There’s been some good media about Light Warlpiri a “new” contact language in the Northern Territory. Speakers of Light Warlpiri are from the Lajamanu area, and they’re almost all under 35. The language is a complex mix of English, Kriol and Warlpiri and it doesn’t necessarily have the patterns that are found in most Creoles - for example the nominal system has a structure like Warlpiri but the verbal system is closer to Kriol/English.
The reason I’ve scare-quoted “new” is that Carmel O’Shannessy has been publishing about Light Warlpiri since 2005. Some, including Glossographia’s Stephen Chrisomalis, have suggested that something that has been published about for 8 years is not new (and, in fact, it’s just being publicised because there’s an article in Language). In the scheme of the worlds language, I’m inclined to say that this still counts as new, given that this language didn’t exist in any way 30 years ago.
Zoom have announced the H6, a new recorder to follow up from the H4n.
I love the H4n, having used it on fieldwork for the last 4 years. I felt like I lost a friend when I had to return it to the department. Zooms are designed mostly for musicians have attracted many people interested in language documentation because the audio is so much better than a standard dictaphone. Nobody creates tools specifically for us, but this is as close to useful for our needs as we get.
I’m excited by the interchangeable mics, battery life and massive SD card capacity (128gb). Not sure about the colour screen, and there are more dials and buttons, but I hope someone I know gets one so I can play with it!
In Poland, as in many other Christian European and Latin American countries, there is a tradition of celebrating your Name Day. This is the feast day of the saint after whom you were named (because names are predominantly taken from a roster of saints names). On a child’s name day (Imieniny in Polish) they will take chocolates to school to share with their friends. While some people are named for the day they were born on, many others celebrate their name day on a different day to their birthday.
The list changes from country to country, as they all have their own take on the names of saints. Today is the day I celebrate as my name day in Poland, because Laura was the closest we could find to Lauren in Polish (and the name I most often introduce myself with to save confusion).
The Polish name days are listed here, and there are lists for other countries as well. You may find your name on there, albeit in its Polish equivalent. I really love local naming practices, because they tell a really nice part of the story about people and their cultural practices.
We learned our first compound word. The word for tomato in Auslan (well, the one that we learnt) is actually made up for the signs for ‘red’ and ‘ball’.
Some words don’t have signs!
There are some words that just don’t have their own sign. The word ham just uses the finger spelling for H-A-M (as you can probably tell from this, and ‘tomato’, we did a bit of stuff about making sandwhiches in class this week). I’m guessing that it’s possibly shorter words that this happens for.
We learnt how to sign ummm! Very useful, I can start using it now for when I can’t remember a sign. I always find it’s these kinds of hesitations and fillers that make you sound more proficient than you really are!
Last class next week, already planning to do Auslan 2!
A recent discussion with my friend Annie, who is a speech pathologist, reminded me of something that I had not given a thought to since I was five. We were talking about the kind of things she does when working with children who have articulation problems (they know the word, but might have trouble with a particular sound). She was talking about repeating words with children, and then while saying the letter ‘p’ she put her hand next to her mouth and made a short opening:
I realised that when I was in my first year of primary school I had learnt a hand sign to correspond to the the sounds as I was learning the alphabet. Annie informed me that it is a language training method known as cued articulation (or cued speech). Each sound corresponds to a hand sign - even after almost 25 years I can still remember a few.
The cool thing now is that I realise the relationship between them that I never noticed before - to make a ‘b’ you use the same handshape as ‘p’, but with two fingers on the top, because it’s the voiced equivalent. It’s the same for s/z, k/g and f/v if I remember correctly. Unfortunately I can’t find a decent chart on the internet to show them all to you.
Cued articulation is different to sign language finger spelling, but it has been used to help deaf children develop spoken language. I’m not sure it would have been particularly useful for a classroom full of normal development kids, but I remember it was a lot of fun (maybe I’ve always been a language nerd!).
This week’s software suggestion is for Tilemill, which I’ve been learning to use at a series of workshops run by the ITS Research team and the Faculty of Arts at Melbourne Uni. Tilemill is a tool to make your map data look beautiful - above I’ve plotted a map of where Yolmo and Kagate are spoken in Nepal, and added Pokhara and Kathmandu for context. I’m now set for all future conference presentations and articles!
The program requires you to already have the data you want to map (or to find it in some open data), but it gives you a lot of flexibility in how to present it. For example, I’ve styled it so that when I zoom all the way out all you see is Nepal, and when you zoom in the text changes sizes. The documentation for how to use the program is really well written, even I can follow it. You are playing around with code, but as you can hopefully see from the bottom picture it’s not too scary.
As part of the workshops we’ve been building team maps. There will be an exhibition this Thursday in Melbourne - my team are building a map of Indigenous languages and Native Title areas in Queensland - if you’re into maps or data-hacking then come and check it out!
On the other side of the half-way mark for my Auslan short-course we’ve had a subtle shift in focus away from acquiring new signs, to using them correctly.
We’re beginning to encounter content-dependent signs. Some signs, like ‘boy’ or ‘run’ mean more or less the same thing regardless of where they’re used. But in a story someone might use a sign, and you’ll think “ah! That sign means put-a-glass-on-the-table” but it only really means that in the context of that story. It’s a bit like with any other language where I might make a gesture to put down a glass during a story. It doesn’t mean it will always indicate that, in another story it might mean pulling something down.
In English it’s easy to make the distinction, because words usually come out of your mouth, and gestures are made with your hands, but it feels like a complete mystery to me where the boundary is in Auslan (and, in fact, I imagine that the boundary is rather fuzzy). Perhaps I’m more interested in this than the other people in my class, given that studying gesture use is one of my areas of interest.
Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz has now been confined to the linguistic history books by authorities in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
The word, which means “the law concerning the delegation of duties for the supervision of cattle marking and the labelling of beef”, was introduced in 1999 during the BSE crisis. It was given the abbreviation RkReÜAÜG – which was itself unpronouncable.
But the 63-letter word was deemed no longer necessary after the EU halted BSE-testing on healthy cattle at abattoirs.