Various Verses

Did you know that there’s a whole world out there beyond your screen?

Bangor

It may be hard to believe, but apparently it does exist, and I even venture out into it occasionally.

What is this mythical place?

It has various names – some call it IRL (in real life) or RL (real life). Others call it the physical world or meatspace.

Meatspace, which is also written meat-space or meat space, is used online (often derogatorily) to refer to “the physical world, as opposed to the virtual world of the Internet.“ It was coined as analogy with cyberspace [source], and started to be used in the 1990s [source].

While writing this, I was thinking of other ways to refer to the real, physical world, and came up with realverse – an analogy of metaverse (see below). Apparently this word is already in use, at least to some extent. There are examples in this article: How to Connect #Metaverse to #Realverse.

The -verse suffix is used quite a bit in English at the moment. Some examples include:

  • multiverse = The hypothetical group of all the possible universes in existence.
  • metaverse = A hypothetical future (counterpart or continuation of the) Internet, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space.
  • wikiverse = The entire collective scope of wikis.
  • gameverse = A universe depicted in one or more video games.
  • Buffyverse = The fictional world, or universe, which serves as the setting for the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Source: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:English_terms_suffixed_with_-verse.

Do you know of any other ways to refer to the real world in English or other languages?

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Fictile Dairymaids

I came across an interesting word yesterday that I hadn’t seen before: fictile. It means capable of being moulded into the shape of an artifact or art work; moulded clay or earth; relating to earthenware, or capable of being led or directed. Synonyms include pliable and moldable.

Hopi Tewa Pot

Fictile comes from Latin fictilus, from fictus (feigned, fictitious, false), from fingō (to shape, fashion, form, deceive, pretend), from Proto-Italic *fingō (to knead, form), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeyǵʰ- (to knead, form, shape) [source].

Words for the same roots include: dairy, dough, feign, feint, fiction, figment and figure in English [source].

The word dairy comes from Middle English daierie (dairy, pantry, dairy farm), from daie/dey (dairymaid), from Old English dǣġe (maker of bread, baker, dairy-maid), from Proto-Germanic *daigijǭ (kneader of bread, maid), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeyǵʰ- (to knead, form) [source].

The word lady has similar roots: from Middle English ladie (the mistress of servants; female head of a household, manor, etc), from Old English hlǣfdīġe (mistress of a household, wife of a lord, lady), from hlāf (bread, loaf) and dīġe (kneader), which is related to dǣġe (maker of dough/bread). So a lady was originally a “bread-kneader” [source].

Incidentally, dough is used as a slang term for money, as is bread . This is thought to have started during the 19th century. Bread was a traditional everyday necessity of life, and to earn one’s living was to earn one’s bread, or crust, so bread, and the dough it’s made from, became synonymous with money [source].

The use of bread as slang for money may also be linked to Cockney Rhyming Slang – bread and honey = money. This should not be confused with bread and butter = gutter, or bread and cheese = sneeze [source].

Ways to “to earn a living” or “to earn a crust” in Welsh include ennill eich bara menyn (to earn one’s bread and butter) and ennill eich bara a chaws (to earn one’s bread and cheese).

Are there interesting ways to say “to earn a living” in other languages?

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Mud Glorious Mud

If you live in a muddy place, or want to describe such a place, you could use the old word lutarious.

cute and muddy

It means “of, pertaining to, or like, mud; living in mud”, and comes from the Latin word lutarius (of or belonging to the mud, living in mud), from lutum (mud, soil, dirt, mire, loam, clay), from Proto-Indo-European *lew- (dirt, mud) [source].

A related word is lutulent [ˈlʌtjʊlənt], which means pertaining to mud, or muddy.

Words for the same roots include:

  • Albanian: llucë = thin or shallow mud, muddy place
  • Portuguese: lodoso = muddy
  • Romanian: lut = clay, loam, mud, dirt, lutos = clayey
  • Spanish: lodo = mud, muck, mire, lodoso = muddy, boddy

Lutetia, the Gallo-Roman town founded in 52 BC that became Paris, gets it’s name from the Gaulish word *lutos (swamp), from Proto-Celtic *lutā (dirt, mud), from PIE *lew- (dirt, mud). It was known as Lutetia Parisiorum by the Romans. The Parisiorum part comes from Parīsiī, the Latin name for the Gaulish tribe who lived in the area. The name Paris comes from the same roots.

You can find more details on Radio Omniglot.

Incidentally, the French word boue [bu] (mud, dirt), also has Celtic roots: it comes from the Gaulish *bawā (mud, dirt), from Proto-Celtic *bowā (dirt, filth, excrement), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷewh₁- (excrement, dung) [source].

The Galician word bosta (dung, manure) comes from the same Celtic roots, as do the Welsh words baw (mud) and budr (dirty, filthy, vile, foul) [source].

Gwineas buoy

The French word boue shouldn’t be confused with the Breton word boue [ˈbuː.e], which means buoy. It comes from Middle English boi(e) (buoy), from Middle Dutch boeye, from Old Dutch *bōcan, from Frankish *baukn (symbol, sign) from Proto-Germanic *baukną (sign, symbol), from PIE *bʰeh₂- (to glow, light, shine) [source].

By the way, do you pronounce buoy [bɔɪ] (boy) or [ˈbu.i] (boo-ee), or some other way?

Gatekeeping / Geatóireacht

I’ve noticed that in discussion about minority and endangered languages, there is often some degree of gatekeeping. That is to say, there are people who believe that there is one true version of a language, and that anything else is a corrupt abomination that doesn’t deserve to be called X language. Or something along those lines.

The Gatekeeper

Acquiring a language as you grow up from your family or other people around you usually ensures that you speak it fluently and with a native accent. However, to become literate, and to be competent in using advanced vocabulary and grammar, you usually need to study the language in some kind of formal way. It also helps if you use it in a variety of situations. Such opportunities are not available to all.

People may use one language at home, and another at school, work or in other contexts. This is especially true with minority and endangered languages. So while they can speak the home language fluently, they may not have the vocabulary to talk about things that aren’t usually discussed at home.

For example, my Linguistics tutor at Bangor University grew up in a Welsh speaking family and speaks Welsh fluently. However, all his education was through English, and he does not use Welsh in his work. He told me that he speaks “Kitchen Welsh”, and just doesn’t have the vocabulary to talk about linguistics.

If you learn a language in school, or as an adult, it’s unlikely that you’ll learn it perfectly. You’ll probably speak it with a non-native accent, and you may not have as much vocabulary, or be able to use the grammar as well or as instinctively as a native speaker. This is one reason why languages change, especially when large numbers of people learn them as a second or foreign language.

People who really dedicate themselves to learning a language, can acquire native-like pronunciation, a comprehensive vocabulary and a high level knowledge and understanding of the grammar. They may even become more proficient in at least some aspects of the language than native speakers.

In the case of Irish, far more people learn it as a second or foreign language than speak it as a native language. There is a standard version of the language that is taught in schools and used in the media and official written material. However, there are variations within that standard that take into account dialect differences, and native speakers don’t necessarily use the standard.

There are people who complain that ‘school Irish’ has poor grammar, a relatively small vocabulary and non-native pronunciation, it’s influenced too much by English, and isn’t ‘proper Irish’. They might say the same about the Irish spoken by people who have learnt it as adults. While this may be true, it is not very encouraging for people trying to learn Irish. They might conclude that there’s no point, as they’ll never learn ‘real’ Irish.

Instead, it might be better to celebrate that fact that people are learning and using Irish, even if their Irish isn’t perfect. If they’re able to communicate effectively even with their imperfect Irish, then they are helping to keep the language alive.

Fortunately, such complainers are relatively rare, and the majority of Irish speakers I’ve met are very supportive of and welcoming to learners like me.

As they say in Irish: Is fearr Gaeilge briste, ná Béarla cliste – Broken Irish is better than clever English. The writer of this article agrees with this, and would add ach is í an Ghaeilge chliste is fearr (but intelligent Irish is the best) to this saying.

There’s a simliar saying in Scottish Gaelic: Is fheàrr Gàidhlig bhriste na Gàidhlig sa chiste. – Broken Gaelic is better than Gaelic in the coffin.

What is your take on gatekeeping?

Are there similar sayings in other languages?

In April I’ll be going to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the Isle of Skye to do a course in (Scottish) Gaelic Song, and in June I’ll be going to Oideas Gael in Gleann Cholm Cille in the northwest of Ireland to do a course in Irish Language and Landscape. I was planning to go to the Irish language and culture summer school at the end of July, as I have many times before, but it’s fully booked already.

Duostories

Some courses on Duolingo, like Spanish and Japanese, have stories, but many don’t. They’re fun and I wish they were available for all languages.

Today I discovered a site called Duostories, which features translations of stories from Duolingo in a variety of languages, including ones not on Duolingo, such as Asturian, Cantonese, Faroese, Frisian, Kannada, Latvian, Serbian and Tagalog.

There are also stories in constructed languages such as Lingua Franca Nova (Elefen), Interlingue and Toki Pona.

These stories have been translated by volunteers, and include recordings as well as text. The number of stories for each language varies from 4 to 200+. Dutch currently has the most (221).

You can contribute translations via Discord.

Duolingo 1 million XP

By the way, my total XP on Duolingo reached 1 million today (currently 1,000,336), and I’m on a 2,377 day streak.

World Endangered Writing Day

Today is World Endangered Writing Day, a day to celebrate the world’s minority and indigenous scripts and communities.

Logo of the World Endangered Writing Day

This is an initiative started this year by Tim Brookes, the founder of the Endangered Alphabets Project, who explains:

World Endangered Writing Day was born when I read that in traditional Balinese culture, one day a year was dedicated to respecting and venerating writing.

On the day dedicated to the goddess Saraswati, nothing written may be destroyed, or even a letter crossed out. All the lontar manuscripts—oblong pages of lontar palm leaf, written on with a stylus and then bound between wooden slats—in a household are gathered and act as the representation of the goddess, to whom eighteen offerings are made, one for each of the letters of the Balinese alphabet. Each offering contains the symbol of the supreme god, made of fried rice dough.

This shows a deep understanding of the value and importance of writing, beyond being a mere means of conveying information as quickly and clearly as possible.

World Endangered Writing Day, then, is a celebration of writing in all its varied and astonishing manifestations, especially those that see and use writing in far richer ways than we do.

[source]

Throughout the day there are online talks about writing, script extinction and revival, type design, and related topics. You can watch and listen to all the talks on the YouTube Channel: WEWD 2024.

More information about World Endangered Writing Day and about Tim Brookes’ Endangered Alphabets project:
https://www.endangeredwriting.world/
http://endangeredalphabets.com/
https://www.endangeredalphabets.net/

This is what the Balinese alphabet looks like, by the way:

ᬫᬓᬲᬫᬶᬫᬦᬸᬲᬦᬾᬓᬳᭂᬫ᭄ᬩᬲᬶᬦ᭄ᬫᬳᬃᬤᬶᬓᬮᬦ᭄ᬧᬢᬾ᭪᭟ᬲᬚᬦᬶᬂᬓᬳᬦᬦ᭄ᬮᬦ᭄ᬓᬸᬲ᭟ᬳᬶᬧᬸᬦ᭄ᬓᬦᬸᬕ᭄ᬭᬳᬶᬦᬶᬯᬾᬓᬮᬦ᭄ᬩᬸᬤ᭄ᬥᬶ᭟ᬧᬦ᭄ᬢᬭᬦᬶᬂᬫᬦᬸᬲᬫᬂᬤᬦᬾᬧᬭᬲ᭄ᬧᬭᭀᬲ᭄ᬫᬲᬫᬾᬢᭀᬦᬦ᭄

If you want to know more about the world’s writing systems, there’s a little website you might find interesting: Omniglot – the online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages.