Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mel Goes Mayan

I see that Mel Gibson is working on a new movie which will be filmed in "an obscure Mayan dialect". I wonder if he's going to tell the story of how Bishop Diego de Landa tortured the natives and destroyed the Mayan codices, setting back decipherment of Mayan writing by 500 years? As if.
Speaking of Mayan glyphs, if you're interested in ancient languages and scripts, I can enthusiastically recommend the book, Lost Languages: The Enigma of The World's Undeciphered Scripts, by Andrew Robinson. Not only does Robinson go into great and gory detail on how Egyptian hieroglyphics, Linear B, Mayan glyphs, etc. work, but he talks about the personalities, rivalries, and prejudices of the decipherers. This is a fun book!

Posted at 21:00 PDT  Link

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Podcast Fever

Podcasts are the latest big thing, so I fired up iTunes to see what all the fuss was about. Searching for "language" turned up some interesting items:

  • A Klingon Word from the Word: the way vo' the mIgh DIchDaq chIlqu'. the way of the wicked shall perish! Is this real Klingon? What's with the the's? This one belongs in the horrified fascination department.
  • The Shona Podcast, about the Shona culture and language of Zimbabwe
  • The Word Nerds, a weekly podcast on rude words and language
  • Letter to Gaelic learners, from BBC Radio
  • Mohawk Language, semi-weekly blog in Mohawk and English

And that's just from a first look... There's a whole International category to explore, not to mention Education.

Posted at 11:30 PDT  Link

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Popspeak rules:

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that too much pop talk could prevent you from becoming a brain surgeon. I'll bottom-line it for you: As we talk more and more in pretested, media-favored phrases, the box outside of which we claim we want to think gets harder to escape.

I hate it when that happens.

Posted at 11:30 PDT  Link

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara 石原慎太郎, is being sued for claiming last October that

French fails as an international language because it is a language that can't count numbers.


I can't count the number of times that guy has put his foot in his mouth!

Posted at 22:35 PDT  Link

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I guess Dmitrii Fainshtein hasn't heard that speaking Russian makes you gloomy. He's teaching Russian to juvenile offenders in Utah:

- Я работаю с разными категориями подростков, прежде всего с теми, кто находится за колючей проволокой, - рассказывает "Известиям" Дмитрий Файнштейн. - С ними я веду программу психологической реабилитации. А изучение русского является, как оказалось, весьма важным дополнением. Несовершеннолетние подростки, особенно те из них, кого здесь называют "сексуальными хищниками", обладают весьма изощренным умом. Для них интересно только нечто из ряда вон выходящее. Самое диковатое, странное, "прикольное". И вот таким "прикольным" стал для них русский язык.

My translation:

'I work with various categories of adolescents, primarily those who are behind bars,' Dmitrii Fainshtein told Izvestiya. 'I conduct a program of psychological rehabilitation. And studying Russian, it turns out, is an extremely important supplement. Underage offenders, especially those who are referred to here as "sexual predators", have extremely sharp minds. They are interested in things that are unusual: something wild, strange, or "fun". And now Russian has become "fun" for them.'

Posted at 10:15 PDT  Link

Saturday, July 9, 2005

The Wiktionary needs a one-word Russian translation of "geek", and so do I. Won't you help? Помогите пожалуйста!

Posted at 17:58 PDT  Link

the Metaverse is a fun website. Whenever I need a good laugh I like to look at this list of handy phrases for the grumpy traveler: The Zompist Phrasebook

Monday, July 4, 2005

Did you know that a second language changes personality?

The personality changes... run deeper than a desire to gesticulate wildly when talking in Italian or to plunge into gloom when speaking Russian.

Darn those gloomy Russians... What makes them feel better? Why, swearing, of course!


Saturday, July 2, 2005

Meanwhile, back in The Old Country, there are few safe havens for an ancient tongue.

Friday, July 1, 2005

What's a language geek to do when her bookmarks toolbar is overflowing with links? Dump them onto a web page! That's the ticket!