Tuesday, January 31, 2012

the IALA organization

The International Auxiliary Language Association was founded in 1924 by Alice Vanderbilt Morris; like the earlier Delegation, it at first worked on studying language problems and the existing auxlangs and proposals for auxlangs, and attempted to negotiate some consensus between the supporters of various auxlangs. However, like the Delegation, it finally decided to create its own auxlang; Interlingua, published in 1951, was primarily the work of Alexander Gode, though he built on preliminary work by earlier IALA linguists including André Martinet. Interlingua, like Occidental, was designed to have words recognizable at sight by those who already know a Romance language or a language like English with much vocabulary borrowed from Romance languages; to attain this end Gode accepted a degree of grammatical and orthographic irregularity and complexity considerably greater than in Volapük, Esperanto or Ido, though still less than in most natural languages. Interlingua gained a significant speaker community, perhaps roughly the same size as that of Ido (considerably less than the size of Esperanto.)


There has been considerable criticism of international auxiliary languages, both in terms of individual proposals and in more general terms.

Criticisms directed against Esperanto and other early auxlangs in the late 19th century included the idea that different races have sufficiently different speech organs that an international language might work locally in Europe, but hardly worldwide, and the prediction that if adopted, such an auxlang would rapidly break up into local dialects.[18] Advances in linguistics have done away with the first of these, and the limited but significant use of Esperanto, Ido and Interlingua on an international scale, without breakup into dialects, has disproven the latter.[citation needed] Subsequently, much criticism has been focused either on the artificiality of these auxlangs,[5] or on the argumentativeness of auxlang proponents and their failure to agree on one auxlang, or even on objective criteria by which to judge auxlangs.[19] However, probably the most common criticism is that a constructed auxlang is unnecessary because natural languages such as English are already in wide use as auxlangs and work well enough for that purpose.

Although referred to as international languages, most of these languages have historically been constructed on the basis of Western European languages. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was common for Volapük and Esperanto, and to some extent Ido, to be criticized for not being Western European enough; Occidental and Interlingua were (among other things) responses to this kind of criticism. More recently all these major auxlangs have been criticized for being too European and not global enough.[21] One response to this criticism has been that doing otherwise in no way makes the language easier for anyone, while drawing away from the sources of much international vocabulary, technical and popular.[22] Another response, primarily from Esperanto speakers, is that the internationality of a language has more to do with the culture of its speakers than with its linguistic properties.[13] The term "Euroclone" was coined to refer to these languages in contrast to "worldlangs" with global vocabulary sources; the term is sometimes applied only to self-proclaimed "naturalistic" auxlangs such as Occidental and Interlingua, sometimes to all auxlangs with primarily European vocabulary sources, regardless of their grammar, including Esperanto and Lingua Franca Nova.[23]

The response to this argument was made by Alexander Gode[24] and reiterated by Mario Pei:[25] A vocabulary selected from a broad variety of languages does not make the language any easier for speakers of any one language. Gode's example compares a paragraph in Interlingua with a paragraph with words from Chinese, Japanese, Malay, and other non-European languages. The first is readily understood by anyone familiar with the Romance languages, and not difficult for most English speakers. (see wiki)


D - 1924 and 1951 are key years for the IALA. Here we are, a century later, and we are still without any IAL language that is both widely accepted or spoken. Well, I'm hoping we can still try again a century later. In fact, consider the following dates.
1) 2024 - reboot the IALA.
2) 2045 - the UN (the 'new League of Nations') turns 100
3) 2051 - based on 2), the IALA deploys a beta-tested IAL.

Like spelling reform, introducing a IAL is a big one-time adjustment for any generation. However, all the following generations benefit from that. Promoting acceptance of an IAL remains as difficult as ever. How will an IAL finally succeed, if ever?
1) superior promotion
2) superior technical form.
Build it and they will come? Nope. Build a better mouse trap and you get ignored. However, build a MUCH better mouse trap, and maybe not.
How to PROMOTE an IAL remains thorny. How does one gain a core group to support and promote an IAL? How does the fringe group avoid creating a non-expanding static niche for an IAL, instead of widely popularizing it?
My hope is that as the old order changes, yielding place to the new (English to Chinese global pre-eminence) that there will be softening of attitudes. That the status quo will become malleable. That there will be an important open (but slowly closing) window of opportunity to change how to think about an international language.
That the English world will gracefully pass the torch, and thereby save what influence they can by making an IAL decision before it is too late to do so. That China (and India, and BRIC) will prefer an intermediate step between English for much longer and eventually Chinese. I'm hoping both sides (and third parties- everybody else) will consider this a winning and even Solomonesque solution to the perpetual 'language problem'.

