I love language, and I love languages! The purpose of this blog is to provide me a space to play around with words in as many languages as I can (primarily Romanic, Germanic, and Esperanto), and to share my fascination with language - as well as to encourage myself to write more. So - join in on the fun!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Zero to Hero Day 2: What kind of name is "lingvamanto" anyway?

Welcome to DAY 2 of the "Zero to Hero" blogging challenge, wherein I shall explain the name of this blog. Ready-Set-GO!

So, what kind of name is lingvamanto anyway?

Lingvamanto is an Esperanto word which can be translated into English as "language-lover". I chose to title this blog in Esperanto, an artificial language created in the 19th century, because I was once rather adept at it but have fallen out of practice and I wanted to revive my interest in it and share that interest with others.

One of the reasons Esperanto was invented was to provide a neutral, international, even universal language that all peoples could learn. Because the language itself isn't tied to any particular nation or ethnicity, it was thought that learning it would provide a means by which people of starkly different backgrounds might get to know one another better, thereby avoiding the strife that arises from lack of understanding. You might encounter arguments that Esperanto's fault lies in its eurocentricity, and arguments that counter this view; I will steer clear of such arguments, and just say that I like Esperanto. That's really the only motivation I needed to begin studying it. And I chose it for the title because of its simplicity, and the beauty of its structure.

Lingvamanto is made up of four components or building blocks, which combine to give the idea of the word. Here they are:
  1. lingv   -    a root meaning 'tongue', or 'language'. Consider the English word "linguistics", the study of lanuage.
  2. am       -   a root meaning 'love'. Consider the English word "enamored", to be aflow in love.
  3. ant      -    an infix indicating an active mood present participle.
  4. o        -    a suffix indicating a noun. Together, ant + o = anto, a suffix indicating "one who does or is doing the action of the preceding root", in this case lingv + am = lingvam, or love of language.
Add them all together — lingv + am + ant + — and you get lingvamanto, "one who is loving language", or in other words, a language-lover.

Isn't that fascinating? I love how words are built in Esperanto. It sort of reminded me of how German words can be made by sticking different, smaller words together to express the idea you want to get at. Except in Esperanto, you learn roots and other basic building blocks that carry meaning, and put them together at an even more fundamental level. I love it!

People from all over the world with an abundant variety of native cultures all learn Esperanto as an additional language to their own (very few people speak it as a first language) and go out of their way to learn from other cultures, placing other peoples on equal footing with their own. It truly can be an equalizing force, and much less intimidating than attempting to communicate with someone in a national language that isn't your own. In any case, it seemed the perfect language to use for someone primarily familiar with the languages of Europe and with a more than passing interest in the way other language families work, so I used it! It has even proven helpful with my current obsession, Hebrew, which has a system of binyanim or 'building patterns' which tell you how words should be structured. Not quite a 1:1 comparison, but my point is that learning how a simpler language like Esperanto functions is greatly helpful in learning more complex languages.

Esperanto is a great place to start! And there you have it. Lingvamanto means language-lover.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

lingvamanto means language-lover

Welcome to lingvamanto!

My name is Adrian, and I primarily blog about religion and spirituality over at UUXMNR, read "UU Examiner", a moniker I chose for myself years ago while writing for the online edition of the Examiner on topics of interest to Unitarian Uninversalists and other religious liberals. And while religion is a major part of my life, I have many passions relating to other aspects of culture, and one of the primary ones is language.

I have always had a fascination with words. Growing up outside of Manhattan in Northern New Jersey, surrounded by friends from places all over the world, I was accustomed to hearing many different languages and observing many different customs that the other kids and their families had. Rather than be intimidated by the vast assortment of differences, I became drawn to them and have wanted to learn all I can about other people's cultures — and my own! — ever since. One of the most direct ways for me to do this, and one that enjoy immensely, is to learn something about the language(s) they use.

Each language that I study or encounter has particular associations and uses for me; I have varying degrees of comfort and practice with them, depending on their relative relevance to my life at any point in time. But my fascination with communication in general keeps me ever in awe of words and anything having to do with them — vocabulary, grammar, syntax, dialect, register, code-switching — all terms I wish I was more familiar with, but understand to a certain degree. Maybe I'll actually study linguistics some day! For now, I'm content to learn languages whenever I am able, hopefully helping me to understand the world we inhabit a little better with each one. Anyhow, my love for language extends to writing, something that I ought make more time to do.

