linguistics genius~

Why Latin isn’t a dead language

Okay so I study Latin and one of my biggest pet peeves is when people ask me why I study Latin because they think it’s useless and dead so here’s my complete list of why Latin is cool af:

▷Latin has some really strong descendants and if you know Latin they’ll maybe make a little more sense 

▷About 90% of the English vocabulary comes from Latin so if you know Latin you’ll probably understand more of those fancy words (and how to spell them)

▷Latin uses grammatical cases so you’ll have an advantage if you study another language with cases in the future

▷Latin isn’t dead!! There are a lot of Latin around, especially if you are in the mediterranean area 

▷You’ll get like a million nerd points if you read anything in Latin

▷Harrius Potter is a thing and it’s very cool and that isn’t something a dead language would produce

▷If you study Latin you’ll probably get a deeper insight in the Roman history and that’s cool because knowing about the past is very important (and cool)

▷Memes about ancient people won’t make them sad because unlike their language they are dead and you can make fun of them all you want

▷ETYMOLOGY!! Like, this is the biggest one, at least for me. All the words that you’ll find and you’re like “hmm… this could be from this Latin root” AND THEY ARE and you feel so so proud of yourself because you’re practically a linguistic genius

▷You’ll see all the words ending with -us or -um and be like “yo that’s my Latin buddy”

▷All those Latin quotes you hear will make sense

▷We can cry together about how the Romans measured time

▷Quam pulchra es, amica mea!

▷Amicus verus est rara avis 

▷Did I mention etymology??? 

Okay I’m done now but if you think of something else feel free to ad it to the list!

Elrond and Elros adopt a different standard of elven beauty quite unlike that of other elves.

Growing up with their foster father, Maglor and Maedhros, they studied their language quite extensively. They wanted to understand them when they spoke in secret, or in passing, or even over the dinner table.

At the same time, the twins thought that if they were their children, they should speak their language in the house, for what child could not converse with his parents (plus Elrond saw it as an opportunity for Maedhros’s linguistic genius to rub off on him).

They learned translations first, starting from the Feanorian’s Quenyan names.

“Well-shaped” Finwe stuck out to them, because according to some, Maedhros was not “well-shaped”. Maglor went on to explaining that it meant beauty, that in Valinor, Maedhors was one of the most beautiful elves to have lived.

From that moment on, the twins associate “beauty” with Maedhros—ugly scars and all. But they don’t see it as ugly. They have an understanding of what beauty is supposed to be.  They’ve seen it when Maglor conjures up visions for them, seen the pretty ladies walking around the market.

Why even the twins are told they are descendent of one of the most beautiful elves (they agree later on, for Maedhros and Maglor are their fathers).

So at an early age, they learn that beauty comes in different forms. Clear faces, scarred faces, full limbs, or no limbs were all examples of beauty.

All in all, the twins never saw ugliness in anything, and instead saw beauty in everything, all thanks to Maedhros. And because of his personality and the unyielding love he held for them, he was one of the most beautiful elves they had ever met.

Second to Maglor—no, he and Maglor are neck and neck.

Guys.  GUYS.

According to the all knowing force that is Memory Alpha, Spock was born in 2230 and Nyota was born in 2233 SO THEY’RE ONLY THREE YEARS APART IN AGE which means it’s not preposterous to imagine that Spock was finishing his final year at the Academy when Nyota was in her first year AND HOW DID IT TAKE ME SO LONG TO REALIZE THAT THIS IS A 2O387423847028374% LIKELY SCENARIO

I want:

Spock as an RA in Nyota and Gaila’s dorm (and lots of him helping first years get moved in and pointing out which building the mess hall is and giving a tour of campus and giving advice on what classes to register for)

Spock not just as an RA but probably living on the same hall (and lots of doors hanging open because dorms are funnnn and like coming and goings from different rooms all the time and Spock’s is like so overly neat it’s kind of ridiculous but he has a single (being an RA and all) so it’s nice and calm and quiet in there and sometimes Nyota just doesn’t find a reason to leave right away and finds she can linger in his doorway for a good twenty minutes at a time)

Taking classes together (because of course Nyota is in Advanced Morphology and of course Spock decided to add it to his schedule at the last minute, even though it’s an elective but it’s logical to take advantage of varied course offerings while still enrolled at the Academy)

