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Posts Tagged ‘linguistics’

Make up Your Own Linguistic Rules

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2015 at 11:26 am

By Antonio Graceffo

I love when people make up their own little linguistic rules, not based on any sort of research or significant experience, such as: a detractor on the internet claimed that native speakers of Spanish learned Vietnamese faster than English natives “because of the similarities in the languages.” The ONLY similarity that he was referring to was putting adjectives after nouns. Apart from that, a Spanish speaker would have no advantages at all. And at this point in the world’s history, the bulk of loan words in almost any language are from English. So, English would be better than Spanish as a basis for any non-Latinate language. Another point is that when you start talking about Asian languages there isn’t a lot of data on non-native English speakers as learners. For Vietnamese, there is undoubtedly data on French speakers, but beyond the US and France, which western countries has Vietnam had a lot of involvement with? Apart from US soldiers of Latin extraction how many Spanish speakers have ever studied Vietnamese?
Another one I have heard repeatedly is that Koreans learn Chinese faster because of similarities in vocabulary and because of the Korean government’s Chinese character exam, which a significant percentage of young people have passed. In practice, I have found that Koreans and Vietnamese are the absolute least fluent students at the Sports University. Even students preparing for their graduation speak Chinese at an incredibly basic level. Much of the reason why Koreans fail to learn Chinese, but many Africans succeed, is probably cultural, rather than linguistic. But that is a central theme in my linguistics writing. I believe that with very few language combinations, the bulk of the difficulties or advantages people have in learning a foreign language are cultural, rather than linguistic. Another anecdotal proof would be that 60% of the vocabulary of the Vietnamese language could be traced to China. And yet, Vietnamese are among the worst Chinese learners at the university.
Today sitting in my hotel room, in Phnom Penh, hearing the Indians across the hall talking way too loudly, with their door open, I could catch about every tenth word, because of the shared origin of some of the Khmer, Thai, Bahasa, and Filipino vocabulary. And yet, these guys couldn’t speak Khmer. And when they tried to communicate with the hotel staff, they did so in absolutely atrocious English, rather than broken Khmer. My point, once again, is that people put too much emphasis on words, when it comes to language learning. Since Indians would already have 10-20% of the Khmer vocabulary, you would think they would find it easier to learn the language. And yet, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Language learning is much more about culture than linguistics.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a lecturer at Shanghai University. He is also a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is expected to graduate his China MBA, from Shanghai Jiaotong University, and his PhD in Spring, 2016. Antonio is also a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
The Monk from Brooklyn, the book which gave Antonio his name, and all of his other books, the book available at amazon.com. His book, Warrior Odyssey, chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia, including stories about Khmer and Vietnamese martial arts as well as the war in Burma and the Shan State Army, is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
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Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Welcome to Brooklyn Monk on Youtube

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2015 at 4:38 am

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I’m Antonio Graceffo, the Brooklyn Monk, and welcome to my youtube channel. My two main areas of interest are second language acquisition theory and martial arts.

I am currently a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of Sport where I combine both my interests, taking them to a new level.

I am writing my dissertation, in Chinese, the topic of which is a comparison of Chinese traditional Shuai Jiao wrestling and modern, western wrestling.

As part of my field research, I train daily in several wrestling styles as well as san da and judo. Although I am nearly 50 years old, I still fight in competition from time to time.

Watch Welcome to Brooklyn Monk on Youtube

My channel Brooklyn Monk1 is largely about my own journey though Asia, exploring and documenting languages, martial arts, and ethnic minorities. Beginning in 2001 through the present. I have lived in about 7 countries, learned 5 languages and studied and documented countless martial arts. Along the way, I also fought professionally and amateur, I wrote six books, several hundred magazine articles, published academic papers, appeared in movies and TV shows, and produced hundreds of videos which are available here on my channel. I have play lists dedicated to the various phases of my research including: Martial Arts Odyssey, Linguistics and Language Learning, Interviews, and the War in Burma.

I hope you enjoy my channel and if you’re doing research and need some help. Please shoot me a message and let me know. Also, don’t forget to follow Brooklynmomk1 on Twitter.

