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Warning - I am not a linguist, nor do I play one on TV.

I was intrigued recently to see (anecdotal) proof of something I thought that might happen.

A friend who is training to be a teacher in the US posted that she had to tell her 13 year old pupils how to use the Save icon in Powerpoint - after all, they probably have never seen a 3.5" floppy disk, so why would the icon make any sense to them?

Essentially, the icon is losing the link between what it represents and what it does. It stops being something where you would say 'click on the thing which looks like a disc to put your file on the disc'.

This naturally happens in alphabets - in fact, from my supremely uneducated view, that's what an alphabet is. It's a series of symbols that represent either sounds or concepts. (Non-ideographic vs. ideographic alphabets.)

Usually, this disassociation takes generations to occur, but with the speed of technological change, we're seeing it happen within a single generation.

I am (geekily) very excited about this.
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I love words. I love language. I love the moment when you realise that you've said something in such a way that the people who heard you say it have just redefined their world to accommodate what you've just said.

So it's a particular joy of mine when a friend states something, unattributed, that I know I was the first person to say that to them in that way.

I don't care about the attribution. I changed their head.

That's power :-)

jfs: (Default)
Taken from a LanguageLog post, as pointed out by the inestimable [livejournal.com profile] athena25.

In English, we say "It's all greek to me" when we don't understand something.

What do the Greeks say?

Well, apparantly, the hierarchy goes something like this:



Click on the image for a larger version.
jfs: (fireworks)
ad·um·brate
tr.v. ad·um·brat·ed, ad·um·brat·ing, ad·um·brates
1. To give a sketchy outline of.
2. To prefigure indistinctly; foreshadow.
3. To disclose partially or guardedly.
4. To overshadow; shadow or obscure.

[Latin adumbrre, adumbrt-, to represent in outline : ad-, ad- + umbra, shadow.]

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/adumbrates
jfs: (Default)
I've just got the latest "The Streets" album, The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living, and on it, when talking about a groupie, Mike Skinner refers to her as a sell-tale.

Beautiful.
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A Wizard of Earthsea was, alongside Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, one of the stories that shaped my childhood. I still have the map that Nici Hawkins drew me of Earthsea, painstakingly copied from the frontispiece of the book and blown up to poster size.

And I have made no attempt whatsoever to see the Sci Fi Channel version of it, because as soon as I heard of it, I also heard of Ursula Le Guin's attitude towards it (that's a link to an article called "A whitewashed Earthsea: How the Sci Fi Channel wrecked my books" if you'd like a hint as to what she thought).

I was colour-blind when I was reading it at the age of 8 - it literally didn't register that Ged was brown and Vetch was black - I didn't think of the Kargs as white - I thought of them as Vikings; after all, with the way we were taught history at that age, they were Vikings - dragon ships and horned helms and all.

This post by Pam Noles is worth reading, to see the perspective of someone who wasn't colour blind, and for whom A Wizard of Earthsea changed the world.

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I was on my way to work today and stopped in a shop for a sticky bun. The two women behind the counter, both Carribean (I don't have a good enough ear to distinguish islands yet) were discussing the fact that someone had addressed one of them as 'Madam' in the shop.

One was trying to persuade the other that it was just politeness, and that waiters and waitresses would just use that automatically.

The other was not to be convinced, saying with authority:

"I don't like it. It give me a blood clot in the head."

(I'm not attempting to type in patois - you can add the accent yourself.)

I love language. I love the way that language evolves. And I especially love the use of hyperbole to add emphasis.
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Three evenings, three outings. Planet Angel on Friday, introducing good friends to one of my favourite places. Mutual bigging up (which yes, I started :-)) a little bit of dancing, a lot of conversation and warmth. Having my lovely girl realise that PA is based next to the yard featured as one of the encounters in The Getaway (after the 20th time we'd both walked past it).

Saturday started with a cafe breakfast (although I'm informed by our resident Ilfordian that it's pronounced caff) and then disappeared into a haze of DVDs and chatting as the afternoon wended its way slowly past outside. Bad Wolf was broached (though I'm not sure what was on screen counts as an explanation, and that's all I'm saying given that a lot of my friends still haven't seen the latest Dr. Who) and then All The Chinese Food In The World was eaten in honour of 4 birthdays; [livejournal.com profile] westernind, [livejournal.com profile] forbinproject, [livejournal.com profile] delvy and Roo WINOLJ. The table was split into near equal halves as the vegetarians congregated at one end and the omnivores at the other, for ease of sharing. It was quite suprising to me that so many of my friends are now vegetarian - I suppose I knew, but seeing the table split so equally really brought it home.

From Chinese meal to world music - 5 brave adventurers departed late into the evening to Hackney, and the 291 Gallery for Whirl-y-gig. Whirly and Planet Angel share many things in common, but one thing that struck me particularly over the weekend was the amount of people who refer to them as 'my club' - both seem to engender a sense of ownership in the people who attend; something that's deliberate on their parts. Planet Angel refers to itself as a party, and the visitors as party guests rather than clubbers. Whirly has much the same attitude. It makes them, to my mind, two of the friendliest clubs I've been to, and I guess that's why I keep going.

And then Sunday. Sunday was Mozart's Requiem. There were two orchestral Mozart pieces before the main event (though apparantly the woman playing the piano for the Piano Concherto was very famous - certainly she was very good, but she wasn't who I was there to see and listen to.)

I have a particular love for the human voice - I read somewhere many years ago that every musical instrument is doing its best to mimic the voice and frankly, in my opinion, none come close. The fact that this was the Levin rescoring of the Requiem, rather than the Sussmeyer version, which is the more familiar score, was exciting enough. My problem with Sussmeyer is the orchestra, and (weirdly) specifically the french horns; lumpy soft instruments that let the voices sink into them rather than bouncing them up to the sky.

And I was blown away.

The choir were magnificent; there wasn't one note that was less than exceptional. I tried to pick out a single thread of voice in the Great Amen and couldn't follow it because I kept getting distracted by the other threads wizzing past, weaving into a massive rope of sound that you could tether the Queen Mary with. During the Dies Irae the Altos spat one word out and then sucked the next one back in creating an echo and a hollow sound for the word to disappear into; angry, fearful - and the sort of effect that someone would find it hard to reproduce with a sequencer and a load of electronic equipment.

The Kyrie raised the hairs on the back of my neck. The Lacrimosa made me cry.

Lacrimosa dies illa
Sorrowful that day
qua resurget ex favilla,
when from the dust will arise
judicandus homo reus
guilty man to be judged
Huic ergo, parce, Deus
Spare him therefore, O God
Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem, Amen.
Good Lord Jesus, grant them rest. Amen

Thank you to all that made it there; too many to list.

My weekend was spent in the company of my friends and those I love.

How does it get better than that?

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