what does WHERE look like

could google tell me

this place

this search engine  

is some vortex that never seems to have one answer

in my thoughts

(which is my soul’s neighbour)

WHERE means an obscured location

WHERE moves left and right and every direction in between

when WHERE was born

I don’t think the language alchemist needed to see

because perhaps they thought of WHERE’s choice to be non ocular

is similar to being on a deserted islet with a stranger

it feels




and these words are encounters

And what do they look like

I thought wearing glasses would help me see

but no image is ever enough

options are honest

but I don’t know if an act of choosing is

i am going

but I don’t want to land

because landing doesn’t include feeling

WHERELAND is a word

do not think of it as a question

do not hyphenate

the state of being in it is in fact a type of landing

I am in a state of WHERELAND

where land is nonphysical

but here,

the feeling is full

The Associated Press defined 'alt-right' and the white supremacists are not going to like it
The AP’s standards blog just posted a piece about how to use the term ‘alt-right’ when writing articles. Considering the Associated Press provides the style guidelines for newspapers and magazines nationwide, this clarification is a big deal. Here’s...

The AP’s standards blog just posted a piece about how to use the term ‘alt-right’ when writing articles. Considering the Associated Press provides the style guidelines for newspapers and magazines nationwide, this clarification is a big deal. Here’s the sweet and succinct “usage” section.

“Alt-right” (quotation marks, hyphen and lower case) may be used in quotes or modified as in the “self-described” or “so-called alt-right” in stories discussing what the movement says about itself.

Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however, because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience. In the past we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist.

The Associated Press is ready to call a duck a duck and so should you.

H*28: Problematic Asian American Youtube Stars (feat. Lucy)

This week for H*28, Chuks and Kari are joined by ragstoreverie (Lucy) to discuss Asian-American Media. In the last few years, especially the rise of YouTube stars, Asian American media has boomed with Wong Fu Productions, Fung Brothers, KevJumba, JK Films/David So, Jabbawockeez, and many more. They play an important role in the community–needed representation and control of production, for example–but they are not without their problems. For asks this week, we answer an ask from Sarah about access to social justice movement, butchrobot about developed/developing nation terminology, and 2goldensnitches about fighting with family members over the Gaza-Israel conflict.

Music: IntroInterludeClosing

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you i’ve been thinking lately about how ginny’s the only one out her friends and family to not keep her maiden name– which seemed weird at first, since ginny’s plenty independent, has family pride, and isn’t the type to do something just because it’s traditional. not to mention she’s rather famous in her own right due to her sports career, and seeing as how she continues writing on the subject, she probably could cash in on maintaining her name.

but then i thought of how for almost his whole life harry has been the odd one out as a ‘potter’. he grew up in a family with a different last name than him, who went out of their way to single him out as an 'other’. harry never had any relatives with his name or any sort of substantial connection to family member, which only exacerbated his feelings of being an outsider. i think he would have been proud of his name on some level– it honored his parents who gave their lives for him, and certainly his name became a big part of his identity as he grappled with his fame. but still. harry was the only potter. he had no family, no one else with his name.

i think ginny would have picked up on this, though i doubt harry would have articulated it (or even consciously recognized it). she took his name as a sign, an obvious indicator to all who met them, that harry was no longer alone. she was his family now.

Emoji are a universal language the same way that pointing at stuff and grunting is a universal language. Useful, under a certain set of circumstances! But what makes language really powerful is its ability to talk about stuff beyond the here and now, beyond the easily visualizable. In other words, abstraction.

And you can’t have something that’s both abstract and universal at the same time. It’s a contradiction. If it’s universally, instantly understandable, it’s got to be really simple. If it’s abstract enough to talk about anything interesting, it gets that way because of a bunch of arbitrary associations of form and meaning that you just have to learn by rote. (It’s not a coincidence that learning about a new topic often involves picking up a bunch of new vocabulary.)

For example, look at the tremendous difficulty that scientists have had in communicating the fairly simple concept DANGER THERE IS NUCLEAR WASTE HERE STAY AWAY in a way that will continue to make sense to humans for the next 10,000 years. Circle with a slash? Nope, could be a sideways hamburger. Skull and crossbones? Nope, could refer to the Day of the Dead and/or pirates. Closer to home, there’s a considerable amount of work put into designing universal iconography for international purposes like traffic signs and airports and Olympic events, but even that relies on a mix of shared cultural awareness (e.g. that wavy lines represent water) and just plain arbitrary learning (e.g. that a red octagon means “stop”).

