Sunday, October 16, 2011

Linguistics

I love languages. I love linguistics. My mother had a book about the history of the English language years ago. I gobbled it up.

I love languages. I dabble in them. I play with them. I don't know why I don't drop everything and just do languages all day. (I actually suspect it's because something that fun that I'm not paying a university a ridiculous sum of money to teach me, must be a wicked thing to do, a terrible waste of time.)

If I could have unlimited time to do anything I wanted, I would play with languages. Okay, let's get this out of the way: I am fluent in American English only. I play with French. I used to know Spanish better than I do. (I had a perfect accent when I read, but I had very little or no idea of what I was reading.) Once, I knew a little sign language (enough that a deaf person came up to me in a restaurant in Michigan to talk to me - alas, I didn't know enough to hold an intelligent conversation). I've exposed myself to Chinese, Swedish, Irish Gaelic, and Russian, as well as to English from the British Isles, Canada, Australia, NE United States, and SE United States.

I would also be part of a linguists' group that met for two or three hours once (or more) a week, just to speak to each other in languages we wanted to learn (or to learn better). I would be fluent in fifty languages. As an aside, I'd also adopt kids from all over the world, in all colors that humans come in, here, on this planet.

Oh, yeah. I make up languages, too. My oldest daughter and I would speak nonsense to each other when she was very, very young. She loved the game as much as I did. My cousins and I made up a backwards language, which had probably been invented millions of times before, in the history of this planet. I made up a code for words in L'Jn - the Novel. In one part, she meets some people and cannot speak their language. The reader can figure out what the people are saying if they are good at cryptograms (which I love to do, by the way).

And the ironic thing in all of this? I took a language test before I went on a mission for the church I belong to. It was geared to find out how fast a person can learn to pretend nonsense words are real words. In other words, you had a chance to learn to speak a non-existent language. The man who gave me the test assured me that everyone got at least xx points (I forget the number) in the test. I got a fraction of that. Needless to say, I didn't go to any foreign countries. But the thing is, there was no intelligence behind that test. Real languages have real intelligence behind it. Real people speak them. Even the languages I made up, had intelligence behind them, except for the gobbledygook that my daughter and I spoke to each other and, in that case, there was no need to pretend that meant anything.

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