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<<To yield is to be preserved…

To bend is to advance…

A low-lying pool gets filled…>>

Lao Zi

 

For this entry, I have decided to input whatever I think of Communication as a whole. I have realised that Communication is everything. We use it every day, every hour, every minute. In fact, it is so incorporated within the mechanics of our lives that we do not realise that we are employing it. Even NOW, I am communicating to you as you read my entry. It is amazing how humans communicate and the ways that we adopt to do so.

Why have I said it is everything?

Simple! We need it to survive! ūüôā Our world is so globalised and interlinked that to live we must communicate.

Secondly: It is everywhere!

Thirdly: Communication, as we have learned so far, exists in many different, variant forms!

It can be in a trailer for a Japanese Anime series, communicating to you about the movie.

 

Basically, I believe that communication is a medium for our purposes. It is that bridge you build to help get to your objective or achieve your desired purpose. Be it a business deal, organising a friend’s birthday, or simply just asking a girl out for a date.

The director of a parody film adopts communication tactics to deliver the humour to the audience.

 

A General of an army uses rhetoric to motivate his men to fight.

 

Communication is everything; even the technologies applied and the environment being embellished for the purpose of getting the message across is a process of Communication. Certain techniques or devices are being employed for a better communication to get that intended message to the audience. I would like to use Music as one example of how a message can be strongly communicated. For this, I am going to use a clip from the third part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The excerpt is the part where King Theoden rallied his riders and arrive at the city of Minas Tirith to helped the Gondorians (who’s capital city is Minas Tirith) break the siege that Mordor (the Dark Lord’s army)¬†placed. While watching, concentrate on the legendary charge.

This is the original excerpt from the movie.

Now, after watching the original ‘Charge of the Rohirrim’, watch this modified excerpt done by ‘JaguarJedi’ (an online identity). JaguarJedi mentioned that he WANTS to bring out¬†more of the¬†heroism of King Theoden and his cavalrymen during the battle. While watching, concentrate on the charge. Now, let us see¬†the Music that he¬†employed in order to acheive his desired purpose, and compare it to the original.

Notice the difference during the Charge of the Riders? ūüôā

 *

Communication to me encompasses everything. It is because it exists that made us humans; that enabled mankind to continue advancing and surviving. We must be aware of its powers and we must use it to our benefit and not let it be our downfall. It is more than just a science. It is an art. It is our living, and living is also it.

 

Propaganda, throughout the history of mankind,¬†has always been a tool employed for communicating a message to the masses and persuading the masses to believe or support a cause. In most cases especially during the era of the Cold War and prior to it, propaganda has mostly been utilised as a political tool to convince the masses and the citizens of a certain country to support the government’s decisions. It been been used in any kind of regime, be it a democratic¬†nation or a communist republic or even an absolutist state.

¬†Why is it so powerful? I believe that every responsible citizen (especially now in the modern world) would want to know their government’s actions and decisions. Propaganda is hence used by the government to serve their political purposes in informing their citizens about their actions, be it going to war or increasing the tax rate, etc.

What makes propaganda so powerful is that prior to our modern era we live in today, traditonal forms of media were the centre stage of human communication around the world. Propaganda originated from traditional forms of media that various governments used to propagate their messages. I always believe that the Spiral of Silence theory put forth by Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann is closely related to propaganda by the media or by governments across the world. A simple example would be this:

Take for instance two countries:¬†Falon and Teigon. The King of Falon wants to conquer Teigon. One of the first things if a ruler wants to wage war against his neighbours is definitely to persuade his countrymen and the common people that the war is just and easy; for the people do not like wars because food gets taken from them, etc.¬†Thus, the King of Falon employs propaganda to convince the people that the war is just. Initially, the people of Falon would talk about this war and there are bound to be dissidents. However, if the King of Falon continues his propaganda campaign, after a while, the spiral of silence comes into play. Why is that so? The common people will initially talk about the war. However, the propaganda that was propagated justified the war and the campaign keeps on running. This effect will silence many dissendents because of the mindset that the people have of their government. “If the King says it’s right, why not?” This opinion maybe propagated into the minds of the people after some time. Hence, the spiral of silence comes into play. The constant repetition of the message through propaganda enables the message to be absorbed by the people sub-consciously.

*

In the present world, this theory of the Spiral of Silence is becoming more and more influential. The media has become more powerful than it once was due to the fact of the globalisation of the world and the employment of media technology across the globe. The media could shape the public on their opinion on a certain issue. They could also convince the public about a certain decision of the government. They could also control the opinions of the public on a certain issue by launching a counter argument.

