Saturday, 2 January 2016

new year

I was going to do one of those "what happened in 2015" posts but then I didn't. Instead I worked on a freelance transcription job I somehow fell into and love. I want it to last forever but it looks like it's only a few weeks long.

You know how university students are always portrayed as being idealistic and supporting ridiculous social causes and all that? Well I have one that stuck. I am so worried about dying languages. I won't shop at Salvation Army thrift stores, or any that support missionaries. Because you know what those fuckers are doing? They're going in to perfectly fine places with perfectly fine beliefs and lifestyles, and "saving" them.

They go in to "build them houses" or "help them get an education" but what they are truly doing are 2 terrible things: teaching them that their beliefs and way of life are wrong, and teaching them English (or another world language). And maybe building a house or two as well.

Clearly the issue is complicated, because yes, sometimes these small communities are struggling. Or the youth could potentially lead a better life out in the closest city if they know French or whatever. But what ends up happening is the language dies. When the kids find no use other than speaking to their grandma, they stop using it. And they don't teach it to their kids. And just like that, in a few generations, the entire language is gone. And with it goes a lot of important culture.

Here's a fascinating Tedtalk on the subject given by one of my personal favorites, Wade Davis, if you want to learn more.

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So why am I telling you all about this? Well this transcription job I stumbled upon...there's a linguist out on an island, speaking with bilingual/trilingual people who live in teeny villages in the jungle. She is recording their language(s) one word at a time, sending me the recordings and having me help transcribe them in IPA (international phonetic alphabet). This is for the purpose of preserving the language and potentially keeping it alive.

Not only am I finally using my fricking degree for something useful, I am working with a cause I feel strongly about. And it is fascinating and fun.

This is how I am starting my new year.

I took a walk around a lake on the 1st and got lost because as it turns out the path ends abruptly 2/3 of the way around. I walked for over 3 hours and found my way home again.

This is how I'm starting the new year too.

I want to do a 365 day thing too, maybe a drawing a day or something. I haven't decided yet. But anyway I'm starting strong and want to hit the ground running.

Happy 2016.

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