Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rice Dream

by Drew Martin
I just awoke from a dream in which I was attending the first day of a language class. It was either for Japanese or Chinese...I cannot remember which it was. I was in a well-lit classroom full of pupils at desks. The old instructor placed a bowl of rice in front of each student. Then he explained...

Lesson 1: stare at the bowl of rice and think about  all of the combinations of rice grains as a way to form a character.

It was a very Zen approach to kicking off the study of a language...I liked the lesson. I think this dream came about because of a recent focus on endangered languages. Google linked to the
Endangered Languages Project last week. Additionally, the most recent issue of National Geographic focuses on endangered languages. I have also been having conversations with friends about various languages and about the availability of studying Mandarin in high schools in the United States. This dream also made me think about the relationship of food and language. Eating moments are typically a time for conversation, but I was thinking more abstractly...how does the shape of food influence our written language and how does our language affect how we prepare food?