Writing (4 of 4) 書くこと

勇気を出して

書き込んで

フィードバックを取り入れる

アウトプット

[For the non-Japanese speaker: This is a tutorial on how to improve English reading skills using Internet resources to find content you’re actually interested in / can understand; it’s part of my Customised Interaction Approach]

 

お願い: 英語の勉強で悩んでいる方々で、このビデオ教材が役に立ったと評価されたら、知人などに共有して頂ければと思います。

Speaking (3 of 4) 発声

ネイティブの発話を真似し

口慣らしする

アウトプット

[For the non-Japanese speaker: This is a tutorial on how to improve English reading skills using Internet resources to find content you’re actually interested in / can understand; it’s part of my Customised Interaction Approach]

お願い: 英語の勉強で悩んでいる方々で、このビデオ教材が役に立ったと評価されたら、知人などに共有して頂ければと思います。

Listening (2 of 4) 聴解

理解可能 且つ

自分にとって興味深い

インプット の

入手方法

[For the non-Japanese speaker: This is a tutorial on how to improve English reading skills using Internet resources to find content you’re actually interested in / can understand; it’s part of my Customised Interaction Approach]

お願い: 英語の勉強で悩んでいる方々で、このビデオ教材が役に立ったと評価されたら、知人などに共有して頂ければと思います。

Reading (1 of 4) 読解

理解可能 且つ

自分にとって興味深い

インプット の

入手方法

[For the non-Japanese speaker: This is a tutorial on how to improve English reading skills using Internet resources to find content you’re actually interested in / can understand; it’s part of my Customised Interaction Approach]

お願い: 英語の勉強で悩んでいる方々で、このビデオ教材が役に立ったと評価されたら、知人などに共有して頂ければと思います。

 

EFL in Japan: 英語教育の改善提案

English Language Learning: Customised Interaction Approach (or the CIA) in Japan

日本人の大人を対象した英語教育の改善提案。(カスタマイズ化インプット方法)

リーディングに関するチュートリアル動画

リスニングに関するチュートリアル動画

スピーキングに関するチュートリアル動画

ライティングに関するチュートリアル動画

Being shy of doing bad things

Mom & Dad, don't smoke!

Mom,  Dad, don’t smoke!

 

As an English teacher

  1. I am called upon to explain a concept like shy &
  2. later I am again prodded for an answer regarding expressions in which the concept doesn’t seem to make sense in particular combinations (the so-called idioms), such as shy of.

We know what shy means, right?

We know that if “John is a shy person”, then John is probably not that forward coming, not out there.

We know that as native speakers of English, but why do we (also) have shy of?

Let’s say that some guy scored 20 points in a basketball game which was “shy of the previous record of 22”.

What does shy of mean here?

Of course, people will tell you it means

“short of [a number]: less than [a number], but pretty near it”.

But why do we have shy? Where is the person who is shy in this sentence? Was the basketball player shy and that’s why he didn’t score more? No, this kind of shy doesn’t (necessarily) involve a person.

The common theme we have here is that of

  1. something A tending to do something B (or somebody wanting to do something),
  2. but stopping short of reaching that something B (or stopping short of doing something).

So we have “near, but not quite”, which translates into physical space as fairly close values, where one is lower than the other.

That’s one way you can explain shy of:

You imagine a line on a graph which is curbing upwards but stops before it reaches a certain point.

Maybe somebody rang the bell and the basketball game ended and our player couldn’t get more points past 20.

We have a moment when something A is shy of (=less than) something B and you cannot go back and fix this to reach that something B.

“He stopped shy of saying you’re an idiot”.

He didn’t say it, but it was leading up there, the whole talk before that, he said everything except “you’re an idiot”.

We use a human-applicable adjective in combination with a preposition that shows us only belonging (and not direction) to develop a new meaning.

The lower value is part OF (“belongs TO”) the higher value, in the same way that 20 is part of 22, even if 20 is short of (=shy of) 22.

We have a leap of meaning and we don’t know exactly how this came about.