Aside - I think I'll try a new twist on punctuation. Since there are 3 tiers of punctuation in English, I thought I'd try 1-3 spaces between words to denote this. It will be an interesting experiment.

Since there are 3 tiers of punctuation in English__ I thought I'd try 1-3 spaces between words to denote this___It will be an interesting experiment

Sunday, January 29, 2012

bahai'i faith and auxiliary languages


The Bahá'í Faith teaches that the world should adopt an international auxiliary language, which people would use in addition to their mother tongue. The aim of this teaching is to improve communication and foster unity among peoples and nations. The Bahá'í teachings state, however, that the international auxiliary language should not suppress existing natural languages, and that the concept of unity in diversity must be applied to preserve cultural distinctions.

D - sounds like what Sapir said.

The teachings of the Bahá'í Faith have a strong focus on the unity of humankind.[1] The Bahá'í teachings see improved communication between peoples throughout the world as a vital part of world unity and peace.[2] The Bahá'í teachings see the current multiplicity of languages as a major impediment to unity, since the existence of so many languages cuts the free flow of information and makes it difficult for the average individual to obtain a universal perspective on world events.[3]

Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, writing in the Tablet of Ishráqát and Tablet of Maqsúd,[4][5] taught that the lack of a common language is a major barrier to world unity since the lack of communication between peoples of different languages undermines efforts toward world peace due to misunderstandings of language; he urged that humanity should choose an auxiliary language that would be taught in schools in addition to one's own native language, so that people could understand one another.[6] He stated that until an auxiliary language is adopted, complete unity between the various parts of the world would continue to be unrealized.[7] `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, called the promotion of the principle of the international auxiliary language "the very first service to the world of man" and its realization as "the greatest achievement of the age in conferring profit and pleasure on mankind."

D - funny, that's what I think of aux-langs. Not Espo, of course.

I found a reference to why Big-Z on Espo did not choose a highly analytic form with rigid word order. Hard on Europeans. Like I said, it's pretty good for a Euro-lang, but lousy for a world one. Interlingua is in turn superior for the Europeans. But has the same problem for a world language. Ignore the Asians, and yer purported world language is DOA. Still-born, in fact.

Sapir: What is needed above all is a language that is as simple, as regular, as logical, as rich, and as creative as possible; a language which starts with a minimum of demands on the learning capacity of the normal individual and can do the maximum amount of work; which is to serve as a sort of logical touchstone to all national languages and as the standard medium of translation. It must, ideally, be as superior to any accepted language as the mathematical method of expressing quantities and relations between quantities is to the lumbering verbal form. This is undoubtedly an ideal which can never be reached, but ideals are not meant to be reached; they merely indicate the direction of movement.



I think Ogden said something about the world needing another 1000 dead languages. Of course, he was an English con-lang booster (con for controlled).

Kinda the positions on aux-langs. Either supplement or replacement.

I noticed the pitch for Interlingua- an easy primer for the Romance languages. Easier, I suppose. But not as easy as it could be.
Subject to its design constraints, it IS as easy as it can be.
But still more complex, irregular and wordy than need be.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

praising the topic-first sentence structure

D - I read a book on the formal linguistics of ASL sign language.
While many consider ASL merely 'signed English', there are many aspects to it that define it as a language in its own right. It is not merely signed English, or even just a creole version of it.

A topic-prominent language is a language that organizes its syntax to emphasize the topic–comment structure of the sentence. The term is best known in American linguistics from Charles N. Li and Sandra Thompson, who distinguished topic-prominent languages, like Japanese, from subject-prominent languages, like English.

Many topic-prominent languages share several syntactic features that have arisen because, in these languages, sentences are structured around topics rather than subjects and objects:

They tend to downplay the role of the passive voice, if a passive construction exists at all, since the main idea of passivization is to turn an object into a subject in languages where the subject is understood to be the topic by default.
They usually don't have expletives or "dummy subjects" (pleonastic pronouns) like English it in It's raining.
They often have sentences with so-called "double subjects", actually a topic plus a subject.

They do not have articles, which are another way of indicating old vs. new information.
The distinction between subject and object is not reliably marked


A dummy pronoun (formally: expletive pronoun or pleonastic pronoun) is a type of pronoun used in non-pro-drop languages, such as English. It is used when a particular verb argument (or preposition) is nonexistent (it could also be unknown, irrelevant, already understood, or otherwise not to be spoken of directly), but when a reference to the argument (a pronoun) is nevertheless syntactically required.

