I’ve been meaning to bring them up for a while – there’s an interesting post about the World Oral Literature Project that I thought was very interesting – they have helped fund a dictionary for Lamjung Yolmo, a Nepalese language or dialect.
The World Oral Literature Project are working with communities and linguists all over the world to try and make accessible records of languages that are dying out at a rapid rate. Their particular interest is in capturing those stories, poems and bits of cultural lore that are often lost when a community no longer speak their ancestral language. They have small grants to help people work towards recording these stories and tales, but they also do public lectures and workshops in developed countries to show people who might have never contended with the loss of a language exactly what is as stake.
Then of course, they forced my hand today by posting a cornucopia of linkage to all sorts of language and linguistic goodness that will no doubt make it hard for me to get any work done today. As you can see, a lot of our (well, my) favourite topics are covered – X number of words for Y, untranslatable phrases, crowd sourced translations and endangered languages:
Lynneguist spent a month looking at words that don’t really translate very well between American and British English, as an Australian I’m unsurprised that we share so many commonalities with both – but also amused at how many words from either language haven’t found their way to Australia. Johnson also investigated the great Atlantic linguistic divide, looking at just how Brits living in the USA have adapted to local pronunciation. Results come in colourful pie charts.
Fritinancy reintroduced us to some tech jargon already lost to history, and some that still survives. Stan Carey gives us an introduction to how Klingon was invented, and while still on something of a Scifi theme introduced us to the Spaceage Portal of Sentence Discovery. And while we are looking into the future, the folk at MacMillan reported on the future of dictionaries from the 2011 eLEX conference.
While the internet is having affects on the way dictionaries are being used, Piers Kelly at Fully (Sic) also showed us that crowd-sourcing can be great, with a project currently underway to translate ancient Greek texts. You don’t even need to know any Greek to help out. And on the topic of the internet making research more wonderful, the Australian Society for Indigenous Linguistics have made a large segment of their collection publicly accessible – Thanks to Jane Simpson at the PARADISEC Endangered Languages and Cultures blog for letting us know the good news.
Some quick links – Language Hat asked about the history of movie pidgins, Arnold Zwicky puzzles over some tricky alphabetising and that guy over at Dialect blog talks about guy, as do those guys at Lingua Franca. Ben Zimmer discovers that Kate Bush shows remarkable creativity in her list of 50 words for snow but as Geoff Pullum, over at Lingua Franca, discovers not everyone is as well educated when it comes to knowing how many words Eskimos have for snow (clue: it’s not fifty).
It’s now a solid part of my morning reading ritual through my RSS reader. Recommended reading.