We don’t know about the first instance when somebody used it, but once people who heard it were able to say

“Okay, okay, I think I can grasp what you’re saying”,

then shy of became a very good shorthand to say “something nearly reached its target”.

What about short of? This has a similar meaning, but is there a difference?

Shy of sounds like it was closer and there was slightly more work to be done by the subject (more self-controlled), while short of seems to imply a greater gap and some external causes (i.e., another subject) which cut you short from reaching something:

“Ronaldo fan [was] stopped short of reaching her hero”.

We have this huge network of meanings developed in English, which (as English speakers) we can dig out as archaeologists would.

In Japanese the concept shy is usually rendered as hazukashii (=恥ずかしい) which also covers the concept of shame or shameful.

You could say for example “He engaged in an act that was hazukashii (=恥ずかしい)”. In this context you cannot use shy in English:

He engaged in a *shy act: He did it, then he was not shy, so you have to use shameful.

Why do we have this difference in Japanese? We also have a more lengthy translation of shameful in Shame-Worthy Act (hajiru beki koto 恥じるべきこと), but in Japanese shy and ashamed are grouped together (i.e., one word hazukashii  = 恥ずかしい):

“You should stop shy of doing it if you want to do something shameful”

says the Japanese ethic in this situation, whereas in English we have 2 different words which seem pretty distinct.

People have devoted entire books to discussing this difference (shame culture versus guilt culture).

Is Japan a culture where “being shy of doing shameful acts” is considered praiseworthy?

Is the Western culture one where we are encouraged to “be ashamed of our illegitimate desires” with no connection with the concept of shy?

In English we don’t educate our children to be “shy of doing BAD stuff”.

In English we teach children to be “ashamed if they do BAD stuff”.

On the other hand, in Japanese the concept shy is comfortably couched together with the concept ashamed:

A Japanese mother could scold her child saying

Hazukashii (=恥ずかしい). What you are doing is shameful; you should be shy of doing it”.

The moral lesson is linguistically encoded in the scolding, as it includes the path to be followed.

That’s the wrong path and you know it.

Both shy and ashamed seem to require that you feel a negative emotion (in NSM “feel something bad”); hajiru (=恥じる) would be the direct translation for ashamed, but this would be achieved in Japanese by triggering in the mind of the child a self-imposed reluctance in engaging in a certain act.

The hope here is that an adult could learn not to (choose to) do something BAD.

One of the strongest rebukes that somebody in Japan could level at another person who is also an adult would be a one-word sentence:

[You should be] Hazukashii (=恥ずかしい) [=You should be ashamed of yourself].

Unlike English this does not carry so much the implication of “being imposed on by ANOTHER”.

You might hear an old Japanese lady on the train who sees a young guy doing something idiotic like reading a porn magazine and the old lady would say “Hazukashii (=恥ずかしい)”.

He should be shy of doing this, right? That’s the emotion he should feel: ashamed. Not just the negative emotion but also shy as he should stop himself from doing this.

Perhaps he can do it at home, in privacy, but this is hazukashii (=恥ずかしい) right now.

In this example, the Japanese ethical system appears both self-reflective and oriented towards Others; perhaps it later becomes even more self-reflective as this person learns (hopefully) not to read porn magazines on the train without being told off by old ladies.

Let me finish by asking you to stop shy of doing things that will make you feel ashamed.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

This is about the term “self-fulfilling prophecy”, which is supposed to mean that our own thinking shapes or influences the reality around us up to a point where it produces a change in that reality.

The term was coined by Robert Merton (in sociology), with the easy-to-grasp illustration of a run on a bank:

  1. Everybody thinks the bank will crash. (THINK)
  2. Everybody starts withdrawing money. (DO)
  3. The bank crashes. (what HAPPENS).
  4. Everybody thinks “I was right!”

Same applies to racist stereotypes:

  1. We are convinced that orange people are lazy and stupid. Accordingly, increasing their opportunities to attend school will not improve them.
  2. Let’s stop/block programs aimed at educating orange people because they’re a waste anyway.
  3. Orange people remain stupid and (appear) lazy.
  4. See? We were right to believe orange people are stupid and lazy.

