Education

Educational Stick Figure Comics

It was like 2AM and I had been checking short Japanese compositions on Blackboard, explaining in words that もってくる and もっていく are not interchangeable, and that I think it’s weird that many people seemingly use “take” and “bring” interchangeably in English.

What a jumble of words, I thought, and deciding that pictures would make things far easier to understand, I busted out my ancient Wacom tablet and launched Photoshop Elements 8. I only lasted one panel holding the shift key to make straight lines before deciding it would be better the worse it looked.

So A-san (dark hair) and B-san (light hair) are hanging out by their respective abodes. Then A-san goes to B-san’s house, saying

リンゴをもってきました。I brought apples.

B-san replies,

ありがとう!あしたリンゴを大学にもっていきます。Thanks! I’ll take the apples to school [university] tomorrow.

Then Sensei calls A-san and says

リンゴをもってきてください。Please bring the apples.

To which A-san replies,

はい、もっていきます。Yes, I will take them.

At least, that’s how I would translate it. From conversations with students, I gathered many people wouldn’t find it strange to replace every instance of “take” in my translation with “bring.” As far as the dictionary’s concerned, they’re not wrong, apparently.

I find this strange.

I think it’s weird.

It’s like how we say, “Come here,” and “Go there.” “Go here” would only make sense if you’re telling someone to relieve themselves at a spot physically near you, or if you were pointing to a map and indicating a point on the map which is near you. No one would ever say “Come there.” The directionality is wrong, right?

Do you think it’s weird to use “bring” even you’re not at the place you’re referring to?

In any case I’m reminded of previous stick figures I’ve mobilized for the sake of Teaching People Why It’s This Word Not That Word. I didn’t always take pictures of them. Mostly only when I was starting to get tired and not care if students thought I was crazy so I’d draw whatever.

The tree’s expression gets me every time.

Hopefully this one’s been cleared up.

Japanese students were being taught that “should” is すべき which is relatively strong, so to say 〜した方がいいです which is just making a suggestion, they should say “had better” instead. But to a native English speaker, “had better” sounds like a threat. I was surprised to learn such a mix up had happened with “should” and “had better.”

If only it were so simple.

But I haven’t literally hugged a tree in a while. I need to go do my part.

I just couldn’t help myself.

2 thoughts on “Educational Stick Figure Comics

  1. I’d also use “bring” everywhere, for the simple reason that my association of “to take” as in “to claim” is way stronger than my association of it to “to bring”. The only case it feels right is “Would you take me to the ball”, because I do ask the other person to indeed get hold of me and lead me there. I guess that’s also how you can deal with the apples, but it feels odd. Odd because to me, it’s as if the focus of your action is shifting from “delivering apples to your teacher” to “transporting apples from a to be”. Does it make sende if I put it that way? It’s like the “what” gets more important than the “where” and “to whom”? That’s why in the first case it still sounds fine to me, but in the second example it’s like loosing focus on my mission putting it that way. XD I’m no native though, so I may mess up to some extent, no? 😛

    Anyways, your drawings ate adorable. I myself have also always learned better when given images and symbols. I would actually often turn the words I needed to learn into comics. Back at child- and youth caretaker school we’d have to know things like stages of group dynamics, stages of conflict management and so on. So my personal learning sheet was an array of comics. I would try to name all stages and then check with my comics, not my books and worksheets. That always saved me. I’m a real “lern 1 hour on the night before exam at 3 AM, go back to bed and act like you’ve never woken up”. Worked perfectly. My body let itself be fooled :’D

    • Sorry this reply is so late! Speaking of exams, it was midterm time and I like to give my students their tests back in the very next session so I was busy writing the test then checking it.

      I think I get what you’re saying about your feeling of “bring” being more about “where” and “to who” rather than “what.” What I gathered reading the dictionary definitions of “bring” and “take” was that “bring” has a strong nuance of “have with you,” so as long as you have something with you, you are “bringing” it regardless of where you are when you make the statement. That said, I think there’s a big difference between saying “bring (item) WITH me to (place)” and saying “bring (item) to (place).” Like if I’m at home, it would be a little okay to say “I’m going to bring my laptop with me when I go to school,” but “I’m going to bring my laptop to school” sounds 100% wrong. TBH I’d use “take” even with “with”: “I’m going to take my laptop with me when I go to school.”

      No matter how much I think about it, “bring” feels wrong unless you’re physically at the place you’re referring to.

      I’m technically not a native English speaker either, so that might be playing into it. In Spanish, there is a clear-cut difference between “traer” and “llevar,” and these words behave the same way as “mottekuru” and “motteiku” in Japanese. So English is losing two to one in my mind in terms of how “bring” and “take” are conceptualized. LOL

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