My Language World

There are approximately 6,900+ languages in the world and you can just imagine how many rules and different contexts each one of them has. My first language is Russian, and yes, that is the one that most of the Mafia and criminal men speak, in Hollywood movies. There are many ways that my language and the way I speak influenced my identity.
Sometimes I change the way I speak without fully realising it and it all depends on who I am around and what is happening around me. For example, when I speak to my brother I can swear, during my speech, in English as much as I want to and it is accepted and very normal to us, but if I accidentally say a swear word in Russian I immediately apologise to him. It is because some Russian swear words sound so much more harsh and rude rather than English swear words. I feel like English swearing has become very widespread around the world and everyone is starting to use them more and more, in jokes and social media. In a country like America, it also has the law that every citizen has the “freedom of speech” and some of those citizens, I think argue a lot with people who think swearing is rude, that swearing is normal, making it more and more common every time. I change the formality of my speech a lot when I am around my grandparents rather than when I am around my parents. When I am speaking to my grandparents I tend to use a more soft voice and my lexicon changes although with my parents I am still polite but not as far as with my grandparents. I think this is because my grandparents are older and it is automatic for me to be more aware of my speech when I am around them. Sometimes my grandparents do not know how to do something on an iPhone or a computer and ask me to help them. When I help them they ask a lot of questions and I get really frustrated explaining it because for me it is very simple, but even though I am frustrated I never show it because I do not think it is polite. Whereas if I was frustrated with my parents then my phonology would probably become slightly ruder although it is not polite and I try to not do it.
The Kazakh language is language is very similar to Turkish or Arabic. A lot of the vocabulary was influenced by the dominant religion in Kazakhstan which happens to be Islam. I speak fluent Russian and English, but not Kazakh. I know some bits and pieces of Kazakh but not well enough to discuss a topic. Sometimes this makes me feel a bit ashamed that I do not know my native language very well because I feel like it is something that is important in shaping a person. Russian is the main language in Kazakhstan for a lot of its citizens and I feel proud that I speak Russian and that it is my first language because it made me who I am today. By speaking Russian it made me connected to a lot of people around the world when I moved from Kazakhstan to Dubai. When I would hear someone speak Russian around the mall or on the streets I would feel excited and happy because it sounded like home.
In Kazakhstan, the dominant language is Russian although the native language is Kazakh. If people go to the store or somewhere and the cashier or worker answers in Kazakh and not Russian then people automatically think that they are less than and come from villages and farms. Kazakhstan’s own native language has covert-prestige whereas Russian has overt-prestige. Before the Soviet Union happened, in Kazakhstan, Russian did not exist. Everybody spoke only Kazakh and when Russian was brought into it it was more popular to speak Russian. Speaking Russian made you seem more educated and of a higher class, until it became the first language for almost all of the population. A lot of Kazakhs do not even know how to speak Kazakh anymore because over the years we lost our native language. Only older people and people who live a bit farther from the city in rural areas and maybe on farms still speak it and prefer it over Russian. Today people are realising that it is embarrassing that we do not know our language and that is why people are slowly starting to learn it more. Now if somebody asks you if you know Kazakh and you say no they would act disappointed and you would be considered as careless of the country and non-patriotic. The president is also taking action in order to help the situation. Official documents, letter, and etc. used to all be written in Russian until the president changed it to be in Kazakh, several years back. It helps the country since now people are in a way forced to write or read Kazakh if they have anything to do with the government and politics.
There are a lot of stereotypes regarding the Russian language. First, the one that is connected to Kazakh people is that when we speak Russian, most international people straight away think “You are Russian”, although we do not look Russian. Other stereotypes include the fact that people think that Russian speakers or people with a Russian accent are rude and ignorant people who do not care about anything but themselves and vodka. They could also be generalised as self-centered and very arrogant. People also could perceive the Russian accent as sexy or intriguing because Russian women are known to have very beautiful bodies and have well structured facial features. Some Russian women could also be known for weightlifting and being very muscular which is why some people perceive the Russian accent to being strong and harsh. I think that the language is considered to be of high social status when somebody hears a Russian speaker because sometimes people connect Russia to Europe and all European accents are considered overt prestige compared to other accents around the world. Whereas sometimes when people hear English being spoken with a Russian accent then it could be considered of low social status because they seem less educated since they do not know English that well, especially if that is heard in an environment that is not very diverse and international. Inside of Russia, there are also cities that could have a very strong Russian accent with a slightly different lexicon, that could lead others to think that these people are from the village and live very poorly on farms. An example of how they might sound different is that sometimes people from very rural areas in Russia might roll their R’s differently. Instead of saying “город” (gorod), they would say “горход” (goghod). People with this type of accent could be looked down at in Russia.
Different types of Englishes are considered to either have overt-prestige or cover-prestige. The most common difference in English is between the dialects of American English speakers and British English speakers since their grammar, pronunciation, and lexicon differentiate. Some examples could include that Americans say, french fries, whereas British people say, chips. Another example is that in American English you would spell center, whereas in British English you would spell centre. I think that British English is considered more overt prestige due to the location of England which is in Europe and a lot of the European languages are known to have overt prestige compared to other languages. In England and America, I think that Singlish is considered to be covertly-prestigious because it comes with an Asian accent as well as additional words that are not English. In America, black American is considered to have covert prestige due to the history of black slavery in America.
A lot of things over the many years have changed the English language as it appears to us today. Historically there are a lot of factors that influenced the English language, like the Anglo-Saxons and invasions of Vikings and Normans that caused different languages to enter into England like French and Latin. Art, poetry, and writing gave the English language many words as well. Shakespeare played a very big role in inventing a lot of words. Religion also influenced the language because words that were said in the Bible or words said by the Church would be implemented into English as well. Another factor that changed English would be science because scientists would discover many new things about the world and the human body that would then be named. When English people would set off to discover new land they would not only make colonies and introduce the English language into that country but they would also take some local words into the English language from some countries. Every time that the British would make colonies they would leave the English language there. It would then turn into a different type of English due to the countries local culture and language that would influence the way they spoke English. Technology also played a very big role because once computers and phones were invented, new words were created. English in text would change too and new slang like “ttyl” instead of “talk to you later” or “wuu2” instead of “what are you up to” were made. Everyday social media introduces new slang and new words that are then adapted by the young generation and over the years implemented into the English language. Migration and Tourism affects a lot of the language because they introduce English to many different countries that then add their own “spice” to English. Sometimes countries merge their languages and English becomes Singlish (Singaporean English), Hinglish (Indian English), or Chinglish (Chinese English).