I’m Antonio Graecffo from Brooklynmonk1 reminding you to get in the gym do your reps, do your sets, do your round work, keep training and fighting, and please get in the libery and read a book.

Follow Antonio on Twitter https://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

Contact Antonio@speakingadventure.com

See Antonio’s books on amazon.com

Subscribe to https://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

This language is easy or difficult because I said so

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2015 at 4:05 pm

An American kid I met in Phnom Penh today told me Korean language was not difficult. He said, “Easy to read, easy to write.” I told him, “The alphabet is easy. But Korean is the single most difficult national language in the world, rated category 6 by Defense Language Institute.” He disagreed, and repeated that Korean was easy. This is a pet peeve of mine. People who tell you Korean is easy are either: lying, insane, comparing it to nothing, or, as is the most common case, speak it at an incredibly superficial level. With 12 registers of common speech, Korean is incredibly complex and difficult to learn to any significant level of fluency. But, to determine the difficulty of learning a particular language we don’t need my opinion or his. Every expert source I have checked has listed Korean in the highest band of language learning difficulty.

The National Security Agency (NSA) classifies Korean as one of the most difficult languages to learn. Defense Language Institute (DLI) ranks Korean as category 4, the highest level of difficulty, requiring 64 weeks to learn. Arabic and Pashto are also category 4 languages, but somehow no one ever says that Arabic and Pashto are easy to learn. The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) rates Korean as a category 5, the hardest category in their system, requiring 88 weeks to learn. On the same scale, Pashto was category 4, requiring only 44 weeks to learn. Apparently, some experts think Pashto is easier than Korean, and yet no one ever says that Pasto is easy. The Cranberry Letter rates Korean 9/10 in difficulty. On the same scale, Mandarin was only 8/10 and Pashto only 7/10. Anyone who tells you Korean is easy could probably master Pashto in a matter of weeks.

Most people who tell you Korean is easy are generally basing this evaluation on the writing system. The Korean alphabet, Hangul, is a phonetic writing system, which includes only 24 letters, and can be learned in a day or a week, misleading beginners into believing Korean language is easy. English also has an alphabet of less than thirty letters, as do most western languages. Does this mean that if you have knowledge of the Latin alphabet you can say Hungarian is easy?

The guy is lucky he still has his teeth

While claims that Korean is easy will set me off like a firecracker, another way to send me into a ballistic fit is to tell me that a language is difficult which is actually easy.

An American friend of mine bought a house in the Dominican Republic and has been living there several months per year, for the last decade or so. At a dinner I was attending, he told his family, most of whom don’t speak a foreign language, ‘Spanish is so hard. There are so many words, more than English.” And as proof, he gave the example, “In English there is one word for ‘eat’ but in Spanish there are four.”

It is common knowledge that Spanish is one of the easiest languages for English native speakers. Actually Dutch and Afrikaans are the easiest major languages (Major language being the national language of a country) for speakers of English. But Dutch and Afrikaans aren’t languages widely studied outside of their home country. For most US Americans the first choices for language learning are French or Spanish, whereby Spanish is the easier of the two. Spanish is linguistically easier than French, easier to spell and pronounce, and the cognates are more obvious. A lot of research has been done on the influence of culture on language learning. Many experts believe understanding a culture makes learning a language easier. Most Americans have a lot of exposure to Spanish language and culture, between Spanglish songs on the radio to TV shows and movies which deal with Mexico or Latin America. Or, they may have been exposed to one of the 54 million Hispanics who live in the US.

All of the above factors make learning Spanish particularly easy for US Americans. But, once again, we don’t need my opinion. Let’s check with the experts. The NSA ranks Spanish as the easies of the critical languages. DLI categorizes Spanish as category 1, needing only 26 weeks to learn. FSI ranks Spanish as category 1 and requires only 23-24 weeks to learn.

