Saturday, December 22, 2007

Parting Words

This will be my last post on this blog. I hope I have made a few interesting contributions in the short time I was here. I am happy I took the class, and I loved our conversations. I have a video I would like to share with you all, I wish I had found it sooner as it would have provided some interesting discussions in the class.

For some reason I cannot embed the video here, so here is the link:

Feel free to look me up if you would like to chat, and if you are interested I will be keeping up on my livejournal ( have a read, and leave comments if you like.


~ Brent

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

At a Loss for Words

From 'Natural History Magazine':

The Native-American language Salish–Pend d’Oreille is on the brink of disappearing.
More than half the world’s 6,000 languages will be gone by the end of the century.

By Sarah Grey Thomason

John Peter Paul, a rugged, dignified man, was extremely ill during the summer of 2000. He was ninety-one years old and suffering from stomach cancer. Still, every week he insisted on wheeling himself into the (Longhouse) on the Flathead reservation in northwestern Montana. There, he and other elders of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille tribes would gather in meetings I had set up to expand and fine-tune the dictionary of their language and the collection of texts that we had been working on together for many years.

On one occasion in midsummer, when John’s illness reached a crisis point, he refused to go to the hospital because he didn’t want to miss our scheduled meeting the next day. As a result, he had to be rushed to the hospital in desperate condition the next morning. His fierce dedication to the task of documenting and preserving his language almost cost him his life.

Other elders I work with share his dedication to their language and the culture it expresses. Some are Pend d’Oreilles, like John; the rest are Bitterroot Salish (also called Flatheads). Although they are different tribes, they share the same language—which is called, logically enough, Salish–Pend d’Oreille—albeit with minor dialect differences.

But like so many indigenous languages on every populated continent, Salish–Pend d’Oreille is on the point of vanishing. Fewer than thirty fluent native speakers remain, and nearly all of them are elderly. The great majority of the roughly 6,000 Salish and Pend d’Oreille tribal members do not speak their ancestral language at all.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Language Sandwich

Language Language Language Sandwich Language Language Language

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Klingon Language Lessons

Room 101 - Marcus Brigstocke - Grammar Bullies

Language Sketch

Language and Film: Food For Thought

Andrew here. This is only my second post for this blog, so I figured I was overdue. Anyway, I have recently received some exciting news. My first feature film, Una Vida Mejor, has been accepted to Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, California. I'm not exactly sure what this will mean for me or my career, but I know its good. I bring this up because it gives me a little bit of credibility and because Torben is interested in the relationship between language and film. Having a BA in English literature as a filmmaker, I too am interested in said relationship.

So, the thought that I want to convey is this: no other form of art in the past 100 years has affected language as much as film. Film is one of the most vibrant and powerful art forms in the world today. People are reading less and watching more. Filmmakers have replaced novelists, poets, and painters, but as a lover of art of all kinds, I have realized that I can use my love of literature, poetry, photography, and painting, by making a film. What does this mean for language? Well, we certainly have new words, new ways to use them, and a new social consciousness. Most people I know find out about books through films. Millions of people see the movie and then read the book. Take Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Jarhead, The Kite Runner, Schindler's List, or The Namesake; my wife and I have read these books because of the corresponding films. In a perfect world, we would all read more, but I believe that film can influence one to read and seek out knowledge. While the opposite is also true, we simply cannot deny the power of film and its effect on our language. Just some food for thought.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Language Mutiations.

I just started reading this web comic and this one just kinda smacked me in the face when I read it. This is a very interesting way to think about the Evolution of language. Or the De-Evolution depending on your point of view. What is the purpose of adhering to specific rules for speaking if you actually understand what someone is saying regardless of their speech? If communication is fully possible in whatever way someone decides to speak, do we actually require proper grammar and sentence structures? I know that there are established “traditions” in speaking, but we also refer to languages as “archaic” and “old” when they get outdated. What's to say that our traditional language is not finally reaching that stage? Maybe language is finally evolving yet again. Guess there is only one way to find out....
~ Brent

Monday, December 3, 2007


Find out more about this video and project at Peter Cho's website.

Definr: Incredibly Fast Dictionary

Check out this incredibly fast dictionary at It's pretty fun to see it guess where you're headed as you type. By the way, this is officially our 100th post. This blog has been incredibly dynamic and collaborative thanks to the many contributors. Thanks!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Language, Communication and Connection Through Film

I picked up a book called "Sculpting In Time" by the incredible Russian filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky at the SLC library the other day. I highly recommend his films, any of them, even though I've only seen a few of them now. The book is really incredible so far and I wanted to share a passage from the introduction of the book on this blog. Through part of the introduction to the book, Tarkovsky shares some letters that he received in the mail during a time that he was feeling very misunderstood and rejected by his audience. This is one of the letters that let him know that he was succeeding as a filmmaker and it also gave him encouragement to keep making films. I wanted to share one of the letters that he shares with us in his book here because it says some very interesting things about language in general and language, communication and connection through film...

“One woman sent me on a letter written to her by her daughter, and the young girl’s words are, I think a remarkable statement about artistic creation as an infinitely versatile and subtle form of communication:

‘...How many words does a person know?'
she asks her mother rhetorically. 'How many does he use in his everyday vocabulary? One hundred, two, three? We wrap our feelings up in words, try to express in words sorrow and joy and any sort of emotion, the very things that can’t in fact be expressed. Romeo uttered beautiful words to Juliet, vivid, expressive words, but they surely didn’t say even half of what made his hear feel as if it was ready to jump out of his chest, and stopped him breathing, and made Juliet forget everything except her love?

‘There’s another kind of language, another form of communication: by means of feeling, and images. That is the contact that stops people being separated from each other, that brings down barriers. Will, feeling, emotion--these remove obstacles from between people who otherwise stand on opposite sides of a mirror, on opposite sides of a door...The frames of the screen move out, and the world which used to be partitioned off comes into us, becomes something real...And this doesn’t happen through little Andrey
(Andrey, the main character in Tarkovsky's film "Mirror"), it’s Tarkovsky himself addressing the audience directly, as they sit on the other side of the screen. There’s no death, there is immortality. Time is one and undivided, as it says in one of the poems ( of the poems in the film, I’m assuming the film is “Mirror”). “At the table are great-grandfathers and grandchildren...” Actually Mum, I’ve taken the film entirely from an emotional angle, but I’m sure there could be a different way of looking at it. What about you? Do write and tell me please...’

This book was taking shape all through the period when my professional activities were suspended, an interlude which I have now forcibly brought to an end by changing my life; it is intended neither to teach people nor to impose my point of view on them. Its main purpose is to help me to find my way through the maze of possibilities in this young and beautiful art form--still, in essence, so little explored--in order to be able to find myself, fully and independently, within it.

Artistic creation, after all, is not subject to absolute laws, valid from age to age; since it is related to the more general aim of mastery of the world, it has an infinite number of facets, the vincula that connect man with his vital activity; and even if the path towards knowledge is unending, no step that takes man nearer to a full understanding of the meaning of his existence can be too small to count.

The corpus of theory relating to cinema is still slight; the clarification of even minor points can help to throw light on its basic laws. This is what has prompted me to put forward a few of my own ideas.”

Weekly rescrap 11/26/07—12/02/07

Greetings! Class may be over, but Language Scraps lives on. Time for another look back on this week in scraps.

-Scott sparked discussion on obscenity/vulgarity and how class affects the definition of it

-Vegor peered through the microscope at microcelebrity in the age of social networks and internet ubiquity
-Grabloid waxed philosophical about the end of the term with An Ode to our "Language: Our Most Dangerous of Possessions" class