Weather itIn the phrase It is raining, the verb to rain is usually considered semantically impersonal, even though it appears as syntactically intransitive; in this view, the required it is to be considered a dummy word.

D - just to test reactions, I sometimes will say something like "the weather today is rain" just to see how people react. They look at me funny. Or funnily?
They often do look funny TO me. <:


D - why do I mention this? Chinese.

[edit] Topic prominenceChinese is considered to be a topic-prominent language, where the topic of the sentence (defined as "old" information whereupon the sentence is based) takes precedence in the sentence. For example, the following sentences do not seem to follow normal subject-first word order, but adhere perfectly to the topic–comment structure (Traditional Characters in square brackets):

院子(yuànzi)里(lǐ) 停着(tíngzhe) 一(yí) 辆(liàng) 车(chē)。 [院子裏停著一輛車。]
Literally: In the courtyard is parked a car. (A car is parked in the courtyard.)

D - Japanese is also topic prominent.


QOTD: "But Oriental and other exotic habits of speech might gradually suggest or even force a compromise with it (D - a simple phonology would distort Western languages)." (Sapir)

Aside- I'm eying Sapir's advice on not mixing V/W, E/I, or O/U, as well as L/R, side by side. I hope F handles some of the issues with V/W. I could use pairs in ways that are very clear, with the consonant-vowel word particle construction ensuring this. For example, LO and RU, and VE and WI respectively.

On Sapir. On interlingua basis.


Edward Sapir (/səˈpɪər/; 1884–1939) was an American anthropologist-linguist, widely considered to be one of the most important figures in the early development of the disciplines of linguistics.

With his solid linguistic background, Sapir became the one student of Boas to develop most completely the relationship between linguistics and anthropology. Sapir studied the ways in which language and culture influence each other, and he was interested in the relation between linguistic differences, and differences in cultural world views. This part of his thinking was developed by his student Benjamin Lee Whorf into the principle of linguistic relativity or the "Sapir-Whorf" hypothesis.

Sapir was active in the international auxiliary language movement. In his paper "The Function of an International Auxiliary Language", he argued for the benefits of a regular grammar and advocated a critical focus on the fundamentals of language, unbiased by the idiosyncrasies of national languages, in the choice of an international auxiliary language.

He was the first Research Director of the International Auxiliary Language Association (IALA), which presented the Interlingua conference in 1951. He directed the Association from 1930 to 1931, and was a member of its Consultative Counsel for Linguistic Research from 1927 to 1938.[21] Sapir consulted with Alice Vanderbilt Morris to develop the research program of IALA.[22


D - aside: he contributed greatly during his work in Canada!


In OttawaIn the years 1910–25 Sapir established and directed the Anthropological Division in the Geological Survey of Canada in Ottawa. When he was hired, he was one of the first full-time anthropologists in Canada. He brought his parents with him to Ottawa, and also quickly established his own family, marrying Florence Delson, who also had Lithuanian Jewish roots. Neither the Sapirs nor the Delsons were in favor of the match. The Delsons, who hailed from the prestigious Jewish center of Vilna, considered the Sapirs to be rural upstarts and were less than impressed with Sapir's career in an unpronounceable academic field. Edward and Florence had three children together: Herbert Michael, Helen Ruth, and Philip.

[edit] Canada's Geological SurveyAs director of the Anthropological division of the Geological Survey of Canada, Sapir embarked on a project to document the Indigenous cultures and languages of Canada. His first fieldwork took him to Vancouver Island to work on the Nootka language. Apart from Sapir the division had two other staff members, Marius Barbeau and Harlan I. Smith. Sapir insisted that the discipline of linguistics was of integral importance for ethnographic description, arguing that just as nobody would dream of discussing the history of the Catholic Church without knowing Latin or study German folksongs without knowing German, so it made little sense to approach the study of Indigenous folklore without knowledge of the indigenous languages.[11] At this point the only Canadian first nation languages that were well known were Kwakiutl, described by Boas, Tshimshian and Haida. Sapir explicitly used the standard of documentation of European languages, to argue that the amassing knowledge of indigenous languages was of paramount importance. By introducing the high standards of Boasian anthropology, Sapir did incite antagonism from those amateur ethnologists who felt that they had contributed important work. Unsatisfied with efforts by amateur and governmental anthropologists, Sapir worked to introduce an academic program of anthropology at one of the major Universities, in order to professionalize the discipline.

