A letter arrived at the Sydney University Linguistics department just the other day from Japan, and the way the addressee was worded impressed me immensely, as It’s the first time I’ve experienced real-life honorifics.
July 30, 2008
July 13, 2008
It is with that in mind that I give you (over the fold) the Murrinh-Patha crossword puzzle, my own creative work, using Philip M. Parker’s online dictionary of the Murrinh-Patha language.
June 18, 2008
or, On the Grammar Wars
Over the weekend, and extending into the week thus far, a debate has been steadily growing in the blogosphere, both here and in the US, about a controversial set of guidelines for teaching English published last year by the English Teacher’s Association of Queensland (ETAQ).
Before I go on, I might say that the breadth of this debate is such that I barely know where to begin, so logically, I might try beginning at the start.
May 27, 2008
Over the weekend, David Nash drew my attention to a book that he found on Amazon, that purported to contain bilingual crosswords puzzles in English and Wageman.
I was a bit perlexed by this, since, well, Wagiman doesn’t have much in the way of practical applications such as second-language learning, that is, of course, beyond the community of Wagiman people. It should be noted at this point though, that this book is not being marketed towards the small community of non-Wagiman speaking Wagiman people, but to a North American audience.
May 27, 2008
I received this piece of concise, witty and rather insightful spam in the inbox of my work address this morning, and as it amused me I thought I’d share it.
From: Monte Cunningham
your life is crap
May 4, 2008
…but here is an equally improbable sentence that my housemate uttered this morning.
March 31, 2008
Not long ago, I received a call from a friend in Kybrook Farm. She informed me that an old lady, one of the last remaining Wagiman speakers, had died a little while earlier.
March 11, 2008
I’ve been a bit neglectful of this blog lately, and yes, I know I say that at the beginning of just about every post these days, but unfortunately it’s even more true now than ever.
The main reason I’m so busy is that I’ve been helping out in massaging and sanitising data for an electronic dictionary of Kaurna, the language traditionally associated with Tandanya and much of the surrounding region. The language officially became ‘extinct’ almost a hundred years ago, but on the basis of two dictionaries written in the mid 19th century, linguistic revival efforts are having some huge success. Places in and around Tandanya have taken on alternative Kaurna names, you can learn Kaurna through all levels of education and you can even study Kaurna linguistics at a tertiary level. Not bad for a ‘dead’ language.
February 28, 2008
Long term readers of this blog would probably know that I occasionally like to mess around with Google Earth and to try out new things to do with languages and so forth. It began with an exercise in mapping some known and established place names in the Sydney Metropolitan Area, mostly concentrated in and around the Harbour, and then it moved on to a small project of mine to map the region of the Northern Territory with which Wagiman is traditionally associated.
January 16, 2008
A discussion tonight about my nephew and his linguistic development at 1 year and 11 months, gradually turned to the broader issue of child language acquisition. Apparently, and this is new knowledge to me, infants learning English (we didn’t discuss any other languages and I’m not enough of a Chomsky to presume to speak for all languages) latch onto first person possessive pronouns before nominative or accusative, and will then use them in sentences. That is, they’ll say my do it before they say I do it.