ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Word meanings can shift over time.  Sometimes this is good, other times not so much.  I'm often bemused by "decimated" to mean "mostly or wholly destroyed."  It really means "1/10 destroyed."  LInk courtesy of my partner Doug.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I was talking with a friend about asexual romantic relationships and realized -- oh look, English doesn't have a noun for "person in a close relationship that is romantic but not sexual."  

I'm seriously thinking "squash" would fit there, because "zucchini" is a general queerplatonic partner word, and "squish" refers to asexual crushes. I pretty much can't trip over a lexical gap without wanting to shovel something into it.

Holler Me

Apr. 6th, 2014 12:48 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Recently I said "Holler me if you need the dishrack put away," and for no particular reason other than I am a hobby-linguist, I got to thinking about the subtle distinctions of this term.

"Holler" means to call loudly, often across a house or yard.  It also tends to convey a higher level of urgency.  

"Holler me" is a combination of "tell me" and "summon me."  It includes a stipulation that if you notify me of a previously agreed upon condition, I will follow through with the promised response.  This is the same as "tell" but allows a higher volume and demand for attention.  You don't have to raise your voice if you don't need to, but you're allowed to, and it's taken as a summons not a scold.

"Holler for  me" means that I will come when you call, but when I get there, we'll have a discussion about what you want.  It only includes answering the summons, not meeting another request.

That kind of subtlety appears in many Southern dialects of English, where prepositions do work that Northern speakers don't notice.  (Northern dialects have their own bells and whistles, as does everyone's.)  Southerners are often told to omit prepositions in certain phrases, which is aggravating, because most people don't have the linguistic expertise to explain what the darn thing does.  But if you take it out, to a Southerner, there's a wobble there, like a chair with one leg a hair shorter; it's annoying and it can cause misunderstandings.  Of course, these subtle distinctions are lost anyhow on someone who speaks a different dialect, but it makes a difference to the speaker.

I grew up in the Midwest but have Southern relatives, so my accent is bifocal.  In Illinois, I sound mostly Midwestern.  On a visit to Tennessee, I have a Southern accent as thick as molasses -- and oddly enough, it is also keyed by time and topic.  Talking about certain parts of my childhood or activities such as fishing will turn it on.  Just in case you were curious.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... is never enough.

I know a few words of Cherokee, rather more Lakota, and a smattering of, well, every other language I've ever so much as brushed against.  But I make a point of using my favorites, even if I only know a handful of words.  They are touchstones in my mind, access points for cultures.  They make me happy.  I like to encourage languages however I can.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

This poem came out of the February 4, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from [livejournal.com profile] janetmiles and [livejournal.com profile] baaing_tree.  It also fills the "storytelling" square in my 2-1-14 card for the Cotton Candy Bingo fest.  This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  It belongs to the series Clay of Life, which you can read via the Serial Poetry page.

Read more... )

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Beautiful, clear audio/video of spelling and pronunciation in Old Norse.  If you use this language and notation, definitely give this a listen.
ysabetwordsmith: (Fly Free)
Here is the second freebie for the February 4, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. You have new prompter [personal profile] alexseanchai to thank for this, who also provided the inspiration for this poem. It fills the "body language" square in my 2-1-14 card for the [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fest and my 11-26-13 card in the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] my_partner_doug tipped me to this list of weird colors.  I recognized most of them but they are cool to explore.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Hear the song "Let It Go" from Frozen  in 25 different languages. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
People have analyzed successful vs. unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns to identify differences in language.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
There are two broad modes of communication.  One is very direct, called Ask Culture.  The other is oblique, called Hint Culture or Guess Culture.  This article discusses how they work.

They are good at different things.  Trying to communicate across the gap between them, however, is difficult and often frustrating.  This isn't just a matter of etiquette; it's a matter of skill, which requires both innate potential and practiced experience.  Ask people are good at identifying their goals and reasons.  Hint people often find these things obscure, which makes it hard to frame requests.  Hint people are good at observing others and intuiting their thoughts or feelings.  Ask people often find this incomprehensible.  Either side can attempt to communicate in the fashion of the other, but it feels unnatural and awkward, and they tend to do it poorly.  So if you want to have a relationship -- whether romantic, friendly, professional, whatever -- across this gap then both parties had better be prepared to share the extra work.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
So now apparently my brain speaks Portuguese. I've never studied it. I took one year of Spanish in high school plus a smattering of other exposure. For some reason, the Spanish in my brain just kept growing, forever. I've always been able to parse a bit of Portuguese because it's close to Spanish and it's an Indo-European language. Okay, fine. But today I saw this:

"Mão de Deus"
Para mim, esta é uma das mais bonitas fotos de sempre tiradas a uma secção do Universo. Normalmente, a imagem aparece com uma "mão azul", sendo uma foto tirada em raios-X de baixa energia pelo Observatório Espacial Chandra,

... and I thought, "Hmm, something of God," and then I remembered that the tilde marks nasal vowels in Portuguese, so that's "mano," which is hand. Hand of God. Cool. Looking at the rest of the piece, I hacked out:

"Hand of God"
For mim, is a uma das very beautiful pictures sempre taken a uma secção of the Universe. Normally, a picture appears with uma "blue hand", sendo uma picture taken in X-rays of baixa energy pelo Special Observatory Chandra,

 This is what I found with an online translator:

' God's hand '
For me, this is one of the prettiest photos when of they were always taken away from a section of the Universe. Normally, the image appears with a ' blue hand ', being a photo taken away in X-rays of low energy by the Space Observatory Chandra,

Not perfect, but very close.  Basically I got the whole gist of those lines: 27 to 14, about 2/3 of the content, with only one solid miss (special/space).  That's better than would reasonably have been expected sight-reading a random news article in a language that has actually been studied for a year.  I was nowhere near that good in high school, even in Mexico where I managed quite a bit better than the other students.  This is a later development.

I don't know why or how my brain does this.  Russian and Japanese have grown only a little post-classes.  I have less affinity for them.  Everything else is catch-as-catch-can.  But Spanish ... in my head, it's a field of marigolds, and it has gone on to do amazing things in there with no more attention than occasionally reading things in Spanish when I see them.  And now Portuguese.  I suspect it might happen again if I  had a chance to study a language I felt a strong affinity for; Gaelic would probably stick like glue, the way I pick it up out of name dictionaries and whatnot.

Oh wait, I was just looking at Proto-Indo-European roots for The Blueshift Troupers  last week.  Maybe that contributed too.  Now that's a language I would love to have a class in, or even just a good guidebook.
ysabetwordsmith: Family and horse in front of barn (Hart's Farm)

This poem came out of the September 2013 [livejournal.com profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam.  It was inspired by a prompt from Dreamwidth user Perfectworry.  It also fills the "messenger" square in my 8-13-13 card for the Origfic Bingo fest.  It has been sponsored by [livejournal.com profile] laffingkat.

All together now ... )

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here are some everyday phrases in Lakota.  It's wonderfully done because you can see a lot of patterns, and a few exceptions.  The masculine phrases tend to have -o and the feminine ones -e.  Some of the verbs and pronouns repeat, so that looking at the different phrases, it's possible to hack out which is which even without being told.

And now, of course, I'm wondering which set a two-spirit would use.

Anyway, speak your heritage language.  It's good for your brain and your culture.  Also it drives the racists bugfuck.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 These dolls are black girls who speak heritage languages -- several apiece.  Cool.  Also most of them have conspicuously ethnic hair.


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