Sapir enlisted the assistance of fellow Boasians Paul Radin and Alexander Goldenweiser, who with Barbeau worked on the people's of the Eastern Woodlands: the Ojibwa, the Iroquois, the Huron and the Wyandot. Sapir initiated work on the Athabascan languages of the Mackenzie valley and the Yukon, but it proved too difficult to find adequate assistance, and he concentrated mainly on Nootka and the languages of the North West Coast.[12]

During his time in Canada, Sapir also acted as an advocate for Indigenous rights, arguing publicly for introduction of better medical care for Indigenous communities, and assisting the Six Nation Iroquois in trying to recover eleven wampum belts that had been stolen from the reservation and were not on display in the museum of the University of Pennsylvania, the belts were only returned to the Iroquois in 1988. He also argued for the reversal of a Canadian law prohibiting the Potlatch ceremony of the West Coast tribes.


IALA (Wiki)

Development of a new language

Originally, the association had not set out to create its own language. Its goal was to identify which auxiliary language already available was best suited for international communication, and how to promote it most effectively. However, after ten years of research, more and more members of IALA concluded that none of the existing interlanguages were up to the task. By 1937, the members had made the decision to create a new language, to the surprise of the world's interlanguage community.[13]

To that point, much of the debate had been equivocal on the decision to use naturalistic (e.g., Novial and Occidental) or systematic (e.g., Esperanto and Ido) words. During the war years, proponents of a naturalistic interlanguage won out. The first support was Dr. Thorndike's paper; the second was a concession by proponents of the systematic languages that thousands of words were already present in many – or even a majority – of the European languages. Their argument was that systematic derivation of words was a Procrustian bed, forcing the learner to unlearn and re-memorize a new derivation scheme when a usable vocabulary was already available. This finally convinced supporters of the systematic languages, and IALA from that point assumed the position that a naturalistic language would be best.[2]

...The IALA closed its doors in 1953 but was not formally dissolved until 1956 or later.[16] Its role in promoting Interlingua was largely taken on by Science Service

...In 2000, the Interlingua Institute was dissolved amid funding disputes with the UMI; the American Interlingua Society, established the following year, succeeded the institute and responded to new interest emerging in Mexico.[19]


D - unless an aux-lang design with a different basis can in some manners outdo Interlingua, then there is little point in advocating an alternative. However, I believe this is indeed possible. However, one must begin one stage further removed in order to do so. One must not begin with the baggage inherent in a naturalistic-derived vocabulary. Barring this, Interlingua is about as simple as a language gets, and as flexible.


Links to Sapir's aux-lang works.


D - he makes some of the same mistakes in his basic assumptions that Zamenhof also makes. He assumes that of course folks can see the huge benefits that would accrue from a designed language. I happen to agree with him, but do not think for 1 second that this is a widely accepted premise. Sapir blames a combination of nationalism and either intellectual of affective myopia for this lack of support, where it exists.

D - since I have NO interest in learning irregular verbs in Spanish, maybe Interlingua is a sensible place for me to start with Romance languages. I'm afraid French suffered the same fate that Spanish would. It is just too complex for a post-pubescent mind in an untalented and unmotivated learner.

Monday, January 23, 2012

we're losing our long term memory to Google

"When did wisdom become mere learning? And when did learning become mere data?"

D - changes to how we think are a wee bit older than the Internet. Or dat dere intraweb thang I keep on hearin' 'bout. <:


"We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing where the information can be found."
This sentence comes from the findings of a new study conducted by psychology professors at Columbia University, the University Of Wisconsin-Madison, and Harvard University.
Essentially, the study asserts that internet search is destroying our "internal memory."
"When people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/google-search-is-destroying-our-memory-but-is-that-such-a-bad-thing-2012-1#ixzz1kIVlpiC4

Friday, January 20, 2012



"Tagliamonte did a two-year study showing that Internet and text acronyms such as PAW (parents are watching) or TTYL (talk to you later) show a sophisticated grasp of language, rather than a linguistic doomsday scenario.


The students also submitted Grade 12 English essays. Tagliamonte found that underneath the acronyms, grammar was intact. The short forms were a case of adapting to the medium rather than a decline in grammatical skill.


By far, the most common acronym is LOL (laughing out loud). But acronyms only accounted for about 1 per cent of the words the students used, Tagliamonte said.
Their usage of acronyms is not exclusive to their generation either. For example, we barely notice older acronyms such as TV anymore, she said.
“The acronyms our grandparents used may be recognized as common words in our language now,” she said. “Acronyms aren’t new. But these ones are used by young people, so they’re reviled by older people.” "


D - acronyms have been around a long time. Here are a few from the days of the telegraph and Morse Code.

