Hofstede’s cultural dimensions in example of Japan and Norway

Japan is in blue
Norway is in purple

Now that we see the differences according to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, we may discuss how this can impact work relationships. The power distance in Japan leads to an immense difference between people of different rankings and age. In Norway, however, this is not the case. Norway’s power distance is quite lower; this indicates that there is lesser of a difference between people of higher ranking and age, what this leads to is a possible confrontation between different classed workers in Norway due to the willingness of speaking up. Japan is a contrast to this due to its difference in power distance. In Japan, one might be more willing to spark conversation and confrontation between superiors and people beneath.

Lesser individualism leads to more a group-oriented mindset. Norway has a 20% higher score on the individualism dimension, according to Hofstede. What this means is that in Norway, people are more individual and may tend to keep to themselves. In Norway, a worker might prefer to tackle a problem themself without any help, but in Japan, you would instead work with a group not thinking entirely of yourself. As well as the preferred way to work, the mindset of the workers is different; in Japan, one will instead go to great lengths to secure profit for the group, while in Norway, one will instead achieve a profit for oneself.

Masculinity grants focus on competition, achievements, and success, while femininity grants concentration on care, compassion, and quality of life. Japan has almost a full score on the masculinity scale, meaning that Japan is a very masculine, competitive, and success-oriented country. Norway scores nearly nothing on this scale, meaning Norway is a very feminine country, which leads to Norway’s people focusing on care and quality of life. The countries’ scores in masculinity and femininity are reflected in the work environments, Norway being more careful and ensures quality for all, while Japan is more competitive and focuses on success above all.

Long term orientation and avoiding uncertainty leads to precautious behavior. Norway is rather indifferent when it comes to the uncertain future; therefore, Norway does not take any precautions regarding the future. Japan, however, is the polar opposite in its being a very precautious and uncertainty avoiding country. In the work-environment, Japan undergoes multiple measures and actions to secure the future, Norway, however, is indifferent.

Indulgence may lead to an unhealthy and excessive lifestyle or just some good fun. Both Japan and Norway score about the same in this dimension, and they are both pretty indifferent when it comes to indulgence. They both agree on not going to any extremes, as in you can’t show up drunk to work, but you can have a beer every-now-and-then at home.

Sources
Hofstede Insights. (n.d.). Country Comparison. Retrieved from: https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-comparison/japan,norway/

Four songs’ use of literary devices

Following today’s theme of literary devices, we are going to delve into the use of literary devices in four songs. To make sure we both have a clear understanding of the term, here is an explanation of literary devices from [1] Literary Devices.com:

“Literary devices or literary techniques are specific structures that writers often use to add meaning or create more compelling stories for the reader. Some common examples are metaphor, alliteration, hyperbole, and imagery. These techniques can give the reader a greater understanding and meaning of the writers intent.”

The first excerpt of a song we are going to cover is [4] American Dreamz by Tom MacDonald. American Dreamz is a social commentary on America’s gun culture and the contradictions between their love for peace and weaponry. In the opener of the first verse, we can see the use of the hyperbole, anecdote and the analogy:

“We’re making murderers’ famous
They kill a bunch of kids and get on all the front pages (on all the front pages)
I don’t know none of the victims
I know the guns in the system promote the ones who are dangerous (ones who are dangerous)
It’s become entertainment” (MacDonald, 2019).

Here MacDonald uses the hyperbolic statements of how we are making murderers famous and how killing children get people on all the front pages of the internet and the news. While he isn’t entirely wrong, because murderers tend to get famous and covered on the news, but not every single murderer is a famous celebrity as he claims. There is also the anecdotal statement of how he doesn’t know any of the victims, which might be true and does show how we give murderers more recognition than the victims, it is still a personal anecdotal claim that does not apply to every single person. Finally, Macdonald uses the analogy of how it has become entertainment to watch murderers on the news, here he draws the line of how we have reached a level where it is similar to entertainment in how we give murderers a lot of publicity, recognition, and fame.

The second excerpt of a song we are going to cover is [2] The Beautiful People by Marylin Manson. What we are going to cover is the first half of the second verse’s use of symbolism, analogy, and metaphor:

“The worms will live in every host
It’s hard to pick which one they hate the most
The horrible people, the horrible people
It’s all anatomic as the size of your steeple” (Manson, 1996).

