Hey Whitefella, where’s your country?

This morning I read the transcript of Marion Scrymgour’s very moving Charles Perkins address. I was struck by the tragic story of her recently-departed father who was taken away from his parents. He passed away never without ever knowing who his mother was.
As I read this transcript, I got a phonecall from my mum who asked me about whether I’m coming home for Christmas. She lives in Perth. The juxtaposition of these two things made me revisit questions I often ask myself, “Where is home and how do I know that it’s there?” A question I get all the time that I struggle with it is “Where are you from?” Sometimes here in Sydney, I’m able to give a dismissive answer, “Western Australia”, and hope that the person asking the question doesn’t realise how big WA is. But really the question is not so easily dismissed.

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Are your chopsticks fast?

Chinese Pidgin English is most certainly a transient language — it arose from contact between English and Chinese traders in the late 17th century and ceased to be spoken by the early 20th century. During its short life Chinese Pidgin English donated several expressions to standard varieties of English, where they live on. Among these donated expressions is chop-chop, meaning ‘hurry up’. Most etymologies of the English word chopsticks (e.g. those in the the Oxford English Dictionary, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the Hobson-Jobson Anglo-Indian dictionary) claim that it is also derived from Pidgin English. Chopsticks is taken to be a semi-calque on the word 筷子 kuàizi (Mandarin pronunciation), which is the usual word for chopsticks in many Chinese dialects.1 The 筷 kuài in kuàizi is homophonous in many dialects with the word for ‘fast’, 快 kuài. The theory is that the English word chopsticks comes from the Pidgin word chop ‘fast’ plus the English word stick. The true story may not be that simple, however.

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HCSNet SummerFest06 registration closing

Registration for HCSNet’s SummerFest06 closes tomorrow (Friday 27th October). If you’re in Sydney in early december late November (27th and 28th to be exact… thanks Linda), there’ll be lots of interesting courses related to Human Communication Sciences, including: Introduction to Music Perception & Cognition, Introduction to Human Computer Interaction: Personalisation and User Control, Introduction to … Read more

Hello Visitors…

Hello Language Hat readers If you’re new here, we’re a blog based roughly on the theme of endangered languages and cultures. All of the authors are based at Sydney University as either staff or students. If you’re interested in Indigenous Langauge Education, Australian or Papua New Guinean languages, Fieldwork and Fieldwork Technology, amongst other topics … Read more

Automagic commenting

We’ve been making some minor changes to the blog in the last couple of days. Hopefully we can boost the feedback-ability of the site. We get a lot of visitors to old posts, who’s comments simply get buried, so we’ve introduced “Recently commented on” in the sidebar. Second, given that we have a pool of … Read more