Study groups in the common room of the dorm (because it’s tradition that fourth years help first years through their first midterms and final exams because yes, it’s Starfleet and it’s competitive, but it’s Starfleet and everyone helps each other out and if Nyota is a bit befuddled by Introduction to Stellar Cartography, well, Spock got nearly perfect marks in it and is available to tutor her)

Sharing notes (because the two of them have the most anally organized, color coded note system the Academy has ever seen and Nyota is the first person – human or otherwise – that Spock feels truly understands the necessity of orderly note taking (not that Spock needs to take notes, per se, since he has a near perfect memory but he finds it advantageous to jot a few things down during his lectures in case Nyota can’t quite manage to capture the specifics and wants to double check things and maybe she’ll lean over from her chair next to him to look at his padd and it’s really illogical that she doesn’t just pull it closer to her but he hasn’t exactly pointed that out to her yet and seems to never quite manage to))

Gaila announcing that she’s decided Spock is going to be her new best friend (which Nyota finds he is surprisingly ok with and she watches this completely adorable friendship form between the two of them and Spock is like this patient older brother to this enthusiastic, slightly wild and hilariously exuberant Gaila who will run into his room mostly naked at all hours of the night to tell him something she just learned in one of the computer science classes she’s taking and he’s TA-ing for and he gradually spends more and more time in Gaila and Nyota’s room and Nyota thinks he’s the most wonderfully non-judgmental person of her roommate’s eccentricities (which are really just normal Orion behaviors) (and he’s thinking the same thing about her, tbh) and Gaila constantly does this thing where she just sprawls over her bed so Spock starts sitting on Nyota’s bed (which he appreciates is always neatly made) so when Nyota comes back from the library, more often than not, Gaila and Spock are going over computery stuff, Spock sitting on Nyota’s bed and he always offers to leave and she always waves him off and tells him he’s more than welcome (it DOES NOT escape Gaila’s notice that Spock is the only guy she’s ever had over that Nyota’s like no, no, not at all, you’re no bother) and so the three of them work long into the night and more than once Nyota ends up, somehow, closer to Spock than she originally started but can’t quite figure out how that keeps happening)

Late night dorm shenanigans with lots of terrible junk food and more than a little alcohol and probably movie nights as all the humans try to explain Earth culture and the non-Terrans are slightly horrified but also completely obsessed with this genre called ‘sit-coms’ and everyone packs into someone’s room and there’s basically no place for everyone to sit (which is fine because Gaila is more than happy to assemble a seat from various limbs and laps of her friends and everyone’s pretty culturally aware of not squishing Spock too much, so they let him have one end of the couch, but he’s not entirely sure what to do with his arm since Gaila has managed to wedge Nyota right next to him and he doesn’t want to spend the entirety of this completely illogical show elbowing her so he puts his arm along the back of the couch behind her and spends the next two hours wondering the meaning behind Gaila’s thumbs up and the way Nyota keeps biting her lip)

Communal bathrooms (because there’s no time like the present to get cadets used to living in cramped quarters and dealing with other species who have peculiar grooming habits or – in Gaila’s case – a complete disregard for the need to actually wrap the towel around oneself after drying off which Nyota tries to explain over Gaila pointing out that it’s a ridiculous custom, she can just walk back to their room and get clothes there, why an intermediate stage of wearing a towel and just because Spock’s wearing a towel while he shaves, the doesn’t mean… Nyota are you listening?  Nyota?  Nyota!)

Group projects (because part of Starfleet training is learning to work as a team so basically everything is turned into group projects which is the WORST except for Advanced Morphology where, luck of the draw (a phrase Nyota has to explain to both Gaila and Spock), Nyota and Spock get to work together on their midterm which turns into three nights in a row working on their paper way, way past midnight in his room (since Gaila is, as ever, really, really, loud most of the time) and Nyota just gives up on wearing real clothes and starts coming over in sweat pants and a tank top and it’s a good thing she’s a linguistics genius because it is, frankly, not Spock’s most successful project he’s ever done)

Midterms in general with crazy amounts of stress and cadets snapping at each other to be quiet and keep the noise down and Spock finding more than one first year in tears and helping them through everything even though he’s taking an enormous course load himself and basically barely sleeps or eats (except when Nyota comes over to work on their paper since if he doesn’t eat then, with her, he’s 87.6% certain she won’t eat at all, all day)