As for my friend’s claim that Spanish has more words than English, this is also false. Nearly every reliable source you can find will tell you that English has more words than Spanish, by a tremendous margin. The Global Labguage Monitor sets the number of words in the English language at 1,025,109.8. “It has been estimated that the vocabulary of English includes roughly 1 million words” (Merriam-webster.com, 2015). A CNN report claimed that “web 2.0” which was officially added to the English language in 2009 was the one millionth word. (Sutter, 2009).

If we look at the most authoritative dictionaries of the two languages, we can see that The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words; 615,100 definitions, whereas, Diccionario de la Real Academia Española has 100,000 words. Centro Cervantes recognizes DARE as a source, suggesting that there are 93,000 words in the Spanish language. (Bernárdez, 2014) The same article goes on to explain the obvious difficulty of counting how many words there are in a language, do plurals and singulars of the same word count twice? What about verb conjugations? Given the various methods of counting, Centro Cervantes came up with a variety of figures, the largest of which was 500,000 words, still only half the number in the largest estimates of the English language.

Spanish has four words for eat and English only has one? True, if you ignore ALL of the synonyms: attack, binge, bite, chew, chow, consume, devour, dine, feed, inhale, nibble, pick, swallow, absorb, banquet, bolt, breakfast, cram, digest, dispatch, gnaw, gorge, gormandize, graze, have a bite, have a meal, indulge in, ingest, lunch, masticate, munch, nibble, nosh, overindulge, ruminate, scarf, scoff, snack, sup, wolf, break bread, chow, down, dispose of, feast upon, gobble up, have a meal, make a pig of one’s elf, partake of, peck at, pig out, polish off, pork out, put away, stuff ones-self, take food, take in, take nourishment…

Learning any language takes a lot of hard work and dedication. And most people won’t master more than one second language in a lifetime. So from that standpoint, we could say that all languages are hard to learn. But the relative difficulty of one language over another is not based on opinion or personal experience. Experts have spent years and years comparing and analyzing languages and have come to very similar conclusions. By any ranking system in existence, Spanish is one of the easiest and Korean is one of the most difficult major languages to learn. And without any doubt, my Amercan friend who said Spanish is hard, should NEVER attempt to learn Pashto.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
The Monk from Brooklyn, the book which gave Antonio his name, and all of his other books, the book available at amazon.com. His book, Warrior Odyssey, chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia, including stories about Khmer and Vietnamese martial arts as well as the war in Burma and the Shan State Army, is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
Twitter
http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk
facebook
Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

When up is down, Perceptions in Linguistics

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2015 at 4:31 am

By Antonio Graceffo

On a map up, we have all accepted that up is North (Actually, as a map is 2D, we have accepted that forward is both up and consequently North. Up would take you into a third dimension and off the map.).There is no reason for that. We just all agreed on it. But, when you go to a culture that isn’t familiar with maps, not only will they not know this, but they will ask you “why?”. And you will be unable to explain it, because you simply take it for granted.

Once, when I was teaching class in Germany, I went to point something out on a world map and was very embarrassed because I was having trouble orientating myself. This, of course, confirmed for my students, the prejudice that Americans are ignorant of world geography. The issue, I eventually figured out, was that in the US, America is at the center of a world map, and all other countries orient off that center. When I explained this to my German students, they attributed this fact to American nationalism, as everyone knows Germany is meant to be at the center of a world map.

Linguistically, we can see how our place in the world effects our perception and how that, in turn effects our language. On an American map, the Middle East is far away. In fact, it’s half-way to China, which is why we call it “The Middle East.” On a German map, the Middle East doesn’t seem all that far away. And thus, in German, the Middle East is called “The Near East.”

If the Middle East were nearer, would we have a different relationship with the policies we make?

Eventually, after having taught in so many countries, I realized that each country places itself at the center of its world map. Now that I know this, it makes perfect sense. Since, you would generally be looking at the world from your own country, facing out, the world is oriented off of your starting point. But knowing this still made it difficult to use maps when I later lived in Asia. Picture a world map where East Asia is the center, Europe is on the extreme left and America is on the far right. The first time I saw that, I asked “America is East of Taiwan?” But, the globe is a circle. I guess we could argue that any point is East of any other point.

