Last couple of days I was at LAX trying to go to Paris. Our flight was canceled three times, so we gave up our trip. Currently we don’t have a lot of French phrases for an airport situation, but we hope some new phrases will help people.
More phrases for an airport situation are available.
Japanese Relief Phrasepack is developed for all of the victims of the Tohoku Pacific Ocean coast earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011. It’s free. We were driven to do something for the people of Japan and this felt like a small effort that might help. The Japanese-English version is now available here.
Please Pray for Japan and the safety of the people.
We recently embarked on a project to record Na’vi phrases into Mightyverse. Na’vi is a constructed language created by James Cameron and Dr. Paul Frommer for the movie Avatar. Due to the popularity of the movie, it’s estimated that Na’vi is already the fourth most popular constructed language, after Esperanto, Klingon and Elvish (from the Lord of the Rings).
I’ve been fascinated by the community that’s sprung up around Na’vi and the people who are learning it. It has the potential to become a relatively popular language, with events where people communicate solely in Na’vi, teaching it to their children and translating texts like Shakespeare and the Bible. In the face of the decimation of indigenous languages worldwide, friends of mine who are following Mightyverse have questioned why we would spend anytime documenting Na’vi while so many worthy, incredibly vital languages need to be recorded.
That’s a fair and thoughtful question.
My own feelings about the movie are complicated. I thought it was ultimately a violent revenge fantasy cloaked in a peaceful message film. Kind of Dances with Wolves all over again, with a weird Pocahontas story woven in. I’m not a big fan of the film and felt kind of yucky after seeing it. But I like weird stuff and I’m clearly not the intended audience for the film anyway. I have to confess though that I was absolutely entranced by the craft of the film and the exquisite production that it represents. Cameron has no equal in the universal spectacle of Hollywood film. And his work has now spread across the globe to places more refined stories will never reach. It’s a true phenomena of human storytelling writ large.
So, here are the reasons why I felt Na’vi recordings could be important for the evolution of Mightyverse.
– Na’vi is international. I love the fact that people all over the world are learning Na’vi and in the process sharing a love of language across cultural borders. – Na’vi learners are obsessed. It’s amazing how many incredible resources have been produced so quickly, and how they are evolving daily. They’ve escaped beyond the confines of the film and are now creating their own world far more interesting than the limits of Pandora. – Na’vi excites children about language and other cultures. Children are the key to the future of language survival. If they learn about adpositions, topical, dative and genitive cases through Na’vi, well that can’t be too harmful.
Finally, if people learn about Mightyverse through a link somewhere to Na’vi phrases, well, that would be very nice as well.
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!
“All Sandwiches Served with Homemade Fries or Fresh Green Salad. (全てのサンドイッチには、ホームメイドのフレンチフライかグリーンサラダがつきます。） Also Served with your choice of Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onions, Pickles. (レタス、トマト、赤タマネギ、ピクルスの選択ができます。) Available on Freshly Baked Bread Including French, Wheat, Sourdough, and Dutch Crunch.” (新鮮なフランスパン、麦芽パン、サワードパン、ダッチクランチがあります。)
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.