Singapore, Indonesia, and Cambodia Development


Singapore, Indonesia, and Cambodia are all very different countries that are influenced by many different factors that either help increase or decrease the rate of development. Singapore is a developed country and does not face major natural hazards, as well as, it has a stable government. The stable government is the most important factor that helps Singapore progress and become more developed. One of the main factors that influenced Indonesia is how it is very prone to a lot of earthquakes and volcanoes which could cause a lot of damage to the country that the government would have to spend money on to repair after. Another factor is  that religious peace was not obtained by Indonesia, since the country has dominant religions such as Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. Cambodia, like Indonesia, is also very vulnerable to many natural hazards especially big floods. Floods bring diseases that people with weak immune systems could die from. They evacuate people from homes and ruin a lot of public work that needs money for repairment after. All of the three countries are very different, although, Indonesia and Cambodia struggle from natural hazards that affect their development rate negatively.

GDP and Infant Mortality Comparison

The trend line that I drew is curved and shows the relationship between Infant mortality rate and the GDP per capita of each country. It shows that the lower the GDP, the higher the infant mortality rate. When the GDP of a country is low then it shows that the country cannot afford high quality sanitation and medical expertise, as well as high quality education. When a country does not have access to good medical expertise then the baby could easily die while being born  if it is not received properly or taken care of properly when it is born. Sanitation also plays a role in low child mortality rate because if the sanitation is low then there is a higher risk of disease. One more factor that could affect child mortality rate is if women are not well educated there is a higher chance of her not taking good care of her baby and cause its death. The countries tend to fall along the trend line and do not go too far from it.

Island Foundation

What are the most significant challenges facing the Orang Suku Laut?

How are The Island Foundation programmes addressing these challenges?

Which programme interests you most and why?

Orang Suku Laut faces some very important challenges that the Island Foundation is trying to help improve in the community. Some of the challenges they face regarding health and nutrition are lack of access to clean water, poor diet, high incidence of diabetes and high blood pressure, and limited access to good medical expertise. The Island Foundation has 5 main parts to their goals in order to help the Orang Suku Laut: organic learning farm, Football Academy of Bintan, English, craft lessons for children, and craft entrepreneurship. Organic learning farm touches onto the goal to a healthier diet. In an organic farm the people could grow vegetables and fruits and learn how to incorporate them into their everyday diet. Football Academy Bintan helps the people to remain active and sporty to improve their health. English is a very widespread language around the world and could help educate the children and adults of the community. Lastly the craft lessons and craft entrepreneurship help the villagers to practice their creativity and imagination, after which they could sell the crafts that they make.

Personally the crafts interest me the most because I like art and I have been taking it since first grade. I think that I am fairly creative and hardworking when I am doing something like art and craft. I am also interested in the Football Academy of Bintan because I think it is a great project that the Island Foundation started. I have also previously played on the football team and I enjoyed it a lot.