There is one more perception for you. Where does East end and West begin on a circular object? And why? Let’s add to this that the Earth is not actually a circle, we have just decided it was convenient to draw it that way.

WE?

In the truest sense, the way a country makes a map demonstrates how that country perceives the world.

In the West, we read left to right, top to bottom. In other cultures they read right to left. And the front cover of the book is the back cover. But even in the west, the left to right across the page rule doesn’t always hold. A newspaper, for example, is read in vertical columns. I once had a class in Cambodia whose reading level was quite high, but the whole class failed a reading comprehension exam which was based on a newspaper text. They didn’t know to read a newspaper in columns, rather than straight across the page, left to right.

On the highway in America, arrows telling you to continue straight ahead, are actually pointing up into the sky. “Next rest stop, this way.” Does America have flying cars?

In Chinese, the word for “up” is “shàng” and it’s represented by a character that looks like an arrow pointing up into the sky 上. The word for “down” is “xià” and it’s represented by a character that looks like an arrow pointing “down”, into the Earth 下. And that all makes sense to my Western brain. But the Chinese word for next week is “Xià zhōu” 下周. In my mind, next week should be “up”, not down. But I guess, just like “North” being “up” there is no reason for me to feel that way. And yet, it seems counter intuitive that in Chinese next week, next time, and next month are all represented by a “down” character. The one logic I came up with for this might be because on a calendar, whether Chinese or Western, next week is down the page, and next month is down the page. In which case, the West is “wrong?”

Obviously, there is no wrong or right. But these types of perceptions, these prejudices that we have are so deeply instilled that we aren’t even aware of them. And, when we encounter a culture which sees the world differently, we either can’t understand or can’t imagine that people perceive the world in other ways.

An endless collection of these types of perceptions compose our relationship to and understanding of our native tongue, and to language in general. We carry these perceptions with us into foreign cultures, and then wonder why we have difficulty understanding our foreign friends or learning a foreign language.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

The Monk from Brooklyn, the book which gave Antonio his name, and all of his other books, the book available at amazon.com. His book, Warrior Odyssey, chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia, including stories about Khmer and Vietnamese martial arts as well as the war in Burma and the Shan State Army,  is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

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Violated Linguistically, Keep Your Tongue to Yourself

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2014 at 1:18 pm

By Antonio Graceffo

Substitute teaching in a high school, I was a little vague about when class started. When I heard a bell, I just went. The principle said to me in Chinese, “No, your class starts at eight twenty-five.” I said, “OK, thank you,” and sat down. But then the English teacher had to show off how good her English was. She came over to me and said “You can play your class at twenty-five minutes past eight, ten minutes later. But as you can see, according to this clock the time now is only eight twelvth.” Ah yes, the dreaded “eight twelvth” I would have to “wait ten minutes later” to “play” my class. Va fan culo!

This is so typical that to show off or to “practice” Chinese say the longest most convoluted sentence they can. I often hear them using the specific dialogue from chapter seven, like, “Will you eat in our school cafeteria, or do you prefer to eat such delicacies as fresh leafy vegetables, legumes, meats, and savories…” As soon as you use the word “savories” I know you’ve been memorizing dialogues again. And I don’t want to be your partner.

I gritted my teeth and said, “Yes, I understand the concept of telling time.” Since then, I have played and replayed the situation over and over in my head, wondering if I should have ripped into her in English and made her cry. I think the reason I react so badly to Chinese people making long statements from the vocabulary list in chapter eight, is that, one, she is calling me an idiot by suggesting I didn’t understand the principle. Two, she is not very observant, since I answered the principle appropriately, which would suggest I understood. Some people argue that people like this aren’t trying to insult me. They are juts practicing. Well, I don’t understand how this is practicing. Since no native speaker would use that many words to convey such a simple message. And since she obviously already knew these words….What exactly was she practicing? I guess she will get better and better at THIS and next time, she will cram “robust peaches at the peak of freshness” into the sentence.