Here Manson uses the worms as a symbol of corruption and the narcissism within people, these people are the horrible people. Afterward, Manson draws the analogy of how being corrupt and narcissistic is as natural as the size of one’s penis. Finally, this might be a metaphor for society’s corruption and narcissism, as he uses the word people. Keep in mind that this is all my interpretation.

The third excerpt of a song we are going to cover is [3] Creep by Radiohead and its use of simile and conflict in the first verse:

“When you were here before
Couldn’t look you in the eye
You’re just like an angel
Your skin makes me cry
You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You’re so fuckin’ special” (Radiohead, 1992).

Here there is the use of simile in how a female is just like an angel and floats like a feather, meaning she is incredibly beautiful, elegant and kind. Afterward, we are faced with the conflict of the song, she is a beautiful and special person, while he is not, he is only able to wish for it upon himself.

The fourth and final excerpt we are covering is from the song [5] Glassy Sky by Yutaka Yamada. Here he uses three consecutive metaphors:

“Glassy sky above
As long as I survive, you will be part of me
Glassy sky, the cold, the broken pieces of me” (Yamada, 2015).

The first metaphor of how there is a glassy sky above him, referring to the glasslike look of an evening sky, filled with beauty, similar to delicate glass. In the second metaphor, he conveys how as long as he is alive the person he is talking about will always be a part of him, not literary of course, but in memory and spirit. In the third and final metaphor, he says there are cold and broken pieces of glass within him, meaning there are many varied emotions, thoughts, and memories causing him to feel hurt.

References
[1] Literary Devices. (n.d.). In Literary-Devices. Retrieved from https://literary-devices.com/literary-devices/
[2] Marylin Manson. (1996). Beautiful People. [Recorded by Marylin Manson]. United States of America: Interscope Records & Nothing Records.
[3] Radiohead. (1992). Creep. [Recorded by Radiohead]. United States of America: Parlophone Records & Capitol Records.
[4] Tom MacDonald. (2019). American Dreamz. [Recorded by Tom MacDonald]. United States of America.
[5] Yutaka Yamada. (2015). Glassy Sky. [Recorded by Yutaka Yamada]. Tokyo, Japan: カナメイシレコード.

A Lotus Diagram of The Volunteer, written by Lucinda Nelson Dhavan

In today’s newest blog post I am going to go over a Lotus Diagram that I have created. First off, what is a Lotus Diagram? A Lotus Diagram is a diagram in which one chooses one thing, be it a text, a film or whatever, and writes up eight topics, followed by eight examples of each topic. Below you will find my own Lotus Diagram of a text called The Volunteer, written by Lucinda Nelson Dhavan. I have chosen my main theme to be literary devices, afterward, I have chosen the topics of the text’s plot, core messages, the main character Carrie, environment/setting, mood, metaphors, similes, and imagery.

I highly recommend using a Lotus Diagram whenever you are analyzing a text, working on film and whenever you feel you need some help and guidance on understanding something.

Singlish and Standard Singaporean English (SSE), is there a difference?

As the title asks, I want to cover this topic in this latest and third blogpost. On the surface-level, Singlish and SSE might seem incredibly similar, if not identical to the unknowing listener, but today I will not only delve into the differences but also point out important social, cultural and historical points on these two English-based East-Asian creoles. I will talk about the technical/structural composition of Singlish and SSE, the Speak Good English Movement (SGEM), but most importantly answer the question: Singlish and Standard Singaporean English (SSE), is there a difference?

Before we can go into two of the languages of Singapore, we should go into its history. First off, Singapore was bought by the British in 1824, not for its natural resources, nor so it could be a place to start up plantations, rather it was due to Singapore’s great location for naval trade that it attracted the eyes of the British. Singapore is a very small country in the middle of East-Asia, but thanks to this it had an amazing harbor when it came to trading with other nations. This, along with migrants coming to Singapore to work would allow Singapore to grow culturally, physically and economically. Eventually, Singapore would gain its independence with Lee Kuan Yew as its first prime minister in 1965 and is today one of the wealthiest nations in Asia. If you want to look more into the history of Singapore, check out the sources I used for this post: [5], [9], [13], [14] and [22] down below.

Now that we have a good understanding of Singapore’s history, we can delve into the history of Singlish and SSE. Both Singlish and SSE has been around since the British first arrived, and with its East-Asian influences like Mandarin, Chinese, Japanese and Malay it has evolved alongside the country into what we know as Singlish and SSE today. At the very beginning, Singlish was a difficult mixture of many East-Asian languages and British-English, and SSE was an attempt at a formal creole between British-English and many East-Asian languages, therefore they were both filled with errors, misunderstandings, and complications. Today, however, Singlish and SSE have grown and evolved alongside Singapore and gotten their intricate and organized structure, which we will go into next. If you want to look more into the history of Singlish and SSE, check out the sources I used for this post: [17], [18], [20] and [23] down below.

Now we shall go into the technical/structural composition of Singlish and SSE. As we probably understand by now, Singlish and SSE have a very strong British influence on their vocabulary, grammar, and structure, but there is nonetheless a very strong influence from East-Asian languages mixed into these creoles. One can see the East-Asian influence in Singlish and SSE in how it’s semi-rhotic, meaning the “r” is not always pronounced, rather rarely actually. The pluralization might also be different from time to time, meaning the way plural words are pronounced will vary. The “s” can have a weaker, if not silent pronunciation in some plural words. There is also a different word order and words adapted from East-Asian languages within Singlish sentences. For example; “The chicken here sibei tok kong.”. Here we have the absence of is, along with the Hokkien words tok kong, meaning very good. There is also the word sibei, being another strengthening word like really, the sentence could, therefore, be translated to: “The chicken here really very good.”. There is also an example of a different word order in the SSE sentence: “May I ask where is the toilet?”. Here it would be correct to say: “May I ask where the toilet is?”. Finally, we also have expressionistic words in Singlish like lah, aiyoh and ah. The word lah would be used to add emphasis to a sentence, like the English word yo, aiyoh is a word to express shock, like the English wow, and ah is a word to express uncertainty, like the way English people would say eh and uhm. If you want to look more into the grammar and technical/structural composition of Singlish and SSE, check out the sources I used for this post: [10], [12], [17] and [24] down below.

Further on we have the Speak Good English Movement (SGEM). SGEM is a controversial movement that started in the year 2000 by the government, with goals to promote the use of the formal SSE, and remove Singlish. The reason some want this is that they think of Singlish as neither grammatically correct, formal, appropriate nor important. Some people, like some of the Singaporeans that I have personally asked and interviewed, view Singlish as “silly”, “funny” and “informal”. Others hate this movement and feel it divides people, tries to erase culture and change people in a way that they do not want to change. This movement, foreign opinions and the different environments these languages are used have caused tension between Singlish, SSE and its speakers. If you want to look more into the SGEM, check out the sources I used for this post: [2], [7], [11], [15] and [16] down below.

To continue with the social side of Singlish and SSE, we will look at more aspects of this tension and subtle conflict between speakers. Stigmatism and prejudice will follow in the wake of using one of these languages at the wrong time, for example: using Singlish to talk to your boss, or SSE to talk with classmates or using SSE at a local store can lead to you being judged and treated as informal, pretentious, wrong and out-of-place. Although one can face such judgments and opinions, it’s important to keep in mind that there is not only the conflict in using these languages but also harmony. The mindset of “one or the other” is wrong here, one has to keep in mind that everyone in Singapore uses both languages and can live in perfect harmony if they are used at collectively chosen appropriate times, but conflict arises when one deems it wrong to use it in a way you deem it correct. Never violent nor serious conflict keep in mind, rather subtle and silent conflict. If you want to look more into the sources I used for my writing on the social side of Singlish and SSE, see [1], [4], [6] and [21] down below.

To conclude this post on Singlish and SSE, one can see how Singapore’s history and culture have evolved and affected Singlish and SSE, not only grammatically and structurally, but also socially and culturally. And to answer the question asked at the beginning: Singlish and Standard Singaporean English (SSE), is there a difference? The answer is yes. There is a huge difference, not only grammatically and structurally, with Singlish being more spoken, colorful and has a heavier influence from East-Asian languages and SSE with a stronger formal and written role to play, with heavier British roots and more focus on formality, but there is also the cultural and social difference. Singlish is more relaxed and often used among friends and family, but SSE is often more formal and rather used in a professional setting. On the surface, they might sound and look similar, but now we can see how there is a paramount of difference between the two.

Finally, I want to thank my teacher Barbara Anna Zielonka for helping me along the way to create this, Emma Masheder and Arjun Singh for answering my questions and sharing them around, and of course you, the readers for reading all of this. Make sure to check out my sources at the bottom, and have a wonderful day ahead. Stay educated.

Jamaican Patois and Standard English, their differences and history

This is going to be my second blog post, and today I decided to make a post about Jamaican Patois and Standard English. I want to talk about some differences, similarities and some extra information on both of them.

First off, what is Jamaican Patois, and what is Standard English? To discuss the differences and similarities between Jamaican Patois and Standard English, we should look at what these languages are, where they come from and some key distinctive factors that tell us more on what they are, and where they differ.

We should start with Jamaican Patois since that is probably more foreign to most people, as opposed to Standard English. Before we get into one of the languages of Jamaica, we should look at some Jamaican history to get a better picture and some insight into the development of Jamaican Patois. Further on we are going to have a look at the development and evolution of Standard English, but for now, Jamaica has the spotlight.

(1) Jamaican Patois started with the native Taino people (also known as the Arawak people). They had a language of their own known as Taino, as well. In the 1400s the Spaniards arrived in Jamaica, took the Taino people as slaves, and brought African slaves from all across Africa. For less than 200 years they formed a pidgin/semi-creole language, this was a mixture of Spanish, the native Taino language, and various African languages. The British arrive in the 1600s, taking most of the slaves from the Spaniards, and taking full control over Jamaica, the Spaniards thus had to leave. Some slaves escaped into the mountains, forming their own culture and people known as the Maroons, which still live and exist today. The other less fortunate slaves were under rulership of the British and had to learn to communicate with them, frankly having to form a pidgin out of a pidgin/semi-creole. There was now a new creole in Jamaica, consisting of Taino, Spanish, various African languages and a heavy influence from British English. With a good 400 years to develop, it became the language known today as Jamaican Patois. Simply put, Jamaican Patois is one of the languages spoken in Jamaica, but is also the result of colonization from the Spaniards and Britsh, along with Taino and African slaves all put together in one place who formed a common language.

(5) Now that we have a better understanding of Jamaican Patois, we should have a loot at the history behind Standard English. It all started with the natives of Great Britain (nobody knows exactly who the natives were, so for now we’ll call them “the natives”) ,Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in the late 400s to the early 1000s that formed what we know today as the British. Together they formed an early state of the English language, along with French and Norse influence due to war and conflict. After the medieval period ended, the British began colonizing areas such as Jamaica, and many other places across the world for a few hundred years. Because of this, English adopted bits and pieces from many other languages, English then became a very widespread language and a lingua franca across the world, and it is what we know today as Standard English. Simply put, Standard English is the form of English generally accepted as the correct form, but it is technically the culmination of more than a millennium of development from all across the world but is predominantly derived from European languages, as well as the lingua franca spoken across the world.

(4) We now understand the historical and cultural differences between Jamaican Patois and Standard English, but what are the in-practice differences between the two? Some examples are: “Mi chat Patwah”. Meaning “I speak Patois”. Here the “I” is replaced with “Mi”, this is because the word “me” has been adopted into Jamaican Patois to mean both “me” and “I”. “Speak” is replaced with “chat”, likely due to it being more common to use “chat” rather than “speak” a few centuries ago. “Patois” is replaced with “patwah”, here the change in spelling is likely to help pronounce the word easier when spoken. Some more examples, without going into detail on their differences, are the following: “Im a nyam di kiek.” Meaning “He is eating the cake”. “Dem de a Kingston”. Meaning “They are in Kingston”.