In an effort to realize this goal, I am partaking in a 30-day Zero to Hero challenge, with encouragement through a Facebook group of fellow Unitarian Universalist bloggers. I hope this helps get me in the habit of writing more frequently and posting my thoughts and experiences with others out there who share my interests. For this first post in the challenge, I will answer the suggested questions to get started. Here goes!

Why are you blogging, rather than keeping a personal journal?

I choose to blog for the simple fact that it provides the opportunity to interact with others, and to find/build a community of people with common interests. When I journal, I write things down on paper that are meaningful at the time I'm writing them. I may gain insight from the practice, and it has a sort of therapeutic quality to it, but if I'm not engaging with others I don't learn as much. Besides, after I've written in a journal I almost never go back and look at what I've written. A blog, at least potentially, can keep the conversation going much longer than the time it takes to write the post itself.

What topics do you think you’ll write about?

Language! Of course. But more broadly, about any aspect of culture influenced by or influencing the way we use words. Perhaps folks with much more formal education than I have can chime in and learn me a thing or two.. *wink* I also hope to use this space to actually practice the language I am familiar with and those that I'm studying. Not everything will be posted in English! I'm really excited about the opportunity to actually use the languages I encounter.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

Polyglots. Linguists. People of different cultures who can tell me a thing or two about what makes theirs unique, or interesting, or weird, or embarrassing, or anything! People who are studying English as a foreign language. English speakers who are studying other languages. English speakers studying other varieties of English. ANYONE! Really, I just love learning about the world and everything in it. Tell me about your experience hosteling, or going on safari, or hiking through Europe, or visiting monks in Asia, or riding the subway in New York City. I want to live your experiences vicariously through your stories. Maybe I can write about some of my own. They won't be quite as fabulous, but hopefully all experience is important, and telling stories is how we move forward.

If you blog successfully throughout 2014, what would you hope to have accomplished?

Connection. Learning. Teaching. Improvement in languages I'm just beginning to learn. Maintaining languages I've studied for years but fail to use in daily life. Making writing a necessary part of my every-day practices. Engaging my tribes, and feeling connected to the universe beyond me. I want it all! Ready-set-go...

I hope this project goes well! Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Practicing Hebrew #1

שלום! מה שלומכם היום? אני רוצה לדבר בעברית. אני לומד עברית ברכבת בבוקר ובערב. אני רוצה לקנות מחשב חדש, כי המחשב שלי נשבר. החבר שלי ואני   הולכים לקונצרט בבולטימור הערב. ערב טוב! להתראות

Shalom! Ma shlomchem ha'yom? Ani rotseh ledaber b'ivrit. Ani lomed ivrit ba'rakevet ba'boker v'ba'erev. Ani rotseh li'knot machshev chadash, ki ha'machshev sheli nishbar. Ha'chaver sheli v'ani holchim l'kontsert b'Baltimore ha'erev. Erev tov! L'hitraot!

Hi! How are all of you today? I want to speak in Hebrew  I study Hebrew on the train in the morning and in the evening. I want to buy a new computer, because my computer is broken. My boyfriend and I are going to a concert in Baltimore this evening. Good evening! See ya!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Was? Mein deutsch ist nicht ganz PERFEKT?!

I recently stumbled upon a site called Forvo, whose sub-headline claims "All the words in the world. Pronounced."

I can't even begin to describe how excited I was to find it, and I don't even remember how that happened. I was so excited that I made an account right away and started exploring the site and recording pronunciations for as many words as I could in French, German, Esperanto and English.

What I failed to realize in my haste is that the site is intended for native pronunciations only... Or maybe I just ignored the request, believing that anyone can pass as a native if they pronounce things properly.

Well, I was wrong. Not long after I signed up, I received a message from one of the site's editors asking me to refrain from making recordings in German, as it is not my native language, no matter how confident I might feel about my pronunciation. The editor also mentioned that s/he could detect a "slight" accent in my recordings, and for that reason needed to delete all the words I'd pronounced in German.

I don't have much of an ego, but that was certainly a blow! I speak German with a slight accent? I had no idea! At first I was all offended and outraged; but then I realized how ridiculous it was for me to be upset. The site explicitly requests that only native speakers pronounce words in their language for a reason, and it makes sense. Besides, who am I to say that I have no accent in German? I have to accept the word of the editor, a native speaker.

My one consolation in this case is that all the words I pronounced in French are still there for now. Either they were pronounced "perfectly", or a French-speaking editor has not yet had reason to review them and deem them unworthy. Also, because there are almost no native speakers of Esperanto, anyone can post pronunciations in that language, pending peer review (i.e. users across the site can vote on any given word pronunciation as "Good" or "Bad"). Obviously, the English words I recorded can stay. Yippee!

