every character as you hear the difference between L and R.

I wish I could hear the difference between L and R and Chinese 4 tones of the vowels perfectly as those of native speakers do.

21:15 Posted in Language learning | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: Education

11 May 2005

Listening to American Folk Songs

I am now listening famous folk songs.

The following is the numbers on the CD I have. I bought it at 100 yen(=$1) shop.

1. Carry Me Back to Old Virginia
2. Silver Threads Among the Gold
3. Clementine
4. De Camptown Races
5. Aloha Oe (That is Hawaiian?)
6. Home on THe Range
7. What a Friend we have in Jesus
8. Molly Darling
9. Deep River
10. I've been working on the Railroad

Are they familiar withe you?

I also like "Old Black Joe." The lyric starts with "Gone are the days...."
That was one of the first English songs when I started to learn the language.

21:10 Posted in Music | Permalink | Comments (1) | Tags: music

06 May 2005

Shall We Dance? (2004)

I went to see the movie "Shall We Dance?" starring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez.

It was released in US last October. Then now it is shown in Japan. Actually the movie was remake of Japanese movie of the same title.

A middle age man who was bored with his routine work happened to be a student of dance school and then participated in amateur ballroom dance contest.

The story was almost the same as original. I have seen the original many times. I like that movie. I like American version, too.

But what surprised me was someone's learning to dance is subject to tease even in USA. Here in our society, dancing is not as common as in US, so if a middle aged man is found learning to dance, some people might look at him as strange lewd guy.

How do you consider ballroom dancing? How do you see a middle aged man who is learning walz or latin?

Do you learn social dance in high school or before as compulsory curriculum?

Anyway, I feel like learning to dance.

21:55 Posted in Film | Permalink | Comments (2) | Tags: Dance