The weekend after midterms when campus pretty much empties out since it’s the only break for the entire semester before classes resume on Monday (and Nyota thought Spock was going somewhere with the other fourth years?  And Spock thought that Nyota had mentioned maybe trying to go home?  But instead they’re both around and there’s basically nobody else to hang out with (not that they’re exactly searching for more company), so spending the weekend together is really the only logical course of action and Nyota hasn’t had a chance to see much of the city since classes keep everyone so busy, so they could go for a walk?  Oh and there’s that restaurant down there, too, which someone mentioned once, so they could do that.  And maybe a movie?  Why not, right?  And it’s not too late when they get back and Gaila had been watching the newest season of that show everyone in the dorm likes, but she’s not around for the weekend and Nyota hasn’t seen it yet… It only takes the intro of the first episode to realize that sitting upright on the bed is really not the most comfortable way to watch it and that resting against her pillow is just really so much better, and it only takes until the middle of the second episode for them to have sunk so close together that if she just turns her head a little bit… it only takes until the end of that episode to work up the courage to do just that, and it only takes until part way through the third before Nyota finds out why Gaila always complains their dorm beds are too small and Spock’s bed is so much bigger and Nyota has exactly zero answers as to why Gaila comes back to find her normally neat roommate’s bed rumpled, what looks like a single sock and… underwear?  Nyota?  Nyota Uhura details, now


My thoughts on language learning are organized into
the little compendium below. Heaven forbid that we should
call them Ten Commandments of Language Learning—let
us perhaps call them Ten Suggestions for Successful Language

Spend time tinkering with the language every day. If
time is short, try at least to produce a 10-minute monologue.
Morning hours are especially valuable in this respect:
the early bird catches the word!
If your enthusiasm for studying flags too quickly, don’t
force the issue but don’t stop altogether either. Move to
some other form of studying, e.g., instead of reading, listen
to the radio; instead of writing a composition, poke about
in the dictionary, etc.
Never learn isolated units of speech; rather, learn them
in context.
Write phrases in the margins of your text and use them
as “prefabricated elements” in your conversations.
Even a tired brain finds rest and relaxation in quick,
impromptu translations of billboard advertisements flashing
by, of numbers over doorways, of snippets of overheard
conversations, etc., just for its own amusement.
Memorize only that which has been corrected by a
teacher. Do not keep studying sentences you have written
that have not been proofread and corrected so mistakes
don’t take root in your mind. If you study on your own,
each sentence you memorize should be kept to a size that
precludes the possibility of errors.
Always memorize idiomatic expressions in the first person
singular. For example, “I am only pulling your leg.”
A foreign language is a castle. It is advisable to besiege
it from all directions: newspapers, radio, movies that are not
dubbed, technical or scientific papers, textbooks, and the
visitor at your neighbor’s.
Do not let the fear of making mistakes keep you from
speaking, but do ask your conversation partner to correct
you. Most importantly, don’t get peeved if he or she actually
obliges you—a remote possibility, anyway.
Be firmly convinced that you are a linguistic genius.
If the facts demonstrate otherwise, heap blame on the pesky
language you aim to master, your dictionaries, or this
book—but not on yourself.

—  Polyglot: How I learn languages - Kató Lomb

Stephen Fry claimed there’s no Welsh word for blue.

Now.  Welsh does have a far smaller vocabulary than English (as do most languages), and the consequences of this are endlessly fascinating.  But blue?

Here’s a fascinating thing about the way we name colours.  It’s arbitrary!  We randomly choose where we divide between colours.  What is orange, say?  At what point is it so red that it’s now, well, red?  At what point on the other end does it become yellow?  And this is decided largely arbitrarily.

One way of examining this is by looking at the way your language marks out colours.  For instance, why is there a special word for “light red” (pink) but not for “light blue”?

And another way of examining this is by looking at how different languages mark colours out differently.

One example is the Welsh word “glas”, which means “blue”.  Because historically, our “blue” doesn’t become “green” as quickly as the English “blue” does.  That’s not quite true anymore, as Anglocisation of Wales means we’ve adopted English thinking on this.  But there are still some words and idioms that remind us of a time when grass was considered “blue” (the Welsh word being “glaswellt” - literally, “blue hay”).

