February 17, 2005

Money for nothing, and books for free

Well, not actually free. $26, actually, which is nothing like free, but with free shipping. Thanks, Amazon. You know I can never say no to you.

It all started this morning with me reading my favorite BART billboard, the one that says "Welcome" in fifteen or twenty different languages. I love that thing. I can't get enough of staring at words in languages I don't know how to read. I mean, there are two different versions of the "welcome" message in two languages that both look like Arabic. What's the other one? What's the difference? What the hell language is "si ya namkela" in, and is "vijijte" a cognate of "visit" or isn't it? There are plenty of subjects on which I'm perfectly happy knowing next to nothing, but when it comes to languages I want to know everything. When Jacob once asked me what I'd do with the technology for a brain-implanted personal computing device, I immediately said I'd get a universal dictionary in my head.

I suppose I could wait for that technology to come around. It will eventually, I'm sure. But while I was looking at the billboard this morning my eyes landed on the Hindi section and the tiny voice of my brief attempt to learn Sanskrit said to me, I've seen those letters before. Too bad I don't know what they sound like or what they mean. Too bad? No, I can't have that. I've ordered the other Sanskrit book I need to understand the first Sanskrit book I got. 5-9 business days from now, it will land in my grubby hands and impart knowledge to me. Surely knowledge is worth $26? After all, so it's said, you will cross over all evil on a raft made of it. $26 isn't so much for no evil.

Posted by dianna at February 17, 2005 11:47 AM

i'm trying to learn turkish!

but my first thing from amazon hasn't come yet. and the two other books i need/want for it are still sitting forlornly on my wishlist waiting to be boughten.

but i said to myself, 'self, soon you will be in turkey! don't you want to speak a little turkish?' and my self replied, 'myself, hell yeah i do!'

and that is how it went down. and that ain't no lie.

Posted by: michele at February 17, 2005 12:07 PM

Turkish! Cool!

I also have Chinese and Arabic books sitting on my shelf (thank you thank you), but I was going to try to do one thing at a time. How soon are you going to be in Turkey?

Posted by: Dianna at February 17, 2005 01:03 PM

ummm...july-ish. july/august-ish.

so pretty damn soon. eep. i'm also going to be in greece, but i'd rather learn turkish than greek. i don't know why.

Posted by: michele at February 17, 2005 01:14 PM

It's because I want to learn Greek, and you can't bear the thought of having anything in common with me! It's true, isn't it!

I have taken your predicament, and my failure to buy you a birthday present, under consideration. Don't make any rash purchasing decisions for a few days.

Posted by: Dianna at February 17, 2005 01:31 PM

that could be the reason. but i think it's because i feel, (for some reason), that turkish would be more useful than greece. who speaks greece? no one but greeks. who speaks turkish? well...just turks really, i suppose, but once upon the time they were the ottoman empire!

i suppose once upon a time the greeks were pretty big too.

ok, i think that turkish is part of altaic language group and also japanese is. so maybe they will be similar and it will be helpful for me to learn turkish and japanese.

maybe greek is altaic? well, if so then my argument is crap. but we all know that my arguments are crap anyway.

it's too late anyway, i already have things in common with you. love of terry pratchett. love of cats. we've both been librarians or will be again.

i want to say that i didn't really mean to guilt trip you into buying a present for me. except for how maybe subconsciously i did. but that makes me a bad person so i don't really want to be that person. um, so what i'm saying here, is thank you. in advance. for whatever you happen to buy me. and also that i'm not the person i sort of wish i was. (but maybe i will be once i learn turkish!)

Posted by: michele at February 17, 2005 11:05 PM

i actually know this one! greek is its own subgroup of the indo-european language family. altaic languages are a subgroup of the ural-altaic language family, which does indeed include japanese, and korean, and mongolian, and.....finnish. finnish? yep. weird, that.

speeeaking of amusing linguistics anecdotes, a friend of mine was a TA for a mythology class last year, and the professor was giving a really brief rundown on various language groups and how some of the languages and story traditions moved around in the ancient world. during my friend's section, he asked if anyone had any questions about anything, and a student raised his hand and said, "who were the proto-indo-europeans? i never learned about them in history class."

Posted by: katie at February 23, 2005 09:01 PM

so here we go.
first thing's first.
the two 'welcome's in the script that looks like Arabic are in 1) Arabic (marHabaan) and 2) Farsi (or Persian) (khosh aamadid). Farsi has been written in a modified Arabic script for a long time.

'siya namkela' is Xhosa (the x = a click) a language of South Africa.

'vijijte' isn't a cognate. not only because it's 'vÃtejte'

and Michelle, 'greece' isn't a language, it's called greek. and by the way, Both Turkish and Greek are spoken in the following areas by linguistic minorities: Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and Cyprus (not minorities). In addition, Greek is also spoken in: Italy, Albania, and Turkey; and Turkish in: Greece, Serbia, and Moldova, and it's also spoken by many Kurds who live in or are from within present day Turkish political boundries.

and you want to learn Turkish because it is inately cooler than Greek. that's why.

lastly, Katie, Turkish is in the Altaic Language Family and it is, emphasis, disputed among linguists whether Japanese and Korean are part of it; plus those languages have only recently been added. and even so, learning japanese or turkish won't help you learn the other. i've learned both. and they're both EXTREMELY different. and the only thing that i can think of that would make me think of the other is the word order, they're both SOV (Subject-Objet-Verb) languages. oh. Neither distinguishes grammatical gender. and both are agglutinative. but altaic languages are known for vowel harmony, which Japanese doesn't have. the vowels, also, are entirely different. japanese has five, Turkish 8, and Korean 8 (but not the same 8 as Turkish. the only ones that all three have in comman are: a, e, i, o. I'd settle for a proto-altaic language that they both could be descendant from. but know that today the languages aren't too similar if they ever were. and knowing the regions where they're spoken, the influences will be from completely different origins. for example, i'm pretty sure Arabic and Farsi have had absolutely NO influence on Japanese. and Chinese has had a great influence on Japanese (japanese characters can be pronounced in two manners (not interchangeable, by context) one way sounds like the chinese pronunciation and the other sounds more Japanese).

anyway. i'm only writing this because this morning i saw the sign at BART, which was the original topic of this post. and i was searching some of the words....

Posted by: CT at January 27, 2006 08:14 AM