"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
Nicaraguan Sign Language
is a unique language, created by school children in the late 1970s and early 1980s, who previously had minimal success at being taught to lip-read and speak Spanish. This community has been studied as an example of the birth of a language from its beginning
(PDF). A recent study has investigated the ability for those who speak Nicaraguan Sign Language to express exact, large numbers
. Unlike the Pirahã people
of the Amazon (previously
) who may not have the need for specificity in large numbers, the deaf in Nicaragua are surrounded by a culture that interacts in specific numbers, yet it appears they lack accuracy with numbers higher than three or four
. [more inside]
"Voice of San Diego
reporter Adrian Florido set out to find a family, he writes
, "whose experience could illustrate the day-to-day challenge for Burmese refugees
" in San Diego, since "more than 200 Burmese families have arrived [in that city] since 2006." In the process, Florido met a 24-year-old man named Har Sin" who was unable to hear, speak, read, write or use sign language, and wound up writing a two-part story about him: In a New Land, Hoping to Hear
and Breaking Free of a Life Without Language
. The story is available as a downloadable pdf: A Silent Journey Series. / Via The Kicker, the daily blog of the Columbia Journalism Review [more inside]
"Chinatown" communities across the United States (New York
, Los Angeles
, San Francisco
) are undergoing a shift in linguistic identity, as recent immigrants are more likely to natively speak Mandarin (the official spoken language
of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan,) instead of Cantonese. [more inside]
"Hundreds of thousands of Americans have endured tours of duty in Iraq. They are returning home with a new word on their lips. It will have an impact on the American Experiment, inshallah
It's estimated that between one and four languages are lost
every year, the result of the only remaining speakers dying off
. Many have been actively surpressed in the past, such as the Mayan
and Ryukyu languages
- some of which are said to be further from Japanese than English is from German
. Is it worth the effort to preserve languages? Are languages and culture intristically linked?
Sapir/Whorf raises its head again in study of the Piraha tribe.
I can't stop thinking about this article
which appeared in the Globe and Mail Friday.
A study appearing today in the journal Science reports that the hunter-gatherers seem to be the only group of humans known to have no concept of numbering and counting.
Not only that, but adult Piraha apparently can't learn to count or understand the concept of numbers or numerals, even when they asked anthropologists to teach them and have been given basic math lessons for months at a time ... the Piraha are the only people known to have no distinct words for colours.
They have no written language, and no collective memory going back more than two generations. They don't sleep for more than two hours at a time during the night or day.
Even when food is available, they frequently starve themselves and their children, Prof. Everett reports.
They communicate almost as much by singing, whistling and humming as by normal speech.
They frequently change their names, because they believe spirits regularly take them over and intrinsically change who they are.
They have no creation myths, tell no fictional stories and have no art.
Can any of our anthropologists or linguists comment? I had thought that narrative was the common link in all human cultures....
Basques separatists: a long-standing problem
The Basque separatist movement is symptomatic of ethnic , religious, and cultural desire to be distinct and to have their own "place." And yet, at the same time, the world moves toward globalization, with economics becoming trans-national. A push and a pull at the same time. Can this contradiction be resolved without violence?