Author Archives: paul

Mightyverse used on a pilot project to support Hawaiian revitalization

Then There Were None Documentary FilmThe co-founders of Mightyverse came together to work on Mightyverse out of a love of language. It’s heartbreaking that of the 7000 or so languages spoken throughout the world today, some believe that over half of them could be extinct on a practical level by the end of this century. We are hopeful that Mightyverse has the potential to help in the global effort to revitalize endangered languages, and this is a big part of what drives us to make Mightyverse useful to the world. It’s hard to imagine, but with approx. 1000 fluent speakers and less than 10,000 active speakers, Hawaiian is on the list of endangered languages that could conceivably die out over the next 100 years.

Needless to say, this would be a tremendous tragedy for the world.

Fortunately there are very good efforts going on to grow the speaking community, including immersion schools, television programs and passionate individual efforts. And yet the resources on the web to answer the question “How would I say that in Hawaiian?” are still fairly limited. We are extremely excited to have worked with National Geographic Fellow, Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey, on a project to record Hawaiian phrases into Mightyverse. We are currently at 109 phrases and hope to grow that number with the help of other native speakers. Stay tuned as we work to develop a collection of Hawaiian language that can be useful for people who want to have Hawaiian language and culture live on through them!

Here’s a fun place to start – some great Hawaiian phrases to practice.

A short video interview with Dr. Lindsey on her project with Mightyverse.

(see a trailer and learn more about Elizabeth’s film Then There Were None here)

Mexico City Nightlife

by omar.castro

by omar.castro

What might be helpful to know how to say as you wander around Mexico City at night?
We thought that What a lovely day to be alive! might be useful. At least in a strange non sequitur sort of way.

When in doubt, unbridled optimism can’t get you into too much trouble!

We add 3 new Phraselists a week to the Mightyverse home page, and archive the older ones. For more Mexico City Nightlife phrases, go to our homepage, this week only!

Mightyverse iPhone App hits 128 Downloads!

In the first 2 weeks that Mightyverse has been available in the app store, we’ve reached 128 downloads!
Okay, that’s not 128,000, or even 1,280, but still, for our utter lack of any promotion (not even a tweet yet), it’s pretty good.

A milestone even.

Why haven’t we promoted the Mightyverse iPhone app? Because it’s kind of dumb actually. It’s more of an experiment than a true representation of what we want people to experience when they use Mightyverse out in the world. What is our goal with the current iPhone app and why are we subjecting the goodwill of our future Mightyverse loving users to it’s paucity of functionality? Well, that’s a very good question. At this point the version you can download and install for free today is a subset of what we feel people need to have a useful experience of Mightyverse. The beta users of the next version of the app have given us great reports on travels to Japan, Italy, Russia and Europe. But the next version has some really great features the current public version lacks. I really don’t know many ways that someone could find a use for the current version. However….if you are excited about Mightyverse, the app does gives you a portable experience of all of the phrases in the database, with the current featured phraselist prominent on the homescreen. It provides us an easy way to have a lot of different people discover our content and experience it on their iPhones. You can look up any phrase that you know we have in the database and play it right there on your iPhone. You can even email phrases that you find in the database to your friends.

And most importantly, you can say:
“I’ve been using Mightyverse on my phone since the first version, the version that really sucked!”.

We are busy working on the next version of the app which I think will be a marked improvement in usability and just a lot more fun.
I can’t wait for you to try it out.

Has anyone had value from the current app yet? Found a use for it?

We are dying to hear from you.

(stay tuned for updates!)

Paul Lundahl

A Word is Not a Sparrow

A New Phraselist, Russian Phrases for Arianna

Arianna, Mightyverse curator, QA fanatic and rabid Farsi learner, heads out on vacation on Thursday. Tonight we cooked up a batch of phrases for her and her sister to use on their first trip to Russia. She has been working long hours this past month and is now taking time off to travel with her doppelganger twin sister in the freezing Moscow winter cold. They cause all sorts of confusion while traveling by dressing alike and pretending to be 1 person, a super thrifty trick twins everywhere use to pay single room rates in hotels and save money at all you can eat buffets.

Hopefully they’ll find great uses for “A word is not a sparrow…” and “We will be making fresh mushroom soup in the evening”. Bon Voyage Arianna!