I guess it's a good thing the German-speaking editor got to me before I started recording words in even more languages! I mean, my pronunciation is pretty good IMOSHO, but on this site at least, I'll have to defer to the natives.

You can hear my horrible pronunciations at http://www.forvo.com/user/lingvamanto

Thoughts about accents

This video, "21 Accents" by Amy Walker, is one of my favorite things to watch on YouTube. I have seen it several times, and am always amazed (and impressed) by the ease with which she glides from one accent into another, not only changing her pronunciation and enunciation but also her facial expressions and mannerisms.

I have always found it enjoyable, and relatively easy, to learn other languages. Regional accents on the other hand have never been my forte, and I'm really bad at doing almost all of them.

When it comes to speaking a "standard" variety of a language, I've been pretty good so far. Most people with whom I have a chance to speak French assume that I'm from France until I do/say something to gives me away as American. I think I have a pretty generic sounding German, but I doubt anyone will think I come from Germany...nevertheless, I might just pass for a few minutes as a native speaker. But ask me to speak French with a Canadian accent or German with a Swiss accent, for example, and I will fail miserably - so I'm always impressed by people who can pull off different accents. I guess we are always impressed by that which we cannot do ourselves, otherwise it would just be ordinary.

Even so, after living among a people for awhile, I do start subconsciously incorporating the local speech patterns and pronunciations whether I want to or not - even to the point of not remembering how a word is "supposed" to be pronounced, i.e. how I pronounced it before my speech changed. This is neither good nor bad in itself, but usually any deviation from "standard" speech brings with it any prejudices that might go along with the given dialect. After living in Baltimore for all these years, there are definitely some words that stand out when I return home to Northern New Jersey! Ah well, such is life.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Bahá'í Faith and Esperanto

Today in church we had a service titled Bahá'í and Other Liberal Faith Stories. We had a guest speaker from the Baltimore Bahá'í Community, and in her sharing she stated that Bahá'ís have as one of their ideals the use of an international auxiliary language (!).

If I had known that in the past, I had forgotten. So I looked into it and learned that Bahá'ís have a history with Esperanto! Although, apparently, no Bahá'í has ever officially suggested that they promote Esperanto itself as the world language for this age, nevertheless many have embraced the language as a suitable one.

Back in the day, when I was researching different religions in an effort to find a new spiritual home, I boiled down my options to two things - the Bahá'í Faith, and Unitarian Universalism. Obviously, I chose the latter for reasons I won't get into here (and I'm still going strong as the UUXMNR all these years later!), but this little snippet of information in today's service fascinated me! I'm looking forward to working together with Bahá'ís in the future...maybe I can help with the planning for next year's celebrations, commemorating the centennial anniversary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's visit to my congregation while touring the United States in 1912. Maybe I can find a local Bahá'í Esperantist to chat with...who knows?!

Check out the Wikipedia article on Bahá'í Faith and Esperanto

Je la hodiaŭa diservo, titolita Bahaismo kaj Aliaj Liberalaj Fido-rakontoj, estis gasta lektoro de la Baltimora Bahaa Komunumo. Dum ŝia parolo deklaris ŝi ke Bahaanoj jesas, kiel principo, la usadon de ia internacia help-lingvo (!).

Se mi iufoje sciis tion, mi tuj forgesis – do mi esploris la aferon kaj lernis ke Bahaanoj havas historion kun Esperanto! Kvankam neniu Bahaano laŭraporte proponis oficiale ke oni antaŭenpuŝu Esperanton mem kiel monda lingvo de tiu ĉi epoko, multaj tamen estas alprenintaj tiun lingvon kiel taŭga.

Pasintepoke, kiam mi estis esploranta diversajn religiojn, klopodante malkovri novan spiritan hejmon, tiam mi limigis miajn opciojn al du alternativoj – la Bahaismo kaj la Unitaria Universalismo. Evidente mi elektis la lastan (la kialon mi ne nune klarigas ĉi tie), kaj mi daŭre forte estas la UUXMNR post tiom da jaroj; sed tiu eta informaĵero donata je la diservo vere fascinis min! Mi antaŭĝojas pri laboradi kune kun Bahaanoj estonte…eble mi povos helpi kun la planado de la venontjara festado por soleni la jarcentan datrevenon de la vizito de ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ĉe mia preĝejo dum li turneis Usonon en la jaro 1912. Eble mi povas trovi lokan bahaan esperantiston kun kiu babili…kiu ja scias?!

Legu pli pri Esperanto en la Bahaa Komunumo

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