Raed Jarrar was coming home from Jordan wearing a T-shirt with the phrase "We will not be silent" in Arabic script and English. Other JetBlue passengers who could not read the Arabic were "offended" and she was apprehended by security and asked to replace it
. She also had her seat changed to the back of the plane. Variations on T-shirt airline censorship have happened before
, but, taken to extremes, the fear of foreign language has spawned some unpleasant nights
. Where is the line drawn? And where is the path to multicultural reconciliation?
posted by ed
on Aug 21, 2006 -
Fascination with ground and figure
carries on in various fields after The Rubin vase / face Illusion
, M.C. Escher
, and Marshall McLuhan
Besides being extremely important in the fields of photography
, the figure/ground relationship is important to physicist Paul Davies
, who says "the true miracle of nature is to be found in the ingenious and unswerving lawfulness of the cosmos, a lawfulness that permits complex order to emerge from chaos, life to emerge from inanimate matter, and consciousness to emerge from life."
Also, Peter Grundy and Yiang Yan discuss how contextual ground relates to linguistic figure
in Bill Clinton's famous apology,
plays with the distinction between sound as environment and sound as music, and W.C. Richardson creates paintings
in which "positive and negative spaces seem unstable; figure becomes ground, ground becomes figure."
posted by Aghast.
on Aug 12, 2006 -
The Human Speechome Project
- "A baby is to be monitored
by a network of microphones and video cameras for 14 hours a day, 365 days a year, in an effort to unravel the seemingly miraculous process by which children acquire language.". Selected video clips
(PDF, 750KB). To test hypotheses of how children learn, Prof Deb Roy's team at MIT will develop machine learning systems that “step into the shoes” of his son by processing the sights and sounds of three years of life at home. Total storage required: 1.4 petabytes
posted by Gyan
on Jul 23, 2006 -
is a language used by the descendents of ancient Greek colonists in southern Italy that still has thousands of speakers. Pennsylvania Dutch
, the only German language native to North America, was used as a first language until well into the twentieth century. Ladino
ia a variant of medieval Spanish written in the Hebrew alphabet that florished among refugees from the Spanish Inquisition in modern Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece. Welcome to the world of ethnolinguistics
posted by huskerdont
on Jul 20, 2006 -
"Spare me my life!"
In the innocuous early '90's, Fuji TV came up
with Zuiikin English
, a television program which combined quirky language lessons with bradykinetic exercise. Was Zuiikin English ahead of its time? Or is it merely enjoyable bunk? (More here
posted by ed
on Jun 22, 2006 -
Lost in translation.
British Comedian Stewart Lee explores comedy in Germany and finds it stymied by the peculiarities of language and sentence construction. Mark Liberman at Language Log disagrees
. And an extended essay by Josh Schonwald explores in greater depth how the German comedy scene is transitioning
(PDF) from the more traditional kabernett to a burgeoning stand-up comedy scene, which is characterized by one observer as being in "the Bob Hope phase of comedy."
posted by madamjujujive
on May 26, 2006 -
Living without Numbers or Time...
The Pirahã people have no history, no descriptive words and no subordinate clauses. That makes their language one of the strangest in the world -- and also one of the most hotly debated by linguists.
posted by moonbird
on May 10, 2006 -
It is an official language
in this US State, and if somebody writes you a check in it while you're here, you better know your numbers
. Although its usage fell after a sharp decrease in the native speakers' population and a later 'ban'
, (not really)
in the late 19th century, it is now making a comeback. Wikipedia gets its name
from the language. Sadly, though there are almost 4 million Wikipedia articles, a scant 27
of them are written in it. Of course, if you just need a dictionary, it's not hard to find
posted by onalark
on Apr 25, 2006 -
Babies, Footsies, Holdies. Carry, Foul, Slam. Tea Parties, Fairbacks, Cherry Bombs. Double Taps, Underhand, Blackjack. Bitch Serving, Jedi, Extreme. Chicken Drops, Peppermint Sticks, Kamikazes. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus. Land Mines, Demons, Black Magic.
posted by bardic
on Feb 20, 2006 -
Were you a minger
, sporting a mullet
, looking a bit naff
when you were getting mullered
while out on the pull
, anytime before 1988? Or were you posh
, looking snazzy
after spending your dosh
to get a nip and tuck
before 1980? If so, the Oxford English Dictionary and the BBC
need you for their Wordhunt
– a call to help find the earliest verifiable usages of a list of words
from the past decades whose origin is still uncertain.
posted by funambulist
on Jan 9, 2006 -
A passive verb and adverb flagger for Mozilla-derived browsers, Safari, and Opera 7.5, with caveats.
posted by semmi
on Jan 6, 2006 -
A Dictionary of Amercanisms
by John Russell Bartlett, published 1848. A "vocabulary of the colloquial language of the United States" during the mid-19th century. As noted by jmorrison at the nonist
(the source for this link), it is interesting to see much of what we find so common today " called out as 'americanisms' not yet included in the dictionary." The site
has other goodies too, such as The Slave's Friend
, a Christian anti-slavery tract, and Memoirs of a Captivity Among the Indians of North America
, by John Dunn Hunter, published in 1823 and 1824 and recounting his life after being captured as a young boy and raised by Native American tribes. It provides an intimate, inside look at their societies, customs and battles.
posted by caddis
on Dec 17, 2005 -
was the capital city of the Purépecha
Empire (also known as Tarascan
(scroll to middle of page
) isolated from the rest of precolumbian Mexico, the origins of the Purépecha is still unknown. Their language
is one that is not even provisionally linked with any other language
and is still spoken by about 200,000 natives
around Michoacan. The Purépechas were the only state
to become an empire in the Western Mexico cultures.
posted by ozomatli
on Dec 13, 2005 -
Merrian-Webster open dictionary
"Have you spotted a new word or a new sense for an old word that hasn't made it into the dictionary yet? Well, here's your chance to add your discovery (and its definition) to Merriam-Webster's Open Dictionary"
posted by robbyrobs
on Dec 11, 2005 -
:: A Dictionary of Comicbook Words on Historical Principles, Based on the Latest Conclusions of the Most Dubious Wordologists & Comprising Many Hundreds of New Words which Modern Literature, Science & Philosophy have Neglected to Acknowledge as True, Proper & Useful Terms & Which Have Never Before Been Published in Any Lexicon
posted by anastasiav
on Nov 21, 2005 -
The Image Culture
- a discussion of the history, manipulation, desensitization and supplanting of language skills by the ubiquity of images. And no, there are no pretty pictures.
posted by peacay
on Nov 19, 2005 -
Charming and unexpected vocabulary from many languages.
Why did Persians need a word, alghunjar
, to express 'the feigned anger of a mistress'? Could there really have been that many insincere mistresses in Persia? Why does Russia need a word meaning, 'dealer in stolen cats'? Or 'someone with six fingers'? And who can resist the Chinese xiaoxiao
, meaning, 'the whistling and pattering of rain or wind'? "These are more than funny foreign vocabularies; they are tiny windows into the way other people live, and the obsessions that drive them." [via]
posted by Slithy_Tove
on Oct 2, 2005 -