Clearly, the QI researchers got hold of something like this, misunderstood it, and printed it on some cards.  So it’s not really Stephen Fry’s fault that the mistake was made.

But the nature of the show is that Stephen Fry - the nation’s idea of what a knowledgeable person looks and sounds like - matter-of-factly reports this error as a True Thing.  And this is as part of a show that’s all about erasing common misconceptions.

Now.  I’m no genius, no linguistics expert.  The reason I know there’s a Welsh word for blue is because I speak Welsh, and I’m called upon to use that word every day, to answer such common questions as, “what colour is the best model of modern train?”, or, “what was the first version of Pokémon you played?”

As such, I’d like to move on from the idea of a panel show presenter blindly accepting a fact he couldn’t realise was false.

I want you to imagine, instead, watching Stephen Fry knowingly and authoritatively sharing - as fact - that one of the first words you ever learnt does not exist.  Incidentally, this isn’t presented as a question - it’s not presented as information given on a card to Fry.  It’s presented as an aside, in a question about Ancient Greek, as Fry has a dig at Alan Davies:

Stephen Fry: Do you want to know something very interesting, Alan?  There is no Welsh word for “blue”.

Alan Davies: Oh, well - I’m sure there is.

Stephen Fry: There isn’t.

There’s no real reason for either Fry or Davies to know this information, of course.  Davies was born to Welsh parents, but raised in England.  Fry is what happens if Englishness itself births a child.

But there’s something else happening here.  Fry is a privately-educated man with an RP accent, and Davies is a privately-educated man with an Essex accent.  The former is presented as clever and the latter as stupid.

Which means Davies’s protestations that there must be a Welsh word for “blue” isn’t just presented as incorrect, it’s presented as naive and ignorant, while Fry’s insistence that “there isn’t” is presented as unquestionable.

To sum up: TV’s idea of a clever posho tells a man who’s been identified as BasicallyWelsh an incorrect fact about the Welsh language, and because the BasicallyWelsh man has an Essex accent, his protestations are ignored.

This is why I don’t watch QI.  Although, obviously, that’ll change now.

How he reacts to you speaking a foreign language


He may not have understood a single word that came out of your mouth, but he understood that you were angry. Your fists shook at your sides while your face turned a tomato red.  You oftentimes mixed up languages when you were angry and as a result, Baekhyun had no clue on how to reply to you. Eventually, he zoned out while you continued your dramatic monologue. When you finished your rant, you angrily reprimanded him for not listening to you.

“Don’t blame me. You were the one speaking like an alien. I didn’t understand.”

He laughed at your frustration as you realized that you were speaking in a mix of languages. You stomped away while he continued to cackle in the background, oblivious to the fact that were not quite done with being mad at him.

Originally posted by wooyoung


“C’mon! This is really good, trust me!” You pulled him by the arm towards a food truck that you knew had amazing food. You were visiting your hometown for a while and you were escorting Chen around town. 

“I’d like two orders of the special, please. Oh, and two cans of Pepsi! No Pepsi? Alright, I’ll take two Cokes then.” You conversed with the food truck employee in a language that Chen simply did not understand.

He stood behind you, smirking as you paid for the meal. He knew you spoke another language, but to see you put your skills into action made you much more interesting to him. He was looking forward to seeing you put your skills in action much more often.

Originally posted by chumyeol


You were multi-tasking around the house; not only cleaning, but also talking to your friend on the phone.

Chanyeol was lounging around the house, bored out of his mind until he heard you speaking loudly to your friend. He became curious and decided to stick by your side for the entire duration of the phone call. After you were done talking to your friend, Chanyeol took the phone out of your hand and demanded to know exactly what you said to your friend, word-for-word.

Originally posted by essentyeol


He supported you in your decision to take a foreign language class, simply because he was aware of how employers in the modern world preferred employees who spoke multiple languages. The foreign language course you took was quite strenuous and lengthy, but before you knew it, the final exam for the class came around. You studied late at night constantly to prepare and carried flash cards with words/phrases on them everywhere you went. Eventually, it was time for you to take your final exam.

“I aced it! I did so good! I’m a pro!” you exclaimed when you came back home after taking the test.


“I’m pretty sure I passed-” You stopped speaking once you realized that you were speaking in the other language you had just learned and laughed instantly afterwards.

