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  • hardie karges 5:06 am on December 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    If we’re typical, then there’s life elsewhere in the universe. 

    Or so says the Green Bank Formula. Duh. I could have told you that. I believe that’s a tautology. They go through elaborate pains to multiply R (rate of star formation) x fp (% stars likely to have planets) x ne (no. of those planets likely to have the ecology for life) x fi (% planets that might actually develop life) x fc (% of planets that reach the technological level of radio communication) x L (the average life-span of a civilization at that level) or N= R x fp x ne x fi x fc x L. With vague, but generally acceptable estimates, this yields the figures N= 10 x .5 x 2 x 1 x .01 x L, thus N= .1L or N= L/10. This means that if the average time that a technologically advanced civilization can exist without self-destruction is only ten years, then there’s only likely to be one extant at any given time. Guess who. If, however, some civilizations, say 1%, can tame their wilder impulses and achieve stasis and technology BOTH, then there are likely one million of them out there and the nearest one would be only on average a few hundred light-years away. Considering that we’re already way past the ten-year mark and a hundred or so supposedly ‘Earth-like’ planets have been found and Europeans are fucking instead of fighting, then the odds are improving, and life is not only good, but we’re not alone.

  • hardie karges 5:57 am on December 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    I pray for the world and all of its people. 

    I pray for the past, present, and future, the three dimensions that I inhabit. Space is simple, just the straightest line between two points. I pray just to be able to make a contribution to the process of self-fulfillment. I pray for the earth to survive the transgressions and trespasses of its most illustrious son, Heaven sent but Hell bent for some reason. According to the Green Bank Formula, if a technologically advanced society can’t last more than ten years without self-destruction, then there probably aren’t any more ‘out there’. If they can survive their own destructive impulses, then given the time that it took ‘us’ to develop as an average, then there are probably about a million more. And they’re probably a lot more advanced than we are, given our position as young upstarts on the outer edge of the insignificant Melk Veg. It sounds like a weed or something. Should we dumb ourselves down just to tempt fate into sparing us from annihilation at others’ hands? Self-extinction is probably not a concern, given our obsession with sex and year-round breeding habits. Oh, yeah. We’ve gotten some street smarts, also, in the process of changing our status from hunted to hunter. Now we just need to complete the transition from prey to prayer. There’s an entire level higher than street smarts and the law of the jungle out there. We just have to listen to those who’ve been there.

  • hardie karges 3:40 am on December 24, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Lao,   

    Thailand, the land of smiles, is no different. 

    Those smiles are for foreigners, not their own estranged brothers. Comedians will come on TV in Thailand and recite a little speech in Lao, not normal speech, but something specifically designed to be intelligible to Thais but also laughable because of their inability to speak ‘correct’ Thai. And that’s the whole joke, making their fellow Laos a laughing stock, even though the two dialects are very close, Lao being relatively ‘central’ to the entire family of languages, essentially ‘more pure’ in the sense that London English is more pure than Californian, though less popular internationally. A large percentage of modern Thais from the northeast, also, speak a Lao dialect as their local language, as do northerners and southerners their own dialects. Far more ‘bumpkin’ would be the northern dialect, though it’s never laughed at, being a good obedient son, more picturesque, and closer to the hearts of the average Thai. Laos and the northeast still carry the taint of communism, very un-Thai. Lao people, in turn, revile and insult the ‘black Tais’ resident in much of the country, the original and most traditional Tais. As Jackie Chan once said, “In China, everything face.” Someone else said, “You’re in Chinatown, Jake.”

  • hardie karges 3:52 pm on December 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Burying the past with language 

    removes it from the usual patterns of evolution, as would deliberate gene splicing. The Dravidian languages of southern India deliberately remove Sanskrit influence while ignoring similar influences from English, which would certainly be easier to locate and remove because of their obvious foreignness. Local politics and petty jealousies weigh heavily. ‘Aryanization’ carries with it the connotation of ‘civilization’, at least in Thai, notwithstanding the fact that the same people now called ‘Dravidians’ have ancestors who created one of the world’s greatest early civilizations in the Indus River valley. They undoubtedly left much DNA in the current bloodlines of both northern and southern India. Unfortunately for them, this is the darker-skinned lower-caste bloodline that was ripe for Islam to enhance their status. It’s no accident that that same Indus River is now in Muslim Pakistan, though linguistic traces with their forbears are long gone. The lingua franca of Pakistan, Urdu, in fact is mutually intelligible with Hindi, the closest thing India has to a national language, and the local language of no one in Pakistan. Once again, efforts are continuous to separate the two for political reasons. The same has not yet happened, but could, with India’s other major language, Bengali, also known as Bangla, the national language of Bangladesh.

  • hardie karges 4:11 am on December 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    People put other people down in order to puff themselves up, 

    and so does language. The great English vowel shift in the 15th century made sure that leaning ‘proper’ English would be a trial by fire and that only the fittest would survive. With French no longer the language of government and pretentiousness, the upper classes had no quick easy way to prove they were better than the smiths, bakers, millers, carpenters, and Joneses. So they formed their own dialect of English. Only they knew the code. Long I’s became long E’s, long E’s became long A’s, and short and long vowels separated entirely, rendering the concept largely meaningless, though still taught, at least as of my tenure. In reality, a system of dual pronunciation for each vowel was adopted, similar to the Khmer system of ‘registers’. It was complicated, but easier than learning Latin, now that French was out of favor, never to be united with England regardless of who’s the reigning monarch. Latin came in vogue at the same time, but more as a language of writing, than of speech. Spoken Latin had long since become Italian and other bastard mutations, much of the changes from classical Latin occurring even before the Empire fell.

