Busy July

I’ve spent the last few weeks reexamining my priorities and trying to free up a bit more time to do the things I enjoy most. Work remains both rewarding and demanding, but progressing in piano and continuing to work on Sinosplice are important to me. So far in July, however, I’ve needed to spend a lot of my free time just trip planning.

I’m preparing to go back to the U.S. this weekend for a two-week visit, and I’m taking with me not only my wife, but also my in-laws. My mother-in-law has never left China. Oh, and we’ll be attending my little sister’s wedding. It’s going to be an interesting little cultural affair.

Also, at already over a year since graduation, I’ve finally started putting my master’s thesis online. Now that all the pain of the actual writing is nearly forgotten, I’m starting to recall more clearly that my topic was, in fact, pretty damned interesting. It deserves a few posts.

First, though, it’s time for a visit to Obama’s America. I’m looking forward to it.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. That’s going to be a great experience. I’m really interested to hear how your in-laws take to their 2 weeks in the Motherland. Should be a lot of little cultural nuances and whatnot. Usually when I meet Chinese people who have just recently come to the US, they can’t stop commenting how clean everything is…that and that the food sucks.

  2. John, yes, it’s been a very productive month. June-August, historically have been productive months. Looking forward to seeing your work. It’s been nice and quiet over here in California with everyone obsessed and committed to the MJ memorial services. I put up my personal homage and moved on. No matter the show business aspect or the facade that was MJ, his effects on the cummulative culture that is today is very real.

    You going to connect through SFO California?

  3. 为什么没有更新中文博客了呢

  4. As a concert pianist, I was both amused and pleased to read you’re sticking with the piano. Keep it up!

  5. Cool,
    I’m also going home to the USA soon, first time since Obama took office. Enjoy it!

  6. Henning Says: July 10, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Now that sounds like an interesting trip. Have fun!

    And cool to see your thesis going online.

  7. I’m afraid the Bush-era über-paranoid airport security, and immigration agents that treat you like a criminal are still in place. But I hope the rest of your trip goes well.

    How did the visa issue work out? Last I remember you had trouble getting one for your wife, let alone her inlaws, right?

  8. Oh haha, n/m. I confused with your Japan-visa experience.

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  10. I for one would love to see the thesis on-line. The only copy I can find is in a reading room on the Minhang campus, and that’s a long trek.

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  12. Your Master’s thesis sounds interesting, but just from reading the abstract and summary I feel the terminology could be tightened up. Your use of the word ‘foreigners’ to substitute for non-native speakers of Chinese is very typical of the dualisms that most people in the PRC talk about language learning (and much else beside), but it does assume that no foreigners speak Chinese as their first language and equally that all Chinese citizens are native speakers of Chinese. The comparison of ethnic-Chinese Singaporean and a Uyghur speaking Mandarin would demonstrate the problem.

    It would also be useful to distinguish between different types of ‘foreigner’ to consider to what extent one’s first language effects the learning of tones. Do speakers of tonal languages such as Vietnamese or Hausa experience the same problems as speakers of English?

    Perhaps you’ll decide to go on to do a PhD and tell us the answer!

  13. James J,

    You’re right, my Chinese professors didn’t put any pressure on me to tighten up that kind of terminology, and but I was under plenty of other time pressure, so it never happened. I do define the non-native speakers a little better than just 外国人 in the paper, but I guess that’s not clear in the abstract.

    I purposely avoided including any speakers of tonal languages in my experiment, but other research has fund that L1 tonal language experience does not give a learner a significant advantage in learning Mandarin.

    (Whew! I guess knowing the answer to that question means I don’t have to do a PhD… 🙂 )

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