He chuckled as well, proud that you worked so hard to learn a new language. 

Originally posted by ethereal-baek


Not one to go out of his normal, everyday routine, Sehun suddenly had the urge to learn the unfamiliar language that you were fluent in. He wanted to spend more time with you and this was the perfect way for the two of you to bond.

You began by teaching him the names of basic objects, such as fruits, vegetables, appliances, and furniture. Then, Sehun graduated into learning basic greetings and simple sentence. Months later and hours of practice, he was partially fluent in the language you taught him. From then on, he tried to always have a conversation with you in a mixture of Korean and the foreign language. He hoped to become as fluent as you were one day.

Originally posted by oh-sehun-please


“I know four languages,” he boasted at the start of your relationship. 

“Mmm, that’s nice,” you quipped. “You should definitely teach me one day.”

His chest filled with pride after your comment and he told everyone he knew that he was the linguistic genius in the relationship. It wasn’t until your relationship blossomed into a serious one when he realized that he wasn’t the only one who was fluent in other languages.

A lost tourist came up to you two  while you were walking in public. The poor tourist began speaking in another language and before Kris could reply, you responded to the tourist . After you provided directions to get the tourist where they needed to go, he looked at you in shock.

“What was that all about?”

You replied by winking at him. “Guess you’re not the only linguistic genius around here.”

Originally posted by sugafrost


Luhan and you had decided to go on vacation to an exotic country while he was on break. Luckily for the both of you, you knew the official language of the country you both were visiting. The downside for Luhan was that he needed you by his side at all times to speak with the locals. He could only communicate with the natives of that country through body language and hand gestures. Although you thought the entire ordeal was adorable, Luhan couldn’t help but feel his self-esteem go down. It wasn’t until you reminded him that he spoke two languages himself, Chinese and Korean, that he realized his worth once more.

“Thanks for the pep talk, babe.” He pecked you on the cheek. “Now, please teach me the language so I can be just as fluent as you.”

Originally posted by dawnlus


“Your pronunciation is still a little off. Don’t worry though; you’ll get there soon enough,” you assured him. 

Teaching Tao a new language was difficult to say the least with his playful personality. Most of the time, you both would end up watching TV instead of learning. However, today you were determined to teach him at least a few dozen basic words. 

“I give up! I’m done! I’m gonna watch TV now instead of sitting here!”

You grabbed him by the arm as he stood up with the cutest puppy face you could bust out. “No,” was his initial answer. However, as you continued to pout, the more his heart melted. 

“Fine, but just for a couple more minutes,” he grunted. “And only because that was a pretty darn cute puppy face.”

Originally posted by ztaohs


“What were you saying?” he asked softly as he turned to face you in the bed you two were sharing. When he turned around, all he saw was your sleeping face. “Huh?” he questioned. “I swear I thought I heard someone talking.” Before he could settle once again into the covers, you mumbled a few more incoherent words. He smiled as he realized you were sleep-talking. He stayed up for a few extra minutes, trying to listen in on your conversation with yourself. 

He scrunched his face up in confusion when he still couldn’t understand what you were saying, even though you were talking in an audible tone. After a few moments, it hit him that you were speaking in another language. He grinned in the dark and closed his eyes, making a mental note to tell you about your sleep-talking experience in the morning.

Originally posted by parkchny


“Put on some music,” he suggested when he was driving you to a restaurant one night. He handed you the AUX cord so that he could listen to the music on your phone. You thoughtfully picked a song and then proceeded to turn the volume all the way up to the maximum level. 

His body jerked in surprise at the strange music blaring out of the speakers and he swiftly turned the volume down to a normal hearing level. You cracked up at his reaction to the song you put on, knowing that he would be surprised.

“What song was that? I’ve never heard of it before.”

“Well, I doubt you even heard of this singer before. He’s from another country, but his songs are really good.” You turned the volume of the car stereo up once more and began to rock out to the music. You sang along to the song with him driving in shock. His shock wore off after a while and he then started to become amused with the way you danced in your seat to the music. He didn’t even know the language of the lyrics, but he sang along with you anyways.

Originally posted by jinglingkaisballs


He was known to be the cook of EXO and he decided to cook a meal for you when you guys were in your hometown. Standing in the grocery store however, he immediately regretted his decision of coming alone to the store. He had no idea where the ingredients to his meal were nor could he communicate to the employees to guide him in the right direction. He started to lose hope until he saw you walking towards him. He sighed a breath of relief and hugged you immediately when you walked up to him.

