Friday, 12 July 2019

Language Universals

The apparent great diversity of the world's human languages belie the fact that they all have things in common:

1. all human languages have nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, tenses, person, number, etc. These are called 'language universals'; they exist in all human languages but are organized differently from language to language.

In fact, it goes even further:

2. linguistic relativity (or, more precisely, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis), an utterly disproven hypothesis, states that language 'fossilizes' its speakers' worldview and bars their ability to perceive and, therefore, express certain levels of reality. (see for more details)

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis was used by the Nazis to buttress their claim of intellectual superiority over other races. It, in a different form, is still used today by colonial institutions to justify assimilationist policies, namely through

3. the principle of 'linguistic translatability', which states that languages must share commonalities in order to avoid what is called 'cultural untranslatability'.

To me, 3 is just so much of what is called 'caloric theory' (look it up). The inherent contradictions are laughable, like the caloric theory, but have sad, devastating consequences when implicitly applied to justifying language extinction.

4. as a novice linguist, I was immediately indoctrinated into the notion that what can be conceived of and expressed in one language can also be conceived of and expressed in another language; it may take time and effort, but it can be done semantically, syntactically and in all ways linguistic and psychological (hey, it's language universals at work again).

4 is a humanistic principle that makes all of our work possible: the teachers, the aboriginal students, translators, interpreters, social relations in diverse communities.


Wednesday, 5 June 2019

The uncanny, undeniable parallels between the LGBTQ and indigenous communities

Now that the MMIWG Final report has been made public and the politicians and talking heads have had their say, I think it's very important that we not lose sight of the fact that choice of words ('genocide' vs 'human suffering') and how one presents them matter.

By 'how one presents them' I mean tracing back the findings of the Commission to the families and communities whose souls and hearts have been broken.

I'm attaching a link to a piece on the rise of suicide by gays to drive my point. Replace LGBTQ/gay with indigenous communities in the piece and the truth of it still holds.


Saturday, 13 April 2019

but pestle and mortar...

sticks and stones will break my bones, but pestle and mortar grind them.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Monday, 11 March 2019

Encoding mathematical logic onto the Orion's belt constellation

Let us assume a sequential pattern for the constellation of Orion's Belt, thusly (barring the skewing of apparent 2 dimensional alignments of 3D placements of the stars, of course):

The basic pattern achieves a template that intersects no lines; 1, 7, 2, 4, 6, 3, 5 is another one; 1, 6, 4, 2, 3, 5, 7; 5, 6, 3, 4, 7, 1, 2...; is there proof that it is tends to (factorial 7) = 7! such configurations? Assuming that the net filters reversal sequences as redundant statements, what is the precise result of this figure's possibilities?

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

An advice for my children and grandchildren

Don't rely upon how-to books. Educate yourself on topics of your concern and interest. Your interaction with the contemporaneous realities must be dynamic, guided by educated principles but no matter what they are you must beforehand contemplate and test them yourself and accept or reject them for reasons you can defend. There is no other way.

I've wasted much time by my own unchecked passions. If asked to justify some of what I've done I can only sit in silent shame. I can tell you that being a hothead is counterproductive.

Thankfully, I've not seen this impetuous impulsiveness in any of you, all of you gifted and cool in your ways that I would have never expected and am continually amazed and delighted by.

What I think I've found eventually is that we must believe in that which is greater and grander than us, sincerely; to love magnanimity, justice and mercy enough to extend them even to those we think unworthy by virtue of our personal feelings or circumstances; to be the best we can be (this is tricky because who decides those 'best' standards defines them so try and find a balance/acceptance between what you want and what you need - it takes a certain humility to admit this honestly).

The universe to me is flawless and perfect. I have sought, and seen/gotten much and broadly. People I love will always surround me, the universe will always engage - this I know now. But my search for enlightenment will never end. The strands of thought twist and wind with a purpose: to afford me the opportunity to live content.

Micah 6:8



Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Hello qallunaat and Inuits

Sandra Inutiq (or, as we who love her, Kunuk) wrote an impassioned piece about social injustice that cannot be easily dismissed. Neither the rebuttal by a non-Inuit can likewise be dismissed.

It's not about race, per se. But about perspective.

In the movie, V for Vendetta, the main character talks about the power of words and ideas:

"Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine — the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, whereby those important events of the past, usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than 400 years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest that you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot" ("V for Vendetta (Film)").


Tuesday, 15 January 2019


inkle: n a mild urge to pee;

onkle: n an accumulation of dried dirt on the elbow;

ankle: n a very gay uncle.