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Showing posts tagged: languages click to see more stuff tagged with languages
Wed
Apr 24 2013 11:10am

Game of Thrones Linguist Interview Reveals High Valyrian Dragons, Wrong Khaleesis, and More

Game of Thrones dothraki language

This week, Vulture has a great article on David J. Peterson, the man tasked with taking the various cultures within Game of Thrones and creating usable languages for them. There are a lot of great tidbits in the piece, including the revelation of a language he created but which the show hasn’t yet used, how Peterson’s work is changing The Wind of Winter, and how we’re all pronouncing “khaleesi” incorrectly!

[Read more]

Fri
Jan 15 2010 6:08pm

An apple has two names

In the early nineties, when I lived for a short period in Europe, I was visiting a couple of Brazilian friends living in Amsterdam. They had a lovely daughter, a four-year old who whoopied around the house, showing me all her toys, craving for my attention. She was a very happy girl, but her mother told me she had gotten through hard times upon entering pre-school months earlier.

“You know,” she told me, “We speak in Portuguese at home, and only speak in Dutch when friends come in. When the time came to put her in school, we realized that she could hardly speak a word of Dutch, and she wasn’t able to understand the children and the teacher. The first day was awful—she came home in tears.”

I couldn’t even begin to imagine how it must have been hard for the kid.

“But an amazing thing happened after a few days,” her mother went on. “Suddenly she came home smiling, and told me, very proud of her discovery: ‘Mommie, the apple has two names!’”

[Pick more apples...]

Mon
Feb 23 2009 5:59pm

Not All Who Wander Are Lost in Translation

I’ve started a reading project that requires me to cart around all the stuff in the picture on the right: blank notebook, pen, Irish1 dictionary, Teach Yourself Irish, and the main feature, a copy of the first Harry Potter book in Irish. It’s called Harry Potter agus an Órchloch, or Harry Potter and the Golden Stone, and I’m only on page three after about nine hours with the book. Maybe half an hour was spent actually wading through new material, and the rest of the time went to looking up words in the dictionary, noting them with context in the notebook and paging through Teach Yourself Irish as a grammatical reference.

For example, you can’t just look up “órchloch” in the dictionary. You can try, but all you’ll get is “ór,” adjective, “golden.” There’s no entry for “chloch,” so it’s off to Teach Yourself Irish to look up adjectives and compound words; it turns out that most adjectives come after the word they describe, except for a few monosyllables like “ór.” When the adjective does come before the word, it causes an initial mutation known as séimhiú,2 a type of lenition where an “h” gets inserted after the first letter of the word. This turns the word “cloch,” with a hard “c” and throaty “ch,” into “chloch,” which is the sound I made when I first tried Jameson’s. It means “stone,” which makes sense, and when I apply my meager vocabulary and powers of deduction to the middle two words, we get Harry Potter and the Golden Stone.

[Don’t worry—I won’t chronicle the whole slog here, but there’s a little more after the cut…]