Here follows a brief exchange that will give a cursory and shallow but essentially correct example of the dynamic between the personalities in my marriage:
It’s not actually depressing! By that time, humanity will either have gotten off this godless rock for good or have long since collectively quit the stage in a way that I am confident will be deeply stupid. Either way, the Sun’s lifecycle is larger and more glorious and important than we could ever be, it’s a beautiful, natural thing and its death will be just the same; you just don’t like to think about it happening in your own neighborhood, like a burglary, or a Jack In The Box.
What Language Do You Wish You Could Speak?
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I’ve always loved language and languages, they consume me even as I do the same to them, though I’ve never had professional or official tutelage in a spoken non-English language except for a couple of years of Christian-school French taught by a Texan (“Bone jewer, y’all!”) and one term of community college German. I did take several years of American Sign Language, which completely bamboozled my brainbox in the very best way regarding what “language” means and how it can interact with its users and the world around them, and also sadly served as a much-needed education on ableism in general and the specific garbage-flavors of it which the Deaf community must endure.
I’ve been active on DuoLingo since 2013 (find me and friend me, @ItsTheBageler) but I’m well aware that autodidactic language learning has hard limits, and I would really love to take some proper classes sometime. “BUT IN WHAT???”, you ask, “GET TO THE POINT ALREADY. ARE YOU ON THE DRUGS? SOME KIND OF BORING-DRUG?” To which I say: Bloganuary, listen, no. Chill your shits. Just–just refrigerate your ass and hang out for a second, man.
The phrasing of today’s prompt–“wish you could speak”–indicates a kind of Wishmaster/monkey’s-paw scenario in which I am suddenly able to converse in this tongue, probably at an ironic, hopefully hilarious price, like now I speak perfect French but France abandoned it last year in favor of Basque for reasons that seemed compelling at the time, and now I can only use it to half-communicate with the heathen Québécois, who are just as unhappy and confused about it as I am. (Or, in keeping with the themes of Wishmaster, I wish to discover a new language and my skeleton bursts out of me, gazing in horror at its own metatarsals while the djinn laughs and congratulates me on being the first human to speak Azerbonejani. This outcome is fully acceptable to me.)
If I can be offered reasonable assurance that this wish wouldn’t cause my blood to suddenly be replaced with LaCroix or my mother to somehow be giving birth to me aboard the Exxon Valdez at the moment it crashed or something, I will break my answer into two categories:
- For Funzies: I feel like the obvious answer is Japanese; I wouldn’t consider myself a Japanophile per se–I have no desire to be Japanese or to take their culture and, like so many Borg, staple it awkwardly onto myself–but I’m a great fan of both manga and JRPGs, the overwhelming majority of which are never exported out of their homeland, much less translated, localized, and published in the United States. Now, I hear some of you cry “But wait, does France not also have an extremely robust and growing comics scene, not to mention tabletop role-playing games, all of which suffer the same No Export For You problems as Japan?” And you, noble Francophile pedant–we get it, you love Asterix & Obelix and The Incal and Valerian And Laureline–have an excellent point! But the thing is, French is a Romance language, which Japan is not, and uses the same written script as English for the most part, which Japanese does not, and I could reasonably expect to reach a comics-reading level of proficiency in French on my own in a much shorter time than I could in Japanese, if I could in Japanese at all. (Also English isn’t a Romance language either, it’s Germanic and descended directly from German, but there’s enough hanky-panky crossover between the Germanic and Romance camps to make them useful in learning each other.) Also, if I learned Japanese I could finally find out what The Pillows are always talking about.
- For Usefulzies: If we’re talking magic-learnin’ here, then for actual practical purposes I’d like to learn a very endangered language like Irish Gaelic or Pawnee, which are in danger of dying out entirely; one of the more fucked-up things DuoLingo likes to do is remind us that there are more people learning Irish on DuoLingo than there are native Irish speakers, though it neglects to mention that this is due to the British forcibly stripping them of their language and culture.
Let me be clear: I don’t think my white ass is enough to drop in and save a dying language, and with the exception of languages that have been externally endangered like Irish or the many, many American Indian languages, I actually don’t think much effort should be made to keep a language from dying at all; languages are living things, and so are subject to the same laws and systems as any species, and if a language simply passes out of use and becomes history because another, sexier one started showing off its vocabulary all over town, I frankly think that’s more natural and dignified than keeping it alive artificially like those pandas who are clearly doing their best to go extinct. (Of course, as an English-speaker, this is easy for me to say and probably comes with layers of privilege that I can’t see, but I am comforted by the knowledge that one day, the very knowledge that English was ever spoken will be lost.)
No, if I could suddenly know Mudburra or Ainu or something, I would make it my mission to collect as many stories and memoirs, as much pure cultural and historical data from its remaining speakers as I possibly could, to leave the most complete record of the language and its speakers as could be compiled. In the case of an externally-endangered language like those, I feel like that’s the absolute least that could be done, in honor of the language and its speakers and in defiance of those who turned one of the most beautiful things about the human race into perverted shackles with which to bind others.
For more on how language is the most wonderful thing in the world and also the very first weapon in any war of cultural domination, I would recommend R.F. Kuang’s Babel, Or, The Necessity Of Violence: An Arcane History Of The Oxford Translators’ Revolution.
ORDINARILY this is where I would put song lyrics and a youtube link, then add the song to the secret Spotify playlist only accessible to my newsletter subscribers, but Spotify is down right now and I have NO GODDAMNED IDEA what’s on that list or indeed, what songs I have ever listened to in my entire human life, so I’ll probably come back and fix this later once it’s up.