features

Ting Wei

Juliana Chang

Mommy, what is
                                                     Ting Wei?
媽媽 , 什麼是

they put you on my green card
when I was six months old,
immigration officer squinting as
mother repeated over and over 庭瑋,
                                     her name is              .
it’s nearly five o’clock and
he’s tired too, scrawls down whatever
he thinks he hears
in pen, signs the form.

you are the first correction I make
on the first day of every class.
when they ask for you at the bank
or at the airport, I edit you
asterisked, unrecognizable.

are you the distorted English
of the immigrant American,
or the broken Mandarin
of the tainted Taiwanese?
are you both,
am I both,
are you the transliteration of
what I turned out to be?

if I asked you, would you even know
it was you
I was calling?
 

Reynisfjara Beach

Tyler Dunston

I’m losing track of all the photographs my brother took.
In the town where all the houses look like candy wrappers.
Half the photos were deleted.
Half my memories are fog. Listening to distant calls.

In the town where all the houses look like candy wrappers,
we walked until we made it to the sea. Looking from the pier,
(half my memories are fog) we listened to the distant calls
of birds that sound like people underwater.

We walked until we made it to the sea. Looking from the pier
I saw his lens his eyes cast out over the waves.
Birds that sound like people underwater
cried out, the sound came out in bursts.

I saw his lens his eyes cast over the waves
of the black sand beach. Where some got too close to the sea
and cried out, the sound came out in bursts.
We stuck to the rocks and photographed the tide from a distance.

The black sand beach, where some got too close to the sea,
was my brother’s sanctuary. He took photos to remember.
We stuck to the rocks and photographed the tide from a distance.
We couldn’t allow the black sand beach to leave us.
My brother’s sanctuary. He took photos to remember.
(Half the photos were deleted.)
We couldn’t allow the black sand beach to leave us.
I’m losing track of all the photographs my brother took.

 

Agent and Instrument Nouns

Stephanie Niu

spontaneous word innovations:
how do children proceed?

1. the connection between old meanings and new ones is transparent
2. devices most productive in the language
3. adherence to conventionality

necessary for grasping
the essential nature of language as a communication system
even
one-year-olds ask for the names of things.

             children relinquish their own innovations.

I’ve got a picture here of
something that burns.
pen-and-ink drawing of someone
eliciting some response (even if it was ‘I don’t know’).

it’s not a pair of scissors.
what else could you call something you cut with?

children’s spontaneous speech:
to rule from ruler, meaning ‘measure’
to trait from traitor, meaning ‘to betray.’
little doubt that most three-year-olds understand.

begin with the transparent
             a rainer
only later discover the meaning
             ‘someone who drives rain away’

             a hugger-people
was used only by the youngest children.
             hitter-man, knocker-man, hider-man

older children
conformed to the conventions.
             fisherman,
             washerwoman.
but
the same person can cut, hit, climb, open, or burn things.
‘He’s a shoveler; he’s also a man.’

the asymmetry
most striking when
nouns like man or machine begin to yield their place.


Author's Note:
Found poem written using phrases from the linguistics paper published in Cognition, 1982 by EV Clark.