Morse code abbreviations
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Morse code abbreviations differ from prosigns for Morse Code in that they observe normal interletter spacing; that is, they are not "run together" the way prosigns are. From 1845 until well into the second half of the 20th century, commercial telegraphic code books were used to shorten telegrams, e.g. "Pascoela = Natives have plundered everything from the wreck".[1]
AA All after (used after question mark to request a repetition)
AB All before (similarly)
ARRL American Radio Relay League
ABT About
ADR Address
AGN Again
ANT Antenna
ARND Around


D - here are some NATO abbreviations. Notice how many are the first syllable of each in a sequence of words. I might try something similar, but with main topic first, and a preposition for nuance. E.g. XYZ office - OR office of/for/by XYZ... .


2 NATLAS definitions Suggest New
National Laboratory Assessment Scheme
National Testing Laboratory Accreditat…

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

hyperpolygots: how many languages can U speak?


Claire Kramsch, a linguist at the University of California, Berkeley, tells him the question should not be "How many languages do you know?" but rather "In how many languages do you live?" Understanding the cultural nuances of a language requires extensive ongoing contact with its speakers, and for that reason Kramsch doubts that anyone could ever live in more than four or five languages.

Fair enough, but what about the less nuanced yet still astonishing feats of memory and computation that people display when they pick up a new language, or eight? Erard points out that, for no good reason, this question has been neglected by science. After all, we study extraordinary aptitude in mathematics and music; why not hyperpolyglots?

Erard tracks down Mezzofanti's papers, speaks to many fascinating language experts and even learns that some bilingual people experience mental illness in one language but not another. Most interestingly, he surveys a group of modern hyperpolyglots. Memory, motivation and practice are all important, they say, but so is pragmatism. Those who claimed to speak 11 languages did not much care about sounding like a native. Unlike Mezzofanti, their goal was not to dazzle but to do - see the world, read the local paper and not get lost.


D - kinda the basis for my idea of learning natural languages.
Just learn the parts that are regular.
For example, don't bother learning any Spanish irregular verbs.
Or English irregular plurals. Mooses. Gooses. Octopuses. Mitvots. And so on.
You'll be understood - and corrected. But so what.

de Valla. grammaticist detects huge RC fraud

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorenzo_VallaExposing historical hoaxes

Valla's originality, critical acumen, and knowledge of classical Latin style were put to good use in an essay he wrote between 1439 and 1440, De falso credita et ementita Constantini Donatione declamatio. In this he demonstrated that the document known as the Constitutum Constantini (or "donatio Constantini" as he refers to it in his writings), or the Donation of Constantine, could not possibly have been written in the historical era of Constantine I (4th Century), as its vernacular style dated conclusively to a later era (8th Century). One of Valla's reasons was that the document contained the word satrap which he believed Romans such as Constantine I would not have used.[1] The document, though met with great criticism at its introduction, was accepted as legitimate, in part owing to the beneficial nature of the document for the western church. The Donation of Constantine suggests that Constantine I "donated" the whole of the Western Roman Empire to the Roman Catholic Church as an act of gratitude for having been miraculously cured of leprosy by Pope Sylvester I. This would have obviously discounted Pepin the Short's own Donation of Pepin, which gave the Lombards land to the north of Rome.
Valla was motivated to reveal the Donation of Constantine as a fraud by his employer of the time, Alfonso of Aragon, who was involved in a territorial conflict with the Papal States, then under Pope Eugene IV.[citation needed] The Donation of Constantine had often been cited to support the temporal power of the Papacy, since at least the 11th century.
The essay began circulating in 1440, but was heavily rejected by the Church. It was not formally published until 1517. It became popular among Protestants. An English translation was published for Thomas Cromwell in 1534. Valla's case was so convincingly argued that it still stands today, and the illegitimacy of the Donation of Constantine is generally conceded.


In 1433 Valla made his way to Naples, to the court of Alfonso V of Aragon, who made Valla his private Latin secretary and defended him against the attacks on account of his public statements about theology, including one in which he denied that the Apostles' Creed was composed in succession by each of the twelve Apostles. These charges were eventually dropped.


Donation of Constantine
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the forged imperial decree. For the painting by students of Raphael inspired by the decree, see The Donation of Constantine (painting).