“I thought you might have a difficult time,” you stated. “Just tell me what you need and I’ll find it for you.” The two of you were gathering groceries left and right until he said he needed one item that you could simply not find. 

“Let me talk to the employee over there,” you said. “Um, excuse you?” You began speaking in a foreign language when you spoke with the employee. D.O. stood shyly beside you, amazed and proud that you spoke another language, but embarrassed that he needed your help so desperately.

“I know where it is! Follow me!” You ran towards the direction the employee directed you in with D.O. trailing behind you. From that moment on, he decided to take on the burden of learning the language himself so he did not have to rely on you so much.

Originally posted by kaisooshipper


Xiumin was holding you in his lap while you were diligently texting a friend in another language. Because of the constant stream of giggles that left your mouth, he became curious as to what you were texting your friend about that was so funny. When you left his lap for a bathroom break and left your phone behind, he sneakily grabbed it and copy-pasted the entire conversation onto the Google Translate app. Just as the conversation finally translated, you came back from the bathroom and snatched your phone away. 

“Don’t you know that curiosity killed the cat?” you spoke in the foreign language. 

He sighed in defeat. “If only I knew what you were saying, I know I would have had a killer comeback.”

Originally posted by xiundeer

Native Linguistics and Racism Based Kidnapping

honorat asked:

In my fantasy novel which is set in the real world with the addition of hidden magic, one of my main characters, a scholar in art, languages and paleography, is kidnapped by the villain who plans to coerce him into translating an obscure, difficult manuscript with information he needs for his evil plans.

I am at the place in my narrative where I would like to introduce a character who is a member of the Tsuu T’ina nation outside of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I have read the nation’s web information. She is twelve years old and speaks Athapaskan as well as English and French. This character is kidnapped by the villain in order to force the scholar to work, since he would not do so to save himself. She won’t be harmed in this narrative. The villain specifically chooses this girl because he can count on the poor response of government and law enforcement agencies in Canada.

I want to call attention to the lack of government and law enforcement response to the disappearances and deaths of aboriginal women in Canada.

What I don’t want to do is be insensitive about this issue. I have read extensively on the topic and listened to videos of Native women speaking about the losses of their mothers, daughters and sisters.

My MC scholar is part Cherokee, from Oklahoma, and as an expert in First Nations and Native American languages, can talk to her in her language that the villain can’t understand, and between the two of them, they hatch a plot to construct a radio to signal out of where they are being held. Since the villain is only watching the MC because he doesn’t see this twelve-year-old as a threat, she is the one doing most of the actual work on getting them rescued.

There are a number of other Native characters in the story, and the girl’s own family is very active in trying to find out what happened to her and get something done about it.

If there is something inherently problematic in this plot, I can still change this character entirely, but she’s becoming a pretty persistent voice in my head. Is there anything I should or should not be doing in order to treat this topic with sensitivity and the character with respect?

A few things here.

Why Cherokee?

I’m just going to ask this right off the bat— why Cherokee? Is there seriously nobody else, maybe a Canadian Native from Alberta, who you think would be a better pick? If you’re setting the story in Canada and using what is a fairly strong Canadian issue as a plot point— more on that later— why are you picking somebody from the Southern USA to come and help? 

Why not take somebody who’ll be more competent on the topics at hand than somebody from so far away? Native struggles are unique to the region of the tribe and you cannot expect two Natives from two different nations, from different countries able to understand each other at the drop of a hat. Yes we share struggles but no that does not mean we are interchangeable.

Canadian Natives have linguists. We have people trying to recreate extinct languages. Most linguistic anthropology schools— who would be studying this topic— are in Western Canada. There are individuals who would be much closer to the tribe and might even have some sort of relationship with this girl who you could use. Instead, you picked Cherokee, which is hundreds of miles away from the area, no relation to the tribe at all, and is simply the best for the job? I don’t believe it. Mostly because of my next point.

Native Linguistics

There are literally thousands of Indigenous languages in North America. Europe is actually the least linguistically diverse continent on the planet, at only about 200 total languages and between 10 and 20 language families. Meanwhile in British Colombia alone there are more language families than that, let alone individual languages. 