That night, when I went out to get some food, I bumped into one of the newly arrived German students. I stopped to ask how he was getting on, when I noticed he had an Asian girl with him. Thinking he couldn’t possibly already have a girlfriend, after two days in country, I asked her in Chinese, “Where are you from?” I thought maybe she was another foreign student. As expected, she didn’t answer. So, I said in English, “Where are you from?” He answered for her, saying, “She is from here. She’s my language buddy, assigned by the university to help me learn Chinese.” Now, I was confused why she didn’t answer me. So, I asked again, in Chinese, “Where are you from?” She just smiled and said “Yes” in English. So, I switched to harsher Chinese and asked, rather forcefully. “I just asked you twice, where you are from. Why didn’t you answer?” She replied in English. “I am sorry, but I can’t understand your Chinese.” So, I asked in Chinese, “Why don’t you understand me? Everyone else does.” But she didn’t budge. She said, “Sorry, your accent…” I exploded, and started shouting in English (maybe I should have done it in Chinese, but I wanted the German guy to know what I was saying.) I am a doctoral candidate in this university. All my classes are in Chinese. All my classmates are Chinese. Everyone understands me but you.”

I just didn’t see how this was going to end well. And I felt embarrassed for the poor German guy who probably had no idea what to do. So, I just mumbled under my breath, in Chinese, “Forget about it. You have no manners.” As I stormed off, she called after me in English, “I understood that. Your Chinese is so good.”

I know people think I get mad about nothing and fly off the handle, but this person intentionally made me lose face. I can’t imagine she did this to help me. I don’t think she cured famine or Ebola by doing this. She wanted to make me look bad and make herself look smart. Also, she is supposed to be helping this guy with his Chinese. Obviously, his Chinese won’t be as good as mine. So, will she constantly shoot him down, till he gives up and speaks English with her? I actually had a language exchange partner in Korea who laughed at me every time I spoke Korean. And I know he did this so I would give up and we could just speak English, for his benefit. Instead, I told him to go f— himself, and possibly I threatened him physically, I don’t remember. I probably did threaten him physically. Sounds like something I would do.

And very much like Fred, I have to ask, why is this ok? Why does she get away with this? Why is it that if I stopped typing right now, scoured the campus, found her and ripped into her verbally, I would be the bad guy?

Well, wait till tomorrow night’s post, because, I am planning on being the bad guy.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Antonio and His Languages

In Uncategorized on May 4, 2014 at 11:28 am

By Antonio Graceffo, (The Brooklyn Monk)

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A lot of people have asked about my languages, which ones I speak, which ones I speak well, and so forth. I have seen interviews or heard myself being introduced on radio shows and things where the claims were blown a bit out of proportion. So, to set the record straight, here is the truth, along with links for scrutiny.
Languages: English, Chinese, German, Spanish, Thai, Khmer, Italian, French, Vietnamese, and Korean
English: Speaks, reads and writes English at native speaker level
Link to video of Antonio Speaking English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vNz6v3MXNk
Chinese: Chinese at HSK level 4 level reading, HSK level 5 listening and speaking. Exam results available on request. Admitted to PhD program where all courses, papers, and research are in Chinese. Has distinguished himself as a presenter in Chinese and a diligent researcher (letters available upon request)
PhD presentation in Chinese at Shanghai University of Sport

German: Speaks German at high level of fluency, Attended School of Translation and Interpreting , the University of Mainz, GErmersheim, Germany, 1993-1996 conducted research on second language acquisition theory, under Dr. Kiraly, worked as a freelance and contract translator, and worked in the foreign language department of Deutsche Telekom
Antonio Speaking German, telling the story of his many year martial arts odyssey in Asia

Spanish: Speaks Spanish at advanced level, studied at Universidad Latina, Costa Rica, and Spanish/German translation school in Salamanca. Antonio has spoken Spanish since childhood.
Conducting martial arts interview in Spanish

Thai: Speaks Thai at upper intermediate level. Has conducted extended field research on Automatic Language Growth, using Thai for a base, under the direction of David Long of AUA Bangkok.
Conducting a martial arts interview in Thai

