RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: August 2011

Hipster Ipsum | Artisanal filler text for your site or project.

Hipster Ipsum | Artisanal filler text for your site or project..

Hilarious, ironic and silly.  3 thumbs up.


Endangered Alphabets

There is much talk and much belated worry in our field about the striking rate of language endangerment and death. As many as half of the world’s 6-7,000 languages will become extinct in the next century, and many, far too many, of these have never been documented. Many have never been written either, and so it is mainly spoken language that there is a great rush to revitalize in rare cases, and document in others.  You can read more about that here, here or here if you’d like.

Now someone, neither a linguist nor an anthropologist, has reminded us that when a language that has been written dies,  so may its entire system of writing:

A professor of writing and a woodworker, Tim Brookes researches ancient scripts, and he carves them into wood:

Balinese script of the word "words"

     The Endangered Alphabets Project, which consists of an exhibition of fourteen carvings (each with the translated text of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and a book, is the first-ever attempt to bring attention to this issue.  Scripts exhibited thus far include Inuktitut, Baybayin, Manchu, Bugis, Bassa Vah, Cherokee, Samaritan, Mandaic, Syriac, Khmer, Pahauh Hmong, Balinese, Tifinagh and Nom.  You can help him complete the project and take it to the countries where these scripts are used by visiting this site.

For more about the world’s writing systems, visit Omniglot.

What American English sounds like to non-English speakers

“Prisecolinensinenciousol, a parody by Adriano Celentano for the Italian TV programme Mileluci is sung entirely in gibberish designed to sound like American English. If you’ve ever wondered what other people think Americans sound like, this is it.”

When I taught English overseas, I found that using English songs with my students (especially younger ones) was often a good way to get them to pay attention, or at the very least, stop falling asleep in class.  Come to find out, though, they usually already thought they knew the words, and despite having the lyrics written and right in front of them, they’d unabashedly sing the more popular songs with their own made-up version much like in the above video.

When I started dating a non-English speaking man and went out with he and his friends, I was surprised again to see grown men and women dancing and singing their own gibberish versions of well-known English songs!!  I made the mistake once or twice of asking if they wanted me to teach them the lyrics (no thanks!).

Context over content? Looks like it. As long as it sounds kind of like the song, it’s not just good enough, but actually, it’s better. It’s certainly not the message that matters in this case, it’s the music.