The Donation of Constantine (Latin, Donatio Constantini)[1] is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine I supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. During the Middle Ages, the document was often cited in support of the Roman Church's claims to spiritual and earthly authority. Italian Catholic priest and humanist Lorenzo Valla is credited with first exposing the forgery with solid philological arguments,[2] although doubts on the document's authenticity had already been cast by this time. Scholars have since dated the forgery between the eighth and ninth centuries.

He appears, however, as a vain, jealous and quarrelsome man, but he combined the qualities of an elegant humanist, an acute critic and a venomous writer, who had committed himself to a violent polemic against the temporal power of Rome. In him posterity honors not so much the scholar and the stylist as the man who initiated a bold method of criticism, which he applied alike to language, to historical documents and to ethical opinions. Luther had a very high opinion of Valla and of his writings, and Cardinal Bellarmine calls him praecursor Lutheri, while Sir Richard Jebb says that his De Elegantiis "marked the highest level that had yet been reached in the critical study of Latin." Erasmus stated in his De ratione studii that for Latin Grammar, there was "no better guide than Lorenzo Valla.


D - as always, a whole lotta power play politics behind the thin veneer of doctrinal points and canon.

silly bugger with #s: consumers


D - I locked myself out of my livejournal account.
Unless I can find the password.
It was linked to my old Hotmail account, which I shut down.

In the case of the cake, most people perceive "28 minutes" to be more precise and therefore more reliable than "half an hour," which sounds a bit like rounding and could presumably mean a few minutes more or less. This observation has important implications for how consumers interpret quantitative information.

"Consumers perceive products as more likely to deliver on their promises when the promise is described in fine-grained rather than coarse terms and choose accordingly," the authors conclude. For example, "one year" and "12 months" refer to the same amount of time, but leave different impressions.

In one study, participants chose between GPS units: one was described as lasting "up to two hours" and another, which was heavier and more expensive, "up to three hours." "When the units' battery life was described in hours, only 26 percent picked the 'up to two hours' unit—they were concerned it might run out of power prematurely," the authors write. "But when the battery was described as 'up to 120 minutes,' more than twice as many consumers (57 percent) were happy to pick the same unit."

D - I wonder if a naming convention that always derives from a single unit would affect this? I.e. 100 minutes maybe being a deca-minute instead of a 'metric hour'.
I have settled on days and years as the only truly natural time units for humans.

Monday, January 16, 2012

deaf read body language better


The work suggests that deaf people may be especially adept at picking up on subtle visual traits in the actions of others, an ability that could be useful for some sensitive jobs, such as airport screening.
"There are a lot of anecdotes about deaf people being better able to pick up on body language, but this is the first evidence of that," said David Corina, professor in the UC Davis Department of Linguistics and Center for Mind and Brain.

This work is important because it suggests that the human ability for communication is modifiable and is not limited to speech, Corina said. Deaf people show us that language can be expressed by the hands and be perceived through the visual system. When this happens, deaf signers get the added benefit of being able to recognize non-language actions better than hearing people who do not know a sign language, Corina said.
The study supports the idea that sign language is based on a modification of the system that all humans use to recognize gestures and body language, rather than working through a completely different system, Corina said.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

traduttore, traditore. New Testaments and Gays



by Bill Sklar <86730@LAWRENCE.BITNET>

"References on Homosexuality and the Bible"

I CORINTHIANS 6:9-10 reads:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [malakoi], nor homosexual offenders [arsenokoites], nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

I placed two words in brackets. The first one, "malakoi", Scroggs (p. 14) says "literally means 'soft' and is no technical term for a homosexual." It apparently refers to young boys who would take the "recepient" position in anal sex, often for money. It's also translated in some Bibles as "morally weak".

"Aresenokoitai", on the other hand, is clearly a sexual term but, according to Scroggs:

Since... the New Testament occurrences are the earliest appearances of the word, it is not easy for us to be sure what it means. John Boswell in his recent study denies that it refers to a homosexual person in general but rather specifically to the male prostitute who could serve heterosexual or homosexual clients. At any rate, the sin is prostitution, not homosexuality in itself. (p. 14)

These words are the words used both in Corinthians and in I Timothy 1:10 which are commonly translated into modern bibles as "homosexual", "effeminate," and "self-indulgent." In these enlightened times, however,there is no indication that such terms are in any way connected to homosexuality in itself.


Mistranslated New Testament Words?

