Drinking coffee in Amsterdam before heading to Antwerp to present a paper on Sociopragmatics
William: What led you to the pursuit of further studies in Cantonese and Sociopragmatics?
John: In comparison to most white, native English-speaking immigrants, I have assimilated linguistically and culturally to an unusual degree. That being the case, I have tried to learn and understand the differences in sociopragmatic knowledge that exist between my native and host cultures. One cannot fully integrate into a community without learning the appropriate ways of speaking and behaving. I therefore needed to learn these things in order to get along, but I also wanted to understand the cultural beliefs and values that lie behind such speech and behaviour.
William: What keeps you motivated to learn?
John: Curiosity. And my desire to experience the world as accurately as possible. The only thing I can confidently say that I know for sure is this: “There is a lot I don’t know; and some of what I think I know is not so.”
William: What first sparked your interest in languages?
John: In August of 2002 I opened an English tutorial centre, thus beginning my career as a teacher. Two years later, in order to improve my skills as a language teacher, I applied for an MA program in Applied Linguistics. I wanted to have some background knowledge before taking my MA courses, so I read a couple of books on Linguistics, both of which discussed Chomsky’s theories on language. I was fascinated by his theories as soon as I started reading about them, and remain so to this day.
[Editor’s note: The above is taken from William Ng’s interview with John Wakefield, which will appear in Arts Faculty’s Fanfare 2016.]
William Ng is a fourth-year student at the Department of English and the Department of Education. [Click here to read all entries by William.]
John Wakefield is Assistant Professor at the Department of English Language and Literature. [Click here to read all entries by John.]