Why Can’t Everyone Speak the Same Language?

Our kids have fallen in love with listening to podcasts at bedtime. In fact, they’ve become an essential part of our evening routine. Bathe, brush your teeth, grab your blanky, and cuddle up with digital transmissions of audible education. Vermont Public Radio’s But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids is one at the top of our list, alongside Brains On and Wow in the World. These are some of the best podcasts for kids.

Seeing as language and all things linguistical are quite close to our hearts, we were delighted when But Why took time to respond to the question, Why are there so many languages in the world? No surprise that this question featured in But Why‘s frequently asked questions episode. We won’t spoil it for you. Instead, gather the whole family together and head on over to take a listen. No need to wait until bedtime.

Pins and Waxprints

Out here one must get creative to de-stress. I literally got creative and picked up a hobby I had been interested in over many years. With all the African waxprint fabric at my disposal, sewing quickly became something into which I could immerse myself. I then realised there was a whole sewing community out there. Thus began my desire to “meet” with other like-minded sewists. To do that from this distance meant I needed to start a sewing vlog, a blog but in video form. It’s a journey but I’m in it for the long term.

To see my makes so far, Pins and Waxprints is just one click away on YouTube.

Twas The Night Before Christmas (Linguists’ Version)

Twas The Night Before Christmas (Linguists’ Version)

by Dr. Dave Sayers
https://www.academia.edu/9856733 (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Twas the night before Christmas in the ivory tower,
Not a creature was stirring at the midnight hour,
Twas a problem for linguists who live to hear sounds,
Consonants, vowels (open or round).

We linguists were nestled all snug in our beds,
While visions of fricatives danced in our heads.
Snug in our gowns and our four-cornered caps,
We pondered enigmas like bilabial taps.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter.
I sprang from the bed hoping for research matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Hoping my equipment would record and not crash.

The moon made a shape like a back-rounded vowel,
Which was also the sound that I heard from an owl.
When, what should my wondering eyes quickly see,
But a representative sample of society.

Old folks with conservative pronunciations,
And fad-happy teens with their fresh innovations,
Networked globetrotters, laggards and lames,
Their dialect features I noted by name!

Now Nasal! Now Velar! Now Plosive, and Dental!
Lexical! Grammatical! Suprasegmental!
To the top of the mouth! With the tip of the tongue!
Now palatalise! Labialise! Old, middle and young!

This I must record, and I must analyse,
But before I do that I can only surmise,
That this being Christmas and I being me,
There may be more surprises ready to see.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard in the kitchen,
A noise that soon set my microphone twitchin’,
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He spoke in a language never before heard,
Not a sound ever known to man, beast or bird.
Impossible sounds he flung from his face,
He spoke like a robot or a being from space.

Why hadn’t I learned this from tales as a child?
That his taps, clicks and trills were so phonetically wild?
It seemed that his mouth was drawn at an angle
That enabled these baffling articulatory tangles.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
Through which fell approximants past the IPA’s reach.
Pharyngeal nasals, glottal flaps quite deducible,
He produced all the phonemes that were thought unproduceable.

I looked through the glass at his hovering sleigh,
And realised at last where his origins lay.
He’d come from the future, he can travel through time,
Hence climbing every chimney in one night, even mine.

This also explained his weird trills, taps and flaps.
In his time, we’ve evolved to fill in all these gaps.
He said his farewells and climbed back whence he’d bound,
But wait, how come I now understood all his sounds?

In his time, Google Translate’s become far superior.
It transferred his message into my mind’s interior.
So I heard him exclaim in his space-age vernacular,
“Happy Christmas! And may your peer reviews be spectacular!”

‘Tis the Season to Sew

This Christmas is going to be extra special for us as we travel to visit my older sister and her family.  My parents, younger sister and her fam will meet us there.  All nine cousins will be in the same place at the same time for the first time ever.  I couldn’t let the occasion pass without attempting some kind of big heartfelt sewing project.  So I made every single one of them a Christmas stocking.  I have grand hopes of lining the cousins up, oldest to youngest and taking their photo with their stocking.  A keepsake marking a very sweet time of Christmas festivities surrounded by young ones and babies.  We won’t get this time back.  The oldest is 14 and the youngest will be 6 months.  Below is a short video I made for my new vlog concerning all things needle and thread.  Subscribe to Sew Emily on YouTube if you don’t want to miss future videos.