Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Do you speak Asian?

Why yes, I probably do!

A CUNY paper presented last week (by a white guy) at Experimental Approaches to Perception and Production of Language Variation (how this conference name collapses neatly into ExAPP2010 is unknown to me) suggests that native English speaking Pacific Asian Americans are racially identifiable by voice, even if the linguistic "differentiation may not rise to the level of a systematic dialect" (Newman).

While other speech communities may have more salient dialectal differences, Asian Americans are not without distinguishing linguistic behaviors. Cues (non-determinative) may include vowel quality, breathiness, syllable cadence, and voice quality. None of these provide strong evidence for AA-ness on its own.

A set of eight (2 Chinese Americans, 2 Korean Americans, 2 white Americans, 1 Latino, and 1 African American) women, and the same distribution in another set of men, were asked to read the same super exciting passage:
A wily coyote led sharpshooters armed with tranquilizer guns on a merry chase through Central Park before being captured on Wednesday. At one point, authorities tried to corner the animal in the southeast corner of the park, by Wollman Rink. The clever creature jumped into the water, ducked under a bridge, then scampered through the rink ground and ran off.
 Men were more successfully identified than women were, and Asians were the least accurately identified.

More from Michael Newman:

  • "Native Asian American English: the recognition and acoustic correlates of Asian American speech"
  • "Can New Yorkers identify Asian-American speech? A case of perceptual dialectology"

This kinda thing boils my nerd blood. I would love to have been a part of this study. I've long wondered about and suspected the findings. After all, it's usually pretty easy to tell when a singer is Asian.

Sorry Dad, I missed the boat.

While it is true that he can never be the father that he should have been to me, I get to choose now whether I want the father I've got. I decide if his indifference before precludes the sincerity of his gestures as of late. I determine whether he will never make up for his past injuries.

Jonah 4:2 I made haste to flee...
for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,
and relenting from disaster. 

Hamlet waits to exact revenge on Claudius in order to minimize impunity... I too, fear success. How upsetting the confidence that mercy will win the day!

Is it not sweeter, I ask, to refuse the efforts of a father who was absent, to unsmilingly apologize:

Sorry dad, ya missed the boat.

A perfect Father asks back:
Jonah 4:4 Daughter, do you do well to be angry?

In grace he places my eyes in sockets, that they might turn even while the smarting othercheek is yet dead-set.

I see now, Dad, I am the one who's missed the mercy boat.

A week from now I'll be in Naperville, through the following Monday.

Lord make in me a Thankful heart, for all you've done. Share with me the glory of your fair and merciful heart of love toward my family. Turn my eyes, my cheek, always. And quicken my heart, my step, all this way home.