It is important that we must be aware of the world in this state. Would it be a benefit to Humanity or would it be our downfall? I guess we would never know.

Hallo again! For my fifth entry, I have decided to write on linguistics and I shall elaborate and give my thoughts on the way we Singaporeans communicate. Singlish is perhaps one of the most unique of all linguistic style of communication to have existed on this planet. I am quite sure that no other language across the globe ranks on the same level of uniqueness than of Singlish. In this entry, I would like to go back into time to elucidate on the history of English, and then, I shall elaborate on the development of Singlish as an unofficial language being spoken.

Basically, in a nutshell, English is probably one of the youngest European languages, since its real formation as an offical language took countless centuries. It’s origins were¬†from¬†Old German that was spoken by the Saxons, the Angles, the Frisians and the Jutes, all of whom live in the areas of present Northern Germany, the Netherlands and Western Denmark. 465 AD. During the Fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Medieval Times in Europe, large numbers of these Northern Germans migrated over to Britannia (the Roman province of modern day Britain). These Germans soon came to be known as the Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxons, when settled down in Britannia, displaced the local natives who were Celtic people who speak a mix of¬†Celtish¬†and Latin (which is what the Romans speak). Therefore, the Anglo-Saxons’ language soon intermixed with a lot of Latin and that could be the reason why so many English words came from Latin.¬†The rule of the Anglo-Saxons over England solidified and later, faced it’s greatest threat from the Viking invasions¬†around the period of AD 800 to AD 1000.¬†The Anglo-Saxon language soon was influenced by Norse and Scandinavian, spoken by the Vikings. In the year 1066 AD, the entire Anglo-Saxon language took a dramatic change when the¬†William of Normandy conquered England. The Normans were a Scandinavian people who were living in Northern France. They introduced French into the language of the English. Therefore, English adopted alot of French in its mechanics and style.

With the rough history of the English language being told, English has shown itself to be a rather unique language (especially when explicitly compared to other European languages). It is able to bend and twist and turn, and update itself along with the advancement of humanity. It is one of the very few languages in the world that has new words being invented almost everyday. Now, I will turn to how Singlish came about.

 Singapore, as we all know it, is a multiracial, multi ethnical society. We have four main languages, Tamil, Chinese, Malay, and English. Since the majority of the races are the Indian Tamils, the Chinese and the Malays, whom all speak their own mother tongue for communication, English has been established as the national language so as to unite all the three races and not undermining anyone of them. All of us then, have to learn English to communicate to the other race and to transcend the language barriers. Many of us learn English to the point where we can communicate, not to the point of perfection. This results in many Singaporeans, inputting their mother tongue into their English when speaking. For Chinese, inputting dialect (be it Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, etc) or standard Chines; as well as the Malays and the Tamils doing the same. Singaporeans therefore create a new language that uses English as a structure for our linguistic communication style. 

Additionally, since Singapore is multi-ethnical, we have a fusion of cultures that could only result in a new language. Bearing that in mind, since English is chosen as a national language, Singlish has been developed through the history of Singapore and it could only be understood by Singaporeans or by people who understand our unique and young ‘rojak’ culture. Afterall, as mentioned above, English could take many forms and is incredibly flexible and compared especially to the traditional languages of Europe (English has the greatest¬†cases of¬†Diglossia). ¬†

Singlish is a typical communication style and we must be proud of it. It could not be fought or wiped out; Diglossia is a natural occurence and it is part of our lives and naturally, our communication behaviour. Even Stalin failed in trying to wipe out Diglossia.

Hallo everyone again! For this entry I have decided to write about what we have learned from Monday’s lecture on the 25th of February. Culture is a very interesting aspect and its diversity and dynamism intrigues everyone around the world. Culture basically epitomizes what we are, and it is the quintessence of our identity. As we all know, there are many diverse cultures across the world that are distinct to different groups of people. What really interests me was the Individualist culture and the Collectivist culture, and additionally the high context and low context culture.

If you guys recall, Ms Hui showed everyone a slide showing the different ethnic cultures on a scale from left to right, left being the low context cultures and right being the high context cultures. So, on the left extreme end being the Germans, and the right extremeend being the Chinese and the Japanese. 

