Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1995


"You don't yourself until now from tomorrow."

Forming a part of a short essay describing a dream, the above sentence is an example of the kind of writing frequently encountered in the teaching of English as a foreign language. Non-native students of English will often speak and write in ways that, in addition to being technically incorrect, seem both peculiar and provocative to the native speaker. The individual words are often recognized but the awkward manner in which they have been combined creates obstacles that render their meaning anywhere from interesting to incomprehensible. The native speaker detects linguistic disruptions almost immediately, possessing a seemingly instinetive awareness of conventional boundaries and the limits of language. Like a tongue exploring the roof of its own mouth, abnormalities are quickly felt and focused upon. However, regardless of the errors .. . regardless of the awkwardness, there exists a fleeting moment in the mind of the native speaker when, caught off-guard, the words and sentences register and resonate with potential meaning. The words join together and form an obscure, opaque pattern. "You don't yourself... " Though vague and unsettled, the sentence incites fragile possibilities and strange suggestions. " ... until now from tomorrow."


Published in the Kyoto Journal 29 (Spring 1995): 90-99.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.