|[a] Taipei morning RF|
I do wince when I read these lines, and am a little embarrassed by them. It is not the items that "date" me in these notes (such as pay phones) that bother me, and I do like the general set of acculturation issues that I have raised here (transportation, pronunciation, and concern for my topic of research). No, what bothers me is the breeziness of it all. I recoil when I "hear" myself use "they" in what sounds these days to have an air of condescension. I could claim that I didn't mean it, and that is how I recall the cultural tumult of those early days. Still, the arrogance of it all (which, when combined with the built-in vulnerability that makes fieldwork such a strange process) bothers me.
Moreover, although it doesn't "bother" me, I roll my eyes inwardly and outwardly at my confident expressions that I could have spoken for half an hour on Tang dynasty history and other such ridiculous statements. Yeah, in English. I still didn't have a clue in those early days, and apparently confused knowledge of a subject (I did know a good deal about the Tang) with an ability to express it in a foreign language. All I can say is, wow...naivety makes for strange fieldnotes. Finally, just a reminder that the conversational tone of these paragraphs has everything to do with the ethnographic (writing) process I followed while in Taiwan (I have since modified it slightly). I discuss these matters in the introduction to this series, so I will not do so again here.
As for the implication that perfect Mandarin pronunciation should be the focus of all linguistic activity, the 1985 Rob stands rightly accused. I have, since then, come to a more nuanced perspective on these matters, although it still may not be exactly what students of anthropology might expect.
|[b] Juxtaposed RF|