Thinking about this high context culture and low context culture communication difference, ¬†I remembered a scene from an European movie or television serial whereby there was a couple in a park. The guy is a Japanese or a Chinese guy (do forgive me, I cannot remember) and his girlfriend is a German girl. Ok, so the scene goes like this:¬† The couple were sitting on a bench and hugging each other. Then, the german girl looked at her boyfriend and said, “I love you,” and following that, she hugged him again and looked at him in the face. The Japanese/Chinese guy just smiled, hugged her and patted her head, but kept silent. I could tell that the guy was appreciating the moment. However, the german girl asked again, “Did you hear me? I said I love you!”, and following that, gave the guy a small slap on the cheek. The guy startled and asked, “What’s that for?!!”

*

I believe that culture influences and even defines our communication in our lives. This whole collectivist and individualist cultures could be referred to as the cultures of the East and the West. Both have their strengths and their weaknesses on our communication behaviour.

In Today’s world, I think that most of our societies have to have Collectivism and Individualism. Globalisation fuses the two different dimensions together. Nowadays, Chinese businessmen try to adopt American business habits, and the Americans also try to adopt Chinese business habits. It is a natural process when the cultures clash because complementation must occur during globalisation.

Hallo again, for my third entry I have decided to do on this commercial I came across recently. It is a pretty old Dutch advertisement promoting the learning of the English language. Honestly speaking, I had to watch it two times before I could understand the advertisement.

Basically, the family featured in the advertisement is a Dutch family who do not understand English at all. (I would like to think otherwise because the older girl in the rear seat looks really cheeky as if she knew something.. haha)

Soesman language school actually undertook a very different approach in advertising her language programmes because this advertisement was probably quite some time back ago. I would say that the language school was pretty brave in releasing this advertisement, because I think that if an English lover (someone who understands and is obsessed with the English language) were to see this advertisement, he or she would be devastated that the English language would be promoted in such a way.

My main purpose in choosing this advertisement was that I wanted to put across the point that language essentially is the fundamentals of communication. Yes, non-verbal communication is an extremely powerful aspect, but still language is the quintessence¬†of effective communication. Like we have seen in the video advertisement, the Dutch family totally did not understand that ‘I wanna f*** you in the ass’ is actually quite offensive on the formal context.

It is amazing how mankind managed to conjure and create a system called ‘language’ to actually transmit and communicate the intentions of human beings. Languages also imbibed the culture of that particular ethnic group, and sometimes, history of that ethnic group. Linguistics is a very interesting field and this advertisement we just saw proves that the more languages you know, the more you will be able to communicate effectively globally.

                                                                                                   4:30

Film synopsis:

Xiao Wu’s existence revolves around school, an empty apartment and the dubious comforts in instant noodles. One day, his routine is subtly transformed by a tenant in the apartment, who is nursing a heartache. Their paths cross only once in a while. Longing for human contact Xiao Wu tries all he can to make a connection through physical and metaphorical walls in that hour between night and day.

 (taken from http://www.zhaowei.com/430/synopsis.html)

 Why 4:30?

Ok, for my second entry, I have again picked a non-English film for the communications¬†analysis. This movie was directed by local film producer Royston Tan, and is basically an artistic film. I have chosen it because it is really unique, and I would say that not many would actually appreciate this movie because it has not much action, a slow build up towards the climax, extremely slow moving, and virtually no conversation or dialog at all. This is precisely the reason why I’ve picked this movie. Everything is non-verbal, and is one of the few films that intentionally gives a vague and unclear storyline so as to let you¬†have your own interpretations¬†yourself. ūüôā

Firstly, the movie’s main theme is Loneliness. Everything is slow moving, and it always show scenes where the boy, or the Korean tenant looks at himself in the mirror. This actually shows that when you’re lonely, you usually turn to yourself unknowingly. Of course, when you’re lonely, everything is at a stalemate. Time moves slowly and in this movie, it actually manifests Lonelines…. Time is an important motif in this movie. In fact 4:30 itself is unique. In the movie, the boy actually longs for contact with the Korean tenant. Both cannot communicate with each other, because the Korean tenant does not understand Chinese, and the boy naturally does not understand Korean. 4:30 a.m. is the time the boy gets up to prepare for school, while 4:30 a.m. is the time the Korean tenant returns home after work. In fact, Royston Tan himself said, “4:30 was conceived while I was filming my first feature 15. I was doing a lot of late night shoots and would normally still be up at 4:30 am. I realised that this is a very lonely time of the day, in fact I think probably the loneliest. It feels too late to go to sleep yet at the same time, too late to be awake. I‚Äôve heard a rumour that the suicide rate at this time is apparently the highest. The premise of 4:30 is built around 2 lonely people who share and probably find a kind of unspoken connection through their loneliness.” Additionally, the movie keeps on repeating the motif of 4:30.

Communication Aspect

The use of silence in this movie is really commendable and admirable. This movie has virtually no conversation at all, and the use of silence significantly increases the emotional level of the scenes. The reason I liked this movie is that it brings forth the power of body language and non-verbal queues and communication. With simple actions and a trivial storyline, it gives off a very powerful message that anyone can understand-Loneliness. A typical local film would be only understandable to Singaporeans, but this local film won awards and recognitions all over the world…. An Emotional Tour de Force.

The nonverbal communication shown in the movie included all the types of nonverbal communication we have learned so far. Kinesics, Paralinguistic/paralanguage, Chronemics, Objectics/artifacts, Occulesics, Haptics, Proxemics, and even Pyshical appearance. Tiny actions like fidgeting with an insignificant object after¬†a moment of silence were able to bring about thoughts of the character. I would personally say that the Paralinguistics in this film was the best, especially the deployment of silence at the right moments. Occulesics were perfected in this film as well, with the audience able to tell the state of the character’s heart just by looking at the eyes. In fact, the nonverbal queues in this film actually establishes the decorum of this entire movie.

Overall, I would say that this movie is a very trivial and simple movie that has deep and profound meanings, and it really makes sense of the saying, Still water runs deep. If you are looking for a movie that is different and unique, not typical of Asian films or Hollywood films, then this might be a good choice. It requires patience, attention, and a literary mind. I would give it four stars… haha ūüôā

The Warlords

Introduction/Synopsis: 

Set back in the days of the corrupt and inefficient ruling of the Qing dynasty, the show is based on three sworn brothers who at first rallied desperate men and formed a raiding party to pillage and plunder for their survival. They respect the poor and always leave enough for their victims to survive. However, the Qing army raided their village in retribution and the three brothers decide to join the Qing army to ensure that their village is fed and to ensure their survival (from army wages). Soon, they had to fight the Taipings, who were the rebels of the Qing court during that time. The movie is based on the harshness of that era, filled with poverty, starvation, war and death. It is solely based on the bonding of the three brothers, how their relations changed through the bitterness of war, torn between power, honour and loyalty. It shows the reality of the world in the opinion of a Chinese warlord… the Schemes… the Treachery… the Honour… the Battle….

 (taken from www.warlordsthemovie.com)

Firstly, I would like to say that the movie is based on a historical event, on the time of the Taiping rebellion which took millions of lives during the chaotic times of the 1870’s. Comparing this movie to other types of movies from Hollywood or around the world, I would say this movie is only good to the extent of the acting and the scenes itself. The storyline is based on a historical fact, so we could not compare it’s storyline to other storylines of other films.

The way the fighting scenes was done was epic in a way that I would say it is one of the best Chinese war films I have seen. The movie is filled with war violence, death and slaughter. The director uses motion effects on certain fighting scenes, especially when the parts where cavalry comes in. The¬†scene would slow down, and the sound would be magnified loudly¬†so that¬†one¬†could¬†only hear the stomping of the horses hooves, and see the horses charging slowly with the mounted soldiers brandishing their lances or swords. This effect¬†grabs the audience’s attention and is instrumentally vital to add to the dramatic effect of the battle scenes.

The usage of non-verbal communication in this movie was very well exploited. The silence in those parts where the three brothers were together; prior to the oath, during a battle, revenge and hatred, loyalty and treachery; shows a lot of the bonding and I would say that it gels the storyline together. The relationship between the brothers were shown mostly through non-verbal communication in the pauses and the thinking in between conversations.

 As with any typical Chinese war film, this show is filled with dramatic and epic war music. The loud banging of the war drums adds to the war beat during the fighting scenes and the music also makes the marching of the troops impressive and pretty epic in a typical Chinese style. Overall, the music keeps the tempo of the movie intact and it establishes the Decorum of the movie.

¬†Overall, I would say that if you are a person who likes military stuff or is into history, this movie is the thing for you. However, this movie was heavily criticised because of the storyline that followed through the movie. Basically, this movie’s theme is different from most movies especially those from Hollywood. In this movie: the Bad guys triumph over the Good guys, and all the protagonists died (I’m sorry to spoil it for you). Additionally, the movie shows really nothing but death and sorrow throughout. But I liked this movie because it showed the reality of life… that sometimes Heaven declines goodwill to the good and loyal, and the bitterness of war and death and what it could turn people into. It also gives us a glimpse of Chinese history… that Chinese people were a brave, tough and battle-hardened people that could survive. The movie is a theme of a struggle of a general in the field, over friends, family, love and politics. I would personally give it four stars.