Just Shelley

You are how you write

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I am in the midst of semantics, poetry, and RDF but I did want to take a moment to add my own comment on a new linguistic nosh currently being nibbled in the neighborhood. The nosh in question is a new book by William Hannas titled “The Writing on the Wall: How Asian Orthography Curbs Creativity”, referenced in a NY Times article.

According to Language Hat, the first to reference it, the author of the book, …claims that Asian science has suffered because the main Asian languages are written in “character-based rather than alphabetic” systems. According to the Times:

Mr. Hannas’s logic goes like this: because East Asian writing systems lack the abstract features of alphabets, they hamper the kind of analytical and abstract thought necessary for scientific creativity.

Stavros, currently living in South Korea and studying linguistics, reacted in a manner both swift and sure:

puk kyu

Roughly translated: Mr. William Hannas, with all due respect to your abilities and experience, but I would like to suggest that you stuff your head up your bum. Idiomatically: Fuck you.

Jonathon has also weighed in on this topic, specifically character association with sound, with:

In other words, as far as Japanese is concerned, the assertion that the language is based on characters corresponding to a syllable of sound is utter nonsense. Unless you’re referring to five year olds—but then there aren’t too many five year olds of any nationality winning Nobel prizes.

But he also added:

[image missing]

Roughly translated: With all due respect Mr. Hannas, but I beg leave to dispute your assertions and suggest that you take this banana and insert it into your rectum. Idiomatically: Fuck you.

I don’t have the expertise these webloggers have to contribute much to these excellent and appreciated discussions on linguistics, but even I, as someone with little exposure to this field, have a difficult time understanding why a people’s use of characters rather than an alphabet for writing would interfere with their scientific achievements. All I know is how much I appreciate the beauty of the characters, but I imagine that makes me provincial in the eyes of a learned man such as Mr. Hannas.

So I’ll add my own contribution to the response:

pHUcK j00

Roughly and idiomatically translated: What they said. (Thanks to Aquarionics for linguistic help.)

Of course, once I wrote this, I thought of Jonathon’s previous writing on Linguistic Imperialism and the impact that political correctness is having on what we say.

Well, back to the poetry and the RDF and the next essay, which I’ll release later tonight but must take my afternoon walk. In the meantime, while trying to look something up related to this topic, indirectly, I found a website that might be of interest: Omniglot.

Archived with comments at the Wayback Machine


Or I could study linguistics

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

What better way to get to the root of humanity’s global unconsciousness than studying linguistics. Combine this with humanity’s earliest attempts at communication and one can find the true root of male and female interaction, as explored in Cave Linguistica by David Salo: “Og like Nala”, “Me deer”, “Tiger eat Og deer, me smash”, and “Nala want eat deer Og kill?”.

This pivotal work has now been published in audio book format by Aquarionics, in a style strongly reminiscent of Alistair Cooke, somewhat mixed in with Crocodile Hunter.

May we hope to see further delightful collaborations of this nature in the future.


Sappy Woof!

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I am more than a little fuzzy tonight — way too much technology. However, in between tarring, gzipping, ftping, installing, testing, breaking, and re-installing, I’ve had time to keep up with all the linguistics discussions and I have to say how much I’ve enjoyed these.

It started with the now legendary Linguistic Relativism and Korean essay by Stavros, which Tom calls the …Stavrosian linguistic relativism thread. Then Jonathon sat down, joined the discussion, excusing himself momentarily for a quick cuppa, before returning to the talk. Language Hat, a very welcome addition to my blogroll, joins in, not surprising because he is a linguist after all. A New York linguist at that.

Is that an oxymoron?

Jeff joins with Tom in defending Chomsky, who must be tickled pink to be discussed within a linguistic context, rather than the usual “Let’s string the commie Arab loving bastard up” context he’s normally discussed within weblogs. Norm teaches us how to say ‘shit’ in Danish, which will come in handy some day. He also introduces his youngest son to weblogging. Since his son is a chip off the old Jenson liberal block, the conservatives in the audience are probably practicing their Danish right now.

My evil twin’s lover, Happy Tutor joins in, but people still come around.

Dorothea provides a wonderful discussion of Cave linguistics. Now you all know why she was the perfect editor for a book on RDF. Correction: David contributed this gem.

And these are just the more formalized writings. You have to read the comments associated with each to get the full, rich flavor of this discussion. Altogether, grand.

Og like.

I want to go back to school.