Lakota Immersion

Posted in Language at 9:38 am by Mithridates

Every morning for a week last summer, Karen Little Wounded awoke in her tent at dawn to take part in a traditional morning star ceremony. Every night, she would sing, dance and learn to interpret dreams.

The rituals were part of a Lakota language and culture immersion camp near Cherry Creek on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. Sponsored by the tribe, Si Tanka University, the reservation’s Takini School and Waonspekiye Oyasin, a teacher training organization, the camp hosted about 40 people interested in learning the Lakota way.

This year the camp is set to be held June 12-17 on the reservation. Carole Rave, one of its organizers, said she expects there to be even more campers this year.

Full story here.


U.S. English

Posted in Language at 8:37 pm by Mithridates

U.S. English, Inc.’s stance on Native American languages:

U.S.ENGLISH recognizes that Native American languages are in a unique situation. These languages were spoken by Native Americans before Europeans arrived on this continent. They are not spoken anywhere else in the world, and if they are not preserved, they will disappear completely. The autonomy of Native American tribes and communities also gives them a special status within the political framework of the United States.

Therefore, Official English legislation proposed by U.S.ENGLISH does not prevent the use of Native American languages by tribal governments and other autonomous Native American communities, such as Alaska Native villages. Furthermore, U.S.ENGLISH supports government funding for the study of Native American languages in order to preserve them for future generations.

It seems the late Saul Bellow was sympathetic to the movement - “A melting pot, yes. A Tower of Babel, no.”


Army Program for High-Demand Linguists Producing Results

Posted in Language, Military at 12:25 pm by Mithridates

A new Army military occupational specialty, 09L, is the latest weapon in the nation’s arsenal in the global war on terror — and it’s working, Army officials said April 20.

The L stands for linguist, and the program is designed to find and recruit native speakers of various high-demand languages and dialects for service in the U.S. Army. Thus far, 77 new recruits have been trained and mobilized. All are serving in the U.S. Central Command theater of operations — a requirement they were made aware of upfront — and the results have been just what commanders hoped.

The 09L program began in February 2003 when the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs was tasked with recruiting native speakers to assist U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan with interpretations, translations, cultural familiarity and an understanding of the nuances of body language. The three languages most needed were Dari and Pashto, the two most prevalent languages spoken in Afghanistan, and Arabic.

Full story here.



Posted in General at 1:01 pm by Mithridates

As I mentioned the 11 official languages of South Africa yesterday, I thought some Ndebele links would be appropriate.


Indigenous languages ignored by leadership

Posted in Language at 3:22 pm by Mithridates

South Africa has 11 official languages: Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, SiSwati, Tshivenda, Zitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, IsiXhosa and isiZulu. But English, it seems, is the chosen means of communicating.

President Thabo Mbeki in his State of the Nation speech in February only used English. This was hardly the right example from the head of the country.

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel is famous for peppering his Budget speech with phrases in indigenous languages, but the overall content remains English.

Education Minister Naledi Pandor sports one of the best English accents in government. Eloquent and composed, she ought to start showing the range of her tongue. A recent report handed to Pandor found that there is inadequate resource and support for the indigenous African languages.

The report, on the development of these languages in higher education, warns of a crisis regarding preservation, maintenance and identity of indigenous African tongues.

Full story here.


Three Alphabets

Posted in Language at 12:13 pm by Mithridates


L’nui’sultnej: Annual Mi’kmaq Language Conference

Posted in Language at 9:27 pm by Mithridates

L’nui’sultnej: Annual Mi’kmaq Language Conference

L’nui’sultinej is an annual conference which brings together Mi’kmaq people from across the Mi’kmaq Nation to look at education issues related to language preservation, enhancement and revitalization. It is a conference for parents youth, elders, community members, educators, administrators, counselors and researchers. We welcome all Mi’kmaq into the circle whatever their level of language proficiency.

Rice’s Russian

Posted in History, Language at 9:22 pm by Mithridates

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried out her rusty Russian in a Moscow radio interview Wednesday, only to get caught out by a question on whether she might run for president.

“Da (Yes),” Rice answered in Russian, before realizing her misunderstanding and hastily adding “Nyet” (No) — seven times.

Full story here. Perhaps she should be reading RusskiBlog :)


Nuntio vobis …

Posted in Books, History, Language at 1:23 pm by Mithridates

After the election of a pope, the Camerlengo appears on the balcony and informs the crowd, “Nuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam!” - I announce to you a great joy: We have a pope! Shortly after the election of Pius XII in 1939, Primo Levi was working in the lab for a chemistry course; the students had to analyze samples to determine which elements were present. After some time, a student solemnly intoned “Nuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus ferrum!” This discovery of iron is recounted in Levi’s The Periodic Table.

Well … I thought it was funny …

In any case, here is an article about translating Levi, and his views on translation.



