Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I don't eat whale meat, but...

...I'm still bad at updating!

Let's see, exciting highlights of the past week:

My new roommate came!  I was supposed to get two new roommates (to replace Louki and Grace), but one wound up cancelling at the last moment, so there are just three of us in the room now.  My new roommate is named Yi-Yi, and she's

...was that a gunshot outside?

...I really hope not.

...there was a second one.

...I haven't a clue what's going on, but I hope people aren't shooting each other in the streets, because that would be awkward.

...anyway, Yi-Yi is from Beijing, but goes to school in the States.  It's nice to have someone around the room again (since Hi-chan is gone so much of the time).

On Sunday I presented at the Chubu Fulbright Alumni Association's meeting.  There was kind of a mix-up, and I arrived slightly before 4 (when I was supposed to start presenting)...unaware that Austin (the other Fulbrighter presenting--he's a graduate student) was presenting BEFORE me, not AFTER.  Needless to say, I felt kind of terrible and apologized profusely and was bummed out of my MIND because I had really been looking forward to his talk.
My presentation went fine, though, and people were generally interested, although I got some odd questions, like, "Has anyone ever told you your hair makes you look like a miko?"  ...well, no...?
There was a reception afterwards and I talked to a bunch of interesting people, including a PhD student from Malaysia, who told me his tales of graduate school woe.  Although most of his tales weren't that woeful, so hurrah...?

Also on Sunday, Kim and Louki came back to Nagoya for the day to pick up their bags from my room and eat cheese naan.  (They are addicted to cheese naan.  I haven't a clue how they're going to survive without it.)  Kim didn't believe me when I said that I could be excited about anything,* and I waxed poetic about gum syrup containers to prove her wrong. It was certainly one of the stranger dinner conversations I've ever had.  (It also convinced Samantha, who just moved into the dorm and went to dinner with us, that I am insane.  OH WELL.)  And then Samantha and I took them to Nagoya station where we bid them farewell and swore everlasting vengeance friendship and stuff.

Yesterday the dorm had a gyoza party, which was delicious, and I met a bunch of the summer students, which was also nice.  It was also Yi-Yi's birthday, so everyone sang happy birthday to her and ate SO MANY GYOZA (okay, I probably ate like a fifth of the gyoza; don't judge me; I was really hungry).

Aaaaaand today we had Japanese class and talked about comparative particles!  It's actually pretty interesting, 'cause for this study they gave people the beginning of four sentences and asked them to write continuations of the sentences (using comparisons).  The sentences translate to:
I eat meat, but...
The husband drinks shochu, but...
I eat whale meat, but...
Japanese people eat whale meat, but...
Before I tell you the results, take a minute to come up with the second halves of the sentences for yourself!

All done?


Everyone finished sentence #1 with "...I don't eat [X]."  Similarly, everyone finished sentence #3 with "...I don't eat [some kind of other meat]."  70% of the respondents finished sentence #2 with "he doesn't drink [some other kind of alcohol]" while the remaining 30% finished with "...I/the wife don't drink alcohol."  In the case of sentence #4, more than half the respondents finished with "...[some other people] don't eat whale meat," and everyone else finished with "...Japanese people don't eat [something crazier than whale meat]."
Interesting!  Part of the reason that the sentences split up like that is that "I" isn't seen to be part of a pair like "the husband" or "Japanese people" is.  So when you (the generic Japanese speaker who was raised in Japan) see a sentence like "I ____ X," you automatically assume that X is the thing being compared, not you with someone else.  But when you see a sentence that starts with "The husband ________ X," you might assume that you're comparing the reactions of the husband and wife about X, rather than comparing X to something else!



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