Monday, October 12, 2009

Linguistics -- fascinating but way beyond my poor brain

So, lately I've been kind of...

BAGMAN: "Don't go there!  If you are about to start whining and explaining why you aren't blogging as much, please spare us!!

BUTLER:  "For once, I agree with Bagman.  Sometimes your excuse-making even bores me."

Okay.  Okay.  So I got a cup of coffee this morning and decided to see what everyone out in Blogland has been up to.  The very first blog I read, posted only moments before was from Rachel.  She is excited about learning the Greenland language of Kalaalisut...because it is an "ergative-absolutive" language. 

BAGMAN:  "I'm not sure where you are going with this -- maybe I'd rather listen to you whine."

I tried to escape!  But sometimes I get attracted to weird things -- apologies to Rachel and all other linquists of the world -- but somehow I felt I had to find out what ergative-absolutive meant.  Or it if was a real word at all. 

Long ago I tried to learn to Japanese. 

BAGMAN:  "Yeah, yeah.  1970, Los Angeles, Judy Narita...never gave you the time of day."

What fascinated me (about the language) was that it didn't fit into my limited preconception of subject-verb-object.  It wasn't like a word substitution code (man, homme, hombre, etc).  I realized that if I not only learned to speak it, but learned to think in it, it would alter the way I thought and perceived things!

BUTLER: "Yes, you and Bagman were big on "mind-altering" back then.  Which is why you never learned to say anything in Japanese except "Hello" and "Thank you."

BAGMAN:  "Wrong!!!  We also learned to say "Beer" and "Will you go to bed with me?"

Embarassing.  But anyhow, this morning I looked up ergative-absolutive on the internet.  And a whole new world opened up for me!!  First I learned that the realization of ergativity can be understood by a discussion of morphosyntactic allignment. 

It was about then that I realized that my future in liquistics is about as remote as my future in professional football. 

BAGMAN: "So how do you say, 'will you go to bed with me' in Kalaalisut?"

BUTLER:  "You weren't listening!  It's not a 'nominative accusitive' language!"

BAGMAN: "I wasn't accusing anyone!  They don't go to bed in Greenland?"

BUTLER: "I suppose they must, but they don't talk about it the same way.  Their alignment is better morphed...



...at this point a fuse blew and all three of us went temporarily brain dead.

11 comments:

  1. The terrible twins are giving away all your secrets!

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  2. Bagman may be interested in the traditional sexual customs of the Greenlanders and related cultures.

    Meanwhile, I could bore anyone to tears on the subject of ergativity ;) (But Chinese is the language which has really blown my brain apart - so far - in terms of learning to think differently.)

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  3. I have to admit I'm glad the terrible twins don't live with me -- I'd be in trouble every day. I studied German in college, learned Spanish when I lived in Spain -- relearned when I lived in Mexico and learned enough Japanese to get by when I worked for a Japanese company. But it never sticks in ones mind if you don't use it.

    Hope you three have a great day!

    Sylvia

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  4. I am with JarieLyn, it is over my head. I studied Latin for 4 years in the 50's and it was already dead.
    QMM

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  5. this is a topic close to my heart - I loved studying linquistics - I hate trying to learn Portuguese. course one is concept and the other action. I do much better in theroy than reality apparantly. see my other comments.... http://gingersflowers.blogspot.com/search/label/learning%20language

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  6. Yeahhhhhhhhhh........you just out nutsed me!

    xxx

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  7. Interesting topic. I'm slowly working through Spanish... some day I will get it. As for now, thanks for the short commentary on linquistics (the odd terminology fits the bill perfectly doesn't it?) ;)

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  8. It's over my head too. I learned to speak French so I could tell JP off in his own language, Spanish because I couldn't help myself it is so pretty, some German so I could join in singing rounds during coffee breaks at a place where I once worked, and never thought a second about ergativity??????

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  9. I am still working on the English language.

    It is good to see Bagman out and about again.

    Fuse blew, eh?

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    شركة نقل عفش بجدة
    شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض
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