Posted in Language, Philately at 9:31 pm by Mithridates


H. P. Lovecraft: A Pictorial Bibliography

Posted in Bibliography, Covers at 8:46 pm by Mithridates

Pretty much what the title says - a bibliography of H.P. Lovecraft, including covers of some of his works. A number of foreign editions are represented (the pull-down menus for navigation are a little tricky to use).



Posted in Books, History at 8:50 pm by Mithridates

For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equal measure - a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could redraw the map of classical civilisation. If only it was legible.

Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

In the past four days alone, Oxford’s classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament.

Full story here. Another short report, from which I stole the title of this post.



Posted in Books, Language, eTexts at 2:40 pm by Mithridates

Found this article about the opening of a Burmese school in Finland. I have always thought that the Burmese script was the most attractive alphabet. The prevalence of circles stems from the practice of writing on palm leaves with a stylus; straight lines would tend to split the leaves.


Ancient Hasenpfeffer

Posted in History, Rabbits at 8:41 am by Mithridates

The remains of a 2,000-year-old rabbit - found at an early Roman settlement at Lynford, Norfolk - may be the earliest example of rabbit remains in Britain.

The bones - which show evidence the animal had been butchered and buried - are similar to those of a small Spanish rabbit, common in Roman times.

It is thought rabbits were introduced to Britain following the Roman invasion in AD43.

Full story here.


Codex Sinaiticus

Posted in Books, History at 9:55 am by Mithridates

There is a project underway to create a digital facsimile of the (arguably) oldest Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus, now split in four countries (via Cronaca).

A team of experts from the UK, Europe, Egypt, Russia and the US have joined together to reunite this iconic treasure in virtual form. This unprecedented collaborative approach to achieve reunification involves all four of the institutions at which parts of the manuscript are held : St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai; the British Library, the University of Leipzig, Germany; and the National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg.

The project encompasses four strands: conservation, digitisation, transcription and scholarly commentary to make the Codex available for a worldwide audience of all ages and levels of interest. There are plans for a range of projects including a free to view website, a high quality digital facsimile and CD Rom. It is intended that this project will be a model for future collaborations on other manuscripts.

The British Library already has a number of digital facsimiles available for browsing, including the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Diamond Sutra.

Pennsylvania Dutch

Posted in Language, eTexts at 12:46 am by Mithridates

Someone found this site while searching for “germanic blog,” so here are some Pennsylvania German sites. BTW, I’m not really a fan of the new look for Ethnologue.



Posted in Books at 1:23 pm by Mithridates

My order from the University of Nebraska Press arrived today, a lot sooner than I expected. If anyone is interested, here is a list of the books I ordered (25 books weighing 36 lbs.):

Singing an Indian Song
Two Great Scouts and Their Pawnee Battalion
The Indians of Southern California in 1852
Traditional Literatures of the American Indian
Northern Haida Songs
Archaeology and Ethnohistory of the Omaha Indians
Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family
Midwinter Rites of the Cayuga Long House
Myths and Traditions of the Arikara Indians
The Semantics of Time
Koasati Grammar
Koasati Dictionary
Sol White’s History of Colored Base Ball
A Study of Omaha Indian Music
The Omaha Tribe, Volumes 1 & 2
Pueblo Indian Religion, Volumes 1 & 2
The Indian Tribes of the Upper Mississippi Valley
Myths and Tales of the Jicarilla Apache Indians
Lushootseed Texts
The Pawnee Ghost Dance Hand Game
A Grammar of Comanche
Two Crows Denies It


Art for Books

Posted in Books, Culture at 3:56 pm by Mithridates

The New York Public Library has decided to sell 19 works of art from its collection - including “Kindred Spirits,” a widely admired landscape by the Hudson River School painter Asher B. Durand, and two seminal portraits of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart - so that it can better compete in acquisitions of important books and collections.

Sotheby’s, which has been retained by the library, estimates that the works will sell for $50 million to $75 million. The transactions will be handled either privately or by public auction. Paul LeClerc, the library’s president, said all of the money would go toward buying books, manuscripts and other works on paper and toward bolstering the library’s endowment.

Full story here. A large picture of Durand’s Kindred Spirits can be found here.

Monday Miscellany II

Posted in Books, Computing, Culture, History, Language, Philately at 11:34 am by Mithridates


Irish Language Law

Posted in General at 9:16 pm by Mithridates

New legislation has come into force in western parts of the Irish Republic to promote the use of the Irish language.

English place names no longer have legal status in the Gaeltacht, where Gaelic is traditionally spoken.

More than 2,000 towns, villages and crossroads in the Gaeltacht are commonly known by both their Irish and English names.

But from Monday, only the Gaelic versions may be used in government documents or ordnance survey maps.

Full story here.

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