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!Read More
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.Read More
Clannad lyrics: “A Quiet Town”
In 2013, Clannad (one of my favourite bands) came out with their newest album, Nádúr, 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!
Greetings! I am Mashkioya, and I am a language nut. I am not a linguist (although admittedly, being a linguist would be pretty 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 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 as friends. Some of them I’ve been acquainted with my entire life, while others are budding relationships 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
From Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander
Mother, art grieving for the little form
Stern death has snatched from thine embrace away,
Which thou with sorrow-stricken heart hath laid
In dreamless sleep beneath the churchyard clay?
Grieve not, fond mother, for that tiny bark
Shall ne’er by stormy winds on seas be driven,
Life’s storms are not to weather; but, the ocean crossed,
’Tis safely anchored in the port of heaven.
Mother, art listening for the prattling tongue,
Whose music charmed thee all the day long,
Till, hushed in slumbers of the night, she smiled
As though she hearkened to an angel’s song?
By faith look upward; thou canst almost hear,
Floating through pearly gates, that silvery voice
Joined with bright angels in a song of praise;
Then weep no longer, mother, but rejoice.
Mother, art sighing for the little feet
Whose pattering followed thee from morn till night?
How oft thy heart has trembled, lest thou should
Not guide them in the paths of peace aright!
Then sigh no longer, for those little feet
Shall never walk in sin or wickedness;
But, saved forever, they are sporting now
On the green fields of everlasting peace.
Ah, what is life? ’Tis a struggle, toil, and strife;
Blissful the peace of heaven when all is past.
In joy and love and thankfulness the soul
Finds rest and its lost treasures there at last.
Then grieve not, for thy babe has gone before,
Saved from all sorrow, sin, and earthly pain.
Rejoice that on that bright and shining shore
You there may clasp her to your heart again.