Sunday, July 11, 2010

What is a cat?

Think About It, 01.3 Socrates: What is a cat? - Advanced

K: Excuse me, sorry to bother you.
S: Yes, what can I do for you?
K: Well, I happen to be looking for my cat. You haven't seen one in these parts recently, have you?
S: Please pardon me, but you say you're looking for a cat?
K: That's right. You see, she's been gone for some time now and I haven't a clue where to find her. Something told me to look in this direction, though.
S: Ah, I see.
K: Her name's Tiger. She's quite small for a cat, but then she's only around nine months old. I've been worried to death about her, actually. ...Oh, sorry for not introducing myself. The name's Kelsey.
S: If you don't mind my asking, what is a cat per se?
K: ...I'm sorry, I didn't catch that.
S: What do we mean by 'cat'? What must something be, or what must something have, to be a cat?
K: ...Um...Well, I suppose it would need four legs.
S: You mean like something resembling a table?
K: No. That's absurd! A cat is nothing like a table. It's a living thing, you see, and a table is completely inorganic. Plus it moves, as you know. A table is static and just sits there. My cat happens to move rather quickly, at that. She's one of the fastest cats in the neighborhood.
S: You mean fast in the way a horse is fast?
K: That's silly! A cat doesn't resemble a horse at all! I've already mentioned that my cat's a small thing! A horse's size doesn't compare. But this is beside the point. Have you or haven't you seen my cat?
S: Let me get this straight. You're trying to tell me this small cat has four legs like a table but is a living thing which is unlike a table. And that it is fast in the way a horse is fast but doesn't compare to a horse's size?
K: Yes! That's what I've said, point for point!
S: But you've left my question unanswered. If a cat is like these things in some ways but not like them in other ways, then what can we say a cat is? You leave me asking, 'what must something be, or have, to be a cat?'
K: ...I'm too perplexed to answer. I haven't any idea what a cat is now... In any case, I'm still wondering whether you've seen my cat or not.
S: Ah, right. Indeed, I've seen your cat. She was heading that way earlier.
K: *Whew* Thank you.

This conversation is available on the following site.
(You can listen to this conversation here)

My comment
There are, I think, in this conversation, certain rules of sound in intonation and pronunciation to learn in the way Kelsey talks which are quite challenging to shadow or to imitate exactly . For almost every Japanese who has been learning in the traditional way at school for at least 6 years, it is unfamiliar or stressful to understand natural sounds to English. Generally speaking, if we can pronounce the sound, we can understand the sound. So, I am trying to imitate natural English pronunciation and intonation.
Also, using academic words is tricky. I don't have a clue when to use simple words versus academic ones. I know it depends on listeners or situations but... I cannot use academic words naturally in daily life . Even native speakers don't usually use them. I only know the meanings of these words.

That is my comment about this content.

Corrected August 09, 2009


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