Even Monkeys Fall from Trees

Monkey waiting to fall

Monkey waiting to fall

This week we have a nice selection of Japanese proverbs, courtesy of Mitsuhito Fujita, our friend (and wonderful Mightyverse engineer) in Japan. Fujita-san recited these proverbs from memory, and they should be familiar to most native Japanese speakers. They were recorded across from his office at Knowledgelink in the Akasaka prefecture in Tokyo, on a very hot Summer day, with the sound of cicadas almost drowning his voice.
Proverbs and idiomatic expressions have been shown to be some of the hardest aspects of language for non-native speakers to learn. How often have you, or a friend mangled a proverb to humorous effect in a language you don’t speak?

The study of proverbs is called “Paremiology” and is a rich area of research for people studying language and the mind.

From Wikipedia:
“Proverbs are found in many parts of the world, but some areas seem to have richer stores of proverbs than others (such as West Africa), while others have hardly any (North and South America) (Mieder 2004:108,109).
Proverbs are often borrowed across lines of language, religion, and even time. For example, a proverb of the approximate form “No flies enter a mouth that is shut” is currently found in Spain, Ethiopia, and many countries in between. It is embraced as a true local proverb in many places and should not be excluded in any collection of proverbs because it is shared by the neighbors. However, though it has gone through multiple languages and millennia, the proverb can be traced back to an ancient Babylonian proverb (Pritchard 1958:146).
Proverbs are used by speakers for a variety of purposes. Sometimes they are used as a way of saying something gently, in a veiled way (Obeng 1996). Other times, they are used to carry more weight in a discussion, a weak person is able to enlist the tradition of the ancestors to support his position. Proverbs can also be used to simply make a conversation/discussion more lively. In many parts of the world, the use of proverbs is a mark of being a good orator.
The study of proverbs has application in a number of fields. Clearly, those who study folklore and literature are interested in them, but scholars from a variety of fields have found ways to profitably incorporate the study proverbs. For example, they have been used to study abstract reasoning of children, acculturation of immigrants, intelligence, the differing mental processes in mental illness, cultural themes, etc. Proverbs have also been incorporated into the strategies of social workers, teachers, preachers, and even politicians.”

We are excited to present this small selection of Japanese proverbs for people looking for another entry point into Japanese culture and language.

Monkeys do fall from trees

Learn how to say “Even monkeys fall from trees”

Language Buddies

One of the use cases for Mightyverse is learning a language. We are starting an experiment of pairing up with language buddies as a great way for people to share their love of learning a language and help each other out.

We’ve paired up Jack (an 11-year old native English speaker), with Daniele (an 11-year old bilingual English/Italian speaker). Jack made up a list of phrases that he wanted to learn in Italian and those that weren’t already in Mightyverse were recorded by Daniele.

Today we launch the “I Like Pie” phrasepack of Italian phrases that Daniele prepared for Jack. You can see it on the homepage of Mightyverse under the “I Like Pie” tab.

Here’s how it works. If you want to learn phrases in any language, just record them in your language and find a language buddy to reciprocate in theirs.

The world just got a little bit smaller.

Interested in becoming a language buddy?
Drop us a line at Let’s be Language Buddies

Mightyverse is now Live!

As one of the co-founders of Mightyverse I’m especially please to announce that Mightyverse is now live on the web!

It’s simple, but it’s mighty.

Especially if you are interested in Hebrew or Korean.
(for some reason we were on a roll for those sessions….)

My favorite phrase? Right now it has to be: Frog in a Well

The speaker is Fujita-san, the CTO of Knowledgelink, our wonderful Japanese partners. His voice is almost overwhelmed by crickets as we shot him in the little park across from KL’s offices in a little park in Akasaka section of Tokyo last summer.

We will be very active in the coming months and years to bring you wonderful phrases from many fantastic, expressive individuals. In the meantime, if you have a request for any phrases, or ideas for the site, let us know:

If you speak several languages and would like to record phrases for the site, we’d love to host you at our studio in Sausalito for a session. We’ll buy lunch!

Selamat Tinggal

– Paul Lundahl
phrasefarmer, co-founder