Thursday, February 13, 2014

Do we need articles?

What are articles for? Do we need articles? Many languages in the world, for example Japanese and Chinese, don't have articles.
Articles are the words (the, a, an) usually put in front of nouns. Sometimes they are necessary, sometimes they are optional, sometimes they must be omitted.
Articles are one of the most difficult items for Japanese people when learning English. Japanese people often omit them entirely when speaking English because they don't understand the reason for using them.
It is actually possible to write in English without using articles at all. The text would still be perfectly understandable. So what is the point of using articles?

I have a theory. I think articles are necessary, not for written language, but for spoken language. Articles are auditive signs to indicate where the nouns are. Without the articles it would be difficult to hear and understand what people are saying, it would be difficult to know where one word finishes and the next starts. In written language such a problem doesn't exist because there is a space between words and you can see clearly the individual words.
But when people talk, the words can just be joined together and pronounced without any pause between the words. When you pronounce an entire sentence without any pause between the words, how can you identify the individual words? HowdoyouknowwhereonewordendsandTHEnextstartsifthereisnopausebetweenTHEwords?

The articles tell you where the nouns are which gives you clues to identify the individual words.
It seems that such a theory should be simple to test. All we have to do is write a text without any articles, read it out loud without any pause between the words and see if people can hear and understand the text.
But such a test would still not be definitive. I think most people would understand most of the text because articles represent a very small percentage of any text. Even if you omitted them completely, the text wouln't change much.

What about Japanese language? If Japanese doesn't have articles, how do they identify the words? By using particles. Particles must be used after words or expressions to indicate the syntactic function of that word.
I don't know about Chinese. Apparently Chinese language has neither articles nor particles. I think Chinese uses intonation to identify the words.

The man with the golden gun

Let's talk about the The man with the golden gun.
It is a 1974 James Bond movie with Roger Moore.
Even though I prefer Sean Connery, since I have seen all Sean Connery movies, now I think I have to see Roger Moore also.
Even though the film was made in the 70's, it looks like 60's.

One interesting thing is that the villain knows James Bond's identity number, 007. The numbers, of course, are used to protect the real identities of the agents and they are supposed to be used and known only by the secret agency.
Even the name "James Bond" is, or at least, should be fake, that is the name the agent uses to present himself to the world when in mission. But the real name of James Bond apparently is never revealed in any of the movies, and possibly in the books too.
So in case an enemy finds out about the secret agent's number, it ceases to be secret anymore and theoretically should be changed.

Roger Moore's James Bond seems more cruel and less chivalrous than Sean Connery's.
Personally I'd like to see a James Bond that is more gracious to people, especially ordinary and poor people. There is a scene for example where James Bond pays a taxi driver, but looks at him very suspiciously. I would have changed that scene and made him give a generous tip and smile to the taxi driver. Something like "keep the change", and the driver would enthusiastically reply "thank you, sir"! A change simple like that would make James Bond more likable.

The film has one spectacular scene: the car jumping the river while spinning in mid-air.

The character of Goodnight for today's standards would be offensive. She is the female love interest of James Bond, but she is also silly and quite incompetent, making a series of mistakes just to make Bond's life more difficult and the film longer.

Actually I think it is already time for James Bond to be played by a woman. Maybe "Jessica Bond"?  In real life many spies are actually women, Mata Hari probably being one of the most famous of them. Since most people in power position are usually men, it makes sense to have female spies to seduce them and gather information.

The villain in any story has the potential to be the most interesting character, because you can make him say anything you want, no matter how outrageous or politically incorrect, it won't matter as long as the villain is killed or punished at the end.
But the character of Francisco Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee, is quite boring and uninteresting, whose only motivation seems to be to duel with James Bond. Even though it makes sense, I think, for a professional killer to want to fight other professional killers just out of pride.

Friday, February 7, 2014








Thursday, February 6, 2014

Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy

Let's talk about Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy.
They are very good movies, each better than the previous.
So the last is my favorite, and the first the weakest.
The end of the Dark Knight Rises is absolutely exhilarating.
All three movies have spectacular visuals.
Apparently they have used CG in some scenes, but I am not sure which.
The flying batmobile in the Dark Knight Rises is absolutely perfect. They don't look CG at all. Maybe because they are not, even though it seems impossible to actually build a flying machine like that. Apparently they used a helicopter to lift the batmobile.
The Tumbler in the first and second movie is real.
The music in all three movies is excellent. All scenes were perfectly edited to match the music exactly.

But there are some things I didn't like.
The idea that billionaire Bruce Wayne spends 7 years travelling the world on the streets living as a petty thief seems too much of a stretch to me.
I don't know if the character of Ra's Al Ghul comes from the comics or not.
But I think it is also little disturbing to see Batman's mentors become enemies.
The lack of good female characters in the first two movies is also a little frustrating. In Dark Knight Rises, Ann Hathaway's Catwoman provides a much needed female strong presence.
In Batman Begins we have Katie Holmes portraying Rachel Dawes but her character doesn't perform any function, not even as a love interest.
Christopher Nolan doesn't seem to be very good at love relationships in general.
The hand-to-hand fight scenes are uninspired and generic.
The lack of humour is also very patent. The only few jokes are from Lucius Fox played by Morgan Freeman.

But in spite of the few flaws, all three movies are extremely engaging,  engrossing.
For any movie the most important thing is to have a good story with good characters. And that is exactly what we have here.