Weeble Wobble

Me and my foe foo row ramma.  I dish and you dash and I know I got to go hoe and come on to do all that.  I have no idea.  No clue.  Notta respectability, neither nor all there or even some that.  But still I here while you but there.  And you ever so wanna correct me.  Because you got that standard stick and schtick and a sense that says there must be a sensibility to this sentence, a sentience to this my sentiment.  Might that I entertain?  And might more that you over contextualize this and this and then all more that?  You think you know me, do you?  You think you have the cliff and that ever so brash cleft to find in your own shadow my mingled mo’ matta?  You do not know me. And you sure as hell do not know him, any more than I know that whore of a bastard on 2nd street selling the smell of sunday streets slick with salaried succubus sweaty on her own way to salvaged service.  These are just words.  And still here you are, you who jingle and then jangle like Dylan and his bo’ dangle, a rhymeless tune to a hairless tongue.  I ain’t no nothing and I ain’t more than not these words.  You never will find me here anymore than in there, in your mind and its blind eye that from syntax thinks it snaps shut on semantics and so knows my synapses.  I wanna help you, really I do.  But you ain’t going to understand this, is ya?



Avatar, Linqua Franca or just Francs?

This is in response to Dave M. post over at Lost In Translation.

I wonder if some of the general objections made of Avatar and others in its vein can be rolled up to a difference between preferring a story (implying human archetypes) and creating an alternate reality.  Namely, how far should a movie or story be realistic to be compelling?

As a space geek, “sound in space” is one of those classical gotchas.  Also, space vehicles flying around like airplanes (even the beloved Battlestar Galactica straddles this line) can really make some people groan in their seats.  And if we examine Avatar, I am sure many a military geek noted the absurdity of mounting a land and air campaign when you have a ready space infrastructure capable of dropping rocks from space to quite explosive (and safe) effect.  But in spite of these gaffs, a story moves forward; or to put from the perspective of the director, the attainment of reality is not compelling enough reason to adopt it (reality) over something else (fiction).

I still argue Avatar is a (damn) good movie if put in proper context: a story that entertains and makes money.  It takes a lot of liberties (noble savage being a significant one), but it still tells an interesting story of the clash of cultures, loves, and the rest of human life generalized down to 3 hours.  And as such it is open for dissection with extreme prejudice by more critical minds.

I believe one premise of Dave’s argument/critique of the movie is more of the commodification, as it were, of languages (and thereby extension the associated cultures).  Avatar introduces a readily digestible set of sounds that make up a “language”, but a language without a meaningful culture to substantiate and flesh it out. I am not sure Avatar creates this phenomenon, rather it merely exploits it.  And it is a phenomenon that has been around in one form or another.  How many books are there on “Learn XYZ Language in 15 Minutes a Day”?  And how long have they been on our shelves?  Well, maybe not yours or mine, but you follow me.  Let us take Japan as example.  As a culture it has assimilated en masse innumeral words from the English language; so much so that whenever at a loss for a word in Japanese you can throw in the English word pronounced as a Japanese would say and you will often be understood (and right!).

I believe the other premise which Dave introduces inductively at the end of his blog in the form of a question:  “But, given Cameron’s goal of depicting a clash not just of different species but of civilizations … should (and could) Na’vi be so easily, so directly, translatable into English?”  I would agree with the embedded critique within that question if Avatar had truly remained at the level of cultures.  However, at least for me, the movie stayed solidly within the personal spheres of its characters; as such those clashes of civilization and culture remained mere background to a different story, one that I thoroughly enjoyed: twice.

Have a word for a word?

It is now possible to add comments to words and characters on Kotoba. This feature allows you to write your own comments about a specific word or character that can be viewed by other users. Ultimately, I hope this facilitates you to share your linguistic nuances or insights that you feel might be appreciated by other language learners and lovers. You can see the latest comments here, or add your own to your favorite word or character.

Houston, we have 漢字 文字 Characters!

Kotoba achieved another important milestone this evening. Characters! As alluded to in previous posts, my work has been focused on developing a language-agnostic model of language characters. The work is heavily inspired on Kanjidict which is also the source of the 10,000+ chinese characters that are now a part of Kotoba.