  • hardie karges 4:10 pm on December 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply

    Language is a weapon to be used sparingly; 

    stockpiled for future use in case of surprise attack, superpowers struggle to achieve parity. Language riots break out in the most unlikely places, houses of Congress and houses of servants, bedrooms and boardrooms. Shibboleths maintain purity of the race, drawing lines in the sand where no borders yet exist. Harder than metal, cutting deeper than love, words are the ultimate weapon for the complete samurai, and the balance of power for the frail of body. Nouns are the hardware of battle, pawns under the control of knights and bishops. Verbs are the software, parries and thrusts and vast sweeping movements over rolling hills designed to trap the enemy in a scissors movement without exit. Sharpen your tongue and glean ammunition from slips of the enemy’s tongue, forced confessions, and bared chests. Then when the time is right, strike with the fury of a summer storm, fire and lightning with not a drop of rain in sight to cool the fevered brow. But remember to play fair, no reason to strike below the belt. Nothing hurts more than the truth when unloaded in a properly timed depth charge.

  • hardie karges 7:18 am on December 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Music is the universal language, 

    capable of enjoyment regardless of whether one knows the language in question or not. Language is secondary to music, as it is to film. Writers don’t write music, and they don’t write screenplays. People ask me what I talk about with my wife as if the eastern reality must be incomprehensible to a westerner. You don’t have to read much Chomsky to realize that life is very similar regardless of the language(s) involved; and I’m a Sapirian. I do think that language influences one’s reality in the same way that a computer program or operating system or even your search engine influences your computing output. Certainly they’re both right. The fact that the geographically contiguous and culturally similar ‘Pueblo’ Indians speak not only different languages, but languages from four different language families only two of which are remotely related says something. The fact that their reality is (or at least WAS) far different from all other language phyla says something else. To describe as ‘human’ a creature without language is almost unthinkable.

  • hardie karges 4:15 am on December 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    I always thought rock & roll was an English language phenomenon, 

    as if all the joy and love, all the fear and angst, all the excitement and transcendence, all the sturm und drang, were somehow hard-wired into the language, directly related to the German structure/Romanticized content of the language. Let’s face it, for whatever the reason, the Continent doesn’t produce much great rock-and-roll. Sure there’s Bjork and Nina Hagen, and the occasional stray genius like Manu Chao, but mostly we’re talking the mediocrity of Abba or Ace of Base and for you really hard-rockers, we’ve got Scorpions. For those of you who refuse to get professional help, we’ve got Swedish Death Metal. This hardly compares with the hundreds of bands blasting out basements and lofts in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, and Australia. Why the Continent never developed a pop-cultural rock & roll edge to rival the English-speaking world could be speculated upon endlessly, but that’s not the point. The point is that great R & R is possible in other languages, and not just half-breed and ‘fusion’ groups, as Carabao in Thailand and Mana’ in Mexico amply prove. The reasons behind the anomaly probably lie more in the given socio-politico-economic realities than in the aptitude of the language. Europe is a museum, just too expensive and rigidified to experiment. They almost missed the Industrial revolution before; now they’re missing the Entertainment one also. Computers and Internet are but the tip of the iceberg. When it’s all over, you won’t know what’s real and what’s entertainment.

  • hardie karges 5:00 am on December 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Language can be fattening if you use too much shortening. 

    When w’d’ya’ want?’ becomes what you want and ‘how d’ya’ do?’ becomes how you do, then you know you’re becoming fluent in English and therefore incomprehensible to much of the world. But be careful. I might have to ask, “wha’d’you say” when you ask, “wha’ ‘tcha’ name?” but soon you’ll get it right to the nth degree and “wha ‘tsyer name?” will roll off your tongue like melted butter and you’ll never have to ask me “wha’ cha’ say?” again. It’s not a good idea to learn shortcuts in language. It’s better if they learn themselves. Otherwise it sounds unnatural and pretentious. There’s no substitute for speaking correctly, grammar-perfect and sound specific. Speed creates the shortcuts of necessity, the unaccented valleys of pitch becoming indistinct filler. For speakers of tonal languages, like here in Interzone, English by convention almost becomes a tonal language itself, changes in emotional pitch imitated as if a part of the internal structure itself. For the uninitiated, tonal languages employ changes in pitch to distinguish different words from each other, not to show emotion. We use volume for that. Got it? A rising tone does not necessarily denote a question. Though the native language will employ various tones, the borrowed tongue will invariably sound monotonal, hence the frequent borrowing of emotional pitch to compensate for the otherwise lack of sonic inflection. All this is understandable and easily predictable. Stranger is the predilection of some speakers of tonal languages to borrow what few grammatical inflections remain in the English language to use in their own, which has none otherwise. Thus the word ‘American’ is used as often as the word ‘America’, likewise ‘Spanish’ for ‘Spain’, though ‘Espanol’ is unknown. My box can’t process Arabic.

  • hardie karges 4:27 am on December 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Core vocabulary is that part of a language that changes least through time and space. 

    This is crucial in determining the history of a language itself and the related history of the culture of which it’s a part. In the absence of historical documents or archeological evidence, frequently the case with tribal cultures, it’s better than nothing. It’s also necessary in reconstructing the proto-language for what is now a family of related languages. For the traveler it goes beyond the usual pronouns, basic foods, small numbers, and body parts, into such abstract categories as fast food, intimate clothing, large numbers, and body parts. Fortunately the term ‘blow job’ forms part of the International Scientific Vocabulary, so readily understandable anywhere, at least in certain circles. This is the DNA of culture, the penis-tracks of history, the linguistic trails that linger long after the original encounter with imminent change. You create a new world when you look into your lover’s eyes.

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