}

Friday, December 15, 2017

Arthur Answers 2017, Part 3: Easy answers

Roger Green has always been a great source of questions for all the Ask Arthur series over the years, and this year’s Ask Arthur series is no different. Because it’s Friday evening, a time when I usually take things easy as the weekend begins, so I thought I’d take on what were actually his first and last questions.

Here’s Roger’s first question:

Will you get to 365 posts in 2017? Is AAA an opportunity to get there?
I could be glib and answer “no and yes”, but, as always, there’s more to it than that.

I will “almost certainly” not make my annual goal of 365 posts. The reason it’s unlikely is that, even including this post, I still need 61 posts to make the target. When this month began, I needed 81 posts. The most posts I’ve ever published in a December is 68, back in 2014. The fact it’s only 13 more posts needed this year may sound promising, but it means an average of 3.81 posts per day, and if I keep posting 3 or fewer posts per day, it won’t be long before I need four—or more—per day.

This year’s Ask Arthur series will certainly help with whatever number I do end up with, but I’m not sure how many it will add (it depends on how many questions I combine in one post). Still, every post counts, so…

Interestingly, I haven’t yet posted anything that I wouldn’t post even if I wasn’t trying to get a decent total for December (now always among my most heavily-blogged month). While there have been a few things I wanted to post earlier but couldn’t get to, a lot of the posts over the past few days have been ones that—like usual—I wrote shortly before posting, and they’ve been about things I saw that day or within a few days before I wrote the post. Fresh, in other words.

And yet there’s a lot of stuff I haven’t had a chance to get to yet. There’s stuff about our recent trip to Australia, which I’ve already mentioned doing, and I have several others I just didn’t get a chance to get to earlier. And then there are a couple waiting for some final bits and pieces, and whether they ever make this blog has nothing to do with me because it’s waiting for things beyond my control.

So, maybe the real answer is “no and yes and maybe for both”.

Roger’s last question (so far—and there’s still plenty of time for anyone else to join in the fun; see below) was:

Why don't you have a Kiwi accent? Does Nigel? And how good are you in deciphering the Kiwi accent? Also, how much of the language of the Māori do you know?

I have no idea why I don’t have a Kiwi accent, although, to be fair, the family here—all of whom, including Nigel, have NZ accents—says I have a “mongrel accent”, in the sense of a mixed-breed dog. Of course Roger knows what I sound like—as indeed anyone can—from my podcast.

From time to time I see American-born New Zealanders on TV (and I’ve met a few), and they all seem to have their original accents, more or less. Among the explanations for that is that while we’re born able to make all sounds used in all human languages, our ability to make sounds not used in the language around us begins to drop off at six months. In addition, there’s what some people call the “musicality” of speech, which has to do with sound, yes, but specifically the rhythm, stress, and emphasis, along with vowel positions, and everything that goes into the way speech sounds. It’s very difficult for most people to hear and adapt to that musicality.

So, the odds are stacked against anyone changing their accent to match the place they live. Even so, some things have changed.

I say a great many words the way New Zealanders do—such as, “tomAHtoe” instead of my native “toMAYtoe”. I also soften the R in my own name, so it’s more like “Ah-thuh”. I do all this so I’m understood. If I spoke with my native Illinois accent, Kiwis would have trouble understanding some of what I say.

This is kind of ironic because I’m quite good at understanding New Zealanders and their accents (plural because there are variations). There are some individuals I have trouble understanding, of course, but that was true sometimes where I grew up, too. But, in general, I understand it as clearly as someone from my homeland. A side effect is that I can imitate the Kiwi accent—always privately because I don’t mock Kiwis, and because I don’t think I do it very well. Another side effect is that I can now hear the accent of people in my native Illinois whenever I hear them, and I could never do that when I lived there. Mongrel, indeed.

I don’t speak Te Reo Māori beyond a handful of words and phrases, most of them the most obvious ones. Last September, when I was planning to post my Election Day selfie, I asked our niece, who is fluent in Te Reo Māori, for an appropriate phrase to use (I also consulted her and her mother on an appropriate sign-off for my podcast, which I started using several months ago).

Not all that long ago, I accepted that I almost certainly have no hope of ever learning Te Reo Māori, and I’ll almost certainly never be fluent. That’s because I came to understand that I have no aptitude for any language other than English. I tried to learn the language of my ancestors (German) and failed after years of trying—a couple decades, actually. And yet, just like whether I’ll meet this year’s blog post goal, I’m too stubborn to ever give up completely. So, you just never know.

Thanks to Roger for these questions—more to come!

It’s still not too late to ask a question: Simply leave a comment on this post (anonymous comments are allowed). Or, you can also email me your question (and you can even tell me to keep your name secret, although, why not pick a nom du question?). You can also ask questions on the AmeriNZ Facebook page, though some people may want to keep in mind that all Facebook Pages are public, just like this blog. If you’re on Facebook, you can send me a private message through the AmeriNZ Page.

All posts in this series are tagged “AAA-17”. All previous posts from every “Ask Arthur” series are tagged, appropriately enough, ”Ask Arthur”.

Previously:
Let the 2017 asking begin The first post in this series
Arthur Answers 2017, Part One: NZ Example
Arthur Answers 2017, Part Two: Addiction and song

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