Khmer: Intermediate level. Antonio spoke Khmer better when he lived in Cambodia, but of all languages, Khmer is the one he uses the least outside of Cambodia, so his ability has regressed quite a bit. Recently, Antonio has been returning to Cambodia to train with the national wrestling team and he was forced to begin listening, if not speaking, Khmer again for communication.
Antonio conducting martial arts interviews in Khmer

Antonio Conducting martial arts interviews in Khmer

Italian: Speaks Italian at upper intermediate level of communication but with poor grammar. Antonio was raised non-strict bilingual, with Italian and English.
Conducting martial arts interview in Italian

French: Speaks French at upper intermediate level. Can communicate well, but with poor grammar and pronunciation.
Conducting martial arts interview in French

Vietnamese: Studied Vietnamese and passed upper intermediate exam, however, pronunciation is still extremely difficult, making communication difficult
Antonio Graceffo speaking Vietnamese

Korean: While living in Busan, Korea, Antonio took private Korean lessons at Dong A University. He passed the intermediate exam in Korean but cannot speak Korean, however, Antonio has used Korean to help him understand and explore Chinese as well as the relationship between Chinese and Korean and Vietnamese and Chinese.
Has also studied Russian, but only to lower intermediate level and now cannot speak Russian, but can still read Cyrillic alphabet which has proved useful for research in Mongolian wrestling.
Linguistic Publishing: Published approximately 200 articles in the field of second language acquisition as well as language specific articles. Antonio has done a lot of field research on ALG Automatic Language Growth theory. In the field of second language acquisition he focuses on the area of listening. His articles have appeared in Asian Geographic magazine and even the journal for UN interpreters.
Link to language articles: https://www.google.com/#q=antonio+graceffo+linguistics+language+articles&safe=off
Linguistics videos: Produced over 70 Youtube videos dealing with linguistics and language acquisition https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL852B70EC7BFCA7C7
CAM TESOL (2013): Antonio’s greatest achievement in the field of second language acquisition was presenting a on listening at CAM TESOL, the largest English language teaching conference in Asia.
Link to Antonio’s presentation video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7_Eq05bm8c

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Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
Twitter
http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk
facebook
Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Finding the Master’s House

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2013 at 10:15 am

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Lost in Taiwanisation

By Antonio Graceffo

When I first got to Taiwan, the school I was teaching at arranged for me to study kung fu with a teacher in another village. They told me that for the first week, the school janitor would drive me there, then, after that, I would have to drive myself, on my motorcycle. The town where we lived was very small, and we had to drive through even more remote little Taiwanese villages, to get to the teacher’s house. Every night, on the way to training and back, I sat in the front seat, next to the driver, meticulously making notes, even drawing pictures, of how to go there. The whole way, I asked questions, what is this road called, what is that building…just so I could have points of reference. Unfortunately, almost nothing had  name. I remember asking, “What is this road called?” And he answered, “Yes, you can call it a road or a street.” Very helpful. I was sweating bullets about the day I would have to drive myself. This was 12 years ago, and I couldn’t speak any Chinese. There weren’t that many street signs out in the country side. And the ones that did exist were all in Chinese. From experience, I knew that if I got lost, I couldn’t ask or understand directions. Even if I found someone who spoke English, what would I tell them? Can you tell me how to get to Master Chiu’s house?

By the fifth night, I was pretty certain I had a good idea how to get there and back. I condensed my pages and pages of notes and drew out a map with pictures and landmarks. But on that night, we came back a different way. About halfway back, the janitor turned to me and said, “Remember this road. This is how you will have to drive yourself on your motorcycle tomorrow.”

I bloody flipped out. What a stupid plan! He had five nights to teach me the rout but he only took me on the rout I needed, once, and only on the way back and only told me after it was too late for me to write anything down.

I never saw that master again.

