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Language Log

Thursday, Aug. 07, 2008 - 7:34 a.m.

They're predicting perfect weather for Saturday. I'm so excited. So far, the better the weather, the better the sales (admittedly not a strong correlation given the small sample size and number of other factors, but it gives me hope, so I'm stickin to it). At the very least, no rain means no messing with the canopy walls, which means a lot less work. Let's hope there's no wind, either.

I keep having trouble figuring out how to tell people I'm introduced to what I do. 'I make jewelry' doesn't convey it properly (maybe I'm being snooty about this, but I don't want them picturing me just stringing beads), and it's not always appropriate to launch into a long explanation. Now I'm thinking 'calligrapher' might be ok. My calligraphy has gotten a lot better over the past few months-- still a little inconsistent in quality, but my good pieces are REALLY good (I think). So I can say 'calligrapher' and then they'll be intrigued (of course) and ask if I do wedding invitations or whatever and then I can explain about the jewelry. Well, I'll try it. The in-laws are still introducing me as a linguist, which is a bit puzzling, though not entirely inaccurate.

I'm currently reading Aikhenvald's grammar of Tariana, which may well be my new favorite language. They have a mixed system of noun classes and classifiers, and the classifiers are an open category! If I had ever cared about case, it would make me flip my shit, because multiple grammatical roles can be marked on one NP. But no, I'm a verb person-- and they have 9 different imperative forms. I haven't even dipped into aspect or aktionsart yet.

Also reading up on ideophones. I think the fact that they're typically spoken-language only renders them especially nice for calligraphy-- someone described them as verbal gestures. Well, calligraphy is also gestural. There's room there to play, is all I'm sayin.

This language project thing has really let me rediscover what it was I loved about linguistics in the first place. I can just go into the library, browse grammars, find cool stuff about different people and languages, and have a grand old time solving my little puzzles of 'how do I say this?'. It's fun! And people seem to be responding to it (though it's a little early to tell). So many artists celebrate nature in their work-- it's seems appropriate for a calligrapher to celebrate language. What flowers and mountains are to a painter or photographer, verbs are to me.

Dissertation follow-up: part of my plan for my diss had been to look at Turkic languages. I couldn't help but notice when I was in the Turkic language aisle the other day that all the grammars are written in Russian. Duh. So that would have been a challenge. I did find a grammar of Georgian in English--such a cool alphabet! Can't wait to try it.

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