I know Tea, but not my ABCs: Exploring ceremony and ritual in heritage language maintenance (by Aya Halliday)

Aya Halliday, our guest blogger this fortnight, is an Okinawan-Japanese Canadian from the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ Nations (Vancouver), currently residing in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal). She received a BA in Linguistics from Simon Fraser University and is an incoming PhD student in Applied Linguistics at Concordia University, with a research focus on heritage languages and critical policy analysis. Aya is on a lifelong journey to learn Japanese and Uchinaaguchi and support the vitality of minoritized languages in Canada.

This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

Upon stepping into a Japanese tea room (right foot first), I immediately sense the calm that the space brings. My sensei enters wearing a dusty lavender-coloured kimono, her white tabi-clad feet shuffle quietly as she makes her way into the tea room. She is holding a Chawan (茶碗 tea bowl) in one hand and a Natsume (棗 tea container) in the other. As she sits and sets the utensils down, she turns slightly towards me and fixes her kimono. The ceremony begins. We bow together, and I can smell the fresh yet earthy scent of the tatami mat only a few inches from my nose. She pulls a bright red Fukusa (袱紗), a silk cloth used for both physical and spiritual purification, out of her obi, and begins a complex folding pattern. Her well-practiced hands make the intricate folds look easy and elegant, and the movements lure me into an almost trance-like state. She uses the Fukusa to cleanse the Natsume, the Chashaku (茶杓 tea spoon), and finally, the Chawan, in preparation for matcha and hot water. Before I take a sip of the delicious and delicately foamy tea, I bow to the host, my sensei, and thank her for making the tea for me. Otemae chodai itashimasu.
Continue reading

Academia in the Time of Cholera: Raising Generation Symbiocene (by Rhonda Chung)

This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

“[L]anguages, like all living things, have to live within environments, to which they must adapt. A language that only survives in the classroom, like a plant that only survives in a flowerpot, or an animal that only survives in the zoo, is a different thing—and in some respects a lesser thing—than one that survives in the wild…as a functioning part of a cultural ecosystem, where chatter, laughter, conversations, stories, songs, and dreams are as continuous as breathing” (Bringhurst, 2002, p. 10).
Continue reading

The Making of a Matriarch (by Marlene Hale)

Our guest blogger this fortnight is from the Wet’suwet’en Nation, born in Smithers, northern BC, and is a Chef/Activist/Filmmaker. https://chefmaluh.ca/who-we-are

This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

My name is Marlene Hale and I am from the Wet’suwet’en Nation, born in Smithers, BC north.

I am a Chef/ Activist/Filmmaker.

I am speaking today on “The Making of a Matriarch.”

Continue reading

On foliage and a plurilingual spring (by John Wayne N. dela Cruz)

Recently, I’ve been watching the Disney+ show Shōgun, a historical fiction drama about the political entanglements between a daimyo (feudal lord) outmaneuvering political rivals, and an English sea navigator shipwrecked in 1600s Japan.

An early scene showing Yoshii Toranaga, the daimyo in question. Image from: https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/behind-the-scenes-of-shogun-fxs-most-ambitious-production-in-history/

The show is visually stunning, emotionally captivating, and, of importance for this blog post, linguistically inspiring. That is, the show is almost entirely in Japanese, interspersed with English dialogues here and there (which is supposed to stand in for Portuguese). Further, aside from wading through my plurilingual repertoire to navigate the intricacies of the English subtitles, the Japanese on-screen speech, and the occasional translanguaged phrases (e.g., padre-sama, meaning Father, and sama being an honorific for, in this case, a religious authority)[1], I am also immersed in the natural world depicted in the series, a world that is both alive and dynamic (one episode I saw included scenes of a landslide-causing earthquake). And it’s in this intersection of dynamic, ever-shifting language acts and natural phenomena that I find myself writing this blog post.

Continue reading

Avec votre permission (by Kate Hardin)

This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

Do you ever get that feeling where you know you’ve done something wrong, but you can’t for the life of you tell what it is or how you’re supposed to know? I’ve felt that way a lot as I move through different places and different communities within them. For instance, I’ve noticed that when I run up against a social norm in Canada, people generally won’t tell me directly like they might back home. Instead, I’ve learned to notice what I call the “Canadian huff”—an almost imperceptible sigh that shows that a boundary has been crossed but is not worth addressing. That’s how I learned not to ride my bike across a crosswalk in Nova Scotia and how I learned not to wear my shoes indoors in Québec.  

Depending on how you feel about it, you could parse the Canadian huff as passivity, politeness, or passive aggression. But whatever you choose to call it, I’ve noticed that that tendency for subtlety is not confined to etiquette, but keys into broader patterns of how information is sometimes conveyed in Canada—or at least in Quebec—compared to other places I’ve spent time.  

Continue reading