 

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

website

www.speakingadventure.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

 

Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Wrestling Linguistics: They hear what they want to hear

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2013 at 1:29 am

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By Antonio Graceffo

On my first night of wrestling training, after the warm up and exercises, the coach ordered everyone to go put on their wrestling jackets. While I was putting mine on, the coach said, “An Dong Ni is a foreigner and doesn’t have a wrestling jacket.” I was standing right in front of him, putting it on. Like the Emperor’s New Clothes, no one pointed this fact out to him, till finally one brave girl spoke up. “Look he’s wearing a wrestling jacket.” So the teacher asked me, “Where did you get that jacket?” It has the name of my master and my wrestling club in Beijing written on it. I was going to point that out, but instead, I said, “Beijing.” Sp he repeated, slowly, like he was talking to Hellen Keller “Where d-i-d y-o-u g-e-t t-h-e j-a-c-k-et?” To which I replied, “B-e-i-j-i-n-g.” The teacher looked lost, like he wanted someone to translate. “I guess he doesn’t understand the question.” He concluded. “I got it in Beijing.” I almost yelled, under my breath I added, “I told you twice already.” Then, I added “My sifu gave it to me.” He didn’t look convinced that I was wearing a wrestling jacket, but he decided to go ahead with the training and see if we could order one for me in the morning.

Before and after training each day we have to stand at attention, like in the military, “eyes right, front, parade rest, attention, cover, recover…” Then we have to count off. After that, the teacher puts us at parade rest and talks to us for a few minutes. During his talk, he asked me, in front of everyone, if I was married. I said, “no.” So he repeated the question. “Are you married?” And I repeated the answer. “No.” So, he told the group, “He doesn’t understand the question.” This pisses me off. In this culture, everyone is expected to do the same things, like getting married, for example. And it is such a given that everyone does what the culture dictates, that they even reject information to the contrary. So, I spoke up, “I was married, but now I am divorced.” I really think it’s no one’s business, but I wanted to be clear that I had both heard and understood him.

In all cultures, people tend to hear what they expect to hear. But in Asia, I find it a bit more extreme because the culture dictates that there are certain expected behaviors, as well as expected responses. This can be very frustrating for a language learner. You heard the question. You answered it. Then they ask again. And then you think, I must not have understood and that’s why they are asking again. So, they repeat it, but it sounds like the same question again. And you go in circles.

Another dimension to this phenomenon is that people often jump in to translate for you, and they make the situation even worse, because they aren’t working from the actual answers you are giving but from what they believe the correct answer should be.

The other night, in the elevator, after wrestling class, this girl wrestler asked me, “Do you like China.” She is always chatting me up, being friendly, but she inevitably, through no fault of her own, presses my buttons. She had no way of knowing I hate the “do you like China” question. The way I deal with it now is by saying, “Yes, I do. Do you?” Then I go around and ask each Chinese person in the room if they like China. I think it’s funny and Chinese people just think it is insane to ask them if they like China. The answer is so obvious, that they can’t even say it. I usually have to ask several times in order to get an answer. On that night, I said, “Yes, I do.” Then I immediately asked the Chinese guy standing next to me. “Do you like China?” Before he could answer, the girl butted in, “The foreigner is asking you if you have ever been to another country.” “No, I am not.” I interrupted. “I am asking if you like China.” Once again, the girl jumped in. “The foreigner is asking you if you would ever change your passport.” To which, the guy answered, “No.”

Now, what had started as a very small joke was turning into something ugly. I don’t like to be controlled, put down or insulted. I said to the guy, “I didn’t ask that. I asked if you like China.” Once again, the girl began to explain what I mean, when I cut her off and said, “You asked me if I liked China. Now I am asking him if he likes China. What’s the problem?” She looked both confused and frightened. The boy timidly answered, “Yes, I like China.”

The whole incident left me really angry. I use my funny questions as a way of breaking the ice and making friends with people. Also, by asking everyone the same question they ask me, I am showing that we are all the same. Why does it make sense to ask me if I like China but not to ask others? If you do that, then you are separating me from the group, rather than including me. But now, people saw me get angry. And in China, they NEVER try to understand what actually made you angry. They only know that you are angry and will steer clear of you. This exact pathology could play out ten more times and no one will ever come up with the theory, “Maybe he gets angry when we butt into his conversations and translate.” Instead, they will only understand, don’t talk to him  he hates elevators.

 

 

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

website

www.speakingadventure.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

 

Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com