It is claimed that over 100 words are mistranslated in the New Testament from the Greek.[1] However, many of those mistranslations are due to the inadequacy of the Greek, as a powerful a language as it was, to express the novel ideas and concepts of Christianity. (wiki)

D - what Big J did talk about the most was (drum roll here) 'the kingdom of god'. Generally meaning god's LOVE.
And didn't say squat about gays.
I seem to recall a lot of concern about society's disenfranchised and needy. Charitable stuff.


I'll end with a quote from the movie "Dogma".

Rufus: He still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name - wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always, built a belief structure on it.
Bethany: Having beliefs isn't good?
Rufus: I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier..

D - I've read Karen Armstrong. Joseph Campbell. Greta Vosper. The textbooks from A to Z on this. Almost all the main religious holy texts of the world. On living bibically. On evangelicalism.
But I will just focus on translation issues as a guy who likes language stuff for this site.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

etymology of name of god, western 1


D - We mostly use 'Yahweh'. More obscurely, it is derived from a Semitic triliteral root plus one modifier for masculine and subject.

Semitic root
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The roots of verbs and most nouns in the Semitic languages are characterized as a sequence of consonants or "radicals" (hence also the term consonantal root). Such abstract consonantal roots are used in the formation of actual words by adding the vowels and non-root consonants (or "transfixes") which go with a particular morphological category around the root consonants, in an appropriate way, generally following specific patterns. It is a peculiarity of Semitic linguistics that a large majority of these consonantal roots are triliterals (although there are a number of quadriliterals, and in some languages also biliterals). (Wiki)

Most scholars accept that YHWH is made up of Y, meaning "he", plus a form of HWY, the root of a group of words connected with "being" and "becoming".

It appears 6,823 times in the Jewish Bible, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, and 6,828 times each in the Biblia Hebraica and Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia texts of the Hebrew Scriptures. This number in itself is quite remarkable considering the name compared with titles given to God, namely: God (2,605), Almighty (48), Lord (40), Maker (25), Creator (7), Father (7), Ancient of Days (3) and Grand Instructor (2).

D - some speculation follows. I don't have an opinion on it.


Yaho (Heb.). Furst shows this to be the same as the Greek Iao. Yaho is an old Semitic and very mystic name of the supreme deity, while Yah (q.v.) is a later abbreviation which, from containing an abstract ideal, became finally applied to, and connected with, a phallic symbol -- the lingham of creation. Both Yah and Yaho were Hebrew "mystery names" derived from Iao, but the Chaldeans had a Yaho named Ia or Ya(h) before the Jews adopted the name, and with them, as explained by some Gnostics and Neo-Platonists (Clement--Iao-ve, Origen--Iao, Epiphanius--Iave, Theodoret--Iabe, Jews--Ala: see Jehovah Ency Britannica Vol 12, Page 995, 1958 edtion); The true key of this mystery god was communicated to the Initiates only, was that the name of IAO was "triliteral (triune, trinity) and its nature secret", as explained by the Hierophants. The Phoenicians too had a supreme deity whose name was triliteral, triune, and trinity, and its meanings secret, this was also Iao; and Y-ha-ho was a sacred word in the Egyptian mysteries, which signified "the one eternal and concealed deity." Iah or Yah is also the Egyptian moon god.
D - another place we see this triliteral Semitic-style word is in old Arabic. Take the elative in the Islamic Takbir.

The Takbīr or Tekbir (تَكْبِير) is the Arabic term for the phrase Allāhu Akbar (الله أكبر). It is usually translated "God is [the] Greatest," or "God is Great". It is a common Islamic Arabic expression. It is used in various contexts by Muslims: in formal prayer, as an informal expression of faith, in times of distress, to express celebration or victory, and to express resolute determination or defiance (especially in politically-charged context).
The form Allāhu is the nominative of Allah "God". The form akbar is the elative of the adjective kabīr "great", from the root k-b-r. As used in the takbir it is usually translated as "greatest", but some authors prefer "greater".[1] The term takbīr itself is the stem II verbal noun (tafʿīlun) of the triliteral root k-b-r "great".

D - Then the 2 A's denote the elative form - kinda like a combo comparative and superlative. At any rate, regardless of translation into English, there is widespread consensus that the Big Guy is pretty darn swell.

D - Now here's where it gets interesting. Allah and Elohim (Old Testament - another name for deity) are both cognates from the same origin. In Uratic, I think.