But even if emoji were a language, and even if that language was actually an improvement on English — I can definitely see the pros to a language with a phonetic spelling system and no irregular verbs, for example — that still wouldn’t be enough to cause English to die. In fact, people have designed arguably more logical or efficient languages according to various criteria, such as Lojban which has no ambiguity or Toki Pona which only has 120 base words, and I strongly endorse them as a reason to spend an afternoon reading Wikipedia. But none of them have mounted a serious threat to a natural language. (Esperanto is the conlang that’s caught on most, and it’s not especially logical.)

Thing is, languages don’t live or die on their grammatical merits. I too, enjoy learning about the history of English and the unique quirks of Englishes ’round the world and all the stuff we’ve borrowed from other languages. But there’s nothing about our sounds or our words or our spelling system or our grammar that makes English particularly fit to be a global language. English is a global language because English speakers have been global conquerors. It’s not about the quality of English nouns and verbs, it’s about the quality of English guns and money.

There are, of course, gun and money emoji. But there hasn’t been physical violence inflicted on people who refuse to use them. We can’t say the same for English nouns and verbs.

This gets us finally to the most troubling part — the idea that emoji might cause the death of English is a severe mischaracterization of what it actually looks like when a language dies.

Even if you don’t like a few details of how Young Women These Days are speaking it, a changing language isn’t a dying one, it’s a living one. And we can’t deny that millions of children go to school in English, play at home in English, and will one day be able to get jobs in English, not to mention the further billion or so adults who speak English as a second language.

No, English is in ruddy good health. In fact, it’s not only not under threat, it’s the aggressor. The only problem with English is the way it’s pushing out thousands of smaller languages. You see, it’s not that languages can’t die — quite the contrary. The precise numbers vary, but it’s commonly accepted that of the 7000 or so languages currently being spoken, at least half of them will no longer be active by the end of this century.

There are many reasons that the children of a community may stop speaking the language of their grandparents, whether because they can’t go to school in their mother tongue, because their parents decide that speaking a majority language will help them get a job, because of inaccurate advice that speaking multiple languages to a child will just “confuse” them, or because of governments that literally ban their language from being spoken.

That’s not to say there isn’t hope — language activists have been working on many projects to revitalize endangered languages, and even to reawaken “sleeping” languages from written records into active, daily life in their communities (see the documentary We Still Live Here for one example). It’s challenging work, and chronically under-funded, but it’s happening. And that makes it all the more frustrating when the kind of “language death” that makes the news is hyperbolic techpanic or simplistic language savior narratives.


A Linguist Explains Emoji and What Language Death Actually Looks Like

My last A Linguist Explains for The Toast is worth reading in full, but here’s an excerpt from it. 

H*38: The Myth of “Asian Privilege”

For this week’s podcast, Kari (back from hiatus) and Chuks take on the idea of “Asian Privilege.” Why do so many people, from white people to People of Color, believe and propagate this idea? But first: Michael Brown’s parents are to stand at the U.N. and the circus surrounding Rasmea Odeh’s trial. Listener questions this week come from rosieisrising with regards to why someone would chose to partake in the imperialist machine that is the U.S. armed forces and givingyoutheflick about Australia.

Music: IntroClosing

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HYPHENATED* Episode 6- Teaching English Abroad

1. Episode 6, Part 1: Weekly Discussion (Teaching English abroad)

In this week’s discussion, BlackinAsia and unapologetically-yellow discuss the imperialistic machine that is teaching English abroad. What do we mean by cultural imperialism? Is there a way to teach English abroad in a socially conscious manner? What are some of the common things that Chuks and Kari have seen, given that they both have or currently are teaching English abroad? We have input from kenyabenyagurl, salviprince, thenaughtyscholar, and feministdonut.

2. Episode 6, Part 2: News Stories

In this week’s news stories, Rihanna fronts Balmain’s SS2014 campaign and converts the bedrooms of her New York apartment into a giant walk-in closet; Michelle Howard is nominated to become admiral and vice chief of naval operations; the Renisha McBride story gets dirtier; Yayaoi Kusama’s I Who Have Arrived in Heaven is so popular to the point that people are waiting hours to see it; Amazon and Target have gone to war against Beyonce. We also discuss asks from ithinkhernamewaskaylyn with regards to Tommy Sotomayor and his comments about Black women and wait-i-dontthink-t-getit with regards to something that popped up on Twitter.

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