I will ask you this: what Athapaskan language does she speak? “Athapaskan” is not a language, but a language family, and it would be the same as English speakers saying they spoke Indo-European, or Hindi speakers saying they spoke Indo-Aryan. It’s a very loose descriptor. Sidenote: there is a movement to call them “Dene” languages, as that is a self-identifier. I’ll be referring to them as Dene languages from hereon out, but the research you’ll likely find is on Athapaskan. 

There are fifty three languages within the Dene family broken up into 3 broad groups, and somebody Cherokee is unlikely to know any of them, considering the Cherokee language itself is Iroquoian (whose languages, minus Cherokee and Mohawk, are either extinct or severely endangered, so all linguists involved are frantically working to preserve the family). They would be very, very different to the ear and mouth, making them about as similar as English and Chinese (roughly).

Also, even languages within two days’ traveling distance of each other can be mutually unintelligible, meaning you’d be legit learning a whole new language just within your own language family. Even so-called “experts” might only know one, especially since experts in Native languages are working so hard to preserve their own and require so much in depth knowledge to properly document, both in vocabulary and how to actually use the language.

One very quick Google search revealed she would speak Tsuut’ina/Sarcee (same language different names), and it only has 170 native speakers. This makes it even more unlikely that somebody outside the tribe (or outside the Northern Dene language family) would have resources to learn it, unless they specialized in it specifically… and I’m brought back to the point of why make it an outsider, instead of an insider, who is the expert? This is quite the sore point for Natives, where outsiders come in and save the day. Even though Cherokee and Tsuu T’ina are both Natives, to each other, they are technically outsiders. 

I’m also wondering why you’re having her speak French? Alberta doesn’t actually use all that much French (the farther West you go, the less French there is in Canada). It would be very much considered an “extra” language instead of a necessity (unlike if she lived in Ottawa, Quebec, or the Maritimes, but Natives in Quebec sometimes choose English and their own language as their bilingual education of choice). Just because Canada has two official language does not mean they are evenly distributed.

All in all, I find the linguistics of this a giant tangle that lacks an understanding of how Native languages work. This is not the same as somebody knowing English, French, and Spanish (the latter two romance languages and the former heavily influenced by romance languages). Your Cherokee character is the equivalent of somebody knowing Hindi, Japanese, plus English, and being considered an expert in all of them. That isn’t to say it’s impossible, but with so few resources out there to learn Native languages, and Cherokee being part of a very endangered language family that already has a ton of internal work to be done on it… I’m really wondering why you’re assuming this is easily possible.

And if you’re going “magic makes him better”, allow me to introduce you to the Magical Native American trope. It’s something to generally avoid, and if you do insist on having a non native of the language speaker be the “expert” within the language itself… it would be extraordinarily problematic. Native speakers of the language and members within the tribes should be the experts on their own language.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Onto what you actually asked about.

I find your very motive to be problematic. You are writing a political piece meant as a callout, when that is something very easy to misconstrue as an outsider. You’re basically trying to say “hey white people, stop this”, while using Native characters, and in a sense distancing yourself from the narrative. Now, I will say it would be worse if the scholar was white, but right now he feels white and more framed as a saviour when him in a saviour position doesn’t feel like it makes sense. He feels like a collection of traits you need for the plot to progress instead of a character.

On top of that, guy saving girl. Little sexist, especially since you seem to be treating the girl as “someone’s” instead of “someone”. You’re using her as a way of generating pain to her family and your MC, and even though she does do things in the plot, her focus as a pawn in a politically framed piece does not escape my notice. It reads a little “look at this cute smart little girl you’re all letting HER go missing? Stop that” instead of as an actual story. Yes, the political movement frames it as “stop stealing our sisters”, but that is in the context of Native tribal relations where every other Native is family regardless of blood. In a Western context, referencing somebody as a sister means something different.

Your motive is making the characters sound like “positive discrimination”, where you show how awesome and wonderful Natives are… which just others us farther. It shows somebody who is an absolute linguistics genius and a smart little girl and both of them valiantly working together because white people refuse to see them as worthwhile. This is not the makings of a solid character, or a solid plot. This is the makings of a saviour piece. Of the author trying to show that the discrimination is Bad because there are Good People getting hurt, instead of just showing the story for the sake of telling the story.