Elohim (אֱלהִים) is a grammatically singular or plural noun for "god" or "gods" in both modern and ancient Hebrew language. When used with singular verbs and adjectives elohim is usually singular, "god" or especially, the God. When used with plural verbs and adjectives elohim is usually plural, "gods" or "powers".[1][2] It is generally thought that Elohim is a formation from eloah, the latter being an expanded form of the Northwest Semitic noun il (אֱל, ʾēl [3]). It is usually translated as "God" in the Hebrew Bible, referring with singular verbs both to the one God of Israel, and also in a few examples to other singular pagan deities. With plural verbs the word is also used as a true plural with the meaning "gods".[3] The related nouns eloah (אלוה) and el (אֱל) are used as proper names or as generics, in which case they are interchangeable with elohim.[3] (wiki)

Allah (English pronunciation: /ˈælə/ or /ˈɑːlə/; Arabic: الله‎ Allāh, IPA: [ʔɑlˈlɑː] ( listen), [ʔalˤˈlˤɑː]) is a word for God used in the context of Islam and other monotheistic religions of Arabic-speaking communities.[1] In Arabic, the word means simply "the God".[2][3][4] It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and Sikhs.[5][6][7] It is related to ʼĔlāhā in Aramaic. (wiki)

The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BCE. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels.
The Aramaic alphabet is historically significant, since virtually all modern Middle Eastern writing systems use a script that can be traced back to it, as well as numerous Altaic writing systems of Central and East Asia. This is primarily due to the widespread usage of the Aramaic language as both a lingua franca and the official language of the Neo-Assyrian, and its successor, the Achaemenid Empire. Among the scripts in modern use, the Hebrew alphabet bears the closest relation to the Imperial Aramaic script of the 5th century BCE, with an identical letter inventory and, for the most part, nearly identical letter shapes.

D - again, check out the origin of "alphabet" from Alef and Bet - and the original ox and house pictograms. (It sounded the same too. )

Interesting Facts About Aleph

Interestingly enough, our word Alphabet comes from the first two letters in the Hebrew Alphabet, Aleph and Bet: Aleph-Bet or AlphaBet. And other nice rat facts: the letter A, or Alpha in Greek is a derivative of an ox head turned upright. Also, coincidentally enough, the Hebrew letter Aleph means ox as well.

The letter itself (aleph) when scribed and superimposed on a drawing of an ox or cow with horns resembles the cow in stick figure. The two upper portions being the horns, and the lower two portions the legs.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1552829

And on Bet -


Well there you have it folks. Happy Holidays!

Monday, January 2, 2012

most over-used words of 2011. AMAZING!!!


The inaugural list was born at a New Year's Eve party in 1975 when a college relations director bet that he could go home and write up five overused words and phrases. That list consists of timely gems such as "macho" ("seldom pronounced properly and therefore lacks meaningfulness") and "détente" ("invented by Henry Kissinger. Nobody else knows what it means, and now even Kissinger has forgotten").

Most of the words are synonymous with a driving force derived from pop culture. Look no further than the cult-like obsession with Beyoncé's pregnancy for the reasoning behind "baby bump," or the self-explanatory "occupy."

According to Time magazine, "amazing" came out on top with more than 1,500 nominations from anglophones worldwide. Many people complained that the word went stale after being overexposed through reality TV.



amazing, baby bump, shared sacrifice (only 1 gets on the altar!), occupy, blowback, mancave, the new normal, pet parent.

D - LOL I'm trying to get up to date on popular culture. I have not had cable TV in over a decade, and only read the Globe & Mail (which has included a 'report typo' option recently!). To try to stay in touch with my society more, I began to look at the top 10 search results in Google when I search for a single letter of the alphabet. It has been very illuminating. I know more about reality shows, rappers, hunky sporty men and adolescent female sex kittens than ever before! For example, I can now tell you about the Brit boy-band "One Direction" ... but won't.
There is ONE drawback to not following my own society's pop culture. I will never be able to write The Great Canadian Novel since I lack a sense of the zeitgeist of my time.

Zeitgeist (German pronunciation: [ˈtsaɪtɡaɪst] ( listen)) is "the spirit of the times" or "the spirit of the age." [1] Zeitgeist is the general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambiance, morals, sociocultural direction, and mood associated with an era.
The term is a loanword from German Zeit – "time" (cognate with English "tide" and "time") and Geist – "spirit" (cognate with English "ghost").

For example, take the Google results for the letter "A":
Adele, Apple, Angry Birds, Ashwarya Rai (& Baby), Angelina Joli, Amber Rose, Amber Heard. Of course, since the search is for images, the results are skewed toward attractive celebrity women. But that's OK. <: