Saturday, April 26, 2014

There are several dialects of the Tayal aborigine language. As my dear departed friend Baunay so succinctly explained it, “When you hear people who talk roughly and sound like savages, you know they are from the next village over.” Yes indeed.
In Miaoli the main dialect is C’uli, but in Wulai Squliq is spoken. The names of the dialects come from the different pronunciation of the word “person:” c’uli in Miaoli, squliq in Wulai. People can communicate, but there are some real curveballs. Here are a couple examples:
house→ c’uli: sali; squliq: ngasan.
fish c’uli: sioh; squliq: quleh.
year→ c’uli: kawel; squliq: kawas.
And I can barely understand the c’uli numbers. At the kindergarten, I would tell the kids to come sit with me, tama kani, to be met with blank looks. It turns out that in C’uli, they say tl’ung ani. No wonder.

Friday, April 25, 2014

怎麼那麼巧!在苗栗泰雅部落遇到阿里山來吉部落的Eleng Nguia (LINK)。晚上火邊彈虜布,她說自己做了兩個,拿出來讓我彈,還給我選一個送我!感謝!It’s a small world. In Bwan, who should we run into but Eleng Nguia from Pnguu (LINK). In the evening I was sitting by the fire playing the lubu (aboriginal bamboo jaw harp). Eleng said she had made two, and let me choose one as a gift. Many thanks!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

番石榴部落的泰雅語幼兒園請撒毖去給老師、家長介紹動作元素,我當然跟去。路上我們被導航騙到深山羊腸小徑──中象道路──好在撒毖開車技術一流。上到海拔一千零八十公尺,沿途風景美麗、竹筍叢生、名符其實的「坎坷」路況。好不容易到了,我們到天狗拜見一百零九歲的文面國寶,yaki Lawa。她講純正的C’uli達彥,我講半調子的Squliq達彥,但是聊的很開心。The Tayal language kindergarten in Mbwan village invited Sabiy to give the teachers and parents a class in the elements of movement. Of course I went along. 
The GPS led us off onto a rambling, twisting road up to 1080 meters and back down. Beautiful scenery, horrible road conditions. Fortunately, Sabiy is a great driver, so we finally arrived safely. We went to visit the 109 year old yaki Lawa, one of the last with traditional facial tattoos. She speaks elegant C’uli Tayal, I stumble along in broken Squliq Tayal, but we had a wonderful chat.
Earlier visit:: LINK

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When my mother was teaching art in a high security penitentiary in Hawaii, the inmates taught her to say law when talking about court cases, but never to say justice.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Is the US a democracy? Or does all the power go to those with all the money?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mencius said, If the heavens decide great things for you, first your television is turned off, your FaceBook is closed, your computer is shut down, your cell phone is taken away, so that no nonsense clutters up your heart, to bore you to death, so you can really start to live your life.

~from FaceBook, Gmoz Aquamarine.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Several times on this blog I have written about the small group of Jingpo from Yunnan who live in Taiwan >>link<<.
Recently Professor Taimu of the National Taipei University of the Arts has been studying the munao, an important Jingpo dance. Not only studying but also leading his students in the dance. He got in touch with me, and we arranged for Zit Khung hang sau, chairman of the Taiwan Jingpo Association, to give a talk at the school and lead the students in a dance: the first time they had seen a real, live Jingpo! A merry time was had by all.
景頗來臺五十年的鄉愁、孤獨,難以忍受;與家鄉聯繫全斷,只聞浩劫不斷:大躍進、破四舊、文化大革命,家人生死不明,祖先文化不彰。解放軍咆哮血洗臺灣, 小兵守住崗位,死守臺灣,怎敢奢望與家人相會?臺灣雖然逃過劫數,生活安全,但日見「浩瀚中國文化」淘他們少數民族的根。好不容易成親生子,只見在臺景頗 的第二代徹底漢化,「景頗」只是老爸口中的一個詞。

Sunday, April 13, 2014

International Sirius (dog star) Byajing appears n her third book, a Swedish book introducing dogs from around the world. In this well chosen photo, she shows everybody what a fine Taiwan tugo looks like, in her natural setting. 

Friday, April 11, 2014



Thursday, April 10, 2014

rough translation: What day of the week is Tuesday?

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

中場休息看節目單,很訝異,第一首曲子名為「靈橋」!怎麼可能?這是hongu utux na Tayal泛泰雅的靈橋?我一點也聽不出達彥的壯烈、喜笑、直樸、大方!我假想,如果我們部落的耆老聽了,會感到認同嗎?一笑:我想,如果給我乾爸達利聽了,跟他說是靈橋,他一定會揮拳打人。
On Sunday night, we went to a “A Dialogue between Ancestral Spirits: Taiwanese Aboriginal Folk Tunes vs. African Drumming.” I originally dismissed the vs. as a typical Taiwan misuse of the word, which some suppose to mean ‘and’, but soon learned that they really did mean versus.
I was surprised to see the stage full of chairs. Soon the Taipei Chinese Orchestra filled the stage, and brought along six cellos, four basses, a harp, and other Western instruments.
They commenced to play a very avant garde piece to break down your preconceptions of Chinese music. You thought Chinese music was supposed to have a melody, a rhythm, some sort of structure? Wrong! They proved that you can play classical Chinese musical instruments without any regard to tune, theme, or harmony. They produced all sorts of unusual sounds for a very long time and finally stopped. The audience, totally mystified, politely clapped.
A group of young Bunung in traditional dress strode onto the stage, took their positions, and the lead singer opened his mouth. Out poured the purity and power of Taiwan’s mountains; many eyes in the audience were full of tears. After the interminable nagging of the orchestral piece, the Bunung brought freshness and relief. They sang their famed eight part harmony, simple in structure but endlessly moving.
The African drums came into play, in an improvised dialogue with Inka Mbing (Tayal), Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliw (Pinuyumayan), Sauniaw Tjuveljevelj (Paiwan), and Sawlang (Amis). The drums won.
During the intermission, I looked at the program and was astonished to read that the orchestral piece was an interpretation of Tayal spirit. I heard nothing in it that even remotely reminded me of gaga na Tayal/Tayal spirit. I imagined what would be the reaction of tribal elders to this piece: they would probably find nothing to resonate with. I smiled to think what the reaction of my tribal father, Dali, would be: he’d probably punch someone.
The Chinese Orchestra took the stage again, leaving a thin edge for the aborigines to sing on. This was a brave attempt to join Chinese music with Aboriginal singing, but failed on two parts. First, aboriginal singing stands alone, and has no need for orchestral accompaniment. Second, there were two many Chinese musicians, so you could barely hear the aborigines.
Inka and Sangpuy have voices that are global treasures, but you could barely hear them over the accompaniment. Friends sitting in the first row and in the balcony all had the same complaint, so it wasn’t our seats. There were just too many people in the orchestra. If they had pared it down to seven or eight musicians it would have been better.
Sauniaw, a delicate little Paiwan, performed on a huge nose flute,fortunately with no accompaniment. I have never heard the nose flute played with such mastery. A performance to relish!
All told, the concert was certainly not what I expected. But looking back, I think it did portray a fact of life in Taiwan. The stage was jam packed with Chinese culture which drowned out the thin line of aborigines singing their hearts out. 

Monday, April 07, 2014


Sunday, April 06, 2014

A couple years ago I posted a different version of this photo elsewhere, but today I found this copy. I like it because you can see the street sign better: the corner of Hsinsheng and Hsinyi, now Da’an Park. I took this in July 1972.
The building on the right is the International House, where I lived, and the building to its right is the I House Gym, which was at the time one of Taipei’s larger public spaces. In the foreground is a red clay tennis court. In those days, all bicycles were clunkers, you couldn’t even find a three speed. You don’t see many camouflaged pillboxes by the road anymore. Looking down Hsinyi Street, you can see a small booth, the likes of which have totally disappeared. That was a ticket booth, where you could buy a bus ticket (NT$1.5), newspapers, magazines, smokes, what have you. On the island you can see a round busstop sign; all the stops and routes were written out by hand. 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

如果將「黑箱」講成black box,聯想到飛機,在政治上比較沒有這個用法。如果講backroom deals,那是美國人很熟悉的東西,因為如果沒有黑箱,民主政治不能運轉。
姑且不論好壞,黑箱效率高;民主政治的性質就是低效率,如果沒有黑箱,往往無法做事。所以對美國人來講,黑箱作業既不陌生又不排斥:算是necessary evil,衡量輕重,總比眼睜睜地看政府解體好。

Thursday, April 03, 2014

歷史上,販官鬻爵是衰敗的不二預兆。美國最高法院將國家推上這條路。In a move to destroy American democracy, the Supreme Court has abolished limits to campaign contributions. 
The decision may make some sense legally, in that you could say rich people’s buying elections is within their rights, but I rather naively thought that the Court should be protecting democracy.

It is no news that the Court sitting now is for sale ==link== but this is blatant.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

One day when I was about seven (Peter would have been eleven, Steff thirteen or so) we three kids were in the car, Mom driving. As we pulled up to a red light, we kids noticed a roughneck standing by the road: a really nasty looking guy about twenty, in a black leather jacket. You didn’t see types like that in Ottawa, Illinois. We stared. Mr Plugugly noticed our attention and started glowering at us, so of course, Peter, being Peter, flipped him off. Mr Plugugly didn’t like that, so he stomped over to our car and started banging on the top. Mom, totally out of it, asked, “Why is he banging on our car?” The light had turned, and all three of us said, “Moooom, let’s get out of here! Let’s go, let’s hit the road, vamoose, let’s beat it, LET’S GOOO!” She finally got the hint and pulled away, leaving the gentleman in the black leather jacket shaking his fist at us.
As we drove away, Mom mused, “I wonder why he did that.” Before she thought, the words were out of Steff’s mouth: “Peter flipped him the bird.” Mom was intrigued. “Flipped him the bird? What does that mean?” Steff bit her tongue. “Ahhhh, it means to shake your fist at someone.” “Oh really? How interesting.”
Always eager to show off something new, Mom seized her chance a few days later when a group of ladies came to pass the time of day. “I was so upset with the man in the grocery store that I flipped him the bird.” 
In the astonished gap that swallowed up the rest of the conversation, Steff had no choice but to drag Mom into another room and tell her the true meaning of the expression.