Thursday, August 31, 2006

don't miss it

Carbondale Town Square Pavilion
Saturday and Sunday

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


This is an interest of mine that I've had sporadically over the years, another language that I've considered learning, but haven't had time to. Got a newsletter once, for a couple of years, but didn't learn much. Sorry to keep apologizing for stuff I didn't do, but I actually have a few things to say about this one. I don't know how well Esperanto is doing- they have a hard time getting anyone to speak it outside of its conferences, but I"d like to keep abreast of its general popularity worldwide and see if the computer can change it (increase it) in any way. I'd also like to know if any of the following has happened: first, has there been a movement to truly make it more inclusive, namely including many of the non-Romance languages that make up the vast majority of languages in the world? It should truly be more worldly, by taking on every single language with a commitment to borrow at least something...and that would be a worthwhile challenge! Just wondering...second, what does it actually do to increase its own ranks? anything? One could live here in a small town in the heart of the media circus and never even hear of it.

Here's a good story. I was living in Korea in the late '80s and shared a ride with a Swiss friend who taught English also. We got to talking about Esperanto and he swore up and down that it was a living language in a certain area, a certain valley, of Switzerland. Had its own radio broadcast, or television broadcast too. As a living language it had native speakers, etc. I argued furiously, feeling that it was not actually a living language of any geographical area anyplace. But he was from Switzerland; finally he said, are you trying to tell me about my own country? So I gave up. What did I know about Switzerland?

Upon return to a linguistic environment I found out that Esperanto had indeed started television broadcasts in Switzerland, but was not a living language in any valley that anyone knew of. They did tell me about Romansch, though, a language of rather fossilized Latin, spread in one valley when some Roman soldiers were trapped there many hundreds of years ago. This language is like Esperanto in that it sounds very Latin, apparently; both Esperanto and Romansch are so much like Latin in some ways that they can be easily mistaken for each other. And that's the best explanation I could find for what my friend was telling me.

It's a crazy world. Don't know why I was even thinking of this. In general, I find it fruitful to get all these strains of thought, things that have resurfaced in my mind if nowhere else, down in my blog. Someday it may all amount to something!


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

save scottish gaelic - and yiddish too

Here are some sites from a friend in graduate school here. This is what I like about working near a linguistics department- just coming into contact with this information, which I hope to pursue someday. Not to mention getting in touch with my roots. Writing these down here will certainly be better than keeping them on a scrap of paper, which, like most of my tartan ties, will eventually get coffee spilled on them.

gaelic lessons
save gaelic
Sabhal Mor Ostaig

As a Wallace (Wallace is a Scottish name for Welsh, I understand) on my mother's side, I am fully aware that a lot of us were essentially forced off the land at some point, put in Northern Ireland, then kicked out of there more or less too. But that's no reason to let the language die. Languages die, because, unfortunately, they become perceived as representing some unpleasant aspect of one's history - rather than representing the living, breathing essence of one's own culture. and once they are just a corner of one's perception, and a back corner at that, it's hard for them to come back.

Look at Yiiddish...once a sprawling language, thousands of speakers, thousands of dialects even, but now it's associated with Hitler, and with Europe, and even its native speakers shrug it off. But that's too bad. A good language can teach you a has intrinsic value, not to mention, a colorful lilt, a rhyme to use while pounding on a baby's toes...

shmit shmit shmit
nem den hammer mit
ven du vilst der ferd bashovn,
must den hammer mit chik trogen
shmit shmit shmit

If it dies, Hitler will have won. Don't let that happen either.


Friday, August 25, 2006

old cultures, new ideas

I found a couple of things at the weblog of Emily B., who reads good things and just moved from Seattle to Hawaii to go to school...the first is about the unearthing of a Klallam village in Washington State, a major find that actually upset the economic wheels of the port angeles area. i'm not an archaeologist, or even a Washingtonian, though my daughter has settled out there, temporarily...but i find this very interesting. Our own area has a treasure of finds beneath it, being a rich river valley and all, but only a shadow of any native culture left in the area. Up in Champaign they fight over the "Illini" symbol - but that poor old chief is about all we've got left, of any real native culture, besides the arrowheads, the stone markings and stone forts, and the feeling you get in Giant City. What I'm wondering, though, is what language they spoke, back then.

The other one is a research path that tries to pin down the similarities between biological evolution and language evolution. Now this is a little more up my alley, what I'd really like to study if I could, though it may have to wait for the moment. I believe they will find some similarity there, though I don't know why, and don't quite have time to figure it out. I just hope Emily keeps putting her course notes on her weblog...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

tesl-l and slart-l

Here is an interesting article on tesl-l and slart-l. It's really more about tesl-l, but the part I want to comment on is more about slart-l. First I'd like to commend Robb Scott for what is essentially public discussion of issues. One doesn't see much about tesl-l anywhere except in tesl-l itself. The value of tesl-l and similar listservs- I got onto them in about 1990 or so- is that geographically widespread people who care about certain issues can come together and discuss them - in a spirit of open, civilized discourse, one would hope. It says something about second language acquisitionists that this was not really possible or sustainable for that community, and that's what irritates me the most.

I gave up tesl-l a few years back because it was just too much mail- and not enough substance. I can't say I replaced it with anything- in fact I stay on tesljb-l- but for no substantial reason, since I'm not looking for a job. The good thing about tesljb-l, though, is that each post has a dream, a possibility, a slice of life. On tesl-l or slart-l, each post had an argument. On slart-l, each argument could have been pages long....and some kept coming, and coming, and coming....

I don't know the solution. I feel that some issues didn't even get fair or open hearing- as some lists at some times were dominated by certain philosophies. But some programs are like that too. In fact, whole countries are like that sometimes...

BTW I agree with Robb Scott on several things: first- the whole thing is and was free, entirely free from the beginning, so the ESL/EFL business basically owes gratitude to the many people who put many hours in the sustenance of these public fora- whatever their shortcomings were. I also want to add that they were the forerunners of what we know today as a more connected world- with weblogs, videoconferencing, chat, and, basically, a connection for any community that deems it worthwhile, and any community whose members can be civil to each other in public...sla excluded, obviously.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

dog days

I've been without a home internet connection, due to moving. Have successfully moved from the south side of Carbondale to the west side, but this was a major undertaking, given the young children on us every moment, the volumes of stuff we (I) have collected, the fact that I've been sending a son off to college at the same time, etc. So I've fallen behind a little in pictures and the things I like to put up on the weblogs. Not to mention the other stuff that's been backed up for quite some time...