The negative perception of an imagined future brings about precisely that future.

The crucial element of a self-fulfilling prophecy is that it floats under our radar (=awareness).

This tells you that fear is stupid when fear becomes panic. When fear is not thought out, it can end up (and ends up in many cases) shaping our future behaviour and, worst of all, we will still be fooling ourselves that it was the correct behaviour because

“Look! I was right because Reality responded in the bad ways I predicted”.

Self-fulfilling prophecy.

A related (NOT equivalent, mmkay?) expression in Japanese is jigo-jitoku (自業自得) Self-Doing, Self-Earned.

Now, this Japanese expression tells somebody that the consequences of their actions are going to come back: karma. Karma for bad stuff says that if you do something bad, something bad will hit you back.

As we say in aikido

Good Causes [result in] Good Effects. Bad Causes [result in] Bad Effects.

善因善果、悪因悪果.

And it all comes Back to Us. Always.

必ず我が身にかえる

Chapter 20: Shadow-Virtue (陰徳)

Our thinking does affect reality (up to a point), and a lot of times it is our bad thinking which creates a bad reality. So what’s the lesson from aikido?

“Eliminate the bad, stop thinking bad thoughts because they’re going to be echoed back to you. Concentrate on what is good, concentrate on doing what is good”.

Achieving that which is good by improving: We are back to kaizen (改善 Change-into-Good).

It’s very easy to see “self-fulfilling prophecies” illustrated in our social reality in the 21st-century:

We’ve lived under this self-fulfilling prophecy from the first year of this century, all of us, from September 11, 2001, when the world has changed and it changed for everybody.

How did it change? It changed when a self-fulfilling prophecy was born and cheerfully adopted as policy: The terrorists, the war against terror starts at this point and we are still living in its framework.

What’s a “war on terror”? It’s a war in which we say “we are going to kill the bad guys”.

Who are the bad guys? “The bad guys are the guys who oppose us, so we try to kill them because they’re terrorists. And then they come back to us, they try to kill us, to bomb us, so you see, we were right to kill these guys, because they’re bad, they’re terrorists!”

Notice how it appears to be mirrored, echoed back by Reality, but it’s just as much a result of our own thinking that this is what’s happening, that our actions are calling back.

This is not to excuse anybody: Perpetrators of terrorism or those who are trying to eliminate them. This is not about giving excuses to anybody; this is an exhortation.

Let’s think about the problem we have rationally. Let’s use Reason, let’s go back to Socrates, let’s have a dialogue between the guys with the planes and the smart bombs and the heavy gear and all that, and the guys in their own countries (usually) with a different interpretation of how things should be run.

Let’s start talking about what is good, and stop talking about something bad that could happen.

Self-blinding must be replaced by self-reflection. Zen (善) doesn’t just mean doing the Good; it also involves looking at the reality around us, thinking about this reality.

ZEN: school of Mahayana Buddhism, 1727, from Japanese, from Chinese ch’an, ultimately from Sanskrit dhyana “thought, meditation,” from PIE root *dhya “to see, contemplate.”

In case you think I’m not “realistic” consider this piece of utopia about a concrete kaizen vision:

. . Only Yankee know-how and the mass-production system – Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, the magic names ! – could have done the trick, sent that ceaseless and almost witlessly noble flood of cheap one-dollar (the China Dollar, the trade dollar) television kits to every village and backwater of the Orient.

And when the kit had been assembled by some gaunt, feverish-minded youth in the village, starved for a chance, for that which the generous Americans held out to him, that tinny little instrument with its built-in power supply no larger than a marble began to receive.

And what did it receive? Crouching before the screen, the youths of the village – and often the elders as well – saw words. Instructions. How to read, first. Then the rest. How to dig a deeper well. Plow a deeper furrow. How to purify their water, heal their sick. Overhead, the American artificial moon wheeled, distributing the signal, carrying it everywhere . . . to all the waiting, avid masses of the East.

Philip K Dick “The Man in the High Castle” (Google e-book, pp. 165-166)