Notice how this is a women based movement and you have men be the centre point? That in and of itself is just propping up stereotypes. Plus you’re an outsider (I’m assuming), which means you absolutely have to step down and give us the mic. From the way this is worded you’re trying to be a valiant white knight who’s showing the world just how bad the situation is, instead of amplifying what has already been said.

And until you make us the experts about ourselves, until you respect the cultural nuance found within the wildly diverse country that is Canada, you won’t stop being one.

~ Mod Lesya

Atlantis!AU where Dean is an engineer, following his genius linguist brother Sam on a quest to Aether, a land long forgotten and swallowed up by the sea. He means to tag along as a grunt; someone to fix the machinery and keep Sammy safe, but all that changes when he saves the crown prince, Castiel’s, life. 

From then on, the only person Castiel will truly talk to is the strange man from Above (and, begrudgingly, his large brother). Though while he, Dean, and Sam are quickly making progress in terms of learning each other’s cultures and customs, the mission captain, Azazel, has far more sinister things in store. 

I just fucking played a kid, you guys wanna hear how?

You know that annoying polyglot girl I told you about, the one who takes like high school Spanish, a course of french, a single course of Japanese, and is in beginners Russian and claims she’s some kind of linguistic genius?


I know her pretty sure well by now.

She will never admit when she’s wrong, nor will she admit that she doesn’t know about something

If she gets something wrong, she’ll be like oh I forgot, that’s right! Or she’ll explain why she wasn’t technically “wrong” per se…

You get the point.

Well just for fun

I casually mention my book and I’m like so have you read this? A friend recommended it to me and I was wondering if you could tell me if it was good or not

And she doesn’t respond for ten minutes so I send her a message that’s like “oh that’s too bad, well thanks anyway”

Two minutes later she’s like oh I was just busy, yeah I haven’t read it yet, but the reviews are good.

And then I’m like “oh had you heard of it before?“

I. Wrote it.

Published it in JANUARY.

No one really knows about it but you guys

She says, "oh yeah, I’d heard of it.”

Sure, sweetie, sure.

Good news though.

I think I just tricked a simpleton into buying my book.


Braille: Where did it come from? | Stuff of Genius

Learn how Louis Braille invented the system that sparked Helen Keller to say, “we the blind are as indebted to Louis Braille as mankind is to Gutenberg.”

By: How Stuff Works.

Wow. Who is this gentleman with movie-star good looks? Why, it’s Michael Ventris (1922-1956), the main decipherer of Linear B. He was basically hella good at languages and knew like 12 languages by the time he was a teenager, he served in the RAF in WWII, and then he was trained as an architect. But this was not enough for Michael Ventris. Oh no. As a hobby, he worked on deciphering Linear B, the long unknown script found on tablets from Knossos, Crete. Basing his work off of the work of other earlier linguists who made progress with the script but never cracked it, Michael Ventris discovered that the script was encoding Greek and was subsequently able to decipher most of it. Tragically, he died young in a car crash and was not able to contribute more to Mycenaean studies or to make any more ladies swoon with his magnificent cheekbones. A gentleman, a linguist, a genius, he will live on forever in our hearts.

cussbunny  asked:

Okay this has been bugging me for several seasons. There's a Dothraki word or phrase I hear quite often that I surely can't spell but sounds like "dah-or". I have been trying to decipher the meaning from the subtitles but cannot find a pattern to determine what it is, though I assume it must be a common word like "they" or "you". Or maybe not. Help a girl out, you linguistics genius.

Yeah, it’s not actually Dothraki: It’s High Valyrian. And daor in High Valyrian means “no”. Thus:

Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor.

“A dragon is not a slave.”

Word-for-word it’s “Dragon slave is not”. This is actually one of my favorite bits of High Valyrian, that negation strategy. Love the way Emilia delivers it.

Sometimes I think about reboot Uhura’s hair and how I want it to be something that isn’t a straight little Eurocentric ponytail. Nyota doesn’t need straight hair to be beautiful. She also doesn’t need to be romantic with a lead character to make her “interesting” because she can stand on her own as a linguistic genius and total badass but anyway   This is a subject I’m nervous to ever bring up because, well, controversy.

This was my contribution to nonasuch’s Star Trek fanzine, which is now up for download. Go check it out!