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John 3:3 in Greek and Nahuatl, demonstrating the use of macrons on long vowels

Adventures in Vowel Length

There was a time, not so long ago, when I fancied myself somewhat of an expert in the ancient Greek language. I learned the Greek alphabet shortly after learning the Roman one, and throughout childhood I studied the language slowly but surely. Upon arriving at university, the Greek professors graciously allowed me to test out of the first year of Greek, which is how I ended up taking Greek 3 during my first semester, and went on to take every Greek class that was available. So imagine my surprise, when, after all those years of acquainting myself with the language, for the first time I recently came across the fact that ancient Greek has phonemic vowel length. I had a foggy notion of Eta and Omega being “long” vowels and Epsilon and Omicron being “short” vowels, but I had chalked it up to being a weak attempt at explaining how they should be pronounced, something akin to how in my native English they say that the A in “apple” is short, whereas the “A” in “acorn” is long. Phonologically speaking, the difference between these two is a difference in quality, not quantity—in fact, the A in “acorn” is a diphthong; not even a simple vowel!

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Skinning Cats With AI

Playing with artificial intelligence seems to be the cool thing to do these days, despite the world-changing implications that such technology may bring. And as I was playing around with ChatGPT last night, trying to think of things to ask it, it occurred to me that perhaps it might know the answer to an age-old question: What is the best way to skin a cat? Obviously everyone knows that there is more than one way, but enquiring minds want to know: which is the best? Surely AI would have an answer to this great conundrum.

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Clannad lyrics: “A Quiet Town”

In 2013, Clannad (one of my favourite bands) came out with their newest album, N谩d煤r, and after seven years, it appears that still no one has taken the trouble to transcribe the lyrics of these songs and to make them available online. I did this song just now, and I thought I would share it here for anyone who may be searching the web for just that.

A Quiet Town

Moraira is an old fishing town
The Christians came here long ago
And they worked and toiled with love and devotion Read More

Adventures of a Language Nut: Meet My Friends!

english

Greetings! I am聽Mashkioya, and I am a language nut. I am not a linguist (although admittedly, being a linguist would be pretty聽cool), and I don’t often use the word “polyglot” because it sounds kind of ugly, and not many people know what it means. Plus, I don’t claim to aspire to fluency in 20 languages, or anything like that. I just like to dabble, and happen to have dabbled quite a bit in this particular area. Thus, I am a language nut.

You may have heard this proverb among Latin students:

Latin is a language,
Dead as it聽can be.
First it killed the Romans,
And now it’s killing me!

I understand the sentiment, but instead of thinking of the languages I learn and speak as enemies out to kill me, I like to think of them聽as friends. Some of them I’ve been acquainted with my entire life, while others are budding relationships聽that I’m just beginning to explore. And each one is beautiful and unique in its own way. This post will begin a series in which I will introduce you to my language friends, one by one, and hopefully motivate you to get to know them as well, or at least to begin widening your linguistic circle in other directions. Read More

My Visitor

From Ailenroc鈥檚 Book, by Cornelia Alexander

There was a tap at my door, and, upon opening it, I found a visitor. At first I thought it was a demure little maiden, not quite five years old, with whom I am well acquainted; but when I saw the company air and the gayly-flowered clothes bag pinned around her, I knew she must be a stranger, so I seriously invited her in.

鈥淲hat is your name?鈥 I asked, after we had said 鈥淕ood morning鈥 and remarked upon the coldness of the same.

鈥淢y name is 鈥楳iss Happy Land,鈥欌 she answered; and, looking into the guileless face, the trusting, innocent eyes, I believed her.

A few judicious questions loosened Miss Happy Land鈥檚 tongue, and she told me the following remarkable story:

鈥淚 have a baby,鈥 she said, airily, patting a bang which fell too low on her forehead鈥斺渁 very beautiful baby, two years old. It can walk, but it can鈥檛 talk鈥攃an鈥檛 say a word鈥攋ust hollers and bawls all day long. It can cut paper dolls; it sits on the floor and cuts paper dolls all day long. Its name is 鈥楥obanjo.鈥欌

When asked who was caring for Cobanjo in her absence, she said she had a good negro woman to look after her, that the woman was real careful and was quite a help to her, and was named 鈥淐amangy.鈥 The baby鈥檚 papa, she said, was dead鈥攈ad died only the day before with neuralgia or something. She had a good doctor with him, she told me, and the doctor鈥檚 name was 鈥淣inkumgoo.鈥 She didn鈥檛 know he was going to die, and he didn鈥檛, either鈥攈e just died. Read More