Tattoos of the Mentawai Tribe in Indonesia

The Mentawai is a tribe on Siberut Island which is west of Padang, Indonesia. The tribe considers tattoos as a big part in beautifying their bodies. They believe that if one does not decorate their body with beads, tattoos, and sharp teeth then after they die their soul will not be attracted to them and will not return to the body and the person will die. The Mentawai people think that in the afterlife their ancestors will recognize by their tattoos. Different types of tattoos are also known to protect the body from evil spirits in the jungle.

Mentawai tattoo artists used sharpened pieces of bark from a karai tree, thorns of a mountain orange tree, and thorns of a lemon tree. Local mentawai people could differentiate which community a person was from by the style of their tattoos.

The Mentawai tattoos artists are called “asipaniti”. Different areas of the body are tattooed at different stages of life. When a child reaches the age of 7 he gets his back tattoed; after one or two years they receive their upper arms and the back of their hands; before they are married they get their upper thighs and legs tattooed, as well as the chest and neck tattoos; the calves, shins, and forearms were done after 40 years of age.

Some of the Mentawai say that their tattoos represent the “Tree of Life” or the sago palm, that is their staple food. The stripes on the thighs represent the trunk, lines on the chest represent the sago flower, the dotted lines along the arms represent the prickly fronds of the tree, and the shapes on the ankles and hands stand for bark or roots of the tree. Other interpretations of tattoos by different Mentawai people include; chicken feet on the inner thighs represent dog’s paws which help the person to run as his teammates during hunting; tattooed beads that help the soul stay with the body; hooks on the back of the hand are believed to help you catch fish and game animals; tattoos on the shoulders and backs of men and women are believed to protect the person from evil spirits.


Nature vs. Nurture Debate

What do you think now about the role of genetics in determining your character? Has the information you have heard changed your mind or confirmed your beliefs? Use specific examples from the research you have conducted to justify your perspective.

I think that genetics do play a role in determining a person’s character in many different ways. First of all people do not say that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” for no reason. Although is it not all the time, but children sometimes do act very similar to their parents. I cannot deny the fact that nurture plays a very big part of a person’s character but so does nature. The case of Brenda/Bruce Reimer proved that although at birth Bruce was born a male, due to medical mistakes his parents decided to switch his gender to female. As Brenda was growing up as a girl she was a tomboy and would have boy characteristics at times. When Brenda hit puberty at age 13 she had suicidal thoughts because she was unhappy as a girl. So in the end even though Brenda was raised as a girl in a girl environment she still felt like a boy inside which is what her initial gender was. This case proves that DNA does play a major role on the traits of a person. Science Daily has done a research on twins and how their DNA affects their traits, and they have found that identical twins were twice as likely to share traits than twins that are not identical. In the end I believe that both nature and nurture play a big part in shaping a person, but sometimes no matter how you work on the nurture part, bits of nature will still come out.

Is the Impossible Possible?

I believe that it is possible for a community to achieve their goals to a limit. Every society has many different people who think differently or who view the world differently, they have different perspectives and norms. There are always people who are selfish and stupid, who do not feel like they need to contribute or work with other people to make a better world. People do what they want regardless of other people and that is why they are the people that cause terrorism, discrimination, and many different crimes. Although these types of people exist and are the obstacles for a society to reach their goals to a full 100%, the goal could still be reached just not completely. In the TEDtalk “New Insights on Poverty” by Hans Rosling he has said, “Culture is the most important thing, I would say, because that’s what brings joy to life. That’s the value of living.” I completely agree with that quote because I believe that a way to achieve a societies goal is to celebrate and practice culture. Culture brings people together despite their small differences and different mindsets. Through cultural celebrations and holidays people of the society and even around the world come together as a community. If this happens more often the world would gradually become better and better. 

PHOTO by Steven L. Shepard, Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs.

Hierarchy of Needs

The diagram goes from bottom to top in the sense of most important to least important. Compared to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs I removed safety, self-esteem, self-actualization because I believe those are all points that would make life way better and you would be a happier person but those are not things that I think you would not be able to survive without. Onto the pyramid I added money, health, and inner peace. Money on my opinion is very important because you need it to do even the smallest things. People say “money doesn’t buy you happiness”, and that is true but it does buy everything else that you need to survive. Even people who live on the streets they beg for money, and people give them coins because they need it to eat and dress. Maybe sometimes you do not actually need money to get materials but you need some type of value to trade or give. Health on my opinion is very important too because being unhealthy can lead to death or lead you to the point where you cannot take care of yourself. Inner peace is also a very important. A lot of people get depressed and mentally ill to the point where they could commit suicide and I think it is because they do not have inner peace.

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