Now that we have looked at some examples of Jamaican Patois used in everyday life, we are going to look at a quote from Sonny’s Letter (2) and one from No Little Twang (3). Both are going to have the original Jamaican Patois version, and a translated version in Standard English. A quote and translation from Sonny’s Letter (2):

“Good Day. I hope dat wen deze few lines reach yu, they may find yu in di bes af helt. Mama, I really don’t know how fi tell yu dis, cause I did mek a salim pramis fi tek care a likkle Jim an try mi bes fi look out fi him.” (Linton Kwesi Johnson, 1979).

“Good Day I hope that when these few lines reach you, they may find you in the best of health. I don’t know how to tell you this, for I did make a solemn promise to take care of little Jim and try my best to look out for him” (Linton Kwesi Johnson, 1979).

We can see the same pattern in simplifying both grammar and spelling similar to the practical examples from earlier. Words like “dat”, “deze”, “yu” and “bes” are similar to the Standard English counterparts of “that”, “these”, “you”, and “best”, but they have been cut down, simplified and are written like they are spoken. Despite Jamaican Patois having different spelling and grammar, it still has words that are the same in Jamaican Patois and Standard English, like “Good”, “hope”, “lines” and “reach”. Here is a quote and translation from No Little Twang (3):

“Me glad fe se’s you come back bwoy, but lawd yuh let me dung. Me shame o’ yuh soh till all o’ me proudness drop a grung. Yuh mean yuh goh dah ‘Merica an spen six whole mont’ deh, an come back not a peice betta dan how yuh did goh weh?” (Louise Bennett, 1966).

“I’m glad to see you’re back, son but I feel you’ve let me down. I am highly disappointed, my pride had hit the ground. You went all the way to America and spent six whole months there and did not return any better than how you left us here?” (Louise Bennett, 1966).

Again, we see this pattern of simplifying grammar and spelling similar to both Sonny’s Letter and the practical examples. Words like “’Merica”, “deh” and “spen”, spelled like the way it is spoken and spelled differently from Standard English, but still holding the same meaning, the Standard English counterparts being; “America”, “there” and “spent”. There are also words spelled the same in both languages like “glad”, “six” and “how”.

In my eyes, the core differences between Jamaican Patois and Standard English tend to be how words and sentences are shortened and grammatically simplified in Jamaican Patois. African, Taino, and Spanish influence cause the pronunciations to be different from Standard English, and finally, Jamaican Patois has an older English influence. The last point is likely due to the communication and interaction between Jamaica and Britain dwindling after Jamaica became its own free and self-governed country. There are also similarities in the languages if we look at words like “glad”, “six”, etc, which are the same in both languages!

To conclude this post, if you want to look more into the history, differences and culture behind Standard English and Jamaican Patois, check out my list of sources at the bottom down there, and make sure to check out this video by Langfocus who was the core inspiration behind this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNM-BE4xAyo

Sources:

(1) Jamaica: History. (n.d.). In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved from: http://thecommonwealth.org/our-member-countries/jamaica/history

(2) Linton Kwesi Johnson. 1979. Sonny’s Letter.

(3) Louise Bennett. 1966. No Little Twang.

(4) Paul Jorgensen. [Langfocus]. (2019, July 14th). Jamaican Patois (NOT English!). [MP4]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNM-BE4xAyo

(5) United Kingdom. (n.d.). In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/place/United-Kingdom

About Me

My name is Simen Andersen and I am a Norwegian 16-year-old aspiring to become an English professor. I read books, articles and everything in between every single day and I am trying to go about each day furthering my path towards reaching my own goals.

This year I want to learn about everything there is to know within the field of teaching, learning, English, and people. I know that might sound too optimistic, but as they say; “Aim for the stars, still reach the skies”.

Something that does and has always really piqued my interest in the human psyche and mind. The way people think and behave, why they do what they do and how we can learn to better understand each other.

This year I will be needing your guidance, advice and constructive criticism in every way that you can give. I want to better myself as a person, learner, and teacher, and if I want to achieve this I will be needing your help along the way.

I want you to know that I want and need your criticism and advice, no matter how harsh they might initially sound. In the grand scheme of things, they will aid me in growing and becoming the best version of myself that is possible.

My heroes are the people of this world who are born into the worst conditions, predisposed to have the worst lives but are still, despite all that, able to succeed, thrive and aspire towards reaching their dreams and goals.

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