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Language Log

Wednesday, Jul. 17, 2019 - 8:36 a.m.

The other night I got up in the middle of the night for some reason and noticed a lot of house centipedes here. It was nice, like seeing old friends. Old friends that don’t really notice me and I don’t have to talk to them.

I feel that the past few weeks I have been in some sort of high point in a mental health cycle— let’s not call it hypomania because I will not self-diagnose this one, everyone has cycles, right? Anyway, a creative high, a bit weird, a bit jittery, bad ideas, but mood generally better. I wondered whether this was me being normal again but today I’m feeling bad already for no reason and I feel like I’m heading toward a local trough again. Too soon to tell. All I have at the moment is dread and directionless sadness that becomes very directed if I allow myself to think about anything in particular.

I had an idea for something I could do activism-wise regarding immigrant issues. Part of me says, “this is doable and could be a good contribution”, and part of me says, “You’ll start it and screw up the follow-through and it’ll end up half-assed and embarrassing and just be a waste of everyone’s time.”

The idea was using my connections within linguistics to help get legal advice materials translated into less common languages. The infographics they have to inform people about their rights if ICE comes to their home, etc. I looked at a few websites and no one has anything in Swahili or Somali, for example. Consult with immigrant groups in certain areas to determine which languages are most needed. Figuring out how actual literacy in the L1 factors into it all. Find and compensate translators, make PDFs available online at a minimum.

Oh well, decent idea, someone should do that. Update: ACLU does have a flyer in Somali. There’s a range of objects: flyers. Posters. Business card sized objects. Personally I’d like to see stickers that could be slapped up at bus stops etc. ACLU has 11 languages, another immigrants rights org has 16, some but not complete overlap. So maybe 20 languages out of the hundreds spoken by asylum seekers. Anyway, hmmm.

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